The following letter elicits many emotions that range from beautiful to maddening, but this is why we fight. This is why we care. This is why we must stand up to the injustice that BigWind brings into our communities…
“I’m home, safe and sound.”Words that should always go together.
But yesterday I had an emotional visit with Ted Hartke and his beautiful wife Jessica.
I was returning from Missouri and, with nothing but time to kill on my 11 hour drive home, I gave Ted a call.
He pointed out that I would be very near the home he and his family abandoned due to wind turbine noise and he would like to take me through the now-empty home. So I took him up on the offer.
We spent a long time together…
It is hard to describe the feelings Ted and Jessica expressed as we visited in front of the abandoned home that was once their dream.
Violated? Robbed? Victimized?
All the things that were so important to them only three years ago- before the turbines went into operation-things like getting the yard just right, picking the right paint colors and flooring, and commemorating their new-home-in-progress with their very young children’s hand prints in freshly poured concrete- were stripped of their precious value by by the nuisance trespass of Chicago-based InvEnergy, a multi-billion dollar wind energy corporation with little conscience.
As soon as the turbines went into operation, the noise from the nearly 500′ tall turbines invaded their home and deprived them of sleep. When operating at or near their rated capacity, every pass of the a turbine blade sent low frequency noise pulsation through the wall of their home, stealing their rest.
Nothing would stop they noise. They moved all their beds into the interior of their home in a futile attempt to escape invading energy. They asked Invenergy to stop the turbines and they sometime complied. But in the end, profits were more important than people.
So they abandoned their dream home that was in “just the perfect spot with a perfect view” and instead took on a second home and a second mortgage and all the additional expenses that come with two homes. Maybe some would have just left the lender high and dry. But Ted and Jessica aren’t those kind of people.
Ted and Jessica have finally found a new home and are improving that new home like we all do.
New homes usually bring joy and a sense of new adventure. But Ted and Jessica’s new home experience is haunted by dark thoughts born of bitter experience.
The first thought (expressed in my words): “We already went though the hard negotiations couples go through as they decorate a home together. Paint colors, finishes, landscaping, kitchen designs. It is stressful enough for a couple to do once. But now we are forced to go through it again due to someone else’s negligent behavior.” And the second thought: “Dare we invest our emotions into another home when our hearts were broken in those moments the turbines started to spin just three years ago?”
The feelings are the feelings of grief and loss. And violation.
They struggle together, recovering from trauma- an unnecessary and pointless trauma- that, unbeknownst to them, began years ago as opportunistic and now faceless lobbyists roamed the nation’s legislatures under a false cloak of credibility selling a bogus cure for an over-hyped disease. And their trauma was enabled by all-too-willing engineers and planning commissioners who violated their oaths to protect human beings from harm.
They profit. Ted and Jessica paid.
Just like Cary Shineldecker and Karen L. Ward Shineldecker paid. And just like the David Peplinski family and all the other past and present litigants and victims in Huron County, Missaukee County, Delta County, Mason County and across the Midwest. They borrow against their retirement to hire attorneys to then spend years in court trying to recover their most precious commodity- a home, safe and sound. And at best they receive money. But money does not bring justice.
Ted said to me “Imagine being at a party and seeing a man tapping your wife lightly on the shoulder, again and again. That would be annoying for my wife. But how much worse would it be for me as her husband to have to stand by and be powerless to stop it? Those turbines-InvEnergy turbines-reached through the walls of our house and touched my wife and my children and I could not make it stop.”
That is when Ted and I, two grown men well over 6 feet tall, “tough rugged and independent”, stood in his Illinois driveway and wept.
People think wind turbines look cool.
But sometimes wind turbines make people cry.
Cary Shineldecker and Karen L. Ward Shineldecker and I have wept. Ted and Jessica and I have wept. I have cried many times when talking to victims of irresponsible wind development and with those who try to halt it.
I am not ashamed. I weep for people who are needless victims.
And I also weep for those who watch suffering and do not weep…and do not make it stop.