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woodfire bashing-smokescree

updated tue 31 dec 96


JOE BENNION on sun 29 dec 96

It appears that you and I live similar lifestyles and have similar concerns
about environmental quality. As potters and ceramic artists I think that we
all need to accept that there is one terrible fact of life for us. That is
that what we do consumes a lot of energy and is usually somewhat polluting.
Even if the energy we consume is produced in relatively clean ways it is
energy that if not used to fire clay would be energy conserved. The thing that
we have to do then is only fire when necessary and only fire good pots. Are
these things that we are producing really worth the environmental degradation
that they bring about? Are these pots/art objects really going to make a
difference in someone's life. More of a difference than the next industrial
mug from K-Mart? Are we really telling the truth with our work? Does what
comes out of our kilns represent a real search of our hearts or is it just
more product to sell? If it isn't then we are liars and pretenders not worthy
of the name potter or artist.
I'm curious about this hydro electric power you are able to use. Out where
I live my little town (pop 800) owns and operates a small hydro plant that
takes its water from a small free flowing stream. That hydro plant is
connected to THE GRID which takes it's power from a variety of sources such as
atom splitting, coal burning and damming free flowing rivers. I don't consider
power from dammed rivers to be a clean source. I've seen more than one healthy
free river dammed and killed in my lifetime. If a non-dam using power plant
is connected to THE GRID how do you know that the power you draw to fire your
kiln is not from any of the other dirty sources on that grid?
I don't throw this out as a challenge to your integrity but as an honest
question. These are things I wonder about. I use electric power sparingly in
my home and studio, I drive a 1983 Subaru that I am the original owner of, I
heat my home with dead fall from the forest and I fire my kilns with natural
gas but I still wonder about these things. With all of my care and
conservation I still use many times more resources than the average 3rd world
citizen. I'll repeat my assertion that we all live in glass houses. I find
woodfired pottery to be no more polluting ( at least in terms of toxic
emission) than natural gas or electric firing. It is a least renewable . The
most good we can do in this world is in our own homes, not in those of our
neighbors. I gotta go. Joe the Potter