Odd intersection of experiences in fracking country.
Celebrity visit to rural Susquehanna County highlights contrast on issue.
DIMOCK TWP. — “Yoko, I’m Yoko,” one slight activist said to the other.
For years, Victoria Switzer has used the artist’s name as an email prefix and Internet handle to post reflections on the drilling industry’s impact on her Susquehanna County town.
On Tuesday, when Yoko Ono toured county sites and greeted people who feel harmed by the industry, the two met face-to-face in
“I want the cameras to show the rest of the town, because where do you see another sign around here protesting this? You don’t. You have one very unhappy man.” Jodi Fiore, New Milford Twp.
a muddy driveway.
“My email address is not Yoko,” Ms. Ono said, as if to say: Have it.
The celebrity tour of Dimock and other rural area townships was an experience of odd intersections: Two Yokos at an auto repair shop. New Yorkers hoping Pennsylvania grief can ward off the same in their state. Industry proponents and opponents tussling at the foot of a Mercedes bus.
“Susan Sarandon,” pro- drilling filmmaker Phelim McAleer shouted to the visiting actress in the middle of the roadside scrum. “How does it feel to represent the 1 percent rather than the 99 percent of Dimock?”
The bus was stopped at Ray Kemble’s yard, which is covered with signs and banners protesting the industry. His is one of the 19 Dimock households whose water was found by the state to be tainted with methane tied to faulty gas wells in 2009. Drill- ing is still on hold in a section of the township because the state is still evaluating whether methane levels are low enough in residential water wells to lift the ban.
Across the road, New Milford Twp. resident Jodi Fiore huddled with her hands in her pockets, irate.
“I had to come see it for myself,” she said. “I thought this was done.”
Her husband was once employed by a railroad in a job that required a three- hour daily commute. He was injured and would have been jobless if he had not found work with the gas industry.
“As long as wells are flowing, he has a job,” she said.
“I want the cameras to show the rest of the town, because where do you see another sign around here protesting this? You don’t. You have one very unhappy man.”
Behind the bus, Mr. Kemble told Ms. Sarandon, Ms. Ono and her son, musician Sean Lennon, about how he delivers replacement water to his home and neighbors who need it.
“This is a divided town,” he said. “I used to have a repair garage here and I wasn’t getting rich but I made a decent living. Now we got nothing because we’re totally blackballed. Nobody will deal with us.”
“Hey, that happened to me too!” Ms. Sarandon cheered and slapped him a high five. “I hear you. I’m used to being canceled.”
Ms. Ono nodded and encouraged other activists to write down Mr. Kemble’s story so it could be shared.
“Now we heard about it,” she said. “Now it’s our problem too.”