Camp Gaia

I didn't know your brother well he was two grades ahead of me
He hung out with those jam band kids, and back then I was strictly into Rancid and Op Ivy
Sure, I'm ashamed

But we met up at your wedding he was getting pretty bent about Big Food malfeasance
And extended growing seasons in the boreal frontier
He sneered, it's hard to explain

Agrohippy journalists went up there to visit it
But grizzlies got the greenhouse and whispers of militias vibed of something sinister
And never tamed

Yeah I made my jokes when they called logging "genocide"
And prayed to the forest as a goddess
But at least they tried to forge a form of progress in a world of flames

It barely made the news but after fears of nukes in Belarus and biomasks for donkeypox
Nine ecopioneers were found dead in Alaska
They said his name

It's the age of pirates but did bosses from Exxon or Bayer really send assassins in
When a virus from the thawing permafrost
Could have done the same

When all we have are sad, sad stories of our failures
There's a glory in retrieving a hard drive from a trailer between McGrath and Galena
To read his remains

I've been writing freelance off and on, with your permission
I will fake a fishing trip inland up the Yukon to confirm suspicions
And give you someone to blame


From Nadalands - The Days of Awe LP (September 25, 2023)

Camp Gaia The brother's sustainable community is named after the Greek earth goddess. Lovelock and Margulis' Gaia Hypothesis posits that all of the biological and nonliving systems of Earth function as a single entity to perpetuate livable conditions. However, the interconnection of global climate change, trans-national corporations, reactionary social movements, and pandemic diseases doomed the project. From the narrator's cynical perspective, the Earth self-regulates to eliminate positive change and continue entropy.

jam band The narrator listened to punk rock in high school; punks traditionally dislike hippies who listen to the Grateful Dead . At least originally, hippie and punk culture claimed to be anti-establishment. Lindenbaum listened to both genres in high school, but was not particularly liked by either group of people.

Big Food malfeasance Monsanto, Nestle, JBS Swift, Bayer, Tyson, etc.

extended growing seasons Even though global climate change is expected to be disastrous for agricultural yields and food security in most places on Earth, Alaska will experience longer frost-free seasons.

boreal frontier Alaska's nickname is "The Last Frontier." Much of the interior of Alaska is boreal forest.

Agrohippy journalists Presumably writing for publications such as Grist, High Country News, Orion, Acres USA, and Sustainable Farming.

grizzlies got the greenhouse Alaska is home to 31,000 brown bears, who enjoy human food.

militias Armed anti-government movements, often (but not always) politically far-right.

when they called logging "genocide" Camp Gaia strikes the narrator as ecocentric, valuing trees as much as humans. Like movements such as Land Back, Camp Gaia presumably connects environmental destruction to settler colonialism. Unlike the narrator's center-left apathy, Camp Gaia is in the tradition of radical environmental groups such as Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front. Anti-logging protests were met with violence in 1990 and 2021.

prayed to the forest as a goddess An example of modern (or neo) paganism, the Wiccan Goddess is inspired by Gaia.

flames Global climate change is increasing the number and size of wildfires in the U.S. West, even in Alaska.

fears of nukes in Belarus One of the news stories more important than the deaths at Camp Gaia concerned Russian nuclear warheads in client state Belarus, which is closer to NATO countries.

donkeypox Not a real disease, yet. Diseases are zoonotic if they spread from animals to humans. There are many. Agro-ecological farming practices at Camp Gaia would expose humans to fewer zoonotic diseases than industrial confined animal feeding operations.

the age of pirates biopiracy by trans-national food and pharmaceutical companies but also an increasingly venal economic system texemplified by Enron, FTX, and Theranos

Exxon or Bayer Two corporations who would have an interest in silencing Camp Gaia. Alaska is a major oil and gas producer, and the state government relies on energy revenue. The Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska damaged local ecosystems. German company Bayer AG owns US agro-chemical giant Monsanto, which would theoretically oppose any agricultural experiment that could threaten its industrial model.

assassins Despite the suspicious death of a Boeing whistleblower, the narrator doubts any trans-national corporation would be sufficiently threatened by Camp Gaia to order a murder.

a virus from the thawing permafrost Thawing permafrost in Alaska could potentially release diseases that are fatal to humans.

McGrath and Galena two towns in central Alaska

remains All that remains of the brother is his hard drive, which contains scientific data from the project and might also explain the deaths of all Camp Gaia residents.

inland up the Yukon The Yukon River flows through central Alaska. Up the river from Camp Gaia and across the Canadian border, the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush also drew adventurers from the Lower 48 to Alaska. Many of them also died. The relatively nearby Nome and Fairbanks gold rushes followed. These gold rushes contributed to Alaska's "wild" and "lawless" mythos.