When the Hills are Gone - A Review | WisCommunity

When the Hills are Gone - A Review

April 29, 2018 - 10:56am
Thomas Pearson

I recently read When the Hills Are Gone - a book about the sand mining activists in Wisconsin during the period of the frac sand boom. The author, Thomas W. Pearson, is an associate professor of anthropology at UW-Stout. A disclaimer - I've known Tom for years, particularly since the frac sand activist period documented in this book. 

The book brought back quite a few memories for me, as I was occasionally one of the people in the "garage meetings" to organize against the sand mining, and helped out when possible with tech and other issues, and in fact I still run a mailing list for frac sand activists. The book is primarily a book about the struggle against the sand mines written from a sociological viewpoint. 

I recommend this book to anyone who cares about the dynamics of political and social activism, along with the ways activists can succeed and fail.  It is a story of what happens when communities do not protect themselves through zoning and legislation (though of course that has become increasingly difficult in the current political climate and removal of local control in the state). The story of resistance to frac sand mining was one of making one step forward and two steps back in many cases. It involves the drama of township boards dealing with issues they were ill-prepared to manage, and in some cases conflict of interest. The stories of searching for community solidarity apply well not only to the continuing struggle for local environmental control in the state, but to other areas of citizen action.

I highly recommend the book to anyone who cares about citizen control of their own world. 

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Photo Courtesy UW-Stout

Steve Hanson
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