Maintaining Boundaries

Maintaining Boundaries

By Wendy Weiss, Programs & Membership Coordinator membership@westsideuuc.org


We just had our Water Communion service this past Sunday and spoke words in poetry and prayers to the land, the water, all the animals, to nature itself. It felt like sacred time that we shared in gratitude for our natural abundance. Friends, if you think the destruction in the Amazon, Borneo, Malaysia, and Mauna Kea is distant threats from development, I urge you to look around where you live.

Yesterday as I sat down to write my monthly newsletter article, I felt the need to get outside and walk around a bit first. As I went to my usual place by the Memorial Garden, I noticed the sounds of heavy equipment in our neighboring lot that is for sale. I knew this day would come eventually.

I walked over and talked with the machinery operator and he told me they’re clearing it for a survey. I called Jerry Thornton immediately, knowing that he has been working with the city planning commission to keep track of what is happening with the zoning of the lot. He made all the phone calls he could and came over to see what was happening.

We estimated 25 feet and I stayed put watching and recording. At 5, I thought they were done and went back to the building. But then I heard the bulldozer crank up again, and it sounded close. I went back to the 25 foot line, and he was starting to bulldoze within the boundary.

Rev. Carol ran out to stop the bulldozer, and we stood there yelling over the engine to tell him that he can’t clear there. She eventually told him to wait for tomorrow morning after we could get this sorted out, and we stood there until he left. That buffer would have been cleared and gone had we not been there and stepped in.

It hardly felt like a victory in the scheme of things. All the trees, plants, and countless animals and living things have been pushed aside and heaped onto the debris pile. Earlier, I came across a doe in the high grasses near the creek, bedded down in uncertain safety amid the noise and destruction of her home. “Our” hawks who fly and call around Westside, I thought about what they would come to find—their nesting grounds depleted. What will become of them?

We continued this morning, a small group of us. I marked the 25 foot line all up and down our property with fluorescent pink poster board. We set up chairs and sat up and down that line at 7 am, waiting. At 8:30 they arrived and were going to start where they left off, but I stood under the 25 foot marker and they went on when they saw us. We started making phone calls and Kayla somehow got through to a city engineer and they came out and discussed the rules of this particular permit and phase of development.

We are being watchful and now know how and who to report to. And on the other side of the creek, clearing has been done that appears to be in violation of the permit specifications. They will continue clearing. And in any development, this will happen. If we don’t watch, it’s too late. It’s happening here too, friends. It just looks different. For our interdependent web of life, we have held the line as much as we could.

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Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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