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Buddhist Nun Leads Protest Walk along Keystone XL Route into South Dakota

So two Buddhists and a Lutheran walk into a forest...

Shodo Spring, Bret Clanton, and Myogen Steve Stucky, on the Compassionate Earth Walk, Harding County, South Dakota, August 27, 2013. (Photo credit: Bret Clanton)
Shodo Spring, Bret Clanton, and Myogen Steve Stucky, on the Compassionate Earth Walk, Harding County, South Dakota, August 27, 2013. (Photo credit: Bret Clanton)

Bret Clanton sends photos of his encounter with Buddhist monk Shodo Spring and her Compassionate Earth Walk team. Spring's group is protesting our alienation and environmental predations and offering "a prayer for all earth's children" by walking the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. They started walking in Hardisty, Alberta, in April; they're thinking they will reach Steele City, Nebraska, the first week of October.

Jessica Snow and Justin Duderman (I'm not making that name up) near the Clanton hacienda, Harding County, South Dakota, August 27, 2013. (Photo by Bret Clanton)
Jessica Snow and Justin Duderman (I'm not making that name up) near the Clanton hacienda, Harding County, South Dakota, August 27, 2013. Apparently they wear non-threatening clothing so as not to terrorize Bob Mercer. (Photo by Bret Clanton)

Yesterday, they walked in Harding County. Local rancher and Keystone XL opponent Bret Clanton walked with them.

Says Clanton of Spring and company's visit:

If there is something good that has come about of this whole pipeline thing, it is that I have been exposed to different lifestyles and cultures that I would have never ever EVER had the opportunity to experience otherwise. This group had the entire community on edge mostly because of their appearance. It helped them community wise to be seen with me but I am not sure it helped me [Bret Clanton, e-mail, 2013.08.27].

Funny that peace activists would set a community on edge more than a foreign company willing to take their land through eminent domain and subject their land, their cattle, and their families to ongoing risk of harm. And funny that a South Dakotan's hospitality toward peaceable visitors might put him in worse stead with his neighbors.

Duderman and Snow walk toward the vast South Dakota horizon, August 27, 2013. (Photo by Bret Clanton)
Duderman and Snow walk toward the vast South Dakota horizon, August 27, 2013. (Photo by Bret Clanton)

The Compassionate Earth Walk continues southeast across West River. Their tentative schedule puts them in Midland September 8–9, Murdo Sep. 11–12, Winner Sep. 14 (Shodo! Go see Doug Wiken!), and Colome Sep. 15 (go see John Harter!).


  1. Rorschach 2013.08.28

    When I see people walking around in their pajamas in the daytime (Duderman - not the Buddhists) my first reaction is always, "Really?"

    Pajamas and slippers during the day seems to be more common than I remember. My theory is that the pajama-wearing rate rises in proportion to the obesity rate.

  2. bret clanton 2013.08.28

    at Rorschach, of all the problems they are encountering I believe obesity is most definitely not one of them. Bigotry most definitely.....

  3. bret clanton 2013.08.28

    at ca....why does it always turn to clothing and not the message...?.....

  4. Rorschach 2013.08.28

    I didn't say these folks aren't obese. They clearly aren't. My observation was that many of the people I see lumbering around public places in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers are. Like it or not, people are evaluated by other people based upon how they present themselves. Those who choose to be sloppy and stinky will be viewed as sloppy and stinky. Of course in a free country people are free to let themselves go just as others are free to judge them for letting themselves go. Unlike race, slovenliness is not an immutable characteristic. If you think I'm bad for looking unfavorably upon daytime public pajama wearing then you have your opinion and I have mine.

    But I don't want to hijack this thread based upon pajamas. I wish I had the time and money to go on a 1,000 mile walk and to enjoy offending staid sensibilities along the way.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.28

    Sorry, Bret: some people don't want to see the big issues.

    Doug, that's a great article, good sampling of pros and cons, but adding up to the fact that Keystone XL will bring little long-term benefit for South Dakota. Bret's perambulating visitors are trying to point out the great environmental and psychic harm that comes from pursuing such fleeting benefits.

  6. Rorschach 2013.08.28

    Another thing that offends me are the lies told by TransCanada and politicians (generally Republicans) about jobs and pollution and gas prices and American energy security regarding this pipeline proposal. If it's so great, why do they have to lie about it?

  7. Rorschach 2013.08.28

    Just clicked on the "terrorize Bob Mercer" link and caught Bret Clanton's comments in which he ignored the message of Bob Mercer's article and instead focused on the photo of Bob and made observations about Bob's health and weight. Isn't that rich?

  8. bret clanton 2013.08.28

    Rorshach, at least Bob and I know who is talking to each other.......

  9. Rorschach 2013.08.28

    at ca....why does the pot call the kettle black, then complain he doesn't know the kettle when the kettle points out his hypocrisy...?.....

  10. Douglas Wiken 2013.08.28

    Looks like a pissing match with kettle and pot the targets.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.08.29

    Meanwhile, TransCanada continues it march over our property rights and environmental safety.

  12. Douglas Wiken 2013.08.29

    The Mitchell D. Republic put most of the Bloomberg story into their snail mail version today. The story quotes John Meyer of Winner. He has been an outspoken supporter of this project no matter what has been shown wrong with it. He testified in Congress for it. He also ran for the SD legislature and lost. It is hard for me to believe that somebody selling stationery, typewriters, desks and printers would be in favor of a project so dangerous to our water supply unless he is getting paid for it in some way. The logic for support otherwise is just not there.

  13. phyllis cole-dai 2013.09.01

    I know this "Buddhist nun" (she's actually a Zen Buddhist priest) and the great effort she has put into organizing this pilgrimage, if we may call it that. Nothing like this is done without considerable sacrifice, intentionality and heart on the part of participants. Let's please have respect for this. Can we not agree that we must respect the ground on which we walk and live and have our being--not to mention the water?

    Bret, thank you for your openness, and for having walked with Shodo, et al. I'm hoping to do the same at some point but not sure I'll get to.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.01

    Priest, not nun—duly noted! Thanks for the correction, Phyllis!

  15. Shodo Spring 2013.09.23

    Thank you for the post and for the comments.
    I must admit that I'm the source of the "Buddhist nun" expression - the shortest way to let people know I'm female without a photo....
    Interesting the things people found to comment on. Justin, the pajama wearer, actually took leave of absence from his full time job to spend three months on this walk, and is invaluable both as cook and bus mechanic. We are now past 1000 miles and two weeks from our ending point.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.23

    Two weeks to go! Keep on truckin', one foot after the other!

    Commenting on pajamas: indeed, one of our great challenges is discerning big from small. Some of us have a hard time changing our rulers. ;-)

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