After a recent visit back to my parents home outside of Houston, Texas I was struck by the strange beauty of the landscape…which is saying something if you’ve ever driven through that area of Texas. The landscape is flat as a pancake, and the horizon is filled with gigantic chemical plants puffing and spewing smoke. But at night, these huge plants create twinkling, alien landscape that (if you can forget what they are) are really spectacular. The way I saw these plants, that night, signified the very complex relationship people growing up in such areas have with their surroundings.
It’s very important to me, that although I’m commenting on the toxic beauty of chemical plants, I mean no disrespect at all to the men and women who work their. My father supported our family by making cyanide and ammonia at one of the Houston chemical plants, and the plant he worked at gave me a partial scholarship for college. These jobs are hard, dangerous work but offer people a way to support their families.
But…they are making very poisonous (both to the environments and to humans) chemicals. Chemicals and products modern Americans use in abundance everyday. Growing up from a very young age around these plants, we almost ignored them. We grew used to the strange smells in the air that was caused by chemical burn-off, and the occasional plant explosion (or drills) during school. I led a pretty normal, happy childhood. It was only upon leaving for quite a while and then returning to this area of Texas that I really noticed the landscape, and thought about what it was so many of us were living around.
Basically, I’m saying it’s complicated. I don’t think things are ever as one-sided or clear as politics seem to make it out to be. But, I do think this subject is something to be thought about and discussed. So, thanks for letting me blab about it here.