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Artistic connections and fracking

For those who don’t know (or haven’t thought about it), one of the neat parts of my job is managing Cabot’s social media presence. That also means that the Cabot Twitter account – @CabotOG – is hooked to my phone 24/7 so I can receive notifications and react in real-time.

Normally, we get questions from our followers but on Friday I got a notification of something else entirely.

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To check out more of JJ’s works, visit his website and have a look around.

Below is his story:

I’m half English, half American. I was born and raised in England and came to the US when I was 18 to study American History at the University of Virginia. Since 1996 I’ve mainly lived in New York City. I currently live in Brooklyn with my girlfriend, Stephanie. I work in Manhattan as a project manager for a boutique digital media agency called Deepend.

I’ve always been into photography and dabble in candid photography which I sometimes post on Instagram.

Earlier this year I started exploring painting and quickly found a style through which I could express myself despite a lack of training and only possessing basic technical skills. Each painting is a little bit better technically than the previous one as I learn something new each time. It continues to be a very enjoyable (self-)learning experience.

Like the majority of 30-something New Yorkers that I know, I’m liberal-leaning in my politics. Fracking was one of those issues on the periphery which I’d had a passing interest in. The soundbites weren’t favorable with earthquakes and water pollution and flaming water featuring prominently. One weekend last year Stephanie and I went to our friend Dee’s farmhouse in Jessup township, Susquehanna County, PA. At that time no wells had been drilled although she had signed a lease with Cabot for the rights. It’s hard to describe Dee in a few words but those that spring to mind are pragmatist, pacifist, researcher and teacher. She was a well of fascinating information on, and insights into, fracking. I left the farm that weekend with a completely new perspective on the subject. Energy independence means that we don’t have to send our troops to the Gulf to protect our “interests” which clearly carries terrible human and economic costs. We don’t have to tiptoe around the Russians, or kow-tow to the Saudis. I don’t think anyone would argue with the importance of searching for a completely clean, renewable energy source but currently that doesn’t exist and the reality is we’re a fossil fuel burning society. So to me it seems obvious to support the least carbon intensive option, especially when that option is plentiful, cheap and right under our noses!

One weekend this October, Stephanie and I returned to Dee’s farm in order to see the drilling rig in action. As I mentioned, Dee is a phenomenal researcher and was clearly very careful in her selection of Cabot. She has always been very complimentary of the company’s professionalism and genuine commitment to community relations. Operations at the rig seemed to be tight and while some might see the rig as an eyesore to us it was a symbol of things that were good about America. A symbol of America – and Americans – doing something as well as, or better than anyone else. And crucially, of being independent. The half English side of my genealogy can appreciate that particular American urge! This is a small addendum but Stephanie and I went for a 5 mile run in the countryside where we encountered 4 large trucks at separate times. All of them slowed down (and waved!) and were clearly mindful of not covering us in too much dust as they went past. I just got the sense that Cabot were very careful about being respectful to the communities they were fracking. I know that this isn’t always the case and that some companies give the whole process a bad name.

Inspiration

The painting represents a nighttime and daytime view of the rig as seen from Dee’s house. We spent a few hours each day and night walking around the perimeter, watching the rig in action. I’ve attached the photos upon which the painting was based. Hopefully you can see how I’ve interpreted it. The painting was a present for Dee. It’s called “All’s Well, That’s Dee’s Well.”

As opposed as most of my friends are to fracking they are also ill-informed (as I was before focusing fully on the issue)! So the painting has been an interesting conversation starter. A lot of them struggle to hear the pro-fracking arguments in the media so I take pleasure (and actually consider it a duty of sorts) in being able to speak to them about fracking in terms of pacifism and the many benefits of energy independence.

Visit JJ’s website and follow him on Instagram for his latest pieces.

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