Let’s talk about the atrocity that happened in my state of Indiana this morning...
Let me introduce you to Mike Pence.
Okay, actually this is him, but there really isn’t much difference.
This morning, the head dick in charge signed into law the “Religious Freedom” bill. Basically what this bill does is make it legal for businesses to discriminate against customers, not just on the grounds of sexual orientation, but also religious grounds. So a business can legally refuse to serve an LGBT customer or a customer whose faith they disagree with.
Mike Pence has tried to maintain that the bill is not about discrimination, but about ensuring the religious freedom of all Hoosiers. Here was pretty much everyone’s reaction(s):
This morning, March 26, 2015, Mike Pence signed the bill into law, ushering in the way for discrimination and intolerance. Let me tell you why this is a big fucking deal and how it’s going to hurt Indiana’s revenue.
1) Sporting events. This bill is basically guaranteeing that Indiana will probably never get another major sporting event, sans the Indianapolis 500. That means no future Super Bowls, no collegiate tournaments, the possible relocation of the NCAA Men’s Final Four, and relocation of the Big Ten Football Championship and basketball tournament. All that extra revenue from these events? Wave goodbye.
2) Musical acts. Musical acts absolutely have the right to refuse to perform in certain places. Not only does this mean concerts, but also, again, sporting events, where performers help draw attendance. Also, celebrity appearances in general. George Takei has already vowed to boycott, and others may follow in his footsteps.
3) GenCon. GenCon is the largest gaming convention in the US. It generates millions of dollars anually for the state of Indiana. The convention has threatened to relocate elsewhere if Pence signs the bill into law, which he did. There’s another hit on Indiana’s state revenue.
Now, I’m in no way saying any of this will absolutely happen, but this bill makes it a major possibility. Making discrimination legal in no way makes it okay, which is a sentiment a majority of Hoosiers have loudly shared through this entire debacle.
And let’s not forget the most important thing.
4) People. I’m a proud member of the LGBT community and I’m also a Pagan. This means that businesses have the right to refuse me for one reason or the other. People like me, LGBT non-Christians, have had our rights stripped away simply because we do not fit Pence’s narrow view of what a person should be. This bill is not only sending a message to Hoosiers, but also LGBT non-Christians outside of our state that they are not welcome here. They will not visit our beautiful state, because Pence has made it very clear that they are not the type of people he wants in Indiana. More than anything else, we the people will suffer the most from this new law.
So, in conclusion, fuck Mike Pence and his bullshit law. Thank you.
best friend: first kiss: asks you out: shares a foxhole with you: lets you borrow their raincoat: too shy to tell you they like you: gets wounded while saving you: misses you after the war: who you marry:
there is the river and the field and the forest. there used to be the swamp, but that got filled in years ago; the ghost of it still lingers, sending misty tendrils between trees and winding through the corn stalks.
the corn is knee high by the fourth of july on good years and even then you don’t go into the fields after august, when the stalks are over your head and one wrong turn will mean you’re lost. those who don’t know better go missing for days before staggering out into the road, dehydrated and hungry; usually it turns out they’ve been ten feet away from the edge the entire time. halloween sees corn mazes every year; the dark settles down and the moonlight hardly illuminates anything, and whatever moves with the rattling breeze comes out in full force.
a webbing of roads holds the land together, spaced out evenly, every quarter mile, numbered in turn. 100W. 200W. 500E. sometimes the land strains against its confines and the roads crack open, shimmering like water in the summer heat. you don’t get lost in the indiana countryside; the roads catch you with their numbers, guiding you home.
the heart of indiana is a circle: monument circle with its lazy hustle and bustle of cars and pedestrians; I-465, the hub through which nearly all transcontinental travelers pass. the semis barrel along at 20mph over the speed limit at night, their headlights barely illuminating the six deserted lanes.
you drive a motorcycle at night through the bean fields (it’s an alternate year, and almost nobody has planted corn). it’s pitch black and your headlight flickers. the field flickers back, a glorious burst of light; the fireflies understand you as one of them.
you grow up with two sources of water: the well and the river. one year, the bitter cold brings an ice storm with it; the well freezes over, and you can’t very well drink the river. there’s a spring ten miles away. you make the journey there, every day; joining a line of bundled-up, red-nosed fellow sufferers whose forced cheerfulness sends frozen breath in clouds. the spring water tastes different; that winter is strange, and you can hardly remember it years later.
there are small graveyards everywhere, inset into the cornfields and fenced in with wrought-iron that’s centuries old; drooping pine trees shelter them, leaving them cool, even in the heat of the summer.
in november, fog sits on the newly-shorn fields in the pale dawn light before slinking sullenly back to the river.
possum-eyes watch you at night, red in headlights and flashlights; sometimes they seem too high above the ground, even in the fields, where there are no trees.
every river is the wabash. every tree is a sycamore. every light is a candle.
“In an almost mawkish sense, we had gotten old of the notion that we were orphans. No one cared, we thought. All of America’s millions doing the same things each day […] without a single thought for us.” - Helmet for My Pillow, Robert Leckie
Artesian (or flowing) wells are fed from a confined aquifer containing groundwater that is pressurized and flows upwards, without need for a pump. These wells are filtered naturally and in some cases have been flowing for thousands of years. They are a surviving remnant of the public commons and often mark very early human settlements.
I am fascinated by the local culture that has grown around these wells in Indiana. A few have had public parks built around them; others are on private property but are used by members of the surrounding community. There are many reasons people gather water there. Some make the trip simply because they like the taste of well water. For others, it is due to a health concern or a family tradition. I have also met people who use the wells because they do not have access to good water in their homes.
Spring at Stone Lake, Middlebury, IN
Avilla’s Artesian Well, Avilla, IN
Flowing well, Morgan County, IN
Potawatomi Springs, Independence, IN
Couple gathering water at a well near Orestes, IN
Justina gathering water at Glenn Miller Park, Richmond, IN
Woman getting water at Flowing Well Park, Carmel, IN
Gathering water at Glenn Miller Park, Richmond, IN
Car filled with water, Flowing Well Park, Carmel, IN
Chase Street Flowing Well, Gary, IN
Guide Note: “Well Stories” is a project about our relationship with the water we drink. Since 2011 I have been making photographs and videos of old artesian wells in Indiana and the people who visit them. As part of my project, I created a blog where people can share their stories about wells and water. To read or contribute, visit wellstories.com.
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Kay Westhues is a photographer based in South Bend, IN. Through her work she aims to describe the vitality and complexity of places and people whose lives are often overlooked and unexamined. She is inspired by the ways rural tradition and history are interpreted and transformed in the present day. You can see more of her work atkaywesthues.com or follow her latest project on tumblr (kwesthues.tumblr.com).