My work in the Blackstone Valley of central Massachusetts and Rhode Island constantly reminds me of the tension between human activity and the environment. Tension of course can lead to both positive and negative results, on occasion simultaneously. We visited the Blackstone Gorge yesterday, and tried to picnic at the Roaring (or Rolling, depends on who you ask) Dam. It’s a beautiful spot. There’s been a dam here since the early 1800’s. The purpose of the dam was to create a power supply for the explosion of textile mills built along the banks of the Blackstone River. The mills are long gone. The water is getting cleaner thanks to the work of many citizens, communities and various government agencies. But the sediment, the dirt under the River, is still toxic in many places. Removing the sediment will be enormously expensive. Perhaps too expensive. But we’re left with the water’s beauty. A good deal? Perhaps a good lesson.