Flint Hills Resources' Pine Bend oil refinery is located near Highway 52 en route to Rochester from St. Paul. You might not know it is a Flint Hills refinery because there is no highway signage to identify it. But judging from its belching stacks and anti-utopian visage, one can figure out it is owned by the notorious Koch Brothers.
Flint Hills and Koch Industries are on the short list of America's filthiest companies.
They operate in the fields of petroleum refining, fuel pipelines, coal supply and trading, oil and gas exploration, chemicals and polymers, fertilizer production, ranching and forestry products.
What make's their businesses so dirty is not just what they do, but how they do it.
Koch Industries' corporate ethos is to pollute the American landscape with impunity. After hours, they fuel a dark labyrinth of propoganda networks to spew out pollution of another kind-disinformation, defamation and denials. Their goal is not to gain market share--it is to rid the world of government oversight of their businesses and the nefarious groups that prop them up. This is how they roll.
Each brother is worth over $21 billion, making them the 5th richest "person" in America and among the nation's most pernicious political activists. The brothers over the years have outspent ExxonMobil's subsidies of shadow climate denier groups by a 3-1 margin.
It is not so curious then, that the Koch's would want to align themselves with St.Paul's Ordway Theatre, one of the nation's leading non-profit live performance venues. The 14th Annual "Flint Hills International Children's Festival, presented by the Ordway" opens this weekend, and is the perfect halo under which the conglomerate might dwell for a few days, basking in the glow of delighted children whose lives are put at risk by their business and political actions.
The Koch's and the Ordway's that birthed the theatre couldn't be a starker study in contrasts. The fulfillment of Sally Ordway Irvine's dream of bringing multi-cultural and arts variety to the stunning theatre that the family helped fund, is articulated in the flier advertising the Festival.
Bathed in a riot of color, the brochure captures multi-colored children carefully photographed and captivated by a phantasmagoria of dance, music, acrobatics and reverie. And not a refinery to be found!
The stagings are fantasy adventures as far removed from daily reality as the Koch brothers' climate change denials.
American's are rightly cynical about all our institutions--sports, religious, political, artistic, commercial, acedemic. Each is rife with examples of hypocrisy and betrayal. Why should we be surprised that a treasured cultural institution should accept the largesse from the likes of them? This is the local equivalent of the NAACP cashing Donald Sterling's checks.
When captivated audiences come this weekend to enjoy the beauty and bounty of love, passion and community at the "Flint Hills Children's International Arts Festival", they will not have the Koch's on their mind. They will not be asking where the 35 billion tons of carbon annually emitted into the world's atmosphere goes. They won't be asking why, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Koch's continue to imperil the very children whose skirts and trousers they hide behind this weekend.
Audiences will be entranced by the explosive and visual rhythms of Step Afrika, the seated tap dances of De Temps Antan and the traditional and digital puppetry of Austrailia's Terrapin Puppet Theatre.
The Ordway management, while not exactly dancing with the devil, are up close and personal with benefactors that are out of step with the spirit and magic that emanates from their stages.