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Mon Jan 14, 2013, 01:45 PM

Where Sod Meets Sky

“Whenever our people are ready to take any kind of action necessary to get results, they’ll get results. They’ll never get results so long as they play by the ground rules laid down by the power structure.”
-- Minister Malcolm X; WBIA-FM radio interview; January 28, 1965.


Yesterday, as a friend and I handed out the “health survey” that is part of our epidemiological study of the most polluted community in New York State, our pace was slowed by the number of people who wanted to talk with us. These are people from a wide range of backgrounds and social statuses, but they have one significant thing in common: after years, even decades, of concerns and frustrations regarding living in a contaminated environment, they believe that someone is finally paying attention to them.

One of the first people we spoke with is an elderly gentleman. He is well-educated, though he suffers from a major mental illness and is now classified as “disabled.” He told us that, in his opinion, human beings are born one of two ways: potentially intelligent, or potentially republican. He also made an interesting point: “I’ll give President Obama credit for the killing of Usama bin Laden. But, by the same measure, he has to be credited with the killing of innocent children with drone attacks.”

Others expressed anger that the local, state, and federal government has ignored their needs, despite the fact that their properties were severely damaged by major floods in 2006 and 2011. Several neighborhoods located near the community’s large military industry were left to deal with literally hundreds of barrels of toxic wastes polluting their properties. One man told us that, a week after the flood, he saw employees from the industry actually emptying barrels of waste over his fence, onto his back lawn. They ignored him when he told them to stop, so he began taking photographs to document what they were doing. They called the police, who told the man that if he didn’t stop “harassing” the workers, they would arrest him.

He said that he called some state officials, but they never responded. I said that I would assist him in getting a response.

The most troubling thing we heard came a block away. A young man told us that his five year old daughter had died from cancer, a disease that is not common in his wife or his extended families. He said that a health official told them that they should not have consumed the produce from their garden, as -- unknown to them -- they lived on the edge of a toxic industrial waste dump site. He thanked us for what we were doing, and said that he hoped our effort might help save other families from dealing with the type of tragedy that they have to deal with.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m old, and deal with physical disabilities myself. But I went back today, and spent some time handing out the health survey in another neighborhood. I listened to a young man (40 seems young to me these days) who is dealing with chemotherapy. He vented for a few minutes about all of the pollution from the industry, that is poisoning the local population. He tired quickly though, cutting our conversation short. As I was leaving his porch, he said, “Hey! Thanks for what you’re doing.”

I’ll be going back to that community tomorrow. I’m tired out, and sore as hell. But I believe that what I’m doing is important.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply Where Sod Meets Sky (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 2013 OP
NYC_SKP Jan 2013 #1
H2O Man Jan 2013 #6
NYC_SKP Jan 2013 #8
siligut Jan 2013 #2
H2O Man Jan 2013 #13
CrazyOrangeCat Jan 2013 #3
H2O Man Jan 2013 #15
CrazyOrangeCat Jan 2013 #4
hootinholler Jan 2013 #5
H2O Man Jan 2013 #16
hootinholler Jan 2013 #21
H2O Man Jan 2013 #24
mmonk Jan 2013 #7
Tsiyu Jan 2013 #14
mmonk Jan 2013 #19
H2O Man Jan 2013 #23
mmonk Jan 2013 #26
bigtree Jan 2013 #9
H2O Man Jan 2013 #25
Smilo Jan 2013 #10
malaise Jan 2013 #11
dixiegrrrrl Jan 2013 #12
marions ghost Jan 2013 #17
HangOnKids Jan 2013 #18
Unknown Beatle Jan 2013 #20
freshwest Jan 2013 #22
firehorse Jan 2013 #27

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 01:52 PM

1. Thanks for all you do.

We should have hundreds more like you.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 03:59 PM

6. Thanks!

I'd settle for a couple others to help deliver the health survey door-to-door tomorrow.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:09 PM

8. Now living in Northern California...

Were I still in NY, I'd love to help out.

Cheers, and thanks again.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:21 PM

2. What you are doing is very important

You are giving people hope.

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Response to siligut (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:49 PM

13. Thanks!

I like to think that I give people hope. I also am hoping that this helps to get people more confident in their ability to institute meaningful change -- and to become more actively involved.

Years ago, my friend Rubin taught me that people tend too often to look for "leaders" to assist them in accomplishing such things. This, the Good Hurricane said, was because the goodness of Truth had not fully taken root within them, and so they doubt their own strength. They do not recognize the full Power of Ideas.

When I'm in that community -- even just picking up the group's mail at the Post Office, or going into a store there -- I'm surprised by the number of people who approach me to discuss this epidemiology. While I know all too well that I'm just an average person, many of them are projecting, for lack of better words, a leadership role upon my person.

My opposition, of course, continues an attempt to discredit that. Fine with me, so long as their gossip keeps folks talking about the health study! But more, my goal is to encourage others to be their own "leader."

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 02:50 PM

3. DU Rec

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Response to CrazyOrangeCat (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:51 PM

15. Thank you !

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 03:13 PM

5. I don't think it's important

I think it's crucial! Which in my book is way more than important.

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:54 PM

16. Thank you, very much!

I appreciate that!

One of my medical providers suggested that I write a book, detailing my 30 years of documenting the poisoning of this community (including the roles of local, state, and federal government/ agencies, and the two federal court cases that I was involved in). Perhaps you can add that to your collection of books!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #16)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:37 PM

21. I would be honored to help proof it for you.

Seriously, let me know how I can help you make it happen.

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Response to hootinholler (Reply #21)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:20 PM

24. I will remember that!

Much appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:06 PM

7. Potential intelligent or potentially Republican.

Boy can I vouch for that since our legislature has now been taken over by Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

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Response to mmonk (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:49 PM

14. Amen



And the Repukes living up to their potential in my state scare the hell out of me.

I imagine our TN legislature will come up with another series of bills attacking vaginas and demanding guns be allowed in every classroom and demanding that the Jesus deJour* have his rules taught in social studies class as more important than the Constitution.


*I'm confused as to which Gawd has to be let back into schools - the Baptist Gawd, the Catholic Gawd, the Methodist Gawd, the Pentecostal Gawd? I honestly wish the Christians would all duke it out and get back to us on exactly which one we should teach about in school.

Now, THAT would be some entertainment right there!





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Response to Tsiyu (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 05:12 PM

19. Nothing like a good 'ol theological spat on who"s the real "Christian".

They can't all be right but they all could be wrong.

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Response to mmonk (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:19 PM

23. What I find interesting

is that, in going door-to-door, the registered republicans that I encounter recognize environmental issues as being extremely important. It's hard for me to square that up with their tendency to vote for corporate republicans, who are invested in exploiting that environment for immediate financial gratification.

Still, as we've discussed, in the past two years, I've helped engineer a five-for-five record for elections in that town. The new democratic majority was put in place with the help of registered republican voters.

In the next 7 to 10 days, I'll be posting (with links to newspaper & television news reports) about attempts by the Town Board's "tea party" minority to disrupt and derail the majority's efforts to protect the community from hydrofracking. (The media coordination is merely another task that I've assigned to myself!)

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 06:09 AM

26. At times, I do notice differences

between the extreme of elected tea party Republicans and those that voted for them. I think in the area of fracking, the elected tea party position can be made vulnerable if our postion is one of property rights, especially when it comes to forced pooling. That, I think, is their weak point.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:10 PM

9. good for you

. . . these folks are like 'downwinders.' Dumping by the military is a crime.

I imagine the military is in a position to try and intimidate these residents. They'll need outside visibility and support.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 09:29 PM

25. The industry is

used to having government officials jump when they say jump; bark when they say bark; and bite when they say bite. One of my associates says the industry holds a big stick over these officials. I don't feel that stick.

Much of the dumping was illegal. For example, at one location, night-time dumping took place for years after the state ordered it to stop. We documented this -- in fact, I brought one of the truckers who dumped there illegally to DC, to help the federal government prepare their legal case. But, as mentioned, despite solid evidence, the federal judged ruled (twice) in favor of the industry.

Thus, it's a long struggle. I've been involved with it for over 30 years. While I can't really say that I'm just getting warmed up, I am able to say that I'm again picking up the pace. Everything worthwhile is as difficult as it is valuable.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:37 PM

10. Thank you H20 Man

I admire you and all those that are with you on this much needed project.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:41 PM

11. You're a good man

a genuine activist

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 04:48 PM

12. It is so great that there are so many highly read internet sites you can post your info.

I am thinking of TPM, Kos, etc.
I applaud your efforts.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 05:04 PM

17. Thank you!

for doing this work and for this story. This abuse and callous unconcern for those who can be exploited illustrates the sickness that is pervasive in this society, from the top down.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 05:09 PM

18. K & R!

 

Thank you for your tireless conviction.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 07:17 PM

20. K & R

I salute you, H2O Man. You're a good person.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2013, 08:48 PM

22. K & R, H2O.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 11:35 AM

27. H20 Man, which community is the most contaminated environment?

I live in NYC, so do my friends.

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