August 9, 2008
I’ll be heading back to Austin soon where we hope to regroup and move on to the next steps in our efforts to stop coal plants. All in all I consider this Arkansas trip to be a large success. We had 77 people come out for the screening in Fayetteville and had over 150 in Little Rock. Many Arkansans are eager to unite and stop these coal plants in order to promote and move towards renewable energy generation.
Here in Hope, however, my spirits were a bit lower. We distributed thousands of fliers at the Watermelon Festival in
the “hope” of drawing people out to the screening and getting folks involved in the fight. We were unsuccessful, however, and the only folks who showed up to the screening were the local hunting club guys who had been fighting this plant since the beginning. We were unable to get any new local interest in opposing the plant.
It is in these local towns, closest to the plants, where the hardest fight lies. Many, if not most, of the locals see the plant as an economic boon, since the few of them who get jobs with the company are usually getting the best job they’ve ever had. Concerns about public health, environmental degradation, and long-term economical impacts are ignored or justified in the light of some industry, any industry, willing to invest in the local community.
As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it.” This was true a hundred years ago, and it is still true today – both for men and women. And as long as the majority of people in this country are kept beneath a yoke of low wages and corporate consumerism, the will of the people to acknowledge, much less fight, the ills of our age will be greatly weakened.
This is not just an American dilemma, consider this Chinese coal plant situation:
The companies who build these plants know this. This is why they choose economically challenged or depressed sites and communities for their projects. It is also why it is so important to find those few locals who are willing and eager to speak against the crowd and stand up for their health, the environment, and a stable and sound energy future.
With that thought in mind we are networking the few dedicated souls in Hope with the rest of the great volunteers throughout Arkansas in our efforts to stop these coal plants. With the momentum we’ve gathered I think we have a great chance of achieving the change we seek.
As with Pandora, all it takes is a faint glimmer of Hope.