A strategy meeting for grass roots toxics activists has been called on very short notice: it will take place at the Hilton Airport Inn in Pittsburgh this Saturday, October 1, from 9 to 5. Everyone is welcome. Here's the background:
Since earth day in 1970, we have organized marches and cause days, sit-ins and occupations. We've passed laws and published tomes, and stimulated the spending of billions of dollars 'to protect' the environment. Yet our nation is producing more poisons than ever before, and we still have epidemics of occupationally-caused diseases, wasted communities, wasted lands and waters. At the same time, the political and economic power of the poisoners keeps increasing.
Polls constantly show the American people favor healthy communities, wise use of resources and clean environments. But too many people obviously do not believe they have the power to oppose the destruction that continues in our midst.
The meeting Oct. 1 is to discuss strategies for actions to show people that the power of the polluters can be curbed. The meeting is being held now to discuss a wave of actions that could start right after the elections.
Grass roots activists know that the elections will not make a major difference in our fights. The faces of our adversaries may change but the issues of toxics and resource destruction will not be handled very differently under a new administration than under the old. This is not to say the candidates are equal; they are not, and anyone who has been paying attention during the past eight years will know which way to vote and will know that it is essential to vote. But the point is, even if the better candidate is elected, the tasks before us will not change much. Nevertheless, a change in administration may create the ideal time to put our message out in dramatic and concrete terms, to cast the framework within which all new agendas will be carried out.
Some grass roots activists are convinced that the period between the elections and the start of the new administration is the best time to stage some coordinated actions against carefully selected targets who represent the worst health threats to humans and to the environment. The actions would be designed to focus attention, prick the conscience of the nation, energize toxics fighters and community activists, attract new supporters, and send a potent message to those newly elected.
Among the goals might be:
to legitimize toxics and community protests;
to encourage stepped-up organizing and action;
to move toward racial unity and geographic solidarity;
to help guardians of the status quo to overreact and err;
to stop some poisoning and save some lives;
to set the stage for more comprehensive achievements.
The movement for environmental justice is capable now of initiating a series of coordinated actions aimed at galvanizing public support for an entirely new agenda for dealing with toxics. The old ways have clearly not worked.
The original call for this meeting appeared in a little paper published at irregular intervals, called the Wrenching Debate Gazette. Issues No. 4 and 5 focused on reasons why we need this meeting. The Gazette is free from publisher Richard Grossman, at 1801 Connecticut Ave., NW, 2nd floor, Washington, DC 20009; phone (202) 387-1000. Our 2nd and 3rd paragraphs (above) are taken almost verbatim from Gazette No. 4.
Driving in? The Hilton Airport Inn can be reached via Route 60;
get off at the Cliff Mine Road exit. The hotel's phone is (412)
262-3800; a single room is $50 for the night--some discount off
this price will be arranged. Lunch will not be served, so you're
on your own at mealtime.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: environmentalists; strategy; strategies; agendas; grass roots action; protest; demonstrations; movement for envitonmental justice; movement for environmental rights; wrenching debate gazette; pa; pittsburgh;