‘Creative resistance’ in Chapel Hill

Sandra Steingraber

Sandra Steingraber at the podium.

By Lib Hutchby and John Wagoner, Triangle Branch

On April 4, ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber addressed North Carolinians with dignity, integrity, and authenticity. She offered personal stories at a luncheon hosted by Triangle WILPF members, and later, gave an evening talk.

The title of her evening talk, “Creative Resistance: Fighting Toxins and Fossil Fuels,” attracted activists, scientists, educators, staff, and volunteers from 22 nonprofits. Many who are directly affected by contamination of soil, water, and air in their homes also came to hear her words of inspiration, truth, and courage.

Sandra Steingraber clearly and eloquently expressed the extreme seriousness of the climate crisis and the consequences of the extraction, processing, and burning of fossil fuels. She urged everyone to bring all their personal skills into the struggle to confront our fossil fuel economy and stop the current extreme climate injustice faced by communities around the world. Those of us who recognize the problems, she said, need to go beyond our normal comfort zones and expand what we are willing to do to in order to pass a livable planet on to future generations.

Lib Hutchby, John Wagoner and Sandra Steingraber.We were thrilled by the collaborative spirit, which began the evening with community drummers. Groups included: Just Drummers, Unity Center for Peace Drummers, Beats in the Bones, and Boogie Holler Drummers, who performed with Paperhand Puppet Intervention, using puppetry, performance, and creativity to undermine and eradicate greed, hate, and fear and promote justice, equality, and peace.

The Rev. Rodney Sadler, currently serving as the North Carolina NAACP chairperson of their Healthcare Committee, was the first powerful speaker. After Dr. Steingraber spoke, we were privileged to view the trailer of “Fractured,” a new film coming out soon about her life, as she worked to stop fracking in New York.

Connecting all the issues of air and water contamination to the health of North Carolinians were three panelists who gave witness to their struggles and suffering. Tracy Edwards, a member of Belews Creek Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup, lives close to Duke Energy’s Belews Creek coal and ash dumpsite and is featured in the documentary Democracy for Sale. Bobby Jones, a member of the NC NAACP and of the Down East Coal Ash Coalition, lives in a community close to the Duke Energy coal ash dump/facility in Goldsboro, where over 100 people have died of cancer and many others continue to suffer with cancer. Professor Ryan Emmanuel, who teaches forest hydrology at North Carolina State University, is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of NC and a member of EcoRobinson. His family and other residents in his community are still impacted by contaminated air and water and ongoing recovery efforts related directly to Hurricane Matthew, and will be impacted by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Ryan Emanuel, and Rev. Rodney SadlerThe whole evening was amazing and wonderful as we were inspired by Dr. Steingraber’s words: “We are all members of a great human orchestra, and it is now time to play the Save the World Symphony. You do not have to play a solo, but you do have to know what instrument you hold and find your place in the score.”

Top photo: Lib Hutchby, left, with John Wagoner and Sandra Steingraber. Bottom photo: Ryan Emanuel, left, and Rev. Rodney Sadler, center, talk at the Triangle Branch’s luncheon.

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