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Why it's Mothers Who Lead the Way in Environmental Change

18/03/2013 11:46 GMT | Updated 15/05/2013 10:12 BST

Or the accidental fracktivists

 

It's always the case. That karmic force of coincidence* which means you learn the most obscure word in the English language one day, and then hear it (or read it) ten times the next. So it was that my last post on HuffPo about fracking, caused an avalanche of 'fracking' news to tumble into my newly awakened environmental stream of consciousness via 4 different email accounts and one phone call.

"You'll be interested in this" my friend said. "You have to get in touch with Pramilla Malick of Minisink, New York. She and her friends are the real force behind the anti-fracking movement in New York."

I wrote about fracking; therefore I must be interested.

"At the moment the campaign they're spearheading is the Stop the Minisink Compression Coalition. It's basically a group of Mums waging war on the oil and gas industry."

Ok, I was interested ...because I love supporting the cause of the underdog.

He's American, my friend so he actually said 'Moms'... but, this is my blog and I like to say 'Mums'.  That's my one bid for control in a life of writing which is quite frankly starting to break free from me, its creator. As it turns out, 'my writing' wants to improve the world. I've let it shout in the past about Fairtrade and Corporate Slavery. But give someone an inch and they'll take a mile.  Now me and my writing are on a warpath to support the anti fracking movement in New York...

The Minisink Mums don't want a ruddy great compressor (a facility which helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another) built in the middle of their small community. The gas transported contains poisons and are a risk at every point in the process, from extraction, through the transportation, to the point of consumption. Shale gas is known to be highly radioactive and will expose families to indoor radon poisoning from their kitchen stoves; poison right in the heart of the family home.

And my hearts go out to them not just because they're organic-eating environmental warriors like me who care about their life, their environment and their children. Nor even that their professionally made video clip juxtaposes hens scratching the earth with pointed references to Minisink being the home of many 9/11 first responders still suffering from lung damage.

It's because they're in a battle against the big guys like me. Challenging the system in a desperate attempt to save the health and lives of their families.

Moms do everything possible to protect our children. It's our obligation. We are cautious about the food we give them. We try to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. So going to battle for our environment to protect our air, our water, our soil, is a mere extension of that maternal mandate.  This is why in community after community from Colorado to NY , as in Minisink, Moms are  sounding the alarm about threats from gas and oil gas activity.  And, we're not just sounding the alarm... in many cases we are driving the resistance.

Moms are game changers. We easily bond with each other and are creating a vast support network around the country.  And we have stamina.  Having withstood childbirth we don't wear down so easily. In fact even raising teenagers becomes a handy experience when you have to confront the whims and wishes of this very self-absorbed and selfish industry.

But I don't want to romanticize it either. This struggle has taken a big toll on my family. I have missed important school events and been less available for homework help or test preparation.  Dinner has been less elaborate.  And the only way I can justify my periodic absence is because this is as an imminent threat not only to my children but all children.

Pramilla Malick, Stop the Minisink Compression Coalition.

These words resonate with me as they will with every mother in the world. It's instinctual. When you become a mother, you never sleep as soundly. You sense danger before your eyes see it. Love and fear - the only two motivators - are heightened like never before; because it's not for you, it's for your kids.

There was a town just under 120 miles west of us where the water had gone "black" and children started getting rashes from bathing in the water.  That was my turning point and I haven't stopped fighting since.

The biggest issue we have here domestically outside of the billions of lobbying dollars the industry will pour into our government is the stigma attached to a fight like this.  It is automatically deemed an environmental issue and thus, you are an environmentalist. Which means that it's easy for the oil/gas industry to dehumanize you and it makes it harder to reach families who aren't directly impacted.  For me, it's always been a human rights and social injustice issue.  That's the fire that keeps me going.

As mothers, we are bestowed this amazing responsibility of being the voices of our children. There is an awakening that happens once you bring a life into the world.  The stakes become higher and you realize how every single thing is interconnected to the well being of our children.

Tanyette Colon, founder www.we-must.com

And all I can say is, beware of Mums on the warpath. Because this time, it's personal.

 

*or Google's omniscient algorithms.