Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unexpected Environmental Alliances Amidst the Oil Spill: 'Jesus Will Rip Your Head Off'

by Paul Rogat Loeb

"In the wake of the BP disaster, we've heard powerful stories from fishermen whose livelihoods may have been destroyed for decades or longer. However long it takes for the Gulf's fish, oyster and shrimp harvests to recover, those who've made their livelihoods harvesting them will need to create a powerful common voice if they're not going to continue to be made expendable. A powerful model comes from Seattle and Alaska salmon fisherman Pete Knutson, who has spent thirty-five years engaging his community to take environmental responsibility, creating unexpected alliances to broaden the impact of their voice, and in the process defeating massive corporate interests."...

..."But they refused to give up. Instead, Pete and his coworkers systematically enlisted the region's major environmental groups to campaign against the initiative ("a statewide initiative to regulate fishing nets in a way that would eliminate small family fishing operations"). They'd built up longstanding working relationships, so getting them involved was easy. They also brought in the Native American tribes, with whom they'd also painstakingly built coalitions and with whom they were now accustomed to working with.

Equally important, they enlisted some unexpected allies. When a local affiliate of the fundamentalist Trinity Broadcasting Network broadcast a segment supporting Initiative 640, a fisherman who was a member of the highly conservative Assembly of God churches and who Pete had helped get engaged, called the reporter. "Do you know who Jesus's disciples were? he asked. "They were fishermen. What do you think Jesus is going to do when he comes back and finds out you've stopped people from making a living by fishing? He's going to rip your head off."' More>>>>

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