“Activism is about building communities, if you are not building communities you are not bringing any changes”.
When talking with Julie Ann, one is able to feel her sensitivity to the world and her constant search and passion for social and environmental justice in the way she talks. In this interview she discussed her cause, motivation and some future goals.
According to the website “The Dangers of fracking”, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. Fracking is being done on the land and property of private owners in Pennsylvania.
This leads to contamination of the water aquifers permanently with chemicals producing untreatable, radioactive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine-disruptive, neurotoxic waste fluid and the decreasing the worldwide supply of clean water irrevocably. This is how she defined it:
“Fracking is a human rights issue. It can be seen as clean water and clean air, but it is also a human rights and public health issue. Corporations are using our air, our land and our water as their toilets. They are violating and contaminating our food shed more than it already is. They have to be stopped”.
Moment of truth
Watching Gasland changed her life. She went into activism and organizing after watching it in 2010. Gasland is a documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox about fracking that starts in Pennsylvania and documents cases in other states. After this event she has been doing what she joking calls “frack around the clock” including endless demonstrations, presentations of testimonies in front of multiple regulatory agencies, forums, seminars, visits with impacted families, Gasland and other documentaries screenings, symposiums, festivals, lobbying legislators, trainings, marches, rallies, conference calls and E-activism.
She also researches scientific studies and reports, first-hand testimonies from people suffering from drilling impacts, independent journalists, doctors, and other volunteer advocates. She stands up for those who have been violated and journeys through the tri-state area under the banner of fracktivism.
“My life crystallized before my eyes; my heart was engaged, open, flowing, and full of compassion for victims of fracking past and future…it was my point of entry, it is not an exaggeration that it changed my life.”
Today she runs Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, which is part of the nationwide coalition “Stop the Frack Attack” and part of another umbrella coalition called “Americans against fracking”. She branded a sister organization called Safe Water Society for fundraising. Both organizations work in the Lehigh Valley revealing the ugly truth about fracking and fighting for better policies.
“A community is a group of people that transcends physical boundaries because of shared values and goals, and anyone who is conscious of and identifies with them and contributes to them is part of it”.
Pennsylvania faces bad legislation concerning fracking and pipeline proposals every other week, so she stated that as a midterm goal she is organizing with other gathering the political clout to push Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to support a fracking moratorium which has also been endorsed viz resolution by 59% of the Democratic State Committee. As a long-term goal she would like to see fracking banned in the United States.
“The moratorium for any new permit on drilling would buy us time. We consider it as a stepping stone, which would give us time to do the full environmental cumulative impact study and get more people power against any action”
What keeps you going?
She states that she wishes the bulk of her activities would be recruiting more people against fracking, but she struggles walking the fine line between what her family needs and her intensive care for the people affected by fracking. When I asked her what keeps her going, this was her answer:
“I do not know any other way to live in this world other than to be a member of my extended activist family, my community of brothers and sisters who are taking a stand against corporate abuses worldwide. That’s the team I am playing for. I do not imagine any other way to be in the world. “
To keep reading about Julie’s vision please check the Subversive Women Dictionary with terms asked to all the interviewees.
*While she is not fracking around the clock Julie is also an online marketing consultant, clean energy broker, clean food advocate, and member of Team Mother Earth. She launched Gemini Social Enterprises as a values-based venture because of her sincere passion for healthy local economies and the vitality of Main Street businesses.