Ready to join the fight? Erin Brockovich and team deliver you the unfiltered truth on the national water crisis, toxic chemicals, and other health problems in your backyard, including how to speak up and take action. You can read more about our mission here. Click the button below to support us and become a paid subscriber.
What happens when you want to change the world around you?
It’s a good question and one I have pondered for many years. I didn’t start out with this huge desire to become an environmental advocate; I was really just trying to be a good mom and a decent citizen. Through an interesting twist of fate, I ended up working for a law firm and the case of a lifetime unfolded from there. When I started working in Hinkley, I didn’t know if I could make a difference. I just knew I had to keep taking the next step to do what I thought was right.
Last year, I was on the How To! podcast that also looked at this very question: how can you change the world?
I was joined by Mike, a fisherman, who saw a problem in his backyard. He started to see sick fish in the rivers and became increasingly concerned about the State of Florida spraying herbicides in the rivers and lakes near his home.
Mike own his own home construction business. He’s a regular guy not activist, but he cares about the water. So he started making aerial videos documenting algal blooms to try and convince the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to take a different approach. He started going to meetings and listening to other experts to understand the complicated water situation in Florida.
And that’s how so many folks get started.
Getting people to focus is how you make change. Find something you care about and focus in on the issue. Then, look for like-minded allies. People recognize my name from the movie and forget that I did not “win that case” on my own. A lot of different people came together to fight for Hinkley. The only reason I was successful was because I built trust with the people I was working with—the Hinkley community.
But it can take a while to get others on board, so then the question becomes how do you stay the course? I want to remind each of you—keep dreaming, keep working, and keep connecting.
You have got to have stick-to-itiveness. My mom taught me the power of that word, which means a propensity to follow through in a determined manner.
Even once you’ve gotten people’s attention and you’ve started to find some allies, you may need to keep being loud. What’s the right the volume? Are you documenting the problem accurately and attending community meetings and reaching out to the media?
You may also get a bit of attention, and then it falls away. People get distracted by other things, especially right now in this moment, where it feels like there’s so much information racing toward us each day.
My advice is don’t try to convince anyone of anything. The minute you start trying to shove something down a community’s throat, they’re going to kind of wrestle with you. But stay focused and keep working at it.
Having a friend or a teammate who can charge you up, who can share that emotional work with you, that’s really important because they’re going to be times when you want to give up. An important rule is to divvy up the work and pace yourself because otherwise you’ll burn out.
Don’t be afraid to give yourself a break when you have a moment of exhaustion. Just because you set the ball down for a weekend and reboot and catch your breath and re-strategize, doesn’t mean you’ve failed and it doesn’t mean the game’s over.
You may also need to change tactics at some point in the fight. You can start out critical—shouting and complaining and criticizing officials, but you may then shift and start working within the system. It’s important to learn how to work with every stakeholder, even the people you dislike or mistrust or you think are wrong.
When all else fails, remember who really has the power. We might look at big industry or politicians as the ones in control, but remember how much time and resources they spend to get our attention. Right? TV ads, town-hall meetings, etc.
Wealthy members of industry donate huge sums of money to political campaigns, which means that politicians spend that money to get YOUR vote. In return, they give a blind eye to industry poisoning you.
The way we can all negate this corruption is by voting for our best interests and not the industries. That’s how #RedTideRon DeSantis got into power in the first place. The people voted him in!
So whether it’s a vote or a movement to get people to pay attention to waterways, the only path to change is when all the people who care get together and organize. In Florida you'd be the change. You would be the heroes. And that stands for any town that’s fighting toxins or corruption.
Everyone writes to me for help, but one of the best things I can do is pass the torch and give you a little advice to get started. That’s it. The only real change comes when enough people come together to make it happen.
Industry has the power because they can buy your vote. But the goal is still your vote. Get educated and vote for the issues you care about.
Don’t worry about taking on everything, just start with something.
Ding, Dong Roundup Is Dead
Speaking of people making a difference, did you see the news?
The cancer-causing weedkiller glyphosate, known as Roundup, will no longer be sold for residential use in the U.S. by 2023.
Bayer AG, has agreed to pay as much as $10.9 billion to settle close to 100,000 U.S. lawsuits claiming that Roundup caused cancer.
Of course, the decision to end lawn and garden sales of its weedkiller is not altruistic but rather an attempt to shield Bayer from the kind of litigation that has already battered the company’s reputation and stock value.
“This move is being made exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns,” the company said in the update.
The company admits no liability or wrongdoing. But as many of you read our recent piece on Roundup, you know that when the product comes off the shelves, it will have less impact.
“This is a positive but long-overdue development that will end the exposures most responsible for cancer cases brought against Bayer/Monsanto,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook in a statement. “The company should also immediately revoke the end-of-season use of glyphosate on food crops, a major reason why the weedkiller contaminates so many foods. Those two steps would dramatically reduce direct human exposure to this toxic pesticide.”
Bayer has said it will replace glyphosate with other active ingredients in its star weedkiller, but did not identify them. Stay tuned!
Sound off with your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. We all have a voice here at The Brockovich Report.