fever dreams

some of the ghosts from my past

i’m back at this crossroads.  two years ago i was the darling of the southern anti nuclear movement.  i loved it.  i crashed pro nuclear conferences in full conservative girl costume, attracting the eye of the construction manager for the two new units i was actively fighting in jenkinsville, SC–i should have let him take me out for drinks.  and raising enough cain for the VP of duke’s nuclear program to sit down with me after the conference had ended.  i spent a summer living and working in jenkinsville, running listening projects and witnessing a community angry and wise and afraid of coming up against SCE&G.  i was humbled by elders in the community who shared compassion for the people responsible for their community’s ill health and economic devastation.  i traveled and shared my experiences and encouraged other people to run listening projects.  for a short while i was the youngest board member for a regional anti nuclear organization.  i wrote scathing op eds and public comments, i stood in a burlap sack at the South Carolina public service commission as they allowed the local utility to raise rates 37% over ten years for the express purpose of building two reactors that had not yet been licensed for construction.  and then i walked away.  for a whole host of reasons i left it behind, just as a fancy DC area anti nuke organization wanted to give me what had once been my dream job.

and then yesterday i was hit by the reality that part of me is stepping back into that world.  with the recent earthquake in mineral, just miles from north anna nuclear facility, where lots of people i love live, i find myself drifting back towards this issue.  and i am struck by a cynicism and enthusiasm for new beginnings.  i realized that i cannot actually engage in traditional campaigns to stop new nuclear reactors, or shut down the old ones.  that i cannot enter a new community before going back to the communities i come from.  and i jumped out of bed this morning to write one of my strongest allies and an old friend i made while working in jenkinsville that summer.  she’s already promised to write back soon, when she’s out of class.

it strikes me that when i was engaged in the battle over VC Summer in Jenkinsville that we did a lot of really great organizing.  we had brilliant lawyers, good turn out to the NRC and PSC meetings, totally on top of it people talking with the media, great visuals and a budding community opposition, we were doing a lot of stuff right and still the powers that be didnt listen.  and why?  because we were acknowledging their power to control our lives, our homes and our health.  but where does their power source from?  it’s entirely illegitimate and instead we should have been owning and flexing our own power.  i want to start a new kind of campaign to stop nuclear reactors; i want to be organizing communities around the idea that their dreams hopes and wishes for their community are the bottom line for determining what happens in those communities.  i want to connect communities that are struggling all along the line of the nuclear death cycle: uranium mining communities, reactor host communities, waste communities.  i want to introduce these communities to each other and reflect their power back at them and embolden them to rise up and kick these nasty nuclear facilities out of their communities.  i dont want to maintain the charade of these utilities’ power.

twice in the past two days with two very smart, very passionate women i’ve heard the argument of urgency.  that these issues are important and time sensitive and so it’s harder to do, as one put it, “more intentional organizing.”  but where is our collective urgency getting us?  when do these traditional styles of organizing succeed?  i was working on VC Summer more than two years ago and it’s still slowly on track for construction.  i think ultimately it will defeat itself, but i’d rather we defeated it together.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Walter Idler
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 20:32:03

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!


  2. paxus
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 22:23:39

    can we embrace a diversity of tactics? Can’t we push on the NRC when they might keep North Anna off line for a bit longer, because they do in fact have that power after this unprecedented earthquake. And also build a slow community movement to stop the madness of another block and shut these dangerous dinosaurs down? we’ve talked about this, i know you are willing, if we are really doing both and not just playing urgent when it is there and walking away when it is gone.


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