The workers kindly gave me their supervisor's name in Tulsa for this region and contact information and the number actually worked and people talked to me. They gave me more numbers to call and I did. People listened, and I appreciate that, but real recourse was not suggested. The herbicide is recommended as safe to humans by OSU. That must be a great relief to the workers since they had no protective gear to use as a barrier if any of it blew back on to their skin or respiratory system. I was told they would never use it before a rain. But it rained this week.I stopped later by the white truck to thank them for giving me a working number. They had run out of chemical and I left them with great hope they would protect themselves from exposure as they carried out the work plan I failed as yet to find the avenue for substantial input.
This year's Miami Leadership Class added a visit to LEAD Agency on their environmental day and it was a real treat to meet them and have an opportunity to talk about our organization and issues we have been following for years, and the new ones on our plate.The room was filled with people who are already leaders involved in the community and tagged by their employees to participate or edged on internally to seek opportunities to learn more about leadership. There were a couple of greatly familiar faces, including a former student, and the rest refreshingly new to me. What I know from the Leadership Class experience is, for sure they are already leaders, they just realize the strength in the "s" at the end of leaders and the power when many stand together.
It does not take many to make a difference, as I believe we have shown with LEAD Agency efforts. It is the standing together and as our motto, the Cherokee term "Ga Du Gi" the working together that changes the world.As the only environmental justice organization in northeast Oklahoma, health and the environmental issues would have to include the hard stuff you would expect Tar Creek, Grand Lake, air quality, heavy metal and other toxic exposures, add fracking, bomb trains, climate change, bee collapse and the celebration of the rights we already have to farm. Then it is easier to understand why we work to include the arts to teach but also uplift our spirits with hope, gardening to pass along to youth the power we have to grow our own food and biking to get us up and doing, a phrase my mother often used from the line:
Let us then be up and doing with the heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
- "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is much to be done and we have patience, but there comes time for justice. As the Quapaws work with the state and EPA on the Tar Creek Superfund Site and restore lands by clearing chat piles and their footprints, we will continue to advocate for the complete cleanup of the site and as the superfund law states, for "as far as the contaminants have come to reside," which could be in the yard next to you, the property at the lake with chat for a driveway, including the chat we know is beneath foundations and should be dealt with to be protective to human health and in Tar Creek, Spring and the Neosho Rivers and in the lake we have loved. We want answers so we will continue to ask questions.
It isn't rude to want to know. It is environmental justice in action. It is stopping to ask the question of the sprayer along the road and making those calls.