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Table Talk

The dining table Tony Booth donated to LEAD Agency has been with us since we moved into the ROCK House and later when we brought it to the house on the corner of Steve Owens and A South East.

The decisions we have made while sitting around it through all these years have been difficult and serious. We didn’t “talk dirty” at the table but spoke of polluters and the filthy ways they harm us and the environment we hold dear, nor were we “Foul” mouthed when working to organize against Mega-poultry operations.

We laughed together, much as the prior generation’s family had who had sat around it in their home.

LEAD passed resolutions and elected officers. We slammed our fist down on that table when recalling superfund’s failure to focus on Tar Creek. Former BF Goodrich workers made us aware of the wrongs done and what was left behind deserved attention and to honor their memory we still must get more done to protect those neighbors.

That table got us together to form a family of sort, of people who see wrongs and want them made right.

And last weekend, it was pulled apart and drug out to the front porch. All of the legs were removed and carried out, then the three extra leaves were laid on the porch banisters and finally the table top came out to lay on the borrowed saw horses. Sanding with finer and finer sandpaper was followed by a rub down with turpentine. When Tony Booth and his daughter Tena arrived, the table lay in pieces. It was like a reunion to have Tony, who had been a LEAD board member for over 15 years walk back in our office and be reunited with his DINING ROOM TABLE!

The walnut stain was applied and left to set overnight. And when that warm morning turned afternoon, who arrived? Tena Booth with her very own POWER WASHER to clean and spiff up the exterior of our building. I am imagining, she came so when that table was pulled back inside it would be assembled in a properly CLEANED building!

Tena was still power-washing when I left to take an Oklahoma University graduate student to a late lunch. Valerie Doornbos was moved to do her research on the impact industry has on the workers they chew up because of her own family growing up in the Rust Belt. Her father is suffering possibly from the exposures he received in the jobs that fed her family. Her research brought her here to interview many of our own about their experiences while working at BF Goodrich.

When Valerie leaves Oklahoma after graduation, we have invited her to meet one more time with the retirees she interviewed. How will they meet? Around the table. That’s how it comes together at LEAD Agency.

But the table will have others sitting around it this week. An Australian map maker, a Wisconsin Poet and the Region 6 EPA Administrator and her entourage join us this week for a meeting for one of those serious talks with people with power who could if, if we choose our words, bring the environmental stewardship we have all longed for here.

I will be greeting the sun with a visit to water, our Tar Creek, and a prayer to be able to think clearly and find the words that will help bring the protection you need, our water deserves and a real hope for the future.

We’ll be sitting around that table using kindness and respect as a defense.

Sit around the tables in your home keep writing your cards and letters to FERC and clearing your throat to start speaking up every time you sit ‘round a table. We have to practice speaking up and making our voices heard.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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