I have to laugh when people say they can’t do anything about big-time politics and corporations.
Time after time in my career, I’ve seen grass roots groups of citizens descend on city, county and state governments and get what they wanted because they were united.
This just recently happened in Pike County, where the group calling itself Block Grain Belt Express got the county commissioners to change their mind about the proposed power line that could have gone through Pike County.
The commissioners were originally for the project when they heard how much tax revenue and construction jobs it could generate. But the anti-power line group managed to get them to change their minds when they switched the focus to the possibility of their property rights and values being violated by Clean Line Energy Partners of Texas.
A letter from the commission against the project might have had something to do with Clean Line’s decision to go through Ralls County instead, although a company spokesman said it was based on a host of other reasons.
Undeterred, the anti-power line group continues to battle, with the fear that the alternative Pike County route could still be the final choice.
When I lived in the Sierra in California, a coalition of loggers, environmentalists and politicians started the Quincy Library Group to deal with national forest conditions and practices that were effecting all their livelihoods.
They humorously called it the Quincy Library Group because they figured the library was the only place they could meet without yelling at each other.They recently disbanded after 20 years of weekly meetings.
As I suspected, the group didn’t get exactly what it wanted, which was a large patchwork of fire breaks on the Plumas and Lassen National Forests created in a grid pattern to stop the devastating fires that have plagued those tree-choked stands for the past 30 years.
But what they did create was a philosophical change in the U.S. Forest Service to allow fire break-type cuts, with already burned-out areas getting precedence. They also left a legacy that showed that even people of divergent interests and income can come together for a cause and beat back big power.
It takes a lot of work to get one of these groups going and even more to sustain them.
This is a cynical time to say the least but it’s nice to know that the spirit of democracy can still work.