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Diane Wilson, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw, on Firedoglake Book Salon

This article originally appeared on Firedoglake as an introduction to the discussion that takes place in comments to the post, which can be followed here.

Josh Nelson, Host: Diane Wilson is truly an eco-outlaw. And yes, in case you are wondering, I consider that to be a huge compliment. The courage and perseverance she displays in the stories shared in this volume should be an inspiration for anyone concerned about the role of corporations in society or what those corporations are doing to the planet. From Calhoun County, Texas to Bhopal, India, Diane is a fearless agitator for change and a voice for what’s right. Courage, fearlessness and perseverance aside, the attribute most essential to Diane’s activism is conviction. Like all environmental activism, Diane’s is fueled by a conviction that something has gone horribly wrong with the way people relate to the planet and that she has a unique responsibility to do something about it. Diane, like many others before and since, has a feeling growing inside her that unscrupulous corporations are literally killing the planet in pursuit of slightly higher profits. I’ve got the same feeling growing inside me, and I suspect many of you do too. It’s the same kind of conviction that you can read in Rachel Carson’s words or hear in Bill McKibben’s speeches. It’s the same kind of conviction that motivated a young hero named Tim DeChristopher to risk his own freedom in order to disrupt oil and gas drilling on 150,000 acres in Utah. Activism that stems from such a strong conviction is powerful because it represents societal changes that can’t be defeated, only delayed. When you know you’re doing the right thing and making a difference, that knowledge will feed you during hunger strikes and keep you in the fight regardless of the odds. From her upbringing on a Texas shrimp boat, through her progression as a mother and environmental activist, Diary of an Eco Outlaw puts Diane Wilson’s conviction on display time and time again. Her activism began when the nation’s first Toxics Release Inventory was made public in 1989. The inventory found her rural Texas County, which was littered with chemical plants, to be the most polluted in the county. Diane was changed by this knowledge, and immediately went to work learning everything she could about the nearby chemical plants and plotting strategies for forcing them to stop polluting her community. But if the Toxics Release Inventory is what began Diane’s transition from shrimper to environmentalist, witnessing the devastation of Union Carbide’s carelessness in Bhopal, India is what caused her to transform further, from environmentalist to environmental activist – a title she now wears with pride. While in Bhopal, Diane listened to the stories of those who had survived the 1984 disaster and the family members of those who hadn’t. She learned about the panic and helplessness hundreds of thousands of people experienced on that December night when a huge quantity of gases and chemicals leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal. And she saw a set of powerful photographs of unborn babies who were killed by the chemicals. They reminded Diane of her own children, and they’ll forever serve as a stark reminder of why it is important to continue the fight. Whether it is Bhopal or BP, in the Arctic or at Upper Big Branch, there are no shortages of environmental and human disasters that can serve as similar reminders for each of us. Diane’s decades of smart and effective activism have shown over the years that it doesn’t take a Master’s Degree in public policy, an inside knowledge of the EPA’s bureaucracy or a thick rolodex to be an environmental activist. All it takes is a conviction that things aren’t right, a vision for how they should be and a willingness to jump into the fight with everything you’ve got. Click here to see the original article and follow comments and responses. Diary of an Eco-Outlaw; An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth is available in our bookstore.


10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More..

50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech Solutions to Save the Planet

Tired of watching people spend so much time thinking up big solutions to big problems that it has a paralyzing effect on taking action? If you’re like author Courtney White, the answer is yes. That’s why in Two Percent Solutions for the Planet, he takes readers on a journey to show how low-cost, easy-to-implement solutions […] Read More..

Beyond the War on Invasive Species – Review in Permaculture Design Magazine

This review was originally published in Permaculture Design, Issue #97, “Life on the Edge,” Fall 2015; www.PermacultureDesignMagazine.com Look in the Mirror Review by Peter Bane For its extensive scholarship, clear voice, and impassioned, hopeful message, this book is a joy to read—a slim but beautifully written teaching text which uses permaculture and ecosystem science as a lens for viewing the […] Read More..

5 Common Invasive Species and How to Manage Them

Last week, we asked authors Tao Orion and Katrina Blair to share alternative approaches to managing five different plant species commonly held to be “invasive.” St. John’s Wort, Garlic Mustard, Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, and Kudzu are often dismissed as annoyances at best and the target of aggressive eradication with harmful chemicals at worst. Orion and […] Read More..

What in the World is a Pawpaw?

Have you heard of the pawpaw? A few generations ago, most would say “yes!” You could ask just about anyone and they could tell you what this fruit looked and tasted like, and more importantly, where to find it. But today, the pawpaw remains a mystery to some and entirely unknown to others. In Pawpaw: […] Read More..
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