Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The Environmental Rabble-Rousing of Diane Wilson

The article  below appeared originally online at  The Rag Blog by Robert S. Becker about Diane Wilson’s newest book Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth.
Environmental activist and author Diane Wilson will be Thorne Dreyer‘s guest on Rag Radio, Friday, June 24, 2011, 2-3 p.m. (CDT) on Austin’s community radio station, KOOP-91.7 FM, and streamed live on the internet. Diane will also speak about her book, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw, at Book People, 603 N. Lamar in Austin, Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. and will appear at the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Shindig & Soiree at Pine Street Station, 1101 E. 5th Street, Austin, from 4-7 p.m., Saturday, June 25.
Legendary Texas journalist Molly Ivins once joked about rebel-rouser-activist Jim Hightower: “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that child — mad as hell, with a sense of humor.” Well, Hightower has a protest soul sister, the inventive, congenial, yet fierce “eco-outlaw” named Diane Wilson. Unlike armchair activists and witty journalists, this champion takes risks, gets bloodied and arrested, and endures jail — then turns her adventures into good-hearted, epic tales reminiscent of Mark Twain. And what progressive battles need, more than ever, are inspiring protest leaders — and crowds in the street. Otherwise, we fail to learn from the insipid, conspiracy-ridden, if effective escapades of the Tea Party. One hard-won lesson I take from this hell-raising muckraker from Seadrift, Texa, is that petitions, donations, columns, and news interviews are nice but don’t save lives, jobs, America, or Mother Earth. Diane was featured in a terrific PBS documentary called Texas Gold, voiced by Peter Coyote, and, with Coyote, produced a hilarious satirical commercial for the film — about bottled Gulf water you get to drink once. Wilso was interviewed on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, and performs daring CodePink disruptions. [Wilson was, in fact, a founding member of CodePink, the theatrical direct-action peace group.] Diane has also penned two inspiring protest memoirs — real-life, laugh-out-loud, unflinching stories reliving what happens when a terrific activist puts her liberty on the line. This woman walks the line, until she gets forcibly removed. Her two full titles alone justify the price of admission: Her tactics are “unreasonable,” of course, only to cancer-inducing, worker-killing resource predators (well-shielded by official protection) whom she ambushes with inventive schemes. Eco-activism here is downright fun, mostly, like anti-war ’60’s agitation (though absent the crowds). She invites all of us to do local agitation. Where she’s best known as Corporate Criminal Enemy No. 1 is Calhoun County, Texas, which — alas, B.D. (Before Diane) — was a remote, Gulf coast pushover ripe for chemical dumpers, and by 1989 had won the EPA’s dubious prize as America’s most polluted place. That shocker woke Diane up, and she’s been confronting polluters (and now related war-mongers) ever since. Teaching by bold example I found out about Diane because my wife is writing a young adult novel and needed to check background about the Gulf, shrimping, and endangered sea turtles. So, who better to learn from than the liveliest, most notorious, ex-professional Gulf shrimper living between Galveston and Corpus Christi? Naturally we jumped in the van and drove eight hours when hearing Diane was to keynote a women’s literary celebration in Santa Barbara. Her simple if hard to execute message: trust your heart, assess the damage, disregard most well-intentioned warnings and, above all, don’t sweat outcomes impossible to know in advance. Progressives are forever talking and talking about direct protests, so time to learn from Diane’s fearless bravery, lit up by over 50 arrests. Would be 100 were she less even-tempered, her outrage tempered by quiet irony and southern courtesy, even to abusers. She never hides, however, the fact that maximizing bad publicity against huge public menaces means getting roughed up, inconvenienced, and punished. The system discourages disruption and, judging by her harsh prison depictions, many here would pipe up, “Is there a Plan B?” Click here to read the entire article>> [Robert S. Becker was educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English). Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, a high-end audio company, from ’80 to ’92. From ’92-02 he did marketing, consulting, and writing; since 2002, he has been scribbling on politics and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. This article was originally published at — and was distributed by — OpEd News.]


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