Dow Action Diary: Day 17

On July 17, activist Diane Wilson began a hunger strike in front of the gates of the Dow Chemical/Union Carbide corporation in Seadrift, Texas. She hopes to call attention to the plight of victims of 1984's industrial accident in Bhopal, India where, to date, Dow has still not cleaned up the derelict factory or adequately compensated the victims and survivors. Supporting Diane are Jodie Evans and other members of the group UnReasonable Women. What follows are excerpts from the daily emails Jodie and others send to the hundreds of supporters also on hunger strikes around the world in support of the victims of Bhopal.

Diane walked to the employee entrance as the deep red-orange sun moved over the factory. The sandwich sign met with the same response, denial and avoidance, few could allow themselves to look, as if Dow would snatch their job away in the next moment. The factory and its workers close in on themselves more everyday.

Michael brought us roses as we left with our umbrellas for the meeting with Kathy. The security guards who receive us have become our friends. I ask to use the lady's room, but am told I have to be taken there by Kathy. She escorts us back, through halls that haven't changed since the plant opened in '54, beige, cracking and dirty. They clearly don't care about any environment.

"Will you sign a zero discharge agreement?"

"No. We feel we are making sufficient progress our way and it is no value added for us. We are happy to arrange for a meeting with our community advisory panel, for Diane to discuss this with them."

The same one Diane won't be on because it is a sham, appointed and at the service of Dow.

Kathy continued her complaint that they aren't getting credit for all the good they have done. "We were the worst in the country now we are 54th" (which is still at the bottom). She is clueless and impenetrable.

When I started to confront her on some of these comments, she says, referring to the fact that she had led me to the ladies room, "Well, you aren't zero discharge either."

I silently look back at her, she apologizes and keeps talking. I was too slow to say mine is biodegradable and yours isn't, it seemed better to leave the chill of her overreach in the room. She was flustered and agitated as we left. Diane was quite gracious, opened her heart, took Kathy's hand and gave her a generous good-bye.

The day was full of visitors, locals, some curious, some offering ways of support. One 'damn' Yankee offered filtered water every morning. The last visitor was Aunt June, or Junebug as Diane calls her; she took our blood pressure, mine 120/80, high for me and Diane 100/70, low for her. She pronounced us both fine, but told a disturbing story about the last fast and Diane being hospitalized for kidney failure or something that brought a deep sigh of concern on her aunt's face. I could tell everyone knows not to push anything with Diane, they are even more used to her stubbornness than we.

When Junebug left, I asked Diane to look into my eyes. "You know when it is time to quit or you are damaging yourself, I need you to promise me that at the moment you call me and I will take on the strike for you and work with those I know who can help bring you back to strength as quickly as possible so you can resume the strike yourself. We are talking about lives and saving the earth, you have to model it yourself."

Looking into my eyes with her intense presence she agreed, on the condition that I end my strike now so I am ready to take it from her. I agreed and will begin to break my fast at home and research so ready with what will be needed if that moment comes.

umbrellasI am leaving, but not going, my heart remains. I will continue work with Diane on creating the action at Dow in Seadrift and will create something for us in L.A. for the 15th. Michael takes the baton from here, he has been and continues to be an angel, home and hero. I have been transformed, inspired, blessed and enlivened by the deep magic around Diane and this global expression of lives valuing life, every life.

Blessings and love to all as we continue to move forward toward a new vision for our world. Freedom from corporate rule.

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