Film screening– Blue Gold: World Water Wars– October 18th

Blue Gold: World Water Wars
October 18, 7 p.m.
Emerson Avenue Baptist Church, 306 N. Emerson Avenue, Indianapolis

“Water is one of the most common things on earth, but the supply of it on this planet is finite, and as the world’s population expands, the demands of industry and commerce increase and pollution fouls more and more of our natural resources, potable water is no longer as easy to find as it once was, and many believe that it will become a valuable strategic commodity with the passing of time. Filmmaker Sam Bozzo examines the growing battle over control of the global water supply. This film follows numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools. As Maude Barlow proclaims, “This is our revolution, this is our war”. A line is crossed as water becomes a commodity. Presented by the Indianapolis Eastside Creation Care Network.

A few words about freedom on Constitution Day by Edward Abbey

In the ultimate democracy of time, Henry (Thoreau) has outlived his contemporaries.  Hawthorne and Emerson are still read, at least in University English departments, and it may be that in a few elementary schools in Maine and Minnesota children are being compelled to read Longfellow’s Hiawatha (I doubt it; doubt that they can, even under compulsion), but as for the others, they are forgotten by everyone but specialists in American literature.  Thoreau however, becomes more significant with each passing decade.  The deeper our United States sinks into industrialism, urbanism, militarism– with the rest of the world doing its best to emulate America– the more poignant, strong, and appealing becomes Thoreau’s demand for the right of every man, every woman, every child, every dog, every tree, every snail darter, every lousewort, every living thing to live its own life in its own way at its own pace in its own square mile of home. Or in its own stretch of river. ”                                         Edward Abbey, Down the River

ACLU’s Happy Constitution Day message

I’ve been thinking a lot about free speech, due process, and equal protection lately vis-a-vis the difficulty of being heard by some officials and promoters of the reservoir plan.   I wonder if the constitutional values which are the underpinning of our democracy are really shared by some of these decision-makers and promoters.  We shall see. Today’s message (below) celebrating Constitution Day is a good message to share.   Happy Constitution Day!


Constitution Day: What Should We Celebrate?

“Today we celebrate the 226th birthday of our Constitution. But what precisely should we celebrate?

In the summer of 1787, the founders created a remarkable framework for our democracy — but their document was deeply flawed.

Since individual liberty was not protected from the power of government in the original Constitution that was submitted for ratification, a Bill of Rights was added. The Bill of Rights reflected a broader vision of freedom.

Even with the Bill of Rights, the Constitution remained flawed — it protected slavery.

The Constitution we celebrate today, a document guaranteeing equality before the law, required a bloody civil war before amendments brought African Americans within the Constitution.

But it would take another century before African Americans began to redeem the promise of the Civil War amendments. During that time, race discrimination became deeply embedded in our laws, our political institutions and our culture. Until 1954, it was even legitimized by the U. S. Supreme Court.

It took more than 175 years after the Constitution was written before civil rights laws outlawed discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and voting.

And what is true for the struggle for racial equality is also true about the struggle for other liberties.

The Constitution tolerated the subjugation of women. It was not until 1920 that the 19th amendment gave women the elementary right to vote. This was not due to the wisdom of the founders and the original Constitution, but to the struggle in the streets that followed.

If the framers knowingly left out Blacks and women, they didn’t even consider the rights of immigrants, gays and lesbians, children, students, prisoners, the mentally ill and the disabled. For nearly all of our history, these groups were largely unprotected by the Constitution. But one by one, they and their advocates fought to have the Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to them.

But what happens when the government violates the Constitution — when it makes a law restricting free speech or religious liberty, or denying a group due process or equal protection of the laws?

The conventional answer is that the courts will step in. But courts don’t act on their own. They are powerless to fulfill their function unless an aggrieved person challenges the constitutional violation.

In 1910 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was established, followed in 1920 by the American Civil Liberties Union. They gradually developed the resources to challenge constitutional violations on behalf of people who could not have done it alone. People whose rights had been violated were able to go to court, and their actions ignited the judiciary.

For 130 years after the Bill of Rights was adopted, the most notable thing about it was its almost total lack of implementation by the courts. By the beginning of the 20th century, racial segregation was legal and pervaded all aspects of American society. Sex discrimination was firmly institutionalized and workers were arrested for labor union activities. Legal immigrants were deported for their political views, the police used physical coercion to extract confessions from criminal suspects, and members of minority religions were victims of persecution. As late as 1920, the U.S. Supreme Court had never once struck down any law or governmental action on First Amendment grounds.

So when we celebrate our Constitution, we celebrate not only the remarkable document drafted 226 years ago at the Philadelphia Convention. We also celebrate the men and women who took that document seriously, who fought to make those rights a reality and expand its protections to those left out — some of whom risked their lives to fight for the constitutional rights of all Americans.

In Indiana, we honor the brave men, women and children who have stood up for their rights against incredible odds, on the promise that, in the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Happy Constitution Day.”

Members of the ACLU of Indiana Board of Directors:

Alice Bennett, President, Muncie

Bryan Bullock, Calumet

Andrea Cohen, Indianapolis

Georgia Cravey, Indianapolis

Dave Frank, Fort Wayne

Leonard Goldstein, Fort Wayne

Cris Halter, Indianapolis

Pat Helms, Muncie

Larry Hesson, Indianapolis

Robert J. Hohl, South Bend

Terri R. Jett, Indianapolis

Joan Laskowski, Lafayette

Mark E. Miller, Evansville

Paul Newman, Bloomington

Nancy Papas, Indianapolis

Caroline Richardson, Indianapolis

Anne Riley, Lafayette

Mary Runnells, Bloomington

Sharon Russell, Terre Haute

Roberta Schonemann, Lafayette

Fran Watson, Indianapolis

Reba Boyd Wooden, Greenwood

Will Citizens Water extend any charity to Irondale residents?

As Citizens Water evaluates the pros and cons of participation in the proposed reservoir in Anderson, it will be interesting to see to what extent it might extend charity, in the form of continued survival, to the low-income Irondale community.

One way would be for Citizens to decline to participate in the possible dam and water deal which would wipe Irondale off the map after property acquisition, demolition and inundation. The displacement of this community would be largely to support a seemingly insatiable thirst for lawn irrigation water by burgeoning Indianapolis suburbs in Zionsville, Westfield, Carmel, Noblesville, and Fishers. These are affluent areas which have shown little or no interest in water conservation and which tally very high maximum-day demands on the water system during the dry months.

Despite its much-touted legal configuration as a public charitable trust, Citizens Energy has some history of degrading communities which have limited means. For over 100 years, Citizens Energy Group operated a huge coke plant on the southeast side of Indianapolis. The plant had very debilitating effects on the surrounding working class neighborhoods. Those effects are reported in a University of Indianapolis study When the Ovens Go Cold— Industrial Contamination and Community Response, a Preliminary Report of the Coke Plant Re-Use Project Group, March 2009. It concludes, in part,

“The literature on environmental racism and environmental classism demonstrates clearly that non-white and non-affluent areas have been the dumping ground for the waste created to maintain a high standard of living for an increasingly smaller part of the American population (Bullard, 1990; Bullard, 1993). Similar environmental sociology research in Indianapolis and Indiana report clear evidence of racism and classism in the locating of toxic waster generators and toxic waste dumps (Maher, 1998).”

If Citizens Water becomes the principal user of water captured in a Mounds Lake as proposed by the CED, most of the water released at the dam during dry-weather, low-flow conditions would be used for wasteful turf grass irrigation in the northern tier communities of Indianapolis which have been mostly indifferent to, if not contemptuous of, water conservation. These communities are populated largely by wealthy and politically-powerful people who view a heavily-irrigated expanse of green lawn as a sign of wealth and status. (During the 2012 drought, one residential customer in Carmel on the Citizens system was drawing at a rate of more than one million gallons per day). Also, theses communities are still growing at a brisk pace, and the politicians don’t want to slow their fast-paced growth which itself has come to be perceived as a symbol of status. And Citizens Water too is loathe to restrain the expansion of the urban area in any way because the expansion of its customer base and thus revenues is a key business and strategic objective.

If Citizens Water decides to push ahead in a deal to build a reservoir, it will be interesting to see how its engineers and PR consultants will craft their statements of need in order to finesse these and other significant social equity and environmental issues.

Irondale residents celebrated their annual reunion this weekend. One wonders how many more such gatherings will be held if Citizens Water decides to pursue building a reservoir.

Tenet No. 8 of A Conservationist Manifesto by Scott Russell Sanders

8. “Healthy villages and cities are also diverse, resilient, and beautiful. No human settlement can flourish apart from a flourishing landscape, nor can a family or individual thrive in a ruined place. Likewise, no landscape can flourish so long as the inhabitants of that place lack the basics of a decent life—safe and adequate food and water, secure shelter, access to education and medical care, protection from violence, chances for useful work, and hope for the future.”