The world is in turmoil and facing dire environmental, public health and social threats. An old, though timely, story about Theseus heading into the Labyrinth to face the Minotaur tells us how to prepare for these threats. Theseus, a young man in search of justice for his people, sets out to conquer the Minotaur, a bloodthirsty creature sated only by the sacrifice of children. Theseus conquers the Minotaur and rescues the kids, wielding a sword and following the thread given to him by the clever Ariadne. The lesson? You go into these mazes with the tools you need to navigate the uncertainty and to deal with the monster.
Our responsibility at the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) is to forge the blade and spin the thread and provide them to the environmental coalitions and groups working to protect and restore their communities. We provide scientific and legal support for activists blocking pipelines and fracking or working to clean up contaminated groundwater or hold insurance companies and banks accountable for funding oil and gas projects.
We need your support to do this vital work. Your gifts enabled us to put together a rapid response plan for a coalition in New Mexico that was trying to get the state to issue a responsible permit for cleaning up the contaminated groundwater near Los Alamos. The people of Los Alamos have been fighting their own monster, the safety of their water has been compromised, exposing vulnerable populations to toxic chemicals such as chromium.
In another emergency situation we were able to review all the state and federal permits for a pipeline in Louisiana and draft a handbook for activists who wanted to monitor the construction, holding the corporation accountable. The activists were able to shut down construction on several occasions.
SEHN has the capacity and skill to respond quickly to emerging problems faced by activists. We fill a unique niche with our lawyer and doctor on call, in service to the environmental and public health community.
We do more than rapid-response law and science, we craft the visionary and necessary ideas that change the terms of the debate and help change the course of policy. We have a long track record of generating and implementing major policy frameworks such as the precautionary principle, law of future generations and the public trust role of government and so much more.
Your investment in SEHN allows us to innovate and then move those ideas into the world through our collaboration with the larger environmental community.
A story. We created the Women’s Congress for Future Generations to be a laboratory for policy innovation. Last November we held the third Women’s Congress which was attended by Rose Gagne. Rose is part of a grandmother’s circle at Tewa Women United which was working to intervene in the groundwater permit at Los Alamos. Rose heard about the precautionary principle and other ideas at the Women’s Congress and recommended that the New Mexico coalition bring SEHN in to help. Ted Schettler and I immediately went to work and reviewed the permit issues, drafted fact sheets on the contaminants, and made recommendations on what should be considered in the permit. We held a workshop on the precautionary principle and the chromium contamination that was attended by 50 people who were preparing to testify at the hearing. Joni Arends, a member of the coalition said this:
“SEHN’s support allows Communities for Clean Water (CCW) to show up for water. It’s six days before the hearing. Carolyn, Ted, and the SEHN team continue to offer their expertise, research, and support to the Communities for Clean Water as we prepare our communities, officials, and the media for the hearing. SEHN’s support allowed us to conduct community workshops for youth, birth workers, and farmers about the precautionary principle and advocacy, and we have an expert who will testify about land application of treated polluted water. We are truly grateful for all SEHN has done. ¡Muchas gracias!”
The point? All of this comes full circle. The scientific and legal help we can offer is shaped by the big ideas and is connected through things like the Women’s Congress. It complements the larger work of the coalitions with whom we collaborate. And you are part of this circle. Your financial support makes this work possible. It is what allows us to forge the blades and spin the threads.
Will you give now to support the work going forward?
All of us at SEHN thank you.
Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director
Ted Schettler, Science Director
Ann Manning, Associate Director
Kayhla Cornell, Senior Research & Communications Associate
Sherri Seidmon, Finance Director
PS. We need to raise $50,000 to close out 2018 and get a running start on 2019. Will you give today?
P.S.S. Please consider becoming a monthly donor today. We are so grateful to our monthly sustaining donors whose steady support is critical to this work. Please consider a monthly gift of $10 or $20 — whatever amount works for you, works for us. All gifts make a difference. Just like a piece of fabric, every thread adds to the strength of the whole.