David Needs a New Slingshot
All around the world, beverage companies like Nestlé Waters have been locking up sources of clean drinking water, leaving local communities high and dry.
Even in a time of deep uncertainty about the future of our hard-won environmental protections—and with corporations pushing harebrained water privatization schemes left and right—Nestlé’s water grabs stand out for the often secretive and dishonest ways they’re engineered.
But like the proverbial David, nearly a dozen local grassroots efforts have emerged over the last several years to block or severely constrain Nestlé bottling operations.
Now, a generous donor has offered us $20,000 to provide small grants to grassroots groups fighting to return control over local water resources to the citizens. But to make it work, we need our Community’s support!
In San Bernardino, California last year, a retired Forest Service ranger and his friends blew the whistle on Nestlé’s expired permit, forcing the government to open an environmental review more than 30 years (and a billion of gallons of water) after Nestlé should have ceased operations there.
In Cascade Locks, Oregon, a former logging town along the picturesque Columbia River Gorge, a small group of committed local residents sponsored a ballot initiative to ban commercial scale bottling in their county—and won.
In Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, a retired school bus driver and her neighbors dug into town records and exposed malfeasance that forced Nestle to beat a hasty retreat.
Each of these valiant efforts was led by a small group of committed local citizens, most with no specialized training and a shoestring budget or no budget at all. With little more than pluck and determination, they’ve taken on one of the biggest corporations in the world and prevailed.
With our Community’s support, we’ve provided these heroes with strategic advice and legal support, made films highlighting their work, and called on you to apply pressure on Nestlé and other water privatizers. Your solidarity with the groups fighting the good fight on the ground has been deeply appreciated.
But until now, we haven’t had the ability to offer the financial support that these groups really need to protect their water for good—funds to print materials, hire scientists or lawyers, or organize public events to educate and organize.
But with your help, we can provide that support.
In 2017, we’ll give a minimum of $40,000 in small grants to water protectors like the the folks in Cascade Locks and San Bernardino. We’ll also support groups working on innovative campaigns to increase investment in clean, safe public water, including local bottled water taxes. Finally, we’ll invest in grassroots efforts in places like Flint, MI, where many months of citizen outcry over dirty and dangerous water finally spurred government action.
Early in 2017, we’ll be asking you to nominate worthy partners for our grassroots grants program. Our team will also be on the lookout for strategic opportunities to stand with grassroots water protectors.
As we wrote last week after the U.S. election, now more than ever we must focus on the local laboratories where the most innovative and exciting change is often born. When we work as one Community and support this good work with our dollars and shared talents, we can slay giants!