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"Citizen's Assembly"
Agenda
Help Needed
Directions to Humanities Bldg
WI Rural Rebellion
When spider  webs unite, they can tie up a lion - Ethiopian proverb

 

 

CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY

to unite opponents of corporate rule in Wisconsin
and plan for democratic and sustainable alternatives

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Seventh Generation Amendment http://www.Brain-Box.com/commonproperty/cp-webpage.html
Wisconsin Citizens' Assembly site for continued information-sharing and dialogue: http://www.citizensassembly.net
Citizens' Assembly at www.citizensassembly.org
Citizens' Assembly Community Markets & Funding at www.citizensassembly.com

 


"CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY"

to be held March 23-25 in Madison
to bring together opponents of corporate rule in Wisconsin

 

A Citizens' Assembly to unite opponents of corporate rule in Wisconsin, will be held on March 23-25, 2001 at the U.W.- Madison Humanities Building. The goal of the Citizens' Assembly is to bring together rural and urban organizers to help build a statewide "people power" movement, and plan for democratic and sustainable alternatives.

The Citizens' Assembly grew out of an April 29, 2000 Capitol rally and joint meetings of three groups: The Midwest Treaty Network's Wolf Watershed Educational Project (against the Crandon mine), Save Our Unique Lands (against the Duluth- Wausau transmission line), and Waterkeepers of Wisconsin (against Perrier springwater pumping). These three rural anti- corporate alliances--including Native Americans, environmentalists, sportfishers, and farmers--have begun to work together, but many people in Wisconsin cities are not aware of their issues. Meanwhile, residents of rural counties are not fully aware of urban-based anti-corporate issues brought up by unions, student groups, and others. The Citizens' Assembly was organized as one step to build mutual awareness and work, and look toward devising community strategies and alternatives.

Zoltán Grossman of the Midwest Treaty Network said, "Around the country and around the world, corporate policies are being questioned by broad-based alliances involving many different groups and issues. It is time to celebrate that same populist spirit in Wisconsin, one century after Bob La Follette's progressive movement came to power. The Citizens' Assembly is only one of many steps in building a Wisconsin 'people power' movement, to curb corporate power and its representatives in the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and state government." Debra McNutt of the Midwest Treaty Network added that "we do not want to focus only on negative stories of corporate violations, but positive stories of how people from different races, ages, and walks of life have worked together to fight for their rights."

The conference will be based in 3650 Humanities (on U.W. Library Mall at the corner of State & Park streets). It will begin Friday night, March 23 with a 7-10 pm panel on rural Native and non-Native opposition to the Crandon mine, transmission line, Perrier, and agribusiness. On Saturday morning, March 24 (9 am-12 noon) will be workshops on corporate practices in Wisconsin, also including biotechnology, poverty, education, and workplace issues. A panel (1-2:30) will focus on on the role of the labor movement, race, the law, and education in the movement for democracy. Saturday afternoon (2:30-5:30) will have workshops on strategies and alternatives, including Native sovereignty, legal strategies, reforming state agencies, health care, grassroots organizing, anti-corporate strategizing, people's energy policy, and public relations, followed by a plenary session (5:30-6:30). On Sunday March 25 (9 am-12 noon) will be organizers' skills training workshops.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Midwest Treaty Network and its Wolf Watershed Educational Project campaign, and includes participation by many groups, such as Save Our Unique Lands, Waterkeepers of Wisconsin, Madison Treaty Rights Support Group, U.W.-Madison American Indian Studies Program, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Midwest Environmental Advocates, The Progressive, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Wisconsin Greens, Campus Greens USA, Progressive Dane, Anathoth Community Farm, Grandmothers for Peace Northland chapter, WCCN, Campaign to Respect Energy and the Environment, EarthWINS, Family Farm Defenders, Mining Impact Coalition, and the Gray Panthers. For schedule/speaker updates call toll-free (800) 445-8615, log on www.treatyland.com , e-mail mtn@igc.org , or write Midwest Treaty Network, PO Box 14382, Madison WI 53714.

Citizens' Assembly meeting and housing needs

The Madison Treaty Rights Support Group, and the Madison folks helping with the March 23-25 Citizens Assembly, will be meeting in Catacombs (Pres House basement) on Wednesday, MARCH 7th at 7 pm (not this week but next).

We will need help with HOUSING for the weekend of the conference--both beds for speakers and floors for participants. E-mail us at mtn@igc.org if you can offer housing.

For more information, a partial schedule is at http://treaty.indigenousnative.org/assembly.html. It will soon be updated with speakers as they are confirmed. Also call the Hotline at 249-2390.






GROUPS JOIN FORCES AT CONFERENCE TO FIGHT 'CORPORATE RULE' IN STATE



March 24, 2001
Wisconsin State Journal
Tom Sheehan, State government reporter


Groups with at times divergent interests are gathering in Madison for a "citizens assembly" this weekend to fight what organizers call corporate rule in Wisconsin.

More than 75 people* attended the opening session in a lecture hall lined with mock-tombstones dedicated to miners believed to have died of cyanide poisoning and black lung disease.

The Mole Lake Chippewa drummers opened the panel on "Native American and non-Native Rural Struggles" in opposition to the Crandon mine, Perrier, and agribusiness Friday night in UW-Madison's Humanities building.

The goal of the conference, sponsored by Midwest Treaty Network, is to encourage and create awareness of a growing populist movement, said organizer Zolt�n Grossman, Network board member.

Groups, including American Indians, anglers, environmentalists and farmers, have recently joined forces to fight large rural corporate projects, such as power transmission lines, mines and spring-water pumping, Grossman said.

"We are falling asleep at the wheel," said Ken Fish, of the Menominee Treaty Rights and Mining Impacts Office in Keshena. "We have to look at the laws and how the government uses those laws to benefit corporate interests."

Even local government officials are now involved in opposition efforts, but the movement is not just "anti-corporate," Grossman said. "It starts with a common enemy but what we've been finding is increased understanding between communities," he said.

The idea for the citizens assembly developed last year when there was joint meeting among the Midwest Treaty Network's Wolf Watershed Educational Project, which fought the Crandon mine; Save Our Unique Lands, which fought the Duluth-Wausau transmission line; and Waterkeepers of Wisconsin, which fought Perrier Group of America's plan to pump and bottle spring water in southeast Adams County.

[*--Over 150 total at conference.]

 

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MARCH 23-25, 2001 (Friday-Sunday)

U.W.-Madison Humanities Building
(Library Mall, University Ave. & Park St.)
Conference base in Room 3650

****TENTATIVE AGENDA****

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 23


6:30 pm

Mole Lake Drum opens

7-10 pm
(3650 Humanities Building)
Panel on Native and non-Native rural struggles:

  • Mole Lake Drum opens 6:30 pm
  • Crandon mine--Ken Fish (Menominee Treaty Rights and Mining Impacts Office) and Chuck Sleeter (Town of Nashville Chair, Forest County)
  • Transmission line/hydroelectric dams--Linda Ceylor (Save Our Unique Lands and Price County farmer) and Susan Aasen and Marilyn Tribble (Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa)
  • Perrier--Chuck Hill (Town of New Haven Chair, Adams County) and TBA (Ho-Chunk)
  • Agribusiness--Jim Goodman (Juneau County family farm activist) and Alfonso Zepeda-Capistran (LUChA--migrant farmworkers' advocate)

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 24


9-10:30 am
1101, 1121, 1131 Humanities Bldg.
Workshops on corporate practices in Wisconsin
(what the bad guys are doing)

  1. Commodification of water--Chuck Hill (New Haven Chair) and other Perrier opponents.
  2. Agribusiness--Karen Kinstetter (Kewaunee family farm activist)
  3. Wisconsin economy and privatization of public services--Laura Dresser and others from Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS)
  4. Repression of workers� rights--Amanda Dobron (United Students Against Sweatshops) and Pete Swinford (Milwaukee AFL-CIO field organizer), Sarah Turner (UW-Madison Students/Labor Action Coalition).
10:30 am -12 noon
1101, 1121, 1131 Humanities Bldg.
More workshops on corporate practices in Wisconsin
  1. Corporatization of education--Brian LeCloux (Richland Center high school teacher), Amanda Dobron (United Students Against Sweatshops Midwest organizer), Marc Brakken (U.W.-Madison 180/Movement for Democracy and Education), Dana Churness (U.W.-Stevens Point Progressive Action Organization).
  2. Biotechnology in agriculture and the health care industry--Jack Kloppenburg (U.W. Rural Sociology Department)
  3. Corporate energy strategies--Tom Kreager (SOUL) and Al Baker Jr. and Susan Aasen (Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa), and RockGen power plant opponents.
  4. Mining plans in northern Wisconsin--Chuck Sleeter (Nashville Chair), Ken Fish (Menominee), Fran Van Zile (Mole Lake), Al Gedicks (Wisconsin Resources Protection Council).

1-2:30 pm
3650 Humanities Bldg.

Panel on the role of the labor, student, and anti-racist movements
in the movement for democracy


Ed Garvey (Garvey and Stoddard)
Jim Cavanaugh (South Central Federation AFL-CIO)
Amanda Dobron (United Students Against Sweatshops)
Stan Woodard (Madison community activist, WORT host of Tues. 8 o'clock Buzz)

2:30-4 pm
3650, 1101, 1121, 1131 Humanities Bldg.

Workshops on strategies and alternatives

(what the good guys will do to the bad guys)

  1. Legal strategies and tactics--Glenn Stoddard and Ed Garvey (Garvey & Stoddard).
  2. Community health care--Linda and Gene Farley (Coalition for Wisconsin Health).
  3. Grassroots organizing and activism--Sharing experiences of activists who organized the Wolf Watershed Educational Project against the Crandon mine, Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) against the transmission line, and community groupsagainst Perrier.
  4. Reforming state agencies (DNR, PSC, Public Intervenor)--Becky Katers (Clean Water Action Council), Roscoe Churchill (Rusk County Citizens Action Group), Linda Ceylor (Save Our Unique Lands).
4-5:30 pm
3650, 1101, 1121, 1131 Humanities Bldg.

More workshops on strategies and alternatives
  1. Treaty rights and sovereignty as community defense--Ken Fish (Director, Menominee Treaty Rights and Mining Impacts Office), Carol Brown (Lac du Flambeau Chippewa attorney, Brown & LaCounte)
  2. Anti-corporate strategizing--David Cobb (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Texas)
  3. A people�s energy policy--Tom Kreager and Linda Ceylor (Save Our Unique Lands), David Blecker (Midwest Renewable Energy Association).
  4. Countering the public relations industry--Laura Miller (Center on Media and Democracy)
5:30-6:30
3650 Humanities

Plenary session

6:30-8:30 pm
Potluck dinner for our out-of-town guests at Pres House Main Lounge

(church tower across from clock on Library Mall) Drop off dished starting at 4 pm.

SUNDAY, MARCH 25

Not for media coverage

9-10:30 am
2221, 2231, 2241 Humanities Bldg.
Training workshops on organizer skills
(how the good guys will get the bad guys)

  1. Media--Bob McChesney (UIUC journalism professor) and John Nichols (Capital Times)
  2. Fundraising--Phil Kerckhoff (Wisconsin Community Fund)
  3. Cultural respect in working with Native communities -- Gene Delcourt (Abenaki artist and Malcolm Shabazz City High school teacher)
10:30 am-12 noon
2221, 2231, 2241 Humanities Bldg.
More taining workshops on organizer skills
  1. Computer work-- Alice McCombs (EarthWINS) in College Library computer lab
  2. Pulling together rallies/events/speaking tours--Zolt�n Grossman (MTN)

Participating Groups:

Midwest Treaty Network, Wolf Watershed Educational Project, Save Our Unique Lands, Waterkeepers of Wisconsin, Madison Treaty Rights Support Group, U.W.-Madison, American Indian Studies Program, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Family Farm Defenders, Wisconsin Greens, Campus Greens USA, Midwest Environmental Advocates, The Progressive, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Progressive Dane, Mining Impact Coalition, Anathoth Community Farm, Grandmothers for Peace Northland chapter, Gray Panthers, Wisconsin Community Fund, UW Greens, WCCN, Campaign to Respect Energy and the Environment, EarthWINS, and others.....

Contact:
Midwest Treaty Network,
P.O. Box 14382, Madison WI 53714 Web:
http://www.treatyland.com E-mail: mtn@igc.org
Toll-free Hotline: (800) 445-8615
Tel./Fax: (608) 246-2256


 

We would like to invite your group to endorse and attend the Citizens' Assembly to unite opponents of corporate rule in Wisconsin, and plan for democratic and sustainable alternatives, which will be held on March 23-25, 2001 at the U.W.-Madison Humanities Building. The goal of the Citizens' Assembly is to bring together rural and urban organizers as part of a statewide anti-corporate movement (see http://treaty.indigenousnative.org/assembly.html).

The idea began at joint meetings of three groups: The Midwest Treaty Network's Wolf Watershed Educational Project (against the Crandon mine), Save Our Unique Lands (against the transmission line), and Waterkeepers of Wisconsin (against Perrier). These are three rural anti-corporate alliances that have brought together people around the state (both Native American and non-Native) to defend their communities. Rural environmentalists, Native Americans, farmers and fishers have begun to work together, as in our Capitol rally last April (see http://treaty.indigenousnative.org/youth_edu.html), but many people in Wisconsin cities are not aware of their issues. Meanwhile, residents of rural counties are not fully aware of urban-based anti-corporate issues brought up by unions, student groups, African American and Latino groups, and others. The Citizens' Assembly is one way to build our mutual awareness and work.

Across the country and around the world, corporate policies are being questioned by broad-based alliances involving many different groups and issues. It is time to celebrate that same spirit in Wisconsin, and draw on our long populist and progressive history. The Citizens' Assembly is only one of many steps in building a Wisconsin anti-corporate movement, to use "people power" against corporate power and its representatives in the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) and state government.

Endorsement of the Citizens' Assembly involves only a few actions:

  • First, let us know via post or e-mail that your groups would like to be an endorser, to be listed on the poster and acknowledged at the event. You may have literature for a table, though space will be limited in the 3650 Humanities foyer area.
  • Second, and most importantly, let your membership know about the event through your newsletter, mailings, e-mail lists, website, etc. We want the Citizens' Assembly not only to involve networking among group leaders, but communication among grassroots organizers and activists.
  • Third, a financial contribution would be welcome (tax-deductible donation to 'MTN/PC Foundation') but is not at all necessary. The most important goal is that your Wisconsin-based issues and concerns can be shared in the workshops, and we can meet people from all walks of life and different communities who are doing similar work to free Wisconsin from corporate control.

We look forward to hearing from you very soon.
Please contact Zoltan Grossman or Debra McNutt at Midwest Treaty Network, PO Box 14382, Madison WI 53714 by phone or fax at (608) 246-2256 or mtn@igc.org, or through the Midwest Treaty Network website at http://www.treatyland.com. Updates on the Hotline at (800)445-8615.

 

 

 

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HELP NEEDED FOR CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY:

 

POSTERING. There are tons of the beautiful posters at the Greens Infoshop in University Square (front door open 24 hours), Rainbow Books, and Mother Fools. Please help put them up, or send them to friends around the state!

LEAFLETTING. Please pass out the posters at events this week, and help leaflet the Wisconsin Citizen Action rally at the State Capitol on Thursday, 12:30-1 pm.

HOUSING. We will need floor space for visiting participants, and bed space for visiting elders and speakers. Call Debi at 246-2256 and e-mail both mtn@igc.org and dkmcnutt@hotmail.com

FOOD. Large dishes needed for the potluck on Saturday 6:30 pm at the Pres House. Food and coffee donations are also welcome! Call Kate at 276-8732 or 277-9209 kkelly@chorus.net

TABLES. We could use help setting up tables in 3650 Humanities starting at 5 pm on Friday the 23rd. We could also use help in staffing the (free) registration table through the course of Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

WEDNESDAY MEETING. Madison people helping with the Citizens' Assembly will meet Wednesday, March 21st, 7 pm, Catacombs (Pres House basement).

MANY THANKS to everyone who has helped out so far!!!

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DIRECTIONS TO HUMANITIES BUILDING from Interstate.


Please pass on to people coming who don't have e-mail...

From I-90/94, take the Highway 151 "Madison/Sun Prairie" South exit toward Madison.
- You will be on East Washington Avenue, going past East Towne Mall, and going toward the Capitol.
- About halfway to the Capitol, you will go past Ellas Deli (carousel) on the right.
At the next light, take a soft right on Johnson Street.
- Follow Johnson as it turns into Gorham, goes by Lake Mendota, crosses State Street downtown, takes a gradual turn right and turns into University Avenue. As you enter the University area, stay in the right traffic lane, but not the bus or bike lanes.
Take a right on Lake Street, and an immediate right into the Lake Street parking ramp. - It can get full, so you might want to get there early.

When you walk out of the ramp onto Lake Street, take a right to State Street, and cross Lake Street into U.W. Library Mall. The Humanities Building is at the far end of Library Mall on the left. It is an (inhuman-looking) white building on stilts, across from the older State Historical Society Library. The conference base is in Room 3650, on the far end of the building, up the stairs, at the base of the footbridge over Park Street.

The room has doors to the outside of the building. If you cannot find it, ask a student where is 3650 Humanities.

 

 

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WISCONSIN'S
RURAL REBELLION

 

By Zoltan Grossman and Debi McNutt
Midwest Treaty Network
mtn@igc.org

Shorter versions of this piece ran in
Isthmus (Madison) and Shepherd Ex-
press (Milwaukee) in November 2000.


Exactly 100 years ago this month, "Fightin' Bob" LaFollette was elected governor, partly due to the strength of a populist farmers' movement, which helped him take on corporate monopolies such as the railroads.

Today, most Wisconsin urban residents assume that the only important political news comes out of the State Capitol, and sometimes out of a campus, but that Wisconsin's rural areas are a cultural and political wasteland where nothing ever happens.

Wrong. Hit the restart button.

Wisconsin is in the midst of the one of the biggest upsurges in rural activism that has been seen for decades. Our countryside has sprouted at least four major rural alliances against corporate proposals that threaten the environmental and economic well being of rural communities.

These new populist alliances are taking on four different kinds of companies:

* Mining companies.  In northeastern Wisconsin, local residents have been fighting to stop the Crandon metallic sulfide mine for 25 years. The mine is proposed by a Canadian company, next to wild rice beds of Mole Lake Ojibwe Reservation, and upstream from the pristine Wolf River and the Menominee Nation. It threatens water with sulfuric acid, toxic chemicals, and underground water "drawdown." Despite the passage of a moratorium law three years ago, the mine is not dead yet. Many environmental groups around the state are fighting the proposal, and are backing a bill that would prohibit the 20 tons a month of cyanide planned for use at the mine. One alliance on the frontlines of the controversy, the Wolf Watershed Educational Project (WWEP), has united tribes with sportfishing groups, grassroots environmentalists with unionists, and local rural residents with urban students (see http://www.treatyland.com).

* Utility companies.  In northwestern Wisconsin, the private utility Wisconsin Public Service Corporation proposes a 13-story-tall, 345-kilovolt transmission line from Duluth to Wausau, in order to ship electricity to Chicago and (through a feeder line) to the Crandon mine. The new group Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) has organized to oppose the use of eminent domain to condemn private farmland, and has researched health effects on cattle and humans. The alliance has brought together farmers and other local residents, tribes, and environmentalists (see http://www.wakeupwisconsin.com). Residents of the southern Wisconsin towns of Cambridge and Edgerton have also worked to stop power plant proposals, forming the similar grassroots groups POWER and RURAL.

* Water companies.  In central Wisconsin, the DNR recently permitted Nestle-owned Perrier to sink high-capacity wells at Big Springs in Adams County, that would pump springwater 24 hours a day, with no legal protection against springs and rural wells going dry. The Waterkeepers of Wisconsin (WOW) has united farmers, other rural residents, and environmentalists in four counties, and gained support from other parts of the state that may eventually see their springwater going to the one-million-square-foot plastic bottle plant (see http://www.friendsofthemecan.com).

* Agribusiness companies.  Around Wisconsin, family farmers continue to oppose farm foreclosures, which are again climbing dramatically, and the battle is far from over. They recently resurrected the "milk strike" of the 1930s. They have joined other local residents in stopping enormous factory farms for hogs or dairy cattle, such as the proposed corporate farm halted in the Town of Porter. Wisconsin dairy farmers helped make BGH a global concern, and are now turning to oppose the use of genetic engineering to manufacture "supercows" that could only be afforded by corporate farms. The Madison area is fast becoming an world epicenter of biotechnology experimentation, with little public discussion on how new technologies will further disadvantage family dairy operations (see http://www.familyfarm.org).

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Garvey has been an attorney and activist on behalf of all four of these rural movements. At an April 29 anti-corporate rally at the Capitol, he observed that "We've got these companies on the run, and they can't figure out what's gone wrong....As people look to government and it does not respond, they have to take matters into their own hands....We're not going to turn our Dairyland over to the multinational corporations. This is a state where people come first." But other than Garvey, few progressive leaders have attended rural hearings and rallies, which consistently draw hundreds of people. The real action is not in the State Capitol, but is only "trickling up" to state politicians.

Governments. The new rural populist movement is taking on state agencies that are trying to frustrate its aims, notably the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Public Service Commission (PSC). The DNR has opened an enormous loophole in the mining moratorium law, and recently gave Perrier the go-ahead to start sucking out Big Springs. The PSC--which is not to be confused with the corporation with the nearly identical name...or is it?--has been greasing the skids for the transmission line. The rural groups correctly view the DNR and PSC as beholden to Governor Thompson, and have called for the independent appointment of the agency directors.

The rural groups are also reclaiming their local democratic institutions in their townships and counties. Town boards that made deals with the Crandon mine companies have been voted out of office, most famously in the 1997 revolt in the Town of Nashville, covering half the Crandon mine site. With a 99 percent turnout, Nashville voters defeated a pro-mine town board, and elected an anti-mine board led by Chairman Chuck Sleeter, whom they have since re-elected twice with larger margins. A similar revolt shook the Town of New Haven in September, when voters recalled a pro-Perrier town chairman, and replaced him with anti-Perrier leader Chuck Hill, in an election covered by major TV networks and Time magazine. If any other town chairs dare to sign secret deals with multinational corporations, their voters may also "Chuck 'em out."

Perhaps the only governments that are truly trusted by rural populist groups are the tribal governments. Even sportfishing groups, who not that long ago were arguing with the Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Menominee about off-reservation fishing rights, have joined with the tribes to protect the same fish from the threat of mining. The Mole Lake Ojibwe have used the federal Clean Water Act to strengthen their reservation environmental laws, but for doing so have been slapped with a lawsuit by

Attorney General James Doyle. Native Peoples have also joined forces with SOUL farmers, not only because the transmission line may affect Ojibwe reservations, but because some of the electricity would be generated by dams that have flooded Manitoba Cree lands. Finally, the Ho-Chunk Nation has come out in opposition to Perrier�s plans, which is close to tribal cultural sites. In all these cases, local non-Indians have found tribal officials more responsive to their concerns and protective of the environment than state officials.

Not In Anyone's Back Yard. The grassroots rural organizers are not only learning about indigenous peoples, but about union health and safety issues, company track records Latin America, and the WTO. The Spirit of Seattle is coming to the conservative-looking, salt-of-the-earth residents of the Heartland. You can drive across Wisconsin, and in one day see signs reading "Stop Crandon Mine," "No Way Perrier," "No Line," and "Milk Strike." If there was ever a revolution in Lake Wobegon, this is what it would look like.

Corporations are used to dealing with a certain type of environmental movement. The stereotype of an environmental group is one made up largely of white, urban, upper middle class 20-somethings--who protest harmful projects that are backed by rural communities for the jobs. The companies have been able to portray such groups as hippies and yuppies who do not care about rural people, and urban-based environmentalists would often reinforce the stereotype by not being inclusive or supportive of people besides themselves. Companies have pigeonholed rural environmentalists as "Not In My Backyard" (NIMBY) proponents who only seek to protect their scenic views.

What the companies have faced in environmentally minded rural Wisconsin is something new-- an environmental movement that is multiracial, rural-based, middle-class and working-class, and made up of many elders and youth. The movement does just address endangered species, but endangered cultures and endangered local economies. By proposing alternative sustainable development--such as appropriate energies and metallic recycling--the groups can oppose new mines and lines with a message of "Not In Anyone's Backyard" (NIABY). The companies have slowly found out that they cannot successfully use the same divide-and-conquer tactics that have worked so well elsewhere in the country.

Mining is one example where industry strategies are clearly failing. One international mining journal in 1997 discussed Wisconsin as one of the industry's main global battlegrounds, where "the increasingly sophisticated political maneuvering by environmental special interest groups have made permitting a mine...an impossibility." Another journal this year portrayed the Wolf Watershed Educational Project as an "example of what is becoming a very real threat to the global mining industry." Yet another journal pointed out that Wisconsin "barbarians in cyberspace" were spreading anti-corporate tactics around the world through the Internet. The national media attention on the groups against Perrier and transmission lines has also exposed the corporate fears that Rural America is in revolt.

A united movement? The different rural populist groups in Wisconsin are already joining forces with each other. Last April, a Capitol rally against the mine, line, and Perrier drew 750 students and others from around the state. On November 28, SOUL and WWEP plan a joint noon rally at the Rhinelander Holiday Inn to greet the first PSC hearing on the transmission line. If they join together, the rural groups could form a strong populist environmental movement for democratic local control and sustainability.

If the rural groups, however, also unite with urban-based anti-corporate forces--who oppose sweatshops, W-2, job discrimination, union busting, and the privatization of health care and prisons-- they can form an even more powerful statewide anti-corporate movement. Such a united grassroots anti-corporate coalition could not only help to prevent future Tommy Thompsons, but to assert greater citizens' control over our environment and economy, and to usher in a new Progressive Era.

-
citizens

This project was made possible by generous funding by the Fund of the Sacred Circle, the Honor The Earth Campaign, and the Wisconsin Community Fund.



Ellie and Roger Steffen of the anti-transmission line group Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) at a rally at the Public Service Commission in Madison on February 23, 2001. Photo credit: SOUL.


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