A Special Message from Tim
Posted by Tim DeChristopher · December 24, 2016 9:22 AM
Despite the obvious threats we face as activists and as a civilization, I feel deeply grateful for where my life is at right now. In addition to my personal fulfillment, I’m grateful for the ability to do meaningful work as an activist struggling for a better world. Nearly everything that defines my life today can be traced back to that fateful act of civil disobedience I took in 2008. And the main reason that this has been such a positive and joyful path was the resolute support I received from thousands of people across the country.
When I stuck my neck out, countless people stepped up to lend their support physically, morally, and financially. They gave me the courage to make the most of the opportunity I had, and they generously donated to make sure I had the resources to sustain the struggle. Many of you who are reading this were probably among the folks who gave your time, money, and emotional energy.
Flint, Michigan’s lead-poisoned water crisis, which erupted in 2014, shined a global spotlight on the dangerous confluence of austerity, poverty and environmental racism. A new in-depth investigation by Reuters finds that Flint is far from alone, with nearly 3,000 areas nationwide facing lead poisoning rates “at least double those in Flint during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis.” In 1,100 of those communities, residents had lead levels in their blood that were four times higher than those found in Flint.
Journalists M.B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer made these determinations by examining neighborhood-level data from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The poisoned places on this map stretch from Warren, Pennsylvania, a town on the Allegheny River where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels, to a zip code on Goat Island, Texas, where a quarter of tests showed poisoning,” they wrote. “In some pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 40-50 percent.”
Reuters sent reporters to many of those impacted locations and they noted that “poverty remains a potent predictor of lead poisoning” but “victims span the American spectrum.” The report states that “Like Flint, many of these localities are plagued by legacy lead: crumbling paint, plumbing, or industrial waste left behind. Unlike Flint, many have received little attention or funding to combat poisoning.”