Activism at its best is not a choice but a call - a response to injustice. Diane Wilson’s story exemplifies this, and in this interview, we get the gift of speaking with this 70 year force of nature and shrimp fisherwoman turned pollution activist. Diane has written many books, won many awards, undergone many hunger strikes and days in jail for her civil disobedience brand of activism, co-founded Code Pink, and is known as an’‘unreasonable woman’, an ‘eco-outlaw’, and all around hell-raiser. She is fierce, dedicated, and full of humor, grit, wisdom and inspiration for anyone interested - or afraid - to do more to stand up to abuses of power.
Like many of us, Diane did not aim to be an activist, but was called to become one when she realized something she loved - her home county and its surrounding waters - was under threat. So Diane has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to protecting waters in the Texas gulf from industrial pollution. And exactly 30 years after she first began her water activism, in 2019 Diane and other Texas citizens won a tremendous victory in a rare citizen-led lawsuit against Formosa Plastics. After four years of data collection and legal process, the company has been deemed guilty of illegal dumping of plastic pellets, or ‘nurdles’, into Lavaca Bay, with millions of dollars in fines likely to come in a final trial this fall.
Diane’s activism is rooted in her relationship with her environemnt. She shares that in having her family’s roots in one place for 120 years, she doesn’t see the place as a resource, but as a living, breathing element of family. For those of us who don’t have 120 years of family history in a place - that’s okay, she says, just start with intention. Start by getting out of the air-conditioned offices sometimes and into direct relation with the earth. She reminds us that when we can truly connect with the earth, it has a lot of energy to give, and that this can fuel our efforts to become forces of nature ourselves to protect the places we love.
You can learn more about Diane’s story and books at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Wilson.
Here’s one of many stories on the Formosa lawsuit win:
And here’s how you can get involved: https://www.stopformosa.org
Plastic pollution as a matter of justice: working with front-line communities in a global movement, w/ Ahmina Maxey, Transforming Power Fund