Upon entering the Dairy Barn, I was already waiting in line with the many strong and happy faces of the Athens community. As I turned the corner to get a peek, I saw an overflowing finger food table crowded with thoughtful local dishes, elbow bumpers, squeezing by each other, but not without saying hello and sharing smiles, countless donated items from homemade jewelry to art and Snowville merchandise to books, and dancers joyfully spinning each other to the tasteful live folk music.
The people of Athens and the surrounding areas gathered to celebrate the Athens 8 and their efforts to stand up for what they know is right and to spread the awareness in fracking waste and injection wells. The energy of this room was almost indescribable. To have all the activists and Athens food system members together in the same room was quite the treat. The looks on their faces showed they were proud of one another, but still knew their efforts must continue.
Kip Rodney, of Green Edge Organics farms and arrestee for blocking fracking waste from entering an injection well, knows that the community depends on his farm and that his farm depends on clean water. He stood up to protect our water because he declares, “It is all about building the community… We are a really strong community.” The message in essence was that to build a strong community, we must keep our health, environments, and economy strong.
The night continued with numerous speakers; one shouting to “Stir the Pot and see what we can cook up!” Community members threw cash in the cast iron pot and bid on delightful items to help raise money to pay for the legal funds of those arrested. Of course, the people were glad to do so, myself included.
The event was visited by a group of activist cheerleaders from Columbus to pump up the crowd and invite them to cheer to the tune of “Hang on Sloopy” while changing the lyrics to “Hey you frackers, frackers get out.” Everyone was proudly clapping and cheering along.
Participating this event, I got to experience a true network of people, all fighting together because of the love they have for one another and for their community. Brandon Jaegar asked me what I thought of this whole event and I explained how the feeling of the room was so energetic, progressive, and full of celebration. It gave me goose bumps at times. Brandon responded by explaining that this fight and “our actions need to be done with joy and fun and be done in love because that is what we are fighting for: to keep the joy, fun, health, and love within our community.”
Anyone in the room could feel the strength of these people; strength like warriors! Emily McDerrmott explained that a speaker, Peggy Gish, really resonated with her and she left the event feeling “edified and inspired”, as many attendees truly were.
Even though this community is giving everything they have and fighting for their prosperity and economy, why does it have to come to this? Why can’t our officials realize the severity of their decisions and actions? Until then: Fight On Athens, your strength in numbers is growing.