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Fracking, Extreme Energy Extraction, and the Struggle for Our Future: April 4th Panel at “Water is Life” Photo Exhibit

April 1, 2013

Physician, Rabbi, Union Leader, Student Organizer Speak Out; “Water is Life” Photos Highlight Impacted People, Resisters

Panel Connects Fight Against Fracking to Broader Struggle Against Extreme Energy Extraction, Processing, Distribution and Use

John Braxton '70

John Braxton, union organizer, biology and ecology teacher at Community College of Philadelphia

This Thursday, April 4th, as part of a lively “Water is Life” celebration from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, a multi-generational panel will bring multiple perspectives to bear on the crisis of extreme energy extraction — high-volume fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sands, in particular.  The event, free and open to the public, is at 2111 Sansom Street in Philadelphia (all details below).

The panel includes John Braxton, a founder of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and US Labor Against the War. Braxton has organized for workers rights in the Teamsters Union, where he helped build the national UPS strike in 1997 that led to the creation of 10,000 full-time jobs, and currently is co-president of the union that represents 1300 faculty and staff at Community College of Philadelphia. As a peace activist during the Vietnam War, he helped deliver medical supplies to civilians in North Vietnam in violation of federal laws, and served 16 1/2 months in federal prison for draft refusal.  As a biology teacher and ecologist, he is increasingly turning his activist attention towards slowing the process of climate change and ecosystem degradation.  He has helped lead his union at Community College of Philadelphia in opposition to fracking and mountain top removal coal mining.

 You can read Braxton’s full profile here.  The other members of the Thursday evening panel are:

Dr. Pouné Saberi is an Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician as well as a public health specialist. She is currently working on a pilot project that surveys community perceptions of natural gas operations and their impact on health problems.

Dr. Poune Saberi in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 2010

Dr. Poune Saberi in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 2010

Hannah Jones is a Swarthmore College alum and organizer with Swarthmore Mountain Justice; you can see her speaking here about the “Sordid Sixteen” gas, oil and coal corporations targetted by the divestment campaign with which Hannah works.

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has served on the boards of national and international organizations promoting social justice, environmental sustainability, human rights, worker justice and peace. Last week he was arrested in front of the White House calling on the president to take strong actions to protect our environment.

Protecting Our Waters has brought together the event, including the panel, with live Q and A;  refreshments; and exceptionally engaging photographs of people impacted by unconventional coal and gas extraction — and popular resistance to fracking — by photographers Mark Schmerling and JJ Tiziou.  We are grateful to the panelists; to our generous host, the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion; to the photographers, and to volunteer curator par excellence, Tamara Clements. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel is one-half hour, leaving an hour and a half for free discussion, refreshments, photo admiration, and music!

Protecting Our Waters, a tiny nonprofit grassroots advocacy group, directly assists impacted communities when and where possible and works to prevent, stop, and phase out fracking, as well as to protect living beings from its worst impacts where it is already happening. POW has earned its reputation as “the galvanizers” since its founding in fall 2009, working in the Philadelphia area, Delaware River Basin, statewide in PA, and regionally in the Marcellus and Utica Shale seven-state region. Please bring your checkbook, as well as a little cash for the door raffle, or to purchase “Shalefield Stories.”

When: Thursday April 4th, 2013 / 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

What: Panel Discussion, “Fracking, Extreme Energy Extraction, and the Struggle for our Future”

What else: Photo Exhibit: “Water is Life: Faces of the Betrayed” — Mark Schmerling; and

“Water is Life: Faces of the Engaged” — JJ Tiziou

Where: Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion (look for the Shakespeare flag)
2111 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 

Parking: Park in the lot immediately to the right (east) of 2111 Sansom and validate your ticket at the church.

Public Transit: Just a block and a half from Market Street — just take the Green Line trolley.

Why: As Mordechai Liebling puts it, “Global climate change is the moral issue of our time.”

As John Braxton puts it: “The issues of climate change and ecosystem degradation are completely connected to the issues of economic justice and war. The giant multinational corporations’ unchecked drive for profits is the major impetus in all of these area.  There will be no victories in any of these areas, unless we all work together to link the movement for a sustainable economy with the movements for social justice and peace. Halting extreme energy extraction is one of the key issues we must work on immediately.”

As a fracking industry truck driver put it recently, “They are radiating us and poisoning us. I used to be the most pro-fracking person you could find. Now that I’ve seen what they do, I’m the most anti-fracking person you can find.”

Questions– email protectingourwaters@gmail.com or call 215-840-6489

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