Josh Fox: On Protecting the Place I Love From Fracking
(This week, in connection with the launch of our campaign Fracking Gone Wrong: Finding a Better Way, we’ve invited some of the movement’s most prominent advocates to guest blog Today's guest blogger is Josh Fox, an Oscar-nominated director whose award-winning documentary GASLAND has helped ignite a national outcry against the dangers of the controversial gas drilling technique known as fracking. His hometown in Pennsylvania is directly in the path of a gas drilling rush sweeping the Northeast. Since releasing the film, Fox has traveled across the country and around the world screening the film and inspiring audiences to join the fight against fracking. GASLAND is being shown on HBO and is also available on DVD. If you haven’t already seen it, it truly is a must-watch film.)
Summertime is just around the corner. What's one of your favorite summer memories of your hometown of Milanville, PA?
Josh Fox: Running up and down Calkins Creek over and over again all day. Looking under rocks for the crayfish that are hiding under there. Waiting for the trout to emerge from a pool of cloudy water, just to spy on them.
Sure sounds like a place you’d fight hard to protect from fracking. You had our Oscar vote, naturally. Give us your acceptance speech.
Josh: I had planned to dedicate the award to the grassroots activists and affected families all over the nation who are fighting every day with a simple message: Natural Gas IS NOT CLEAN. I also wanted to address President Obama directly, letting him know that thousands of people all over the United States were writing to him asking for a national moratorium on fracking. We initiated a “write to Obama on Oscar night” campaign and thousands signed up for it. I was also going to thank Matthew Sanchez, editor and co-creator of GASLAND, Trish Adlesic and Molly Gandour, our producers, and HBO for bringing us to the world.
What do you think about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's approach to regulating gas development in his state?
Josh: He's completely ignoring the suffering and contamination that is being caused by gas drilling across the state of Pennsylvania. His campaign took nearly a million dollars from the gas industry and he is clearly in their pocket. Pennsylvania could not be going in a worse direction in terms of drilling right now. It's a crime.
Advice for the aspiring fracktivist?
Josh: Connect to as many people as you can, make connections outside of your local group and get ready for civil disobedience. I wish that the big greens like Earthjustice, NRDC, Sierra Club and others would call on their members to protest and engage in direct action more. We are more powerful even than their money. We have to show our power in the streets through the massive protest and non-violent civil disobedience. Our government must be forced to listen. Also, get engaged on whatever level makes you the most happy and employ your talents. If you make film, make film, if you do graphic design, make posters, if you are good at organizing, organize us, please. Do what you do with joy and not fear and stress. This movement has to be fun and run by the inspired if it is to succeed.
‘Do what you do with joy.’ Great advice. As to your point about civil disobedience, Earthjustice is firmly in the law-abiding camp, being a law firm and all. But your points are well taken and maybe some of our counterparts will take you up on it. Next question: of all the towns in Gasland, which has the best nightlife?
Josh: I have toured with GASLAND to 120 US cities, you know, and at least 75 percent of the time we are too exhausted to go out at the end of the day. HOWEVER, let's remember that we have to enjoy this or else we will never succeed. The tops is still New York City. If you can party there, you can party anywhere. However, some of my favorite places to hang out are: Syracuse (great organizing AND fun, Citizens Campaign for the Environment!!!); Guy/Clinton/Booneville, Arkansas; Fort Worth for Don Young/Texas Sharon; and Prairie Fest, Pittsburgh because the people are amazing, the beer still hasn't been contaminated and Doug Shields is the host with the most. Had a great time at the Bluegrass Meltdown in Durango. We probably had the best times of our lives in Australia thanks to the Frackman and friends. You can see some of those down under adventures in Gasland 2.
And I will never forget campaigning with Sen. Antoine Thompson—who wrote the New York fracking moratorium bill—in Buffalo. It was Halloween night and we hit every single bar in Buffalo. The senator hit the dance floor, danced with his constituents for five minutes and then we went to the next bar. We did that til at least 3 a.m. Now that’s campaigning!
But this sounds more like a challenge than a question—if I didn't mention your town then you better invite us out and get it together!
What spoilers can you give us from Gasland 2?
Josh: More running.
Well, if GASLAND 2 is anywhere near as entertaining and provocative as the original, viewers are in for a treat. Finally, in the spirit of melding art and advocacy will you compose a haiku on why people should join the fight against fracking?
I fell fast asleep
Woke up to an explosion
I missed my last chance
That is powerful. Thank you!