The Accidental Activist Follows Her Heart
by Julie Edgar
Around 2005, I was a single mother in my mid-thirties raising two girls of elementary school age with zero child support by working as a semi-professional singer and a fine dining server at a country club. I chose to home school my children because I wished to teach them to question authority and to free them from the pressure to conform. I preferred to spare them from the peer-pressure cooker of public school, where children often assimilate to the lowest common denominator of their age. Even though I had a B.A. in philosophy from an exclusive private school where I had earned a 4-year full tuition merit scholarship, my twenties had been a train wreck (bad marriage to a truly disturbed individual who was one of the two abusive fathers of my children) in which endless crises were my daily diet. I was still recovering from trauma and drama, but I felt gratitude for my beautiful daughters and our humble but sweet life. While I was way too absorbed to care much about world affairs, corporatism, or extreme fossil fuel extraction, our family was extremely engaged in environmental awareness and stewardship, and the importance of good nutrition and pure foods for good health. We recycled and composted, but I was never an activist.
Life got upgraded when I entered a mutually supportive relationship with a wonderful man who made it much easier for me to take care of the needs of my family. I no longer worked at the country club, and I started to study internet marketing earnestly in 2007 through seminars, courses, and trainings, with an eye toward becoming an entrepreneur.
THEN ONE DAY in June 2010…
I saw a post on Facebook about a documentary being shown at a local film festival. I did not make it to the screening then, but the article said that where some people in Pennsylvania lived amidst “fracking” for natural gas, their wells got contaminated with chemicals, and they were able to light their water on fire. This stuck in my mind. So in October 2010, I saw another Facebook post announcing that GASLAND was showing at Lafayette College with the filmmaker Josh Fox doing Q&A, and I went. Seeing GASLAND…what can I say? I witnessed a process so unprecedented, so unregulated, and so inherently damaging to communities, farmland, and air, that I could scarcely wrap my head around it. Fracking decreases the worldwide supply of clean water irrevocably, produces trillions of gallons of (untreatable, radioactive, carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine-disruptive, neurotoxic) waste fluid, and contaminates water aquifers permanently. I saw animals and people sick, dying, and dead. I cried three times. By the end of that movie, I already knew from what I had seen of corporate greed and hubris (“just because we have this technology we should use it” mentality), that those who were awake and able needed to take action and answer the call to create a cleaner world, and to expose this behemoth destroyer of communities and ecosystems before Pennsylvania became uninhabitable. Water is life, but it was being turned into a bearer of death on an appalling scale. I could never again “not know” about this direct threat to the health and security of myself, my family, and every resident of the state I have called home since my birth in Pittsburgh. It was as if my life had crystallized before my eyes; my heart was engaged, open, flowing, and full of compassion for victims of fracking past and future. I knew that this (after my family) would be first in my heart: advocating in favor of the clean water and communities under siege from the abusive, criminally negligent, unregulated natural gas frackers in league with the politicians shamefully yet shamelessly in that industry’s pocket (Google “fracking” and visit http://www.dangersoffracking.com).
SINCE THEN, my life has become “frack around the clock.” I have racked up a resume of endless demonstrations, testimonies in front of multiple regulatory agencies, forums, seminars, visits with impacted families, activist meetings, more GASLAND screenings, symposiums, festivals, lobbying legislators, trainings, marches, rallies, more public speaking, more protests…and the e-activism: commenting on permits and dockets, e-mails, petitions, Facebook posts, and the 5000+ hours I have spent in the last 2.5 years reading the truth about fracking from scientific studies and reports, first-hand testimony from people suffering drilling impacts, independent journalism, doctors, and other volunteer advocates standing up for those who have been violated. It has been a very intense journey, but I am more in touch with my heart now than I have ever been before. As an engaged member of this movement, I have journeyed extensively in the tri-state area, attended large multi-day organizing conferences in Washington D.C. in July (Google “Stop the Frack Attack”), and recently (March 2-5) in Dallas, TX. The entire way I have hugged and kissed my brothers and sisters who share my love of water, safe communities, and life itself, all while building relationships and a huge and supportive network.
I feel that my involvement in the movement to transition to a clean green renewable energy economy, use less energy, live simply so that others may simply live, and tread more lightly on our Mother Earth, has guided me to a family in my extended activist community and my heart’s home. Following my heart helped me define my values more clearly than ever before, which enabled me to decide “what I wanted to be when I grew up” at 40. Activism led me to social media which led me to being an online marketing consultant for local Lehigh Valley businesses. In 2012, I aligned my streams of income with my trifecta of loves: pure, non-genetically modified food; 100% renewable US wind energy; and the vitality of local economies and businesses. I had no idea in which direction I would take my entrepreneurial dreams and internet marketing studies, but following my heart in my volunteer community advocacy paved the way and continues to illuminate my path. I knew after I saw GASLAND that I had indeed found my path, and my heart lights the way. Because of the growth of my connection to my heart, I can feel the love energy that extends beyond the boundaries of my visible body. I flow the anguish and the hopes of this entire movement through every cell of my body. I surrender my body to the power of holding sacred space for the farms and forests, the streams and rivers, the people and animals, all of whom have been sickened and sacrificed due to toxic drilling (Google “The List of the Harmed”). I hope that when people hear my story, they will heed the wake-up call on whatever level they can manage. Not everyone is a natural-born advocate, but you can raise your own awareness; share your concerns with your family, friends, and communities; and contact your legislators to protect the health and safety of your community and your family…because we ALL live downstream, share the air, and depend on clean land to grow our food. Get the facts, and then listen to your heart as I did.
Julie Ann Edgar is an online marketing consultant, clean energy broker, clean food advocate, and member of Team Mother Earth, breaking the back of the fossil fuel industry while pressing for the transition to a clean energy economy as fast as possible. She runs Lehigh Valley Gas Truth many unpaid hours per week and has branded a sister organization, Safe Water Society, which will be a 501C3 by year’s end. She launched Gemini Social Enterprises as a values-based venture because of her sincere passion for healthy local economies and the vitality of Main Street businesses. She helps local businesses in the Valley and beyond dominate page one of a Google local search for their chosen keyword in as little as two weeks. As a consultant Julie’s role is to craft custom solutions to help her clients reach individualized goals.
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