What began as a class project for Anne Fischel and Lin Nelson, two professors from Evergreen State College, grew into a multi-media project documenting the experiences of three communities with prolonged relationships with the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO).
Through research, film, photography, oral history, analytical writing, a website, and a documentary, Their Mines, Our Stories document the experiences and struggles of these communities, left to deal with the fallout of ASARCO smelter’s decades of unregulated pollution once they closed their doors and filed for bankruptcy.
Through their shared conditions, these communities are fighting to strengthen policy framework, pollution control laws, regulations and emission standards.
Anne and Lin are reaching out to other communities impacted by industrial pollution, struggling to find answers, assistance, and solutions from the polluters and their state and federal agencies.
This is what brought them to Northport. In May Anne and Lin met with Northport community members at the high school, where we screened their documentary “Under the Smoke Stack.” After the screening Carlos Martinez, a community advocate from Smeltertown in El Paso, TX, called in and we shared our experiences dealing with the polluters, the EPA, and the changes that needed to be made to benefit small communities going forward. We all agreed that if small communities like ours worked together we could create a larger information network.
The following day they filmed interviews with several residents, who shared their stories of how decades of exposure to toxic pollution had impacted their lives. Clips from these interviews can be viewed at: Vimeo – Northport, WA clips. (Click to view)
The difficulties small communities, impacted by big polluters, face is our size makes us easy to overlook.
However, if we work with other small communities like ours we will become bigger, our voices will become louder, and we will become harder to overlook. With a stronger voice we can work together to make positive changes to impact and strengthen policy, regulations, and environmental health laws.
To read more about Their Mines, Our Stories: Work, Environment and Justice in ASARCO- Impacted Communities visit Anne and Lin’s website at: http://www.theirminesourstories.org/