People We Love

In Memoriam: Corbin Harney
Western Shoshone leader

Corbin Harney, spiritual leader of the Western Shoshone Nation, died of cancer on July 10 at age 87. Harney had dedicated his life to fighting nuclear testing and dumping in his ancestral lands, including at the Nevada Test Site.

“Corbin inspired thousands of people, native and non-native, to take action in a peaceful and nonviolent way,” his personal assistant, Julia Moon Sparrow, was quoted as saying in a Las Vegas CityLife article.

“We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together to save our planet,” he said. “We've only got one water, one air, one Mother Earth.”

Harney traveled around the world as a speaker, healer, and spiritual leader. He spoke before the United Nations in Geneva and authored two books: The Way It Is: One Water, One Air, One Earth (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1995) and the forthcoming, The Nature Way. In 1994, Harney established the Shundahai Network to respond to spiritual and environmental concerns on nuclear issues.

Kelydra Welcker
Practical pollution solution

Two years ago, a debate was raging in West Virginia's Mid-Ohio Valley over APFO, a potentially carcinogenic chemical entering drinking water from the manufacture of Teflon®.

Rather than wait for a final verdict on its safety, 16-year-old Kelydra Welcker decided to take a different approach: figure out how to get the chemical out of the water—and quickly.

She began by reviewing basic high school chemistry principles and learning about APFO online. After almost two years of research, Welcker developed an inexpensive countertop filtering device that local families could use to remove APFO from the water. Simply place water overnight in a container with metal electrodes and granulated, activated carbon and voilà! By morning, the APFO is gone.

Although the research continues to take up a lot of her time as she tries to improve the device, Welcker, now 18, says, “Trying to clean up the environment is my passion, so I don't feel like I'm giving up anything to do this.”

Rev. Todd Eklof
Weighing in on waste

On Earth Day 2006, Reverend Todd Eklof had something of an epiphany: it was time to make a statement about the excess of garbage in America. His idea: save all his junk mail for one year as a visual symbol of waste.

“If I could have saved all my garbage for a year, I would have,” he says, “but I didn't have anywhere to put it.”

On Earth Day 2007, Rev. Elkof loaded a cart with more than 50 pounds of accumulated junk mail and pulled it four miles from his church to the local Louisville post office, where he staged a press conference drawing attention to the wastefulness of junk mail.

The press conference included Kentucky state representative Jim Wayne, who proposed a statewide “no junk mail” bill. Modeled after the national “Do Not Call list,” it would prevent everyone except nonprofits and politicial candidates from sending junk mail to people who don't want it.

Rev. Eklof is optimistic about its chances of success. “Everybody hates junk mail.”

Lauren Jacobs
Giving back to the Community

Lauren Jacobs was one of the first in her family to go to college. She was able to attend college in large part because of the union wages earned by her father and grandfather. Now she's using that education to help other families realize the same dreams by working as a union organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Parents have to work two or three jobs just to get by,” Jacobs says. “These low wages say, ‘You don't matter. Your children don't matter.'”

In June, she helped the security guards at Harvard win an average $4,300 increase per year. Her work is part of the SEIU's nationwide security campaign, which seeks to improve conditions, pay, and benefits for the nation's security guards, who are primarily people of color.

Although the job isn't easy—it requires long hours and travel—after 11 years, Jacobs is still excited to start each day. “I've seen workers joining together to fight and win. That gives me a lot of hope.”

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