Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Film Sparks Debate at Library

Jules Besch, which sells stationary in town, had the most beautiful hydrangeas in bloom last month. Check them out. This photo reminds me of one of our summer guests, from Canada. Chantal told me how she had tried to transplant a blue hydrangea years ago, but could no longer provide the type of soil required, due to the strict environmental laws in her country, and that the blue blossoms had turned pink. I learn all kinds of things from guests. I did not know, at the time, how much further advanced Canada is, compared to the United States, when it comes to the environment ...

Yesterday evening, at the library, I watched “A Chemical Reaction,” a SafeLawns film about how a small town in Quebec enacted a ban against pesticides that went all the way to the Supreme Court and influenced legislation in other provinces, including Ontario. While it’s wonderful that one woman in Hudson was able to get this ban enacted, her success has serious implications for Massachusetts, which is one of 41 states that was subsequently targeted for preemption laws by the chemical industry. What that means is a Massachusetts town can no longer create and vote in a bylaw that is contrary to state law. And, changing a state law would be a monumental endeavor. The Poison People have got us in a bind. (You may have heard of Marblehead's success: it was able to ban pesticides on town property but cannot impose a general ban.)

Following the film, there was an animated Q&A. A man in the audience expressed frustration with a neighbor, who had hired a chemical spraying company to kill ticks on his property and "protect" his four children. What the neighbor, a doctor, did not seem to realize is the high risk these toxic chemicals pose not only to his kids but to the abutter's family – as well as to our water. We all drink water from private wells. The water comes from a sole-source aquifer. Put chemicals in that aquifer and we all suffer. The general conclusion was more education of the population on the effects of toxic chemicals is required.

There will be future screenings of other films on the subject here in Wellfleet, organized by myself, Laura Kelley, and Beverly Callistini, in the months to come as we struggle to educate ourselves on the toxic soup our world has become. Stay tuned!