Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
As I See It -
Empowerment of a community
by Pat Ratliff, Klamath Courier, May 17, 2006
The great bucket stands proudly in front of the Klamath County Government Building, and like all great people and things, not everyone appreciates it.
I and others have written what the bucket means to us, but there's another part of the bucket also.
In the spring of 2001, the Basin was blindsided by governmental regulation and environmentalist (sic) greed. The lives and futures of a great many people were irrevocably changed that spring.
Most of us here in the Klamath Basin, were caught unaware of knowing fully what was happening to us. Many of us just thought a mistake had been made, and it would surely soon be righted. Sadly, many of us, like me, waited for others to get us out of this mess, but thankfully, we didn't wait too long.
Remarkably, almost the entire Basin came together to work in support of the farmers.
There was no dominant group though, as people were doing many different things. Somehow, in retrospect, this not only seemed to work, but seemed to be one of our strong suits.
Of course there were disagreements, but for the most part they got worked out. People from the Basin and nationwide that helped us found there were ways to combat regulatory and environmental greed. We found out that the best person to stand up for yourself, IS yourself. We also found out there was much to learn, and learn we did.
The Basin became empowered in 2001. The water shut off kicked us in the butt, and we responded. People became involved in the issues and entities that affect their lives and have stayed involved. We became aware of our strengths and weaknesses.
Yes, as a whole, the Klamath Basin is much stronger than it was. The people are better educated and stronger. We've come a long way - Baby.
That grand bucket that stands in front of the Government Building is not only a symbol of the empowerment of our Basin, but it is empowering in itself. It is a symbol that has outgrown its original intent.
I have seen people weep when they see the bucket. I myself have wept with pride for that bucket.
The bucket has brought hope and new energy to people in need across the nation. It has helped them stand up to those wronging them. It has shown them they are not alone, and it has offered relief and support.
It will do so again, soon. Support the bucket and support those who are in need. I humbly ask you to give till it hurts, and then dig a little deeper.
In closing, I am reminded that this very newspaper you are reading is an outgrowth of the strength and empowerment the bucket and water shut off have given all of us. It was born from a need in the community to have a voice, a need to have all sides of the issues treated equally and fairly, a need for all people to have the chance to speak out and be heard.
We, at the Klamath Courier do not take this task lightly, and I hope we can make the community as proud of us as we are of our newspaper.
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