Johnson County, Illinois: the power of the personal appeal in rural areas and small towns (video)

Johnson County Illinois

Johnson County, Illinois (click to enlarge)

Residents along the Beartooth Front will nod knowingly as they read about a referendum being held today in Johnson County, Illinois. It’s a familiar story of community dynamics.

The question voters will consider is:

Shall the people’s right to local self government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health and safety?

A grassroots citizen group called Southern Illinoisans Against Fracking Our Environment (SAFE) was responsible for collecting the signatures to get the proposed measure on the ballot, supported by the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). A coalition opposing the measure is led by one of the elected County Commissioners, and has significant support from the oil and gas industry.

Johnson County Illinois pro-fracking mailer

Pro-fracking mailer (click to enlarge)

We won’t get too deep into the community politics here, except to point out a potential nominee for the Rex Tillerson Fracking Hypocrite Award. The opposition is claiming that the initiative is being led by “out of state interests,” so they sent out a mailer demanding to “Stop the radical out-of-staters in their tracks.” Trouble is, the postmark on the mailer is from…out of state.

We’ll report on the outcome of the vote as soon as we get it, but the main reason I wanted to post this is to show the power of taking the out-of-staters out of the campaign and making it about personal appeals from local voters to each other. The video below, recorded by local resident Tony Gerard, has gone viral in the area. It’s a very powerful statement — not slick or professional, and probably too long, but honest and heartfelt.

It’s a lesson we can all learn about the power of social media to persuade through personal appeals in rural and small town environments. Beartooth residents, take heed.

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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