Athens resident, Crissa Cummings, is an activist for the environment and equal rights. The Ohio University Women’s Center brought her to speak with students on Oct. 9 about being an all-inclusive activist group and how it can help any cause. Listen to the podcast to hear what she had to say.
Fracking becomes an issue in rural areas where the people are often poor, elderly, or disabled and cannot defend themselves against the companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Athens County is on the higher end of the unemployment rate in Ohio at 6.1 percent and Meigs County is at 8.1 percent. As a result, Athens and Meigs counties are both being targeted by fracking companies, advertising things like jobs and other financial support in exchange for their land. But, the people are trying to resist it by forming groups like Appalachia Resist! and the Athens County Fracking Action Network.
Cummings has been a member of Appalachia Resist! for two years. She was arrested this past February and charged with trespassing along with the rest of the “Athens 8” who protested the K&H Partners injection well in Coolville, OH.
She is also supporter of women’s and LGBT rights. She is a board member and resident of the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Unrest Home (SuBAMAH), a women's intentional living and education community. Cummings has had many experiences where she did not feel welcome because of her beliefs. During her time at Antioch College she tried to join a marine life activist group that went out at sea on a boat to stop whalers. But, before she even had the chance to go on the boat she was warned not go alone or she would be sexually assaulted. She was also kicked out of an animal rights group when she shared her beliefs about equal rights.
But, Appalachia Resist! is different. They have an open acceptance policy, which means they do not discriminate based off of sexual orientation, race, class or gender. This all-inclusive policy makes it easy for everyone in the group to express their opinions. Cummings said it also makes it easier to designate responsibilities when planning upcoming actions and picking priorities that truly matter.
“In terms of places of intersection and where things can intensely matter with the environmental movement a lot of them are environmental justice issues," said Cummings. "So as soon as you start inviting in to your group poor people, people of color, you end up recognizing that there are these places of intersection that have major direct impacts on people’s lives.”
Cummings believes that if activists groups can work on being open and growing their numbers they can make a difference. She said, to stop environmental issues like global warming, a massive cultural change is necessary; it will take everyone.