In this remarkable video by Adam Pletts for Al Jazeera, [7:59] a former real-estate construction manager turned media activist states, “It was impossible before the revolution to make a media centre or publish any photo or video against the regime.” Sitting on the floor, snacking and smoking cigarettes in a village guarded by the Free Syrian Army, a team of media activists points to coverage by Reuters on the T.V. and have differing opinions about editing the team’s video content for distribution. One main debate surrounds how much “flesh and blood” is too much to show before it’s too shocking for people to even watch. The former construction manager, who now serves as media coordinator, states, “This discussion is normal and necessary. For 50 years the regime took only one side and never listened to the others sides. So if I behave the same way now, I will be behaving like the regime.” But later [16:05] he seems to contradict himself: “I am an activist, only an activist. I am with the revolution, so I will only tell this side.”
On January 9, 2013, in otherwise quiet Highland Township in Elk County, Pennsylvania, officials signed a community rights bill into law stopping the deposit of fracking waste within the township. Seneca Resources, the drilling and fracking arm of National Fuel Gas of Williamsville, N.Y., had planned to inject its “production fluids” (oil and gas drilling and fracking waste) into an injection well about 2,200 feet from Crystal Springs — a main source of water for James City — according to the Kane Republican. Injection wells have a history, both long and recent, of failing to contain waste and increasing the risk of exposure to drinking water supplies. So, residents of Highland Township asked their municipal officials to say “No.” A Community & Environmental Rights Movement Highland Township is the latest on a list of over 140 other communities that have said ‘no’ to factory farms, waste incinerators, corporate water withdrawals, and now fracking by passing rights-based ordinances. Marsha Buhl, president of the Highland Township Recreation Association, collected signatures from more than 230 township residents in order to ban the injection well.
For us at Public Herald, 2012 was the ‘Year of the Snake.’ We’ve been intimately connected to water while shooting and editing our first documentary film Triple Divide, that began as a small project in 2011 but blossomed into a 95-minute Public Herald Studios production about fracking in the Marcellus Shale region. Like the water snake, we’ve been holed up in our Pennsylvania editing “den” for much of the year, only venturing out to devour necessary sustenance — truth and creativity — as the drama of deep shale extraction unfolds. Snakes get a bad rap, even in the oil and gas industry. Timber rattlesnakes are an issue near drill rigs in the mountain regions of northern and central PA, but are also protected as a vulnerable keystone-state species due to habitat destruction. “So what?” some may say, “what’s so bad about less poisonous snakes?” But snakes are only poisonous if you’re bitten. And the best prevention from a bite is being aware of, and intimately connected to, one’s surroundings.