The past few weeks have been packed with lots of exciting events that Action NC has been involved in. I would like to start off talking about the Bank of American action, which was called "500 Pounds of Coal.” That action really caught my attention because they went about proving their point in a very creative way. It started off with a number of people dressed in all white garments with messages on the back that got up and spoke on each of the different issues that coal causes, which was very informative. After each speaker finished they would dump some more coal on the ground. There were face masks that were provided so that people wouldn't breathe in the coal. Just the sight of that alone was enough to draw a crowd of people curious about what was going on.
There were alot of signs centered around what they were protesting about, some of which said "Poison Air, B of A still the number one funder of coal, and Clean up B of A". The protest was centered around the fact that Bank of America is a huge funder of the coal industry and the harm this causes to the environment, to air quality, and to all of us in terms of many major health issues. In fact there have been a number of days recently that the air quality was so polluted that it was dangerous to breathe.
Once all of the speeches were over, people started chanting "No more coal" along with other things. It was a really exciting for me because this was the first protest I ever went to. It was also very informative to me because I didn't realize that coal was so responsible for as many of the negative things going on in our environment.
The second event that I would like to talk about is the Woodward Village meeting with Utilities Commission representatives from Raleigh. That was of special interest to me because of my interest in Spanish. Hector Vaca, Action NC’s Charlotte Director, and I went out to this Spanish speaking community where we have been helping them organize around utility and other issues. Residents have been getting charged more for their use of water than what they owed. These widespread overcharges have been verified by water meter readers. To me it was so sad to see how people have been taken advantage of when they have limited knowledge of issues. They people are even more disadvantaged because a lot of them only speak Spanish.
The utility commissioner went on to explain everything that was going on with the overcharges, and how it would be fixed. At times, Hector had to translate what it was that he was saying. The people of that community were really warm, and it was a great opportunity for me to practice talking in Spanish.
The last thing I want to talk about is the Affordable Care Act press event. That event was centered around the Supreme Court decision upholding Affordable Health Care Act. The process of doing that was really interesting to me. I got the oppurtunity to go with Dr. Robbie Akhereas she went to different senior citizen residences discussing what the Affordable Care Act does and means for them and millions of others. Then we had people to sign a petition to support it. All of the work paid off as we then turned many of these folks out for our Press Conference/Celebration over the victorious decision. There were a whole lot of happy people there that day.
At the press conference, different people gave their testimonies of what The Affordable Health Care has already done for them. That whole process was very informative to me. Honestly, saying that this internship has opened up my eyes to a different world is an understatement! I have been learning and soaking in all of the things that we have been getting involved with. A lot of the issues centered around rights that were so foreign to me, as I didn't know much about grassroots politics. I am really taking in all that I am learning, and this internship is definitely changing my perspective on our society and how it operates.