Five years ago, then newly elected City Councilmember Kevin Roden arranged a meeting with the now defunct Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity at UNT. He asked me if I would be interested in forming a citizen’s committee to help the city rewrite their rules governing drilling and natural gas production. This was shortly after the council had approved three wells near McKenna Park amidst great controversy. I agreed and wrote up a one page document outlining the basic idea of an informal, ‘shadow,’ advisory and educational commission. And that’s how the Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group was born. Across the years, it changed a lot, including a name change to the Denton Drilling Awareness Group. I served as Chair, then Vice President, then President, then Board Member.
And today, I attended my last Board meeting. After five years, I am no longer a part of DAG. I depart on good terms with all the current members – Rhonda, Tara Linn, Ed, Carol, Michael, and Emily – and I am confident they will continue to do great things. I look forward to supporting them however I can as a fan and occasional volunteer. I have recently been voted in as the Vice President of the Board for the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and I just decided that both jobs would be too much.
I thought I would make this announcement so that everyone would know. Clearly, now when and if I speak in public about fracking I only speak for myself and not on behalf of DAG.
I want to thank everyone who has been involved over these past five years. I learned so much and took so much joy in serving my city and fellow citizens. It’s crazy to think now about all that was involved – I wrote over 300 blogs first on the dentondrilling site and then on frackfreedenton.com, produced several videos, wrote many op-eds, participated in a few debates, and hosted dozens of meetings. But that was only a tiny slice of the work that took a whole community to accomplish – reaching out to neighbors, printing flyers, writing reports, raising funds, marching in parades, playing music, making art, writing letters to the editor, making signs, making phone calls, speaking at City Hall, driving down to Austin, working the polls, voting, protesting, and so much more.
Now, if you are a pessimist you might say that after all that, given HB 40, we are right back where we started. But that’s not just too bleak of a view – it’s wrong. Because we have come a long ways. So many people have been educated. So many people have tuned into their power as citizens. So many people have gotten activated to take part in our public sphere. And we won that glorious victory on November 4, 2014. Nothing can ever take that away…and nothing can ever take away that feeling of empowerment and the bonds of community that we have forged.
So, thank you to everyone who has played a part in Denton’s fracking saga these past five years. And my very best wishes to DAG as they go forward and to our entire city as we struggle toward justice.