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Water Protest
A section of the border wall completed during 2007 in Arizona.
Full house at Dearborn.
PHOTO/LIZ MILLER

Liz Miller directed and produced the new film, "Water Front," about the struggle for water in Highland Park Michigan, a city known as the birthplace of the auto industry. Residents have received water bills as high as $10,000; they have had their water turned off, their homes foreclosed, and are struggling to keep water, a basic human right, from becoming privatized. The People’s Tribune recently interviewed Liz.

People's Tribune: Where has the film been shown and what is the response?

Liz: The "Water Front" movie has been impacting audiences all over the United States and internationally. We combine screenings with discussions and recommendations on how to get involved. After a screening in Philadelphia, students made a commitment to demand that their university ban or reduce bottled water sales on campus.

In April we held three consecutive screenings at universities in Michigan and the response was electric. At the Dearborn screening we had 300 audience members including city officials, lawyers, students and professors who provided moving commentary. Two lawyers expressed concern that more people would begin losing their homes as a result of water bills connected to tax statements.

On the international front the film has been screened in Paris, Belgium and Greece, and is traveling to Spain this summer. International audiences have been astonished to know what is happening in poor cities in the U.S. and are eager to use the film in their organizing efforts. We are posting all screenings on line at www.thewaterfrontmovie.org/

And finally we are thrilled to announce that in coordination with Food and Water Watch, Michigan Welfare Rights, and a range of environmental and justice groups we are going to launch a tour around the Great Lakes this fall. The tour will strengthen coalitions working around water and poverty and galvanize the next generation of youth organizers. We will visit 20 cities and are looking for folks to help coordinate a visit. Contact info@thewaterfrontmovie.org

PT: The film showings are bringing together a diverse group of people. Please comment.

Liz: The "Water Front" provides a way for audiences to emotionally connect to the water crisis in Highland Park and in cities around the world. Audiences are motivated  to get involved or—or stay involved. Screenings have been a great way to network. Students are making invaluable contacts with local groups. At the Detroit screening, blues musician Joe L. Carter, who wrote the theme song for the film, talked about his prison work and was approached by a student who wants to volunteer.The film is helping folks connect issues—between  race, poverty, gender, privatization, labor, and the environment.

PT: What is the next step in the struggle for water rights?

Liz: Education is key and we want to show the film at as many universities as possible to get students involved on campus and connected to seasoned organizers. We are working on a guide to get the film into after school programs and into high schools.

Getting the word out that that water is a human right and water affordability is an essential step. Welfare Rights is organizing a Truth Commission to heighten awareness of the situation and provide the United Nations with testimony from residents.

Comparing stories and seeking solutions is important.  The Water Affordability Plan outlined in the film is a model for cities in trouble. We have to work with city councilors who have their hands tied and are often considering privatization because they don't want to make hard decisions and lose popularity.

There is key legislation to support like the Great Lakes Great Michigan proposal (http://greatlakesgreatmichigan.org/) or the public trust fund supported by Food and Water Watch  which will demand that the national government invest in local water systems.

We have a "Get Involved" section on the website which outlines a range of actions to take. The point is there are many steps to take !

We will be working with Bull Frog films—www.bullfrogfilms.com/—who will help distribute the film. On the DVD we now have French and Spanish subtitles as well as the 7-minute short and some additional interviews on privatization, women and water and community solutions. We will be offering the film through our website www.thewaterfrontmovie.org or by contacting  info@thewaterfrontmovie.org. With every sale we want to insist that to get a copy you have to get organizing !




On May Day, tomorrow, sometime in the course of the day,
I’ll take your hand, sister, I’ll take your hand, brother, and
lift our arms all together in honor of the workers’ holiday,

and the Internationale we’ll be singing tomorrow will also
remember that today Shitler blew his brains out 63 years ago
like that criminal in the White House should at any moment,

and that today 33 years ago the great people of Vietnam won
an unforgettable victory for socialism over the same brutal
machine that beat Rodney King of Los Angeles 17 years ago

and set off actions in states like Washington, Nevada, Illinois
because the hunger for justice that’s coming, that’s already
manifesting for food in Haiti, Egypt, Nicaragua, Pakistan,

the hunger that’s joined to the will of that deathless invincible
Union of the spirit of revolution, that hunger which has already
given birth to fourteen years of Mayan resistance and which

defies the mass production of outright lies about how delicious
life tastes with individual choices and forgets about the children
dropping dead of starvation, even here in the other America---

O if ever there was a time to get off the left side of our asses and
go to the bottom of the pot, and see that it’s empty and the kids
needs food. O if ever there was need for Revolution, it’s now    


     ---Jack Hirschman

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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