I had the great honor to interview Jack Loeffler a few days ago. We spoke in depth about the history of the Black Mesa Defense Fund, an organization he helped found in the 1970′s with Hopi leaders and others to address the threat of coal extraction of Black Mesa and coal-fired power plants in the four corners area.
In Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Dave Foreman cites the Black Mesa Defense Fund as one of the inspirations for later activist organizations like Earth First! The Black Mesa Defense Fund existed for about 3 years and in that time was able to gain international attention for the previously unrecognized environmental problems. Members of the Black Mesa Defense Fund went on to play important activist roles both locally and internationally, and the current Black Mesa Trust started by Vernon Masayesva remains active addressing water rights of the Hopi and Navajo. Jack moved on from the Black Mesa Defense Fund to extensively document and publish on a variety of environmental, social and cultural concerns in the area (see links in the previous post), which he continues to do today at a breathtaking pace.
Most of the full audio interview is posted here, some highlights for me besides getting familiar with the history was our discussion about how an individual should approach activism. Jack talked about how a full understanding (including an understanding of who you might consider your ‘arch-enemies’, who Jack often got to know well and became long-time friends with as you will hear) is necessary when you approach this kind of work. He defined the term consciousness for him, which clarified my confusion evident in the earlier posts. He also used the term conscience, which for me is something that helps to tie together a disconnect between the interior and exterior.
I will be heading out to the four corners area tomorrow for a few days to learn more.
Listen here (unedited, partial):