I have sat in front of my computer numerous times over the last few months trying to write this letter. How do you sum of something that has affected your life for the past 19 years? How do you try and make other people understand what Exxon did and is still doing to your home. I always think back to big Hollywood movies, like Erin Brockovich, where the small people take on the big corporation …and they win. In the movies, the main characters hug after their victory and celebrate the justice that has been found. In real life, I wish it was only the same. In reality, you can win the case and beat the big, bad corporation but that doesn’t mean it’s over. In this case, for over 19 years the Exxon-Mobile Corporation has contested the decision made against them in the longest court case in the history of…well ever!
I was 17 years old when I came home from school to find out my father and oldest brother had left in our fishing boat to help clean up because a tanker called the Valdez had run aground on Bligh Reef. I was a senior in high school and have to admit as a teenager I really didn’t think of it as a really big thing and thought it would get cleaned up and life would go back to normal quickly. I couldn’t have understood that the life of my family, my town and my state would be in explicably altered forever. I now live in Minnesota. I own the company that developed this website in conjunction with many friends back in my hometown. I had to choose a different path for my life. My options of following in the family business, commercial fishing, seemed very limiting in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.
So at 36 years old (a lot closer to 37), here I am in a different place than where I thought I would end up. I try to visit my hometown and family each year and it never ceases to amaze me at how much has changed from when I was growing up. After almost 20 years, my town is still waiting for this chapter of our lives to be over; waiting to move forward. Exxon, with its billions and billions of dollars, has drug this case out for as long as it could. Why? Because they have the means to do it. Now, on February 27 th, 2008 we all get our last chance for justice to be served by the largest court in the land. For Exxon to finally have to admit that what it did was wrong. For Exxon to have to admit it put company profits ahead of people's livelihoods and the safety of what was once a pristine environment.
Don’t believe me? I challenge you then to listen to the many stories that are on this website. Listen to what the people have to say. For those that think this is just about the money, I say to you it’s more about a community being able to heal. Go to my hometown, or any of the others affected, and find out what life is really like since that tragic day in 1989. Ask about the fisheries that have not produced any harvests…since that day. Ask about the people…good, hard working people…who lost their livelihoods, lost their homes and to some lost their identities…since that day. Ask about the shorelines of the Prince William Sound and all the sealife that roam those waters no more…since that day.
When I was asked to participate in the development of The Whole Truth campaign, I found it as my opportunity to finally speak out. To share with everyone the indignity my Alaskan community had brought upon it. Like victims of natural disasters, our community did not do anything, nor ask for this to happen. I ask you to read information on this site with an open-mind. If it outrages you even a little bit, take some time and let your voice be heard. Remember, one individual can make a difference…but a community of individuals that speaks as one voice can truly make an IMPACT.
Thanks for listening,
CEO High Monkey Consulting & Proud son of a Fisherman