United for Life

mel people helpingHow the citizens of Charleston came together to protect their most precious resource: water.

Mel Hoover is Reverend Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church. He was the 2013 recipient of Unitarian Universalist Association Distinguished Service Award for his work in anti-racism, anti-oppression, community-building, gender equality and environmental justice. He is 2014 Co-Founder of the MelRose Positive Transformative Change Ministries. He is involved with the Earth Charter Movement, a global movement for a sustainable future, and was an incorporator of “Earth Scouts” for boys and girls 3 to 17. Rose Edington is Reverend Emerita of the Unitarian Universalist Church.  She is the Co-Founder of the MelRose Positive Transformative Change Ministries. She received her Master’s Degree in Divinity at Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Doctorate in Ministry at the Episcopal Divinity School.  She was ordained in 1975.

Food For Thought & Conversation

  • The Charleston, WV contaminated water story has a beginning similar to Dan Fagin’s story in his 2014 Non-Fiction Pulitzer Prize winning book, Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation, which takes place in a town in New Jersey in the 1950’s where water was contaminated by a chemical plant. However, in Charleston, citizen engagement came much earlier to address the problem.  Several factors may have contributed to this earlier intervention, please share your thoughts about what they were. 
  • Mel makes the statement “Water unites” as to why a diverse group of citizens organized and sustained the protest of the poisoning of their water.  Please share your thoughts about that rallying cry. 
  • Rose said that citizens were successful in getting a bill passed that requires storage tank owners and operators to develop spill prevention and response plans that would be subject for approval by the Department of Environmental Protection.  Those plans must disclose the activities of the storage facilities as an inventory of substances kept there. www.wvgazette.com/News/201401280050#sthash.JWYuqkB3.dpuf
  • The corporation responsible for the toxic spill was Freedom Industries, which went bankrupt soon after the spill.  However, Mel stated that it formed another group in a couple of weeks and is back in business.  Please share your reaction and thoughts including any way that it might be possible to prevent that from occurring in the future.


  • Flint Michigan is a horrific story about the contamination of the water supply with lead that has affected the brains and lives of children and adults living there. Read the unfolding story of the Flint water crisis and the end results. Share what you have learned and your thoughts and reactions to the story.
  • Do you know the state of your local water supply? How can you find out? Share what you learn.
  • Invite friends, colleagues or community members to view this video with you and host a conversation.

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Operation Bon Appetit is an initiative of the Cultural Innovations Agency, Inc. (CIA), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, with the mission to engage ordinary people in sustainability and social change that emphasizes conviviality, arts, conversations and actions. The ethical framework for the CIA recognizes the interconnection of economic justice, human rights, respect for nature and a culture of peace.

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