In Iowa, as factory farms have been poisoning the drinking water, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have been re-imagining what rural Iowa’s community looks like. In this episode, George talks with Hugh Espey, Director of Iowa CCI; Larry Ginter, a retired, third-generation farmer based in Rhodes; Emma Schmit, an organizer with Food and Water Watch; and Lakeisha Perkins, a lifelong Des Moines resident and Iowa CCI community organizer.
They’ve discovered that it’s not greed or individualism that bind Iowans together. It’s a concern for everyone’s safety, a commitment to responsible stewardship of the land, and leaning on each other.
Hugh is Executive Director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Hugh started as a CCI organizer in Council Bluffs in 1979. He did rural organizing with family farmers in the mid ’80s, and became Iowa CCI’s first ever Rural Project Director. In 2003, he took the helm as Executive Director. He grew up in Quincy, Illinois, where he still has family. Hugh is a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan. He also likes the Chicago Bulls.
Larry is a retired, third-generation family farmer in Rhodes, IA. He’s been a member of Iowa CCI since the early 2000s. His activism has taken him to DC to partner with Latinx and Black organizers to occupy the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-immigrant organization; and to San Francisco to protest Wells Fargo’s record on tax dodging, home foreclosures, predatory lending, private prison investment, payday lending and factory farm financing, bank bailouts, record profits and lavish CEO bonuses.
Talking with Graham Gillette
Graham Gillette is founder managing director of Gillette Strategic Resources, LLC, a communications firm serving scientific, medical, technical, retail, power generation, and public policy organizations. He is also the founder of Science-Writers.com, a resource for publishers, editors, news directors, and organizations looking to hire the best writers in the business. He is on the Des Moines Water Works Board.