Back in the mid-’70s, I was involved in a community effort to halt, or at least to reasonably regulate, the application of herbicides (2,4D, 2,4,5T — close chemical cousins to Agent Orange) to logging sites in Trinity County, California. The proponents of aerial fogging of entire watersheds tried to brand us as hippies worried about poisoning our dope crops. A few in the group were dopers, to be sure, but many of us were not. (I was a townie, running a small shoe repair business.) We simply knew people who had been injured/damaged by the spraying (e.g., deformed babies and livestock, dead fruit trees, poisoned water supplies.)
We canvassed the county, found that a majority of people, some employed in the timber industry, even by the US Forest Circus, were privately opposed to the spraying, and contributed $$ to the poster fund. We eventually forced the Board of Supervisors to adopt a County-wide ordinance regulating the application of those herbicides (25% of the registered voters signed our petition in less than two weeks) and the County was promptly sued by the State Division of Food and Agriculture. Upshot: after several years, we won in the State Supreme Court, but were shot out of the saddle on the last day of that year’s legislative session, when Speaker Willie Brown called back all those legislators who had already gone home, entirely gutted a holdover bill, made them vote in a brand new law mandating that only the State would have exclusive jurisdiction over “economic poisons.”
So, we eventually lost, but during the interim, the logging companies paid for a professional study, to determine why we were still pursuing it eight years after the beginning, since most such groups gave up and faded away after about a year and a half. I never heard what the study said, but I could have told them for free: “This is our home. You guys can pick up and go back to corporate headquarters in SF or LA, as soon as you harvest your logs, but we live here!”
The lesson I took home was the value of persistence. It may not succeed under a corrupt government, but we may not always have a corrupt government. With a little luck, we may have far less than we have now.