Yesterday I had one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do something, and I jumped on it.
Greenpeace International's Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, is in Charlotte this week — making the Q.C. one of only four stops on his visit to America, and he wanted to hang out with me so we could talk about the two high-hazard, unlined coal-ash ponds behind Duke Energy's Riverbend coal plant — the two that drain into our drinking water reservoir. This is probably because I research and write about coal ash — American's second largest waste stream — a lot. (See the "further reading" section below.)
We — along with a member of the Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission, a small documentary film crew and some other Greenpeace employees — took a couple boats out to the coal-ash ponds to chat about them on camera, then later in the day hung out with a few community members who are impacted and concerned about the coal-ash ponds.
Naidoo, who originates from South Africa and has quite a story himself, really just wanted to listen and learn about Charlotte's coal-ash issues, but by the end of the day we had had great conversations about coal ash and many other important world and environmental topics. (In short, he gives me hope. One thing he told me was that the world's youth "gets it," in regard to a lot of the world's issues, and that we need to get out of their way. Love that, because it's true.)
Naidoo's not only here to visit with journalists like me. He's also here to talk to you. Or, I should say, he's mostly here to talk to you, to find out what your concerns are and how his organization can help solve them.
He'll be at the International House tonight, which is located at 322 Hawthorne Lane in Charlotte. The event begins at 7 p.m. Click here for more information.
Further reading on Charlotte's coal ash issues:
One Man and a River — Charlotte magazine
Is coal ash poisoning Charlotte-area drinking water? — Creative Loafing cover story
Government oversight remains 'grossly inadequate' in coal-ash waste control — Creative Loafing cover story