In Fryeburg, Maine, the Public Utilities Commission has been looking into the idea of signing a contract with Poland Spring — which is owned by Nestle — to allow the company to extract water from its aquifer. The agreement would last for 25 years, with the option to renew it for a series of five-year extensions. All told, Nestle could be bottling the town’s water for the next 45 years.
That’s a long time, and many of the town’s residents think it’s too long. Among the opponents of the contract is Luke Sekera-Flanders, 9. At a commission meeting earlier this month, the elementary-school activist spoke out against Nestle. He thanked the commission for the opportunity to speak because, as he said, “I may not be allowed to speak again until I am 54 years old on this.” He also said that the company had acted not like a good neighbor, but like a bully and that “we do not want to be bullied for the next 45 years.”
Here’s the whole thing:
Maine political blogger Alex Steed interviewed Sekera-Flanders to find out more about his thinking. Here’s what he had to say about why so many people have been sharing the video of his statement:
Nobody really expects a 9-year-old child to actually stand out against Nestle because a lot of kids like Poland Spring and Nestle. They see them giving money to our community and see them give little donations to our schools and paying some taxes, but while they are doing that, they are taking away hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from us a week. What’s up with that? People don’t know about the real situation. By the time they make it to their 80s, they are probably going to have only a tiny amount of water left.
And here’s what he had to say about speaking up:
At first, I was pretty scared. When I heard about the hearing and thought about speaking at it, I was kind of … Ugh … I was kind of scared because usually I am not too good at speaking in public, but I decided that if this is a good, big cause, that I should just grit my teeth and do it, I guess.
That’s pretty much the best and clearest thinking about getting up off your butt and speaking out that we’ve heard: If it’s a good, big cause, just grit your teeth and do it, we guess.