Let's say you're like most Americans. You believe that everyone should have the right to clean water and clean air. You think that rain forests are special and ought to be protected. And you think that all people have basic human rights to be recognized and respected in every country.
But at the same time, you work for an oil company. Chevron.
Trudie Styler believes there are certain issues we can all agree on, regardless of who signs our paycheck. On the eve of the San Francisco premiere of Joe Berlinger's Crude, the award-winning environmental and human rights leader reached out to Chevron employees -- and asked them on a date.
Three years ago, Styler traveled to Ecuador to witness first-hand the legacy Texaco, now Chevron, left behind after decades of oil contamination.
Now she's hoping Chevron employees see for themselves what is happening. "Many people will assume that you and I must be on different sides of the fence on this issue. But I don't believe that," Styler wrote. "I'm willing to bet that you and I, and all of your colleagues, agree that everyone has the fundamental right to the life-supporting elements of clean air and clean water."
Let's hope she's right.
Here's the letter, in full:
My name is Trudie Styler.
You may know me as Sting's wife, and you may know of my work for the environment and human rights. You may also have heard my name mentioned as one of the celebrities speaking out in support of the 30,000 Ecuadorean citizens who are pursuing Chevron to clean up the pollution the company left behind in their homeland.
I am all of those things.
But over and above all those things, I am simply a mother who can't just stand by and do nothing when I see children who are suffering.
Three years ago, I made a trip to the Ecuadorean Amazon. It wasn't my first trip to the rainforest, but it was a life-changing experience nonetheless. I met hundreds of villagers and indigenous people who depend on the rainforest for their nourishment, their livelihoods, their culture and their spirituality. I saw with my own eyes how, over the past thirty years, their home has been devastated by oil pollution, and their health destroyed by the toxicity that has poisoned the soil, the rivers, and even the rain. Chevron left that pollution behind. They've even admitted to dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste there.
On that trip I vowed to do whatever I could to help these people. I believe that any one of you, if you had seen what I saw there, would have felt the same.
So, I went to Unicef, as I am one of their Ambassadors. Unicef agreed that the lack of safe drinking water in the affected area was a serious crisis, and they joined forces with my own charity, the Rainforest Fund, to organize the installation of water filters and tanks to families, schools, and hospitals. (More about this project can be found here.)
I have also been collaborating on a film, Crude, that tells the story of these Ecuadorean people, and their struggle for a safe place to live. I wanted to help shine a light on this terrible situation, and by doing so advocate greater responsibility by multinational companies when they pursue their business interests abroad. Crude is showing in San Francisco for a week, starting this Friday, September 25th.
Many people will assume that you and I must be on different sides of the fence on this issue. But I don't believe that. I'm willing to bet that you and I, and all of your colleagues, agree that everyone has the fundamental right to the life-supporting elements of clean air and clean water.
I'd like to make it very easy for you to learn about these people for yourself. I'd like to give you the opportunity to make up your own mind about what has been going on in Ecuador, and to consider how justice can be achieved for the people suffering there. I'd like to invite you to the movies.
Please join me - I'll buy your ticket. Reply to this email letting us know which showing of Crude you'd like to attend and we'll simply put your name on the list. It's that simple. Come and see for yourself, and you be the judge.
Follow Michael Brune on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bruneski