River Crisis: Ask yourself honestly, ‘Why has my community had the same problem for 50 years?’

Clint Starling  has been organizing protests for the St. Lucie River. (Source: Facebook)


Clint Starling of Jensen Beach, a sixth-generation Floridian who has been organizing protests for the St. Lucie River, comments on the River Crisis: If you understand this problem and its remarkable simplicity, the fact it remains unresolved is enough to make your blood boil.

If there is one unequivocal truth I have learned from my experiences surrounding this horrible crisis with our river, it is this simple fact: Protesters are not born, they are made.

Any population stands the chance of being pushed too far by an intolerable circumstance. I wasn’t a protest leader several weeks ago; neither was Evan Miller. There’s no magic to it at all, and we didn’t study civil unrest at UC Berkeley either. Essentially, we’re just a couple of regular guys who love the water enough to respect it.

The people of the Treasure Coast are fed up. And this is not exactly a radical population. We are a conservative, little beach community for the most part, and you have to push us locals fairly far before we’ll abandon our manners.

Martin County is many things, but Haight- Ashbury is not one them.

However, all inhabitants of a democracy, regardless of socioeconomic factors, have a breaking point. We all know about the problems with Lake Okeechobee discharges, but recently the tone of the complaints has changed. Something is different, and I think I know why.

This is a very old problem. It has been fought diligently by many people over several decades without ultimate success.


Look in the mirror and ask yourself, honestly, “Why has my community had the same problem for 50 years?”

You are why; you did not stand up together, did not heed the piper all this time. There is nothing novel about what we’ve been doing.Mark Perry, the executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, has been organizing clever protests since he was at Martin County High School back in the 1970s.

I am proud to report that my generation is doing an honorable job of showing up and vocalizing our displeasure. Sadly, this is still not nearly enough. The movement that began a little more than a month ago is merely the first baby step down this final road to victory. If one more person congratulates me for 6,000 people turning up to a couple protests for a problem that affects more than 150,000, I’m going to snap!

Were this county to get serious about saving itself, there would be 50,000 people holding signs and lining the beach.

If the St. Lucie River dies, your business will suffer, your leisure will suffer; and if your conscience doesn’t suffer, you really do have bigger things to worry about than a polluted river.

I believe there are several factors contributing to the upswing of this community’s efforts to save itself.

Social media. The entire globe is reeling from the effects of the Arab Spring. Clearly, social media can be a catalyst for change, and I believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg here.

Anyone who grew up in this county during the last 40 years has had a basic scientific understanding of the problem since they were about 10 years old thanks to the phenomenal work of educators at the Environmental Studies Center.

If you understand this problem and its remarkable simplicity, the fact it remains unresolved is enough to make your blood boil. The glaring wrong that has been perpetrated upon the St. Lucie River Estuary by the very government charged with protecting it and representing the interests of its inhabitants is obvious to even the most naive of us.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants of perseverance. People such as Perry, Leon Abood, Henry Caimotto and the Rivers Coalition have demonstrated uncommon willpower and moral fortitude that should inspire us all.

Some day, when Plan Six has been completed, a great debt of gratitude will be owed to all those who have stood up and fought for their river when their time came.



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