By Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia
via Wikimedia Commons
The 2000 movie, Erin Brockovich, made her a household name. Not bad for someone whose dyslexia had caused her to be voted “least likely to succeed” in high school, huh?
The movie explores how she spurred an investigation into the pollution of a small California town by the name of Hinkley by Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) irresponsible disposal of industrial waste water.
They had used a chemical called chromium 6 to fight rust on their cooling towers. Water they’d used as part of their energy production process became contaminated by this chemical, and they knew about it. Instead of disposing of the tainted water safely, they dumped it into unprotected ponds. That water then seeped down into the ground water, contaminating it, and eventually poisoning countless residents. Eventually, they began to suffer from autoimmune disorders, various forms of cancer, miscarriage, other reproductive problems and, in some cases, death.
At the time, Erin was working for a legal office which had been handling a pro bono case in the area. She came across some of the medical records of the residents, and looked into the cases personally. From there, she kept the team going, even when they wanted to give up. Eventually, they succeeded in forcing the company to take responsibility.
Since then, she’s consulted with other lawyers with other environmental causes, including cases of asbestos related injury. When this piece was originally posted, she and her team were investigating the massive sinkhole in Louisiana. Disturbingly enough, her team is also investigating one of the local towns I used to pass through on a regular basis, Fridley, for its higher than normal cancer rates. She’s a busy lady doing amazing work for our world.
Erin’s determination, empathy and strong sense of justice shows that although a person can struggle early on, they will succeed in doing great things if they recognize their own power and take full advantage of it. Women are powerful, and when you add the societal struggles that come with dyslexia, you can get the incredible strength Erin embodies.
She’s since written a book about how she’s defeated adversity in her life, Take it From Me: Life’s a Struggle but You Can Win.