Diane Wilson - Whole Earth Hero

Posted by Whole Earth | 08.20.2019


Diane Wilson – Whole Earth Hero


What motivates an activist? If you peel back the layers of a life story beyond the pivotal moments and natural predilections, you’re usually left with deep personal relationships. Protecting our families and loved ones can be the fertile soil from which springs a life devoted to social, political or environmental causes. And these personal relationships are not always with people. Deep and abiding relationships with animals, places, and, in the case of Diane Wilson, the water of Lavaca Bay, can motivate a determined commitment to making the world safer and healthier.


Diane Wilson is a fourth generation fisherwoman from Seadrift, Texas. She began her career as a child, shrimping with her father. Her profound relationship with water, especially the bays along the Texas Gulf Coast, grew out of these early days spent on the water


The Bay was a woman. I could see her and I could feel her personality. She was like a grandmother and she had this long gray hair. She had this long dress that kind of flowed out into the water. And when I was a kid, she was real to me. She had this personality of an old wise woman. And she really loved me. When you’re one of seven kids, and women aren’t considered too valuable in this part of the country, coming to the bay was like coming home; she was always, always welcoming. She would say, ‘Well, hello Diane, it’s so good to see you down here at the bay.’ The bay was a person to me, and you could get a psychiatrist and he would say it was a ‘little bit of a mystical thing,’ and it was. Being on the water was like you were a part of it. As a matter of fact, I used to feel like my skin molecules would separate and the water would move into them. There was no division.” *


Having this deep personal relationship with the wise woman of the bay, it’s not surprising that Wilson has devoted so many years to protecting the waters of Lavaca Bay. “With my environmental battles, I fought for that woman. She wasn’t a thing to me. She was a person.”  


Diane Wilson’s career as an activist began in 1989, when she read a government report saying that Calhoun County where she lived had the most toxic emissions in the country. These toxic emissions were poisoning the environment and making her neighbors sick. She’s been working ever since to stop the pollution of our Texas waters through education, protests and court cases. In June, Wilson won a case in federal court in San Antonio to stop the release of plastic pellets into Lavaca Bay.  The pellets not only pollute the water and but can also enter the food chain when fish eat them. 


To learn more about Diane Wilson’s story check out her book An Unreasonable Woman: The True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas, and her chapter in The Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage & Conservation, a collection of inspiring interviews with the men and women who have worked hard to preserve and protect our Texas environment. 


* footnote -  The Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage & Conservation, pp.223-224.


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