FLOW founder and president Jim Olson delivered the following remarks — inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech — on January 12 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse.
By Jim Olson
I had a dream in 2009-10. That was to bring the Public Trust Doctrine into the world of understanding of our world’s commons and what to do about them.
I had that dream not because of some artistic vision. It was a dream that came out of the battle over the privatization of water and the effort by Nestlé to use that water and sell it so that corporations make every person and being on the planet slaves. Thus was born FLOW For Love of Water.
That dream is a reality. That dream is a reality because of many people understanding that, at this time in history, we cannot afford to view the natural world as apart from us. It is a common gift from the creation. It preceded the human mind. The human mind is a tool. If we honor this dream of the commons as being paramount to all life, we will then defeat our human-natured desire to control, at short gain, at tremendous cost.
I have a dream that this commons will be protected by the Public Trust Doctrine, which many of you have heard us at FLOW continue to talk about. The dream started centuries ago. The dream was buried.
I have a dream that this commons that we lost in western civilization will come back, and we will understand that private property has no value, that all life has no value, unless we preserve and protect the commons of earth.
I have a dream that we understand that the hydrosphere is our being. The hydrosphere is the being in which we live, and it is the commons.
I have a dream that the hydrosphere and the beings in it are protected by the Public Trust Doctrine. I have a dream that a lawsuit can be filed to stop the tyranny. It will stop the tyranny of climate change, the fires in Australia.
I have a dream that it will stop the destruction of the people in Flint.
I have a dream that there will be no water shutoffs for any person, child, or grandparent on this earth, because they don’t have the ability to pay for water. Water is a commons. We must preserve and treat it with dignity for all.
I have a dream that this Public Trust Doctrine will assure that water is always public.
I have a dream that we will assure that this water is generational and it will be protected from one generation to the next.
I have a dream that it will apply to all people.
I have a dream that people will understand that we are a relationship. That the Public Trust Doctrine does not just protect the water, it protects people and life. It protects the relationship between people and life.
I have a dream that if we understand this relationship between beings and life, we can protect our Great Lakes like Lake Erie, one-third of which is a green toxic soup.
I have a dream that we understood that this is us, and that in the future we will come to a peace on this earth. The peace that was created in the relationship between the commons and us when we entered this earth, however that happened.
I have a dream that we can move forward together to accomplish what’s in our hearts.
Watch the full video below (Jim Olson begins speaking at 40:12).