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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Raising awareness and funds to oppose the Cane Creek Reservoir

Crawford describes the initial organizational efforts of the group of Chapel Hillians later named the Cane Creek Conservation Authority. Crawford describes how they put together a slide show in order to raise awareness of the environmental issues surrounding the effort of OWASA to put a dam in Cane Creek. Additionally, he describes the process by which they raised two hundred thousand dollars to bolster their battle against OWASA.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

In the interim time, what we did was we started forming a committee of people, who were interested in being, by self selection I guess, interested in being people who ran things. Started organizing the first Farm-City Day. Starting trying to put together a sorta constitution and then a bill of, you know, it was just guessing. [Interruption] We were meeting on a somewhat periodic basis, weekly or biweekly. Also, putting together a slide presentation and trying to do whatever we could to get some sorta public notice, you know, trying to force … See, there was never a public hearing about this, about whether we should do this or not. [Build the dam.] The only public hearings were after it was decided to already do it. We were trying to force at least some sorta public forum. The way we did that was that Ed Johnson went to all his friends in the Lions Clubs and said, we want to come talk to you and things like that. We put together a slide show, which I think was a very good slide show, that doesn't exist anymore. It got dismantled. I'm sorta glad and I'm sorta sad, somehow. But our first real public forum was at the League of … I think the League of … No, Patty, what was the name of that group where we went for the first public presentation. Beth Qualic (sp?) read it but it wasn't this, the People's Alliance or something like that.
PATTY CRAWFORD:
Yeah.
SAM CRAWFORD:
Yeah, The People's Alliance. Chapel Hill's People's Alliance had the first one. That was the first sorta public debate on the issue. We went and the OWASA people came. And the OWASA people [blaked?] around. It has never really been a defensive position, and when you have people stand up and talk about it, it gets less defensible all the time. We showed our slide show, and we sorta talked about the issues. I'll never forget it, and if I ever get a chance I will strangle Dan Okun. Dan Okun sat in the back the whole time we were giving our presentation acting like a twelve year old. I mean, he would sorta sit there and go AK AK AK. I couldn't believe it, I could not believe this grown human being was doing this. I never will forget it, the image is indelibly placed in my mind. He was just being like a twelve year old obnoxious person. And, that has been the kind of attitude we have dealt with all the time, is that people out here have no idea what they are talking about. There is one right answer and that is our [OWASA's] right answer. So from that we went to a series of speaking to everybody who would listen, 'till people got tired of listening. Writing ads in the newspaper, taking ads in the newspaper, raising money. And money was always an issue, dealing with how to get money. And it still, you know, that is still the thing that has defeated us, is that OWASA has no qualms about spending all the money that they needed to spend and they have access to it. They can demand it of you and users, and from the town of Chapel Hill, and from the University and from people like that. Our money had to come strictly from what we could glean together. The majority of our money came from the Farm -City days and from the Craft Fair, which we started up that fall. And most of our money came from food. [Laughter] You know, ham biscuits, and barbecue, and pies and cakes and quilt raffles. That is where the majority of it, and then out of pocket contributions I don't know how, and I have never really set down and figured out what the whole expenditure has cost us because there is no way to figure it out. There were a lot of in kind contributions of things that there is just no record of. Money that comes through the kind of bookkeeping system that we had really only reflects a portion of the actual money that got dealt with. So, I don't know but I would imagine it probably came to something like two hundred thousand dollars.
JUDITH WHEELER:
That you raised?
SAM CRAWFORD:
That we raised or contributed or wrote off or something… and that is a lot of money.
JUDITH WHEELER:
It is amazing.
SAM CRAWFORD:
But, considering, we once figured OWASA spent something like six and one half dollars for every dollar we spent. It is like the Congressional Club Campaign, well it is the same mentality. [Laughter]