'The Story of Stuff' takes on Nestlé in new film

Cascade Locks, Oregon
Screen capture Story of Stuff

'When Nestlé Comes To Town' tells the moving story of residents in Cascade Locks, Oregon, who have united to fight Nestlé and keep it from bottling their precious and sacred water.

Cascade Locks is a gorgeous little town, nestled in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge in Hood River County, Oregon. With its quaint downtown, old growth conifers, breathtaking mountains and waterfront, it appears to be a peaceful place where time stands still, where one can escape the pressures of the outside world.

But there is far more to Cascade Locks than first meets the eye. The town is locked in a battle to survive – and it’s the unlikely pitting of a small community against a huge and relentlessly resource-hungry corporation, Nestlé.

Nestlé has been fighting for a water deal in Cascade Locks since 2007. It wants permission to carry away millions of gallons of water annually, driving it through the downtown core in huge 20,000-pound trucks at a rate of one every four minutes. The water would be bottled and sold right back to Americans.

“Fresh clean water is the new gold,” says resident Pamela Larsen. “It is the most precious thing on the planet. There are water grabs happening everywhere. And Nestlé right now is getting closer to doing a water deal in Cascade Locks.”

The residents of Cascade Locks, determined not to let this corporation abuse the crucial and even sacred resources of their region, have rallied to fight. Although they are small compared to Nestlé and have to face unfortunate rifts within their own community over this very issue, a group of determined individuals formed the Local Water Alliance. Their mission is to prohibit large-scale commercial bottling in the entire county.

Michael Barthmus, an Alliance volunteer, says, “[Nestlé] is not listening to the people or looking out for the interests of the people in the community. They’re just going to continue to bottle until there’s nothing left to bottle where they are, and then they’ll move on to another place.”

This is a huge and ongoing task for a small group of volunteer citizens. Stiv Wilson, campaigns director at The Story of Stuff, describes them as “unlikely heroes (or ‘resisters’), who have worked for nearly a decade to keep Nestlé out. They aren’t professional activists—they are just normal people, taking a stand, daring to speak truth to power by flexing their citizen muscles, regardless of the consequences.”

The Story of Stuff has produced its newest short documentary called “When Nestlé Comes to Town.” It chronicles the admirable struggle of Cascade Locks residents to prevent Nestlé from getting its water deal and highlights the tactics used by the company to manipulate communities into giving up precious resources at a steep price.

Wilson writes: “This is how Nestlé operates—they come in, host a few community picnics with hot dogs, hamburgers, and oh yes, bottled water, and promise big money for economically strapped communities. They even pay ‘stipends’ to local politicians or prominent community members to carry the Nestlé message. They prey on a citizen’s natural desire to improve their situation, or just put food on the table for their family. And when their bluff is called, they marginalize dissenting voices, painting those people as outliers.”

Watch the film to learn more about what happens when Nestlé comes to town, and be inspired by the way in which a small group of ordinary yet determined citizens can make a difference. Show your support for the struggle in Cascade Locks by passing on the message and by changing your own habits – primarily, ceasing to buy water in cheap plastic bottles and opting for the tap instead.

Tags: Bottled Water | Documentaries | Drinking Water | Oregon | Water Conservation | Water Crisis

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