In Memory of Those That Showed-Up

by Downwinders on March 25, 2018

Harriet Irby and Ann Trenton were not exactly local social activist celebrities, but they were well-known among the circle of more or less full-time environmental volunteers and organizers in Tarrant County and thereabouts.

Both Harriet and Ann were based out of Arlington, and were incredibly civic-minded, but that’s not what they had most in common, or what made them valuable to change-makers like Downwinders.

Ann Trenton

They both had a certain reputation: Harriet and Ann showed-up when you needed them to. Anywhere. Anytime. They were…reliable protesters.  Which makes their separate-but-collective losses in the last two weeks or so especially noticeable.

Need to fill a room for a state permit hearing? Need a letter sent to the city council? These women were on it. Every single time. Or so it seemed.

Your imagination may soar with clever protest plans or tsunami-like social media campaigns, but at the end of the day you always need people to show up to make it work, or those lofty plans crash with a thud. These women showed-up.

In our College of Constructive Hell-Raising, we teach persistence as an under-appreciated quality of Change. People just don’t understand how long the road can be to where they want to go. Harriet and Ann knew, and so they made Change their lifework. They weren’t just passing through. They were passing milestones in lives lived for Change.

It seems like both have been on our mailing list for most of our 24 years. We can’t remember end-of-the-year mailings where we didn’t peel off their address labels and stick them on envelopes. Because they were reliable donors as well. Not just to us, but to a host of other groups and causes. All of whom now have large holes in their lists now too.

Harriet Irby

It’s particularly hard to imagine not hearing Harriet harangue officials at air quality meetings any more – she was a good haranguer. Because she seemed so frail and towed an oxygen tank around – a non-smoker with COPD –  there was a tendency for officialdom to give her lots of slack…which she promptly took and ran with until the slack ran out and the line cut. If she couldn’t get out of the house that often and do other things for the cause, she would at least use her damn infirmaries to gain political advantage when she could.

The country needs more Harriets and Anns, not fewer, and so one would like to think that among the throngs of newly-motivated-to-act teens that the current administration has produced, there are some who already understand the value of just showing-up…for the rest of their lives. Rest in Peace Harriet and Ann – although it’s just as likely you’ve probably already started a project or campaign that will keep you busy for awhile.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

elizabeth March 27, 2018 at 1:27 am

Harriet and Ann,

I see you Resting in Peace for a couple of minutes, and then continuing your
activism from the spiritual realm!

Blessings to your family and friends, and all impacted by your passion and compassion.


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