Natural Foods Merchandiser

Brockovich Keynote: An Activist's

Keynote speaker Erin Brockovich, the real woman who inspired the Oscar-winning movie that bears her name, will talk about how she helped work for the 1996 $333 million legal settlement (the largest in U.S. history at the time) for people in Hinkley, Calif.

She'll discuss her challenges confronting Pacific Gas and Electric to prove it contaminated groundwater with Chromium 6 while knowing the health risks for Hinkley residents. PG&E's contaminants caused miscarriages, nosebleeds, skin disorders, digestive cancers and other health problems in the town.

She'll also talk about what personal characteristics, rooted in her upbringing, made her believe she could make a difference by standing up to a big company.

People magazine described Brockovich as "Ralph Nader with cleavage," and Brockovich says in her memoir that even after the case was settled, many people assumed it was because of her "hot-cha clothes, big chest and presumably loose high heels." But Brockovich says it's because she identified with the victims. She understood the life they led: early to bed, early to rise; hard working and unglamorous, complete with dirt under the fingernails and clothes outside on the line.

Brockovich will share her thoughts about toxic waste and the role big business plays in environmental issues. She'll also talk about the fate of the United States, and the planet, if business strategies about the environment don't change—soon.

This woman, who is not Julia Roberts in a fairy-tale story, will share the challenges she faced as a single mother with three children fighting for the rights of the ecologically challenged community she came to love. Brockovich will talk about the program she's developed for inner strength, and she'll share it with the seminar audience.

Brockovich speaks 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, March 8. She will be available for autographs and book signings following her talk.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 2/p. 18

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