The people of Mayflower were top newsmakers not only in Faulkner County but in worldwide news as the energy argument boiled over in 2013.
Nameless oil spill victims from Mayflower were folded into worldwide discussions of the Keystone XL Pipeline project that is planned for North America.
The March 29 oil spill took residents like Genieve Long, a 28-year-old mother of four and full-time college student, to speak at the front of energy conferences in Washington, D.C.
Her oil spill impact story might be similar to the majority of the small town’s population, but Long says her unofficial, official position as a speaker on behalf of residents came after she decided to facilitate a Facebook page called “Mayflower Arkansas Oil Spill.”
What made Long different from her fellow residents was her incessant and outspoken position on what had happened to the town since Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured.
Long said her neighbors and friends were advised by lawyers to quit talking, but there was “no way they’re going to shut me up.”
Long and her children are part of at least one lawsuit, as are many Mayflower residents.
“The problem is most people are afraid to speak out against big corporations or they don’t have the knowledge base,” Long said. “And sometimes they’re made to quit talking.”
Long said she is spread thin between school and her four children, but being a constant public reminder that there are people who still feel effects from the oil spill in Mayflower is important to her because she grew up in the town.
“I was raised here, I’m an outdoors person, and I raise my children to respect the Earth. If more people would protect what we have that’s in a limited supply it would be a benefit to the world in general, not just to mayflower. If [oil spills] keep happening, what kind of life will my children have? I’m looking to the future to make sure my children have a healthy life like I did,” Long said.
The oil spill page has 5,367 followers, and Long said she sees people visiting from England, Australia and Japan.
“On any given week we reach 20,000 to 30,000 people from all over,” Long said.
Long works with local groups and facilitates discussion that does not seem to dampen though cleaning crews are gone and life appears to move on in Mayflower.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)