FALLS VILLAGE — Consumer advocate, lawyer and activist Ralph Nader spoke at Housatonic Valley Regional High School on Friday, March 4, as part of the Salisbury Forum lecture series, drawing what Salisbury Forum President Leon Graham dubbed “the largest crowd in Forum history.” Nearly every chair in the high school’s 500-seat auditorium was filled, and cars were double-parked on the front lawn.
Nader, 82, dressed in his trademark dark suit and sneakers, gave a wide-ranging talk that lasted nearly half an hour longer than scheduled. The five-time presidential candidate urged the audience to “make civic action a hobby” — which, by his estimate, equals an annual commitment of $200 to $500. If 1 percent of Salisbury residents donated that sum of money each year, Nader said, the town would be able to fund and staff its own congressional watchdog office.
“Think about how many committed birders there are in the world,” he said. “How many committed Congress-watchers are there? Congress is just as important as birds, and if we don’t take care of Congress, we won’t have any birds left anyway.”
He spoke about the importance of holding powerful entities accountable for their actions — and dedicating time and energy to public causes rather than simply voicing discontent.
“It’s not enough to know what the injustice is,” he said. “You need to have the fire in your belly.”
Later, he added, “Justice is a lot of fun.”
True to his grassroots style, Nader also raised the possibility of setting up a community law office in the Region One School District towns, similar to the one he helped fund in his hometown of Winsted (Nader’s syndicated column is featured weekly in The Lakeville Journal Co.’s Winsted Journal).
At the end of his talk, several workers from Winsted’s community law office passed around a clipboard so that people could sign up to be part of the organizing effort.
“Everything starts with a clipboard,” Nader said.
Text of the article