It is with great sadness that we share with you the loss of our friend and colleague, Gail Darrell.
For nearly a decade, Gail has worked to protect communities across New England from corporate and government interests that sought to override the rights of people, communities, and nature.
As the New England Community Organizer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), she became a fearless leader for local democratic rights, for the rights of people to self-govern, and for the rights of nature to live and flourish.
Gail spearheaded the effort in her own hometown of Barnstead, NH, to become the very first community in the United States to prohibit corporations from privatizing water from local aquifers. Communities in both New Hampshire and Maine soon followed in Barnstead’s footsteps. Her work took her from town to town, where she would share the “Barnstead Story,” educating and inspiring people to organize in their own communities.
Gail inspired all of us at CELDF, with her dedication and belief in the rights of all people to have the authority to decide what happens in the places where they live. Further, she believed that the rights of people and communities should never be subordinated to the interests of corporate and government decision makers whose interests are not their own.
For believing that community rights should be elevated over corporate “rights,” she was called “batshit crazy” and “radical.” She was harassed and threatened. And yet, as a leader in the growing Community Rights Movement, Gail never let fear stand in her way.
Gail brought a gentle fierceness into our lives. As she once said:
I will continue to work to make humans more important than corporations. To have a clear conscience. I did what I could after I got educated. I can tell that to my kids. It’s my duty. I’ll take that charge and do the best I can.
Her loss will be deeply felt, and she will be well missed. We send our thoughts and our best wishes to her family.
From all of us at CELDF, please join us in remembering and celebrating Gail Darrell.