Fruit of the Orchard
In 1982, a toxic waste facility opened in the Piney Woods in Winona,
Texas. The residents were told that the company would plant fruit trees
on the land left over from its ostensible salt-water injection well.
Soon after the plant opened, however, residents started noticing huge
orange clouds rising from the facility and an increase in rates of
cancer and birth defects in both humans and animals. The company
dismissed their concerns, and confusion about what chemicals it accepted
made investigations difficult.
Outraged by what she saw, Phyllis Glazer founded Mothers Organized to
Stop Environmental Sins (MOSES) and worked tirelessly to publicize the
problems in Winona. The story was featured in People, the Houston
Chronicle magazine, and The Dallas Observer. The plant finally closed
in 1998, citing the negative publicity generated by the group.
This book originated in 1994 when Cromer-Campbell was asked by Phyllis
Glazer to produce a photograph for a poster about the campaign. She was
so touched by the people in the town that she set out to document their
stories. Using a plastic Holga camera, she created hauntingly distorted
images that are both works of art and testaments to the damage inflicted
on the people of a small Texas town by one company’s greed.
In the accompanying essays, Phyllis Glazer describes the history of
Winona and the fight against the facility; Roy Flukinger discusses
Cromer-Campbell’s striking photographic technique; Eugene Hargrove
explores issues of environmental justice; and Marvin Legator elaborates
on how industry and government discourage victims of chemical exposure
from seeking or obtaining relief.
“In the finest tradition of the best documentary photographers, Tammy
Cromer-Campbell has fashioned a moving portrait of the lives destroyed
in a small East Texas town by industrial pollution, and in so doing has
helped remake the lives of some of its poorest citizens.” —Hank
“The photographs and accompanying text are a powerful example of
environmental rhetoric, one that highlights the importance of visual
imagery and cultural activism in the struggle for environmental
justice.” —John W. Delicath, U.S. Government Accountability