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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tactics of and obstacles faced by the Cane Creek Conservation Authority

Crawford talks about the approaches the Cane Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) took in opposing the actions of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA). Although Crawford emphasizes the fact that OWASA's legal advisors were inept in a number of ways, he also suggests that the CCCA was ill-equipped to tackle a project of this magnitude. Ultimately, the CCCA lost the battle with OWASA over the reservoir; however, later in the interview he discusses how the grassroots efforts launched in opposition to this project provided Chapel Hillians with a sense of community in combating other encroachments.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Was there ever conflict as far as the direction that the people in the community felt should be taken?
Only as much as it grew out of confustion and only at the very end, when it had come to the point that the organization was kinda disintegrating against the odds. It wasn't so much dissension as there were people who decided it was time to quit, so others decided it was time to quit. There is a lot of trust. I mean, it is like, if I and Ed Johnson, and Bobby Kirk thought it was a good idea then it was probobly a good idea. Because we were dealing with things that most people here had no experience doing. Mae Crawford doesn't know shit about going to Raleigh and talking to some of the most … Mae Crawford wouldn't even know … I mean I bet she has been to Raleigh maybe three or four times in her life. I am serious, Mae Crawford has never seen the ocean… she has Never seen the ocean. So, you are talking about people who are dealing with concepts outside of their constructed notions at all. So, they just trusted those people who were here to try and make the right decisions. And you know, we didn't know. There were no guidelines as to this is what you should do. We got victimized a lot, I'm sure. I've always thought we had great attorneys who took us for a lot money. And, I don't say that with any sorta derision and mostly with cynicism. And I just think that - my wife being an attorney - I mean, I just think that attorneys all in all are a rather rotten lot. We were working against things we had no concept of how to deal with. [Discussion of arrowheads in field and bee hives.]
It seems to me, there was two directions, one was the legal and the other was an emotional approach.
Public information, and I think what the legal stuff did was try and buy us time to convince the public. That is all the legal stuff could do, because the legal system is totally structured to be on OWASA's side. And the only reason the legal system worked against OWASA is to the degree that it has, and it has really worked against OWASA, is because they are so fucking stupid. I mean, they just didn't know what they were doing. They had terrible legal advice. If I were OWASA, I would sue their attorney s. I mean they had terrible legal advise. They have been so stupid and the project was so insensible to begin with, that they were working so far up hill, that the system which was written for them, by them, has worked against them as much as it has. There is no reason why they shouldn't have been able to get permits and things that they needed within a year or two, except for the fact that they didn't first of all realize they even needed the permits until we told them. Secondly, they bumfuzzeled their way through it. It is written in a way that you can't just go down there and do it without demonstrating certain things that they can't demonstrate. So that has always been the thing about the legal system. OWASA has been our best friend in terms of tripping them up, of buying us time. What we have tried to do in that time was to convince people this is a bad idea. I think we did. I think if there was any sort of legitate survey taken of Orange County three years ago, that Cane Creek would have never been built.