Title: Oral History Interview with Sam Crawford, October 26, 1985. Interview K-0006.
Interviewer: Wheeler, Judith
Interviewee: Crawford, Sam
Subjects: Cane Creek (N.C.) Cane Creek Conservation Authority (N.C.) Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA)
Abstract: Sam Crawford was a founding member and leader of the Cane Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA), beginning in 1975, when the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) planned to build a reservoir in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Crawford begins the interview by describing how he and other Chapel Hillians first became aware of the reservoir project when OWASA informed them of their intentions without having consulted any residents about the plan and its process. Suggesting that citizens might have been more amenable to the idea had OWASA made them part of the decision-making process, Crawford describes how opposition to the reservoir swelled from the grassroots level. Opponents of the reservoir formed a loosely organized coalition (the CCCA) and began to build awareness of the environmental implications of the reservoir by presenting a slideshow presentation to local clubs and organizations and by raising funds with which to battle OWASA. Ultimately, the CCCA lost their battle with OWASA; however, in the aftermath of their struggle, remnants of the organization successfully blocked efforts to build an airport just outside of Chapel Hill. For part of the interview, Crawford takes his interviewer on a tour of his family's land, part of which OWASA acquired during the reservoir project, and offers visual descriptions of the changing landscape brought about by what he calls exploitative land development. Throughout the interview, Crawford discusses organization, strategies and tactics, and his own growing disillusionment and cynicism with the efforts of the CCCA. Researchers will find this interview particularly useful for the ways in which Crawford describes the nature of grassroots organization at the local level.