John Hart delivers SXU Honors Program Guest Lecture
Water activist helped found Caribou Clean Water Partnership
Chicago (April 17, 2008) Water activist John Hart delivered a stirring lecture about the perils of phosphate mining on federal lands in southern Idaho the evening of Wednesday, April 8 in the Butler Reception Room for the Ninth Annual Honors Lecture at Saint Xavier University.
In his lecture, titled “A Partnership for Clean Water: The Politics of Conservation,” Hart described his work to prevent mining pollution in the Greater Yellowstone region and his own quest to protect the natural resources he loves.
Using his skills as a graphic artist, Hart led his audience through 35 years of companies stripping federal lands of phosphate to make fertilizer, releasing poisonous selenium in their wake, killing rare cutthroat trout, ruining the land for livestock and making no significant effort to follow through with promises to restore the land to its former condition.
A front-line activist in the struggle to protect America’s water, Hart is a founding member of the Caribou Clean Water Partnership. The group works to bridge the divide between environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and businesspeople to oppose further expansion of phosphate mining in southeast Idaho. He is Phosphate Campaign communications manager for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
Later this summer, six SXU honors students taking part in the interdisciplinary honors science course, “The Bio-Politics of Water Pollution,” will travel to southern Idaho to take part in fieldwork to document the effects of mining pollution and to work alongside Hart and his colleagues.
Hart, who is originally from Idaho, said he learned of the pollution after moving back to his home state from the east coast to raise his family. He now aims to spread awareness of the problem and work for a solution.
“John Hart is uniquely skilled to tell this story,” said SXU Philosophy Professor Tom Thorp, who introduced Hart and co-teaches this semester’s honors course with SXU biology Professor Tatiana Tatum. “His passion for the land on which he grew up and which he hopes to pass on to his children is truly contagious.”
Hart recently finished a post as a county administrator and director of economic development. He also has taught digital media, exhibited his art in galleries and museums in New York and Connecticut and illustrated the “Prince Valiant” comic strip.
“John Hart made a deep impression on our audience,” said Tatum. “Our students are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work this summer with such a renowned protector of the environment.”
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Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.