(This piece was originally published on November 19, 2016 on WLFI.)

LEBANON, Ind. (WLFI) – Saturday, the Hoosier Environmental Council held its ninth annual Greening the Statehouse.

Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda said more than 500 people attended.

“[They] come from every corner of the state that want to learn about the leading environmental issues, learn about leading environmental solutions, and ultimately make a difference at the local and state level,” Kharbanda said.

Clean water advocate Melissa Mays, who put an international spotlight on the water crisis happening in her city, Flint, Michigan, said the anger she feels for those responsible for harming her family is what keeps her going.

“It’s just made everything harder on them, and they didn’t deserve this — none of us did,” she said. “We didn’t ask for this, it’s infuriating.”

Mays said a community working together makes it tougher and stronger.

“And that’s what happened in Flint, so we just want people to realize that it’s possible. You can totally Dave and Goliath this and win,” said Mays.

And hold public officials responsible, she added.

“Water’s life,” said Mays. “You need it to live and when they don’t treat it properly and they treat it as a revenue stream, people get sick and they can die — like they have in Flint — and I don’t want that to happen to anybody else.”

Kharbanda hopes those who attend the forum feel more comfortable and understand the process of being involved and talking to their local legislators.

“If they are more engaged and active, polices will change in a way that will be more protective for our environment and yet also be good for the economy,” said Kharbanda.


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