chapter  11
30 Pages

Parting the Waters: e Ecumenical Task Force at Love Canal and Beyond

Nobody wants to produce a play about a couple that moved back to Love Canal. . . . Nobody wants to pay twenty dollars to watch people living next to chemical waste! ey can see that in New Jersey!

George Fields to Michael Dorsey, Tootsie (1982)

Introduction When the movie Tootsie premiered in 1982, audiences would have been very familiar with the story behind the reference to Love Canal. e neighborhood’s dilemma ooded the media beginning in the summer of 1978, maintaining a steady stream of news for several years. Although George Fields, Sidney Pollack’s character in Tootsie, certainly felt no theatergoer would want to see a play about the famous environmental disaster, one religious group, known as the Ecumenical Task Force (ETF), continued their interest and activism in the Niagara Falls, New York, neighborhood even a er most of the residents le . Pollack’s character, in addition, de ly highlighted an issue with which the ETF quickly became all too familiar: hazardous waste was a national, widespread issue, hardly limited to western New York state. In contrast to other groups involved at Love Canal, the ETF grasped Pollack’s point,

and plugged away against the variety of toxic waste problems endemic in the area surrounding Love Canal.