Latest posts by Rob Pinto (see all)
- The Quest To Bring Patagonia to Winsted, Connecticut - January 5, 2018
Here I was, notebook and pen in hand, as I approached the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. I have known Ralph for several years now, having met him when I was conducting research for a Political Science class in College during the fall of 2014. It was a frigid evening on December 18th, 2017 at the local and homey bookstore, The Law Works, located in Winsted, Connecticut. Driving to Winsted is a trek for me. I live in a small town in New Haven County, Connecticut and the drive was over an hour. .
I first learned about Ralph Nader from my parents, who are politically conscious citizens who voted for Ralph in 2000, 2004, and 2008. I am also on the email list for the Law Works Bookstore. For those who are millennials like myself, I want to give a backstory about who Ralph Nader is and the work he has done for over 50 years for protecting consumers.
Ralph Nader is a champion for consumer safety, He grew up in Winsted, Connecticut which is about a two hour drive north of New York City. His parents raised him very well and he went to Princeton University where he graduated Magna cum laude. He then attended Harvard Law School where he graduated in 1959. He served in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Dix of which he was a cook. He then went on to travel the world, working as a Journalist and visiting interesting places including Cuba and Argentina. His story doesn’t stop there. Ralph was admitted to the Connecticut State bar and practised as an Attorney in Hartford, Connecticut.
Being a witness to the untimely departures of those in auto accidents in cars such as the Chevrolet Corvair, Ralph published his groundbreaking book, Unsafe at Any Speed in the year 1965. Ralph began a campaign that continues today of fighting for justice for those negatively affected by the misdeeds of corporations.
Ralph travelled across America, interviewing people, collecting information, and relaying it back to the public. Ralph’s work includes that of establishing Public Citizen in 1971, lobbying for OSHA, the creation of the clean water act, the banning of smoking on airplanes, the popularization of the term “whistleblower”, airbags in cars, the Nader bell you hear when trucks back up, and many more groundbreaking safety features in cars and trucks, as well as important health, safety, food, and water regulations. His work is credited with saving millions of lives and continues today.
Talking to Ralph Nader in person, you will always find yourself fascinated and like myself I had to ask him several questions.
“Hello Mr. Nader, how are you today?”
“I’m good Robert, please have a seat, we are going to be discussing improving Winsted.”
I sit down in the front row to make sure I have the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. Ralph begins the discussion talking about the Patriots beating the Steelers that weekend and making a joke about that, perhaps Mr. Nader is a fan of the Patriots? He then proceeds to discuss his mission for bringing more tourists to the town of Winsted, Connecticut. In the past few years, Ralph has established the first Law Museum in Winsted, called The Tort Museum. Having been to the Tort Museum I have found the establishment to be one of a kind with its selection of famous tort cases and fantastic picturesque quality, the Museum even holds a reconstructed red Chevrolet Corvair as well as a book store with dozens of volumes of books you would not typically find in a Barnes & Noble.
During Ralph’s speech I find myself raising my hand, as I normally do in my college classes to pose questions and gain a journalistic insight.
“If you could bring any corporation to Winsted, who would it be?”
“Patagonia” Ralph Responded
Ralph explained that Patagonia would be a fantastic corporation to bring to Winsted and he steadfastly approves of their mission of bringing environmental activism and awareness to the vast public. Patagonia was not a name familiar to me, so I contributed by saying “That sounds like a fantastic idea, Ralph.” Pen and notebook in hand, I began to take notes and I got to thinking, Why not start a petition on change.org? I could start a petition, share it on Twitter to my 6,000+ followers, and hopefully that would reach people who were concerned and interested about expanding an environmentally friendly corporation, that even the leading anti corporate zelig, Ralph Nader, approved of.
Ralph Nader continued talking about his mission for bringing more tourists to Winsted, Connecticut. He believes that every student should know where town hall is, the importance of bookstores and how his bookstore, The Law Works is the only bookstore in a 50 mile radius from where we are located. Ralph also stated, “All it takes is for citizens to dedicate anywhere from 300-500 hours each year to bring about the change we need.” and “My brother, Shafeek Nader started Northwestern Connecticut Community College in 1965 with just 6 people, including himself. It is ranked the number one community college in Connecticut and 86 in the entire United States.”
To close the half hour discussion, Ralph voiced his concern of the rise of the corporate giant Amazon. “Amazon is a corporate giant that is devouring corporations like Whole Foods, Amazon is going to be the reason we will be seeing hundreds of ghost towns across America.” Ralph continued by proclaiming, “Amazon controls 40% of all book sales and 70% of online book sales. That is an anti trust violation of the Sherman Act.” I then raised my hand and told Ralph “Honestly if I had to, I would rather work for the United States government then Amazon, considering the government pays better. I then said, “Ralph, we appreciate the work you are doing here and hope that you will continue the work your are involved with for many more years.”
Applause filled the room and we all filed into the open space of the Law Works where shelves are neatly stacked with dozens of interesting and thought provoking books. I find myself talking to Ralph Nader.
“What exactly do you do?” He asked me.
“I am a student journalist and I am currently working a temp job for the USPS.”
“That’s great, you know you have great ideas and you certainly are a rare breed, Robert.” I felt very honored to be told this by Ralph.
“Thank You Ralph, would I be able to work for you in Washington DC?”
“Certainly, Ralph responded, we have jobs available for students at my organization, Public Citizen” Ralph Responded.
After the evening was over and I drove home, I felt compelled to take action which is why I started my Petition, Bring Patagonia To Winsted, Connecticut on change.org