An evening with Erin Brockovich at the Jay & Linda Grunin Center for the Arts was both informative and inspiring. I had the pleasure of speaking with Erin at the Meet and Greet prior to the Blauvelt Lecture. She is described as a modern-day “David” who stands fearlessly with today’s “Goliaths,” giving voices to those who need to be heard. Julia Roberts portrayed Erin Brockovich in the Oscar-winning film directed by Steven Soderbergh and produced by Danny DeVito. Erin shared some interesting facts about the movie that turned an unknown legal researcher into a household name and President of Brockovich Research & Consulting.

The lecture included several buzz words and thought-provoking expressions, as well as a unique interpretation of the Wizard of Oz, presented as an allegory for our political and social climate. This was also Erin’s way of paying tribute to her Kansas roots. One of the buzz words was “sticktoitiveness,” where Erin wants us to persevere especially during the difficult times. She also reiterated the phrase, “Superman is not coming” to mean we must fight the good fight by utilizing our resources, taking responsibility for our actions and trusting our intuition. Her philosophy was neatly organized into the acronym R.A.M. Realization (realize your actions); Assessment (your character/values/skills); Motivation (the importance of mindfulness). Believe in who you are.

At one point during the lecture, Erin referenced what she hopes to be her legacy, a Community Healthbook. This is a self-reporting site empowering individuals and communities by allowing them to post and share their environmental and health-related issues. The self-reporting research initiative includes suspected contamination, medical device failures, military base-related concerns and other data. Click here to access the Community Healthbook on Erin’s website.

One final thought. Remember how Erin was personally invested in the lives of the sick residents of Hinckley? Julia Roberts represented that part of Erin’s personality perfectly. At the Meet and Greet, Erin was genuinely interested in our motivation for attending the event. She spoke with each individual, asked questions, signed DVD’s and get well cards and posed for pictures. I personally had the opportunity to speak with the environmental crusader about the acres of mature trees being leveled in parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties only to be replaced by unnecessary residential and commercial projects with little to no regard for wetlands, wildlife, and open space. Erin acknowledged this patterned behavior in many other communities in different parts of the country and is keeping the overdevelopment issue on her radar.