Moving in Congregations Acting in Hope (MICAH)

Moving in Congregations Acting in Hope (MICAH)

Agriculture is prominent in Cortland County New York, and the work of MICAH has protected their community’s public health, farmland, livestock, and water and air resources from the dangers of fracking.

Moving in Congregations Acting in Hope (MICAH) is a faith-based community organization based in upstate New York that gives poor and working families the tools to address the quality of their lives. MICAH trains citizens to mobilize community resources, strengthen relationships and examine the causes of concerns in their community. MICAH accomplishes its mission by addressing several issues, including environmental concerns, such as fracking.

Fracking, which converts rural and natural areas into industrial zones, can affect farmland, farm animals and the food supply. Fracking can negatively impact poor individuals, farmland, public health and livestock. It threatens to contaminate the environment, including air, water and soil. This can lead to adverse effects on public health (especially on children and the elderly) and for local economies, such as agriculture.

MICAH is an ecumenical group of parishes and congregations that believes it is crucial to be good stewards and protect God’s creation. Gary Smith, executive director, states that “MICAH would not be in existence without CCHD.” He says that CCHD grants provide a huge support to MICAH to enable them to train and empower community leaders.

MICAH’s success at building relationships and community connections was crucial with their fracking campaign.

MICAH spent two years building relationships, organized hundreds of residents in town and from neighboring townships, and trained volunteer leaders who conducted rallies and public actions which won the reconvening of a zoning advisory board. Through this process, MICAH worked with political leaders to revise the zoning regulations and change the town’s comprehensive plan. Their success means that potential drillers are required to apply for conditional use permits and demonstrate a setback of at least 2,000 feet of the drill site from surrounding residences and domestic water wells. The changes also prevent drilling within 500 feet from any community’s primary aquifers in the town.

Agriculture is prominent in Cortland County New York, and the work of MICAH to address zoning changes has helped to protect the community’s public health, farmland, livestock, and water and air resources from fracking.