When a representative from Chesapeake Energy knocked on Phyllis Allen's door in 2003 and offered $300 for her mineral rights and an invitation to a lease-signing pizza party, she turned them down.
Allen’s home is in the United Riverside neighborhood, predominately poor and working class African American, the place where fracking first took hold in the city. She'd like to say she didn't sign because of her concerns for environmental issues but, at the time, she hadn’t heard of fracking.
She didn't sign because of the advice her father gave her: “Never sign anything you don't understand.”
Since then, Phyllis Allen, a retired Yellow Pages sales representative, has educated herself about fracking. During her daily walks along the Trinity River she takes note of environmental problems. In 2011, she saw a white chemical cloud rising over a compressor center and workers in hazmat suits going in to shut it down.
In another instance, Allen witnessed fluid being pumped into the Trinity River during the peak of the drought. She contacted Streams and Valleys, the organization responsible for the trails along Trinity, but never found out exactly what was going on. And she's noticed that migratory birds don't come back to the riverbank anymore.
Phyllis Allen in front of a compressor station near her home in Fort Worth. ©2013 Julie Dermansky