Think “strict constitutionalists” have control of the Boston Tea Party as metaphor? Not so fast… sustainable food activists in Boston itself are latching on to this seminal act of American revolt to “catalyze a movement” around urban agriculture, fresh food access, and green space creation this Spring.
Enjoy a good David vs. Goliath story? Or perhaps a tale of a passionate person who lets his/her zeal turn from good to ugly? This year’s Sundance Film Festival has you covered. Both of the environmentally-themed films in the US Documentary Competition address activism and activists… warts and all.
Bill Haney’s THE LAST MOUNTAIN delves into an issue that’s become very hot among environmentalists over the past decade: mountaintop removal by coal mining companies. Focused on West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, the film explores the community’s fight against this practice, which damages both the natural environment, and the people living in the vicinity. Check out the trailer above.
Six miles of fabric panels suspended over a portion of Colorado’s Arkansas River? Yep… it’s a planned Christo project. The artist known for transforming large spaces and objects has been conceptualizing his Over the River project for seventeen years… but many local green groups hope all of that thought and planning goes by the wayside because of concerns over environmental impact.
There’s a hitch, though… all the greenies aren’t on the same page on this one.
Let’s face it: an awful lot of environmental activism leans towards the stern and dour side. Getting artists involved (particularly as artists, not spokespeople) can shake that up… and even add an element of fun to a serious message.
That’s the approach non-profit Green Sangha took to its Rethinking Plastics campaign. Yes, the campaign page has all sorts of good scientific information on the costs of single-use plastic shopping bags, but to make the message a bit more catchy, they also produced a hip hop video featuring socially conscious artists AshEl Eldridge and Jenni Perez. The information here is also solid: “Plastic State of Mind” ties in everything from litter to the BP Oil Spill to dioxins in breast milk into its rap. The ultimate message: ban the bag.
For environmentalists, scientists, and even celebrities, the Amazon rainforest has served as a vivid symbol of ecological and social degradation created by rapid global development. Artists Lucy and Jorge Orta traveled Peru in 2009 to see this environment for themselves in 2009, as well as to assist scientists in data collection. Their experience with the region’s biodiversity inspired them (of course); the Natural History Museum in London commissioned them to work with this inspiration, and is now has the resulting work on display.
If you haven’t heard of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative before, no worries… neither had I (and I watch out for these things). But, while most of us have been watching for news of climate change legislation out of Washington (that’s still hung up), President Obama launched this effort “…to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors” back in April. There have been listening sessions around the country all Summer long. And now, the deadline for a report from the the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is coming due (on November 15th).
You probably associate frog legs with French cuisine and its offshoots (they’re pretty popular in Southern Louisiana where I grew up)… but the United States is challenging France as the world’s leader in frog eating. That’s happening, in large part, because some restaurant chains now carry frog legs… which they generally import from farms in China.
In April, I took note of James Cameron’s efforts to stop the building of the Belo Monte dam on Brazil’s Xingu River. Actress Sigourney Weaver (a co-star in Cameron’s AVATAR) joined Cameron on one of his trips to Brazil, and has now collaborated with Amazon Watch, Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre (Xingu River Forever Alive Movement), and International Rivers to produce a 10-minute video (above) showing the probably impact of the dam project on indigenous people in the region, biodiversity, health, and even climate change (which were outlined in the previous post).
Last week, Lafayette, Louisiana crawfisherman Drew Landry brought a meeting of the White House oil spill commission to awed silence as he sang a song he’d written about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the economic environment in Southern Louisiana. Landry’s become a bit of an internet sensation… watch the video above, and you’ll see why — but he’s just one of numerous musicians that have tried to encapsulate the Gulf tragedy in song.
Critics from both right and left have pounced on President Obama’s Oval Office address last night as lacking in substance, and even purpose. But David Roberts at Grist noted that weatherization, an important element of any energy and climate plan, was one of the specifics Obama did mention as means of lessening the country’s reliance on fossil fuels (and also lessening the potential for disasters like the Gulf oil spill).
Combine the issues of sustainable transportation and body image, and what do you get? For many around the world, the answer is the World Naked Bike Ride, an annual global event dedicated to promoting cycling, community-building, peace of mind, and “…the indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create.”
Iconic rocker Neil Young wasted no time in crafting a response to the launch of the war in Iraq, and the larger political and cultural forces he saw motivating it: the concept album Greendale came out in August, 2003, a mere six months after the first attacks were launched. Since then, Young has recrafted the story of Sun Green and her family into a live rock opera, a film (which he directed under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey), and, of course, a website (though, as you might expect, not the usual promotional site).
According to Denver-based non-profit Water for People, 884 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, and 6000 people die every day from water-borne illness. That’s a bit overwhelming, but a father-son team from Independence, Missouri has decided to do something about this crisis… by hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Steven Spydell and son Matt began their journey along the 2178-mile trail on April 5th, and are using their hike to raise funds for Water for People. They’ve set a goal of $10,000, but will likely surpass that: a graphic on their Hiking for Water website shows over $9400 dollars raised already… and they’re only into Virginia at this point.
Is blockbuster producer/director and self-proclaimed “king of the world” James Cameron powerful enough to take out a dam single-handed? Well, no… but the creator of AVATAR has apparently been moved by his own film’s exploration of “the destruction of the natural world by expanding industrial interests, and the consequent impact to Indigenous populations.” Since February, Cameron has become passionate about stopping the building of the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, and has joined with indigenous leaders and activists to protest the opening of the bidding process for the project (set to begin on April 20th).
Ever since TED nixed the personal invitations and opened its doors to anyone who can afford the $6,000 ticket, the response has been so overwhelming they’ve had to extend the event to a satellite campus in Palm Springs, 100 miles away from the main event in Long Beach. The Palm Springs location, dubbed TEDActive, is also completely sold out, but you can still sign up for the livestream, which entitles you access to the everything the TEDsters in California are seeing for $1,000 (TED encourages you to split it with 10 friends).
As world leaders gather in Copenhagen this week to negotiate continued international action on climate change, they’ll have one good example of the kinds of pledges they’ll need to make: the Climate Quilt. A project of Habitat Heroes and The Green Schools Alliance, the Climate Quilt Campaign asks school kids from around the world to make “pledge patches” (from recycled materials, of course) that display individual promises “to preserve the future of the planet.” While the finished quilt won’t be available until Earth Day, 2010, panels from kids in New Jersey and Australia have made their way to COP15.
With the Copenhagen Climate Conference just around the corner, world leaders, environmentalists, and economists are all debating the best mechanisms by which we can combat global climate change while continuing to grow the world economy. Most of these discussions (though not all) center on the concept of “cap and trade.” If you’re a little fuzzy on the idea, or know it but have a tough time explaining it to others, you’re not alone: it’s fairly complex on its face, and presents policy makers with a range of choices for harnessing market forces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Industrial hemp may be one of the most versatile and environmentally benign crops out there, but because of its relationship to marijuana, the cultivation of this crop has been banned in the United States since the late thirties. Last week, a group of farmers, along with David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, staged a protest in front of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, DC, and were promptly arrested for planting hemp seeds on the agency’s front lawn.
Ever signed an online petition? Made a short video as part of a campaign directed an issue that’s meaningful to you? These have been ways activist organizations have tried to demonstrate numbers and unity. This week, Kofi Anan’s Time for Climate Justice campaign (aka TckTckTck) will add a new tool to the activism arsenal: a song download.
OK, quick quiz…
What’s the status of the ACES bill in Congress?
What’s happening in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 7-18?
If your answer to both questions was “I don’t know” (and “What the hell is ACES?”), you’re probably not alone. Here in the US, climate change and clean energy legislation has taken a back seat to the health care debate. Even as we approach the Copenhagen Summit, where the follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty should be rolled out, much of the world seems to have hit the snooze button on the climate crisis. Global alliance TckTckTck thinks it’s time for a wake-up call…
You likely associate Labor Day with long weekends, family cook-outs, the last trip of the season, or even putting away certain articles of clothing (yes, I grew up in the South). Of course, the holiday was created to celebrate the contributions of blue collar workers to our country’s economic growth and development. This year, some might find that a bit ironic, as our current economic woes have put many of these people out of work.
Two tree sitters with the Climate Ground Zero campaign have forced coal giant Massey Energy to cancel blasts on a mountaintop removal mine above Pettry Bottom, a Coal River Valley town in Raleigh County.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, Carrotmobbing is one of the newest forms of green activism. Rather than boycotting or protesting companies doing bad things, Carrotmobs offer (you guessed it) a “carrot” to businesses for doing the right thing. Local businesses commit to greening themselves in order to receive a mob of customers on a particular day and time. So far, the concept’s worked well in San Francisco, Kansas City, and Brooklyn.
Friday’s passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) signaled a definite shift in US policy towards energy use and climate change. Though the bill had its detractors — most notably Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and even progressive Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) — ACES, or Waxman-Markey, set new standards for clean energy adoption, energy efficiency, and, most notably, greenhouse gas emissions.
Think of a blogger as some crazy guy/gal who sits around in their pajamas all day composing half-sane rants? OK, that’s probably not far off in some cases; most of us, though, do get dressed, and do give a lot of thought to the ideas we share.
No matter how passionate we are about those ideas, though, that’s where many of us stop — it’s our version of “doing our part.” David Quilty, founder of the long-running blog The Good Human, recently noted “As writers, we know that part of good stewardship is sharing information, but even the most intelligent among us can not make change without DOING something.”