30 Days for Climate Justice Day 27: Practical Ways to Save the Amazon Forests

We’ve seen the pictures: The amazon is on fire. The governmental inaction is genocidal to the Indigenous nations that live there and depend on it and to the many endangered species who have nowhere to go. To make it much worse, the fires are not an accident. The Waorani people of Pastaza recently won a lawsuit giving them control over their traditional and rightful rainforest homelands that kept their lands from being auctioned off to big oil companies without their consent. The fires began shortly after and leaked documents suggest that Bolsonaro’s work is really sinister. As is my consistent refrain, this is not a time for us to just spread fear and panic without concrete action. This is not a time to spread helplessness and the idea that there is nothing we can do. The lungs of our earth our on fire. What will we do about it? Here are some concrete steps I am taking, please join me!

Support Amazon Watch:

Indigenous nations are organized in the work to protect their home and, by extension, life on this planet. The organization Amazon Watch is mobilized for this protection through multiple projects: fighting corporations such as Cheveron, Black Rock, Geopark, and Amazon, advocating for Women Defenders of the Amazon, protesting crude oil, agitating the government, and building solidarity. The links make it easy, please follow them and do what you can.

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Amazon Watch is doing the hard and practical work to preserve life for all of us. I urge everyone who is sharing pictures of the amazon burning (and yes, we need to know it’s happening) to also share the work of Amazon Watch and support their calls to action. If you have any wiggle room in your budget, you can donate to them here: https://amazonwatch.org/donate

Sign and Circulate Petitions: 

  • Gabriel Santos, a lawyer in Rio Branco, is circulating a petition to urge all levels of government to take action and to gain support for the investigation into governmental causes of the fires as way to sabotage Indigenous sovereignty, control, and survival. Sign and circulate here: http://chng.it/w5bdrVq8xy
  • Greenpeace is also generating support: http://act.greenpeace.org/page/39922/-/

 

Agitate Politicians:

I called PM Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the Governor of Washington and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. For each, I recited the following script which you are welcome to use either whole or in part:

“I am calling as a concerned [citizen, constituent, community member] regarding the amazon fires. I urge you as [role] to pressure the government of Brazil to take swift action to fight the fires with much more efficiency and to offer concrete and practical support to make this happen. We all depend on these forests as they provide 20% of the world’s oxygen. We are not in a time when any government can afford to be complacent. Please take fast action to ensure the well-being of future generations.”

Canadian Government Contacts:

State Governors and US Senator Contacts:

Here is my request to everyone: please copy the link to this post or to Amazon Watch and paste it as a comment to every post you see on social media that show the fires without a call to action. We need to develop a habit of action and support each other in taking up our personal power to do this work.

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30 Days for Climate Justice Day 26: Protect the Endangered Species Act in the US

NRDC and the Defenders of Wildlife have petitions with sample letters. We know phone calls are given far more weight than petitions, so after signing I gratefully used the Defenders of Wildlife letter template as a script for phone messages federally and on the state level.

The Script:

I am one of the 4 in 5 Americans [or “concerned individuals” if you are writing outside the US] who support the Endangered Species Act and do not want to see it gutted. I am outraged you are proposing to dramatically weaken the law that has helped bring countless imperiled species back from the brink of extinction.
Without the ESA, we might not have the bald eagle, the manatee, the grizzly bear, the American gray wolf, or the American alligator, among many other species.
I am especially troubled that the proposed changes will:
* Make it more difficult to extend protections to threatened species, delaying lifesaving action until a species’ population is so small it may be challenging or impossible to save
* Exempt climate change from key parts of the law, making it more difficult to protect the polar bear, the bearded seal, and many other imperiled species that are impacted by the effects of climate change
* Allow economic factors to be analyzed when deciding if a species should be saved
* Make it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines, and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to imperiled species’ survival
Please reverse course and save the Endangered Species Act. Thank you.
Sincerely,
[Your Name]
Calling Federal Government:
DT [The president]: 202-456-1111
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: (202) 208-3100
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross [Rebecca Glover Contact]: (202) 482-4883
Calling State Governors:
I also urge everyone to contact their state governor (you can find the contact info at the link) to either urge them to take a strong position against the weakening of the ESA or to congratulate them for doing so and offer your steadfast support.
Washington Contacts: 
  • Tara Lee
    Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
    360.902.4136
  • Dan Jackson, Office of the Attorney General: DanJ1@atg.wa.gov
    360.753.2716
I left messages with the following script: “thank you for your clear statement in support of the EPA. Please know that while you might face federal resistance, you are acting on behalf of the views of your constituents and creating a livable future or the next generation. Thank you.” The relief they had upon hearing something positive was palpable.
If your state senator has not issues a statement of support, an email or phone call, I recommend contacting them with the script above.
Calling makes me jittery, I do not trust this administration to listen, but I will not be silenced by this! We cannot be silenced. This morning I am working with chronic pain and high fatigue and am on my on with my complicated kids at home. The calls were my way of doing what I can for climate justice within this. It is my way of not going “gently into the darkest of days.”
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30 Days for Climate Justice Day 25: My Climate Change Resistance Checklist Weekly Review 5

Weekly reviews are an excellent accountability tool for me. I end up looking over my list of 10 action areas in the evening or before kids are up in the morning. These arenas stick in my head and are there when I check my email (and then decide to follow up on one action item), when I plan an activity with my kids (and choose an event that will support climate justice), or when I get terrible news of more damage to this earth and I remember to do something to voice my opposition. It has become a practice I wholeheartedly recommend.

1. Go to and Facilitate Meetings: This week I attended the 350 Bellingham Climate Strike Planning Meeting. I appreciated being able to support decolonizing and centering Indigenous people, migrant workers, and people with disabilities in the planning. The Climate Strike will be September 20, 2019. Please join us!

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2. Get into Gardens: I’m frustrated with how many of my crops are not doing as well as I’d like this year but much of my medicinal herb garden is thriving. I really love and appreciate being able to grow and make some of the medicine I need. Having this depth of relationship with the plants makes the remedies feel so available and nourishing for me. My foster son and I also spent time in the BFDF garden and were able to harvest a hearty selection of greens and squash and herbs for the Share spot. While we were there, we did some pruning and trellising of plants that were struggling. He made the telling observation that we were able to do so much for the plants in a short amount of time. I love the practice the garden models of seeing a need, doing something to help, and making a concrete difference.

3. Make Donations: I made a small donation to the United Tribes of Bristol Bay who are keeping their organizing strong in the face of a green light to mine in the pristine watershed that hosts the largest salmon run on the continent. We need these spaces!

4. Agitate Politicians: This week I challenged myself to make phone calls regarding Bristol Bay instead of sending emails. It was good to remember how much less anxiety producing it is to just call and leave a message than it was in my head. More of this to come!

5. Ban Bee Killing Pesticides: Last week I reached out to some prominent imagesorganizations and they have all responded. The NRDC emailed me the Beyond Pesticides Fact Sheet on the State Preemption Law that has enabled different states and counties to create local democracies that give them more control over pesticide use. Friends of the Earth also sent me a PDF with instructions for how regions can protect pollinators, Buyers Bee-Ware: Municipal Purchasers Guide to Protecting Pollinators. It is heartening to have the resources we need. I also recognize that I won’t be able to do this alone and need a committed team to work with. If you’d like to join me, please join the Whatcom Bee Protectors.

6. Support Indigenous Events: At the 350 Bellingham Climate Strike Planning meeting, students from the Northwest Indian College challenged non-indigenous participants to reach out to Indigenous groups and ensure they were invited, not just to the event, but to shape the event. I wrote and sent emails to Lummi School, Paddle to Lummi, and the Lhaq’Temish Foundation. It is a start.

7. The Unist’ot’en Food Drive: We worked one more donation drive shift at the Co-op. I had the quirkier of my kids there so the day also involved telling her that not everyone wants someone to be a chicken in their face. If you can, please contact me to donate to the Needs List.

8. Create Networks: I’ve just finished a meeting with Vanessa Raditz, the director of the Queer Ecojustice Project documentary Fire and Flood: Queer Resilience in the Era of Climate Change. We had a really exciting exchange, planning how we could make the work of the project accessible in my classrooms and how course assignments could include options the would further their work. This week I also met with my supervisor with the WWU Honors program to discuss my plans to rewrite sylalbi for my Gender and Popular culture and Theater and Social Justice courses to give primacy to climate change resistance education and work. He is enthusiastically on board.

9. Get to Know Plants and Trees: Viewing medicine as a relationship has been so powerful for my own health and also for my parenting. My foster son had a difficult visit to go to that he had really overwhelming feelings about beforehand. Thanks to the medicine garden, I was able to engage him in helping to harvest skullcap, chamomile, and tulsi (holy basil). We spent time noticing different qualities of the leaves and flowers and different ways bees were interacting with them. Many herbalists attest to finding medicinal value in spending time with, not just consuming, a plant. Spending time in mindful observation with grounding and calming plants was definitely good medicine for both of us and helped him to be in a good place before his meeting.

10. Utilize the power of Words: This is blog post number 5 this week. It has been really striking how much a commitment to articulating this work publicly holds me accountable to taking action. I’ve been doing a bunch of research to find artists, musicians, film makers, and playwrights whose work take up climate justice to aid in my course revisions and beginning to rewrite the class descriptions (and nope, I’m not paid over the summer term).

If you are overwhelmed with climate change and don’t feel like you have a starting place, I recommend making a climate change resistance checklist. It can have as many, or as few, items as works for you with a commitment to review weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. If you need a check-in accountability partner, feel free to message me! 

 

30 Days for Climate Justice Day 24: Concrete Actions to Support Bristol Bay

I’m so devastated that this current US administration has given a green light to mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska (on the rightful land of the Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq nations). This pristine watershed houses the largest salmon run on the continent making it invaluable to the species and those (like the endangered whales) whose lives depend on them. The salmon run and watershed is also pivotal to the way of life and sustenance of local Indigenous nations as well as fishing communities.

download.jpgThe damage this mine in this location could do to local ecosystems human and otherwise is catastrophic. Moreover, with only a few years left to stop the “tipping point” of climate change, we need a cultural shift away from environmentally damaging practices, such as mining, and toward practices that can sustain life. The salmon industry in Bristol Bay is already just such a practice, generating 1.5 billion in revenue and 14,000 jobs. We must agitate politicians and support Indigenous resistance. 

Agitate Politicians:

We need to make phone calls to politicians. Assistants record the number of people who call about an issue. The record is sent to those in charge. It doesn’t risk ending up in a “junk” folder in email. To protest Bristol Bay Mining we need to call the following two senators:

  • Senator Patty Murray
  • Senator Maria Cantwell

I know. We have phone anxiety. At least I do. Two things help me with this:

  1. The Trout Unlimited Take Action site gives us a script. The site hooks you up with both numbers and gives a clear and natural sounding script to read to their answering machines. The link above takes you right there. Call and read the script or say your own piece. I read and then added the following of my own: “We are at a pivotal time in history where we have the power to deprive future generations of a livable climate. Your actions now, especially as leaders, can change that and leave our children with habitable eco-systems. You have a responsibility that you must take seriously. All of our lives depend on it.” 
  2. You don’t have to talk to a human. They are too busy to answer phones most of the time (and certainly after hours). If you call and leave a message it will still be forwarded and counted. I left messages. Call in the evening and don’t worry about whether you stammer or how you’ll answer questions. Just put your opposition on record. 

Support Indigenous Resistance:

Sometimes it takes a bit of digging to separate the colonially led organizations from the are led Indigenous people. Indigenous nations are the experts on this land and its needs. They are the traditional and rightful inhabitants. The work for climate change resistance has to honor both expertise and sovereignty to have substantive changing power. 

The United Tribes of Bristol Bay has been bringing astounding leadership to the fight to protect their homelands and these eco-systems. It is a strong coalition between 16 different nation’s councils. I highly recommend making a donation to support their work to protect Bristol Bay, if you have the capacity. They even have some artful clothing you can purchase! I will now be entering fall with this hoodie. It’s a bonus.

The news of continued colonial violence (and yes, destroying people’s homelands for profit is colonial violence) from this administration is really upsetting. Please join me in taking some simple, concrete steps to do what we can to counter it and preserve our home planet. 

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30 Days for Climate Justice Day 23: Planning a Climate Strike

Yesterday I attended the 350.org led planning meeting for the Bellingham Climate Strike to be held on September 20, 2019. The climate strikes were started by the ever proactive Greta Thunberg who led a movement of high school students in giving strong messages that the world is, in fact, on fire and if we are to have a future we cannot go about our business as usual. We must strike–for the climate, for a future, for the plant–we must strike. 

There has been a strong response with a global movement growing. Some areas,
such as Seattle, have students striking every Friday (#fridaysforafuture).
However, youth in the movement have urged adults to not wait for them. In areas where the climate strikes have gaps, they have urged adult led organizations to take up the slack. 350 Bellingham is spearheading the Bellingham Climate Strike this September 20, 2019. 

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350 is an “international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.” Their website has 3 clearly stated goals of:

  1. A Fast & Just Transition to 100% Renewable Energy for All.
  2. No New Fossil Fuel Projects Anywhere.
  3. Not a Penny More for Dirty Energy.

There was talk at the meeting about how we can’t wait till the most privileged our impacted. Our climate justice work has to center those who are already having their lives severely disrupted. Two students from the Northwest Indian College stressed to the group the necessity of decolonizing the work for climate change. They described how their home communities were first and often most severely impacted. Their ways of life and survival were already being taken away by polluted water, disrupted salmon spanning, and by rising sea levels on reserve land.

Perhaps aptly, I was very sick for the meeting itself. The air quality has been going down in Bellingham and, while it’s off the radar for most, I am already dizzy and nauseous and fatigued. Indigenous, migrant, and disabled people must take center stage in our current work for climate justice. As it was stressed by the students, the most impacted communities must be invited to have their cultures and voices forefront throughout the process (not just as attendees).

One of the two students from NWIC was in a breakout group with me and she strike-logo-EN-color-1-600x600
urged everyone to reach out to Lummi elders to do a land acknowledgement but not to stop there.
Have the Blackfoot dancers been specifically invited to shape the fabric of the event, she asked? Have Lummi canoe families been asked to be part of setting the terms and issues emphasized? Is Lummi school being given primacy? She urged everyone to reach out but not just for the event and beyond. Are folks able to attend the Northwest Indian College club days? To  attend events at the college and on Lummi Nation? I am committed to building these relationships in my work to help plan the Bellingham Climate Strike for September 20, 2019.

Can you join us? The next planning meeting will be this coming Wednesday, August 21 at 6:30. Location TBA. I’ll post back here as soon as a location is confirmed. The climate strikes are happening around the globe September 20-27. You can find the event nearest you here. Let’s tell the world that this is an emergency!

30 Days for Climate Justice Day 22: Responding to Climate Grief

For a couple of months now, I have been dedicating time everyday to do climate justice work. My guideline is that it can be small scale (e.g. working on local food security systems) but needs to be bigger than my own lifestyle (e.g. bringing my own cup and staw to events, yep I do this too). The “30 days” does not mean that I do these actions only for 30 days, but that I commit to writing 30 posts that document of this work. One of the purposes this is to provide potential courses of action during very discouraging times, supporting communities of action. By making the work public, people working toward similar purposes can find and collaborate with each other. 

But today I am discouraged. Yesterday I had a meeting with someone who works in organics certification and the reduction of harmful GMO foods. He has supported regions in banning neonicotinoids and other chemicals linked with bee colony collapse. Our meeting was for me to gain insight into the first steps organizations took who were successful in banning these chemicals. It turns out he is also a climate change denier.

I know there are deniers out there but I was not expecting to encounter it at this meeting. He claimed that we can argue climate change but not colony collapse because we can measure it and stated that 917 scientists don’t agree. For the record, there is 97% agreement amongst scientists that it is not just climate change that is happening but a real and immediate threat of climate catastrophe. I would be very interested in seeing who funded the research of these 917 deniers with advanced degrees. At any rate, climate change is every bit as measurable as colony collapse and is, in fact, related. There are definitely ups and downs in this work but this exchange, in particular, has me feeling more defeated than usual. 

I’m deeply saddened and also afraid for our future. I’m sad that in these

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I need to take in what I work to protect.

remaining years where we have the power to turn things around not only are governments denying climate catastrophe in favor of corporate greed but that there are some conservationists who have bought this mythology. It’s a huge problem in and of itself, but part of the problem is what it does to our headspace. My myself, I feel so discouraged in this work sometimes that I lose my momentum and am left open to a very real depression to seep in. I know I’m not alone in this. 

My wife points out that when I’m in this headspace I am less likely to do what helps me personally. Less likely to spend solace time in nature, less likely to do my yoga asana practice that so often helps to move the stuck feelings out and unlock joy. I am more likely to freeze and spend too much time Sad On The Internet (such a trap!). And, of course, this does not lead to concrete actions for climate justice. 

Today I have a simple two part plan: refill and keep going.

Refill: I am going to get down to the water and move my body. I will soak in nourishment from the earth, the ocean, and my breath. I am going to pick blackberries by the ocean path. It’s simple. It’s not easy to start when I’m discouraged. I know “self-care” is an overused adage but (especially with my blend of chronic illnesses) if I don’t care for my body, I really do run out of capacity to do this work. It’s also important for me not to do climate change resistance work from a place of alienation–way too discouraging–but take the time to route my work in relationship to the eco-systems that I seek to protect. And relationships take time and care.

Keep Going: I will attend the local Climate Strike Planning meeting this evening and not allow the discouragement to render me frozen. (Is there a climate strike planning meeting near where you live?) This is critical to keep “self-care” from being an escapist trope and a meaningful way to continue. I do better when the plan is concrete and I am able to put it on my schedule than if I have something vague. So I’m moving through the stuck places today, both figuratively and with actual physical movement.

Do you experience these responses to discouragement? What helps you from this space? Let’s share our strategies.

 

30 Days for Climate Justice Day 21: Tabling for Unist’ot’en Camp (with a chicken-kid and without)

The Bellingham Food coop agreed to let me (and my kids) table for Unist’ot’en Camp. For two hour stints, they help us set up a table and chairs. We bring info about the camp and the work of the Wet’suwet’en People to preserve their homelands from pipelines and preserve life for all. We bring the checklist of the Food Needs for the camp and have a bin. While people are shopping, they can buy a few items, leave them in our bin, and we get them linked up with a ride to Unist’ot’en.

We have been twice now. It’s not hard. Some people ask respectful questions and take information. Many buy an item or two. Many more avert eye contact and walk away. It’s okay, they are tired, stressed, or don’t have capacity for a conversation. On a slow Monday afternoon we gathered a huge rubbermaid bin and one small crate full. On a busy Saturday we came away with far less.

65637597_10157123400002597_4170975550124326912_oOf course this might be attributable to the fact that I brought my social, extraverted kid on Monday who happily engaged with people and did artwork while on the Saturday, I brought my quirkier kid who I had to stop from repeatedly running up and yelling “Becaw” at people because lately she has taken to being a chicken. We got three chickens a month ago and it has been a cascade of chicken-kid behavior from her since. She did decide that she wants to have her new nickname be “Sassy-pants-no-pipelines-seagull,” so that’s something.

But chicken kid or no chicken kid, land and water protectors have got to eat so let’s set up some time and spaces where folks can bring food.

If you are in Bellingham and would like to join us for a session, please leave a comment (or send a FB message).

If you are not in Bellingham and would like support in setting up something similar in your area, please leave a comment as well. I am happy to help! #Togetherwearestrong