Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

(cross-post from Huffington Post)

Sarah Palin should not have mocked Barack Obama for being a community organizer. If anything, tonight’s results proved her wrong. Our new President has given new meaning, and strength to the concept of community organizing. And he has shown us what citizens can do, when given the means to organize towards a cause, that’s greater than themselves.

Tonight I am thinking of the thousands of Obama offices, volunteer networks, and fundraising organizations, along with the sophisticated Internet machine, and the organizing methodology, that went into getting Barack Obama elected. As the signs are coming down, the thank you emails go out, and the temporary offices go back to their original owners, I wonder, is that it? Will we go back to business as usual, each in our homes, going about our private lives?

Or will we use the skills learned during the Obama campaign to mount a national community effort, this time to address the threat of climate change? The last time I checked, we had less than ten years to get our act together. Citizens have a crucial role to play on the conservation end. As someone who has tried for the last year and a half, to curtail my consumerist and energy appetites, I can testify on the difficulty of accomplishing such changes at the individual level. Instead, we need to summon the power of community to help each other.

Tomorrow, after you have come down from your victory high, I urge you to keep alive the citizen spirit that made you pick up the phone, and knock on doors, and put up signs on your lawn. Take that energy and become an organizing force in your community. Start a No Beef Lunch at your kids’ school, or a telecommuting initiative at work, or a volunteer home insulation project in your city . . . The climate cause may not have a face like Barack Obama, but it’s all the more reason to take it on.

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Dear Al,

You and I just met last weekend. I had traveled far in my Prius for the chance to have a few words with you, my hero. When my turn came, I made sure to let you know how grateful I was, for the presentation you gave three years ago, at Stanford, on “An Inconvenient Truth”. I told you I had come out of the event transformed and determined to help somehow with the global warming crisis. You seemed flattered, and you moved on to the person next in line, a funny guy named Dana Carvey.

You were supposed to give a political speech, but you could not stay away from your favorite topic. And you spoke at length about the need to bring about a change in consciousness, regarding the moral challenge of our time, our role in the destruction of the future of our planet. I loved listening to you, and so did the rest of the audience. You delivered your message with feeling and conviction, and we readily joined you in your outrage, down to your last word. “Damit!”

That’s all good. And that’s not enough. You see, what I took away from this time with you, was not the thrill of meeting you, nor the heartfelt speech you gave, nor the majestic scenery surrounding us. No, instead I will remember the sight of all the cars parked along the road, and filling every free parking space on the compound. Call me a party spoiler, but it bothered me that you seemed oblivious to the lack of carpooling for the event. When I brought up the subject with my neighbors at the lunch table, all expressed interest. I know this is a small detail, and you are dealing with the big picture.

I just want to raise this question with you. What if the big picture was all in the details? How different would have your message been, if you had sent a request ahead of time to all the guests, asking them to carpool? You could have carpooled yourself, rather than just driving with your daughter in her Prius.

Al, I hope you will consider. As the world leader on climate,  you bear a huge responsibility. Please do not misuse it, and realize the power of your actions, not just your words.


Marguerite Manteau-Rao

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Every month I participate in a Green Moms Blogging Carnival. This time, we are to blog about the commercialization of holidays. At first, I thought of recycling the Halloween post I wrote for Groovy Green last year. That would have been too easy, and also I have a subversive idea I want to put out to all green mommy bloggers during this holiday season.

I have played before with the “Green Drop” idea, a green twist on artist Ryan Watkins-Hughes‘ original shopdrop concept:

shopdrop: to covertly place merchandise on display in a store; a form of “culture jamming”, reverse shoplift.

For the “Mommy Green Drop” Initiative we will only shopdrop green things. Imagine for instance, going to a Target store before Halloween, and taping subversive flyers on the back of items in the costume section. These would be flyers you would have prepared ahead of time and brought with you into the store. Or you could create almost identical replica of costumes sold in the store, with your own  green twist of course! Part of the fun, is performing the shopdropping unnoticed, while documenting with your camera – video or still -, and then reporting in your blog. There are no limits to what you can do, really.

To keep track of your participation in the project, I have created a “greendrop” Twitter account, where you can input your “greendrop” performances, with links to documenting posts in your blog. All you need is to email me for the password. If you do not have a blog, you can upload your videos on YouTube, or your photos on Flickr, again using the Twitter account as a central log.

I am feeling excited just writing about this project. If enough of us get involved, we can create a big green ripple in the holiday shopping frenzy.

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Today marks the last day of protest for British climate change campaigners near the Kingsnorth Power Station. Climate Camp has attracted lots of coverage, with multiple videos circulated on YouTube, and the media descending on this remote part of the Kent region. At stake? Wanting to prevent the firing up of a new coal fire station. The week long event went beyond the usual one day demonstration, and instead transformed the fields around the old coal plant, into a temporary eco-village, entirely powered with renewable sources:

Climate Camp gives new meaning to the word ‘demonstration‘. Not just protesting against, but also demonstrating positive alternatives. Burning Man with a purpose, I love it!

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Based on my success with Technorati, I decided to continue my campaign with another major blogging platform, requesting that they make ‘Green‘ a more prominent category on their site. This time is WordPress‘s turn.

Here is a copy of the email, I just sent to Matt Mullenweg, the man at WordPress:

Hello Matt,

First thanks for WordPress, without which my blog would not be where it is today!

More importantly, as a green blogging queen, I am chagrined that WordPress does not have a dedicated Green category in its Featured Blogs. Hopefully this email will be as fruitful as the one I sent to Technorati last month, and that resulted in a personal comment back of Richard on my blog, along with Technorati listening and making change I suggested to have dedicated Green search.

I look forward to your response, hopefully with a promise of changes.



Let’s see what happens. I will keep you apprised.

I also encourage you to do the same with other Internet venues that you come in contact with. Little by little, you and I can help green the media landscape. 

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Loving my stay in Honolulu, except for the blazing sun that scorches us, whenever we venture in the city at midday. So much hot energy to harvest year round.

You would think the city would be covered with solar panels. Not so. The big talk in town, is the upcoming election, to decide on the mayor’s proposal for a $4 billion rail transit system. I just wonder what would be the bill for a city-wide solar program? And how fast would the payback be? With, or without subsidies? 

Where are the local environmentalists when we need them? Imagine a coalition of concerned Honolulu citizens putting together a solar proposal for their city. 

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Synchronicity . . . Following my post, two days ago, I find this in my mail, from the Feminist Majority, :

Dear Marguerite,

Today, over 200 million women who want birth control lack access to contraceptives. Please join the movement to reverse cuts to reproductive health programs, helping the poorest of women. During the Bush years, international family planning funding has been cut some 40% in real dollars, and funding to the United National Population Fund (UNFPA) has been withheld for the past six years.

We just spent the last week with Dr. Solomon Orero, a heroic Kenyan OB/GYN, who described to us in vivid detail the suffering and unnecessary deaths of young women and girls in Kenya. We also worked with Dr. Nafis Sadik from the United Nations, who described the harmful conditionality of US funding, such as wasteful abstinence-only programs and restrictive policies like the global gag rule. We must reverse the direction of US international reproductive health policies.

Take action now! Write to Senator Pat Leahy (D- VT) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairs of the House and Senate State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations subcommittees. Urge them to support an $530 million increase in U.S. assistance to international family planning, including $63.5 million to the United Nations Population Fund, in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY 2009. This brings the total funding for international family planning to $1 billion, less than the cost of 1 missile.

Without adequate access to birth control, more than 500,000 young women die each year from pregnancy related causes and complications in childbirth. Another 70,000 women and girls die from botched, unsafe abortions. Women want access to birth control, but our government’s policy of cutting family planning funding is contributing to unnecessary suffering and death.

Take Action! Tell the House Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Related Programs Chairs Senator Pat Leahy and Congresswoman Nita Lowey know you support empowering women and increasing international family planning funding to $1 billion.

For Women’s Lives,

Will you take action?

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All riled up from reading about the risk of the renewable energy production tax credit not being extended past the end of this year, I set out to see what I could do to help, as a citizen. I quickly found out, it is not easy, being a full-fledged citizen in America. I thought there would be one website for all citizen directed activism, a clearing house listing all the issues at stake, with a clearly outlined process for each, including petitions, automatic links to representatives in my district, model letters to send, and suggestions for other initiatives. What I found instead are some bits and pieces, here and there:

If you know of any other resources, please share them in your comments.

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You would think we live in Galileo‘s times again. The Union of Concerned Scientists just released a study exposing widespread manipulation of scientific findings and intimidation of EPA scientists by the Bush administration. Among the UCS report’s top findings:

889 scientists (60 percent) said they had personally experienced at least one instance of political interference in their work over the last five years.

– 394 scientists (31 percent) personally experienced frequent or occasional “statements by EPA officials that misrepresent scientists’ findings.”

– 285 scientists (22 percent) said they frequently or occasionally personally experienced “selective or incomplete use of data to justify a specific regulatory outcome.”

– 224 scientists (17 percent) said they had been “directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from an EPA scientific document.”

– Of the 969 agency veterans with more than 10 years of EPA experience, 409 scientists (43 percent) said interference has occurred more often in the past five years than in the previous five-year period. Only 43 scientists (4 percent) said interference occurred less often.

– Hundreds of scientists reported being unable to openly express concerns about the EPA’s work without fear of retaliation; 492 (31 percent) felt they could not speak candidly within the agency and 382 (24 percent) felt they could not do so outside the agency.

For more, click here.

Thanks to Mary Hunt, and Daily Green for bringing this to my attention.

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