How YOU Can Help Fight the Gulf Oil Leak

We’ve all heard the news of the continued failure of BP AND the US government to stop the geyser of oil erupting out of the Gulf. What can WE do?

Sign this petition asking Congress to invest in clean energy and STOP plans for more offshore drilling.

These photos are horrifying, yet they beautifully depict the magnitude of the problem. I hope they inspire all of us to do more to stop this problem.

If you really want to make an impact, you can volunteer. The United Way of South Mississippi is organizing volunteers, and you can find more info here.

Another innovative way to soak up the oil is for all of us to get our hair cut and send it to the Gulf!  Seriously, you can organize a hair cutting event or ask your local barber to send their hair scraps to the gulf.  Check out this video to learn about what people are doing.

Thank you for reading, and if you have more ideas for how we can address this problem, please comment.

Tara

May 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Education – Pay Now or Pay Later!

Late last week in our home state of California, thousands and thousands of students, teachers, faculty, administrators and frustrated citizens took to the streets all across the state to protest California’s massive proposed cuts to education.

Unfortunately I was unable to participate because I was going to a school board meeting in Burbank. I was going to lend support to an advocacy team that I help organize who was there to protest their own district’s proposed cuts. Both on the macro level and the micro, a lot of advocacy happened that day, but there is still much to be done between now and when budgets are finalized in June.

Check out this great video by CSU Fullerton students about the downtown LA protests.

Though I try, I can’t understand why education is not the obvious funding priority. Frederick Douglass put it best – “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our economy, and many of us, are broken right now. Our decision makers have to make cuts somewhere, but by cutting education funding, they are ensuring that this mess will continue for decades to come as our population becomes less and less competitive in a global market.

In light of this, I know many people are targeting their frustrations at their local school boards and administrators. Yes, they have some decision making power, but the real responsibility for the future of education in California and any other state lies with our state government.

Right now California schools receive about $8500 in funds per pupil from the state. In the Governor’s proposed 2010-11 budget, per pupil spending would drop to about $7400. That’s over 10%. Assume that means quality will also drop by at least that much. California’s dropout rate is already at 24%.

**More info on the proposed state budget here**

Our public schools across the country are in crisis, and unlike our economy which may bounce back in a couple years, the students affected by these cuts will suffer the repercussions the rest of their lives.

What we need to do is make sure our state legislators know that if they want to keep their jobs, they need to minimize cuts to education and not use Prop 98 funds to close the deficit.   Find your state legislators here, then give them a call and let them know that.  Let them know that education is the foundation upon which we build our future and if they make these cuts, our house will fall.

March 10, 2010 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

How to be Green


Green Lifestyle

Oh, the green lifestyle. Hippies, tree-huggers, liberals – we all get a bad rap for caring about the planet, but let me just say I am SO glad that green is more mainstream. It only makes sense. Living a green lifestyle helps you save money, and it preserves this beautiful Earth. So without further adieu, here are some handy-dandy ways to be green.

SHOPPING: Want some cool, original stuff that also helps people out? Check out http://www.overstock.com/Worldstock/6/store.html for some green shopping. They have clothes, jewelery, purses, shoes, all made by people in countries with extreme poverty. This is a great way to not only define your sense of style, but know that the shirt you’re buying is going to feed a family in Thailand for the next week.

FILMMAKERS! Make your production green and of course save money! http://www.film.ca.gov/GreenFilmmaking/index.html will give you all the resources you need to make sure everything from your catering to your wardrobe is Earth-friendly. And did I mention save money? Use that money for some dope special effects. Also check out the Environmental Media Association at http://www.ema-online.org/for_productions.php for more info about how to produce your film or project in a more green way.

NEED A JOB???? Get a green job! Not only do you make money, but you save the Earth! Super-hero status all the way. http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/businessconnections.main <—- all the info and resources you need for green job-hunting. Here’s one more for good luck http://www.greenjobs.com/public/index.aspx

And here, just because I think it’s cool, are some entrepreneurs who are making being green their business. A great read. http://www.inc.com/magazine/20061101/green50_intro.html

Stay tuned for more tips, and especially those of you looking for jobs, I GOT THE HOOK UP! Well, I just have some great resources, but will be sharing them in the next post, next week. Until then – stay green 🙂

March 3, 2010 at 4:06 am Leave a comment

Turn the Water Off!

Check out our new video.  We make water conservation SEXXAYYY!!!  Then read below for more info on why and how you should slow your use of h2o!

Part 1 of our water-saving series.

Water is abundant on our planet, it is abundant in our bodies, however the availability of fresh drinking water is not all that abundant. As an American you don’t always have to worry about having access to clean water, yes maybe you worry about the water bill but what if there was no possibility of even HAVING a water bill??

Imagine walking to a well everyday and bringing water back in a bucket on top of your head. I couldn’t do it. Thank God I have plumbing and can take a shower whenever I please. Thinking about this makes me wonder about the people who don’t have this luxury. Feels like I should do something. I should conserve the water I use, be efficient with it, and advocate policies and procedures for helping people without clean, fresh water to gain access to clean, fresh water. Let’s conserve water. Time for some water-saving tips.

Haiti needs a new system for water. Read this article in the NY Times about it.

1. Buy some water conserving products for your household

  1. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
  2. Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
  3. Repair dripping faucets. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system.
  4. Wash vegetables with a bowl underneath, then use the water from the bowel to water plants.
  5. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  6. Take shorter showers. Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
  7. Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only 1/3 full. Stopper tub before turning water. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later.
  8. Don’t let water run while shaving or washing your face. Or, you can brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave.
  9. Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  10. Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  11. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
  12. Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
  13. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.
  14. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50% to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to malfunctions and maintenance problems.

According to Charity Water: “Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war… Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water.  Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old.”

In other words… turn the water off!

February 17, 2010 at 6:16 am Leave a comment

Happy National Blog Day! Subject: Climate Change

Happy National Blog Day!

I’m proud to say I’m part of the blogging phenomenon. It couldn’t have come at a better time for technology to be simplified so your average citizen can utilize it to make their voice heard. OK, on with the message.

thumbnail-1Climate Change.

It’s no joke. It’s for real. And the U.S. needs to step up and take action. Copenhagen is coming up in December, so we need to make sure we urge President Obama to make strong, long-lasting and decisive goals for reversing the damage we’ve done to our planet.

There have been a lot of natural disasters lately. Tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires… pretty heavy stuff. How can one thrive and be happy when they’ve been displaced? We can prevent this from escalating. How? Being vocal and letting our government officials know WE WANT ACTION! Writing our councilmembers to enforce policies on environmentalism, writing our senators to encourage them to stand strong for environmental bills.

If you don’t know who you government representative is, check it out here

thumbnail

The Internet makes everything soooo easy. With the power of search engines and the connectivity of social media, we really have the power in our own hands.  With this power, let’s do what is needed most – urge the government to take action. While we can be green on an individual level (and we should be!) we also need laws to stand in place to prevent corporations, automakers, etc. from polluting.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is a bill designed to put a cap-and-trade restriction on greenhouse gas emissions. (Don’t know WTF that means? Here’s what Wikipedia says) Can you believe this is the first bill Congress put into place to specifically address climate change? I mean, at least it’s a start! However, we need more action. We need incentives for businesses to switch to alternative energy. We need incentives for consumers to switch to alternative energy. The government provides a tax credit when you install solar panels. And you know what the crazy thing about all this is? YOU SAVE MONEY WHEN YOU SAVE ENERGY!!!!

Energy, consumption and waste… three areas of focus for terra firma residents to improve on. I really hope after reading this you becoming inspired to take action.  Individually, find out ways to be more green and collectively, write your senator to urge him/her to enforce environmental laws. We have the solutions already, we just need to make them happen!

Let’s do this! Until next time.

In solidarity,

Raychel Espiritu

October 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Take a Stand Against…Oil Sand?

Today President Obama will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. An event not likely to make headline news with the Kanye v. Taylor debacle dominating the interwebs. Events even less likely to make headlines are the pillar examples of radical activism undertaken by Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) that took place in light of the Obama-Stephen meeting to protest Canada’s practice of oil sand extraction.

What the hell is oil sand extraction? Put simply, it is a method of sucking crude oil out of the ground that is way worse than basic oil drilling. In fact, emissions produced from oil sand are estimated to be between 1.3 and 1.7x as much as from drilling, ground to pump. In addition, the process requires that land be strip mined, and that the oil be separated from the highly viscous sand through steaming or other solvency techniques.

In other words, it uses a damn lot of energy and resources to produce this cruder, dirtier source of oil. Canada happens to have some of the largest oil sand reserves in the world, and about 10% of oil used in the US comes from those oil sand reserves.

After combing through the blogosphere, hunting for some decent coverage of examples of activism, I came across this video of RAN hanging a 70-foot banner from the Niagara Falls observation deck highlighting this problem.

In what I can only assume was a team effort, Greenpeace also took a radical action yesterday when 25 activists broke into and shut down a Shell-owned oil sands mine in northern Alberta. According to Reuters Canada, representatives from Shell stated that they “have invited [Greenpeace] into our administrative building to sit down with management to discuss their concerns.”

This unfolding of events is an interesting case study in what makes for effective organizing and advocacy. More specifically, how knowing who your audience is and what messages and tactics will best reach them is key for making any kind of impact.

Since I’ve been involved in grassroots organizing, I have come to think of activism as being in one of two camps – “Push” or “Pull.” Pushers being the activists who start where people are and work inside the system through traditional methods (nonprofits, lobbying, petitions, etc) in order to move in a better direction, and Pullers being the activists who move ahead of where everyone is and work outside the system to bring the conversation in a new direction. Both are critical to making any kind of change happen, but while my heart is closer to the “pull” category, my logic tells me to keep on pushin.’

These events are shining examples of “pulling,” but while I laud the brave efforts of these activists and I totally agree with their cause, their message is unfortunately going to fall on deaf ears. Of course, those that are already tuned in will perk up, and they’ll tweet about it, and some people will watch the video on youtube, and maybe a few other late-night web surfers will come across an article, but the general public, the consumers of oil and the constituents of those that the activists are trying to persuade, will never hear about these brave and painstakingly-planned efforts.

And the reason is because not nearly enough people have ever heard about oil sand, and so even if they do care about climate change and sustainability, they don’t know how bad oil sand extraction is and how big a player Canada is in its expansion.

From a pusher’s perspective, I would think that in order to persuade President Obama to stop purchasing crude oil from Canada, he would need to hear an uproar from the American people. Americans care about low gas prices, but they also care about sustainability and preserving our beautiful spaces – air, land, and water. Especially in this tough economic time, more and more Americans are pushing for home-grown, clean energy because they know it will create jobs and make us more energy-independent. There is plenty of room there to message the oil sand campaign in a way that will tap into what Americans care about.

Maybe one day we’ll have more people willing to take that kind of bold action on an issue, but until then, I hope that those who are willing take the time to really think through whether their strategies are the most effective for reaching the broadest audience and influencing their targets.

Anyway, we should do our part and help RAN and Greenpeace take a stand against oil sand. You can take action here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on push v. pull strategies and whether or not the Greenpeace and RAN actions were effective. Leave a comment!

Tara

September 16, 2009 at 8:36 am 1 comment

Thousands rallied this week to support the PUBLIC OPTION!

Wednesday night Raychel and I had the pleasure and honor of cohosting a MoveOn rally in support of the public option.  It was so refreshing to be around hundreds and hundreds of community members who, despite the heated tension on the topic, all managed with great enthusiasm to keep the gathering 100% POSITIVE! There was even a girl out there celebrating her 18th birthday!

We’ll see if our message rang clear to Senator Feinstein, whose office we gathered outside of, when Congress comes back in to session next week.

Check out this video from the event.  It features Raychel talking about why we were gathered, and the voice on the mic in the background is yours truly. 🙂

We encourage all of you to call your representatives this week before they get back in session and remind them that…

WE NEED THE PUBLIC OPTION TO PASS!

You can find your reprentatives contact info here by punching in your address.

Until next time, best of health 😉

Tara

September 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

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