For the first time in history bees have been added to the federal list of endangered species. This is a big deal.
As many of you probably know I’m a hobby beekeeper and I love my honeybees. But the honeybees aren’t the most important to the health of our environment. The most important bees are the wild species like the many types of bumblebees. These wild bees are essential for pollinating and keeping ecosystems alive. And the wild bees are in serious decline.
So it’s great news that bees are being added to the Endangered Species List. Seven bee species native to Hawaii are now protected. It’s likely more bee species will be added. Here is a lovely short documentary about another great candidate, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. This is a beautiful little film and I highly recommend it. It’s about twenty minutes long.
Bees are declining due to a variety of factors including habitat loss, pesticides and wildfire. I just learned that my neighbor across the cul-de-sac lost their hive due to pesticide poisoning. Apparently their bees had foraged out into a yard where pesticides were being used and brought the poison back to the hive. Very sad and troubling.
So, the very first step we can take to help is to avoid using pesticides, especially those in the “neonicotinoid” family. This includes the chemical Imidacloprid which is the most widely used pesticide in the world. Due in large part to the heavy impacts on honeybees the European Union has now seriously restricted the use of neonicotinoids.
Listing the bees on the Endangered Species List allows authorities to provide recovery programs and get funding for protection. That’s a super important step that will complement the growing number of people (and nations) who are moving away from using dangerous pesticides.
So go forth drop the pesticides and Bee Happy! OK, I’m sorry I can really get going with the BEEautiful puns.
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I wanted to give an update that I am really excited about. After a decade of providing consulting services to eco and social entrepreneurs I have honed in on exactly what I’m good at and what I truly love to do. And, I’m stepping away from everything else!
My entire adult life has been committed to working toward a future in which we live, travel and do business in a way that is good for the planet and for people at all income levels.
I’ve worked with solar and wind energy start-ups, airports, real estate developers, non-profit advocacy groups, local, state and federal governments.
I’ve done everything from implementing sustainable design planning charrettes to figuring out tax credits to developing award-winning green jobs reports and action plans. I’m grateful for it all.
But now, I’m honing in, offering only what I most love working on. And my main love is empowering change-makers who are creating programs, products and organizations that protect and restore nature and improve the quality of our lives.
New, Unique Pared Down and Powered Up Service Offerings!
One of the biggest unique values that I (and the other 3E consultants) bring is the unusual combination of deep understanding of energy, climate, sustainability and new economy issues along with fantastic writing, speaking and communications skills.
In other words we know a lot about the wonky stuff and also how to talk about the wonky stuff in a compelling, convincing, engaging way!
We are creative, innovative thinkers who are also super organized and efficient. We start with what’s possible rather than what is, then connect dots, cross-pollinate and implement.
We know how to get the team to a big vision and then take steps to make that vision real. We are Visionary Doers!
What We’re Really Good At:
Empowering change-makers with the knowledge, relationship building and life coaching to make their biggest positive impact on our world.
Creating and navigating collaborative processes and projects especially for complex, diverse and potentially conflict-rich projects.
Developing and delivering highly effective communications, media and social media outreach message and strategies.
I am passionately committed to working with other passionate people who are leaning into making our world a better place. If this could be of use to you and your amazing project/product/organization by all means let me know!
I’d love to help you fellow change-makers take your good to a whole new level!
Today, September 13th, is national day of action against the Dakota Access Pipeline! There are ways, no matter where you are, you can stand in solidarity with the indigenous communities and local farmers and landowners fighting on the front lines.
This is one of the most courageous stands against a fossil fuel project this country has ever seen. I believe the steps that native tribes are now taking to block fossil fuel expansion (especially on tribal and public lands) will go down as historic in the movement to go beyond fossil fuels.
This particular action in South Dakota is in itself historic. Already the federal government approved the permits for a big oil company to continue building its pipeline on tribal lands. But, in the face of massive citizen protest the Obama Administration has issued a delay in that permit approval. But this is a temporary reprieve, or stay of execution if you will.
If built, Dakota Access would carry toxic fracked oil from North Dakota across four states and under the Missouri River, immediately upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. That makes it a threat to the sacred land and water of Native communities and a disaster for the climate.
Knowing this, people all across the country (and even beyond) are stepping up to help. And we all can too (even if we can’ make it to the front lines).
Here are ways to support activists on the front lines:
Actions targeting financial institutions funding the pipeline are happening around the country between now and September 17. Learn more here and find an event near you here.
Donate to support pipeline fighters in North Dakota and Iowa through Bold Nebraska
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 telling President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline
Spread the word (like 3EStrategies is doing here) on social media using #NoDAPL.
I can’t stress enough, this is a very important stand. I spoke with one of the tribal leaders just one day before the delay in issuing permits and they had no idea where things were headed or where it would end. This is the time to turn that interim win into long-lasting victory. Please do what you can.
Today is Labor Day. For most Americans, this is just another holiday that more than anything represents a change in the seasons. Children head back to school, football starts up and retail stores of all kinds offer deep discounts at end of summer sales.
Like so many national holidays Labor Day has become more about consumerism than celebrating the powerful ideals and events it represents. Labor Day is really about the incredible efforts of nineteenth century workers who stood up to the crushing power of industry and corporations and fought for eight-hour workdays and paid holidays. They came together, unionized and made huge strides in worker safety and pay equity.
Today we need another revolution, one that finds ways to overcome the enormous disparity between those at the top of the pay grade and everyone else. A revolution toward an economy and corporate structures that don’t degrade our planet and crush people in their wake.
There are many, many facets of this New Economy – from Triple and Quadruple Bottom Line assessments, to circular economy efforts toward Zero Waste.
Today, I’d like to highlight one piece that really suits a Labor Day lens. A growing movement around the globe is employee-owned businesses. They range from very small enterprises to large retail chains like Bi-Mart. UK mega retailer John Lewis in 100% employee owned. There are many structures from to worker-owned cooperatives.
One aspect that I find most interesting is worker-owned unionized cooperatives.
A union co-op is a unionized worker-owned cooperative in which worker-owners all own an equal share of the business and have an equal vote in overseeing the business. Union co-ops differ from traditional worker-owned co-ops in that workers in a union co-op can appoint a management team (from within their own ranks or from outside the co-op) and then bargain collectively with management regarding wage rates, health care and other benefits, holidays, sick leave, etc.
One of the best-known union co-op efforts is taking place between the 1.2 million United Steelworkers union and Mondragon, a cluster of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon employs 83,000 workers in 256 companies.
In an interview with Truth-Out Steelworkers president Leo Gerard noted that the union co-op model may offer hope for a type of workplace relationship that only has room for improvement over today’s economy. “It’s not utopia,” he said. “It’s an experiment. [But] if it works, it can’t be any worse than the system we got now.”
He went on to say, “There’s not an advanced democracy on the planet that doesn’t have a strong free labor movement. Anytime there’s been totalitarian regimes, the foundation of replacing those regimes has been workers coming together with students and other disadvantaged groups in society and fighting for democracy – democracy with a free labor movement. …… Work is changing. You’ve got all kinds of freelancers. We’re going to grow, and we’re going to have to modernize. There are models out there that have to be experimented with, and the union co-op is one of those models.”
Today while kids enjoy the last day of summer freedom and lots of shoppers go hunting for close-out deals on patio furniture, many union members will gather for picnics, bar-be-ques and rallies in support of worker solidarity. I for one, am glad to see unions still alive, evolving and innovating. In the world of mega-mega-corporations and money-viewed-as-free-speech the right to band together and demand fairness has never been more important.
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Powerful to see climate change focus during opening ceremony of Olympic games in Rio. This Grist article describes it and offers a clip. Having several times been in Rio and other parts of Brazil working on sustainability issues I know the country has its own sustainability and climate w
ork to do. However, making the decision to include this very clear and direct piece on climate change in the ceremonies was a great way to harness the visibility of the games to raise awareness and catalyze action.
For some reason this has me thinking of that wonderful scene in Lord of the Rings, Two Towers:
Frodo says, “I can’t do this, Sam.”
Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it will shine out all the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something.”
Frodo: “What are we holding onto, Sam?”
Sam: “That there’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
This magnificent planet is indeed worth fighting for! Glad to see some of the Games harnessed on her behalf. Every step toward the Common Good matters.
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The Buy Local movement has a fair bit of traction and I certainly support it, but if your intention is to reduce your environmental footprint then an even bigger step is to Buy Used. Yep, good old second hand and thrift stores are one of the biggest environment protections ever created!
The single biggest source of damage to the Earth comes from how humans produce and consume stuff. In our hugely consumer-oriented, stuff-filled society it is easy to forget that every single thing we eat, wear, put on our skin, drive in and put into the thing we drive at some point has been extracted from the Earth. And, the waste by-products from all of those things will be put back into the Earth.
Clothing is a huge example. Through some recent consulting work I’ve been providing I learned that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry. I was shocked until I really thought about all the resources required to grow the cotton and other materials, processing, dyeing, shipping and transporting involved. Not only do we now have 7 billion of us humans to clothe, but many of us in wealthier parts of the world have more clothes and shoes than we could wear in a year if we wore something different every single day! I was even more shocked to learn that the reach of textile and apparel is so big in fact that globally, by some estimates, 1 in 6 trackable jobs are in that industry!
The other day I was greatly in need of some new workout shorts and tank tops (seriously, my brother recently bought me a new pair of shorts and pulled out my old ratty, tattered pair and wrote a note that said, “Please replace these with these!” with arrows pointing from my old rags to the new shorts!).
Truth is I’d been looking for new workout stuff, but I am really particular about my shorts. I don’t like anything to tight or too poofy. I like the sort of boarder-style not at all tight around the waste shorts. They are hard to find. Moreover, it just doesn’t sit with me to spend $25 on a slip of cloth called a tank top that I am merely going to sweat in several times a week.
I regularly drop off things that I am no longer using at the local Goodwill. This time I thought, “why not go in and look for workout stuff?” Pay dirt! Two shorts, 4 tank tops for $40.
The ultimate recycling is reusing – it’s just less stuff that has to be pulled from the Earth to consume. On top of that, the proceeds that Goodwill brings in are used to deliver job training and employment to people with disabilities. In a sense they recycle stuff to help people recycle challenges into new opportunities.
Other thrift stores support the Humane Society and various similar good causes.
I know in our society, where so much of our own sense of “value” is based on our wealth and the stuff we have, it’s easy to feel a bit embarrassed going into second hand stores. But when I feel that pressure I ask myself, how could it be embarrassing to support people with disabilities or abandoned animals and other good causes? What’s wrong with being frugal? Why would any of us be ashamed to make consumer choices that avoid trashing our planet? These are times when I am grateful for my very modest upbringing in which my mom showed me how to make the most of a thrift store!
I always love that spending money in these establishments means I not only spend a whole lot less money but the money I do spend is directly helping my fellow beings, all the while reducing my footprint on the planet. It’s a little retail therapy without any guilt!
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Wednesday marked the three-year anniversary of the worst Canadian rail accident since 1864. It was an oil train explosion. A 74-car oil train carrying 30,000 gallons of crude oil rolled into the quiet town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, ran off the rails and blew up, killing 47 people.
On May 31st I posted a piece in Huffington Post about how it was a matter of time before we had an oil train disaster on our iconic rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Three days later it happened in a spectacular fireball in Mosier Oregon on the Columbia River. Local officials have said the town dodged a bullet in that the explosion missed downtown and most of the spilled oil missed the river.
Studies report a 5000-percent increase in oil by rail in North America since 2008. With this rapid increase in traffic has come an enormous uptick in derailments, spills and explosions. Recent studies show approximately 25 million Americans live within the blast zone of oil train routes.
Despite the push for expansion by oil companies and the challenges for local and state governments to force regulations on the wildly powerful railway industry, resistance to oil trains is growing fast.
This week dozens of protest are taking place in cities across North America as demonstrators take aim at stopping crude oil trains. Many of these actions can be seen at the tag #StopOilTrains. In honor of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy on Wednesday, environmental and climate activists delivered a letter addressed to President Barack Obama demanding companies stop transporting crude oil by train, signed by 144 emergency responders, officials, and public interest groups.
One of the most promising elements of the resistance movement is that of Indigenous Peoples exercising their sovereign nations status and treaty rights to stop fossil fuel extraction and transport projects. All across North America and South America, Indigenous Tribes are pushing back against big oil rampaging across tribal lands.
In 2015, the Lax Kw’alaam First Nation in British Columbia turned down a Malaysian energy company’s offer of nearly $260,000 for each tribal member as compensation for building a natural gas export terminal on ancestral lands. The Lax Kw’alaam said no to the $1 billion+ offer by unanimous community vote due primarily to the risk to local salmon habitat.
The Yakama, Warm Springs, Nez Perce Tribes and Umatilla Tribes were critical in blocking a coal export facility in eastern Oregon.
The 57 nations that make up the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians have stated their official opposition to all proposals for the transport and export of fossil fuels export in the Northwest.
I believe the expansion of the use of Indigenous Peoples’ treaty rights to stop fossil fuel projects could be one of the most important developments in the history of the movement to address global change and evolve beyond fossil fuels. I will covering it much more in the months to come.
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This August I’ll be speaking at the national Take Back Your Time conference. The conference will address how our choices in how we spend our time effects
our wellbeing, our families and even the health of our environment.
One of the many points of change and growth for me this past year and a half has been how I treat my relationship with time.
I’ve had a lifelong struggle to be a human being instead of a human doing. I have based so much of my identity, my goals and my time prioritization on being productive and delivering in my professional endeavors. Certainly this has been a result of personality, ego and conditioning. However, I think it’s also because, as a lifelong and very passionate environmentalist, I feel such urgency to make a difference, to reverse the tremendous damage we are inflicting on this miraculous blue planet. I never felt like any of my efforts were enough or fast enough to match the urgency so I’d push even harder.
But when my life blew up under the media-driven public shaming my work came to a screeching halt. At first, I railed and thrashed and tried to force my work forward despite the trauma and turmoil but it didn’t work. I finally had to give in and realize that it was going to be some time before my life and my work would resume some sense of normalcy. For the first time, reluctantly and resentfully, I really slowed down. And Holy Smokes, I liked it! I was shocked to realize how hard I had been working and pushing for so long.
During these past eighteen months I have spent hours meditating … unhurriedly. I’ve studied spirituality and consciousness, and made space for lengthy conversations about those topics instead of the “work” that I had been so focused on. I’ve read novels and watched movies. I’ve volunteered building fences for dogs living on chains and rehabbing injured wildlife. I’ve taken time to really be present with, talk and interact with strangers.
Now, my work is moving again and I am super grateful for that! And life is more normal despite the occasional, ongoing media hits. I’m rolling along again.
And yet, I’m not rolling so fast. I’m not working as long or as “hard” as I did before. I’m not allowing my meditation time to be the first thing to go when I feel the pressure of a deadline. I’m committed to maintaining this new, gentler, more open relationship with time.
I now really get it that I can’t do my best work for this Earth just by doing more work. To be most effective in my work to protect Earth’s environment I have to continue to prioritize my own inner environment. For that, and for these new, saner rhythms I am actually grateful for the recent challenges that presented the greatly unasked for gift of forcing me to slow down.
At the upcoming conference I’ll be delivering a plenary about how my “fall from grace” brought me to this more graceful relationship with time. I’m a little nervous about sharing this story publically, and a little nervous that I’ll get emotional while doing so. But I am also really looking forward to putting it out there and hearing from others who are also working on investing instead of just spending their time.
I’ll also be participating on a panel addressing the need to move to a more sustainable way of measuring economic success including valuing the economic contribution of volunteer time, stay at home mothers and caregivers.
A lot has been written about Donald Trump’s appeal to the Angry White Man (AWM) voting bloc. The term was popularized in the early 1990s as wh
ite men coalesced politically in reaction to the perceived injustice of increasing numbers of minorities taking jobs traditionally held by whites. According to Wikipedia the AWM is, “a derogatory reference to a whitemale holding what is viewed as a typically conservative viewpoint, especially in the context of U.S. politics, characterized by opposition to feminism, racial quotas, political correctness, positive discrimination and other liberal policies.”
It is now well documented that Trump’s supporters come primarily from just one major social demographic comprised of male Republican voters who didn’t go to college, in other words AWM. Analysts repeatedly explain that AWM don’t like political correctness. For example they like Trump because he talks about getting rid of illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country.
Well here’s a bit of political incorrectness. These people like a white bully because they have received the most benefit from a country that was founded by and for white bullies. White explorers and settlers bullied their way across the continent stealing from, raping and massacring the Native Americans. Then privileged white men stole black people from Africa and property-owning white men drafted a constitution that called black slaves only three-fifths human beings. Notice I said men drafted that constitution? That’s because women weren’t considered fit to vote. Are there any more egregious forms of bullying than genocide, mass slavery and relegating half of even one’s own race to the status of servant and broodmare?
Despite the notion that the American Dream means anybody in America can work hard and climb the ladder of opportunity, this has never been as true for women and people of color as it has for white men. But more recently, uber-wealthy white men have manipulated politics and financial systems to create an economy that bullies just about everyone else. I believe this is at the heart of the angst of the working class AWM and they have no idea what to do about it.
One thing I’ve noticed in speaking with Trump supporters is a prevalent longing for the return of American exceptionalism. They love Trump telling them he’s going to, “Make America great again!” They seem not to mind that he offers no concrete policy platforms, flip-flops like a fish on dry asphalt and seems to have learned about foreign relations at the International House of Pancakes. It’s enough to hear he’s going to build a wall, deport Mexicans and ban Muslims.
While this emotional, seemingly uninformed response might frustrate people on the other end of the political spectrum, it’s worth considering that, despite a backdrop of white privilege and perhaps a dangerous response to their current sense of insecurity, AWM do have a legitimate reason to be angry. The majority of them are living paycheck to paycheck and could lose their jobs at any time. According to David Frum, of The Atlantic, half of Trump’s GOP supporters received no formal education beyond high school, many not even earning a high-school diploma. Less than twenty percent have college degrees. Thirty-eight percent earned less than $50,000 per year and only eleven percent earned more than $100,000. Many analysts point out that these people represent the eroding American middle class. Robert Reich has titled them the “Anxious Class.” They’re angry and worried. A whole lot of women and people of color have been living with those fears and stresses for a few decades and it ain’t fun. It’s not just AWM who feel insecure about finances, the direction of our nation and future prospects for our children. Very legitimately, AWM sense that the country is not getting better for them. Reasonably, they want things to go back to the way they were.
But there is no going back. America earned a type of greatness by bullying. We grew vast and wealthy on the devastated lives of conquered and enslaved peoples but tragic opportunities like those are gone. And there is no turning back the demographic trends either. In just a few decades America will have more black and brown faces than white ones. The only real question is how can we find a healthier pathway forward?
In the early 1900’s the word bully meant wonderful, fine or splendid, like a bully lad. At that time President Theodore Roosevelt coined the term “bully pulpit” by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda. Since then the term bully pulpit has been defined as a high-profile position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.
In the current political cycle Senator Bernie Sanders came closest to addressing the really important issues we must face to move forward as a nation. He too fired up voter blocs, mostly of young people and older progressive activists who wanted something other than status quo democratic party politics. His campaign made an important contribution to what was otherwise an appallingly ugly, mean-spirited political discourse devoid of any substantive discussion or coverage of important issues. He made great use of the “bully pulpit.”
Meanwhile, a privileged from birth, billionaire AWM blustered and berated his way to the top of the Republican ticket for President of the United States. In so doing he gave bully pulpit a whole new and sad definition.
America will not be great because a bully says he’s going to make us so. We will never be as great as we can be if we continue to foment racism and tolerate sexism. But, just as importantly, we will not be exceptionally great if AWM continue to feel erosion in their ability to take care of themselves and their families. They are right that our country is not on a healthy trajectory – it’s not on the right track for any of us.
We are at a serious point in the evolution of the American experiment. We have some challenging decisions to make.
And if you’re thinking about just throwing up your hands and checking out, remember the warning from Plato, “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
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Today is World Oceans Day, a UN event designed to raise awareness about the world’s oceans and seas. This has me thinking of a recent experience.
Just a few days ago I had dinner with several old friends. One of them considers Oregon her home even though she is currently living in the Midwest due to family issues.
She had been so excited to return to Oregon for a couple of weeks and made a point to get out to the ocean with her two young children. One of their favorite things is exploring tide pools, especially spotting the colorful starfish.
During dinner she told us with tremendous disappointment that she and her children hadn’t been able to find a single starfish. They had looked in multiple places and even gone out at different tide levels to try to find the colorful creatures. No luck.
I and another friend who is also an environmentalist explained that that was because the starfishes had been wiped out by a wasting disease. They develop sores and then just disintegrate into a pile us mush. Scientists know the culprit is a densovirus. However, the virus has been around for decades and the question is why it has suddenly exploded into the largest marine disease outbreak ever recorded? Scientists suspect that warmer waters due to climate change and ocean acidification are likely behind the epidemic.
A relatively small group of us have been trying to raise awareness about ocean acidification for several years now. The oceans are acidifying due to the massive amounts of carbon they have soaked up since the industrial revolution. Yet another reason to aggressively move beyond fossil fuels.
My starfish-loving friend was shocked. She is a smart, highly-educated person who loves the ocean and the coast but she hadn’t heard anything at all about the die-off of starfish.
As a lifelong environmentalist I found the exchange sad and all too familiar. Because we are all so busy and environmental issues rarely rise above the din of media coverage about celebrities, shootings and political campaigns, even highly concerned and educated people rarely realize how much we are losing until it hits them personally.
My friend’s sadness about the loss of starfish is a poignant example of how we often take Nature for granted until a piece of her goes missing. Our oceans are facing a tremendous juggernaut of cumulative pressures including, overfishing, global warming and acidification, tremendous amounts of plastic trash throughout the marine food web and even massive noise pollution. There are ways to address each of these pressures if we, as a species choose to do so.
Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet. As oceans go, so go we.