Tara's Thoughts

In 2009 my husband Art and I were invited to attend the wedding of Aaron & Helen Glass in Dunedin, New Zealand.  Aaron’s parents, John & Judy Glass, have been extended family since I was 18 years old.  So we were honored to be included and made our plans to travel to New Zealand with John and Judy.  After the 14 hour flight from Los Angeles, CA we landed in Auckland.  Our itinerary was designed around a plan to drive through as many cities as we could, spending 2 or 3 days in each, as we traveled to Dunedin to attend the wedding.

It was a spectacular adventure!  Naturally, I took lots of pictures.  We saw many sites, met wonderful people, stayed in wonderful places (including a sheep farm – quite a departure for a city girl from Los Angeles)  and found, what I still believe to this day, is the best cup of hot chocolate I have ever tasted! 

The wedding night was everything you’d want a wedding to be. But one night stands out even more in my memory. Our last night on the Northern Island was spent in Wellington with Gillian Bibby & Roger Wilson, family members of the bride. They welcomed us into their home and shared a meal with us.

Roger, a celebrity of the opera world who has been a soloist with New Zealand’s major opera companies, orchestras and choirs, sang for us and told us of his creation of an album of songs, poems and music composed by his maternal grandfather aboard the ‘Morning’ which sailed to the Antarctic in 1902.   Gillian, a renowned musician and award-winning composer, teacher and lecturer, played some of her original music for us and showed a genuine interest in the local folk/rock band I am a member of in Los Angeles. Upon learning that I had just begun, at this very late stage of my life, to learn to play the piano, she grabbed a copy of a book of piano exercises she had written and gave me that gift with the enthusiasm of a passionate, open heart.

After returning to Los Angeles I was organizing the photos of our trip and, of the many splendid sites we encountered, I stopped at the image of the Bibby/Wilson house in Wellington where I had felt so welcome.

The photo, and the memories that it brought back, inspired me, right at that moment, to write a short essay about the home on the cliff  in Wellington. My story is nothing to speak of from a literary standpoint, but it is a night and a family that stands out as a cherished memory.

Now, 12 years later, in honor of Gillian and Roger’s Anniversary, I share that essay with you with thanks for a heart-warming memory that has lasted all these years.

They live on the edge of a cliff overlooking Wellington harbor.

Green hills reflect back from the still, blue water. The path up to their house is steep, a fifty foot climb up to a set of cement stairs that take you another thirty feet up the side of the hill.

Inside the dark wood house three pairs of rain boots, “Wellies” they call them, sit by a small, carved wooden bench by the front door.  Across the hall Gillian Bibby sits at her grand piano using the songs of native New Zealand birds to compose new music. Roger Wilson, her husband of thirty years putters about in the kitchen preparing lamb stew, kumara and warm, dark rolls for the dinner party that will fill the dining room with warmth and laughter later this evening. His operatic voice sounds clearly as he sings along with the music coming from the CD player – a recording that features his voice telling the tale of family ancestors who crossed the sea by sailing ship a hundred years ago from England looking for the shores of New Zealand.

Gillian is one of New Zealand most well-known composers and Roger one of the country’s most famous opera singers. But their happiest moments are not in the concert hall.  Their spirits soar when their son, Charles, comes home from work and tells them stories about his day teaching Spanish to high school students.

A few minutes away from their portion of the city is a narrow peninsula that winds forty minutes out into the cold water. No fence protects drivers from the edges of the road that lies at sea level.  It is a wild, dangerous, beautiful place that they live in.

And the best moments are all about family.

Written by Tara Sitser

Los Angeles, CA 

2009

The ongoing climate crisis has already impacted our lives in serious ways. Extreme weather events. Earthquakes and tornados in places that have never had them before. Wildfires greater and more frequent than ever that have devasted entire towns. Rising seas levels that threaten coastal communities. And so much more.

Many people all over the world are working to reduce the effects of climate change and save our biosphere. But unless we human beings change the way we perceive our world, and find ways to respect rather than exploit the earth and its many non-human inhabitants we will always be in danger of destroying the very environment that keeps us alive.

This  change in our belief system starts with understanding and accepting the concepts behind the Rights of Nature movement.  It starts with realizing that everything on this planet, the oceans, the forests, the animals, the land itself, has a right to its own existence. Which means the right to be unencumbered by human notions of “ownership” and “property”.  The right to thrive.

On Thursday, November 9, 2021 at 7:00 pm PST the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Climate Reality Project will be hosting a panel of creative artists and activist at the forefront of the Rights of Nature Movement.  Our guests will be two of the producers of the documentary film “The Rights of Nature: A Global Movement” and two of the principal activists who appear in the film. 

You can view the film on YouTube for free whenever you like and then join us on November 9th for our discussion to learn more about the history of the Rights of Nature movement and find out what is being done to make sure your children grow up in a world where there is air to breathe and a chance that your grandchildren will know, first hand, what a tree looks like.

Below, Judy Glass, Chair of the Environmental Justice and Rights of Nature Committee and a Climate Reality Project Leadership Team Member, offers an introduction to the subject of Rights of Nature as a lead in to what we anticipate will be an eye-opening conversation.

To introduce our discussion of Rights of Nature, I’d like to begin with the  highlights of the evolution of the rights of humans—which we know is part of the rights  of nature, though too often not thought of that way.

The evolution of human rights has both a political and an economic dimension, both relevant to thinking about Rights of Nature. To provide context for our program tonight, I want to acknowledge the work of Christopher Stone, recently deceased, who more than 50 years ago authored a pioneering work on Rights of Nature called “Do Trees Have Standing?   Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects”. 

In his introduction, Stone quotes from a 19th C court decision refusing women the right to practice law in Wisconsin.  The court comments that the nature of woman—purity, delicacy, subordination of hard reason to sympathetic feeling—disqualify her for the battle field of forensic strife.  Stone editorializes that the movement to confer new rights  is “bound to sound odd or frightening or laughable…because until the rightless thing receives its rights, we cannot see it as anything but a thing for the use of “us” –those who are holding rights at the time….”

Here are some significant dates in the history of increasing political rights for human beings:

1215:

English Barons forced the king to renounce certain of his rights, particularly habeas corpus

1688-89:

Parliament shares governing rights with the King.  English Bill  of Rights-includes end to cruel punishments

1776:

US born into age of Enlightenment;  Declaration of Independence—all men are equal; have inalienable rights from God;  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

1789:

France – Decl. of the Rights of Man

1791:

US Constitution:  Freedom of speech, religion, assembly; right not to incriminate oneself

19th Century in America:

No property qualification for voting;  Women can enter professions, can divorce; inherit property; Get custody of children

1860s:

Blacks freed from slavery; black men get the vote.  But reconstruction denies to blacks the freedoms promised by the 13,14,15 Amendments

1920:

Women get the vote after 75 years of agitation;  Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s finally delivers, at least on paper, on many promises of the Constitution

21st Century:

Significant Constitutional protection of economic and social rights for LGBTQIA+   individuals & communities

I separated the human struggle for economic rights because here the analogy with the rights of nature movement is so compelling.   The building blocks—the resources– of any economy are land, labor and capital.  From the point of view of the economy, labor is a cost, a commodity.  But labor is human life, and the struggle for economic rights for workers  and consumers is ongoing. The struggle to reduce hours of work or to gain legal rights to organize unions took all of the 19th C and half of the 20th. Reducing child labor, requiring minimum years of schooling, minimum wages, paid vacations,  pensions, social security—none of that happened before the mid 20th century; recognizing health care as a right still is not established in the US, nor are economic protections for LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities  guaranteed in their implementation.   

These are rights of nature, rights of human nature.  All hard fought, over many years.

Similarly to labor,  land was seen as a cost, as commodities, as resources to be used to create wealth. In the late 20th century, though, another quantum leap occurred when  new laws like the Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Act morphed into a discussion with a Rights of Nature emphasis.  Enter Christopher Stone, and nations like Ecuador and New Zealand, and local communities  like Santa Monica, and film makers like our guests tonight whose consciousness mirrors that of indigenous peoples around the world, arguing for giving “standing” to trees, rivers, and other natural entities,  to sue for protection, for life and their right to thrive, their right to be other than resources.

Judy Glass

Chair, Environmental Justice and Rights of Nature Committee

Climate Reality Project Leadership Team Member

San Fernando Valley Chapter

November 2021

Please join us at our November Chapter meeting by registering at bit.ly/SFVCR

And join in wherever you can in establishing and protecting the Rights of Nature so that you don’t have to worry about what you will say when your grandchildren look up at you and ask, “What is a tree?”

Listen, Y’all!  For those of you who live anywhere in or near the West side of The San Fernando Valley in the North end of Los Angeles, California, USA,  there is big news that will change what you know about your neighborhood.

Plans are about to be launched for a major redesign of one of the busiest areas in that region.

34 acres extending from Topanga Canyon Blvd. on the West to Owensmouth Ave. on the East and from Oxnard St. on the South end to Erwin St. on the North will be completely redesigned with a mix of residential and commercial buildings that will change the look and feel of the area.

 Included in the multi-phase plan, projected to be completed in 2033, are:

  • 5.6 acres of public open space
  • A 15,000-seat entertainment center
  • 1400 new rental units
  • 5610 parking spaces
  • 572 hotel rooms
  • 629,000 square feet of office space
  • 244,000 square feet of restaurants and shops

Buildings on the site will range between one and 28 stories tall.

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021 the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Climate Reality Project will host Councilmember Bob Blumenfield (3rd Council District, which spans the northwest portion of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills).

Along with learning more about his position on climate initiatives in Los Angeles,  Councilmember Blumenfield will share with us his thoughts about the Warner Center redevelopment plan.

Projected completion by 2033 is 12 years away, folks.  That means 12 years of construction. Those of you who live or work near the building site may want to be prepared for the impacts this will cause.

Projected completion by 2033 is 12 years away, folks.  That means 12 years of construction. Those of you who live or work near the building site may want to be prepared for the impacts this will cause.

Join us on Zoom, Tuesday night, October 12, 2021, 7:00 pm PST to hear what Councilmember Blumenfield has to say and to add your thoughts and questions.

References

Westfield Mall article May 2019

https://la.curbed.com/2019/5/1/18524405/warner-center-promenade-westfield-mall-redevelopment

Westfield Mall Article Feb 2020

https://la.curbed.com/2020/2/24/21150888/warner-center-promenade-mall-affordable-housing-appeal

Today’s post is a call for each of you to hop over to our fellow blogger Sean P. Carlin’s page and read his latest post about President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan.  Even if politics is not your thing you will find yourself built into this plan. Mr. Carlin explains why we, as a country and as fellow human beings sharing this planet, need to support this plan and why it is critical that we each do what we can to convince our Congress members to get it passed.

“U.S. President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is the politically ambitious, morally imaginative piece of legislation we need to tackle the ever-worsening climate crisis by rebuilding our country and rebooting our economy through grand-scale public-works projects.  Whether we actually get it, however, comes down to how hard we—all American citizens—are willing to fight for its full passage and implementation.”

Sean P. Carlin

So writes Author Sean P. Carlin, Climate Activist and Leadership Member of The Climate Reality Project. The central focus of his blog piece is a credible and clear analysis of current geopolitical, environmental, and economic realities that have brought us face to face with a global crisis that, if left unchecked, will spell the end of life as we know it on this planet. Mr. Carlin properly places this set of interconnecting issues at the top of the list of critical concerns for our civilization.

Politics is in everything. But this is about fighting a global crisis that threatens to make portions of the planet uninhabitable. It is also about raising wages for essential home care workers and creating good jobs for people from disadvantaged communities. It is also about clean water for everybody. And child care programs.  And modernizing public transportation and our power grid. And so much more.

This is not about whose bumper sticker makes you feel better. It is truly about do you want the human race to survive the next 50 years? Do you want your children to have clean air to breathe? Replacing old paradigms about job creation and getting past old, short-sighted attitudes that are literally poisoning our planet and our population will be our only path to survival.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, currently on the floor of Congress, will be crucial to getting America on the right road to building a healthy, sustainable future for you and your family. The depth of the research done by Mr. Carlin as a basis for his conclusions is impressive and his investment of many years learning about these issues from the likes of former Vice President Al Gore and others lends credibility and clarity to his descriptions of the issues at hand.

There is no guarantee that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will pass. So, please, lend your support.

FOR THOSE READERS WHO MIGHT NOT HAVE THE TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE PIECE: PLEASE JUMP TO THE BULLET POINTS TOWARD THE END OF THE BLOG POST.

Mr. Carlin has made the process of making your voice heard super easy.  He has done the work for us providing a handful of ways you can jump right in:  Links to send petitions, content to help you write to your local officials and members of Congress, a pre-written Tweet you can copy and post complete with hash tags and handles, and even simple instructions on how to share the word about this effort with friends and family.

Beautifully summarized by the author, Mr. Carlin says:

“I want nothing more than for you all to share the profound hope I feel for what comes next—for the fairer, more just, more sustainable world we’re about to build.  But hope requires action.  We can’t just trust that this will get done; we have to ensure it does—with the fullest degree of moral imagination possible.  We have to, every single one of us, demand it…. I do believe we will get meaningful climate legislation this year, and that, consequently, President Biden will be able to go to the COP26 conference in Glasgow this autumn in a position of profound moral and geopolitical authority on this matter, but it isn’t going to happen unless every citizen in America plays their part. None of us are singlehandedly responsible for solving the climate crisis, but we all have a moral obligation to contribute what we can to the solution. There’s a path forward on the table. Let’s take it.”

Sean P. Carlin,
Author, Climate Activist,
Leadership Member Climate Reality Project

The San Fernando Valley chapter of the Climate Reality Project is very pleased to host, as our June 2021 Featured Speaker, Dr. Peter Kalmus.

Dr. Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. He uses satellite data and models to study the rapidly changing Earth, focusing on biodiversity forecasting, clouds, and severe weather. He has also spent many years becoming an advocate for a fossil-fuel free society.

Dr. Kalmus’s award-winning book “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution” offers real-life solutions to help you move away from a consumerist lifestyle. 
 

“Changing our lives shifts the culture and creates space for collective action.
Together, let’s explore a more meaningful life–without all the fossil fuel!” — Peter Kalmus

In his book Dr. Kalmus outlines a series of doable steps that anyone can adopt to bring us all closer to a sustainable society.  Join us on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, 7PM PDT,  for a free Zoom gathering where you can ask Dr. Kalmus your questions about sustainable living.

“I know I can change the world, indeed, I am changing the world. What I can’t do is save it. That I have limits is a fact, and I accept it.  I don’t expect my changes to have a big impact. … If what I do has impact, I know this impact arises only from an existing resonance, a resonance that grows through interacting with many other people in turn. We are like water molecules in a wave: we simultaneously transmit the wave and are moved by it. No one molecule causes the wave, but together an enormous number of water molecules carry the wave. It’s all of us together, carried by a resonance, that will affect great change.”  -Peter Kalmus

The scientific community tells us we have already passed the Climate Change tipping point.  It is critical for each of us to travel our own path to that place where, together, we can carry our dream of a healthy society into the wave of the future.

SFV Climate Reality Project Chapter Meeting

Tuesday, June 8, 2021; 7:00 pm PDT

CLICK HERE to REGISTER

Mark your calendar for the next meeting of

Tuesday April 13, 7-8:30 pm


We are honored to create space to hear voices of local International Indigenous Youth Council members. The International Indigenous Youth Council seeks to organize youth through education, spiritual practices and civic engagement to create positive change in our communities.

“Through action and ceremony, the IIYC commits to building a sustainable future for the next seven generations. We look forward to sowing seeds of mutual aid and solidarity.”

Register now at bit.ly/SFVCR

This post is directed to all the writers out there who may have an interest in sharing your vision for a world that has found its way through the Climate Crisis.  AND there is prize money involved here, folks!  Grist is accepting submissions through April 12, 2021  (11:59pm US PST).

What is Grist? Here it is in their own words:

“Our independent, nonprofit newsroom pursues in-depth stories on under-covered topics like clean energysustainable foodlivable citiesenvironmental justice, and a better economy. We elevate solutions, expose inequity, and give our readers the context, knowledge, and tools to make a difference.

Grist was founded in 1999 as one of the nation’s first online-only publications, covering serious topics without taking ourselves too seriously. TIME magazine calls Grist  the Colbert Report of climate change … except with real reporting and analytical journalism.”

And here is their Media byline:

“A non-profit news organization for people who want a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.”

Well said!!   OKAY, so. Here is what Grist is offering via FIX, their Solutions Lab:

“All 12 final stories will be published in a digital collection on Fix’s website, and the authors will be celebrated in a public-facing virtual event.”

Here are the rest of the details and submission guidelines:

“Welcome to Imagine 2200 — a new climate-fiction contest by Fix, Grist’s solutions lab. What we’re seeking: short stories that envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress. What we’re offering: $8,700 in prizes, publication, and a reason to stay hopeful.

The world is crazy right now, and the stakes are high: just, you know, our entire frickin’ future. Our newsfeeds are full of denial, delay, and doom that make us want to scream into our pillows. But that’s just the old story. At Fix, we are telling the new story, of a path to a clean, green, and just future, and the people who are driving it. Our mission is to make the story of a better world so irresistible, you want it right now.

With that goal in mind, we decided to launch our first foray into the world of hopeful, forward-looking fiction — to inspire visions of the future that haven’t even been dreamt up yet, and welcome more voices into the climate conversation. Join this uprising of imagination, and help us turn the page on earth’s next chapter.

Nuts & Bolts

  • Entry is free!
  • The contest is open to writers anywhere in the world.
  • Authors must be 18 years or older at the time of submission.
  • Submissions must be short, fictional stories, between 3,000–5,000 words.
  • No previously published, multiple, or simultaneous submissions accepted.
  • Submissions will only be accepted through Submittable — click the “submit” button at the bottom of this page when you’re ready! If you need accessibility accommodations, please email the team at imaginefiction@grist.org
  • Stories will be judged by a board of literary experts, including authors Adrienne Maree Brown, Morgan Jerkins, and Kiese Laymon.
  • The first-prize story will be awarded $3,000; second prize $2,000; and third prize $1,000. Nine additional finalists will each receive a $300 honorarium.
  • All 12 final stories will be published in a digital collection on Fix’s website, and the authors will be celebrated in a public-facing virtual event.
  • Worldwide copyright and ownership of each story remains with the author.
  • If a story is accepted for publication, Grist retains the first serial rights of the work to publish, produce, reproduce, distribute, and market.
  • All other remaining rights revert to the author upon publication.

Find more information about the contest at Grist.org/fix

And head over to their Submission Portal for complete guidelines: Grist.submittable.com

(When you are ready, click the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the Portal page.)

————————–

Please let me know if you decide to submit your story.  And, by all means, share this opportunity with any other writers you know.

I will end with one more quote from the Grist web site:

“Climate, sustainability, and social justice are the most important stories on the … well, on the planet right now. The stakes are high: just, you know, our entire frickin’ future.”

So write your hearts out and use your vision to inform, educate and enlighten, well, everybody you can so we can create a healthier world that, as they say on the Grist site, doesn’t suck.

Author Bradford R. Kane Supplies The Answer

Pitchfork Populism; the book by author Bradford R. Kane available on Amazon and at pitchforkpopulism.com

In this post I am featuring the work of an author with deep roots in political history, government, and social justice. 

(Full disclosure: Bradford R. Kane is my cousin and I am very proud of him!) 

“Pitchfork Populism; Ten Political Forces That Shaped An Election And Changed America” Prometheus Books; 2019)  connects the dots from where we are now as a country to times, circumstances and players deep within the history of the United States that opened the doors to what we are living through now. Mr. Kane’s book offers a journey through this landscape that reveals the roller coaster of our history and the long tendrils of past events, strategies and divisions of intent that continue to affect our country today.  

This book is a valuable tool for anyone seeking insight and clarity into the political forces that have shaped our country and offers an educated vision of what our future might look like. Kane’s well-crafted writing does a masterful job of explaining the context and history of a potentially confusing and multi-level subject without being dry or professorial. His personal stake in the world of politics and its consequences remains present in his writing giving the reader a human experience and a sense of just how relevant this analysis is to our own lives.

For those wondering whose agenda is being supported here, put your concerns aside. Kane views his subject from a non-partisan standpoint and has, in fact, a long-standing history of encouraging bi-partisan communication. Among many other efforts over a lifetime career in politics and public policy, Mr. Kane is the Founder and Executive Director of The Bi-Partisan Bridge, a resource for information with a mission of encouraging those with differing political views to find common ground.

The Bi-Partisan Bridge

Now, to show you that my admiration for cousin’s work is not just familial affection, here are some of his credentials:

Bradford R. Kane began his career in Congress as legislative counsel to Congresswoman Cardiss Collins (D-IL) and has served as counsel to the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce & Consumer Protection, and as a member of President Clinton’s Task Force on Health Care Reform. Kane has also served the State of California as Deputy Controller, legislator and subsequently, deputy secretary for information technology.  In the global arena, he was CEO of the International Commission on Workforce Development and a strategy council member of the United Nations Global Alliance on ICT & Development (UN GAID). He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis, and his law degree from Hastings College of Law.

As further proof of the heights Kane has reached with this book, there are the  reviews (on the book cover and online at Amazon and Pitchforkpopulism.com) from the likes of William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, Henry Cisneros,  former Secretary of Housing and former Mayor of San Antonio, Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and best-selling author, and Leon Panetta, former White House Chief of Staff, former Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA.

To make this an even easier read, the author has constructed his book so that you can start with any chapter that interests you and jump around as the topics catch your eye. This engaging read left me with an appreciation of Kane’s offering of hope looking forward and his conclusion that we are at our strongest as a society and a country when we work together in unity and mutual respect.

The Journey from 5-year-old Tomboy Ballerina to Climate Activist

Photo by Budgeron Bach on Pexels.com

In each of our lives, some years turn out to be more eventful than others.  Year 5 was a big one for me.

At 5 years old I figured out how to climb up to the top of the 7-foot tall, cinder block wall that stretched around our backyard in Culver City, CA and run along its 4” wide edge. It scared my parents, but I loved running and climbing, and I loved to imagine that I was running through the trees that surrounded our property.

The outstretched branches of beautiful green leaves shaded my path and seemed to extend an invitation to become a partner with nature. That year I also decided to be a ballerina and I saw a circus on TV. Both pivotal moments in the life of a 5-year-old. 

It was an old-fashioned, 3-Ring circus with acrobats and animals and sparkly costumes. The Ringmaster was a tall man wearing a black top hat, knee-high boots, and a red waistcoat with tails and shiny, brass buttons. 

After the first few minutes of enjoying the bright colors and festive atmosphere, I started to focus on the way the animals in the circus were being treated.  The more I watched the sadder I became.  Whips, chairs being pushed into growling faces, all types of animals being made to pose and bow and jump through hoops of fire!  To my 5-year-old mind, this was just unacceptable. It was clear to me that these animals did not belong here. And even though the animals seemed to cooperate I could feel their discomfort.  I just could not understand why anyone would take these beautiful animals out of their natural habitats and force them to perform.

My sadness quickly turned to anger. And it was at that moment that I became an advocate for animal rights and vowed to speak out whenever I witnessed any kind of abuse or neglect of these creatures with whom we share this planet. (Yes, I was a very intense little kid!)

As I grew up, I never lost my passion for animals or my love of the outdoors. In the third grade I beat the entire class in a race across the play yard! Anytime I wasn’t in a schoolroom or a ballet class I would be swimming in the outdoor pool or doing cartwheels on the lawn. 

When I was 12 years old my family moved to an upper, middle-class neighborhood in North Hollywood, California, located in a part of Los Angeles known as the San Fernando Valley.  From my bedroom window,  I could see open, blue sky and parts of the orange groves that blanketed the Valley.  I remember, as I walked to school each morning, being grateful for the sweet citrus smell and the serene skies.

In 1970, at the age of 15, I first became aware of how the environment was changing as I rode my bicycle around the neighborhood.  The growing development of housing tracts and business districts in our area had rapidly increased the number of cars on the road and slowly but surely eliminated the orange groves that had shaded our homes and helped to keep the air clean and breathable.

I remember wondering how the skies had become so brown.  Nobody talked to me about it but the adults knew it was the smog in the atmosphere caused by the use of fossil fuels to run our cars, homes, and businesses.

Smog. What a strange word. What was this thing that was suddenly beginning to impact our daily lives? Here is a definition from ScienceDaily.com:

SMOG:  Fog or haze combined with smoke and other atmospheric pollutants.

Smog is a kind of air pollution, originally named for the mixture of smoke and fog in the air…. Smog results from large amounts of coal burning in an area and is caused by a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide….  said Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke. “If these chemicals are as bad for people as many researchers believe, then commuters should seriously be rethinking their driving habits.”

ScienceDaily.com

We started to hear air quality alerts almost daily on TV. “Restrict outdoor activity. Physical exertion can be dangerous to your health!”  Bad news for an active, athletic teenager.

At 19 years old, as I left college to begin my professional career as a performer in musical theater, my nice, middle-class neighborhood was no longer a place I would have wanted to move into.

As a young adult, it was obvious to me, and to anyone who bothered to look, that changes in the environment were impacting our health and the health of the planet.

Now, as an older adult, I mourn the loss of the calm, year-round, moderate temperatures and clear, blue skies of my childhood. And I live with a growing concern about the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

All of that has turned that intense 5-year-old, animal-loving ballerina into a Climate Activist. 

That cinderblock wall around my family’s backyard has grown in size and now encompasses the entire planet. But the challenge of turning back the clock on climate change is not insurmountable if we act now. There is still room on top of that wall for future tomboy-ballerinas to run among the trees if we are all willing to adjust our daily choices, even just a little.

My first leap into learning about the history, science and possible solutions available to address the challenges of Climate Change happened when I was accepted into Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Training Program.

In July 2020 more than 10,000 people from all over the world chose to participate in the first-ever, Virtual Global Climate Leadership Training program designed and presented by Mr. Gore. I was one of those new trainees who walked willingly into what was sure to be a daunting landscape.

But we persisted allowing ourselves to be pummeled by the frightening reality of the images and statistics being shown to us. We persisted through the evidence being presented to us bringing to full relief the damage done to our environment: the loss of habitat, the melting ice sheets, the rising temperatures, the pollution causing increased illness in both human and wild species.  We persisted through all of that to the discussions of sustainable practices and new energy industries that can help us to build a healthier, safer world for our children if we commit to following through on new ideas, concepts and actions.

We persisted, bringing the number of international climate activists associated with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project to more than 35,000 people.  Local Climate Reality chapters in more than 500 countries are working on multiple public policy and community outreach programs designed to heal our planet and redefine our relationship with the natural world.

And we are not alone in these efforts. There are many other organizations also working to address the challenges we face.  We have scientists, engineers, philosophers, teachers, healthcare professionals, artists, scuba divers, lawyers, photographers, writers, and, yes, one or two billionaires, working together to find answers.

For those of you who remember clear skies, orange groves, and neighborhoods designed to support the people who live in them, rather than the financial expectations of stockholders, it is not too late to join the fight.  Wherever you fall in the cascade of generations currently living on Mother Earth, you can be a part of the solution. Join us!

This week, just in time for your holiday shopping, I offer a book of poetry from Author, Poet, Lyricist, and Artist, Ann Vincent Vila.

“Grieving Healing Accepting: 25 Sympathy Poems of Loss”

Available on Amazon

Ms Vila has written an eloquent book of poems for friends and loved ones suffering loss, a circumstance too many of us have had to live through recently. In place of sympathy cards or flowers, this book is a gift to anyone you know who is experiencing loss. Ms. Vila’s poetry offers the comfort and companionship of knowing you are not alone in your experience of loss or grief. Once read, these poems can be revisited again and again as your journey through grief takes the all-too-common unexpected detours to acceptance.

Available in paperback and Kindle editions, this collection of heartfelt thoughts for “the darker moments” solves the question of what to give to someone you care about that will acknowledge their suffering and offer support when you can’t be there to hold them close.

From the Author:

“It is a book for those suffering around us when we are left speechless and can find no words from our hearts to soothe those grieving souls. An array of work that speaks to the darker moments of life when despair arrives in the wake of loss leading from the darkness of grieving to the healing light of acceptance.”

Ana Vincent Vila, Grieving, Healing, Accepting

Tara Sitser - Leadership Member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project

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