Tara's Thoughts

This post from Literary Hub should be of interest to any author, for that matter any artist of any kind, who wants to fight back against the current attempts to ban books in the US. The Author’s Guild has created a toolkit to simplify the process of speaking out against this attempt to quash self-expression and rewrite history.

We have to be on the alert because, if the attempt is successful, they won’t stop with books.

Read the post here: Want to stop Book Bans?

Written by Tara Sitser

(c) Feb 2022

There is, in WordPress Land, a marvelous source of inspiration for writers, authors and poets. Her name is D. Wallace Peach. I offer this entry into her fantastically wonderful stories and to the opportunities she creates for the community of writers who connect with her through her blog called Myths of the Mirror.

To move us forward into the New Year she presents this challenge:

Write a story or poem about your TBR pile.

This is familiar territory for book lovers: TBR = “To Be Read”. The books that sit on your shelf waiting for you to get around to reading them. I have many such stacks and collections. So, even though I have never attempted a writing challenge, I felt compelled to jump in and add my voice. Thank you, Ms. Peach for providing the diving board!

A Reader’s Dilemma (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Books in baskets, Books on shelves, Books in stacks of tens and twelves

Books piled high in every room. Books that shimmer in the gloom

Enticing me with cover art just begging me to make a start

Books around me everywhere! Books are waiting here and there

Books of interest, Books of stories, Books of many categories

Offering a chance to learn. A chance, I fear, I’ll have to spurn

Books recalling ancient times. Books of prose and books of rhymes

Books I’ve owned for many years, highly touted by my peers

Alas, I cannot find the time to launch this effort’s mountainous climb

As I lay me down to sleep this couplet in my brain does creep:

Books behind me, Books ahead.  Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read…….

Books are calling To Be Read………….

The Winter Solstice is sometimes called a Tipping Point. The climb from lengthening nights and shortening days flips into a gradual progression of shorter and shorter nights offering longer and longer days as we go forward.  I see it as a Transition into the journey that becomes the New Year.

Transitions are inevitable. We grow and change. People come into our lives and also leave us. We change our living spaces. We take on new responsibilities and close the door on others. Transitions happen. Often without our permission. Sometimes bringing wonderful surprises. Sometimes bringing pain.

Transitions can be joyous and exciting. But also, uncertain and frightening. Some will cause us to grow in ways we could not have anticipated. Others will feel as if you are swimming across a river and, having finally reached the center, leave us lost in that place where you can no longer see the bank of the river you left behind and have yet to find the new riverbank you are swimming toward.

It’s OK to tread water for a while.

The Winter Solstice gives us the space to rest in that uncertainty knowing that the way forward, whatever that is, will always continue. It’s OK to tread water for a while.

This moment in time – the Winter Solstice that has been approaching, that, starting tomorrow, will just as smoothly, move away from us – can be your invitation to acknowledge where you are and to make space to welcome what is waiting for you down the path.  Your destination will reveal itself in time.

Celebrate the uncertainty and know that this, too, is part of that journey.

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

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

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