Tag Archives: environment

Earth Day 2016: United By the Soil Beneath Our Feet

22 Apr

globalsoilweekToday is Earth Day, celebrated by nearly 200 nations and an important chance to look at the world we share and celebrate better ways to live in healthy cooperation. This isn’t just a day about recycling or public transportation — although every effort to improve our world helps. It’s a time to reflect on the fact that the billions of people who live on this planet fundamentally walk the same ground, breathe the same air, drink the same water. We are all connected.

I would like to thank Melody Travers of the Global Soil Forum for bringing a powerful program to my attention. Global Soil Week, timed to coincide with Earth Day and Earth Week activities around the world. This program, sponsored by IASS Potsdam and an impressive array of international organizations, speaks to my heart. Their work is about ensuring healthy soil, a key component of healthy living that is often overlooked. As Ms. Travers observes:

Our soils which are our communal life-support system, a common good for humanity, are under immense pressure to produce an increasing amount of food, energy, and raw materials. Soil degradation continues unabated in many countries, resulting in devastating losses of biodiversity and threatening the provision of ecosystem services such as soil fertility for food production, groundwater recharge or carbon sequestration. Thus we need to protect the living soil from rapid and continuous large scale degradation going on all over the world.

This year, Global Soil Week is promoting its efforts through the international  release of the song Golden Grounds. Please visit the website and listen to this anthem of interconnectedness. Spend some time looking at the amazing information collected by this important program. I am thrilled to see the celebration of inclusive development, the focus on poverty and hunger, the acknowledgment of maldistribution of resources, including the very land on which we live.

We are all connected on this weary world. Let’s work together to nurture it and each other on our respective journeys.

Happy Birthday, Sigourney Weaver

8 Oct

Happy Birthday, to Sigourney Weaver.  She is not just a brilliant actor, but she is a wonderful social justice activist as well.  While I love most of her work, I have to confess that one of my favorite movies she starred in was A Map of the World, also one of my favorite books. She’s run the gamut, from tough-as-nails woman in space in the Alien franchise ot the delightfully unlikable boss in Working Girl, from the tragic housewife in The Ice Storm to the washed-up action heroine in Galaxy Quest. She made history for her acting in 1988: she was the first person to win two acting Golden Globes in one year (Working Girl and Gorillas In the Mist). She also became the first actor to be nominated for lead and supporiting Oscars in the same year to win neither.

Weaver has built on her work in fiction to improve reality. After her role as Dian Fossey in Gorillas In the Mist she became a champion of Fossey’s work and is the honorary chair of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. She has expanded her animal rights and environmental work, speaking before the United Nations on the threats to ocean habitats posed by aggressive fishing practices. She is also a sponsor of Trickle Up, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled. It’s wonderful to see someone using their talent and fame to make the world a better place.

As an added bonus, Weaver is a woman of 63 who is proud to wear her years. She is famously opposed to plastic surgery and other cosmetic treatments, having observed:

Actors’ faces have to move. I do think life should put lines on your face, or you’re not getting out enough.

In an age of artificial beauty and youth-obsessed culture, that healthy attitude is very welcome indeed. I find her even more beautiful today than ever!

I also want to congratulate Sally Field for being honored by the Human Rights Campaign for being such a strong ally to the LGBTQ community and supporting her openly gay son.

I also want to acknowledge one of my favorite writers.  On October 8, 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beloved is one of the best books I have ever read.  Morrison is a National Treasure.

Hero of the Week Award: August 10, Rep. Nanci Pelosi

10 Aug

Hero of the Week

It’s a real pleasure to celebrate this week’s Hero, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA). Always outspoken and clearly interested in making America work for all its citizens, she’s been boldly visible this week on many fronts. Demonstrating clear reasoning, she supported Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent remarks about Mitt Romney’s refusal to share his tax returns. She delivered a brief, precise analysis of Reid’s statement that one of Romney’s former Bain colleagues claimed the GOP hopeful paid no taxes for at least a portion of the past ten years:

[That statement] is a fact. Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.

Equally and delightfully accurate and succinct, Pelosi has also weighed in on the disastrous House Republican tax plan:

I don’t know what’s trickling down but it hasn’t been pleasant.

She also skewered the Republican budget plan, noting that the massive reduction in health and environmental regulations required by their slashing effectively makes the bill’s supporters “The E. Coli club.”

Topping it all off, she took the Dept. of Homeland Security to task, noting that recent statements in support of bi-national same-sex married couples are still just lip service which has lasted more than a year.

It’s a welcome development that a DHS spokesperson is explicitly and publicly acknowledging that DHS’s consideration of family ties includes same-sex couples and spouses. We look forward to the written guidance that we expect would be a logical next step.

Demonstrating courage and real leadership, Rep. Pelosi reminds us why she was one of our nation’s best Speakers of the House and shows a clear contrast to the cowardice and fringe-pleasing orange abomination who currently wields that gavel.

Women’s History Month 2012: Carole King

16 Mar

Today we honor and celebrate one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in the rock era, she is also an accomplished singer and a significant chart success on both fronts. Born Carol Klein in 1942, she co-wrote her first #1 hit, Will You Love Me Tomorrow? with soon-to-be-husband Gerry Goffin at the age of 18. That song has been covered by dozens of artists since the Shirelles took it to the top (the first “girl group” #1) and has had six Hot 100 versions. King is the most successful female songwriter on the Hot 100; with nearly 120 hits she is the 10th most successful songwriter overall. Her compositions have been successful on the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts as well. King has notched an impressive 16 #1s on the three charts as a writer; she is the only songwriter to have two hits top the Hot 100 by two different artists (The Loco-Motion by Little Eva (her former babysitter!) and Grand Funk and Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence and Donny Osmond). Including all three charts, she has logged 60 Top 10 hits and 161 Top 40s.

After divorcing Goffin, King launched a career as a solo writer and singer. Her second album, Tapestry, is one of the most successful albums of all time, and one of my personal all time favorite albums! It was #1 for 15 straight weeks, a record for a female solo artist; until just this year, when Adele’s 21 popped in and out of the top for a total of 22 weeks, it was the overall champ in that category. Tapestry also stayed on the charts for 302 weeks, also a record for a solo female act, and spent 296 further weeks on the Classic Albums chart. It set the standard for the singer-songwriter genre of the 1970s and remains a powerful example of pop craftsmanship. It also included her only #1 as a singer, It’s Too Late.   Of course, another of my favorite Carole King songs is Natural Woman, made famous by legendary Aretha Franklin. In the decade following Tapestry, she logged another dozen hits as a singer, three of which went Top 10. She also charted another eighteen albums up to 2010, two more #1s and four more Top 10; King is one of the 100 most successful artists on the Billboard Album chart and one of the top 10 female solo artists.  Despite her success as a recording artist, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has set her aside like so many women who rock, inducting her only as half an award with ex-husband Gerry Goffin.

Carole King has used her fame and wealth to make the world a better place for everyone as well. She is very active in a number of environmental causes and has testified before Congress on these issues. Her personal website includes an “ideas” page that has links to numerous environmental and humanitarian causes. Her goal as she simply and elegantly states, is to achieve a state of humanity which is exemplified by human beings treating all beings compassionately–nice plug for social justice!

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