Friday, December 5, 2014

Sweet Honey in the Rock - The Women Gather

Sweet Honey in the Rock The Women Gather

I Can't Breathe

Laying on the ground last night, I looked up at the star above Macy’s, a replica of the invisible. We could see no stars except that one above us in the Seattle sky.

Tears streamed onto the wet asphalt, as we lay in the intersection, chanting I can’t breathe, until we stopped.
I write about intersections. Laying face up with a hundred or so people at the intersection of 4th and Pine, I felt a crushing, I felt it again, but it was not in my chest, though I thought, about Eric Garner’s last moments, imagined others, the crushing was in my heart/mind. Is that the same as spirit? I can’t breathe. Saying those words over and over again, imagining, knowing it did not matter…does not matter to the system that crushes us was not a new feeling. It was the feeling I had last week…even before Ferguson. I had it when I read about a “victory” for the Environmental Justice movement.

The image of the Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA triggered a despair that I have not been able to overcome. It took me back to Sunday visits to my Aunt D.’s house across the street from the Arco refinery in Philadelphia. The image clutched my chest and my childhood in its’ acrid grimy fist and my tears and sobbing began before I could suck it back in and make it stop. I had to make it stop. I was on deadline. I was writing something that I thought would “save the world.” I am a child of the generation that was taught we could do that. It was not a grand idea. It was possible. I was raised to believe it was possible. So, I have worked for it these days of my life. But, in the moment that I saw that photo, it stopped being possible. My mind/spirit was crushed like a windpipe. I thought of my cousin who has 4th stage cancer , her sister who died of lung cancer just two years ago, before she turned 50, their brother who died with his head in refrigerator trying to get a cool breath because he could not afford a new asthma inhaler,  their father, Cherokee, who died of heart disease which is related to the air we breathe.

It was the “victory” that accompanied the image that devastated my belief in “saving the world.” Money was the victory. A portion of the money collected from the polluter. Although it was acknowledged to be “woefully” little, it was a victory. Can money bring back the dead? Can it dry the tears of my 92 year old aunt or her 94 year old sister who watched her children die when they were in their 30’s and 40’s?

Violence has more than one fist. Brutality is cumulative. I know everyday that my life is shortened by the pain I feel because of racism. They call it stress. They can measure it as stress. Quantify the result of too much cortisol. The constant fight or flight, we live with. HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT.  On a cold day, keep your hands out of your pockets.

I can’t breathe. I surface like the Orcas, trying to get a breath. Like my cousin, trying to get a breath. I can’t breathe, my spirit is suffocating. A pregnant Orca from the endangered Southern Resident pod was found dead. Only 77 non-human beings on the endangered species list of these Southern “Killer” Whales.

I see the connection. We are dying in plain sight. We are being killed by corruption. We know our lives matter. We have families. They are threatened by extinction. I can’t breathe. I ask R U An Endangered Species?™ Find Out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Desegregating Wilderness | Orion Magazine

Desegregating Wilderness | Orion Magazine

Take a look at the September/October issue of Orion for meditations on wilderness. I want to know your thoughts. I grew up in Philly, which is far from being a wilderness. However, what has really stood out to me lately is that there were an abundance of deer there. In fact, the Wissahickon Drive could be dangerous during certain seasons...just like the countryside. In Seattle, the space is dissected, broken...even though there is a lot of green. Curious. I never see ANY wildlife along Lake Washington Blvd. , even at night. I think it may be the lack of corridors for wildlife. Something to study and question in our land management practices.

What if a healthy habitat was indicated by the presence of wildlife AND! reduced asthma, less ADD, etc. Hmm. That gives me an idea. I'll be back with a campaign for you to join shortly!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wilderness Trip Leader/Activist/Artists Sought

SEATTLE BASED Wilderness Trip Co-leader August 25- September 10
Teaching Artists who enjoy the outdoors encouraged to apply

Urban Wilderness Works  to restore our communities, cultural and environment by creating access to service-learning projects rooted in social change.
Create a safe,fun, memorable, team experience for urban youth experiencing the great outdoors for the first time! We serve youth of African, Asian, Latino and Native descent who have decided to earn credit for school by building trails on public lands. 
Immediate opening for summer wilderness trip co-leader with a current WFR or WFA certification. You must be available August 17-19 for staff training and August 20 & 21 for pre-trip orientation with youth and August 25- September 10 for the backcountry overnight trip. September 11, we will de-issue the gear. Wilderness Works™, a program of the Urban Wilderness Works, offers 6 youth, ages 18-24 an opportunity to earn service-learning hours and a $250 education award upon completion.

As an adult trip co-leader you are responsible for: Daily planning and logistics while on course; risk management; youth development; working with land management agencies and partners to meet trail building and environmental restoration standards; youth supervision; sharing in daily camp duties, included but not limited to, cooking, camp clean-up, gathering water. Participate actively in risk assessment, recreational planning, gear and safety protocols. Creating a fun, memorable, team experience to help youth develop leadership and work skills through experiential learning and arts reflection!

Course description(s):

17-day course
Mandatory pre-trip days August 17-19 staff training and August 20 & 21 youth orientation. Trip dates August 25-September 10. Post trip day, September 11.  North Cascades National Park, WA on Ross Lake. 10 days of trail building projects led by National Parks staff. We pack all gear with students the day before the trip. The program includes the arts and will encourage youth to engage their creativity through writing, drawing, spoken word, and journaling.

  • Must be available to be away for the duration of the trip. August 17-19 is staff training and orientation. Expect long days including early morning travel to hikes.
  • Personal experience or professional experience, hiking, backpacking, and camping.
  • Experience working with youth from diverse backgrounds
  • A demonstrated interest/experience with social and environmental justice concerns.
  • A demonstrated interest/experience in using arts for reflection or a willingness to learn and lead arts activities.
  • Demonstrated interest/experience in one or more of the following: outdoor living, hiking, camping, and backpacking.
  • Outdoor work experience such as trail maintenance, restoration work, landscaping or other.
  • Must pass criminal background check and complete medical exam.
  • Certifications: Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid.
  • Compensation: $1,700- $2,100 DOE (food and tent lodging included) and staff training.
 TO APPLY: Send resume and cover letter to
Immediate opening. Position open until filled. LGBTQ and people of color encouraged to apply.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Homophobia’s Hidden Carbon Count | Orion Magazine

Homophobia’s Hidden Carbon Count | Orion Magazine

So, this is the thing--my story, told above is just one of hundreds. Do the math on all the reasons that women don't take the bus at night and add that to the need to put one aspect of your physical safety above another. The pollution that is created by driving instead of using the bus ends up disproportionately impacting me and other women, low-income folks and kids living near raods.

The carbon count is part of the web. The one most visible.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

EPA Study Shows Poverty Is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease | Environmental Justice

EPA Study Shows Poverty Is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease | Environmental Justice

So, this is not new news but it does add to what I think is important.  We use the term "at risk"  when talking about endangered species of other living creatures. They are "at risk" of extinction. That is what ESA is intended to keep from happening. As you know,  my question is " R U Endangered?" What I mean by that is what this article highlights. If you are from a group of people that is an "at risk" group for premature death linked to environmental hazards then why shouldn't you be protected as an endangered person?

Join me at the Panama Hotel Tea House in Seattle for a community conversation. Share your ideas. MONDAY, APRIL 21 @ 6:30 pm

607 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain | The Nation

Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain | The Nation

Environmental Protections exist for Endangered Species when they are on the brink of extinction. What will we do to protect our habitat ( water, food and shelter) before individuals, their families and their neighborhoods are on the brink of irreversible catastrophe?

It is is important to find out what puts you and the people like you at risk and then organize and demand policy and practice changes to protect you and the other humans you love, know and don't know.