My experience making a video for the 5 Gyres Viking Crew Entry

I entered a contest hosted by The 5 Gyres Institute back at the end of March.  The point of the video was to try to win a 10,000 scholarship to go on an expedition to study plastic pollution on the planet.   I’m not in the running as a top 5 candidate.   I can think of several reasons, one being that I didn’t plan out my video well.  One of the things I keep learning in my business classes at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado is that no one person is expected to produce all aspects of the business by themselves.  The process of thinking should be based upon the early recognition that operating in a business environment is a team aspect.  With my idea to make a video, one of my weaknesses was in developing a team to help me produce a video of quality.  Instead I attempted to learn a self written script, one that kept formulating along the way and memorized it.  I took a selfie video, something I have never really done before, and practiced live with each clip to become comfortable speaking with the camera on.    This wasn’t an easy process, and quite honestly – my final video took over 200 attempts before I made a copy I was content with.

After that, I began to play with YouTube and learned how to add text boxes to the foreground of the video.  This is one of the places I think I made some of my biggest errors.  I used the free version provided by Google, and it didn’t have many options.  I was only able to write in white.  With time I learned how to make sure all my words were in screen, and that the video didn’t look slopply.  Unfortunately, my experience includes one unfortunate aspect.  The video I uploaded to the contest site was, unfortunately, not the final version I had made.  This was a sever dissapointment as anyone could guess.  Fortunately it was also an exercise in learning!  I didn’t make the best movie, but I am proud of the fact I entered the contest.  Plastic pollution is a global concern that continues to show signs of plaguing our planet.

How do I know this?  It’s not from doing a internet search and just finding the scientific journals of most recent data being done at educational institutions around the world.  While some entities, like The  5 Gyres Institute are able to catch the attention of news media during times of tragedy both mechanical and environmental, the most recent of those being MH370 of course.   The advantage, if it can be called such, is that in an attempt to find anything in our oceans, we become aware of the quantity of pollution that has accumulated in our planetary systems.

Here’s a copy of the video I made

Now, I haven’t given up, I am still seeking votes to occur on a daily basis.  Realistically, I would love to round up the 10k and just pay to go on such an amazing expedition.  Maybe next year.

 

Plastic recycling, water conservation and good values, something you don’t see everyday.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like plastic.  I don’t like that in many ways I’m forced to over consume the natural resources of our planet while working to survive our planet. So when I purchase plastics I recycle them, and I do what I can to make up for those that don’t.  At work and school I openly remind people of the importance of conserving and recycling all the materials we use.  Don’t get me wrong, the concept and use of plastics can be a good thing.  Honestly, I prefer plastic that allows me to live a better life, while minimizing overall consumption. This means that I want products made in the USA and they should be made  of recycled plastic.  In addition I want to avoid the sins of green-washing and I want it to minimize my overall carbon footprint.   My three most important pieces of plastic are my water bottle, my coffee cup and my public transportation pass.  Each is reusable, and minimizes my impact on my planet by minimizing the need  for  mining the oil, generated electricity and greenhouse gases and over-consumption of water that is required to generate unnecessary waste materials. In addition my participation in the process helps to establish societal norms like refill stations that are built into water fountains, and coffee shops giving a discount for bringing your own cup.

Tonight, while surfing the web and reading about barges being used to clean up rivers, plastic recycling concepts and solutions, I was watching a rerun of Shark Tank  and it really stirred me, so much you have to learn about this too!!!  I have it brings value and reduces my overall footprint.  I have a plastic  I’m looking for some specific things.  I want the plastics I invest in to represent a benefit to society.  The modern use of plastics, when originally presented to the word were supposed to be a benefit to the planet.  Common ideology in cos  When the company goes the extra mile and finds methods to take existing waste plastic and recycle it, I’m all ears.  When you lay out a simple and logical example of effectively creating long term waste elimination processes while protecting natural resources and reducing the use of  fertilizers I’m excited.  And that’s why I can wholeheartedly get behind a company like Tree T-Pee.

One of the things that makes me feel so good about this guy is how I learned about him.  I was watching a national TV show, and on the show walks in a man, not like the rest.  He cares about doing the right thing, about water and farmers an American business man, trying to do a better job of taking care of those people who lived in the direct 9 acres around him. What he didn’t see, and almost missed out on, was that these people mostly saw his product as a $10 profit. He presented himself in a way that just struck me, its a rare breed of man.  What also makes this so stirring to me is that he really brings value.  The concept of recycled plastic that reduces water consumption and the water cost of feeding society.   Its low tech, but it works.

And here’s how it gets even better – what these ‘businessmen’ missed out on, is that this product concept could be worth BILLIONS.  Something they obviously missed as they were so intent on jacking a product’s profits so they could sell these for a fat cat sack of money.  I am so glad that there are times when the wealthiest of fat cats are blinded by their greed and the needs of the common person, the other 99% if you will, that the miss an obvious window of opportunity to fleece the people of the world.

Most people are unaware that the effective rates for water evaporation from irrigation systems has farmers from all over the United States paying attention.   In recent years farmers in Kansas and Nebraska have begun making agreements limiting their water consumption because the Ogallala Aquifer is becoming dangerously low, especially when the majority of water used in irrigation evaporates or  dissipates as groundwater.  In addition private corporations are continuing to seek ways to purchase your natural resources, and not so they can protect them.  Examples of this can be seen in the drought conditions that occurred in Texas last year, forcing families to be unable to turn on the water faucet to receive potable water, while fracking operations continued to demand – and consume – clean unpolluted water for the sole process of making it unconsumable by humans ever again.

Which brings me back to Tree T-Pee.  Not only is owner, Johnny Georges, an obviously passionate man – he cares about the people who’s lives he is interacting with.  This is a quality not commonly seen in the world of public media, big business and the faceless corporations.  Johnny Georges, was a man who took his passion as his lively hood and stands to make a difference in the lives of humans around the globe.  Water issues are becoming a greater and greater topic of concern in institutions everywhere, just type “Water Crisis” into any search engine and you may be stuck reading articles for weeks to come.  The idea that we can use simple technology to build a long lasting product that provides value for citizens AND incorporates the concepts of “Reduce” and “Reuse” – this product definitely has my stamp of approval.

Update: How could I forget,

How the Philippines disaster from Hurricane Haiyan will highlight problems with material recycling.

Hurricane Haiyan was hitting the interwebs as it’s oceanic pathways and expected approach to land predicted the one of the worst environmental events in modern history.  Now that it has hit and global communications are exposing the real damage of this storm, the world is witnessing one of the worst events in modern history.    According to a blog by Dr. Jeff Masters, this hurricane is  the strongest hurricane to hit land in recorded history and the worst in over 50 years.  In the coming days the news will cover nothing but this hurricane, and the world will unite to support the  100′s of thousands that will have a catastrophic change of life having survived the event.  In reality this support is needed.  The spread of disease due to dead bodies, the need to clean debris, to sort natural resources and waste, to reestablish an infrastructure and provide food sources, machinery, medical care and most importantly consumable water.  Agencies like the Red Cross, who have already sent support teams, are fundraising and the world is looking at this disaster with compassion and heartache.

This is a good thing, for people in our world to tend to the needs of those that don’t have – especially in times of dire troubles.  The sad thing is that as our populations continue to grow, the impact of weather events will continue to worsen.  There are several simple truths to be examined that will help put this into perspective.  First of all, it is proven that people are drawn to live in areas of mild climates, with fresh water and bountiful food sources.  According to a newscast by CNN, Florida is a perfect example of this fact.  Some data from the video – if a storm the size of Hurricane Haiyan hit the state of Florida, over 11 Million people would be displaced due to flooding in a state that produces over 1 billion dollars worth of food each year.

It puts things into an interesting scope for me because I have been on the teeter-toter lately with the feasibility in instilling change in humanity’s capacity to react to the environmental remains of such a tragedy.  News casts are already reporting the ‘need to take care of the living’; which is a true and necessary component of surviving a tragedy.  Having been in and out of New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina I know how slow the recover process is.  The mass scope and level of reclaiming the ability to reuse land effectively continues to be a struggle in Haiti as this Nation still struggles to rebuild amid the lessons of ‘effective humanitarian aid’ do’s and don’ts.  If you are unaware, this blog from Jezebel.com provides some great insight to the real tragedy as Americans have unintentionally polluted and caused more harm in the inability to process excess waste products, primarily due to over consumption, but also out of good will.  It was the Haiti event that most recently pulled so many together, seeing such devastation so close to home.  This is I believe, the biggest event with loss of life in a single day in my lifetime.  I say that very specifically because, with the waste of humanity strewn about everywhere, diseases- especially waterborne, are going to be a prevalent issue of concern in the weeks to come.
In addition, the timeline of cleanup must be prompt and swift.  Our military will be moving in to assist,  and one of the fist and most necessary requirements is that the bodies be removed.  In such a temperate zone, decay is rapid and will cause the spread of human and waste borne diseases rapidly.  To complicate these matters, metal, plastic, wood  debris will be mixed within making these areas necessary for quick remediation or habitats for mosquitoes will quickly increase and the spread of disease like Malaria will spread.  In addition to insects, the debris poses a special problem – a mass amount of it is not made of natural materials.  In this island nation, where will all the garbage go?
My opinion is that many of these masses of materials will end up as ocean pollution.  Besides the masses of material that washed out to sea, much of the material currently clogging streets, all the stuff of society – will be stuffed in a landfill, maybe even have a new one created in the middle of the jungle.  Either way, the one thing that you won’t see happening on a grand scale – recycling.   As we globally prepare to handle circumstances of the environment, humanity needs to find or create greater ways to manage cleaning up the messes we make through consumption.

“It’s been a long semester” or “If I don’t write something soon I may never get back on the horse!”

It happened.  Not only did the 1950′s Adam West Batman Series pop into my head as I wrote the title,  but this blog is happening because I haven’t written a blog in close to two months, and internally I miss it.  The thought popped into my head about a week ago, with 3 midterms to go and no desire to focus on anything, I buckled down on the things that were most important, maintaining my concerns for sustaining my GPA, proving that hard work is worth it, regardless of how weary you get.  So I’ve been plugging away at life, paying 6 professors to dictate my days, and ensure that I processes some of what enters my brain.  And so, after weeks of watching myself put this page on the back burner, I’m getting back on the horse.

What’s happened in two months?  Well, besides taking 6 classes at university this semester, family life, and all the fun of 12-14 hour work days may good things have been happening.

The best of these is that I met Dr. Marcus Erickson of 5 Gyres Institute.  As a person who wants to change the way the consumption impacts pollution, and how plastics are polluting our oceans this meeting was amazing for me.  I have spent much time researching and learning about topics like enhanced manufacturer responsibility and conversion campaigns.  These are exciting topics that I hope people will look into.

But really, if I don’t keep writing – nobody’s going to go looking for anything.  Let this be a lesson, it’s easier to stay on task, with regularly consistency than it is to try and rebuild a habit.

Thanks for coming back to see what I’m doing.

I will write again soon

5 reasons Denver’s proposed plastic bag fee has potential

According to a report on CBS-Denver, “Denver City Councilwoman Deborah Ortega has proposed a five-cent fee for every disposable bag used at grocery and convenience stores in the city limits.”  Under the current proposal 60% of this fee would go to the city while 40% would go to vendors.  The estimates of combined generated revenues according to CBS-Denver is in excess of 6  million of dollars!  While many will consider 2 million dollars in handling fees an excessive cost, and a potential ‘tax on the poor’; I would like to propose that there are at minimum five reasons why ‘Plastic user fees’ are of value.

1.  Plastic pollution is a real and present danger to our environment.  Researchers at the 5 Gyres Institute have found significant evidence that plastic pollution is a global issue polluting the natural homes off both land, sea and air animals around the globe.  In a lab project for 7th to 12th graders indicates that some bird colonies have as much as 80% of their populations that have consumed plastic in their diet.

2. User fees are proven to change consumption patterns. According to an interview by NPR’s Michel Martin, Michael Bolinder of Anacostia Riverkeeper indicates that plastic bag consumption went from over 22 million bags on a monthly basis to about 3 million.  Community governments around the country are seeing the reduction of single use plastic as additional fees encourage citizens to modify consumption patterns and incorporate more conservation minded practices into their daily lives.

3. Single Use plastic bags have low plastic recycling demand.  Consider that while many grocery and chain retail locations provide recycling collection of single use bags, curbside recycling does not.  Because the plastic density and composition of these bags there is little demand for this grade of plastic.  This limited demand means little to no profit margin, and can actually be a financial burden to waste management which is why these plastics are restricted from community recycling programs.

4. Plastic does not decompose.  Instead it behaves like rock in that it breaks down into smaller portions of itself.  Plastic is made through a chemical manufacturing process called polymerization, and is designed to be a lightweight alternative for manufacturing, storage and transportation costs.  Unfortunately, the only way to convert plastic back to natural materials is to reverse manufacture them via a process called depolymerization.  Studies by the 5 Gyres  Institue show how plastics of all sizes are contaminating oceans and beaches around the planet as well as all five great lakes.

5. Plastic is made up of oil, a primary source of single use consumption on the planet.  A report by Friends of the Earth states, “Humans today extract and use around 50% more natural resources than only 30 years ago, at about 60 billion tonnes of raw materials a year”.  This includes increasing levels of oil consumption globally that has pushed for the expansion of environmentally dangerous sources of gas and oil collection like Bitumen Tar Sands and Hydraulic Fracturing.

So while the current proposal before Denver’s City Council may not be the version that gets a final vote, I hope that you will agree that the prospect of such an action is a timely and responsible course in environmental responsibility.  If you are not already in the habit of bringing reusable shopping bags, your family and friends may  thank you, plus think of all the money you will be saving once the fee’s begin!

What is your food policy?

When you go to the grocery store, how much effort to you put into thinking about what the food policy of your household is?   It’s an interesting question that has been pushing me around the web lately.

I grew up in Wisconsin and quite honestly, I remember having a garden all my childhood.  I worked in the gardens, spending summers weeding plants, composting and of course harvesting the ‘vegetables’ of my labor.  I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on a couple – harvesting hay and milking cows were the two things I enjoyed the most.

In addition, my grandparents would often take me out to find asparagus and walnuts.  In the kitchens of family members, and at home, preparing meals with naturally grown foods was a common occurrence.  At the same time, I remember growing up listening to local farm reports and highly respected media personalities talk about Roundup Ready crops.

Through some secondary education and into the career world I didn’t consider my diet much, consuming pizza and mass produced and big farm manufactured foods.  Based on my consistency of food consumption and employment my weight, mental state and overall health has fluctuated greatly.  Over the years I have seen how processed and prepackaged food have enhanced the levels of illnesses in others.   Avoiding soda and high sugar processed items, as well as my personal battle to prevent the purchase of plastics in my daily life has helped me to eat fairly responsibly.  I don’t by any means eat organic and it’s difficult to eat 100% fresh.  Especially on a budget.

Then I learned about Genetically Modified Foods also known as GMO’s.  I learned how, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications,  roughly 90% of core crops: Sugar Beets, Soybeans, Corn and Cotton are grown with gmo seeds.   Modified seeds can’t be that bad, can they?  It’s a question I asked and did lot’s of research on.  Recently I saw a picture, it made things very clear to me, showing how GMO corn is: Corn +DNA from soil bacteria + genes from e.coli plus more bacteria that causes tumors in plants.

So, now I have a food policy.  In every circumstance possible I buy local.  I am trying to avoid shopping for processed foods, go to farmers markets and am doing my best to buy free range animals.  When in doubt, I am using a smartphone app call Buycott.  This app allows me to scan the bar codes of products and it tells me if I am about to purchase an item that is conflict with my core values.   In addition I am watching movies like Food Fight ( you need a HULU account), following entities like The Organic Consumers Association and watching feeds on Facebook from groups in my community like March Against Monsanto- Denver and GMO Free USA the parent group of many GMO free state entities.

All of this takes work, time and effort.  In addition to changing my shopping habits, I’m contributing time in my community focusing on educating others about what I have learned.  In addition I’m pushing for legislation that requires Food Labeling on all things containing any GMO products.

For me, it’s worth the quality of life, and the knowledge that I am not killing myself in the process of enjoying life.  Do you think being educated and making the kind of changes I am is worth it?

 

No really, recycling isn’t good enough – it’s time to recognize the impact of over consumption

Yes that’s right, I said it.  If you recycle your plastic you are doing a good thing, but really it’s not enough to make a difference.  According the the EPA, currently  only 8% of plastic is being recycled.  If your plastic doesn’t have a stamp and a number on it, most waste disposal companies don’t want your plastic.  If it’s got moldy food on it, you probably just tossed that plastic into the garbage can, where it will never change form from the oil it was polymerized out of.  Going out to eat?  Did you notice how many items like straws, ramequins, and lids are made of plastic and get thrown into the waste stream on a regular basis?

No, most people who find this post will be forced to admit it -  American’s as a whole do not appear to be attentive to the levels of consumption they participate in.  It’s a hard truth to face because we Americans have been raised by the corporations around us to consume as much as possible with minimal efforts going toward reducing those numbers. This has been a business model for all of time.  Fortunately American’s only need to go back about 100 years to the creation of the National Forest Service to see examples of why a conservation method of consumption and production is necessary.  Without the efforts of the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir; hundred of ranchers, woodsmen, hunters and loggers would have mass consumed the natural resources of our land.  Instead these resources are still being used generations later – all because a conservation methodology was pressed upon them.

Recently a friend of mine posted a comment that essentially indicated that because she participated in recycling processes, mass consumption of plastic bags was acceptable.  I’m here to argue this as a falsehood.  Besides the fact that most plastics are not recycled; the act of consumption equates to the justification for manufactures to continue taking virgin oil and producing virgin plastic as a sustained and profitable practice.  Unfortunately, this practice is not considered sustainable as oil is available on a limited basis, once we run out, there is no more.  We have but one planet to live on.  Ironically, it’s also the one source for all concepts of life as we know it.  With one planet providing us with a limited stream of resources, the concept of limited consumption should be a no brainer.

Unfortunately for our grandchildren, these concepts were not passed effectively from generation to generation.  Remembering lessons from our past allows us to prepare for our future.  Only we don’t have a past where we polluted our oceans and skies while piling ‘single use’ materials all around ourselves.  In fact, the lessons from the greatest generation – about working hard, achieving, thinking outside of the box, tending to the space you are given, giving more than you were given ( just to name a few); well these lessons are falling by the wayside of I want it now and I shouldn’t have to work at it.  But, the most important of these lessons should really be about supply and demand.

If I don’t use or make purchase of plastic, I’m not generating any demand for the product.  However, when you slow your consumption of plastics, a movement is afoot.  If you and I use less oil, participate in ride sharing, public transportation and planning trips to the store; if we can begin to work with others in our community to change the way we think as a group, then we become more than a movement.  Changing your consumption habits is not going to be an easy thing, but when the day comes when birds on remote islands stop dying from plastic ingestion, the day when all plastic is recycled or depolymerized back into natural or refined chemicals then maybe we will be glad that we took time to appreciate the efforts.  If we don’t make these changes, we can’t teach our children by example.  They follow in our footsteps, replicating the behaviors they see at home.  So instead of participating in destructive behaviors toward our planet, consider the positive impact your hard work will benefit those to come in both indirect and direct ways.  Can you think of three ways which changing your consumption will benefit the planet?

I am grateful for moments when it all comes into line!

“Do we have any cold water bottles?” – The sing song voice of my sister’s question hit me sideways, as the idea of single use plastics makes me cringe.  Then I heard the answer, “No”.  While I’d like to say that my heart was flipping cartwheels, I really was to busy trying to get everything ready to go to the pool to realize the enormity of the situation.   I don’t remember who was speaking at this point, but I do remember the idea behind the words – all my preaching was working it’s way into the practices and habits of my family!

Yes, I’m one of those people who does more than recycle plastic, I refuse it every possible chance!  What does that mean?  It’s simple, I tell people, vendors and corporations that I don’t want their plastic. I do what it takes to avoid new single use plastic in my life, I recycle everything that should be recycled, regardless of what the recycling company requests I limit my items to (in order to assist with their profit model).  I may be considered a radical by many, including my own family, but that’s just how I roll – revolutions don’t occur quietly and change doesn’t happen effectively without leaders giving the example.

By the way, this task isn’t for the meek in heart or spirit.  I mean consider any given day in your world – unless you are out somewhere in the part of the world that resembles the planet pre 1850′s, you have used plastic that has been viewed as ‘Single Use Plastic’.  This could have been in the form of a portable beverage container, drinking straw, a sandwich bag, a plastic grocery sack, and the packaging your food came in – it’s all considered single use plastic by the manufacturer.

Single use – it’s interesting to think about how many things in the world are intended to be single use.  Besides toilet paper and tampons there aren’t many things that I can truly justify as single use, other than Gasoline and other burned fuel sources.  I’m sure the reasons why items aren’t make for single use are obvious, but today I want to focus on just one of them.

We have a limited amount of natural resources.  Yes I said limited.  For every manufactured item, there were a series of process that had to be used to extract and refine the natural elements from our planet.  For every step of that process cost time, energy and financial expense.  This is true for both natural as well as man made products.  A great example of the realities of limited and finite resources can be found in the work of John Muir and Stephen Mather who proved to America’s west that responsible use and conservation efforts are necessary to provide resources and stability for generations to live off the land and enjoy it’s beauty.  These efforts from 100 years ago are what have allowed our great nation to preserve the natural beauty we have today, while having provisioned to provide income not only for past generations, but for those of the foreseeable future as well.

While these examples of conservation show that American’s have the potential to protect and preserve the resources we have, no effort has ever been successful without a battle of some sort.  I have a feeling that these battles will wear many of you down.  I know they do me.  Which is why it’s important to stand back and appreciate every once in a while.  It becomes apparent that while progress may be slow, it happens.    This is the reason I have to step back for a moment and acknowledge this win publicly.   So the next time your friends do something simple like rinsing out a plastic container and putting it the recycling bin, or requesting that no straws be brought to the dinner table when going out to eat, or when family members start bringing grocery bags and stop buying plastic water bottles – remember that these are huge wins in the fight against plastic.

Because we were to tired to go – my thoughts about the Aurora Theater Shootings

It’s been a year now, and lots of things have happened since I first moved to Aurora, Colorado.  The one thing that didn’t happen, we didn’t go to watch the premier of Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises, a movie that I still have yet to see.  I had just moved to Colorado exactly 2 weeks prior and was full of energy and excitement about life.  I had tried to convince my brother-in-law to come out with me, to watch the movie on it’s premier night while my sister stayed home with their son.  What strikes me in looking back was how much naivety I had about children back then.  A two year old takes a lot of energy, energy that diminishes after a long day of work a normal job.  Add  to it the need to keep up with chores, the non stop work of maintaining a living area where a random guest would not believe that toys and laundry are the primary modes of decoration and viola it becomes apparent that the work of parenting in a quality way can really be taxing.  Even with my wild eyed and bounding energy having waited 10 years to get to Colorado, the night had been a rough one and the little guy didn’t go down easy.  By the time it was time to go, we had decided that it had been a long night and there wasn’t value in rushing to get to a movie as we were not only tired but also running behind schedule if we wanted to see all the previews.  We decided to hang out at home, playing a card game in the basement or something of the likes.  The details of the specific range of activities, how we learned of the shooting; well they are part of the haze that happens as people focus on the details of improving the life around them instead of the things that might have been.

We didn’t make it to the movie, and therefore our lives were not catastrophically impacted with the trauma of ‘having been there’.  However, it was a pretty shocking thing, to not go somewhere where there was an effort to massacre a large number of people for reasons not yet understood.  In some ways I miss living in a smaller community where the shootings happen one at a time and usually drugs are involved.  And I’ve been to an event where there was a peaceful gathering and someone was shot. Honestly, these things have helped to strengthen my resolve in continuing down the pathway of my own personal development and resolve to receive and own the vision of potential within myself.

Before the shooting, I was focused on the idea that helping others in a social work method – one or two at a time, or in small community groups – and I’m sure I would have been happy for a while.  But while this would have passed some time, I was still fighting some internal battles if this was the right thing for me to do.  For me, the ‘what could have been’ was an awakening in my mind.  Fortunately I came to Colorado with some tools in my kit that I continue to use.  Prayer and meditation have led me to understand the real calling I have in life, that if we focus on solutions for the greater good for all, a greater impact could be had for the benefit of providing a place for future generations to have a chance to live in health and happiness on Planet A.

So, I wasn’t there.  I have had known a person or two that was, the church that I have attended most since I moved actually had a large group of people in the theater at that time ( almost 50) ; and they also seem to have something extra about them – a drive to be aware about the value of life.  For me, not that far from 40, this is the impact the shootings had most on me.  It not that I  have a new dream, it’s that I have reminders why the focus is so important, sights on goals that may not be achieved until I’m 80 and I have resolve to realize that it’s necessary to keep moving forward.  Hopefully along the way I’ll continue to be  privileged by  motivating others.  I hope to continue to have chances to encourage others along the way; to dig deep inside and, without having to know that they could have been a victim, find the drive to make some change for the better.

You don’t have to be there, or a could have been there, to have the same appreciation for life.  Being involved in healthy activities that bring passion for life, and sharing those passions with others in a positive way should be part of the goals of each of us, regardless of our walk in life.  Being aware of injustice, compassionate towards change and willing to be a catalyst doesn’t require a near death experience – it shouldn’t require one.  Tragic events can do many things, I hope that for anyone else reading this – the idea of being and growing stronger are the things it does within you.

Civil Non-violent Disobedience

This past weekend I spent time in training to recruit and lead Civil Non-violent Disobedience in the State of Colorado.  I am really excited for the opportunity to be part of a large group of American’s who are standing up to protect the future of our planet.  This type of activity, while not something new to the American scene; is something I have not participated in before.   For me, it’s a bit overwhelming to think that I will be joining the ranks of American Citizens who, because of conscience, chose to take a stand in a nonviolent fashion to stand up for injustices actively occurring on American soil.   Most Americans know the story of Rosa Parks, a woman of African descent, who sat on a bus in a seat in 1955 that she  wasn’t authorized to sit on because of the color of her skin.  Her story is part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a time period in American history where many took to the streets to participate in making a statement.  The focus was to bring focus to unjust laws in a way that was considered dignified, and worthy of media attention.

Fast forward 50 years.  The same media that represented the values of America as wholesome and pure, has changed the focal point  to one where active discussion of violence has become a part of daily life.  Instead of positive news stories about the good things people are doing in their lives – stories about the worst of humanity’s behaviors unto one another take precedence.  These stories are distractions which often do not include the ways in which private corporations, focusing on profit margins, continue to promote or participate in devastating actions upon our planet.   These actions range from maintaining unhealthy manufacturing processes that have increased our atmospheric CO2 levels to dangerous planetary levels,  to encouraging consumption patterns that are killing our oceans with plastic pollution.  Environmentally, humanity has been extremely careless about our methods of progress and have, in many ways, developed methods of extracting and utilizing natural resources that are permanently scarring our planet.

I mourn frequently for this one Earth that I get to live on.  I feel like people look at me like a lunatic as I take oil created plastic and move it from garbage cans to recycling bins.  People are often offended as I communicate with them their thoughtless methods of consumption, feeling no need to take ownership of the state of Planetary Affairs they are actively contributing to the destruction of.  This is why I took the Pledge of Resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline is designed to take some of the dirtiest sand on our planet, know as Tar Sand, and convert it into a fluid product to be pumped across our nation as an international export.  The goal is to access this product in Canada, ship it across the United States, then refine it in Texas and export it to Asia – that is they want to export the excess product.  Truth is that Tar Sand gasoline is already being consumed in states like Colorado without much knowledge by the average consumer.
And this is why I went to the Action Leader training for these upcoming nonviolent resistance.   I am grateful these organizations: The other 98%, Rainforest Action Network, and Credo Action Network  banded together to provide a wide variety of training exercises to help prepare me to lead active resistance against the KXL Pipeline.  Please take some time to learn more about this important topic, sign the Pledge of Resistance and become one of the many that will tell President Obama that this isn’t the type of change we signed up for!