Environmental Think Space

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing – Albert Einstein


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Exxon Spill – 25 Years of Tears

SHANNYN MOORE: JUST A GIRL FROM HOMER

Prince William Sound, 2010 Prince William Sound, 2010

Time has a strange affect on events in our lives. I feel I’m looking through a glass of water when I look back 25 years to this day, March 24, 1989.

I’d left Seattle University and the Ballard Lochs on the M/V Westward heading north through the Inside Passage of British Columbia for the sac roe herring fishery in Sitka. No time in my life is etched as clearly as that spring. There is a certain magic about following Spring to Alaska. Per my not so scientific study, I’ve determined Spring moves at about 9 nautical miles an hour, about the same as the hundred foot boat I worked on. The inside passage is glorious. The bow of the boat pushes Technicolor into black and white. Winter gives up her fight to the brilliance of the whippersnapper called Spring. The smell is of thawing earth. Porpoises…

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Make sure there are some fun and games!

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In July of last year I decided to join and take part in the organisation of a new activist group in Amsterdam. Generation Alpha.

A former classmate of mine became an admin of the Generation Alpha facebook webpage (find and like us here). This page was created by our comrades in Australia and now has followers from around the world. The facebook page is a space for news stories and articles on environmental and justice issues. And as the About section so nicely states Generation Alpha is dismantling the ego-system and embracing the eco-system.

Outside of this digital forum there are two action groups in Australia who have created the Zombie-A-Frack and Over Our Dead Bodies campaigns. Zombie-A-Frack is an anti-fracking campaign (video of direct action below) and Over Our Dead Bodies is a campaign focusing on the possible development of the world’s largest coal mining complex in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, Australia which threatens the Great Barrier Reef and runaway climate change.

Generation Alpha Amsterdam has taken a modest start with roughly 10  members. A handful of us are devoted, while others participate when they can. For the first few months we liked to talk about ourselves … that is … who and what the hell are we? A difficult question. We have made progress, but we’re still finding our way.

Many of us felt we wanted the group to have not only the typical destructive and outspokenness against the system aspect, but also include and focus on constructive action, lightheartedness and fun surrounding these otherwise serious issues. The Zombie-A-Frack action embodies this very well. We also felt that the typical approach to action tends not to feel inclusive of those less “for the cause” which is why we try to emphasize and allow for various levels of participation in actions and events.

Since we are small in numbers, thus far we have chosen to join the actions organised by other groups. However, we have conducted three successful events that aim to strengthen the fabric of the environmental/social movement. The event is a People’s Kitchen and Rebel Cinema.

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We collect food from vendors that otherwise would be thrown away (courtesy of Taste Before You Waste), and spend the day preparing food for dinner. All are welcome to join in preparing food or can just turn up for dinner and the film screening.

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Each month we choose a different topic. We started with Urban Agriculture (screening Edible City: Grow the Revolution), and our last event was the climate change activism edition (screening Do the Math). At each event we reach out to local initiatives that are involved with the topic in some way in order to bring them into contact with one another. The events have been successful in terms of numbers of people showing up, but it remains to be seen whether or not the events will be successful in sustaining connections. We hope that these events will draw new people in, connect those already involved, and in the future, to get those in attendance to participate in direct action in a way they feel comfortable with. Power in numbers … particularly when you don’t have the power money seems to buy.

I myself am just experimenting with activism and it definitely challenges my comfort zones. It is interesting to see the support and understanding of those who put themselves at risk for their (and your own) beliefs. For now, especially as a Canadian in another country, I keep my role quite tame and like to focus on the more constructive actions.


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Plastic Soup

Here’s a humorous video on a very serious issue: plastic pollution.

And on a more serious note:

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“If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig … you’d find a little line of plastic. What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren’t able to reproduce. They didn’t last very long because they killed themselves … The ocean is warning us, and if we don’t listen it’s very easy for her to get rid of us.” — Oceanographer, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D.


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Good Green Reads

I’m currently in the process of reading two books. Usually I’m not one to read two books at the same time, but one of them is a little too depressing to read before I try and drift off into neverland, while the other sends out lots of optimism.

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The first is entitled What We Leave Behind by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay. I cannot read this morbid book before bed. It definitely limits itself to day time reading.

But seriously, don’t let my use of the word morbid throw you off this read. It’s morbid in the sense that the authors lay out so vividly the irreconcilable differences between earth’s natural processes and our industrialized civilization; and that makes me feel quite nauseous when thinking about it for too long, especially when I need to have peace in my mind before I can fall asleep. Thinking about the demise of our planet does not bring that sense of peace.

The main premise of the book is that the root of sustainability is “one being’s waste must always become another being’s food.” This cycling process, the cycle of birth-death-rebirth, is not advanced within our industrialized culture. Our culture’s fear of aging and death, its fabrication of more or less permanent materials, it’s focus on unlimited growth, and our quest for immortality is amiss.

Although the book (thus far) continuously points to the fact that we’re killing ourselves (even when we’re trying to help ourselves — the healthcare system incinerates PVC medical devices that have been used to treat cancer, sending the toxic residue out to cause someone else’s disease), there is loads of wonderful information and some great statements in there. But I just can’t do it before bed (I get through 5 sentences and wanna throw the book through the wall). I still highly recommend it.

My designated bed time reading is The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray. And I’m glad I have this one before sleep. I’ve only just started it, but she sounds like a lovely lady.

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“This book is for everyone, but it is especially for young people, in hopes that, given all the bad, you start building. Not skyscrapers or oil rigs, but lives that make sense, that contribute to a lighter, more intelligent, more beautiful way of living on the earth, lives that are lived as far outside and beyond corporate control as possible.”

I’ve only just started this one, but I think it promises to deliver real stories of people taking action (not just writing but doing), optimistic stories about taking back our food supply … stories like the one I hope to tell one day.


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Let’s bring justice to the fishies and our oceans

The Black Fish is an international marine conservation movement on a mission to end the industrial overfishing of our oceans. Their most recent campaign in combatting illegal fishing involves the use of drones.

Shadow View (a non profit organization which provides multiple UAS solutions for conservation and civilian projects) provides the drones for monitoring the seas for black listed vessels and other illegal fishing practices.

Check out the video:


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Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

foodIsPower

It’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been trying to get settled in now that I’m back in Amsterdam. Job hunting (as a recent graduate, in this economic climate, not speaking Dutch) is like trying to saw your own arm off … painful and difficult. I’ve gotten a serving job in order to pay the bills, but it’s a shame that I cannot be putting that time into developing my skills for a career. And as a recent graduate lack of experience is not helping the job hunt.

But also I’ve been using this time to try to pin point what I’m really passionate about. I wish I could have figured this out or taken a bit more time to think about it before pursuing my masters degree. In that way I could have developed my own idea for my thesis research before hand or taken the choosing a bit more seriously, rather than just picking a topic I’m fairly interested in for the sake of obtaining a degree. Am I the only one that did that? For the sake of everyone else, I hope so.

But a young person’s lack of foresight (and what I would like to think of as a failure of our school system to provide anything to students but a shitty curriculum and a focus on the highest grades, in which case is often a memorize and forget type of situation) has landed me in a quandary where my mindset is muddled with feelings of frustration and failure about the choices I made and failed to make. But it’s all wonderful hindsight now. I understand a bit more clearly what is required to get to where I’d like to be. And the first step is to determine what I am passionate about. Maybe that’s a bit cliche to say and maybe it’s the obvious step to have taken in the first place, but I overlooked it or never bothered to realized it mattered. Or maybe it just takes time for your passion to present itself. Regardless, it’s not about finding what I’m interested in. I am interested in LOADS of issues. But what really takes root inside of me and wants to explode out?

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I’ve started to narrow it down and I am almost certain it will take more years to even get it right on the money, but I know it lies in our food. How we produce it, where we produce it, and what we’re putting into our bodies. I don’t want to be so disconnected from the food I ingest. And I really don’t even want there to be an option when it comes to healthy, nutritious food vs. processed, hormone and antibiotic injected, chemically sprayed food. Not to mention food produced fairly in terms of labour rights, worker safety, and the treatment of animals. Even knowing all the terrible things happening to our food, I still buy a lot of it at the grocery store. And that scares me. It’s the availability and cost factors that play the biggest roles for me. That’s why I don’t want the shitty options to even exist.

Food: it comes back to all things that are inherently important to me: nature, health, empowerment, people, and environment … and the connections between these. It’s a start and a direction.

Related Links

Farming the City 

Prioritizing Small-scale Farming

Food Empowerment Project  

AgriCultures Network