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The question I hear time and time again from audiences who see my documentary film, Broadcast Blues is, "Why did you leave your lucrative career in broadcasting to become a media reform...
Ever since we started writing and speaking about our current book project, How on Earth: Flourishing in a Not-for-Profit World by 2050, we have been amazed by one phenomenon in particular. When we...
Keynote address delivered at the 2000 Houston Youth Environmental Leadership Conference, 1/26/00 Yesterday a teenager sent me an email letter in which he said, "I feel cheated that it's all UP...
A friend of mine invited me to attend the World Ocean Summit titled “Sustainability and Governance” hosted by The Economist recently at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Half Moon Bay, CA. Sponsored by...
Over the last two decades, the Internet has been a laboratory for social innovation. One of the most unexpected collective discoveries has been the existence of another mode of organization to...
The Conspiracy Theory Is True: Agents Infiltrate Websites Intending To "Manipulate, Deceive, And Destroy Reputations"
In the annals of internet conspiracy theories, none is more pervasive than the one speculating paid government plants infiltrate websites, social network sites, and comment sections with an intent...
Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and...
2013 was another incredible year for fantastic, forward thinking social change films. More films pushing the envelope of creative thinking. More films giving a voice to the cutting edge ideas and...
Edward Burtynsky finds the eerie beauty in the man-made landscapes that dot our Earth’s surface. As a photographer who focuses on the relationship between humans and nature, he travels to the...
If climate change sceptics have a coherent explanation for the events we are witnessing, it's time they held an international conference and told us what they believe Say I were to ask you to...
That Awkward Sound? A Panel Of Experts Trying To Defend Walmart From Questions Asked By One Senator.
Here’s a radical idea: How about a huge corporation whose owners have more money than God (actually, more money than 40% of the American people) pays its people a living wage with medical benefits? I know, I know, just dreaming over here. But John Lennon once wrote, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Watch this senator keep the first “expert” from changing the subject not once, not twice, but three times. Charming, no?
Oh, and the “Secretary Reich” who comes in at 4:50? More great stuff from him below the clip.
This clip was part of a longer hearing by none other than Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont. Go Like his Facebook page if you're so inclined. And one of his guests here was former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Here's more great stuff from him.
The Green Army, a group representing environmental and social justice organizations led by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, met on the steps of the state capitol for a rally preceding the start of Louisiana's legislative session which begins today. Their demonstration, called a "Water Festival," was a cry to protect Louisiana's water.
Crowd begins to gather at a 'Green Army' event in front of the State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
The Green Army will make their voices heard this session. They plan to stop bills they believe stand in the way of preserving Louisiana's disappearing coast, including bills that would kill the lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East that would require 97 oil and gas companies to pay for their share of the damage the industry has done to the coast.
Governor Bobby Jindal has actively tried to derail the lawsuit and is backing legislation that would undermine the levee board. John Barry, a former board member who co-authored the lawsuit, pointed out that the governor has no business standing in the way of a suit already accepted by the courts.
The Green Army on the stairs of the State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
State Sen. Robert Adley is also pushing back against the lawsuit. His photo graced signs held by some of the activists at the rally, naming him the face of big oil. General Honore told the crowd, laws are needed to prevent politicians with conflicts of interest like Senator Benton from having a say in industry related matters. Benton is a former head of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association and has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign conributions from the industry.
Green Army member with photo of Senator Robert Adley, naming him the face of big oil ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Jenna DeBoisbla, representative of 350's New Orleans chapter, in front of the State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Residents from Bayou Corne, Louisiana, attended the rally. They have been under mandatory evacuation since a vast sinkhole endangering their neighborhood opened due to industrial malfeasance. Michael Schaff and Carla Alleman shared first-hand stories about how Louisiana's industry-friendly laws have destroyed their community. They thanked Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré who answered their plea for help last year. Their request inspired Honore to start the Green Army, whose goal is making the government work for the people, not industry.
People with signs addressing water issues in a crowd at the Louisiana State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
In an editorial published by the Advocate, Honore wrote, "Our lack of regulation is so senseless that Louisiana does not even consider oil field wastes as hazardous to our supply of water. While industry provides jobs and business to our state, those jobs and businesses can’t be sustained in the coming decades if we destroy our supply of safe water. And if we continue to be the toxic dump for other states, we won’t be able to attract good jobs and new enterprises to our state."
Retired U.S. Army General Russell L. Honore speaks in front of the State Capitol at the Green Army event ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Activists at the Water Festival, a 'Green Army' event. ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Anne Rolfes, head of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, spoke words of encouragement to the hundred-plus people gathered:
"Our governor, our legislators, are grievously wrong today. Because they blindly support the oil industry, and they have forgotten about 'we the people'. But we are here to fix that. We can fix that -- and how do I know? Because we are here together. Today is just the beginning -- and we shall fight and we shall win. "
Anne Rolfes head of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade speaks in front of the State Capitol at the Water Festival ©2014 Julie Dermansky
John Barry, the last speaker at the rally, told the audience "We want the oil companies to keep the work, obey their word and take responsibilities for their actions."
The Green Army believes there is no time to waste because the coast is eroding at an alarming rate. "If you broke it, you fix it" has become the Green Army's rally cry. They are calling for civic engagement and enthusiasm for political and environmental change in Louisiana, before it is too late.
Honore wrote, "Our concern now is we've got to protect our water and we need better laws to protect it. The people of Louisiana can only look a few weeks ago to West Virginia and see what happened, and what happened in West Virginia can happen here in Louisiana, and it has happened."
Woman dressed as a pelican at the Water Festival ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Members of the Green Army at the Louisiana State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
People with signs addressing water issues at the Water Festival, a 'Green Army' event ©2014 Julie Dermansky
Tags: green armyBobby JindalLouisiana
People with signs addressing water issues in Louisiana in front of the State Capitol ©2014 Julie Dermansky
The U.S. House of Representatives is serious about job creation. So serious, in fact, that they are willing to sacrifice a healthy environment just so corporations have the “potential” to create new jobs without having to worry about all of that burdensome red tape that so often comes with environmental safety standards.
In a move last week, the House passed the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act (RAPID Act – HR 2641), which will put hard deadlines on environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), typically carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Republicans in the House claimed that the bill was aimed at preventing the EPA from stalling projects that could create jobs for American citizens. They said that environmental reviews, which are required by law, can hold projects up for years, and they believe that this is a cost that the economy simply cannot afford. If signed into law, the bill will limit environmental reviews to a firm 18 months, with only 36 months to complete an environmental impact statement.
The White House indicated that, if the legislation were to reach the President’s desk, he would most certainly veto it. The Hill quotes the White House as saying; “H.R. 2641 will increase litigation, regulatory delays, and potentially force agencies to approve a project if the review and analysis cannot be completed before the proposed arbitrary deadlines.”
The bill passed the House largely on party lines, with all Republican members and only 12 Democratic members voting in favor. A provision of the bill will allow projects for which an environmental review could not be completed in time to receive automatic approval. Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee proposed an amendment to strip this provision of the bill, but it failed to pass.
Another amendment, proposed by Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia, specifically prohibits regulatory agencies from considering “social costs of carbon” in their reviews. This amendment passed and was included in the final bill.
The Republicans are not wrong in claiming that environmental reviews can hold up projects for years, but there are two very good reasons why this happens.
The first, and most obvious, is that performing reviews takes time. Federal agencies have to consider the impacts to the environment, wildlife, and human life in construction and other projects, and these projections must include every possible worst-case scenario for the project in order for an honest debate to take place.
The second reason is that the EPA – the agency tasked with reviewing environmental impact statements before a project can be approved – has been attacked by politicians with gusto for the last few years.
Since 2010, the EPA’s budget has been slashed by at least 20%, forcing them to cut back on the number of regulators available to work on projects. Fewer staff means longer wait times, and the irony is that the same party complaining about the wait times is the party that continuously votes to cut the agency’s funding.
This legislation would allow projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to go forward with almost no time for a complete environmental review, which would have disastrous consequences for our environment and the public health.
This piece of trash that they call a bill has nothing to do with creating jobs. The only purpose that it serves is to show big business that Congress is still willing to do their bidding while the public is left to deal with the associated dangers.
Over the last year, we have posted several things about McDonald's — how it treats and pays its workers, some if its rather bizarre PR and social media schemes that totally backfired, and more. It turns out the company is feeling the pressure. In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, it admitted that “the long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses ... which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality” may affect future profits (you know, the ones paying its last CEO almost $9 million ... do you want fries with that?).
It also listed “the impact of campaigns by labor organizations and activists, including through the use of social media and other mobile communications and applications.”
And it's not just McDonald's. Here are a few more recent victories:
- A group of health care workers in L.A. is getting a raise to $15/hour.
- Workers at and near SeaTac Airport in Washington state won a referendum vote to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, as well as some paid sick time.
- NYC airport workers are moving up to $10.10/hour.
- The Gap is raising starting wages to $10 by next year.
- Seattle McDonald's owners and operators say they're discussing raising minimum wages at their restaurants and are not fighting wage hikes.
What does it mean?
We're winning, that's what. With every click, every share, and every picket sign outside a fast-food joint, we're changing things. As a rep from one of the organizations involved, Low Pay Is Not OK, told us recently: "When we're taking on some of the largest corporations in the world, we need a huge megaphone to amplify these fast-food and low-wage workers' demands for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference. Upworthy has played a crucial role in spreading workers' stories as well as some of our videos and graphics that show how McDonald's is out of touch with its workers. Today is proof of the impact we're having together."
Here are some of the things we've posted that generated a lot of interest and attention.
- The young lady who stood up to the president of McDonald's at a shareholder meeting. (Via Fight for 15.)
- The McDonald's help line that told an employee to go on food stamps. (Via Low Pay Is Not OK.)
- The McDonald's "living on next to nothing" budget calculator. (Via Low Pay Is Not OK.)
- One Michigan fast-food restaurant that is paying employees double the minimum wage. (The restaurant is Moo Cluck Moo.)
- A young lady who is active in the struggle talks to Stephen Colbert. (Hat tip to Fast Food Forward.)
All of the linkies above will give you tons of information about where it all came from. Have something that will add to the conversation? Hit me up on my Facebook page and let me know! Weeping Ronald McDonald animated GIF from GIFSoup. And the thumbnail image is via Wikimedia Commons.
John Lewis is not just any U.S. politician. He's the only living member of the "Big Six" leaders of the American civil rights movement. And he's got a few important points to make about LGBTQQ rights as well.
Some helpful tips:
1. When it comes to authority figures who work with kids, "no-nonsense" and "tough love" are usually red flags that can actually equate to "power tripping" and "abuse."
2. Private prisons, juvenile detention centers, and "therapeutic boarding schools" are also red flags. (Why in the world should it be profitable to lock people up? Can anyone explain that to me?)
Here's is an example of what happens when you combine an unscrupulous "no-nonsense" judge and private detention centers. The result is simply despicable.
Mark Ciavarella Jr., the former judge you see in this trailer, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for taking $1 million in exchange for placing juveniles in privately run detention centers. Many of the kids did not have legal counsel, and the judge often heard their cases for less than five minutes. He isn't the only judge who did this, and there are others out there who are accepting kickbacks right now.
This is a documentary trailer for "Kids for Cash." There are some excellent resources there, like this map of the U.S. with stats for juvenile detention in your state.
There's Nothing Wrong With Teens Doing Teen Stuff, But Check Out What One Extraordinary Kid Is Doing
As a young kid, Nicholas visited homeless shelters with his mom. He saw how much not having shoes that fit properly affected the kids: They couldn't participate in sports, missed school, and felt badly about themselves. So before he was even a teenager, Nicholas did something about it.
He was a 2013 Peace First Prize winner, and as a result, he won financial support for his organization. Do you know anyone making the world a better place? You can nominate them this year. Check out the info below the video.
Do you know someone like Nicholas who's between 8 and 22 years old and is also making a difference? If so, high five for keeping awesome company! Also, you can nominate them for a Peace First Prize. Five to 10 people will be selected for two-year $25,000 fellowships. It doesn't take long to nominate someone, but it sure could make a big difference for the good work they're doing.
I don't think we can ever hear too many great stories about kids who are positively changing lives. You can share this using the Facebook and Twitter buttons below if you agree.
Nicholas' story was posted by The Bully Project.
Caitlin Doughty is the funniest mortician I know. OK, so I don't actually know her, but she is funny, and she is a mortician. If you're wondering what the difference is between traditional burials and the "green" version of burials, she describes it pretty well here. You could totally watch this and then go make your own pros and cons list if you're like me and have a weird affinity for list-making. Have at it!
If you just get regular old eggs at the grocery store, you may be consuming eggs from chickens who were raised in "battery cages." Now, if this type of thing bothers you, you can look for cage-free eggs (not a perfect option, but better) or buy them at your local farmers market.
Or you could take it several steps further and get your own little brood of chickens. Check this out and see if it makes sense for you and your neighborhood. (You should really look up your local laws first, though.)
Are urban (or rural) chickens an option for you?
If you made it this far, you get a *BONUS* pic of me with my chickens from a couple years back. :) (Yes, I got pecked several times whilst taking this photo.)
Original by Money Side of Life, found on Visual.ly. Here's the dealio on battery cages vs. cage-free. Neither is a great option, but one is a lesser evil, I suppose. Photo of the industrial coop via Wikimedia Commons. Thumbnail image via Thinkstock. Pic of me with the lovely chickens in my community chicken coop? That one's a selfie. :)
At least 28 U.S. senators will speak through the night about climate change, a sign that despite gridlock in Congress, the issue remains salient, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).