Vote for the B-girl Guide – Help Me Win a Grant for $2000 Via GOOD Magazine

The B-girl Guide is up for a grant of $2000 to fund the final editing, illustration and printing of the book. It’s me and 60 other projects and it’s totally dependent on your vote! There’s a lot of great, great projects there & I’d love to win! Then I would be able to complete the book.

The project with the most votes as of May 30th at 3 p.m. Eastern Time wins!

Click for “Vote for this Idea” to vote for me! If you don’t have a GOOD account, you just need to log in with an email address or Facebook account to register. You will be emailed a link to validate and, once you’ve voted, you’ll get verification that your vote has been counted. You can only vote once – please tell your friends to vote and spread the word! (Good recommends using Firefox or Google Chrome to access their site.)

The B-girl Guide is about being AUTHENTIC. It’s based on my experiences as rock ‘n roll publicist, activist, entrepreneur and blogger. It’s filled with practical suggestions for women and men on navigating the twists and turns of trying to stay sane and meaningful in an increasingly commercialized world. It features prescriptions for interacting with animals, the planet, and each other amidst the pressures and crises of daily life.

GOOD Maker is a project of GOOD Magazine and is “a tool to help you make good things happen. GOOD Maker gives individuals and organizations the ability to tap into the public’s creativity and energy to address an issue that’s important to them.

Please vote for me and The B-girl Guide here at Good. Thank you!

Cathryn.

The Commercialization of Earth Day — “Saving” Our Environment and What We Can Do About It

Happy Earth Day?

I suppose it was inevitable that Earth Day, founded 42 years ago in 1970, would be co-opted. I stopped reading the countless emails from company after company I received this week exclaiming “Happy Earth Day!” and offering “free shipping!” “Save 10%!” or “40% off!”

On the one hand, we all want to celebrate the Earth. Yay! But on the other, we want to really celebrate it, not via meaningless hype from companies that throw a few words on their packaging and once a year set up a booth at an Earth Day Fair and yet everything else they do – from production, packaging and disposal – reeks of irresponsibility with profit before practice, irretrievably polluting our precious water, air and land.

With the environment such a hot topic and a marketers’ dream to boot, how do we discern what’s real and what’s “green washing“? Even newer, small companies on the scene boasting “organic” “sustainable” “local” can start to appear less about being authentic and more about jumping on a trend.

How Earth Day Began and What It Meant

The roots of all this began over 40 years ago. On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, author, activist and professor Brian Tokar wrote a piece for the Indypendent, “Reclaiming Earth Day — With Climate Chaos on the Horizon, the Environmental Movement needs Traction” reflecting on its origins:

While environmental awareness has seeped into mainstream U.S. society since the 1970s — the era when 20 million people hit the streets on Earth Day to demand action — the structures of power remain largely the same. The mass mobilizations around the original Earth Day helped spur then-President Richard Nixon to sign a series of ambitious environmental laws that helped to clean contaminated waterways, save the bald eagle from the ravages of pesticides and began to clear the air, which in the early 1960s was so polluted that people were passing out all over our cities. Most environmental victories since then have benefited from those changes in the law, but more fundamental changes seem as distant as ever.

the original Earth Day on April 22, 1970, was initially a staged event. Politicians like Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) and Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-CA) took the lead in crafting the first Earth Day celebration that unexpectedly brought millions of people out around the country. The events, however, were supported by establishment institutions like the Conservation Foundation, a corporate think-tank founded by Laurance Rockefeller in 1948. Nixon even began the year with a presidential proclamation saying that the 1970s would be the “environmental decade.”

To everyone’s surprise, Earth Day turned out to be the largest outpouring of public sentiment on any political issue to date. It drew public attention to environmentalism as a social movement in its own right. And it set the stage to pressure Congress to pass 15 major national environmental laws over a 10-year period and establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition to the formation of the EPA, in the early 70s, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act were all passed. 

Promise Unfulfilled?

It’s a great history, and yet, with all the uber-focus on the environment currently, it still has not lived up to its promise. Continue reading

Rachel Leigh Smith, Author and Creator: “How to Avoid Being Sad, Volume II” + Some Tips

How to Avoid Being Sad, Volume II

Ed. note — It’s the holidays and sometimes it can be joyful; sometimes sad. A perfect time for this piece!

Did you know a Me&Ro bracelet could inspire a friendship? Apparently, it can. About five years ago, I emailed Giving Tree Jewelry co-owner Rachel Leigh Smith trying to decide on a color – black or red – of a bracelet I was perusing on her web site which led to an interchange via email. She’d mentioned on the site that she’d written a book, “How to Avoid Being Sad.” Her enthusiasm about it leapt off the screen; I inquired how I could read it. Voilà! Next thing I knew, the pocket-sized volume appeared having made its way from Cape Cod to my mailbox in Brooklyn.

“How to Avoid Being Sad, Volume I” is the book you pick up and it immediately becomes your friend. The wisdom within it is witty, thoughtful, and comforting. The book was inspired by Rachel’s own chance encounter with a young man named Max she met at the LAX ticket counter. She was about to head out on a red eye flight from Los Angeles (where she had stayed at the Chateau Marmont!) to Boston. They sat next to each other on the plane and talked “straight without stop for the next 6 hours.” (She does not like to fly so meeting Max – along with some red wine – was a fortuitous encounter, in more ways than one .) Due to a travel mix-up, Max ended up coming back with her to Cape Cod until he could depart the next morning to his next destination. Those discussions with Max were the inspiration for the first book. I spoke to Rachel recently as she was driving from NYC (where she now lives) back to Cape Cod.

Rachel Leigh Smith

“How to Avoid Being Sad,” which was sold in her gallery and given to her “favorite customers,” would have ended with Volume I, if not for a customer, N.B., who became a great friend. N.B. (to whom Volume II is dedicated; Volume I was for Max) pushed Rachel to embark on publishing Volume II. With that encouragement, knowing “at least one person” would be interested, she moved forward on making it happen. As Volume I had, the idea was calling to her.

She embarked on a successful Kickstarter campaign (she told me I introduced her to the concept of Kickstarter) earlier this year to raise some funds to print Volume II and develop some web site ideas.

The How To Avoid Being Sad website is now operational and offers “sadness fighting” tips each day.

The best way to understand how great “How to Avoid Being Sad” (both volumes) is to share some gems from Volume II:

1. BE A KINDER, MORE CONSIDERATE, MORE SELFLESS HUMAN BEING.

“There is only one rule I know of, Goddammit. You’ve got to be Kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut

6. PRACTICE GRATITUDE EVERYDAY, FOR EVERYTHING.

The good the bad and the ugly. A tall order, but the lack of sadness you will feel in trying to fulfill it, is worth the effort.

8B. AT LEAST CONSIDER DOING THE THING THAT SCARES YOU THE MOST.

I love this one. Whatever option you go with, I think it leads to a lot of exhilaration, and that is not sad!

For me, the thing that always scared me the most was living in New York City. I was terrified because I was certain I would be overwhelmed every day and that the city would swallow me.

I live in New York City now and it is true, I am often terrified, always overwhelmed, and sometimes swallowed. But I am still here and the mix of fear and exhilaration leaves little time for sadness.

9. SADNESS STICKS TO STILL THINGS.

You gotta move baby move!

10. KNOW THIS TRUTH: LIFE IS ALWAYS RIGHT.

I am learning to make life and its totally beautiful, non-sensical, fucked up randomness my friend and not my enemy.

You can’t win. You can’t force the experience of your life to look the way you want or need it to. I have tried and trust me the fight is exhausting. And sadness loves a tired spirit.

96. FAIL. FAIL AGAIN. FAIL HARDER, FAIL WITH MORE BELLS AND WHISTLES AND CUSTOM DESIGNED LOGOS. FAIL. BUT KEEP GOING.

In this regard, I am the least sad person on the planet! No one matches me with failure! Below is a list of just some of my failed businesses in the last 2 years.

BGG Ed. Note: Okay, I’m not going to give them all away, you have to read the book ! They’re pretty great in the range of ideas the author has had – and tried.

197. IF YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE SAD, GO WITH IT. TRUST THAT IT WILL PASS.

I personally promise it will.

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” – Rilke

There are 206 tips within Volume II. Even if you are rarely sad, the life-encouraging wisdom within both Volumes makes them happy additions to your library, to carry in your purse or keep by your computer.

Rachel told me she’s been “dreaming of all these kindness revolutions” and considers her move to NYC something that “scares me but it’s necessary.” And she’s found, like many of us know, that, “there’s this code. People look out for you.” And that’s so true. It’s not that Rachel is always happy as she pointed out to me when I asked but what’s apparent is that she perseveres and keeps a sense of play in her attitude.

I was thinking about this fact … she didn’t call her books “How to Avoid Feeling Sad” because sometimes we will feel sad.. it’s just how it is … but it doesn’t mean we have to BE sad.

Rachel’s two books are about “sadness fighting” but they are also about living your life in the fullest way possible. I wonder… maybe one is not possible without the other?

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You can visit HowtoAvoidBeingSad.com (updated every day) and order “How to Avoid Being Sad” Volume I and/or II. One of Rachel’s upcoming projects – sure not to fail – is a children’s book, “Strange and Wonderful Creatures.” She’s also working on two other web-based projects which surely are part of “kindness revolutions.”

p.s. The Me & Ro bracelet was an earlier version of this although it used to be offered in black and red and was a bit less expensive when I bought it but it’s been a few years. It’s the same style. I highly recommend it! You will not feel sad wearing it.

Fukushima Fallout: How to Protect Ourselves from Radiation (At least somewhat)

Abandoned Ferris Wheel Chernobyl

When I was in my twenties, I followed a macrobiotic diet. I was incredibly dedicated. So much of how I live now was informed by that time period. NYC had its own Macrobiotic Center at the time, based out of the gorgeous Cable Building at 611 Broadway, off Houston Street in the Village.*

My first appointment with a macrobiotic counselor took place there. I had moved back home with my parents in New Jersey at the time. I remember driving in on the weekend the day of my appointment and parking in the lot across the street in SoHo(that parking lot is no longer there; neither is the Macrobiotic Center tho’ the Cable Building — pictures at the end — remains). I didn’t expect to be put on the strict program the counselor laid out for me but, convinced of the program’s merits and determined, I began following it instantly.

No hamburgers? No problem. Cut out sugar? Next day. Give up dairy and flour products? Done.

Macrobiotics means “great” or “big life” in Greek. (I go into this more in the B-girl Guide.) It has influenced to this day how I live my day-to-day life. It was eye opening – it’s where – and how – I first learned to avoid toxic chemicals in the home; eat locally sourced food and organic products when possible; avoid sugar and dairy; the problems with pesticides in our food and environment; why it’s best to wear natural fibers, and how I came to explore acupuncture, meditation & so much more.

One thing that always stood out to me at the time was hearing repeatedly how after Hiroshima people who followed certain macrobiotic protocols were able to avoid the radiation’s harmful effects.

Of course, we have to know what we’re dealing with to respond properly and that is one of the problems post-Fukushima disaster, as it continues to unfold.

INFORMATION POST-FUKUSHIMA TO JOURNALISTS HAS BEEN RESTRICTED

Vivian Norris wrote a very comprehensive piece May 9th at the Huffington Post: Deadly Silence on Fukushima. She wrote, “People need answers, data and honest information to help them deal with what is going on. Media blackouts, propaganda and greedy self-interested industries, of any kind, who allow human beings’ health to be affected, and deaths to occur, must be stopped now.”

Alarmingly, she reported how, during the first few months after the disaster (which remains on-going), access to information on the situation for freelancers, internet and “foreign media” has been restricted by both the government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company):

… access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.

Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget. “The media keeps defending the information from TEPCO!” “The Japanese media today is no different from the wartime propaganda media that kept repeating to the very end that ‘Japan is winning the war against America,’” Uesugi exclaimed.

Uesugi is a Japanese journalist who has been a bit of a muckraker, revealing much that the Japanese government and TEPCO have attempted to keep quiet. Now some months have gone by and The L.A. Times reported the other day that distrust runs deep by the Japanese people as to whether their government is informing them adequately.

Clearly for our own self-preservation and that of our planet, we need to be on top of this. Here in the U.S., it’s possible food on the West Coast is being affected as well as products we may consume with origins in Japan and elsewhere which need to be monitored (radiation monitoring in Japan is voluntary and conducted by consumer groups and the companies themselves).

MACROBIOTIC FOOD PROTOCOLS

In the Huffington Post piece, Norris references the use of macrobiotics in preventing radiation’s harmful effects from the director of the Department of Internal Medicine in Nagasaki in August 1945 -

Macrobiotic Diet Prevents Radiation Sickness Among A-Bomb Survivors in Japan 

Most patients in the hospital, located one mile from the center of the blast, survived the initial effects of the bomb, but soon after came down with symptoms of radiation sickness from the fallout that had been released. Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, miso soup, wakame and other sea vegetables, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets. As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors in the city perished from radiation sickness.

“I gave the cooks and staff strict orders that they should make unpolished whole-grain rice balls, adding some salt to them, prepare strong miso soup for each meal, and never use sugar. When they didn’t follow my orders, I scolded them without mercy, ‘Never take sugar. Sugar will destroy your blood!’”…

This dietary method made it possible for me to remain alive and go on working vigorously as a doctor. The radioactivity may not have been a fatal dose, but thanks to this method, Brother Iwanaga, Reverend Noguchi, Chief Nurse Miss Murai, other staff members and in-patients, as well as myself, all kept on living on the lethal ashes of the bombed ruins. It was thanks to this food that all of us could work for people day after day, overcoming fatigue or symptoms of atomic disease and survive the disaster” free from severe symptoms of radioactivity.”

Continue reading

Fukushima: With Serious Restrictions, Some Animals to be Rescued at Last; Monkeys to Monitor Radiation (Part II)

Update: There is, of course, more to this story. Someone from an animal rescue org. tweeted me via Twitter and I have interviewed her and will post shortly. It’s not as ‘feel good’ as it sounds as there are many restrictions put in place by the government. Follow up story to come.

Japan Cat Network

Via The Telegraph Fukushima Pets to be Rescued from No-go Zone (December 6, 2011):

The government has granted permission to animal welfare groups enabling them to enter the no-go zone in order to rescue abandoned cats, dogs and other pets who are still alive.

Countless residents were forced to leave pets behind as they fled their homes during emergency evacuations following the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

As a result, many animals are believed to have starved to death, although animal welfare groups believe that several hundred cats and dogs remain alive and are running wild across the nuclear exclusion zone.

The Environment Ministry has now given permission to the groups to rescue surviving pets, although they will only be able to pick up animals whose owners have requested it and must prove they will be housed in secure shelters.

Also in The Telegraph, from yesterday, is an article, “Wild Monkeys to measure radiation levels in Fukushima.” At first, I thought they were placing the monkeys there but it seems that “as many as 14 groups of monkeys are believed to reside in the mountains forests to the west of Minamisoma city.” Apparently, to “measure” the radiation, it will “involve monkeys being fitted with collars containing radiation meters and GPS transmitters.” (Involve, eh? Funny choice of words.) These collars will then detach “remotely.” No specific details in the piece as to how the monkeys will be rounded up initially. Not sure what to make of that exactly – it’s a good thing that the radiation is being measured in some way but a bit skeptical / concerned when animals are used in these ways. Particularly in light of the government’s severe lack of interest of the other animals left behind there.

Animal groups have been lobbying the government for months to allow them to rescue people’s animal companions who were left behind. Imagine if your animal, part of your family, was left behind and you could not go back to get him or her – to even be certain if he was alive – until 9 months later? This attitude by our governments (similar to what transpired around Hurricane Katrina) has got to change.

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Some background reading –

Amazing blog post of a volunteer who helped animal rescue groups look after animals in Fukushima back in April here at One Day in Fukishima via Against the Stream – a Contrarian’s Blog.

Via International Best Friends Org.: Japan: Setting out to Save Animals. (This was posted back in March right after the area was evacuated.)

I didn’t really intend this to be Part II but the news is timely!

See Part I at B-girl Guide: Japan, Fukushima, The Rest of Us – Afterwards, Now

Update on Japan, Fukushima, The Rest of Us – Afterwards, Now (Part I)

BGG Ed. noteI’ve felt, that, here in the U.S., we are shielded from what’s happening in Japan post-Fukushima disaster and yet it’s so important to keep up to speed. I’ve compiled excerpts of – and links to – key news articles over the last few months. This continues to be a developing story. I will also post follow-up pieces which relate to this information and refer back to it.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster took place after the Japanese power plant could not withstand the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, causing a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials, and the evacuation of a 20 kilometer zone (12 miles) around it, displacing at least 180,000 people. It is a continually unfolding story. Yet the catastrophe has received little attention over the last 9 months since initially capturing non-stop worldwide news and public attention. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was on the ground there risking his health. Updates have been sporadic at best; however, in the few months, there’s been a smattering of new articles – from which the information released is important to be aware.

Via Wikipedia: “The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant … following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.[5][6] The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors originally designed by General Electric (GE), and maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The Fukushima disaster is the largest of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents and is the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.[7]“

Many people believe that the Fukushima will surpass Chernobyl in its ultimate impact and tragic effects.

How can we live in a world with nuclear power – already a problematic energy source -  if those in charge of it are irresponsible both before such a horrendous incident – and in the aftermath?

In addition to the devastating impacts to the lives and health of the people in Japan, animals and wildlife were left to fend for themselves. Provisions were not made to accommodate animals’ lives and people were forced to leave them behind, as well as, livestock. (Wonderful JEARS – Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support – volunteers went into the zone afterwards. That may have to be its own post.)

Surely, we are at the point where people and animals are fully taken into consideration, and information, even if difficult, is communicated properly. What happened to birds, squirrels, other animals on the ground and in the air?

This impacts all of us. Our water, air and soil are all connected. Products we consume come from Japan and food from the West Coast has been affected. Even if there are people saying not to worry, perhaps we should be doing just that.

In the Media:

The Japan Times reported in late November that the Fukushima nuclear power plant that experienced a series of failures after being subjected to an earthquake and tsunami was built under the assumption by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) that the facility would not have to withstand a tsunami greater than 5.7 meters high. This, despite the fact, that as recently as 2008 an in-house study projected a tsunami “as high as 10.2 meters” was likely. Officials dismissed this risk as “unrealistic” yet the March 11th tsunami was “as high as about 15 meters .. [and] knocked out the reactor cooling systems, leading to three meltdowns. The waves easily overran the plant’s sea wall.” The company back in 2008 “ruled out an immediate need to bolster defenses against the sea.”

On November 17th, the Wall Street Journal reported Radioactive Rice in Fukushima as “radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit was detected for the first time in rice harvested in Fukushima prefecture.” In addition, “The detection is likely to fuel consumer anxieties already rife with concerns that products such as beef and green tea tainted with unsafe levels of radioactive contaminants have made their way onto store shelves.

 

Continue reading

Butterfly at Washington Square Park


Photo taken by Heather at Roger_Paw Blog. I met Heather one day at Washington Square Park – she has one of the most active sites covering the red-tailed hawks – Violet, Bobby & Pip – that moved into the area around the park earlier this year. She takes gorgeous photos. (My other blog, you may know, focuses on Washington Square Park.)

Lonelyville Coffee

This site is under construction !

Pictured: Lonelyville Coffee storefront, a coffee shop which resided across from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Some of The B-girl Guide was written here (and in many other coffee shops) before it closed (2 years ago?). Great ambiance inside.

It is now a vintage / antique store. The sign remains.