Despite pandemic, pollution and panic, we are making progress.
The first Earth Day in 1970 launched a wave of action. During the 50 years since then, we have made many improvements and learned a lot about what more is possible. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and reconsider what is most important to our hearts and minds. Amid the suffering, there is reason to hope.
For Earth Day 50, let’s focus on good news. Even when it seems that all progress has stopped and the flame has been doused, it is possible to rekindle the fire for change and rebuild our momentum toward a world where we can survive and thrive, one that works for us all.
Good: Landmark environmental laws have been passed in the US and many countries worldwide.
Goal: Use that framework, built by hard-won experience, to tackle our global climate crisis.
Good: Voting age is now 18. Momentum from the first Earth Day spurred ratification of the 26th amendment in record time.
Goal: Register! Elect a government whose priorities align with yours.
Action Ideas: Consider Pogo’s wise words for the first earth day in 1970.
Do you have a climate change “good news” story? Please send us your observations about environmental changes that have taken place in your own life in the past 50 years (or your current age, whichever comes first).
When people think of this beautiful planet threatened by destruction, it is not surprising that hearts fill with sadness. These feelings are painful, but it is possible to learn ways to control and convert those feelings.
Change your attitude: Dismay, yes. Despair, no.
Commonway Institute has provided workshops on global crisis and global solutions for over 30 years. A handful of participants take the challenge each time a workshop is offered, in contrast to the large numbers who sign up for “get rich quick” seminars provided by the guru of the day.
In his November blog article, Commonway’s Shariff Abdullah suggests that there are ways we can shift our focus to enable you to facilitate our coming together to survive and revive our world. The goal of his teachings has always been “a world that works for all”. Spend a little while (or a lot) on his new web site. I hope you will find his ideas inspiring.
Goal 1 for your home: Reduce your personal need for “the grid”.
Many laws and rules still act as roadblocks to making a home energy independent. New terminology in use is now aiming for “Zero Dependence”. Small solar and wind chargers produce only small amounts of power, but you may be able to strategically get enough independent juice to charge your devices, to run your PC, or med equip, or even a small refrigerator.
To prepare for coming blackouts and reduce your dependence on grid
energy, here are your first steps.
Tech devices: Change to battery operated devices for daily use, such as laptop or tablet.
Kitchen: Get a small battery or butane refrigerator and cook top.
Electricity: Add portable solar power options for travel and home.
A place to learn about options: The Prepared (https://theprepared.com) collects free, osessively-researched reviews of “prepper” gear for emergency home protection. This article reviews portable solar chargers.
“We reviewed 25 products and spent over 100 hours scientifically field testing the top 15 portable solar panels to find the best ones for modern survival. After considering price, durability, performance, size, and weight, we recommend the Ryno Tuff 21W Portable Solar Charger.”
Goal 2 for your home: Grow and protect your outdoor space
You can protect your home from climate disaster by changing the way you garden. Reduce your need for resources and help wildlife thrive and be protected by the plants you grow. Fire prevention has become a climate change issue as we have seen during the past few years, particularly in California, Oregon and Arizona.
In order to have your garden certified, your space must do all of the following: provide food, water, cover, a place to raise young, and be maintained in a way that has a positive effect on the health of the soil, air, water, and habitat for native wildlife. As of 2006, the program has certified over 60,000 ‘backyards’. Application and details: https://www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife
Compelling messages have popped up during October in many surprising places from our parents and grandparents, who survived the 1935 man-made climate disaster called the “Dust Bowl”. Many important lessons can be found in their experiences to help those who face today’s climate crisis.
April 14, 1935 is known as Black Sunday. A dust storm darkened the sky from northern Canada to southern Texas. For those who want to learn historical details, this site has thorough research with lots of references … and photos:
Migration was one typical effect, as we have seen over and over when faced with climate disasters. Reaction to the onslaught of migrants was similar to what we have seen since 2016, except in the depression years of the 1930’s, there really, really were no jobs for anyone.
The Los Angeles police chief at the time was James “Two-Gun” Davis. Beginning in November of 1935, he sent 136 LAPD officers to 16 different California entry points, ones that bordered Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada with orders to turn back any incomers with “no visible means of support.” It was a harsh way to deal with the crisis and one that was not legal.
“By December, these officers had become known as the ‘Bum Brigade.’ They were given specific orders to search all incoming cars, wagons, and trains. Those who had ‘no means of support,’ no train ticket, or were under suspicion for ‘vagrancy’ were told to either leave the state or face jail time. Many choose to turn around and leave.”
Personal Stories of the Dust Bowl
From my own family, we were surprised to discover this story told by Mildred Adams, who migrated to California in 1938.
“We locked up our house and business, left unpaid bills to creditors, and our home for sale. We packed up all our worldly possessions we could carry, and loaded up the car, our 1933 Chevy, including Joann’s crib. I was still wearing a steel brace from my back injury. I really did not want to leave Colorado Springs, but to save Marvin’s life, I consented.” – Mildred Adams. Read the whole story
Out of the Dust: Story of a family who stayed. Some interesting Dust Bowl stories have been written about the experience of children and teens in families who stayed in their farms and homes, and tried to survive. – Karen Hesse: Out of the Dust
The Cyclone Line music tells the story for a new generation
In this beautiful “play with music”, Kat Eggleston’s stories and songs carry a compelling message for the future, packaged in an emotional family drama that everyone can understand. The play is named for the telephone party line that connected several Oklahoma families together. When a storm started up, the neighbors would alert those further down the line that trouble was coming.
Keep your eyes open for a production of this play to come your way. So far it has only been performed on Vashon Island in Washington. Ask her to bring it to your area or to make a film of it for everyone to see and hear.
Here are three songs from the version first performed in November 2016, with Kat’s descriptions below:
“My father was born in Michigan in 1923. When his family moved back to their original home in Oklahoma five years later, dad met kids who had never seen rain. This song is a recounting of his attempts to describe rain and the difference it could make to the dry devastation of the dustbowl. “
“As a kid in the dustbowl, dad used his terrific imagination to color a world that had gone grey. Because of Tarzan and another favorite character in the Sunday comics, he loved to pretend that the landscape around his house was actually Africa. I picture him talking to his youngest sister, trying to bring a sense of adventure to her life. “
THE CYCLONE LINE
“In the Oklahoma dustbowl, the telephone was often called the cyclone line. It was a party line, stretched over the barbed wire fence, and the when cyclones or dust storms kicked up, the neighbors would all get on the line, their voices becoming ghostly and distant as more of them joined in. The image is a powerful one that I use to listen to the voices of the past and bring them forward to our lives today. “
Learn about Latin American Regional Climate Issues
This Spanish language web site provides news and information for people in Costa Rica and Latin America. Here we have translated the introductory paragraphs about their site.
Eye on the climate tries to make climate change easier to understand. Born from the Weekly University of Costa Rica with the mission of providing costa rican and Latin American public with the best scientific and news information about the changes that the Earth experiences, its causes and the solutions within our reach.
Our scientific content is mostly taken from the Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body that investigates the issue from the United Nations, but we also include local and regional research, and the platform provides a space for new regional voices.
The FAQ’s are a good place to start in getting to know this site, if you want news about Latin American climate issues. If you want to post articles from their page, they publish under a free license. You are welcome to use their material for non-commercial purposes, as long as you credit them with a link to the cited article.
FAQ: What is global warming?
Global warming usually refers to global warming in the long run. The global temperature shows a clear increase since the late 19th century, with greater intensity from 1970; Earth has undergone a warming of its atmosphere and oceans, causing chain reactions across the planet. This wide range of changes occurring globally is known as climate change.
The Access Project’s objective is to find, review and test hardware and software tools and equipment specifically to enable control of computer equipment for adults who have computing needs not met by current resources. Tools we choose often follow principals of “universal design” by making access to online and everyday worlds easier (and often more fun) for everyone.
one gets through life without bruises and cracks. Amazing people
live with challenges of broken or uncooperative bodies or minds. Net
Learning Center believes that nobody should be considered a
“write-off”, as we all have something to contribute. Just like
every part in an object like a car, and every thread in a tapestry,
is a vital part of the complete and whole item. This is also true
within our human family, if we are all connected on this earth.
How DO you control your computer if you can’t move any part of your body?
Think about it! Now, think about this. What if you can’t TALK either? For some people who are quadraplegic, this is true.
These people are the “Untalkables”.
The “I Need a word” song by Dave Matthews and Grover for Sesame Street could easily be their theme song.
The “A-Team” is working on ways to help people get the words!
A-Team Project for the “Untalkables” -Adapt the computer to YOU!
Believe it or not, there are a number of tricky tools that can allow you to control a computer with just your very smallest wiggle. If your eyes can focus, you can gaze at a spot on the screen. If you can grip a button, you can click a mouse that moves across the screen highlighting choices for you. Or you can puff on a straw, move your head, even stick out your tongue to push a switch. Human ingenuity is the only limit.
in the world of the Untalkables takes lots of work, lots of time and
help from many people, ranging from medical and educational
professionals, to therapists, caregivers, family and friends. But
official services do have limits. Turning TV sets on and off, playing
games, sending email and posting on social media may not be official
“activities of daily living”, but they certainly ARE activities
that make it worth living!
That’s where the A-Team comes in! Our job is to find tools that help with communication and in that gain control over the computer to open up a small room to the wider world. The Access Project was initiated because we discovered that there were very few fun computer activities available to people who do not have full use of their hands.
The “Face” of the A-Team is Priscilla Valdez, who became quadriplegic in 2012, and who inspired the project. For two years she was unable to move anything except perhaps her eyes, but her vision was very hard to assess. She could not talk, although she certainly could communicate with eyes, smile and determined spirit. In her 3rd year of quadriplegia, after many hours of work with a speech therapist, she regained limited use of her voice. But putting together sentences was slow and very tiring. Then, with perhaps another year of mobility and range-of-motion exercises, Priscilla become able to move one hand in a limited way (think “Royal Wave”). This gave hope that she might be able to move and control a mouse. Thus began the A-Team’s testing process.
What have we been up to so far?
As our A-Team official tester, Priscilla has tried out a wide variety of computer access tools and applications. Through a GoFundMe campaign, she has raised money for new equipment and software. The campaign was required because medical insurance funding is capricious for adults with long-time paralysis. We will be posting updates as we go along.
How can you help with the project?
TAP’s pages aim to feature online learning services and classes that are accessible, useful to everyone in a practical sense. We are especially interested in activities that make learning fun and involve the user/student/learner in interacting with what is happening on the screen, not just passively watching or reading. Keep checking back. This is an active area!
Net Learning Center began this project about two years ago. The Access Project was initiated because we discovered that there were very few fun computer activities available to people who do not have full use of their hands. They also had a huge gap to leap to control their computers and the other equipment that must be managed in order to perform what the medical world calls “activities of daily living”.
JOIN US! DONATE IF YOU CAN!
Grants and other funding for improving accessibility for adults is hard to find, and yet the need is always increasing. Your donation can help make a difference. Even more important to us is active involvement in making the world more accessible for all of us. The day will come when we may be the ones who need to HELP to get into a building or fill out an online form.