Thursday, August 26, 2010

Excerpt from an email to Sharon Teal:

I can't believe it has only been a couple of weeks since I left Nashville.

First, I was in Boston for a week and a half training. We had a lot of briefings, role plays, and actions through the week. For example, someone would do a presentation on how to pitch stories to reporters so they'd come to an event, say a press conference. Then we'd break into small groups and practice calling each other so we'd solidify the idea. Other times they'd teach us something, like calling members to ask them to phone a senator to do so-and-so, and then we'd actual call members with a goal they'd set for us. We had an hour and a half and we had to call as many people as we could with the goal of getting 12 people to agree to call their senator and 4 volunteers to commit to helping at future events. Pretty simple.

Another thing we did was "canvassing." They taught us how, gave us a "rap" or speech basically, and then they pretty much just dropped me at the corner of a neighborhood with a map. My goal was to raise $150 to protect the Quabbin Resevoir in Massachusetts. I earned $680! The highest of all the group and they applauded me, which made me feel better about my blisters and dehydration.

Another thing we did was take metro into the city and collected signatures. The only neat thing about it was I got a cute boy to sign my petition and it turned into a coffee date, which turned into a dinner date, which turned into another dinner date, which really lead no where, but it was fun. :)

The last day of training they told me I was coming to California. I'm on an extended special mission. They even call it SWAT (Special Weekend Action Team, or something like that). SWATs usually only last a weekend, and they were created for those key moments before a particularly important vote when they need more people on the ground ringing doorbells, calling people or just straight-up lobbying politicians. So that's why I'm here, but it's extra SWAT-like because it's for 72 days. 69 now.

On November 2nd there will be a vote on many things, but I'm particularly concerned with Proposition 23. It's a ballot measure backed mainly by two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, that has been packaged as a jobs initiative. It would essentially roll-back California's premiere clean energy legislation until unemployment falls to or below 5.5% for 4 consecutive quarters (which hardly ever ever happens). It would stunt everything! And for what? Oil. Nice. So my job, after this stint in Sacramento (which is kind of like a staging area), will be to move onto some college campus (TBA) and rile them all up to vote NO on Prop 23.

This week though, about 8 of us have made about 300 cookies that have "23" with an anti- sign on it to pass out to legislators tomorrow. We made everything from scratch and used one conventional oven. It was insane. I've never been in a kitchen so hot. I have some funny pictures and a blister on my finger from stirring dough. We even made gobs of icing and decorated them ourselves. It's just one crazy thing to do to get visibility.

The other campaign the office is working on is to ban plastic bags in California. It's such a tight race I think I would literally get fired if I walked in the office with a plastic bag, for my boss's fear of the opposition (American Chemistry Council) gaining any leverage.

Everything is a whirlwind. I'm tired and hungry a lot and I have a cold, but I'm having an exciting new adventure! It'll all settle down when I'm in my own place. I'm staying with a co-worker and have been since Sunday. Things just aren't the same when you can't have you stuff in place, you know? That was awfully vague, but I'm living out of a suitcase on a pull-out couch. I think I'd just like to be able to leave my toiletries in the bathroom. I'm sure they wouldn't say anything if I did, but as a guest, I must consolidate and hope to be as invisible as possible (aside from my actual person), but you know what I mean. There's one bathroom for two adults, two guests, and one very adorable two year old, Oliver.

Well, I should be off to bed. We have a protest in the morning, followed by the grand cookie drop-off, and more prep for another visibility event on Friday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Update on things that maybe someone cares about

I haven't even been here for a week and I'm already having trouble remembering Nashville summertime. There is so much to learn we're still training for 9, 10 hours a day, followed by socials that last into midnights, and there's little time to think about even what day it is.

I had a one-on-one talk with a trainer for placement on Sunday and she told me to think about going to California. I'll know for sure where I'll be sent by the end of the week.

I can't believe I'm moving on Sunday!

Somewhere, here I come!

Friday, August 13, 2010


First time here and it's a pretty rad city so far. Wide side walks that are well-lit, lots of nice people, and last night I met someone who designs shoes! Who designs shoes besides Steven Martin in Father of the Bride and the dad in Jumanji? A stranger, in Boston.

Training for my new fellowship with Environment America is one day down, nine to go. Ten hour days leads to a surplus of new ideas I want to research or talk out.

So far the most important thing I've learned is that every conversation with a stranger can lead to new and exciting opportunities. If I can be an open mind and open book, everything is available.

There is palpable potential here. Everyone is so willing to be open.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"After Years"

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

Ted Kooser

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The Summer Day"

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Predicting the next 100 years

taken at the lake

(!!!) I have been hired by a Environment America to start in August. It's a big girl job in the big girl world, complete with a salary, paid-time-off, and a dress code. I'm stoked out of my mind, but I was thinking today that I've been hired to be a go-between. Go-betweens are great, but in our capitalistic society, they're phased out ASAP.

My broad-term job description is "environmental advocate." Buzzword: advocate.

Advocates are usually the good-guys, which is hopeful, but they inherently stand between two entities. Those two entities exist whether the advocate is there or not, like a child and a courtroom. Unfortunately for me, the advocate's existence depends directly and completely on the necessity of its existence. Interesting.

I am currently an unpaid advocate of the environment, mostly because I'm a student in environmental studies who likes to communicate. But soon, (i.e., August) the difference will be a definite rise in income and productivity. I will officially be a go-between. "People of the United States, ladies and gents we chose to make our decisions for us, meet the environment. You've know her all along, but this is what she does for you..."

It's all public relations really, because who's going to argue with me when I say, "If our planet isn't healthy, we aren't healthy"? Maybe a lot of folks, but not forever, especially since the American learning curve seems to be steepening. Steepening? Steepening.

Go-green ads aren't just for adults anymore. I became aware of this while watching TV the other night and when I came across the Disney Channel's greenery. Of course, I started looking things up online. Studies are showing that "Green Teens," or those teens most interested in environmental issues, are also more likely to be popular in school. With the Disney channel in all its celebrity saying what's up AND the added potential of becoming prom queen? What pre-teen isn't going to go green?

This is my evidence that my job is temporary. Hopefully.

I'm looking forward to the moment when environmental advocacy jobs are something of the past. I hope to goodness that my job becomes unnecessary and out of date sooner than later. Then, I will know my job is done. The neat thing is, I think it will happen in the next couple of decades. And in a hundred years I hope kids laugh at how silly an environmental advocacy job sounds. Why need a go-between when we can all do it ourselves?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My very own morning cup of links


anxiety culture

"His heart is as open as the sky." -Tao Te Ching

If you like scrabble, maybe you'd like Bananagrams.

If you like trivia, maybe you'd like sporcle.