Environmental Injustices #NoKXL #coal #climatechange #inequality

Today’s round-up is focused on environmental injustices that greatly impact marginalized and low income people.



‘Winona LaDuke &Faith Spotted Eagle Make a Stand’ by John Isaiah Pepion, 2014, pepionledgerart.com 


Gyasi Ross gives thanks to all those who have been fighting to protect Mother Earth with the reminder that there’s still more to do…

This is a call to action. Right now, the State Department has THANKFULLY delayed approval or rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline again. That’s positive—that means that all of the actions of Dallas and Faith and Winona and the Niimiipu Tribe and Cheyenne River, Oglala Lakota, Honor the Earth, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred and John Pepion and MANY MANY others are paying off. There are literally tipis on the National Mall right now full of Native people taking a stand against the Keystone XL.  Thank you.  You’re making a mark. We have to make a mark—this is about the very essence of Indigenous life—our mother. Our land.

It’s not enough. We have to continue to work, sign petitions, put pressure on, make coalitions. Small steps—John Isaiah Pepion is committing a percentage of all earnings from his ledger art prints above to help this fight by directing it to Honor the Earth and Stronghold Society. Buy a print. They’re beautiful and powerful.

Small steps. Put one foot in front of the other. This is Native power. This is a fight worth fighting and worth winning. For our kids’ sakes.

Get involved. Call your legislator. Encourage NIGA, NCAI and every other Native organization to take a strong stand on this IMMEDIATELY—economic development is cool and important, and it’s good that we’ve worked on those fights. We also, however, have to make sure that we’re protecting our traditional ways of life and being. Our nations absolutely gotta have money, true, but these kinda fights are the very things that make us Indigenous and what we gotta have money FOR! Show these grassroots warriors your support. This fight ain’t over and we really REALLY could win this. The Earth will be fine, but our kids need this. Happy Earth Day.





Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/22/keystone-xl-and-protecting-mother-earth-fight-all-native-people-should-fight-154550#.U1a3HAGZAM0.twitter





‘Environmental Injustice’: Minorities Face Nearly 40% More Exposure to Toxic Air Pollution | Common Dreams

A new study published this week shows that both race and class are significant indicators of how much toxic air pollution individuals face in the United States with minorities receiving nearly 40% more exposure to deadly airborne pollutants than whites.

The University of Minnesota study, according to lead researcher Julian Marshall, looked closely at the rates of pollution exposure by race, income, education and other key demographics to establish the key predictors of how specific populations are impacted across the country, state by state.

“The [main] ones are race and income, and they both matter,” Marshall said in an interview with MinnPost. “In our findings, however, race matters more than income.”

Specifically looking at levels of outdoor nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a byproduct found in vehicle exhaust and fossil fuel-fired power plants, the study—titled “National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality”—found that people of color are exposed to 38 percent more of the deadly chemical which experts say can be a key driver of heart disease and other health problems.

According to the study:

Breathing NO2 is linked to asthma symptoms and heart disease. The researchers studied NO2 levels in urban areas across the country and compared specific areas within the cities based on populations defined in the U.S. Census as “nonwhite” or “white.”

The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.

Though it has been well-documented that low-income families and minorities have long been forced to live in undesirable neighborhoods near coal plants or high-traffic roadways, this study is being called “ground-breaking” for taking a national look at the issue and using advanced satellite technology to compare specific geographic areas with advanced pollution data.

As Emily Badger writes at the Washington Post:

Studies dating back to the 1970s have pointed to a consistent pattern in who lives near the kinds of hazards — toxic waste sites, landfills, congested highways — that few of us would willingly choose as neighbors. The invariable answer: poor people and communities of color.

This pattern of “environmental injustice” suggests that minorities may contend every day with disproportionate health risks from tailpipe exhaust or coal plant emissions. But these health risks are harder to quantify than, say, the number of power plants in a city. And most of the research that has tried to do this has been limited to a single metropolitan area, or to those few places that happen to have good monitoring data on pollution.

(Photo Credit: NRDC file)



If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons. But when we talk about violence, we almost always talk about violence from below, not above.

Or so I thought when I received a press release last week from a climate group announcing that ” scientists say there is a direct link between changing climate and an increase in violence”. What the scientists actually said, in a not-so-newsworthy article in Nature two and a half years ago, is that there is higher conflict in the tropics in El Nino years, and that perhaps this will scale up to make our age of climate change also an era of civil and international conflict.

The message is that ordinary people will behave badly in an era of intensified climate change.

Let’s Call Climate Change What It Really Is — Violence | Alternet (viaguerrillamamamedicine)


#Coal does not alleviate but aggravates poverty: m.huffpost.com/us/entry/51520…

Coal is “cheap” but the human and environmental cost is not.


Rates of asthma are highly correlated to race and income.  The above graph shows the variations in rates in different Chicago neighborhoods.

What is the mediating variable?  Scholars cite access to medical care, the stress of living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence, and greater exposure to pollutants.

The story is an excellent, if sad example of how health is affected by non-individual/non-biological factors.

Lots more graphs and info at Sociological Images.



I can’t fix it all

via http://dandelionquotes.com/

By nature, I am THAT person who needs to fix everything and everybody. Or at least try. Of course, I can’t help everyone and I can’t fix everything.  If only I had MacGyver-like lifehacks for making the world a better place. The best I can always do for everyone out there is to make it feel like whatever crap they’re struggling through, it doesn’t have to be alone.


Lunchtime Links: Sprouts Food Rescue,The Garden Queen of Atlanta & creating food security in indigenous communities

Took a little bit of a break last week while all my kids were all home for Spring break. Back at it today. Hope everyone had a good holiday.


Nice video about Sprouts Farmer’s Markets food rescue program. Smart grocery shops & markets cooperate with community agencies to get the edible but not saleable produce where it needs to go. It seems like Sprouts has taken the initiative itself instead of starting the program under community pressure, like what it took for Whole Foods to start donating their produce & bread.

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Haylene Green




“She Spoke and I Listened” is Haylene Green ‘s story. Haylene is The Garden Queen of the West End of Atlanta. She grows a tropical garden with fruits, herbs, giant gourds…things that would be found in her native homeland of Jamaica. Haylene says, “I have five children, and I spent more money on bread than on doctor bills for the past forty-seven years. My mom is eighty-six and she runs rings around me. My aim right now is to teach others for the future to eat nutritious, healthy food, and sustain themselves. That’s what I’m doing here in Atlanta, so that’s my plan: to teach the neighborhood how to survive.”

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Ancestral Pride logo BW 1



Growing Revolution and Food Security - an excellent perspective on the need for food sovereignty from Ancestral Pride , a blog that focuses on indigenous rights and community.
It’s an especially important goal for indigenous communities who are at far greater risk of living in poverty  to break the current food system chain and recreate food sovereignty.

“Our village is so rich and bountiful, i want to ensure our children who are gardening and harvesting can see their grand babies do the same. We are so economically depressed and struggling to stay afloat we are vulnerable. Industry such as fish farms, logging, mining all negatively impact our way of life and these corporations use our economic depression and the greed of leadership to further oppress us. Traditional foods are revolutionary because they call for radical reform the way we govern ourselves and secure economic viability. There is other ways to secure our futures for the next millennia to come!”


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“If you blame Native American communities for their poverty, remember that the entire continent was stolen from them …

If you blame Native American communities for their poverty, remember that the entire continent was stolen from them.

If you blame Black American communities for their relative poverty, remember that Black Americans were stolen from a continent, trafficked, and enslaved for nearly 300 years.

Tell me again about how your family ‘started from nothing’ when they immigrated. Didn’t they start from whiteness? Seems like a pretty good start.

The American Dream required dual genocides, but tell me again about fairness and equal opportunity. Tell me about democracy, modeled after the Iroquois Confederacy. Tell me your proud heritage, and I will show you the violence that made it so.”

Kim Katrin Crosby (via xuron)

Keynote Speaker for LGBTQ History Month at Dartmouth, on September 30, 2013, where quote is from.

Important. Especially the phrase “dual genocides.” Because clearly using Black bodies as tools to rebuild stolen and settled land from Native people who are dehumanized and killed via genocide as rationalized by the State makes the relationship between dehumanized stolen bodies without structural power on stolen land a different one from White bodies with structural power occupying land that is not theirs.

(via gradientlair)

Starting Our New Garden




There’s a reason I’m not a “lifestyle blogger”. I just like to show things the way they really are and sometimes it ain’t too purty.

We had a 3 day summer weather streak here in Upstate NY recently and I took the opportunity to get the “new” garden space revamped.

To summarize my garden situation here…
We don’t have a car, so we used the driveway for container gardening. I named it Grey Gardens ,and several times since we’ve lived here , I’ve given up only to decide to give it one more try.  The driveway is  the space where I have my bookshelf herb garden . Container gardening kinda sucks when you’re gardening for a large family. Also…neighborhood townie deer have not been helpful. Oh,neither have jerks who hang around the neighborhood. We’ve actually caught people peeing in the plants. Nearly everyday, I need to clean cigarette butts and people’s takeout garbage & coffee cups out of my containers. People aren’t always respectful of urban gardens. And yes, people have stolen plants and in one case, someone took a whole planter that had chamomile planted in it. I bet they thought that vintage galvanized watering can was worth money or something but dude….it had a broken spout and dented all to hell. They’d be lucky to get $5 for it.


At the end of the driveway is this dirt space which has been damned near impossible to garden in. On the edge of this space is a 50 foot drop into the woods and creek. It’s almost completely shade, so plants have to love shade. But worst of all, because it’s sort of a damp space, the slugs are unmanageable. Every single slug & snail control method out there, natural and otherwise, I have tried them all. There are so many that it’s just a constant battle. So, slugs,deer…and woodchucks. Shade.

Now, because of my posts here about why poor people might not be able to garden (see here, here, and here …) , people have gotten the impression that I’m anti-gardening. I’m in no way anti-gardening. I’m just realistic about the obstacles that keep people from gardening . Helping people recognize this is the first step in creating solutions so that low income people and communities can develop food sovereignty.

I have about 30 years of gardening experience under my belt and haven’t had what I’d say was a truly successful garden in the 8 years I’ve lived in this house we’re living in now. I just really want to be honest about how hard it is sometimes.
One of my favorite books is Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens In Wartime. These are gardens beyond the well known victory gardens. Japanese-Americans gardening while in internment camps during WW2. Seeds started in teacups in the Warsaw Ghetto. Soldiers growing lettuce in the trenches.  Impossible gardens that shouldn’t thrive at all. And realistically, sometimes they didn’t but as Audrey Hepburn said once, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  This was the point more than anything. The entire ghetto wasn’t going to be fed with salvaged seeds planted in rubble and broken dishes but the idea that there was a future to see that plant come to fruition. It gives hope when things are looking pretty shitty.

Yeah, wartime gardens ain’t even close to my fairly safe existence in small town America, even while being poor. I just relate to the idea of gardens representing a brighter future. It’s what keeps me trying despite how pointless it seem sometimes.

I started building this space up last fall with the  lasagna gardening method. The soil was horrible. The people who lived here before used the woodstove to burn everything. I don’t even know what. I mean, some of it looked like twisted metal burned? I have no idea. But then they dumped all of it out back, so the soil quality was the pits. I used cardboard,dead leaves, compost, hay,and  newspapers to build my layers. I still need to throw some more good soil/compost mix on top.



The space in the front here is where I had the cucumber trellis I made from crib parts last year.

You can’t see it that well, but at the left in the back is what used to be a sofa. There was no takers when  offered the couch for free on freecycle or craigslist, so I stripped all the material and stuffing off of it. It’s sitting in the one sunny space in the backyard, so I plan on planting melons in it. It’s a ready made garden planter. The back of the couch still have the metal springs and I think will be a nice sturdy trellis for the melons to grow up.

We’re borrowing a hav-a-hart trap to catch that snotty woodchuck I had issues with last year.

Still working on a plan to deal with deer. I can’t afford to put a deer proof fence up along the back and so far, they don’t seem fazed by anything we’ve already tried.













The length of the space in back.


This is where the neighbors dropped their old rain gutters when they replaced them. DSC_0755I think this means they’re ours? I will double check of course but I plan on using them to make rain gutter planters for my greens. This will help keep them from being devoured by slugs. I just need to figure out where to mount them. The privacy fence is pretty rickety and I don’t think it will hold anything too heavy. My husband is afraid to use the side of the house because we feel like the house is held together with the new coat of paint that was put on 2 years ago.

Just kidding but not really.

So, this is the new space I have to contend with this year, along with our Grey Gardens. I plan on growing beans, greens, chard,beets, carrots,peas,cabbage,broccoli, and some herbs in that space. And the melons in the one sunny spot. The cukes also did fine where they were last year,so I’ll probably do that again.


I plan on bringing you updates through the season on how the garden is doing. It’ll be a bit before we can plant here. The day I took these pictures it was a rare 80 in April. The day after, it snowed. It’s usually mid-may before I can start to think about putting things in the ground here.

My cost so far: $15 for seeds
I am a big time seed saver but I misplaced my seed stash (long story) and bought some . Also, the bad thing about not having a good growing season besides not getting the food is that obviously, if the plant doesn’t make it, there’s no seeds at the end of the season, so I did have to buy some seeds to replace what I couldn’t save.























Poverty Lit: “Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. … I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready.”


It’s the 75th anniversary of Grapes of Wrath. Grapes Of Wrath’ Is 75, But Its Depictions Of Poverty Are Timeless  on NPR talks about the timeless depiction of poverty and the American reactions to the book.


This feels particularly true still…

“Part of the shock, initially, was resistance to believing that there was that kind of poverty in America,” she says. “Other people thought that Steinbeck was a communist, and they didn’t like the book because they thought that that collective action that the book is moving towards — because it really is moving from ‘I’ to ‘we’ — was threatening to, sort of, American individualism.”


Tom Joad’s speech in the film gets me every time.

“I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark,” Tom says. “I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. … I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there.”