Category Archives: Action Alert!

This is what DE-MOC-RACY looks like

Beep – Beep – Beep – Bah – Beep – Bah – Beep – Beep – Beep.

Though there have been many, this is the tune of the “crowd favorite” chant over the past 3 weeks at the Wisconsin capitol. Protesters yell it, car horns honk it, and my mind constantly replays it throughout every part of the day (wait, was that in my mind or did a passing car just honk it?).

This morning, as I sit and drink Just Coffee’s aptly named, “Revolution Roast” and try to get that beepbeepbeep out of my head, I am amazed, once again, looking through the images of the turnout to the state’s capitol yesterday.

Since Clean Wisconsin’s office is located about 4 doors down from the center of the action, it’s been day after crowd-packed day of chants, honking horns, clever signs, free pizza, marching union leaders, marching students, marching firefighters, and marching teachers, all determined, angry, mobilized, and very, very persistent.

While I am usually hesitant to write a blog post about political matters – especially this one that’s about as divisive a topic as you can imagine, I still want to make sure my out of town readers realize just how amazing these protesters have been – that amidst day in and day out of bad news, the crowds come peaceful, organized and in big, big numbers.

On Wednesday, the sneaky Senate found a [potentially-illegal] way to vote on the Budget Repair Bill (the bill that includes the contested collective bargaining piece) without a quorum. Sam and I were at a film festival near the capitol at that time, and went down afterward to see what was going on. It was madness. Before I get to the crowds, you should really watch what it is exactly that happened that night in the Joint Finance Committee before it moved to the Senate. It’s pretty crazy. Watch here.

…Hearing them vote as Rep. Barca is yelling at them that the vote is illegal, while you can hear the crowds yelling right outside the door. Wow. Representative Gordon Hintz also did a good job of expressing the frustrations of many in this awesome speech the week prior:

Well, anyway. The crowds were quite riled up when Sam and I got down there. We made it inside and up to the third floor of the packed capitol and made a few loops around looking for a spot to stand and see the drama unfold in the rotunda below. The place was noisy as hell and filled with such an array of people. Sure, there were your smelly, stoned, dreadlocked protesters that you’d expect at any protest, but for the most part, the capitol was full of normal everyday pissed-off people who are just frustrated, and standing there is the only thing they can think to do at this point.

We ran into the exec director of Clean Wisconsin, many fellow students, interns, UW professors, WI Supreme Court hopeful David Prosser, Tia Nelson (the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day), one founder of Clean Wisconsin, the previous mayor of Madison (who had apparently snuck in through a bathroom window at the time the capitol was locked in order to protest the vote) and 8 policemen with mustaches (hey, we needed something to do).

What’s truly amazing though, is with as angry as everyone has a right to be, the protesters have made their occupation of the capitol somewhat of a science. This HuffPost blogger paints a really good picture in his post, “The Unbreakable Culture of the Occupied Capitol,” but that night Sam and I probably got there at 9:30 pm, and by the time we left at 11:30, in anticipation for protesters staying over night, fellow-protesters had come distributing free water, fruit, and pizza to the crowds, and holding “peaceful protest info-session” gatherings in the assembly. There were people delegated to go around and get signatures for recall petitions, and others delegated to go around with mega-phones on each floor announcing over and over: “This is a peaceful protest. The police are waiting for us to become violent so they can kick us out; do not let this happen. Later tonight the police might tell you to leave the capitol. You do not need to leave, but do not resist arrest, do not become limp…” etc.

My pictures don’t do justice, but there are many that do.

Alright, I’m disappointed by my inability to describe the powerful scene that night (and many previous to that night), but it’s time to wrap this up. But I do think that despite all the bad news, the scene at the capitol has been truly amazing, and I feel really lucky to have gotten to see so much of the action. Although I might go crazy if I hear that protest again, this really is what democracy looks like.

Oh also, one major lesson of all this:

VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE. VOTE.

Wisconsin elections are April 5th. And according to a friend, “If you were down there protesting this bill and you don’t go vote, you’re the worst kind of person.”

Here is any info you need to know (for Wisconsin).

Beep – Beep – Beep – Bah – Beep – Bah – Beep – Beep – Beep.

-Jenny

Want to make a video?

Hey guys,

I’m sorry this is a little bit of short notice, but in case anyone is interested, a friend told me about this film festival that is currently accepting submissions. I think the idea is really cool and could lead to a really meaningful and inspirational summer project.

Have fun!

Jenny

Here’s some details:

From the earthquake in Haiti to the Gulf Oil Spill, environmental
disasters are currently at the forefront of world news
. In response, explore.org, a non-profit multi-media organization, has recently created the the explore/HATCH Short Film Award to be given to a filmmaker who best tells the story of a remarkable individual’s actions in response to a devastating environmental event.

Our goal? To spread awareness of disasters and bring recognition to those selfless heroes who are making a difference.

Submissions for the film are due August 25th. The winner will receive a full expense paid trip to HATCHfest Bozeman (Sept 22 – 25, 2010), and a prize from explore founder and documentary filmmaker Charles Annenberg Weingarten.

For full submission guidelines, please visit:
http://explore.org/about/explorehatch_award/

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Economy, oil spill and applications

I can’t quite remember how many jobs I’ve applied for now, but it’s well into the double digits.

I’ve received automatic HR emails from two, and nothing from the rest (well, except a rejection from one). It’s hard to keep writing about how great I am with such dismal results so far, although I’m surprised to still come across jobs at organizations that are doing wonderful things for Wisconsin’s environment and citizens. I hope one of them lets me help out! And give me benefits…..

What else is going on in my life aside from editing and re-editing my resume and drafting cover letters?

Well.

– On Tuesday I had a can of garbanzo beans with salad dressing for lunch. Delicious.

– I’m also in the beginning stages of training for a half marathon (as promised!). I’m really excited about this free, healthy excuse to be outdoors – daily!

– Yesterday, an enviro-friend and I re-committed ourselves to sticking to this guide for sustainable fish- dining after a guilt-ridden spicy tuna roll. It was delicious, but my enjoyment was tainted by my free-riding, sad, species-endangering conscience. Anyway, here’s the link. use it. (And read more food suggestions here.) In addition to this, I’m also going to try to cut out Styrofoam completely. Here are some facts about why it’s pretty bad for the environment, or you can take my word for it!

Finally, the oil spill has been on my mind a lot. Ugh, it’s just so sad. I don’t want to ruin everyone’s day by discussing it too extensively, although this is a GREAT reflection on that matter, but here is something interesting that Sam found:

As of March 19, 2009, for the first time, Gallup found that Americans were more concerned with the economy than they were with the environment. (Click on the image for the full article)

However, as of May 27, 2010, the Oil Spill seems to have changed this.

Way to look on the bright side in a bad, bad, bad situation! Have a look at this!

This is why we should keep talking about it (here’s an interesting way to do so, thanks to my friends at Clean Wisconsin for the link), ignoring every single thing Sarah Palin ever says, and promoting clean, renewable energy.

But actually, right now!

(ideas: letter to the editor, call your legislator, write Obama!)

Optimistically yours,

Jenny

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Free Market Environmentalism: Effective solution or policy charade?

This semester I have been a part of a capstone course for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies about Free Market Environmentalism (FME).

What’s that, you may ask?

FME says that market mechanisms may be more effective at solving environmental problems than the government.

Hmmm, what do you think about that?

Let’s think of a few cases:

1. Land: maybe instead of regulating or restricting development, we could just purchase the land (As frequently done by the Nature Conservancy).

2. Animals: maybe we can create a market for Asian Carp (meat, fish oil, bow hunting?) to reduce their populations and decrease their potential damage, instead of relying on Congress to close the Chicago canal to the Great Lakes?

3. Waste: maybe we can use an anaerobic digester to turn polluting cow manure on unregulated farms into clean energy and reusable farm resources.

These are some examples that show that it is possible, in many cases, that free market tools can solve some environmental problems in potentially less time, and while making money and benefiting the community (instead of just stopping the problem) in the process.

My group has explored another waste example: could we provide incentive for households to waste less by paying for our garbage by the pound instead of by bin price (and with our property taxes)? Would that system work for a city like Madison? Would we even end up reducing our waste?

WELL, if you want to know the answers to these questions, you’re in LUCK!

This Thursday, May 6 at 7 pm, my class (composed of 4 separate FME case studies) will present our research on whether FME is more effective than government, or what we believe the place for government may be when it comes to environmental issues. The one hour presentation will be in the Red Gym on Langdon Street, next to Memorial Union. Complete info here.

Please Come!

If you read this blog, you already know that I’m a proponent of individual action. While I support government initiatives (and often solicit your support as well), I also advocate for finding our own ways of solving environmental problems … it’s innovation at it’s best. And it’s fun!

So, come find out what the research, interviews, and survey we conducted has to say about waste reduction and if Free Market Environmentalism is the answer we’ve all been looking for.

Can’t make it?

I’ll put our conclusions up on Friday 🙂

-Jenny

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Environmentalists love practicality

Coal plants and vehicle emissions polluting our air? Advocate for a switch to renewables and expanded public transit.

Mangos taste like cardboard in January? Pick a preserved or more seasonal fruit.

Beef industry polluting our water? Cut down on meat consumption.

200,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico from the sea floor? Take it as [yet another] a warning sign of our dangerous addiction to oil.

………………………………

No one likes a doomsayer, and I’m not trying to be one. But my morning news today certainly did nothing to cure the Monday morning blues.

Really, it makes me quite overwhelmed.

When we can’t pass a climate bill for the life of us and Sarah Palin takes this opportunity to advocate for increased domestic drilling, I get a little bit riled up.

[Deep breath.]

The only thing I can do now is remember that my choices make a difference, and hope that you remember this too.

I recall why I don’t mind living without air conditioning and can opt not to buy products that have too much packaging. I recall that biking this summer means fitness, extra cash in my pocket and it means that I think we can change our culture to rely less on our cars. It reminds me to be a voice for climate bills and renewable energy legislation and an advocate for responsible businesses.

So, today, I will advocate for a few things (this is as much a reminder to me as anyone else):

  1. Read the news. Be aware, and get freaked out because it’s motivating (once you pick your jaw up off the floor).
  2. Then read this. It made me feel better.
  3. Call your senator about the Climate Bill (won’t take more than 5 min and is super easy.)
  4. Pick a few things and stick to them. “10 ways to help the environment” lists are everywhere. But here’s one I like. (Annnnd here’s a vastly extended version.)
  5. Once you make the changes and save money, feel healthier, breathe better, and are happier as a result, tell your friends!

Get set, go.

-Jenny

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Stuff. Part 2: paper receipts version.

Something was recently brought to my attention that has to do with stuff… of the useless and wasteful variety.

Paper receipts.

In addition to being tricky to spell, these pesky non-recycleable pieces of paper consume barrels and barrels of oil and literally hundreds of thousands of trees every year (more specific stats here). Did I mention that they’re not even recyclable?

My friends at softwareadvice.com are working on advocating for all electronic receipts, saying,

We think paper receipts are a wasteful vestige of the last millennium. There is no reason – legal or otherwise – why consumers or retailers need paper receipts. Electronic receipts are completely valid and far more efficient. Not to mention, the production of paper receipts do some real damage to our environment.

But I really liked what one commenter had to say:

I bought a doughnut, and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut, man, I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut… end of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this.

Anyway, I think this is a really interesting and applicable campaign that fits nicely with the blog I mentioned in my original “Stuff.” post about how we can vote with our purchases and that we should be vocal about our preferences (i.e. telling the manager to look into this receipt issue.) Online banking is efficient, and a few dozen little paper receipts clogging up my wallet, backpack and life are not.

Check out this post to learn more and take their poll.

Cheers,

Jenny

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CALLING ALL WISCONSINITES!

Wisconsin needs your help.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is coming down to the wire. This very important piece of legislation, if passed, would have important implications for Wisconsin’s economy, the well-being of farmers, environment, and leadership on renewable energy policy (25% renewable by 2025!!!).

Individuals, organizations, clubs, campus student groups… anyone… can get involved to make sure a strong bill gets passed that includes a significant renewable and efficiency resource standards.

After discussing with Sam Weis (communications) and Ryan Schryver (grassroots organizer) at Clean Wisconsin, we determined the most important role we as can have is:

a. Call/email legislators! Area representatives can be found here:
http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx

b. Write letters to the editor, guest columns, and op-eds to any WI paper. Be it in Madison, your hometown, or just a place that published a negative article, any press supporting CEJA is helpful.

It would be awesome if people around the state could organize some sort of “CEJA day” to write a few letters and make some calls and emails, or start a campaign urging friends/coworkers/etc to do so as well (Also, I’d be more than happy to help out with this… email me!).

Second, it’s just as important that we make sure to collaborate with other friends and groups around the state to make sure that it’s not just the Dane County voice that’s vocal about CEJA.

Specific areas to target are: *Eau Claire, Green Bay and Milwaukee*. SO if you have any contacts at those schools or an idea of how to collaborate, that would be awesome. If you don’t have time to contact them, could you hook me up?

I’ll organize a list of talking points (both with benefits and disputing criticisms) soon, and will happily make that available to anyone who is interested.
Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in organizing or if you have any questions.

Thanks and I’m excited to see what we can do with this exciting and important opportunity.
-Jenny

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The Green List

You’ve seen it before.

“101 things you can do to be green in 2010” and, “10 ways to Green your life” and… many, many (many) others.

But you haven’t seen it from me!

Don’t worry though, I know that you can’t “green” your life in 10 steps. In fact, I love environmental things and talk/think about them all day long and I STILL don’t live a 100% “green” life … whatever that means.

So I’m just here to tell you a few tips I’ve learned along the way to just do what you can to help.

Before I begin, there are two lessons I’ve learned that you must always remember and that underscore this whole idea:

1. You can’t do it all. No one person is going to save the world or have zero impact. That is actually one thing I really like about environmentalists (or just people who care, if you don’t like that term), is that they must rely on others and believe in good intentions of all people.

In other words, since we can’t do it all by ourselves, we must rely on the progress of others to believe that any change can happen!

Anyway, what you can do is pick one area that you really advocate for and adhere to. I have become passionate about food issues, but others focus on transportation, corporate responsibility, building, renewable energy, fisheries, forests, the list is endless! There really is something for everyone out there!

2. Be willing to make the initial sacrifice. At first, some of these things might seem like a big deal, but I promise your life will often be better off for it in the end. Maybe you’ll save money, be more active, feel good about yourself, get your name out there, feel healthier, or have something to share with your grandchildren. Who knows, all I’m sayin’ is pick something new and give it a try.

Got an idea for me? Share it in the comments! I’d love to know how you “green” your life. (… Although that term grosses me out. I have to think of a new one.)

Anyway, here I go. Oh, also: don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing. Maybe pick your “area” and just read that.

Continue reading

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I had an article published!

It’s about the meat we eat. I think it’s really important – but you probably already know that about me if you read this blog.

Enjoy (and sorry for my long absence. I’m coming back… soon… with a vengeance!)

-Jenny

Make your meals meatless

Reducing the amount of meat in our diets can help our health and the environment.

By Jenny Lynes

The Green Room

|

Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010

“Help stop violence?”

“Not today,” you said.

Gruesome images of upside-down, bloody, feces-stained cows litter animal rights and environmental literature. They’re on the pamphlets you’ve rejected on State Street, too.

It’s disconcerting to read studies about the negative effects of red meat and belching cows ruining the atmosphere, to be sure. Still, surprisingly little of it actually translates to a change when we’re standing in the lunch line. The answer to why most of us don’t oblige and cut down? Simple: Meat tastes good.

Though I won’t deny an occasional urge for my favorite sausage-filled breakfast sandwich, I’m proud of the changes I’ve made in cutting out meat to improve my health and help out the environment. So what did it take?

For me, it wasn’t until I left my urban home to work on a small family farm in Maine and asked the farmer what he thought about “industrial meat” that I realized how simple the choice really is. “I would never eat that shit,” he said. That pretty much settled it.

Don’t get me wrong––the farmer and I shared plenty of eggs (fresh from the coup) and bacon (formerly known as Napoleon the pig). But as I learned more about the implications of mass-produced, machinelike treatment of animals, I learned that most of the meat I’d been eating away from the farm was a product of a disgusting, unethical and dangerous industry that wreaks havoc on our land, water, air and health. Did you know that the chickens to be served at KFC are fed and raised in a manner that they reach physical maturity in just over one month? Count me out.

Let’s put animals aside, though, and first consider the implications for our own bodies. There was a time when eating meat was considered a treat. Now, it’s not unheard of to have it in three meals a day. Need protein, you say? Americans currently consume around 110 grams of it a day, which is roughly double the government’s recommended intake. In fact, new research has shown that high consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease, as much as 50 percent among women. This type of diet also increases our chances for diabetes, and the rates have sharply increased since 1980 to prove it. Don’t worry too much though, there’s still time to prevent it simply by replacing some meat eating with plant-based foods.

Americans spend about $147 billion annually on preventable illnesses related to food choices: obesity, salmonella outbreaks, diabetes and heart complications. This, paired with astounding hormone influxes and antibiotic resistance thanks to the manner in which it is produced, results in a big headache for the health sector. All the while, the meat industry is encouraged to expand because of better sales than ever before.

While there are scary implications of mass-produced mystery meat (read: McDonald’s), it’s not that all meat is bad for you. But, we must consider if we want to support such practices and realize that we often do so at the expense of putting something healthier into our bodies.
Onto the environment. Since pigs, for one, produce about four times the amount of waste a human does, you can only imagine what happens with literally millions of pounds of feces created daily––it leaves the feedlots with a one-way ticket into our streams and rivers, polluting our air on its way. On top of this pollution, the industry contributes huge amounts of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, worsening global warming.

However, these are preventable problems. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week, the effect would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. While I have determined that the quality of industrial meat is unsatisfactory for my preferences, I realize that is personal. One thing that isn’t: our responsibility to be informed and choose to take steps to help preserve the resources on this planet for those who will come after us.

My overall-wearing, milking, chicken-feeding days have ended, and I’ve resumed my Madison residence for now, but I remain happy and confident with my decision to give up meat unless I know where and how it was raised.

While I don’t believe everyone has to take this step, I do think the message is clear––we need to change the way we eat. I propose that we all eat much, much less meat than we tend to currently. My challenge for Madison is to include it once every other day for now––but I think you’ll see, as I did, that a life with meat as a treat is surprisingly pleasing.

Jenny Lynes is a contributor to The Green Room. Please send all responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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Bah-humbug

Ever since Obama’s State of the Union address last Wednesday, it’s seemed like everyone’s been pretty grumpy and negative (to say the least).

Well, certainly the environmental community has been, and I suppose the liberals who said the speech was too moderate and the conservatives who complained that it was too liberal are maybe a little more than, “a bit grumpy,” but overall, the mood is not something to sing about.

Although it might have started last Wednesday when your issue area didn’t get the coverage you hoped for, or it was too expensive, or not enough, or whatever… the community (at least the one I’m surrounded by) has just remained a bunch of Negative Nancys and I’m sick of it! (As you can see, it’s beginning to affect me too.)

I understand, it was really disappointing when Obama said this (and pretty much only this) about the environment:

…But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

Here are some of the responses from some greenies that I look up to and respect from twitter that night: (fyi- #sotu just means State of the Union)

“Uh, I’m sorry, did he just call the US a “leader” in the fight on climate change? In what universe? #sotu

“Maybe those kids getting that education can breathe in all that clean coal. #ecosotu

“Man, the section of this speech on climate/energy is just depressing. Boilerplate, blah. No urgency. #fucked #sotu

“So, Republicans have refused to clap for bailout bashing or tax cuts. Maybe if he floats torture … #sotu

“Wow, that clean energy stuff came and went pretty damn quick. #sotu

“I must be broken. I just don’t get the old Obama chills any more. This year has drained my enthusiasm for words. #sotu

While the political leanings of these authors are clear, it’s not the politics one way or another that got me the most riled up… it’s all the negativity (and how uncomfortably divided that room was)!

Then, one Thursday I got into a spat with a Monsanto social media stalker who criticized my informing the twitter world that 2 GMO-loving politicians had been appointed into the FDA by sending me this (one is a previous Monsanto employee actually, Michael Taylor, and the other is Tom Vilsack).

At that point, never have I:

a. Been so concerned with national politics that it actually affected my mood (I know this happens to other people all the time, but I usually remain a bit more removed)

b. Wanted to do something about it more

c. Felt so powerless and discouraged!

And then I decided enough is enough. I’m hoping instead of being sad, pessimistic, hopeless, and powerless, we can pull ourselves up from our bootstraps, focus on our communal need for improvement and work collaboratively, deliberatively, and creatively to solve these problems!

see:

Sound a bit idealistic? kinda, I know.

But it makes sense. I’m not saying that these issues are easy, because if they were they wouldn’t be issues. But I think a focus on COLLABORATIVE innovation and not lingering on being pissed will take us a long way.

So, now I’m trying to be super productive. Here are some things I’m up to:

– Working with Clean Wisconsin to promote the Clean Energy Jobs Act

– Working with a group of super engaged students to come up with waste disposal alternatives for Madison to be presented in a public forum at the end of the semester

– Hopefully blogging about being practical, effective, consistent, motivational and positive in green endeavors

– Writing from time to time in the Daily Cardinal‘s “Green Room” column

– Learning a lot in my last semester of college (!!!) so I can use these skills to help get the rest of the environmental community to stop whining all the time. (ok, that’s an exaggeration)

Sorry if this seemed a bit rantish. It’s just that I know we can do better and I want people to be excited for our future, not scared of it.

So, here’s to a good rest of the week, innovation, and making something to be positive about when finding one is tough.

Optimistically,

Jenny

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