Tag Archives: Optimism

Why I’m optimistic about Earth Day – Part 2

Because Earth Day was two days ago and since then, people all over the world, including me, woke up feeling the same way they did about the environment on Thursday.

No one rushed to hide all the recycling bins or change their bulbs back to incandescent.

Motivation may come and go, but education is for life.

This is what my boss, Sam, sent me on Wednesday:

We fail, and we fail, and we fail again, but then we win, and that’s how we make progress — The important thing is to keep fighting and never give up (and do your best to have a little fun while your at it — after all, what’s the purpose in trying to save the planet if you don’t take some time to enjoy it?)

So, today, as on earth day, I am optimistic about the environment.

-Jenny

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Why I’m optimistic about Earth Day- Part 1

Well, right now I’m not. But I promise I will be. (That’s why this is Part 1)

This semester, I work at the state’s largest environmental advocacy group, Clean Wisconsin, and I have really enjoyed it. One of my main “projects” has been helping out with anything related to the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which is in game time mode this week at the capitol.

If you don’t know about it, just know that it’s a piece of legislation years and years in the making that calls for increased renewable energy standards in Wisconsin and forces the state to start making new energy technology, create jobs, and stop wasting money importing foreign oil and coal. It used to have a lot of other really neat stuff like Low-Carbon Fuel Standards and Energy Efficient Community Standards… but that all got cut. Hey, it’s still a step in the right direction.

I can’t speak for the Clean Wisconsin guys, but I may have let myself get a little overly excited about the potential for such progressive energy policy to finally be enacted… with me having a [small] hand in it. So, anyway, Clean Wisconsin has been working really hard to get it passed. But then it looked like what actually needed to be done was convincing legislators to even vote on it (it’s an election year, after all). And NOW, the session ends tomorrow and it still needs to pass TWO rounds of voting. Not good.

Ok there’s the background.

So I woke up this morning to this:

So that was, well, really disheartening.

But then, I went to the Earth Day at 40 conference and listened to some really incredible speakers and was inspired by all the accomplished and motivated individuals coming together to celebrate in the place earth day began. So that was cool. Then, I went to the office, and, being the optimistic (well if not optimistic, at least persistent) environmentalists they are, here was the mood there: (you can click on the image to go to the page if it’s too small)

Quite the headline, huh?

So that was uplifting, a little.

But now, some more strongly-worded news came out that is NOT uplifting:

Even though it’s looking pretty grim, the reason I’m sharing all this is because it has taught me a lot.

I have been really discouraged by the misinformation campaign lead by coal and oil lobbyists that were somehow MORE convincing than all these smart people I work with. (huh?)

I couldn’t (and still don’t) really understand why people are so quick to reject new policies and accept the status quo, but I can also recognize that I have been surrounded by nothing but supporters of this bill all semester. Having my first longer-term taste of the political process showed me just how dedicated, persistent, and knowledgeable you have to be to accomplish policy change, and how difficult it is to get people to think long-term in the name of environmental improvement. This was something I vastly underestimated before.

Aside from the political aspect, I have also learned how much work there is to be done, particularly in just convincing others that this “environment stuff” not only matters, but is in the best interest for them. I would like to focus on re-framing environmentalism into a universal goal for bettering the earth, in whatever sector is most important to YOU. (And also do a little work on combating all those negative stereotypes that currently exist out there). One other thing I learned was exactly how riled up I get about all this stuff! (One too many “I-have-to-go-to-bed-at-9-because-I’m-depressed-about-the-environment” days have occurred lately. Time to snap out of it.)

All that said, I am excited for earth day this year because it is a really fun part of being “green.” Getting outside on a spring day, volunteering, sharing information (read: free food), and having community events is not only fun, it represents the crux of this movement.

I am excited to see others who are also passionate about making the world a better place, and I’m even more excited to kick ass in the name of making up for what Wisconsin lost by not passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

RIP CEJA,

Jenny

P.S. Looking for some Earth Day reading? These are awesome:

“As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day the most serious environmental problem that we face is not global warming or the pollution of our air, water, land and food. It is whether or not our country moves forward in developing public policy based on science or whether we make decisions based on politics and fear mongering.” –Let’s Set The Record Straight, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Grist)

And, I’m really motivated by this approach. Very good perspective (except the leaving the lights on thing):

“…Ask why the business is still using incandescent bulbs when there are $1 compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs at Ace Hardware down the street. Ask why the faucet in the restroom pours water out faster than Niagra Falls when low-flow aerators cost about $5. Ask why coffee comes in styrofoam cups when paper cups are used at every Starbucks and Caribou. Ask why the air conditioning is set at 55 when the door is left hanging open. And ask if you can turn the temperature back to 70. Pay attention, and speak up. Write letters, write comments, write letters to the editor, ask to see the manager, and threaten to take your business elsewhere — somewhere that you like the way things are being run.” –For Earth Day, A Plea for You to be a Pain in the Ass, Jenn Henry

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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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