Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Gumbo

Another beautiful day in Oakland. I keep hearing from my Amsterdam friends that monsoon season has officially started in the Dam. I will see for myself in mid-October.

New Orleans: I got an apartment! It's a little cheaper than my room here and I have a subletter for while I am gone, so it will fully cover my New Orleans rent. Yes! Also, the landlord is here in the Bay area this week. We are going to get together tomorrow to meet up and nail down the details. Very serendipitous!

Green for All posted a new video from their green jobs work in New Orleans. It's a great video. Share it far and wide!

I'm trying to find a copy of The World that Made New Orleans, but having a difficult time. I have to keep reading a couple pages at a time at the library. I don't have a library card because I don't have a California ID. It took me 6 years to get a DC ID and I'm not sure how long it will take me to get a CA one. Too much trouble!

I'm Feeling Good: I'm a little obsessed with this song right now. I just listed to Michael Buble sing this song. He is pretty fantastic! And of course I'm making everyone who will pay attention to me listen to Kat Edmonson. In fact it was the only thing my dad would listen to on the entire trip from DC to Oakland. Luckily I had my ipod to keep me entertained with Radiolab, Planet Money and This American Life podcasts.

I couldn't mention this song with also mentioning Nina Simone. An old high school friend introduced her to me when I was 16. He was only trying to make out, but I'm really glad he used Nina Simone as his mood setting music. I've been in love with her ever since!

The New Yorker:
I finally get my New Yorker each week again! And Foreign Affairs and our dream house gets the Sunday edition of the New York Times for free. It just appears each Sunday on our doorstep. Kind of wonderful.

This week's New Yorker has a great story about the Koch brothers. Billionaire brothers who are funding the tea party and climate deniers. It's really good. Check it out.

People You Don't Want to Hang Out With: And if you didn't get a chance to check out Glen Beck's rally this weekend, read about the people that attended. Seriously, its good.

Renee Claire

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Gumbo

Good Morning sunshines!

It's quite beautiful over here in Oakland today. The sun was out from behind the clouds and fog before 10am, which was a pleasant surprise. Sometimes it takes until mid-after to shine through.

Drinks: I'm a little quiter this morning because I discovered a new whiskey last night. Four Roses. Ever since C and I and H and I spent several long hours at the Whiskey Bar in Amsterdam, I've been a little more curious about the drink.

Climate Change: I stumbled upon this Grist article that I found really interesting. It breaks down the winning components of the NRA in beating back gun control laws and how climate activists need to rewrite their rule book to look more like the NRA's. It's a quick read and well worth it.

New Orleans: I'm in the process of trying to find a place to stay while I'm in New Orleans. It's a bit more difficult than I first thought, especially since I don't really know anyone that lives in the city. But I think I found a place in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. I have to finalize a couple more things but this could be the place! I also got a subletter for my room, which makes it actually economical for me to take this little side trip. Which is good because I spent all my money driving across the country last week!

Also, I'm going to be writing a series of articles on the work that I will be doing while I'm there. Hopefully they will be interesting. More interesting than these blogs have been lately.

GreenTech: I thought this was an interesting article. I'm still in discussions with my family about offshore drilling ban and the future of the industry is southern Louisiana. No it has not been a civilized discussion, but thanks for asking.

One of the things that I keep repeating is that current technology is going to beat those in gulf that don't think outside oil and gas extraction into the ground one day. Better more efficient technology built around sustainability and environmental protection is here and gaining power and building infrastructure. Denying that the families in the gulf that completely depend on offshore drilling will be impacted by this one day is silly at best and self-destructive at worst.

Here is an article about 5 new start ups in greentech.

Working from home: It's getting old! Even though I work from about three places a day, cafe's, the couch, or the library, sometimes it's just nice to be around people that do the same type of work as you do. Oh well . . at least I can sit in my garden and drink fresh watermelon juice and those at an office can't say that.

Renee Claire

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fort Hays Kansas and Michelle Obama

Late Saturday night my father and I started driving from Washington DC to Oakland, CA. We are now resting in Fort Hays, Kansas. Kansas on a whole has been pretty lovely, but I think driving through Illinois has been my favorite so far. Really beautiful.

I also got word today that I will be volunteering for the Gulf Restoration Network for 3 weeks in late September, early October in New Orleans. I'm very excited to finally feel not useless about the oil spill. If you know of a place that may be free or extremely cheap for me rest my nappy head in New Orleans, please let me know.

Anyways, I will not be writing a whole post today, but I thought I would share with you a post I did for Momsrising late Thursday afternoon before I hopped on a plane from Amsterdam to DC.


I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I guess that’s what happens when you really care about something. Children are a vulnerable population. They eat more food, breathe more air, and drink more liquids per pound than adults. They are also more curious exploring the world around them in more tactile ways than the rest of us. This all means that children are more susceptible to the impacts of toxic chemicals. While all of this is happening in our own communities, our nation lacks important laws to prevent children from going to school on, near, or inside sources of pollution.

The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) has been calling for action and standing up for children’s health for 30 years. Today, CHEJ is asking concerned parents (and non-parents alike) to sign on to a letter to Mrs. Michelle Obama. The First Lady’s Lets Move campaign is getting children away from the TV by encouraging them to get active by playing sports, gardening, and eating healthy food in order to combat children obesity. Really good stuff. CHEJ thinks this campaign could be even better by expressing the need to eliminate toxic chemicals and sources of pollution from where children play, learn, and grow.

Join CHEJ and ask Mrs. Obama to strengthen the Let’s Move campaign to acknowledge that in some places in the US the air outside is so polluted that sometimes getting active can trigger asthma and expose children to nasty chemicals.

As CHEJ’s letter to the First Lady states, “new schools and playgrounds are still being built on or near toxic contaminated land across the country, although there is an effort by the EPA to establish a policy that provides guidance for school districts on safe school siting issues. Unfortunately, these are just guidelines and are intended only for schools, not playgrounds and other areas where children commonly are active. Siting schools on or near sources of environmental contamination as well as a lack of comprehensive remediation of already contaminated schools will only broaden the scope of childhood health concerns such as obesity.”

Toxic chemicals released from things like incinerators, coal fire power plants, and pesticide spraying can cause reproductive and developmental disorders at an important point in life, ultimately impacting the health and economy of the entire community. But by reducing the amount of toxic chemicals our children are exposed to in the first place, we are providing our children with a better quality of life and our community with a greater chance of success.

Please help CHEJ and ask Mrs. Obama to strengthen the Lets Move campaign.

For a toxic free future,

Renee Claire

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Het Best!

Yesterday, a group of us loud North Americans sat at lunch and recounted every detail our little brains could think of about the Jetblue "I've had it. I'm done." flight attendant. It's officially one of my all time favorite moments in this world.

If you haven't read everything you can read about it, check out the The Colbert Report's tribute.

Jetblue finally after three days of silence, came out with a statement. Basically, they said meh, we're so funny.

I wonder how Richard Branson would react to this happening one of Virgin's planes. I think Richard Branson because I'm currently reading his book "Business Striped Bare". It's excellent. Definitely one of the best business books I've read in a long time, maybe ever. He's pretty great, both in his approach to business, attention to details, having fun, and learning from your mistakes, and his sense of humor.

I was reading this book the other day at my favorite cafe on that street near the canal with the bikes. The one that H and I get terribly lost trying to find every single time we want to drink wit wine and cappuccinos with Cointreau all day long. This man who I had been listening on in of his conversation with two women at the table next to mine saw me reading Branson's book and offered a couple other entrepreneurial book suggestions. I was listening to him because (1) he sounded like an arrogant asshole and (2) he was interesting. Well, now I can't remember what those books were, but you are well aware of my constant reading of business books and magazines, so maybe I'll stumble across it regardless.

I'm on my way back to the states tomorrow afternoon. It's been an odd trip here. Lots of . . . well, lots of personal growth experienced actually. I had this incredible zen moment the other night, where many outstanding questions about my life and the people in it just clicked. I'm an odd bird, not sure if you have noticed and sometimes it sucks, but there isn't much I can about it all now, so I might as well enjoy the ride.

I'm on the hunt for new adventures, so if you have any ideas, pass them along. But the next couple months should be pretty intense. My dad and I are driving cross country starting on Saturday evening. I'm on a mission to visit Wyoming and all the rest of the states on I-80 I've never been to before! Then I might hop over to Louisiana for some volunteering with a small organization working on gulf coast restoration for a couple weeks and I'm planning a 350 event with a local Oakland organization. At least I'm going to try to convince them to do an event in Oakland. So those are two good adventures for the Fall I'm looking forward to.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then check this out. It's pretty easy to get involved. Just gather a bunch of your friends on October 10, 2010, take a picture, and try to do something to help your community mitigate the impacts of climate change. Since most of you that read this blog are from Florida or Louisiana, there's no excuse in not getting involved.

Alright, I'm off.

Renee Claire

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Climate Change is not Environmentalism Exclusive

Finally an article that makes some sense about our limited view of how to solve climate change. Here are some paragraphs I think are particularly interesting. Please take a couple minutes to read the whole article

"Environmentalism' Can Never Address Climate Change
by David Roberts in Grist

"Environmentalism has a well-defined socioeconomic niche in American life. There are distinct cultural markers; familiar tropes and debates; particular groups designated to lobby for change and economic interests accustomed to fighting it; conventional methods of litigation, regulation, and legislation. Environmental issues take a very specific shape.

The thing is, that shape doesn't fit climate change. Climate change -- or rather, the larger problem of which climate change is a symptom -- isn't like the issues that American environmentalism evolved to address. The solutions that American environmental politics are capable of producing are not commensurate with the scale and scope of the challenge climate change represents. A clear understanding of that challenge renders comically absurd the notion that it can or should be the province of a niche progressive interest group. It's just too big for that."

""Environmentalism" is simply not equipped to transform the basis of human culture. It grew up to address a specific, bounded set of issues. For 50 years, American environmental politics has been about restraining the amount of damage industries can do. Environmental campaigners have developed a set of strategies for that purpose, designed to overcome the resistance of industries and politicians to such restraints. And they've been successful in a number of areas. So when climate change entered American politics via environmentalism, that is the model into which it was slotted. Environmental campaigners set about restraining the amount of greenhouse gases industry can emit, and industry set about resisting. Greens and industry fought ferociously, but in the wake of the victories of the'70s, the public largely watched with indifference, barring a few episodes where support swung one way or another (usually as much due to economic circumstances as anything)."

"There is no siloed progressive interest group that can engineer the wholesale reindustrialization of the United States. Period. No amount of clever framing or thoughtful policy proposals can overcome the basic limitations of interest group politics."

"What needs to happen is for concern over earth's biophysical limitations to transcend the environmental movement -- and movement politics, as handed down from the '60s, generally. It needs to take its place alongside the economy and national security as a priority concern of American elites across ideological and organizational lines. It needs to become a shared concern of every American citizen regardless of ideological orientation or level of political engagement. That is the only way we can ever hope to bring about the urgent necessary changes."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Preventing Toxic Contamination by Getting Local

Check out my latest post on the Momsrising blog.

CNN’s Dr. Gupta is hosting a series on toxic chemical contamination around the country called Toxic America. This past Saturday, Dr. Gupta’s story focused on pregnancy and toxic chemicals by following a couple who had difficulty getting pregnant only to realize some troubling information. Women are carrying a body burden of toxic chemicals being released from things found in our homes and places of work.

Dr. Gupta stated: “Scientists at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York City have been following hundreds of pregnant women over the past 12 years to measure chemicals entering the womb during pregnancy.

The women trudge through the city for 48 hours wearing special backpacks, each with a long tube that is slung over the shoulder. The tube, resting inches below the pregnant mom’s mouth, sucks air into a special filter, giving an approximate measurement of the air that she is breathing. The backpack is designed to measure ambient toxics spewed by vehicles, pesticides, and chemicals from common household products.”

Dr. Landrigan from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine states, “”For 80 percent of the common chemicals in everyday use in this country we know almost nothing about whether or not they can damage the brains of children, the immune system, the reproductive system, and the other developing organs. . . It’s really a terrible mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.”

The failure of corporations and our government’s action to set up safeguards that protect our most vulnerable populations against harmful impacts of the chemicals in everyday use is astounding at best. To continue to do so even after the release of hundreds of studies on chemicals found in flame retardants to tin can linings to pvc plastic school supplies is . . . well its just disgusting. And it’s one of the many reasons why people are losing trust in large corporations and are frustrated with our nation’s government agencies.

Organizations around the world are fighting to pass state, national and international laws to prevent this from continuing and we should support them when and where we can. But what I find particularly inspiring are the local community organizations that are working to stop pollution while mobilizing those that live in their own neighborhoods to take a leadership role in preventing harm in the first place.

This Saturday, August 14, in Oakland, CA there is a celebration called Fresh Fest 2010. It’s a celebration of East Bay area youth getting active to protect our environment and our health through education and community engagement. It is being hosted by a large Oakland collaborative, including the Toxic Triangle Coalition. West Oakland is often called the Toxic Triangle because of its long list of toxic contamination. Fresh Fest is one way to get educated, have fun, and get involved. And it is something that can be replicated all over the country.

As Dr. Gupta has stated in his Toxic America series, chemical contamination isn’t just about what toxic chemicals are turning up in our bodies and in the environment, it is also about the lasting impacts this contamination has on our children’s ability to learn and our economy.

Communities hit by chronic chemical pollution suffer higher financial losses due to higher rates of health problems such as development and neurological disorders and reductions in future generation’s IQ points and thus earning potential. Eliminating the use of toxic chemicals from our homes, schools, and places of work isn’t just good policy, it’s a way to protect our individual communities from greater societal harm.

It is only through our individual action will we move closer to preventing toxic pollution from happening. As we begin to better understand the true impacts of the thousands of chemicals being used everyday, we are increasingly in need to stand up and participate.

One way to stand up is by participating in events like Fresh Fest 2010 and volunteering for organization’s like the Community Rejuvenation Project. Here are a few other groups that can help you find a way to raise your own voice:

Get Fresh

Women’s Voices for the Earth

Louisiana Bucket Brigade

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

For a toxic free future,

Renee Claire

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday Quicky

The sun is gone. The swamp-like weather has moved in. And I still can't get a good avacodo in this fucking town. I'm ready to go home, but I won't step foot in the dream house for another three weeks! So I will listen to some jazz on WWOZ and hide out in this little nook I found in the office until it's time to leave. Or maybe it's just the post Lake Como holiday blues I'm feeling today.

Read this article about Detroit's art scene and a particular art collective Soup.

"Soup, as it’s known, is a monthly gathering, held above the MexicanTown Bakery in southwestern Detroit, where guests pay $5 for a homemade bowlful, salad (locally grown, to be sure) and dessert, and sit at tables made of doors laid over milk crates, listening as compatriots propose projects. Creating a pocket park, organizing an artists directory and devising a surveillance-camera video montage were all on this month’s agenda. The guests vote, and the idea deemed most deserving gets the Soup dollars — a neat little way to wiki-finance creativity. Soup, which started seven months ago, has been growing steadily. The last one, on Sunday, was the largest yet."

I'm in search of partner art collectives in South America. If you know of anyone that might know of anyone, please shoot me an email/text/tweet/facebook/call (though I never actually answer my phone) or post-it.

And if you have a couple bucks this month, please consider passing it along to CRP. We are raising funds to receive a matching grant of $3,500. This will help fund the painting of 2 walls in East Oakland, an area full of young artists looking for something positive to do.