sustainability (general)

The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” Over the 32 years that the Prize has been awarded, there have been more than 200 recipients of the prize.

This year’s prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are:

 

  • Sharon Lavigne—Louisiana, USA: In September 2019, Sharon Lavigne, a special education teacher turned environmental justice advocate, successfully stopped the construction of a US$1.25 billion plastics manufacturing plant alongside the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Lavigne mobilized grassroots opposition to the project, educated community members, and organized peaceful protests to defend her predominantly African American community. The plant would have generated one million pounds of liquid hazardous waste annually, in a region already contending with known carcinogens and toxic air pollution. (Support: RISE St. James, Stop Formosa Plastics, and Louisiana Bucket Brigade)
  • Liz Chicaje Churay—PeruIn January of 2018, as a result of the efforts of Liz Chicaje Churay and her partners, the Peruvian government created Yaguas National Park. Comparable in size to Yellowstone National Park, the new park protects more than two million acres of Amazon rainforest in the northeastern region of Loreto. Its creation is a key step in conserving the country’s biodiversity—safeguarding thousands of rare and unique wildlife species and conserving carbon-rich peatlands—and protecting Indigenous peoples. (Support: Instituto del Bien Comun and Amazon conservation organizations)
  • Kimiko Hirata—JapanAfter the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, Japan was forced to move away from nuclear power and, in its place, embraced coal as a major energy source. Over the past several years, Kimiko Hirata’s grassroots campaign led to the cancellation of 13 coal power plants (7GW or 7,030MW) in Japan. These coal plants would have released more than 1.6 billion tons of CO2 over their lifetimes. The carbon impact of Hirata’s activism is the equivalent of taking 7.5 million passenger cars off the road every year for 40 years. (Support: Kiko Network, Japan Beyond Coal, and 350.org)
  • Thai Van Nguyen—VietnamThai Van Nguyen founded Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, which rescued 1,540 pangolins from the illegal wildlife trade between 2014 and 2020. Nguyen also established Vietnam’s first anti-poaching unit, which, since 2018, has destroyed 9,701 animal traps, dismantled 775 illegal camps, confiscated 78 guns, and arrested 558 people for poaching, leading to a significant decline in illegal activities in Pu Mat National Park. Pangolins are the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal despite an international trade ban. Heavy demand for their meat, scales, and blood threatens pangolins with extinction; all eight pangolin species are on the IUCN Red List. (Support: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, WildAid, and Pangolin Crisis Fund)
  • Gloria Majiga-Kamoto—MalawiConcerned about the environmental harm caused by mounting plastic pollution in Malawi, Gloria Majiga-Kamoto fought the plastics industry and galvanized a grassroots movement in support of a national ban on thin plastics, a type of single-use plastic. As a result of her dedicated campaigning, in July 2019, Malawi’s High Court upheld the ban on the production, importation, distribution, and use of thin plastics. This is the first Prize for Malawi. (Support: Break Free From Plastic, GAIA Zero Waste World, and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust)
  • Maida Bilal—Bosnia and HerzegovinaMaida Bilal led a group of women from her village in a 503-day blockade of heavy equipment that resulted in the cancellation of permits for two proposed dams on the Kruščica River in December 2018. The Balkans are home to the last free-flowing rivers in Europe. However, a massive hydropower boom in the region threatens to irreversibly damage thousands of miles of pristine rivers. This is the first Prize for Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Support: RiverWatch, Patagonia, EuroNatur, and EKO BISTRO)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—or watch a brief video—about their remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Sharon Lavigne:

 

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

Share

June 16, 2021
[Click here to comment]

We plan to publish posts on the following topics (among others) over the course of this year:

  • Environmental Toxins’ and Air Pollution’s Links to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease 
  • A Green & Just Economic Recovery and Prosperity
  • (Anti) Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons Info.  (a resource listing)
  • Wildfire Prevention and Risk Reduction
  • Land Restoration, Remediation, and Regeneration
  • PFAS / PFOA: Forever Chemicals
  • Organizations for Women’s Rights and Equality
  • Promising, Under-Recognized Trends and Solutions

Check back soon to see some of these posts!  In the meantime, please check out our past posts. Thank you for reading The Green Spotlight and sharing the information with others.

Share

April 27, 2021
[Click here to comment]

These are just a few of the many films—with environmental themes—that have come out in the last few years (between 2016 and 2021). The listing also includes a few TV programs. These films and shows (mostly documentaries) touch on all sorts of topics, e.g., food, soil, agriculture/farming, indigenous people, climate change, social and environmental movements, animals, trees and forests, energy, and inspiring leaders and scientists. We’ll continue to add more films to this listing throughout 2021, as we learn of others. We have also posted listings of earlier films (from before 2016); scroll to the bottom of this post to find links to those.

Click on each of the links below (or go to IMDB.com) to see previews/trailers, reviews, and descriptions of each film. Also, educators should note that many of these films are available for free to teachers, and their websites often have educational resources for teachers/students to use.

Dark Waters   (feature movie, based on a true story re. PFAS and DuPont)

Percy vs Goliath (feature movie, based on a true story re. a farmer and Monsanto)

The Condor & the Eagle

Kiss the Ground

Gather

The Biggest Little Farm

The Serengeti Rules

Climate Solutions 101 (Project Drawdown’s 6-part video series)

Before the Flood

Living in the Future’s Past

Being the Change: A New Kind of Climate Documentary

Inside the Megafire

The Story of Plastic

A Plastic Ocean

RiverBlue

Power Struggle

Life Off Grid

Spaceship Earth

Hard Nox (from the Dirty Money TV series)

The Beekeeper (short film)

You’ve Been Trumped Too

Animals:

Love and Bananas: An Elephant Story

My Octopus Teacher

Artifishal: The Fight to Save Wild Salmon

Trees and Plants:

Intelligent Trees

Fantastic Fungi

The Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees

The Secret World of Trees (TV series)

Inspiring People:

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock

I Am Greta: A Force of Nature

Jane Goodall: The Hope

Rachel Carson

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

For other media on inspiring environmental leaders, check out the short videos about Goldman Prize winners.

 

Also check out WaterBear: a new, free streaming platform dedicated to environmental films and media. And take a look at The Years Project videos and shows, as well as PBS shows such as Our Planet, Nature, Earth: A New Wild, and NOVA, as well as BBC shows such as A Perfect Planet and Planet Earth.

Are there other relevant, recent (or forthcoming) films or TV programs that you’ve seen and would recommend to others?  If so, please mention those in the Comments section below.

 

Green Film Festivals

These are a few of the annual film fests that I’m aware of; this is not an exhaustive list. Please let everyone know about other green film festivals by contributing a Comment. Many of the festivals’ websites feature video clips and a some even stream entire films (short and full-length films), and they list many additional, new, independent films, beyond what I’ve listed above, including some brand new ones that haven’t been screened widely yet.

See the Green Film Network to find film festivals in many countries.

 

Our previous film posts:

Share

March 12, 2021
[Click here to comment]

Cities, towns, counties, states, regions, and countries all over the world are making large strides towards shifting to renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, and wave/tidal energy). In early 2018 we published our original post on this topic. This new post provides an update on where things stand three years later, in early 2021:

Within the U.S., the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 program reports that (to date, as of early 2021), more than 170 cities, more than 10 counties, 8 states, and 2 territories have adopted the ambitious goal of 100% clean energy (for at least electricity). Note: This is quite a bit more than just three years ago, when the stats were 50 cities, 7 counties, and only 1 state (Hawaii).  As of this year (so far), the 8 states and 2 territories that have committed to this goal are: California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Washington, as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico!  The counties that have made this commitment are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington state.

Whereas three years ago, only five towns in the U.S. had achieved this impressive goal (generating 100% of their electricity from non-polluting, renewable sources), now five counties (unincorporated county areas) in California, as well as 47 cities and towns across the U.S. have achieved this goal. Most of those cities and towns are in California. The non-California towns are: Aspen, CO; Greensburg, KS; Rock Port, MO; Kodiak Island, AK; and Georgetown, TX. You can use the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 map to see if your city/town/county or other municipalities in your state have committed to or achieved these renewable energy goals.

Worldwide, many other cities and countries are also approaching and even reaching 100% renewable electricity goals. The Global 100 RE Strategy Group says that “To date, 11 countries have reached or exceeded 100% renewable electricity; 12 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030; 49 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2050; 14 U.S. states and territories have passed laws or executive orders to reach up to 100% renewable electricity by between 2030 and 2050 [Note: That is more than the 10 identified by the Sierra Club above]; over 300 cities worldwide have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by no later than 2050; and over 280 international businesses have committed to 100% renewables across their global operations.”

Countries that are powered or almost entirely powered on renewable energy (>90%) include: Costa Rica, Iceland, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Norway. Other countries with very high percentages of renewables include Portugal, Germany, Scotland, New Zealand, and Austria. Islands that now have >90% renewable electricity include: Eigg and Orkney (Scotland), Tasmania (Australia), Tokelau (New Zealand), Tau (American Samoa), and Samso (Denmark).

Note: Some of these countries, cities, and islands use primarily hydropower; large dams are controversial, as they are environmentally destructive to ecosystems and habitats. Some biomass (and landfill gas) sources can also be controversial. It definitely does not make any sense or pencil out (climate-wise/carbon-wise or otherwise) to cut down trees en masse (let alone ship their wood or wood pellets across the world) in order to make energy.

Some programs that help cities, regions, countries, and other entities move towards 100% include:

Also see these other resources on 100% renewable energy efforts:

We should all ask the leaders of our cities, towns, counties, states, and countries (mayors, city council members, county supervisors, governors, state legislators, congressional representatives, Senators, and President) to commit to a 100% (or at least 90%) renewable energy goal (as well as carbon-neutral and net-negative emission goals), and to enact forward-thinking policies right away to move rapidly towards those goals. You can share these program links with them, so they will be aware of networks they can join and resources they can use in setting their policies and meeting their renewable energy goals.

One way to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources at a local level is to create a county-wide, city-wide or regional Community Choice Energy (AKA Community Choice Aggregation, CCA) program. Per The Climate Center, “Community Choice agencies are local, not-for-profit, public agencies that provide electricity services to residents and businesses. Community Choice introduces competitions and consumer choices into the electricity sector with a focus on local, renewable energy to stimulate rapid innovations in clean energy systems.” According to Local Power, Community Choice energy programs now serve more than 30 million Americans, in more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. As of early 2021, there are 23 Community Choice energy programs established in California alone, serving more than 11 million people, providing more than 3,800 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity, and avoiding 940,000+ metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year! In addition to California, eight other states have also authorized Community Choice programs (so far): Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

The Climate Center is also running the Climate-Safe California campaign, to try to push the state to set and achieve the goal of net-negative emissions by 2030 in California. You can read and endorse the platform via that link.

Energy efficiency is also critical. It is as important as shifting to renewable energy sources, because the less energy we need/use/waste (i.e. the lower the demand), the less we have to produce (supply) from any source. Simply adding renewable energy sources to the existing non-renewable sources will not help reduce pollution or slow climate change; renewable sources need to start to replace the existing fossil-fuel-based (oil, coal, and gas) sources. (All types of energy production, even non-polluting renewables, require material inputs and have some impacts.) The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published a 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which concluded that “For the first time in four years, California took first place nationwide, edging out Massachusetts, the leader in the Northeast…. Rounding out this year’s top 10, are…Vermont (#3), Rhode Island (#4), New York (#5), Maryland (#6), Connecticut (#7), Washington, DC (#8), and Minnesota and Oregon (tied for #9). …Other regional leaders include Colorado in the Southwest, and Virginia in the South.”

 

This was our previous post on this topic:
Cities and Towns Achieving (or Approaching) 100 Percent Renewable Energy (2018)

Other related posts:

Share

February 23, 2021
[Click here to comment]

The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” Over the 31 years that the Prize has been awarded, there have now been 200 recipients of the prize.

This year’s prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are:

  • Leydy Pech—MexicoLeydy Pech, an indigenous Mayan beekeeper, led a coalition that successfully halted Monsanto’s planting of genetically modified soybeans in southern Mexico. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the government had violated the Mayans’ constitutional rights and suspended the planting of genetically modified soybeans. Because of the persistence of Pech and her coalition, in September 2017, Mexico’s Food and Agricultural Service revoked Monsanto’s permit to grow genetically modified soybeans in seven states. 
  • Kristal Ambrose—The Bahamas: Drawing on the power of youth activism, Kristal Ambrose convinced the government of The Bahamas to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic cutlery, straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups, to reduce plastic waste in and around the ocean and the Bahamas islands. Announced in April 2018, the nationwide ban went into effect in January 2020. (Organization: Bahamas Plastics Movement)
  • Nemonte Nenquimo—EcuadorNemonte Nenquimo led an indigenous campaign and legal action that resulted in a court ruling protecting 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest and Waorani territory from oil extraction. Nenquimo’s leadership and the lawsuit set a legal precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador, and other tribes are following in her footsteps to protect additional tracts of rainforest from oil extraction. (Relevant organizations: Amazon Frontlines, Alianza Ceibo, Amazon Watch)
  • Chibeze Ezekiel—GhanaAs a direct result of Chibeze Ezekiel’s four-year grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant and adjoining shipping port to import coal. The coal power plant would have been Ghana’s first. Ezekiel’s activism stopped the coal industry from entering Ghana and steered the nation’s energy future away from coal and towards solar and renewables. (Relevant organizations: Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (G-ROC) 350, Strategic Youth Network for Development, 350.org)
  • Paul Sein Twa—MyanmarSeeking to preserve both the environment and Karen culture in Myanmar, in December 2018 Paul Sein Twa led his people in establishing a 1.35-million-acre peace park—a unique and collaborative community-based approach to conservation—in the Salween River basin. The Salween River basin is a major biodiversity zone and home to the indigenous Karen people, who have long sought self-determination and cultural survival. The new park represents a major victory for peace and conservation in Myanmar. (Relevant organizations: KESAN (Karen Environmental and Social Action Network), ICCA Consortium)
  • Lucie Pinson—FranceIn 2017, Lucie Pinson’s activism successfully pressured France’s three largest banks to eliminate financing for new coal projects and coal companies. She then compelled French insurance companies to follow suit: between 2017 and 2019, mega insurers AXA and SCOR announced plans to end insurance coverage for coal projects. (Relevant organizations: Reclaim Finance, Coal Policy Tool, BankTrack)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief video—about their remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Leydy Pech of Mexico:

 

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

Share

December 1, 2020
[Click here to comment]

These are a few recently published books that you may want to consider reading and/or giving to someone as a gift:

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (essays from more than 40 women who are at the forefront of the climate movement), edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine K. Wilkinson

The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, by Michael E. Mann

Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace, by Carl Safina

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

And here are a few that aren’t primarily focused on environmental topics, but they are also important books for our time:

What Unites Us, by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner  [also coming out as a graphic novel]

How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) (poems), by Barbara Kingsolver

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, by Katherine May

Also check out the books published by Chelsea Green Publishing and New Society Publishers and Island Press, for a wide selection of titles on green/sustainability topics.

Please buy books from independent bookstores to keep them in business (you can find the ones closest to you on IndieBound.org)—or Powell’s Books, Barnes & Noble, or Better World Books—rather than from Amazon. There are numerous good reasons not to buy anything (but especially books) from Amazon. (And remember, when you pay the lowest possible price for books, the authors, publishers, and warehouse workers are all likely to receive a lot less for their work.) Also, when buying online, avoid choosing one- or two-day shipping unless it’s actually necessary; overnight/airplane-based shipping has an enormous environmental footprint as well as a serious cost to worker safety and sanity.

Consider buying gift certificates from local, independent bookstores for your family or friends.

For online audio books, check out Libro.fm, which also helps support your local independent bookstore.

Do you have some favorite books or authors to recommend? Please mention them in the Comments.

Related posts:

Share

November 27, 2020
[Click here to comment]

We hope you’ll follow our Twitter account, and also check out and Subscribe to some of the topic-specific lists we’ve compiled on Twitter, featuring other accounts (people and groups) worth following. Note: Click on the “Members” link to see the accounts you may want to follow within each list:

Climate: news, info, groups, leaders, scientists
(also see Katharine Hayhoe’s list of climate scientists)

Nuclear (weapons and energy/power): experts, news, information, anti-nuke groups, disarmament, arms control, etc.

Fracking: anti-fracking groups, leaders, news, and info

Environmental Justice (EJ): environmental, economic, and social equity-focused groups and leaders; BIPOC green groups, etc.

Animal protection: Animal rights, advocacy, rescue, and welfare/protection groups (for wildlife and for domesticated animals and farmed animals)

Wildfires and fire ecology: Wildfire prevention and risk reduction; land use/management; prescribed/controlled fires, forest/vegetation management, defensible space, building/home hardening; climate change/crisis

Voting / Elections: election information, election protection/integrity, voter education, voting rights

Democracy vs. dictatorship: experts on authoritarianism, autocracy, fascism, dictatorship, oligarchy, kleptocracy, theocracy, tyranny, political science, history

Media, news, facts, information: reputable, fact-based sources of information; journalism; fact-checking; countering disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda

Civil rights / Equality / Black America: racism, bigotry, discrimination, injustice, white supremacists/nationalists, police brutality, etc.

Indigenous / Native: news, info, groups, and leaders

Latino: news, info, groups, and leaders

Immigration and refugees: immigrant, refugee, migrant, and asylum rights and advocacy groups

Women’s rights: Women’s advocacy, representation, equality, bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, equal pay

Youth / young adult organizations: Groups of and for young people, students, Gen Z, millennials, etc.

Economic inequality: economic (in)justice, poverty, the ongoing redistribution of more $$ to the most wealthy, kleptocracy, predatory capitalism, exploitation, unemployment; labor rights, fair/living wage, unions

Veterans: news, info, advocacy groups, and leaders

National security: e.g., foreign policy, war, military, safety, peace

Legal minds: Lawyers / attorneys; legal scholars, analysts, experts; justice, Rule of Law, constitutional law, criminal law, etc.

Hate and extremism: Groups and experts working Against hate, supremacy, extremism, violence, conspiracy theories and cults (e.g. QAnon), radicalization / disinformation, and terrorism, including domestic terrorism

Sociopathy / pathology and pathocracy: Experts on Anti-Social Personality Disorders (psychopaths/sociopaths), malignant narcissism, pathocracy, con men, cults, brainwashing

Gun Control/Reform: Gun control organizations, trying to enact common-sense and widely supported policies that will help prevent gun violence and mass shootings (massacres)

We also have Twitter lists for specific states and regions, e.g. ArizonaGeorgiaMichigan, North Carolina, OregonTexasWisconsin; and Appalachia. We’ll be adding more lists (including other state lists) over time, and we also add more accounts (“members”) to our existing lists as we discover them.

See all of our Twitter lists here.

You can also follow/”Like”  The Green Spotlight on Facebook for daily posts.

Share

May 27, 2020
[Click here to comment]

We’re all going to need to muster up as much resilience, generosity, patience, kindness, empathy, courage, adaptability, resourcefulness, and creativity as we can, to get through the tough times our families, communities, country, and world are facing during this unprecedented crisis. Things may continue to get worse in many places for a while, and it’s going to be a long haul with multiple waves and no known end date. We’re not only facing a pandemic (a global infectious disease and public health crisis), but also a Great Depression-level economic crisis of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity (hunger), eviction, and homelessness (issues made much worse by the United States’ existing health care/insurance crisis, and by economic inequality, exploitative corporate practices, environmental and institutional racism and injustice, systemic corruption, and the DT regime’s authoritarianism), all of which have left many people in desperate need of assistance, in every community. (And tragically, the climate crisis will exacerbate all of these problems, and create disasters on top of disasters.) Our society is entering an extended period of great loss, disruption, hardship, and suffering.

Soon, all of us will know people who have been sick with the COVID-19 coronavirus (and many of us will know at least one person who has died from it) as well as numerous people who are suffering financially and emotionally from it. Millions of people are struggling to pay their rent (or mortgage) and utilities, exorbitant medical bills, and/or burial costs. Millions of people (record numbers) are now unemployed or underemployed, while healthcare workers and other essential workers are having to work overly long and stressful hours and risking their lives to do so. Most people don’t want to ask friends or family for help, even when they desperately need it (and not everyone has family members or close friends who are in a position to help). So reach out to find out what people you know are going through and what they might need. And if you need help, do reach out to others and to groups that can offer assistance (see below). You are not alone, and there will be people who are able and willing to help you, even if your family and friends are not able to.

If you’re not in dire straits (e.g., if you and your family have your health, an adequate income, health insurance, and/or you still have some savings to get you and your family through an emergency or an extended rough patch), please consider using at least some of your “stimulus” payment money (or your tax refund or savings, if any) to help others who are in need, whether they are friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, friends of friends, strangers, or small local businesses that are struggling. Ask whether people need help with paying rent or buying food, etc.

Alternatively, if you have extra time or skills, services, assistance, or resources to offer, offer those—e.g., food, meals, masks / PPE, plants or seeds, housing (e.g., guest units), babysitting, homeschooling/online schooling, tutoring, or homework help, etc.

If you can help people directly, do that. Otherwise or in addition, try to support (donate to or volunteer for) some of the established groups that are actively helping people in need, such as these:

What other national groups would you recommend that people support? Please add them in the Comments. Also see the links to additional resources at the end of this post.

Also support (donate to or volunteer for):

  • local Mutual Aid and disaster/emergency response groups and any local relief funds set up by community orgs/foundations or community banks and credit unions
  • local food banks/pantries
  • your area’s Meals on Wheels
  • Legal Aid groups (and lawyers providing free, pro bono assistance)
  • your region’s United Way
  • your region’s Red Cross
  • domestic violence shelters and groups
  • child abuse and fostering groups
  • homeless and affordable housing groups; shelters
  • refugee, detainee, and undocumented immigrant protection groups
  • small farmers; farmer’s markets and CSAs
  • reproductive rights/care groups and funds
  • mental health advocacy groups
  • senior centers and support orgs
  • prisoners’ rights groups
  • animal shelters (consider fostering an animal if you have the time and resources)
  • small businesses, and people out of work (including independent/freelance/gig workers and undocumented workers, who pay taxes but can’t collect unemployment)
  • independent bookstores (see IndieBound.org to find stores near you; order books from them online when their stores have to be closed); please do not buy from Amazon, which has put many bookstores and small businesses out of business

And here are additional actions you can take to make a difference:

  1. Offer to pick up groceries (or prescriptions or other essential supplies) for a near-by senior, someone with health conditions or immune system issues, or someone who’s sick.
  2. Reach out to at least one friend, neighbor, or relative each day or each week (by phone, email, FaceTime/Duo, or mail) to see how they’re doing.
  3. Join an existing Mutual Aid group in your area (or consider creating one if there isn’t one already).
  4. Sew masks or make other types of PPE, and give them away (or sell them at cost if need be) to friends, neighbors, healthcare workers, or other essential workers (e.g., grocery workers, domestic workers, etc.). Find out if your area has a local Maker space or other group that is making or collecting/donating masks or equipment.
  5. Plant some food (even if you don’t have any garden/yard space and it’s just a couple of pots on a window sill; start where you are; do what you can). In most areas, garden/farm supply stores are still open during the Shelter-in-Place/Stay-at-Home orders (as food/ag is essential). You can also order seeds online; choose organic seeds. Or plant a fruit or nut tree, if you can. If you have extra seeds or a surplus harvest, share them with neighbors and friends.
  6. Think of any skills, services, items, assets, or resources you can offer (or barter/trade/exchange or lend) to others, e.g., surplus food items, meals, or plants/seeds; babysitting, homeschooling/education, petsitting or fostering, professional services; guest units (including vacation rentals, trailers, studios, etc.).
  7. Build a Little Free Pantry/Library (or just put a “Free Stuff” Box) in front of your house or somewhere in your neighborhood, where people can leave or take non-perishable foods, toiletries, books, or other items. Or if there’s already a Little Free Pantry/Library in your neighborhood, you could leave items in it. You can also donate food to local food banks/drives, and donate needed items to homeless shelters.
  8. Thank essential workers (e.g., healthcare, grocery, restaurant, and delivery workers/drivers, your mail carrier and post office workers, cashiers, etc.), with verbal thanks, thank-you cards, tips or gift cards, or gifts (e.g., masks, soap, hand sanitizer, food, seeds, tea, flowers, etc.). For example, I left a thank-you note, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a box of tea in our mail box for our mail carrier.
  9. If you’re healthy, donate blood. You can do so through Red Cross blood drives. And if you’ve recovered from COVID, you can donate your plasma to help COVID patients.
  10. If you see or hear questionable or potentially dangerous information (misinformation or disinformation) being spread, check fact-checking sites (e.g., Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, Snopes.com; or reputable medical/health/infectious disease sources and experts) and send/post their links or findings, to share facts and to counter disinformation.
  11. Make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address. Fill out your state’s application to get an absentee/mail-in ballot ASAP (if you live in a state where you don’t currently need an “excuse” or if you have one of their valid excuses to vote by mail; more states will soon make absentee voting easier or even the default), or see if your state allows Early Voting (to avoid crowds and lines). Click here for links to your state’s Secretary of State site and other voting resources. Help young or first-time voters get registered (and make sure they know how to fill out the forms and ballots.)
  12. Buy stamps or other supplies from (or send packages through) the U.S. Postal Service via USPS.com, to help keep them afloat until adequate federal funding comes through. The economic/pandemic shutdown isn’t the only reason the USPS is in trouble; this article explains another reason: an absurd law that was passed in 2006 that “requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to pre-fund its retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056. This is a $5 billion per year cost; it is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make. Without this obligation, the Post Office actually turns a profit.”
  13. Think about and prepare your official Advance Health Care Directive (AKA Living Will), DNR (if applicable), Power of Attorney and Medical/Health Care Proxy/Surrogate documents, and your last will & testament (including burial/funeral preferences or arrangements). Make sure all of your documents are made legal and official through witness signatures, and notarized when required, and give a copy to your loved ones and your doctor (also post a copy on your fridge, and have someone bring a copy to the hospital if you go to the ER or are hospitalized).

Doing these types of useful and helpful things can also help you feel better during this time of stress, worry, uncertainty, and upheaval, which is putting a strain on everyone’s mental and emotional health. You need to take good care of yourself to be able to take care of and support others. So also try to establish some self-care practices and healthy coping mechanisms to maintain some resilience and sanity. Here are a few suggestions of things you could try to do for a least a few minutes each day:

  • Go outside. Walk, or at least sit in the sun. When possible, go be in nature, and when that isn’t possible, at least go on a walk down your street or to a local park.
  • Stretch and breathe deeply. Or meditate.
  • Garden (e.g., plant things or pull weeds).
  • Make/eat a good meal. Try something new. (Eat nourishing things that will give you strength and help keep your immune system strong.)
  • Spend time with animals, when possible.
  • Look for, recognize, create, and share beauty.
  • Watch something comedic, or read something funny.
  • Listen to some music. (You can dance if you want to!)
  • Read helpful advice from wise and calming people (e.g., Pema Chodron).
  • Seek out a therapist for online sessions.
  • Do productive stuff, like cleaning the house or organizing and purging stuff in your house (going through mail piles; organizing your desk, files, closets, drawers/cabinets, garage, shed, etc.). Recycle old papers. Give away items you don’t need or want.
  • Have a cup of tea.
  • And get lots of good, deep sleep. If you aren’t able to get enough sleep at night, take a nap if you’re able to.

Thank you to all of the helpers, of all stripes, everywhere. Let’s all help each other get through this. Be well.

 

Other useful tips, information, and resources:

 

 

Related posts:

Note: In the future, we plan to add a post on Green Recovery Plans and Proposals.

Share

April 27, 2020
[Click here to comment]

Here are a few TED Talks that I’d recommend watching, in addition to the talks that I posted in the past (see Part I and Part II).

A Healthy Economy Should Be Designed to Thrive, Not Grow / Kate Raworth

 

How to Turn Climate Anxiety into Action / Renee Lertzman

 

The Shocking Danger of Mountaintop Removal (Coal Mining)—and Why It Must End / Michael Hendryx

 

A Climate Change Solution that’s Right Under Our Feet (Soil) / Asmeret Asefa Berhe

 

How Empowering Women and Girls Can Help Stop Global Warming / Katherine Wilkinson

 

This Could Be Why You’re Depressed or Anxious / Johann Hari (author of Lost Connections)

 

More:

Share

March 30, 2020
[Click here to comment]