climate

Climate change (AKA climate instability/breakdown) is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, “natural” disasters, and emergency events. Unfortunately, many disasters are made even worse by human land use and development practices. In the last few years, many disasters (especially hurricanes/typhoons, floods, wildfires, heat waves, and landslides) around the world have been catastrophic, causing unprecedented amounts of damage and numbers of deaths (and injuries and illness), and creating thousands of climate migrants and refugees. No region is immune to climate-related disruptions and disasters; while some places are at higher risk than others (and some places will even become uninhabitable), there’s no truly “safe” place to be. Beyond climate disasters, anyone can also experience manmade disasters (e.g., industrial accidents), storms, and power outages. The more prepared you and your neighbors are, the more resilient you and your family and community can be.

Here’s something that most of us should be doing right now (everyone really, but especially those of us who are in areas that are at risk of flooding, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and/or tsunamis, severe winter weather, or extended power outages): Assemble your emergency supplies, and make evacuation/safety plans (including meeting spots, out-of-area contacts, etc.). You should have emergency supply kits (AKA “go bags”/backpacks) stashed in your home (preferably near an outside door) or in a shed, garage, or another out-building, as well as in at least one of your family’s cars, and ideally also at your place of work. Businesses and schools should also have emergency supplies and evacuation plans in place.

There are many good emergency checklists out there (see www.Ready.gov and www.RedCross.org and the other resources that are listed at the end of this post). To get started, below is a basic list of some important things to grab (if you are able to) before exiting or evacuating your home/building in an emergency, followed by a list of some of the items to assemble now and keep in your emergency kits. Print out and start reviewing your checklists ASAP and keep a copy of them in a memorable place (e.g., in or next to your emergency kit/bag or on your refrigerator, and also keep a copy on your phone) so that you can easily refer to them in an emergency, when you may not be able to think very clearly. Start assembling your emergency kits even if you can’t pull everything together at once. Having something ready is better than nothing; you can keep adding to your kits over time.

 

GRAB BEFORE YOU GO checklist

The following are some things that probably can’t or won’t be saved in your emergency kits ahead of time, but that you should try to grab before leaving your house (or wherever you may be when an emergency strikes) if time allows:

  • Pets (and any other domesticated animals) — with their collars on (w/ ID tags or microchips that have current contact info, ideally more than 1 phone number); plus leashes, carriers/crates, meds; water, food, bowls, towels; cat litter/box (if applicable)
  • Wallet and Keys; purse / bag (w/ checkbook)
  • Cell phone (and charger cord)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Important meds
  • Sturdy shoes; warm jacket
  • Laptop and charger  (and/or computer back-up drive)
  • Portable safe / small valuables [plus the safe’s key, if applicable]
  • Some photos / photo album(s)

+  Your emergency kits/bags  [see below]

 

Evacuation Tips:

  • If evacuating due to a coming wildfire or flood or hurricane/storm, leave early (ASAP) and try to take all or most of your vehicles with you (if roadways aren’t congested yet and you have enough time and drivers) to get them out of the danger zone, so they won’t get burned or flooded and destroyed.
  • If there’s a fire, hurricane, or tornado in the vicinity and/or you need to evacuate your home for any reason, turn off the gas line if you have time. After an earthquake, turn off the gas and water lines to your house until all aftershocks are over and the utility companies have been able to check the lines for breaks or leaks. Note: Keep the right-sized/adjustable wrench near-by the gas shut-off. Try it out before you need to use it.
  • Also see CalFire’s Pre-Evacuation Preparation Steps, as well as these additional wildfire evacuation tips.

During or immediately after an emergency event or on days with extreme high or low temperatures or power outages, check on your neighbors, family, and friends, especially those who are elderly, disabled, ill, homeless, or living alone, and those who have infants or special needs.

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EMERGENCY KIT / “GO BAG” checklist

(This is a partial list of items to be assembled in advance, before an emergency happens.)

It’s best to put your emergency supplies in backpacks or other durable, water-resistant, and easy-to-carry bags. You can purchase pre-assembled emergency supply kits/bags, but make sure to supplement those with other important items that haven’t been included:

  • Grab Before You Go list (see above), printed out as a quick reference
  • Contacts List (including emergency services numbers, doctors’ names/numbers, and your out-of-area contact, etc.: print this out ahead of time and save copies in key locations and online)
  • Important papers/documents (e.g., copies of IDs, birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, deeds, legal docs, Will, bank and credit card account info., copies of prescriptions)
    [Tip: Take photos of your IDs, debit/credit cards, and other important documents and save those and key contacts on your phone and remotely in “the cloud” so you can retrieve them from your account even if you lose your phone or computer.  For more suggestions on protecting documents and valuables, see this AARP article.]
  • Cash (including some small bills); an extra credit card

[Tip: Consider getting a waterproof and fire-rated safe for your home, or rent a safe deposit box elsewhere, to hold some of your valuables, important papers, jewelry, heirlooms, extra cash, and some family photos, etc. If it’s the type of house safe that’s bolted down, you may have to leave it behind in an emergency but you may be able to recover its contents later. If it’s portable (i.e., light enough to carry and not bolted down), you may be able to take it with you during an emergency/evacuation, but that type is more susceptible to being stolen (if your home is burglarized). If the safe has a key, be sure to keep a key in your emergency kit or on your keychain or somewhere you’re likely to find it in an emergency. If it has a combination lock, make sure you can remember the combination or write it down somewhere secure.]

  • WATER; and water purifier bottle(s) or tablets
  • Toilet paper
  • Spare meds (including prescription meds)
  • First Aid Kit  (you can buy one off-the-shelf or make your own)

  • Pet/animal kit (if applicable)
    [extra collars and leashes, meds; carriers/crates; water, food, bowls, towels; extra cat litter and portable litter box; spare ID tag with current contact info, ideally more than 1 phone number; if microchipped, make sure contact info is current in database]
  • Special items for any infants, elderly, or disabled members of the household (e.g., baby food, formula/bottle, diapers, wipes, critical meds, assistive devices, etc.)

AND:

Food / snacks  (non-perishable) [check expiration dates and refresh items every year]
Toothbrush & toothpaste (and other essential toiletries)
Spare/old set of eyeglasses
Spare set of clothes (esp. underwear, socks) and shoes
Hats, scarves, gloves
Flashlights; lantern; headlamp; candles
Lighter / matches
Soap and detergent
Bags (garbage/grocery, etc.)
Towels; rags, paper towels
Small radio
Batteries
Back-up/storage/solar charger
Work gloves
Utensils; can opener; camp kitchenware set
Tools: Wrench and pliers, knife, multi-function tool, etc.
Blanket / thermal emergency blankets
Tent, sleeping bags / camping supplies (grill or camp stove?)
Duct tape
N95-rated smoke/dust masks;  safety goggles
Fire extinguisher  [Also, watch an online tutorial on how to use one, or ask your fire dep’t.]
Whistle
Tarp(s)
Bucket
Gas can
Flares
Reflective vest or other visibility gear
Safety helmet
Hydrogen peroxide (for disinfection)
Propane canister
Crowbar
Solar-powered or hand-cranked gadgets (radio, flashlight, charger)
[And ideally, a solar generator, or a solar PV system with battery storage]

Also, make sure you have hoses, buckets, a shovel, and at least one fire extinguisher on your property, for putting out spot fires. And make sure all of your smoke detectors are working and have new batteries in them.  (Earthquakes, downed power lines, fireplaces, oven/stove use, batteries, and various other things can cause fires in or around your house, so these tips apply even if you are not in wildfire country.)

 

Note: I’ll be creating PDF versions of the above checklists, so they can be downloaded and easily saved and printed. Check back soon for the PDFs. I will also periodically add to and make improvements to this post and these lists.

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For additional and more comprehensive information, checklists, and other tips on emergency preparedness and disaster response/relief, please go to:

Ready.gov

Red Cross: How to Prepare for Emergencies

Also download the Red Cross’ various mobile apps to your phone (for Emergency, Earthquake, Flood, Hurricane, Tornado, First Aid, Pet First Aid, etc.), and follow your region’s Red Cross branch on social media.

Nixle local alerts (by text/phone)

To sign up for Nixle alerts, text your zip code to 888777.

Also check with your County or City (e.g., emergency management office) and your local electric/gas utility to see if they have local emergency alert/notification systems that you can sign up for. And consider signing up on NextDoor.com to receive neighborhood/community notices (including public safety notifications from your local Sheriff’s department).

Resilient Design strategies

ASPCA Disaster Preparedness information re. pets/animals

HALTER Project (Horse, Livestock, and other animal emergency response & prep.)

Ready for Wildfire
Fire Safe Council
Fire Adapted Communities Network

CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams)

Team Rubicon

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) disaster response teams

Other disaster response training programs (a listing)

FEMA  (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Unfortunately, FEMA is becoming less and less reliable as a source of assistance, due to underfunding and a considerable increase in catastrophic disasters. It is important for towns and states to form their own emergency/disaster response initiatives, so that communities can be more prepared and self-reliant, both during the immediate aftermath of a disaster and the longer-term recovery. If your town or county doesn’t already have an emergency preparedness and/or disaster response team or group, consider organizing one for people and/or for animals, or join one of the disaster response groups listed above. (Here’s a good website that was created by one small town’s emergency response team.) Or you can get involved by: setting up or attending a local CERT training, becoming a Red Cross volunteer, becoming a Search & Rescue volunteer for your county/region, getting certified in CPR and First Aid, or training to become a volunteer firefighter (which is especially helpful if you live in a rural area).

 

Related posts:

Later this year, I hope to publish a post on Sustainable Emergency Shelters (e.g., temporary or permanent dwelling/housing units that can be built quickly and efficiently for refugees, homeless people, and people who have lost their homes in disasters).  For the time being, we have a post on Modular, Prefab, and Compact Options for Green Homes and Structures, which may provide some helpful links for people who are looking to rebuild a home or create a temporary dwelling while they make rebuilding or relocation plans.

I’ll also be creating PDF versions of the checklists in this post, so they can be downloaded and easily saved and printed. Check back soon for the PDFs.

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January 22, 2019
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The following are some groups of (and/or for) young people who are leading and inspiring positive change and fighting for a livable future. These organizations represent various age groups (from children to teens to young adults / “millennials”), and they are building powerful social movements for climate action, intergenerational and environmental justice, and youth awareness and empowerment. Most of the following groups are based in the United States.

Many of the following groups could fall within any/all of the three categories listed below (environmental/climate action, education, and political/advocacy), but I’ve tried to put each group under the category that might be most applicable:

Environmental / climate action:

Zero Hour
Our Children’s Trust
Sunrise Movement
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Justice and Sustainability
International Youth Climate Movement
Earth Guardians
Hip Hop Caucus
Brower Youth Awards
International Eco-Hero Awards (Action for Nature)
Turning Green
ECO2school youth leadership program

Education:

Institute for Humane Education
Global Student Embassy
Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots
NatureBridge
Children & Nature Network
Teaching Tolerance
(And for often-informative teen media, see: Teen Vogue, the online magazine)

(Also see: Green Curricula and Environmental Learning Activities)

Political (including voting advocacy):

NextGen America
Rock the Vote
HeadCount
Campus Vote Project
Cap, Gown, Vote!
Alliance for Youth Action
Hip Hop Caucus
Millennial Politics
Young Invincibles
Youth Empower (Women’s March)
March for Our Lives / Vote for Our Lives
Youth Over Guns
Students Demand Action

What are some other youth-led or youth-focused groups that you think people should know about? Please mention them in the Comments!

Related posts:

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December 18, 2018
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. If you have a Facebook account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” or “Followed” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. We hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of some topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last month or so, including both good news and bad:

  • Ireland is completely divesting from fossil fuels (and has also banned fracking)
  • TransMountain pipeline approvals revoked by court
  • Protect the Protest: a new alliance of environmental and civil liberties groups
  • In 40 states, electricity from renewable sources is cheaper than the existing power supply
  • Air pollution causes lower IQ and other neurological deficits and diseases
  • Climate grief and depression
  • Traverse City, Michigan and Denver, Colorado set 100% renewable energy goals
  • Mexican President plans to ban fracking
  • Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million as jury rules Roundup caused man’s cancer
  • Poisonous red tides and toxic algae blooms worse than ever in Florida this summer
  • Teenagers’ climate lawsuit moves forward
  • Administration proposes weakening the Endangered Species Act
  • PFAS contamination in Michigan
  • Wildfires and heat waves around the world, including at the Arctic Circle
  • Quotations, photos, videos, cartoons, etc.

 

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August 31, 2018
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logoCities, 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).

Within the U.S., the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 program reports that (to date, as of early 2018), more than 50 cities, 7 counties, and the State of Hawaii have adopted the ambitious goal of 100% clean energy. The first five cities to hit their targets, generating 100% of their electricity from non-polluting, renewable sources, are:

In addition, Georgetown, TX is expected to hit its 100% renewable goal this year (2018). And the city of Palo Alto, CA currently provides 100% carbon-neutral electricity and carbon-neutral natural gas, by supplementing their use of renewables with carbon offsets (renewable energy certificates, which help fund renewable projects in other areas). Meanwhile, the other 50+ cities that have committed to achieving 100% renewable energy include several large cities, such as Atlanta, GA, San Diego and San Francisco, CA, and St. Louis, MO.

Worldwidemore than 40 cities now get all of their electricity from renewables, and more than 100 cities (including Seattle, WA, and Eugene, OR in the U.S.) now get more than 70% of their electricity from renewables; that is more than double the number of cities that met that threshold in 2015. Here’s a full list of the cities studied by the CDP (Climate Data Project). (Note: Some of these cities, especially in Latin America, use primarily hydropower; large dams are controversial, as they are environmentally destructive to ecosystems and habitats. Biomass & landfill gas sources are also sometimes controversial.)

A few of the countries that are leading the way on using renewable energy sources are: Iceland, Costa Rica, Germany, Uruguay, Scotland, Kenya, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Some programs that help cities and regions move towards 100% include:

Let’s all ask the leaders of our cities, towns, counties, and states (mayors, city council members, county supervisors, governors, and state legislators) to commit to a 100% (or at least 90%) renewable energy goal, and enact forward-thinking policies right away to move rapidly towards that goal. 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 or regional Community Choice Energy program. Per the Center for Climate Protection, “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.”

Energy efficiency is also critical. It is as important as shifting to renewable energy sources, because the less energy we need/use (the lower the demand), the less we have to produce (supply) from any source. (All types of energy production, even non-polluting renewables, require material inputs and have impacts.) The Union of Concerned Scientists ranks states by their energy efficiency progress.  In 2017, they found that the most energy efficient states were: Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut, New York, Washington, and Minnesota.

 

For more information on cities with 100% renewable energy goals, see:

Also see these other 100% renewables efforts, for other sectors (beyond cities and towns):

 

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March 26, 2018
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. If you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” or “Followed” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. We hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of some topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last month or so:

  • Scientists running for office
  • Voting / voter registration resources
  • How to reduce your exposure to BPA and other toxic plastics
  • The connection between climate change, the warming Arctic, loss of polar ice, the jet stream, the “polar vortex,” unprecedented temperature fluctuations, and extreme storms
  • Anti-nuclear petitions and organizations (Ploughshares, Global Zero, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, etc.)
  • Center for Climate Protection
  • Films: Atomic Homefront; The Devil We Know; What Lies Upstream
  • Quotations, photos, graphics, videos, etc.

 

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February 22, 2018
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imagesThis is a listing of some enviro-relevant groups in Canada (though not all of them are focused solely on environmental issues).

Even for those of us who aren’t Canadian, it’s important to support stronger Canadian environmental and climate protection efforts, especially at a time when there is somewhat more political will in Canada for environmental protection than there had been in the recent past, while the U.S. government is heading in a decidedly anti-environmental direction at the federal level rather than demonstrating international leadership.

Also, many international environmental organizations have a Canadian office or programs that include Canada.  For example, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) has a Canadian office (and many Canadian cities and towns are members of ICLEI).

If you know of other environmental (or environmentally-relevant) groups in Canada, please mention them in the Comments. Thanks!

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January 26, 2018
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photo by Erica Gies

photo by Erica Gies

Trees are life enablers and life protectors. They are air cleaners and oxygen makers, making it possible for us to breathe (i.e., live). They mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide; one tree can sequester up to 50 pounds of CO2 per year, and an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. Trees also filter some pollutants out of the water and soil, and they can prevent soil erosion and control flooding by absorbing stormwater and buffering storm surges. They provide habitat to many species. They provide shade (natural cooling, which reduces energy use for AC cooling). Some trees provide food (fruit and nuts) for us to eat. Being near trees boosts our mental health and clarity. Their presence increases property values for homes and neighborhoods, and they contribute much-needed beauty to our world. So many benefits. Trees are life; trees enable life; trees save lives.

Despite all of the ways that trees contribute to (and are necessary for) our health and wellbeing, a recent study found that during the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have wiped out almost half of the trees on earth. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (to make wood products, pulp, and paper; to clear land for development, as well as cattle grazing, palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses; and to use as a heating fuel). (Click here for other Forest Facts.) We are destroying our own life support system. We are also losing millions of trees to drought and disease in some areas, and also to the growing number of severe storms (wind/ice) and wildfires, which are worsened by climate change and simultaneously contributing to climate change through additional carbon emissions, in a vicious cycle (AKA a feedback loop).23208221_10155936458843007_9218184974786625536_n

We need to prevent deforestation, and also to reforest and regreen our world. We can start with our own yards, gardens, fields, open spaces, or towns. Plant a tree, or two or three! Try to select trees that are native or climate-adapted to your region; fast-growing and fire-resistant trees are great, too (yes, there are trees that are less flammable and even fire-resistant, such as redwoods). You can also choose fruit or nut trees, flowering trees, and other trees that help feed pollinators.

You can also have a tree (or multiple trees in a forest) planted in someone’s name (e.g., “adopt” or “sponsor” a tree in their honor) as a gift for any occasion—through groups like One Tree Planted, Cool Earth, the Green Belt Movement, Arbor Day Foundation, Trees for a Change, etc.

[NOTE: If you celebrate Christmas and you traditionally mark the occasion with a cut-down (i.e., killed) xmas tree, how about starting a new tradition: you could buy or rent a living (potted and replantable) tree instead (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle garland decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, deforestation, and pests every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do (or not do) for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group (or plant a tree or three in the spring or fall). You will find a partial list of tree-related organizations below.]

imagesfscOne good way to reduce extreme deforestation (the clear-cutting of forests) is to look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and paper products, as well as Rainforest Alliance-certified products (see logos to the right)—and of course reduce, reuse, and recycle all forest/paper products. Also avoid packaged foods and other products that contain palm oil, whenever possible, as palm oil plantations are responsible for much of the deforestation in the world, particularly in Indonesia (where orangutans’ habitat is being decimated).

Earlier this year, 1.5 million volunteers planted a record 66 million trees in 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Reforestation “flash mobs” have been conducted in other areas, as well. Costa Rica has served as a model of strong reforestation efforts in recent years. In some parts of the world, groups are starting to use drones to plant seeds or saplings, to reforest areas much more quickly and efficiently than can be done by hand (there have been articles on this in Fast Company and Wired magazine, among other publications). Note: Climate- and site-appropriate (native or adapted) trees should be selected when planting trees, and multiple species should be planted for biodiversity. Also, forests should not be planted over native, wild grasslands, which also sequester carbon.

There are many anti-deforestation efforts as well as local tree-planting and global reforestation organizations around the world, including:

Also check out these online tools:

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December 6, 2017
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We post daily morsels of illuminating information and inspiration on The Green Spotlight’s Facebook Page. Anyone can view the page, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. If you do have an account, we hope you’ll click on the page’s Like button (if you haven’t already “Liked” the page) and Share the page with your friends.

Please visit the Page to get a sense of the various topics that it covers. We hope you’ll share some of our links. To make sure that Facebook will continue to show you our posts on your Facebook homepage/newsfeed, visit our page regularly and give a thumbs-up to (“Like”) your favorite posts.

Here’s a sampling of topics that we’ve highlighted on the page over the last month or so:

  • March for Science (April 22); and People’s Climate March (April 29)
  • Grist 50: The Fixers
  • Pueblo, Colorado commits to 100% renewable energy
  • New electric, hybrid, and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Maryland’s Republican Governor calls for fracking ban
  • Bald eagles dying from lead-ammo poisoning
  • Project Drawdown’s list of effective climate strategies
  • Grid Alternatives’ Solar Spring Break projects
  • Solar in tribal communities
  • Quotations, graphics, photos, videos, etc.
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March 22, 2017
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Part I: Action Lists, Groups, Online Tools, and Other Resources

Many of us are seeking effective ways to take action, to counteract, offset, mitigate, neutralize, resist, and fight the impending damage that will be done by members of the DT/Pence Administration and their attempts to corrupt and dismantle U.S. democracy. Many of us recognize that “business as usual,” the status quo, and complacency aren’t going to cut it anymore. We need to redouble our efforts, go beyond the edge of our comfort zones, take some giant leaps, speak out, refuse to accept the unacceptable—to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” and become our own heroes, rather than expecting other people to step forward and save us.

To get through these dark times without losing our minds, we need to make it a regular practice to take care of ourselves and find constructive ways to cope, and also to offer and request support from our friends and loved ones. We have to recognize that we are not alone; we are all muddling through this together. But in addition—to maintain our self-respect and act as compassionate humans and citizens—we should also find some way(s) to support and protect people from vulnerable and targeted groups, and to protest and take positive actions within our neighborhood or community, our town or state, and our country and world.

sleeping giantsIn the next couple of months, I will be adding a list of several specific steps and actions that you can take (in Part II, a separate post). In the meantime, please check out the existing tools and resources listed below. They include action lists, action campaigns, guides, articles, advice; as well as a list of trusted news sources; key organizations; people to follow online; and tools for staying sane and fostering hope.

Don’t feel obligated to explore all of these links. Just check out a few at a time; select a couple of them to follow or participate in, and if those end up not feeling useful to you after you’ve spent some time with them, pick a couple of other sites or groups (from this list or elsewhere) to follow or join. Note: I have not done a thorough vetting of all of these sites yet, so cannot vouch for every single one (and am not endorsing them), but I put a couple of my favorites in bold type. I’ll be adding more links regularly, as I discover new ones.

Useful articles

News sources

It’s important that those who can pay something for real journalism actually do so, so that real news outlets can survive and not be entirely driven out by the world of profit-driven, sensationalist media (and “fake news” or lie-spreading, non-journalistic websites). Choose at least one legitimate (truth-seeking, fact-checking, investigative) news source to subscribe to (as a paid subscriber), to show your support and to help keep them afloat. We can’t expect competent journalists and writers to work for free, and we don’t want them to be reliant solely on their major advertisers, who might expect publications to alter (or censor) their content to serve the advertisers’ special interests. Here are a few media sources that, to date, have regularly produced sound, informative reporting:

Key organizations

Here are some suggestions of the types of local, state, national, or international organizations that you might want to consider donating to, becoming a member of, or getting actively involved with.

Environmental:

Your state’s League of Conservation Voters; local and statewide renewable energy or climate initiatives (e.g., California’s Center for Climate Protection); local land conservation groups (e.g. a Land Trust in your county or region) and local habitat/wildlife protection groups;  Earthjustice, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Bold Alliance (Bold Iowa, Bold Nebraska, Bold Louisiana, Bold Oklahoma), Nature Conservancy, Earthworks, Greenpeace, Vote Solar, GRID Alternatives, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Fossil Free, WeForest, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, The Greening of Detroit

Societal:

Local food banks, shelters, homeless/housing groups, child abuse prevention and foster care organizations, non-profit health clinics and mental health services, education groups, senior services and veterans services groups; ACLU (including state chapters), National Lawyers Guild, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, SPLC, Teaching Tolerance, VoteVets.org, Common Cause, PFAW, Children’s Defense Fund, NARAL, Planned Parenthood (including your state’s group or a PP in a “red” state), Population Institute, Global Zero, Ploughshares Fund, VerifiedVoting, Carter Center, International Rescue Committee, UN Refugee Agency, Center for Media and Democracy, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), Compassion & Choices, Meals on Wheels, MoveOn, Emily’s List, and California’s Courage Campaign; Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), DSCC, DCCC, and Democratic Governors Association; Animal Legal Defense Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), SPCA.  (Also see the groups listed in the bulleted list near the top of the post.)

Also, if you grew up in or currently live in a Republican-governed or Republican-leaning state or county (or a low-income state or county) and you have the means, please consider donating to (or volunteering for) local organizations in your home state or hometown that will help protect people there (and their health and their land/water/environment) from the state or local government’s regressive policies. And consider getting involved in your local Democratic Party or other political organizing group.

Also see:

People to follow online

The people listed below have shown integrity, courage, intelligence, and/or leadership in their writings and their actions. Some are names you may already be familiar with, and others probably aren’t. While I don’t always agree with everything these individuals say or have said, I have often found their commentary to be informative or interesting. I will probably add more people to this list (and maybe remove some) over time. Take a look at what these individuals are saying on social media, and consider following some of their pages:

Rebecca Solnit, Dan Rather, Sarah Kendzior, Jason Kander, Bernice King, Robert Reich, Van Jones, Reverend Dr. Barber, Bill McKibben, Nicholas Kristof, Jennifer Hofmann, John Pavlovitz, Laurence Tribe, Lawrence Lessig, Ari Berman, Dallas Goldtooth, Antonia Juhasz, Marc E. Elias, Paul Krugman, Shaun King, Charles Blow, Nick Hanauer, Ian Milhiser, Sherilynn Ifill, Tony Schwartz

It’s also important to support and praise principled conservatives with a conscience, whenever they speak up for democracy and civil rights, challenge the DT Administration or the GOP leadership, and show compassion. A few conservatives (and independents) who have shown that they have a backbone and think for themselves include:
Evan McMullin, David Frum, Max Boot, David Brooks, Joe Scarborough, John Weaver, Andrew Sullivan, Colin Powell, Ana Navarro, John Dean, Chris Suprun, Charlie Sykes, Mindy Finn, Bill Kristol, and numerous retired Generals. (Even some right-wingers like Peggy Noonan and George Will have spoken out against DT.) Conservatives of conscience should follow Stand Up Republic and Republicans for the Rule of Law.

And Republican politicians (current and former) who have sometimes spoken out against DT and who have periodically demonstrated that they have a backbone or a conscience include: [the late] John McCain, John Kasich, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker, Jon Huntsman, Bill Weld, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and the Bushes.

 

Tools for staying sane / retaining and creating hope

Try not to let yourself get so overwhelmed that you become paralyzed by the depth and breadth of the challenges and the many different ways there are to be of service to your community and world. Start by identifying one or two specific ways that you are most able to be involved (or groups to get involved in), and dedicate yourself to those. Pick something to do each day or each week or at least each month. Take sanity breaks when you need them, to avoid burnout, and you may find that you are gradually able to build your capacity over time. Regardless, the point is: Do something. Start where you are. Acknowledge your frustrations and the limitations of your individual impact, but remember that you are part of a widespread and growing, collective effort (even if other people’s efforts are not visible to you).

Here are a few resources for maintaining emotional balance, regaining perspective, or finding inspiration and motivation when you start to feel overwhelmed:

I have found that going for a long walk or a short hike can really help me regain the perspective that I need to move forward. What are some of your favorite strategies or readings for grounding or motivating yourself or coping with adversity?

Do take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat nourishing meals, and take a break when you need it (other people will carry on when you can’t, and vice versa), but never give up completely. Please never stop trying to make the world and our country a better place. And remember that you are not alone.

Related (newer) posts:

To be added:

  • The Ways Forward, Part II: Other actions to take
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January 13, 2017
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