resource listing

In this final stretch before the critically important upcoming election (Tues., November 6), many people are looking for ways to step up to help make sure that more people will vote, are able to vote, and know their voting rights and their local voting rules, and to try to ensure that everyone’s votes will be properly counted.

If you haven’t already signed up with a group or a campaign to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV) or to help with election protection efforts (e.g., serving as a poll worker or poll monitor or hotline volunteer), below are links that will make it easy for you to get plugged in. Pick one (or two) groups or activities and sign up as soon as possible so that you can get whatever training and materials you need. And if you’re willing to go to a swing state or swing district near you, get on board right away so you have enough time to make your plans. You don’t have to be an extrovert; there are all sorts of GOTV activities to choose from.

Further down this post, we’ve also listed where you can go to find voting guides or other information about who and what will be on your ballot, so that you can do your research and be as well-informed as possible about what you’ll be voting on before you go vote.

 

Poll workers

Become a poll worker in your city or county (WorkElections.com)

Also see this compendium of state-by-state requirements:
Be a Guardian of Democracy, Be a Poll Worker!

 

Poll monitors / watchers / observers

Common Cause: Volunteer to be an Election Protection poll monitor

Election Protection’s Protect the Vote: Volunteer, non-partisan poll monitors

Election Protection / We the Action: Field Program (for lawyers, paralegals, legal professionals, and law students)

Parties and campaigns also assign partisan poll monitors to the polls.

 

Hotline volunteers

Election Protection / We the Action: Call Center (for lawyers, paralegals, legal professionals, and law students)

 

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) groups

(reaching out to registered voters via texts, calls, door-to-door canvassing, postcards, or events, etc., to increase voter turn-out)

Note: Some states allow same-day voter registration on Election Day. They include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. (And North Dakota doesn’t require registration.) A few states (including CA and MT) also allow in-person, late registration in the days/weeks leading up to Election Day. Contact your county’s elections office for details on voter registration deadlines and Early Voting options.

For a list of additional GOTV and voting advocacy groups (and more tips), see our earlier post.

 

Voting Guides, Voter Education: What and Who Is On Your Ballot?

These sites can help you learn about the candidates and the issues that you’ll be voting on:

To be really well informed, also be sure to read the information provided in your state’s and county’s official voting/ballot guides (they should be mailed to you, or be available on your state and county elections websites). I’d also recommend reading multiple editorials and endorsements from trusted newspapers in your state and from trusted organizations (e.g., your local Sierra Club chapter, your state’s League of Conservation Voters, your state’s or city’s League of Women Voters, NRDC Action Fund, Let America Vote, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, and VoteVets.org). Be wary of claims made in TV and radio ads and mailers. Many ads (though not all) are funded by special interests, rather than groups that represent the public interest (the common good). Also, mailers could fraudulently claim to be from your local party or other entity, or could contain other false information (about voting dates, poll locations or hours, your registration status, voter ID requirements, etc.). Beware, and do not allow yourself to be intimidated or suppressed from going to to vote. If in doubt about your local voting rules or poll location, check with your county’s elections board/office or your Secretary of State’s elections office.

 

Election Security and Voting Rights

At the very least: Make sure you bring the correct ID or proof of residency/address (if your state requires that; see VoteRiders or contact your state’s elections office to find out exactly what’s required). Vote early if your area offers Early Voting options (then you’ll have more time to help others get out to vote on Election Day). And if you are in one of the states or counties that uses electronic touchscreen voting machines, ask if you can use a paper ballot instead. And you should make sure you get your ballot receipt after voting, and keep it until the election has been certified and you’ve verified with your county or state that your vote was counted.

If you experience or witness any voting problems or irregularities, report them immediately to the Election Protection hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) [or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish) or text “Our Vote” to 97779. (Put those numbers in your phone.) Also report problems to your County elections office and your Secretary of State; and you could also report them to your state’s party, the DNC, local campaign headquarters, and/or to local media or on social media.  If a poll worker tells you that your voter registration isn’t active or is incorrect in some way, please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline before you accept a provisional ballot or before you give up and leave.

Some states that have done massive/overzealous “purges” of voters from their voting rolls in recent years (per the Brennan Center) and/or who have a recent history of using voter suppression tactics, include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. So these are states that need extra GOTV and election protection (e.g., poll watching, and well-informed poll workers) assistance and vigilance. [Note: Of those 18 states, the only ones that allow same-day/Election-Day registration are: Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin. So if voters in those states have been wrongfully purged, they can re-register on Election Day and vote.]

Check out (and distribute) the tips sheet below for some additional recommendations, and you can find more information on election protection/security and voting rights here:

Tips (many not obvious) to Protect Your Voter Registration and Vote Against Hacking and Glitches,”  by Jenny Cohn, attorney and election integrity advocate

Also see our earlier post:
Voting and Election Tips and Resources, 2018

Please read and share/post this tips sheet. Thank you!!

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October 26, 2018
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Please check out some of the sites and organizations listed below. Follow, share, and support a few of them (and share this post with others). Check/verify your voter registration status before each election (and re-register if it needs to be corrected or updated), and encourage others to do so, too. And find a way to get involved (e.g., by registering new voters, volunteering for a campaign or a voting advocacy organization, or working at or monitoring the polls on election day; see the second half of the post, after the links listing, for more detailed suggestions). But even if you do nothing else, please VOTE. 

I’m not too proud to beg and plead. It’s not an overstatement to say that our future and the collective future of humanity, our democracy, and our planet will be substantially determined by the outcome of this mid-term election. (Far too few voters showed up to vote during the last mid-term election and the last presidential election, with some disastrous results.)

vote411%20election%20needs%20-_0Vote in your state’s primary, as well as in November’s General Election. There are always important state and local issues on every ballot. Voting in the primary is also a great opportunity to do a “dry run” before the General election in November. It will give you a chance to verify that you are still properly registered, figure out where your polling place is, and make sure you have the required ID (if any), etc.

Voting / Election Information
(check your current voter registration status, register or re-register to vote; get ballot/election information, ID requirements, poll location, etc.)

You can contact your County’s elections office or your State’s Secretary of State office re. your registration or for voting rules and requirements. Or see:

Fact-checking resources (for info. on candidates’ claims and statements):

Voting-Related Advocacy Groups

* The asterisked groups make endorsements of specific candidates.

Environmental:

General:

 

Consider volunteering for or donating to your favorite candidates (for state, local, or federal offices) or to some of the election/voting groups listed above, or to political/campaign groups* such as:

 

“Voting isn’t a valentine. It’s a chess move.” – Rebecca Solnit

[As I interpret this quote, it basically means that your vote should be strategic and rational. You don’t have to love or be thrilled about the preferred, viable candidate or think s/he’s perfect or will agree with you on every single thing; almost no person will. And even if you feel that you’re choosing the “lesser of two evils” in a given race, that is always the more responsible thing to do than to allow the worst of two evils to win… Better is good. Better is always better than worse.]

It’s important to recognize that voter suppression laws (including many restrictive ID laws and fewer voter protections, enabled by the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act), voter intimidation efforts, voter roll purges in some states, voter database hacking (Russia is known to have “scanned” all states’ voter rolls in 2016, and database breaches were detected in many states!), and other such forces will continue to have a negative impact on our elections, so we need to do everything possible to counteract and outweigh all of these attempts to curtail people’s right to vote.  I feel an extra responsibility to vote, since so many people who should be able to vote will not be able to (some only because they’re seniors or students who haven’t been able to go get the required form of ID in time, or formerly incarcerated people who have done their time but are still disenfranchised).

 

Here are very specific ways you can help—10 steps you can take between now and election day—to try to ensure a high turnout and the best possible election outcomes:

1. Verify that you are still registered to vote (at your correct, current address): Go to 866OurVote.org or Vote411.org or RockTheVote.com and click on your state and follow the links, or contact your county’s elections office (or Secretary of State’s office) directly. Tens of thousands of voters may have been (wrongly) purged from the voter rolls in several states. (States that have done extremely aggressive purges include: Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, and New York.) Make sure you aren’t one of the voters whose name has been purged, ideally at least a month before you arrive at the polls on Election Day, before your state’s voter registration deadline has passed. Also send / post these links for your friends, and ask them to check and re-check their registration status before the election (especially if they didn’t vote in the last one). If you’ve moved since you last registered or you are not yet registered to vote, register or re-register right away, before your state’s deadline (only some states currently allow election-day registration or are instituting automatic voter registration).  You can pick up a voter registration form at a Post Office (or a library or other government building) located in your county; or go to RockTheVote.com or 866OurVote.org, or better yet, go directly to your county’s elections office to register in person.

The upcoming general election is on Tuesday, November 6 (2018).  If there’s any chance that you won’t be able to get to your polling place before it closes on election day, fill out the absentee/mail-in ballot request form to receive a mail-in ballot before the specified deadline. When you receive your ballot, be sure to follow the instructions and fill it out carefully; sign it where specified and drop it off at a designated location (best option) or mail it in plenty of time (ideally well before Election Day) and be sure to put enough postage on your mail-in ballot when you send it in; in some cases, more than one regular stamp is required.

2. Sign up to help with voter registration drives, if the voter registration deadline hasn’t already passed in your state (see the link above or look it up at your Secretary of State elections website), or help with a campaign’s Get Out the Vote efforts. You can help register voters or GOTV through your local Democratic Party office and local candidates’ offices, among other groups (see the links listing above). If you’re able to go to a “battleground” county or state near yours, that’s great. NextGen Rising has a great web tool that makes it easy to text progressive millennials. Also, encourage students and young voters that you know (who will be 18+ by election day) to register to vote and to show up to vote. (Assist them in filling out their registration form completely; send them links to voting/ballot information, and make sure they see the state and county voting guides that explain what’s on their ballot.)

You can also help people figure out how to get the ID that they (might) need in order to vote in your state (see item #9 below), or drive them to the DMV to apply for their ID. In addition, though it may be too late at this point (to qualify for this election), encourage and help anyone you know who has been wanting/trying to become a citizen to complete the naturalization process; you could even offer to help contribute to their steep citizenship exam fee.

3. Sign up to be a poll worker at a polling place, through your County’s elections office (find information at WorkElections.com), or volunteer as an election observer or poll watcher/monitor, through groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, your local or state Democratic Party, or various civil rights groups. Here is a helpful summary of what you need to do to be a poll worker or a poll watcher in each state. Alternatively, you could volunteer to help staff the Election Protection hotline to answer voting-related questions and to record and respond to reports of voting problems. (Lawyers and law students are especially wanted, but anyone can help.)

4. Find out whether your state and county’s voting systems are reliable and publicly verifiable (i.e., have a paper trail that can be audited for accountability); most state and counties do use auditable systems with a paper trial, but some still don’t. For example, Georgia’s touchscreen voting systems do not currently employ best practices. Go to VerifiedVoting.org, which works for election integrity/preparedness, to learn more. While voter fraud (e.g., voter impersonation) is extremely rare and is not easy to get away with (so it not a cause for real concern), incidents of vote hacking (and voter registration hacking) could potentially occur in some states, counties, or precincts. See this detailed list of Tips to Protect Your Vote and Voter Registration from Glitches and Hacking. Also see the tips sheet at the bottom of this post for a partial list, which can be easily printed for or distributed to others.

Contact your Secretary of State’s office and your County’s elections office to request that they take all precautions to prevent ballot hacking and tampering, and to provide secure and verifiable voting systems with an auditable paper trail.  Specifically, if you are in one of the states or counties that uses electronic voting machines, ask if you can use a paper ballot instead. And every voter should make sure they get their ballot receipt after voting, and keep it until the election has been certified and they’ve verified their vote was counted.

5. Research all of the issues, propositions, and national, state, and local candidates that will be on your ballot, so that you are as informed as possible. Don’t base your decisions on campaigns’ (often deceptive) TV and radio ads or the (often special-interest-funded) propaganda flyers you receive in the mail. Read the information that’s provided in your state and county’s official voter guides (which you should receive in the mail), as well as newspaper editorials and articles written by trustworthy, non-dogmatic analysts or journalists, and information provided by trusted organizations such as your state’s League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, etc. Given the prevalence of lying and mis-information (especially online and on social media), it’s important to check the veracity of any wild claims or personal attacks/smears: search the fact-checks on Politifact, FactCheck.org, and Snopes. To get additional information on what is on your ballot, and where candidates stand on specific issues, check out Vote411.org, as well as Vote.org and VoteSmart.org. In California, Illinois, and New York, Voter’s Edge provides a helpful, non-partisan voting guide to help you make sense of what’s on your ballot.

Educate yourself as much as possible. But if you still do not really know about or understand what a particular ballot proposition is about when it comes time to vote, it’s best not to vote on that issue.

6. Donate to or volunteer for candidates and issue campaigns that you support, at local, state, and national levels, and/or to your local (county or state) Democratic Party, the DSCC, DCCC, DLCC, and Democratic Governors Association.  Also consider donating to or volunteering for an election integrity or voting-related group, such as Election Protection, ACLU, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, MoveOn, 350Action, or others (see the links in the first half of this post).

7. Make your voting preferences known to your friends and family, via conversations or posts on social media, without resorting to inflammatory insults (no one will listen to you if you’re suggesting that they’re an idiot or worse). You probably have more influence than you think, especially among your peers and others who respect you. I know it takes some courage; when you stick your neck out on political matters, a few people might want to chop it off and might lash out in a rude or offensive manner. But if you set a civil and positive tone (and only post truthful, substantiated information) and mostly focus on reaching out to people who you know personally, you’ll get fewer reactionary or vitriolic responses. Avoid telling people who they “must” or “have to” vote for (no one likes to be be told what to do). Simply state what you will do and why, and why you think it’s important. Post links to helpful and trustworthy election information, such as links for finding polling location, hours, etc. (e.g., 866OurVote.org, or your Secretary of State or County elections website).  Consider sharing this blog post (and our other election posts) with your friends. And on or before voting day, remind your friends to vote

8. Volunteer to drive people to the polls (including seniors, young people, and others who might n0t have cars), through direct offers or via your local Democratic Party, local campaign offices, or other groups.

9. Make sure you know what the current ID requirements are for voting in your state, and bring the necessary identification document(s) with you. Many states have instituted more restrictive (discriminatory) ID requirements since the last election or since 2010: including AK, AL, AZ, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and WV. Go to 866OurVote.org or VoteRiders.org, call 866-OUR-VOTE, or contact your State or County’s elections offices to find out about your state’s current voter ID requirements. SpreadTheVote.org can help people get the ID they need; let others know, if they might not have a current photo ID.

 

10. And of course, on Election Day (or ideally on an Early Voting day, if those are available where you are, or by mail-in ballot): PLEASE VOTE. Also remind your friends to vote, and bring at least one friend or family member with you.

electionprotectIf you experience or witness any voting problems or irregularities, report them to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE, or 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA) and to your County elections office and your Secretary of State; you could also report the problems to the DNC, your state’s party, campaign headquarters, and/or to local media.  If a poll worker tells you that your voter registration isn’t active or is incorrect in some way, please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline before you give up and leave. Some states are wrongly purging some voters from the voter rolls, or your registration could have been hacked. (Notify Verified Voting if you have reason to believe your registration was hacked/altered.)

Also, make sure you get and keep your ballot receipt, and keep it for at least a couple weeks after the election, until the election is settled and certified. Once all ballots have been counted, you should be able to confirm that your ballot was counted, by calling your County elections office or, in some places, you can check this online.

Again, if you’ve opted to get a mail-in/absentee ballot, be sure to follow the instructions and fill it out very carefully; sign it where specified and drop it off at a designated location (best option) or mail it in plenty of time (ideally well before Election Day) and be sure to put enough postage on your mail-in ballot when you send it in; in some cases, more than one regular stamp is required. Keep your ballot receipt.

 

Vote not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family, future generations, vulnerable populations, humanity, other species, and the environment, atmosphere, and climate that we all share and depend on for life. Vote as if everyone’s future depends on it; it does.

 

Related posts:

 

 

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June 29, 2018
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I was born and raised in the Midwest (of the U.S.).  Both sides of my family come from the Midwest: from Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.  So I like to keep up on what’s going on in the Great Lakes region and other parts of the Midwest, and I promote and support good efforts happening there.

[Note: The Midwest is a very large region in the central/upper part of the country, comprising almost one-quarter of the U.S. states. The following 12 states are generally considered to be within the “Midwest” region: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Missouri.]

Below is a listing of the midwestern environmental organizations (and a few other types of relevant organizations) and websites that we know of, though there are certainly many, many more.  (We don’t know all of these groups well, so being listed here does not constitute an endorsement.)  If you know people who live in these states, please share this listing with them.

What are some of your favorite environmental (or other) groups based in midwestern states?  Please let us know if the Comments!

 

logo2MIDWEST REGION (or beyond)

GREAT LAKES REGIONagl_logo_horizontal_full_color_rgb_1000px

 

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

Lake Michigan, MI, Getty ImagesMICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSOURI

NEBRASKA

NORTH DAKOTA

OHIO

SOUTH DAKOTA

WISCONSIN

 

You can also find regional land trusts/conservancies in each state via the Land Trust Alliance’s site.

And you can find other State-by-State Resources here (these listings include groups focused on social and political issues, as well). Also note that almost every state should have its own League of Women Voters chapter and Indivisible chapter.

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May 30, 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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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 have published numerous posts that provide listings of various type of non-profit* groups (related to specific topics and issues), so we thought we’d provide an index of all of them to make them easy to find. Many of the groups that we’ve mentioned in our posts are based in the United States, but some are international organizations and a few are focused on other countries:

In the near future, we will be adding more organization listings, including anti-nuclear groups, youth and student activist groups, population-related groups, green groups/projects in Mexico and Central America, wildlife protection/conservation and domestic animal protection groups, and others.

* NOTE: Not all of the organizations mentioned in the above posts are 501(c)(3) non-profits. If you want to know whether you would be eligible to get a tax deduction for your donation to an organization, please check with each organization.

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November 21, 2017
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Listed below are some of the posts on The Green Spotlight that include information related to sustainable land use (urban, suburban, and rural),  e.g., land conservation and stewardship, sustainable agriculture and permaculture, regenerative and restorative land use, sustainable home/homestead and neighborhood planning and development, and resilience. Links to other resources (organizations and websites) on these topics are also provided, at the bottom of this post.

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Also see our selection of Quotations for Gardeners, Farmers, and Others on Mother Earth News.

 

Other relevant resources:

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May 30, 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), SPLC, Teaching Tolerance, National Lawyers Guild, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 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, John Pavlovitz, Lawrence Lessig, Ari Berman, Dallas Goldtooth, Antonia Juhasz, Laurence Tribe, Paul Krugman, Shaun King, Charles Blow, Nick Hanauer, Leah McElrath, Ian Milhiser, Sherilynn Ifill, Tony Schwartz, Mark Ruffalo

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 who have shown that they have a backbone and think for themselves include:
Evan McMullin, David Frum, David Brooks, John Weaver, Andrew Sullivan, Colin Powell, Ana Navarro, John Dean, Chris Suprun, and Charlie Sykes. (Even some right-wingers like Bill Kristof, Peggy Noonan, and George Will have regularly spoken out against DT.)

And Republican politicians (current and former) who have sometimes spoken out against DT and who periodically demonstrate that they have a backbone or a conscience include: John McCain, John Kasich, Jeff Flake, Jon Huntsman, Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 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, and take a break when you need it (other people will carry on when you can’t, and vice versa), but never give up. Please never stop trying to make the world and our country a better place. And remember that you are not alone.

Related (newer) post:

To be added:

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