Women Who Are Changing Our World With Their Environmental Activism

There is no planet B is a popular catchphrase of one of our sister sites, Teach Climate Change. With that being said, there are four extraordinary women who are raising awareness of global environmental issues and are making a difference and impacting policy changes across the globe.

Clair Nouvian
Founder of BLOOM

Nouvian was the winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize. A former journalist, she became involved in activism after seeing the devastation of deep-sea bottom trawling and forming the nonprofit conservation organization BLOOM in 2005. Her main goal is to protect the deep blue sea by understanding the connection between shark consumption habits and deep-sea fisheries.

Pashon Murray
Co-founder of Detroit Dirt

Murray’s environmentalism is all about waste reduction, recycling and the reuse of materials. She began her adventure by starting a compost by collecting waste from plant-eating animals at the Detroit Zoo and food waste from local restaurants and General Motor’s headquarters. Her goal is to raise awareness about Detroit’s overall carbon footprint. She also wants to find solutions for everyday waste and lower trips to the landfill by bringing composting into neighborhoods.

Nguy Thi Khanh
Director of the Green Innovation and Development Centre Vietnam

After witnessing her friends and family develop cancer by growing up next to a coal plant in Northern Vietnam, she began promoting sustainable energy development in her country. In 2011, she founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) to do just that. She also helped establish the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance which helps communities reduce pollution into local rivers, turn waste into energy, and change to more sustainable energy like solar. She is also a winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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The Worst Cases Of Commercial Animal Cruelty On Record

By now it shouldn’t come as any surprise that animals are subject to cruelty and abuse on an unimaginable scale when they are born into the same factory farms from which they won’t make it out alive. Much of this occurs by sadistic individuals because a blind eye is turned, but often it is just a part of daily life for animals that are raised for no other reason than to be transformed into food for us.

This is the reason why animal rights activists want to shed light into these backwater industrial farms and slaughterhouses. This is the reason why activists urge governments and scientists to quickly find a way to bring lab-grown meat into grocery stores around the country. The number of vegans has exploded by a crazy 600 percent in the United States from 2014 to 2018. Some are only in it for health reasons, of course, but many others do it to promote awareness of commercial animal cruelty.

Many of you will remember the JBS supplier footage that showed piglets slaughtered when one worker arced the piglets over his back in order to gain enough momentum to slam their skulls into the concrete ground. Footage of chicken factory farms in Brazil shed light on the living conditions that many animals are forced to endure. Many animal farms barely provide any space for movement at all. These animals live in the darkness without any room to exercise. Many of these farms operate in wholly unsanitary conditions.

Believe it or not, about 95 percent of the meat in your fridge comes from animals who lived and died under similar conditions. Almost the same percentage of Americans believe that these animals should be free to live in far different, more liberating conditions. What do our laws have to say about it? Sadly, not as much as most of us think they should. There’s a humane way to do things, and then there’s the way we actually do them.

Shockingly, few if any laws on the books will protect the animals that live in industrial farms. Instead, only methods of transport and slaughter are covered. Primarily, animals must be provided with rest and nourishment every 28 hours when transported across state lines on their way to slaughter (wow). In accordance with the law, many animals must be anesthetized before slaughter. Poultry is exempt.

Needless to say, the law isn’t always followed.

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How You Can Get Involved In Environmental Activism in Los Angeles

The environment is taking point on the world stage as the effects of climate change become better known (and much scarier), but deniers still demand more research be done. Those same people probably don’t realize that the research has been ongoing for over half a century, and the conclusions are the same all across the world. The problem is real. But how do you help? Where should you go, and what should you do to be a part of the needed change?

These are a few resources you can use to plan your efforts!

  1. The website Meetup is a phenomenal resource if you live in a big city like Los Angeles, and it should be the first place you look when trying to make a difference. You’ll find thousands of like-minded people interested in all sorts of activities across a wide range of topics like fossil fuel, clean renewable energy, forest and water conservation, education, veterans benefits, and even veganism.

When using this resource, you can decide what it is you want to do. Would you prefer to volunteer? Perhaps you want to protest. Or maybe you just want to get together with other people who are part of a club. The choice is most definitely yours.

2. If you’re interested in information and causes related to aridity and climate change, then check out the Arid Lands Institute. They offer a wide range of resources for outreach, research, and education.

3. The Burbank Green Alliance takes aim at unsustainable practices in the surrounding areas. They offer lectures, workshops, networking, newsletters, and resources for people who want more information. If sustainability is your thing, this is a good place to make a stop.

4. The Burbank Recycle Center is a good spot if you’re having trouble finding a way to recycle certain types of goods. They’ll take everything you would typically leave at the side of the street or bring to the grocery store, in addition to harder-to-recycle goods like scrap metal, antifreeze and oil filtration devices, and more. It’s also a good place to get involved in a workshop, or take a tour.

Or, if you live in the neighborhood and just want a recycling bin, you can drop by and pick one up.

5. The California Coastkeeper Alliance aims to coordinate programs that help to safeguard all relevant waterways in the state of California.

There are literally hundreds of resources, so look around to find the right one for you!

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How The Aids Crisis Started in Los Angeles

October is LGBTQ History month. And while the HIV virus is now a known thing, the AIDS crisis or rather that government’s lack of action regarding the spreading of the virus amongst LGBTQ communities in the early 80s, shows just how strong a community united can bring about change.

A bit of background. The HIV virus began in central Africa and made its way over to the US via Zaire and Haiti. The HIV virus is more easily spread through Anal Sex which is why it affected gay communities more than straight or even lesbian communities. After the Stonewall riots in 1969, LGBTQ activists across the country made significant advances in gay rights including protection against discrimination in employment and through criminal attorneys the decriminalization of sodomy. It was during this time, the early 1970s during the sexual revolution, that the first AIDS cases were appearing in Los Angeles.

The first official government report was in June of 1981. A government bulletin in Morbidity and Mortality reported,

In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died.

It garnered media attention throughout the early 80s. An appearance from gay and men’s health activist Larry Kramer appeared on the Today Show to discuss the anger in the gay community. But while this was going on the HIV virus was spreading to hemophiliacs during blood transfusions as well as injection drug users. However, many people who objected to LGBTQ were referring to the outbreak of AIDS cases as the gay plague and using it as a way to justify anti-gay rhetoric and that God was smiting them.

Finally, in 1984, Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler discovered that AIDS was caused by the HIV virus. She also developed a test to see if a patient had AIDS and predicted a vaccine by 1986 (well that never happened). It wasn’t until years later that Reagan even acknowledged AIDS was a problem or the government offered a treatment (called AZT) that slowed down the progression of the disease but did not cure it.

In 1987, The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power or ACT UP formed and their activism helped speed up the government’s response to the AIDS crisis. Through the late 80s and early 90s, ACT UP and other activists fought for the rights of men’s health. By 1995, AIDS was the single greatest killer of men between the ages of 25-44. It was also the year that the first protease inhibitors, a new type of drug, was able to halt or reverse the progression of the AIDS. However, this treatment is extremely expensive (Currently HIV thrives in poor regions who can’t afford treatment like Mississippi).

It wasn’t until 2003 when George W. Bush enacts the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR which delivers life-saving HIV medicine to poor people around the world. The program currently has provided medicine to 14 million people all over the world.

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Cambodian Activist Wants To Help Homeland From California After Release

Meach Sovannara’s life isn’t easy. It never has been. Cambodian residents who speak out against the government and other political dissidents can expect swift action if their words are heard by enough people. It happened to Sovannara in 2003 when he and his family had their lives threatened as a result of such protests. They made it safely to Long Beach.

That didn’t stop him from continuing the good fight.

In 2014 he was arrested for giving a speech as spokesman of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

In 2015 he spoke at a protest alongside countless other demonstrators who were upset with their government. He was taken by the police. He was given a twenty year sentence for his part in the protest, to be served inside Prey Sar. It didn’t stop him. He wrote an article elaborating on his own thoughts about the government, then smuggled it out of prison. It was subsequently posted on Facebook where it made the rounds. His time inside only got worse once his overseers found out but by that point the damage was done and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

Jamie Meach, his loving wife, demonstrated for his release ever since the 2015 incarceration. She tried the legal route with lawsuits. She made personal appeals to Cambodian officials. She expected nothing to work, but something did. He was released from prison earlier this year, but he made it clear that we shouldn’t expect that to be the end of it.

It’s clear that Sovannara probably won’t be able to safely return to Cambodia, but whether he does or not won’t change the fact that he’ll continue to protest political corruption in Cambodia from his new home in Long Beach. After all, we live in an age that makes publication and dissemination of alternative views easier than ever. He plans to be active on social media when possible.

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Learning About The Women’s March Leadership Team

On January 21st, 2017, approximately one year after Donald Trump was inaugurated into office, roughly 440,000 women in the United States and over 5 million worldwide participated in the Women’s March on Washington. Considered the largest single-day protest in United States history, the protest was to advocate for women’s rights as well as immigration reform, health care reform, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and racial equality.

Tamika D. Mallory, Co-President 

Referred to as “a leader of tomorrow” by Valerie B. Jarrett (Senior Advisor to Barack Obama), Tamika is a social activist who advocates for civil rights, equal rights for women, gun violence and police misconduct. She also created the gun violence prevention program NYC Crisis Management System which provides funding for community-based efforts to stop gun violence in NYC.

Bob Bland, Co-President

Not a stranger to changing the paradigm, Bob’s mission since 2012 was changing the fashion industry. Creating Manufacture New York (MNY), the company’s goal was to create a sustainable and ethical supply chain for apparel and textile production.

Carmen Perez, Board Member 

For over 20 years, Carmen has been advocating for such things as civil rights, mass incarceration, gender equality, violence prevention, and community policy. She is most known for her work inside juvenile detention centers where she provides spiritual, cultural and educational events. Her efforts have led to legislative reform and alternatives to incarceration.

Linda Sarsour, Board Member 

Not afraid to fight for what she believes in, Linda, who was born in Brooklyn by Palestinian-American parents, successfully advocated closing NYC public schools on two important Muslim holy days: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. She has led over 100 marches through 5 states. She also delivered a speech on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

This is by all means not a complete list. To see all of the board members visit their website here: https://www.womensmarch.com/team/

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3 Activists You Should Be Following on Social Media

Activism has become more of a social media pursuit than a media-in-the-streets operation.

Hashtags and slogans will play a role in uniting people around the world in favor of a particular cause. It gives many a sense of belonging to something bigger than them, and there comes with it a belief that more and more voices on social media will be loud enough to generate change.

Some of that comes true, like the recent #MeToo movement about sexual harassment, which has led to changes in Hollywood and in the political arena, as serial sexual harassers are being brought out into the light in the hopes of cleaning up the environments in which they lived.

If you are someone who wants to activate against some injustice in your community and you are looking for an inspiration to help steel yourself for the battle and find worthy causes on social media, here are three Los Angeles-based activists that you really should follow on social media, if you’re not already.

  1. Feminism and Women’s Rights: Liz Plank

Going by the Twitter handle @feministabulous, Liz Plank works as a senior producer and political reporter at Vox.com, a popular left-wing media and blog site. She posts often about feminism and women’s rights issues, especially as they intersect in politics.

  1. Race, Environment and Social Justice: Aura Bogado

An outspoken writer who advocates for Native American rights as well as other immigration and social-justice topics, @aurabogado is an investigative reporter at Reveal, and also has written articles for left-leaning publication The Nation.

  1. Transgender Rights, Gender and Race: Kathryn Black

@kat_blaque has gained quite a following as a transgender activist who speaks her mind based on her unique perspectives about gender, transgenderism and race. She has a provocative approach and provides some personal experiences to help make her points.

Whether you want to get behind the #MeToo movement, support transgender or women’s’ rights, or stand up for any type of social justice issue, you can always follow any one of these three personalities or a number of others who have risen in L.A. in recent years and can inspire and motivate you to action in support of a cause which you deem worthy enough to put skin in the game.

Activism is about caring, is about having a passion for something bigger than you, and doing your part of create and inspire change. For a world that seems to like the status quo and “routine,” advocating for change is revolutionary, rebellious, and … let’s face it, sometimes something that needed to wake us out of our spell.  Activism is the un-routine.    

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Who Was Cesar Chavez?

Cesar Chavez, 1927-1933, was a Mexican-American famous for his role as a union leader, labor organizer and Latin-American civil rights activist. In 1962, he found the National Farm Worker Association. After a successful strike with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee against California grape growers, the two unions merged to form the United Farm Workers. Chavez believed in peaceful protests and nonviolent methods to influence change such as boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes. Through his efforts, he was able to improve conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida (despite friction with the famous Teamster union).

Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona to immigrant parents but moved to California with his family in 1939. With this family, he traveled up and down the coast working in fields under terrible conditions such as delipidates migrant camps, corrupt labor contractors, poor wages for hard labor as well as racism. He became active in other labor organizations but resigned to focus on developing his own labor union for farm workers. In September 1965, when the National Farm Worker Association joined a strike initiated by Filipino farm workers in Delano’s grape fields, Chavez became a household name. He organized a march on Sacremento in 1966 and brought the harsh conditions of the farm worker into the limelight.

He was also noted for his hunger fasts that he used to prove that non-violent protects can be effective. He organized a huge fast in 1988 to protect the suffering for farm workers and their children, ignorance of farm workers rights and the use of pesticides. Chavez fasted for 36 days, Reverend Jesse Jackson started where Chavez left fasting for an additional three days. The fast was passed to other religious and celebrity figures including Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Kennedy, Carly Simon and Danny Glover.

Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993.

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Celebrity Suicide

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, after the two back to back celebrity suicide deaths this past week, suicide hotline numbers have jumped up a total of 25%. Because celebrities are always in the limelight, people often feel a connection to a celebrity even if they have never met. When a celebrity dies, society as a whole feels a collective loss and the news of a celebrity death prompts people to seek help. Over the past few years there have been a lot of celebrity suicides:

  • L’Wren Scott – On March 17, 2014 the fashion designer and was found dead in her New York apartment.  She committed suicide by hanging her self.
  • Mark Salling – In January 2018, the former Glee star was found dead in a tree in the Angeles Forest area. He died of asphyxia by hanging himself.
  • Robin Williams – On August 11, 2014, the comedian died of asphyxiation by hanging himself from the doorknob in his bedroom.
  • Chris Cornell – In 2017, the rock star was found dead in his hotel room also had hung himself after taking a lethal dose of benzo, barbiturates, and amphetamine.
  • Chester Bennington – Another celebrity who was found hanging in his home in California.
  • Tony Scott – In 2012, this director jumped off a Los Angeles County bridge to his death. Anti-depressants and sleeping aids were found in his body.
  • Jonathan Brandis – In 2003, this up and coming star committed suicide by hanging himself in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment building.

The list continues on and on. What is interesting is that most celebrities kill themselves by hanging.

If you or someone you know is an emotional distress or suicidal, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

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Cuba: Marriage Equality

As the daughter of a communist party chief, not a birth injury attorney, Mariela Castro, whose father is Raul Castro (and the niece of Fidel Castro), is just the advocate the LGBTQ community needs in Cuba. For most of the 20th century, communist parties have been proponents of the LGBTQ community and have been the earliest advocates of their rights. Therefore, it’s about time that Cuba updates their laws to include gay marriage as constitutional. As one of the leading gay rights activist in Cuba, Mariela plans to draft charters and create amendments to Cuba’s 1976 constitution this summer.

Homosexuality was not always celebrated in Cuba especially before their revolution. Many men were targeted with harassment and faced criminal charges for homosexuality. After the revolution, many homosexuals fled to Miami to escape persecution. Some were forced to work in camps during the UMAP program. However, by the late 1980s and the early 90s, the attitude toward homosexuals changed with even the country’s leader Fidel Castro urging Cubans to be more accepting of homosexuals as it was a natural tendency that should be respected.

Mariela has had other successes while being a gay rights activist in Cuba. In 2005, she proposed a law that allowed transgender people to receive sexual reassignment surgery and change their legal gender. This proposal became law three years later in 2008 and now transgender people can become their true gender free of charge. If anyone can get a law to pass to allow same-sex marriage in Cuba, it’s her.

 

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