Saturday, November 7, 2009

Afghan Hands

My friend Matin Maulawizada started an organization some time ago called Afghan Hands ( I have put an explantation of who they are below. They are a finalist in the BBC's World Challenge 2009, which awards an organization that has "shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level." I have been aware of Matin's project for several years now and cannot imagine anyone who would deserve it more. Afghan Hands definitely deserves to be recognized for its work in helping Afghan women.

If you would, take a moment and Please vote for them here:

On the organization's website, which I think states their goals and purpose beautifully, I found the following Mission Statement:

"Afghan Hands teaches skills to help Afghan widows gain independence, literacy, and a livable wages. At our centers in and around Kabul, women learn to create embroidered shawls and scarves, and the exquisite embroidery they make connects them to a wider world.

The centers are places to gather, study, and work. We pay the women to attend classes in the morning and embroider in the afternoon. Without this project, they could not educate themselves. Through Afghan Hands, they leave the walls of their compounds and attend seminars on basic human, legal, and religious rights. They prepare for work as free women do elsewhere in the world. This way, no one will ever imprison them in the name of law, honor, or religion.

We are a nonprofit organization. We are also linked to the Mirmon Orphanage. Our mutual efforts keep expenses as low as possible so that the funds we raise go to women and children.

In the future, we hope to establish small parks and playgrounds for children who now live in areas devastated by wars, drought, and environmental damage. We envision green havens where words of encouragement and hope are shared.

For now, Afghan women, by their own hands, are transforming their lives. This is our mission. Thank you for your interest in them and in their one-of-a-kind handmade pieces."

Please vote here:

If you could spread the word about the vote that would be great! The voting ends November 13th!

Life in the "Real World" and my newfound obsession with Podcasts!

So I moved into an apt with Tyler about the time that I wrote my last blog entry. It's pretty nice here because there are views of the river and there are some cool trails where I can let Hanz run around and be his cute self. My computer completely died just after my last blog post but Tyler gave me his older Mac bc he got the new MacBook Pro. So the conversion from PC to Mac-user begins! :)

It was very difficult to find work here in Missoula, unfortunately, but I was glad to find some seasonal work at a local plant nursery that has a wreath and christmas tree business in the fall and winter. It's working out really well because I get to make some money, learn how to make wreaths, and I also can take a month to go back home to New York to visit my family and friends. I am so excited! It's so beautiful here in Montana and Missoula is a great town but it is a very difficult transition moving away from all of my family directly out of college, coinciding with the time that I buy my first car, start paying student loans, and no longer have health insurance! Oy! Well, luckily my parents are helping me out with the insurance angle... thanks Mom and Dad! Even still, sometimes the reality of being a "grown-up" feels like a slap in the face. As if with my graduating from college, where I studied environmental issues, I'm supposed to automatically switch to being a fully functional adult who understands all the mumbo-jumbo jargon associated with credit cars, insurance, liability, energy bills, etc. all while facing numerous ethical and philosophical quandaries and trying to figure out how to best spend the hours that make up the days that make up the years that make up my life. I went from the routine of school starting every autumn and ending every summer and then beginning again for 22 years and now that I don't have something that I know I have to do at a certain time of the year my life just feels very unstructured. It can get very overwhelming but I'm trying to piece things together a little at a time. I'm interested in doing SO many things with my life that the more I try to figure out what I want to "be when I grow up," the more cool occupations I discover, the more confused I become! So I think I'm ready for that clarity thats supposed to come along (hint, hint to the higher power!)

Since I've been making wreaths now for 3 weeks I've become pretty adept at it and definitely came to need some more intellectual stimulation. My iPod joined my computer in the grave but once again Tyler came to the rescue and gave me an iPod shuffle and I have pumped that little baby full of podcasts galore! OH MY GAWD the world of Podcasts has been opened to me! I don't have a tv or radio but I can listen to all of the NPR and PRI programs I could ever want to through the podcasts they produce.

My favorite podcasts so far are:

PRI's How We Got Here
(created by Jeb Sharp who is an amazing reporter/ interviewer with the BBC. Check her out more at:

The World

The Changing World
(I haven't listened to the most current ones which are about the financial crisis, even thought I'm sure they are very enlightening, because I'm just sick of hearing about it. I like to sum up the explanation of why the crisis happened very simply in one word: GREED. Thats all I'm saying on that subject!)

NPR's Car Talk
These guys realllly know what they are talking about plus they're HILARIOUS

NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!
If you haven't heard this classic before, do yourself a favor and give it a listen :)

I discovered these in podcast form last week and I have probably averaged about 5 per day so every night when I come home I'm just bursting with new-found knowledge that I just want to spew out so I'll remember it! "How We Got Here" is especially awesome because it takes a current event and it looks at the history behind it to give a more well-rounded explanation or understanding of it. It's a brilliant idea and Jeb Sharp is always coming up with fascinating stories and interviews to share.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Oh My Goodness!!

Well I would like to start out by saying thank you to my followers for not leaving me! I hope at least some of you check in sometime soon bc I love hearing your thoughts and having your support!

It has been extremely hectic for me. A brief run-down of my life since my last blog is that I had my graduation party; I said goodbye to all of my lovely Harborside Vet co-workers/boss and then to my family and friends; I got picked up by Tyler in NY; Ty and I went on a week-long trip across the country to Montana (we took the "Southern" route, hahaha); I floated rivers and played frisbee gold; I flew to Virginia with Tyler for his brother's wedding; I went "boat camping" except we didn't make it past Bigfork because the thunder and lighting would not desist; I got a position through Americorps working in Missoula with the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP); I worked extremely diligently on my garden; I did sub work at a preschool; I got a bicycle(!); I started running again; I got semi-settled in Missoula but now I'm moving again to an apt while Tyler's mom, Kitty, stays in her house for the fall semester while she's at school. So, it's definitely not an excuse for not keeping up with this blog, especially because I love it so much, but it does provide some kind of reasoning. Oy!

This is definitely my everything blog. The content is so diverse, covering everything from gardening and recipes to crafts to fashion to art to politics and philosophical thoughts and that's the way I like it. I have such varied interests. I have never been able to fit into a mold the way many people seem to be able to do. I don't hang out with a certain type of person. I don't listen to a certain type of music. I don't constrain myself to any particular political party. I don't wear only a certain type of clothing. I haven't had some crazy fascination with an obscure type of fish that has been driving me my whole life to further study, meaning, I'm taking time off before graduate school because I am interested in so many different things. One of my biggest flaws is my tendency to spread myself too thin. I have time to do some community service but I get so excited that I do too many things and consequently don't end up doing any of them particularly well. I'm definitely working on that. I'm just trying to figure everything out right now in my life because I'm basically starting from scratch. It is definitely very difficult at times but I'm hoping that if I do what my heart tells me, what feels right to me, then I will end up in a good place... eventually. As for right now, it's just me doin' my thang and hoping i get it right. I just got a sweet cowboy hat and that turned out alright! :)

I love being in Montana. I love living in a place where people go outside as a part of their normal routine that doesn't necessarily involve cars. There are so many people on bikes around here and, as a result, the city just painted all of these new bike lanes into the streets! It's great! I love the sky here, I love the weather, I love that there is a river that goes right through the heart of this city, I love that the people have such pride in where they live and consequently they value and fight for it to continue in that manner. I love that there are two farmers markets on Saturdays and that they both get so much support from the community. I just haven't had much exposure to places like this so it's hard for me not to gawk and talk about it so much! I mean seriously, just look at this sky! <3 Love to all

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


So aside from being super busy working at the animal hospital and preparing for the moving sale and for my graduation/ goodbye party I've also had time to do one of my favorite summer activities... read! When college was in session I never had the chance to read for fun because I always had a ridiculous number of reading assignments. Whenever I had a break the first thing I would do was pick up a good book. I love the late spring when it isn't too muggy out and there is a nice breeze so I can sit outside with a nice cold drink and a good read.

The first book I read was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was a very good but extremely grim and depressing story set in a post-apocalyptic America.

Seriously, I probably should not be reading books like that because as an Environmental Studies major I'm already convinced that we, as a civilization, are totally screwed. I hate to admit it but the primary reason I decided against moving to California is because I don't think it's a safe place to be. In terms of elevation it seems unsafe because of the threat of sea level rise. Then there is the even more certain fact that California has been using more than its share of water from the Colorado River. Historically they have been able to get away with this because of the lower water demands of Arizona and Nevada, however, with populations both states increasing, California will not be able to continue with this pattern. Already the Colorado River often runs dry before reaching the Gulf. Water is not an unlimited resource. We just think it is because we turn on a tap and can get as much as we want. I'm completely convinced that the next world war will be over water.

Right now I'm reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. It documents the journey of Lewis and Clark into the American West and is absolutely fascinating. When Tyler and I drive out to Montana we are going to actually be following some of the same route that they took. I'm still piecing the trip together, trying to make sure it's well-planned while still leaving room for spontaneity since it's supposed to be an adventure! I'm really excited to get the chance to take this trip! I hope we meet cool people along the way- that's one of my favorite things about traveling.

It seems like it's only right that I know something about the history of the land I will be inhabiting. I find fascinating the idea of so much having happened on the ground that I now walk on, and that others will walk on in the future. Sometimes when I'm hiking or walking somewhere I will wonder whose footsteps struck the very same ground; it's an intriguing thought!

I'm learning a lot from the book. Even if I do not agree with everything that Lewis and Clark did, and with my hindsight being 20/20 that comes up a lot, it is still fascinating to see what they went through. They were also the first "white" people to go as far West as they did, entering into Montana and Idaho and making it all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The descriptions of the land, ecology, and wildlife are very interesting as well because neither were highly trained scientists so although they were somewhat trained, a lot of their initial observations and accompanying assumptions are highly amusing.

It's also really sad though, to know what was to become of that land and its inhabitants, both human and not. They talk of seeing passenger pigeons, now extinct, migrating in flocks so dense that they block out the sun. Coyote and wolf populations were thriving and the Corps of Discovery, as they called themselves, obviously had no idea about the absolutely pivotal role that predators play within their ecosystems. Not to mention beavers, appearing around every turn, which are a keystone species (meaning the fate of many other organisms is directly tied to their presence because of the ecosystem functions that they provide- in this case creating dams, etc). I guess beavers were the number one victim of the fur trade at the time, and their tails were considered a delicacy (I still don't get that...). From the notes that Lewis makes in his journals, detailing the daily goings-on of his men, it is easy to see how those who followed in their footsteps would take advantage of the land. There is mention, time and again, about how there is literally "too much land" in the context that our biggest obstacle is figuring out how to use it up. That aspect of this history is so frustrating to me. I wish I could go back in time and somehow convey the importance of treating the land and all living creatures with respect and not taking them for granted.

It's incredible, as well, to think about how our lives would be different today if one little thing had gone differently on that voyage. There were so many close calls during their journey. What if just one of them had turned out differently? It's a thought with tremendous repercussions that I don't think anyone could fully grasp. I couldn't even say if we'd all necessarily be here. When you think of what this world has come to, if you take a look at the overall impact of mankind on this planet and at the legacy we'd be leaving behind if we suddenly vanished from this earth, I can't help but sound cynical. I mean, it really has been the rape of the world, as Tracy Chapman calls it. We have destroyed so much beauty. And for what? As a society we are as unhappy as ever. We destroy the natural world to make room so we can build things that will make us happy but those things don't end up making us happy at all. And we wonder why we feel a void at the end of the day, when we're sitting alone. We have everything so backwards! Those places that we are destroying are the very ones we should be preserving. If we ever want to be happy, or to have any kind of peace, we must learn to respect ourselves, each other, and the earth, including all of the life on it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun Things

I bought the shoes as a graduation present for myself :)

The rest of the photos are Dior couture creations that I absolutely adore. I love the makeup on the close-up models too. I wish I could always have funky eye makeup like that!

Oh Goodness!

So I guess I took a brief hiatus from the blog. I blame it on my finals! They ruined any sense of normalcy or routine in my life! But they were the last of my undergraduate career, which is exciting. I graduated on May 17th from Binghamton University. It's strange to have such a definitive mark of change in my life. It's strange to leave the life I had with my 5 apartment-mates to whom I have grown so close. It was like having sisters, which I really enjoyed since I am an only child. I am very grateful to all of them for contributing so greatly to my senior year; what a blessing!

SO, now I'm back on Long Island preparing for the big garage/moving sale next weekend, for my graduation party the following weekend, and finally for the roadtrip on which I will embark with my boyfriend, Tyler, to Montana where I will be residing. I guess it is a big deal that I am moving across the country and away from my family but the way I see it, I'm just doing what feels right and I've just got to trust that. I have definitely been getting a lot of flack about the move. I cannot even count how many times I've been asked, "but why MONTANA?" I am seriously thinking about writing up an FAQ sheet to which I can refer people when they ask! I don't know why so many people need me to justify myself to them. It's life! That is my short answer. I'm living! And Montana is beautiful!

Since I've been home I've been very lucky to get a bunch of hours at the animal hospital. It is very comforting to have that income to help pad the move. It's soon going to be me and my man and my dog on the road... so exciting! We're thinking we'll go down through Maryland and Virgina to Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama, and then up into Tennessee, where we'll stop in Nashville to visit some family. From there we'll go through Kentucky to Missouri and ride along the Iowa/Nebraska border until we reach South Dakota, Wyoming and finally... Montana! Tyler and I plan to spend most of the nights either camping or couchsurfing ( but we want to stay in a nice, old fashioned B&B for one night as a treat. If anyone knows of any B&Bs along the route we're planning on taking, that they would recommend, I'd be much obliged if you'd share that info! :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

On a Lighter Note...

The above are photos from the Bloodnick Family Farm run by Lisa and Brendan Bloodnick- a very nice couple. I was absolutely amazed because they had such an incredible operation set up and, wait for it... they are DEBT FREE. Oh My Gosh. I didn't even think that was possible with farming, haha. I made sure to ask them a bunch of questions and tried to really understand their operation so as to learn from them.

If I was going to be in New York state this summer I would definitely intern with them! Unfortunately that won't work out though because I will be moving to Montana. I can't believe I'm graduating in a month and then moving across the country! It's scary because the job market sucks but it's exciting because I know something will work out since I work hard. It's overall pretty exciting!

My agriculture class has visited a couple working farms to get a better idea of how they function holistically. I find it fascinating to look at the farm system as a closed loop and account for all of the inputs and outputs that make the farm viable in the long run. I love visiting new farms to see the different techniques farmers use to manage their unique set-up. I've really come to understand that there is no by-the-book technique that every farmer could follow in a fail-proof manner. Farming techniques are very unique to the geographic positioning, type of land and soil, predators, etc. I cannot wait to have some land of my own so I can really start to grow a good amount of my own food and have animals. I love baby goats and lambs so much! They are so cute and cuddly! eeeeeck!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tragedy in Binghamton

I got home Thursday night for spring break from Binghamton, NY where I go to school. Thursday morning I found out about the terrible events that were taking place at the Civic Center in downtown Binghamton. I guess a middle-aged Vietnamese man who'd recently been laid off from IBM parked his car against the back entrance to the Civic Center so no one could enter or leave and then went inside and started shooting people. He killed 13 people and held 37 people hostage for a few hours before killing himself.

The saddest part is that even though this is extremely tragic, and certainly out of place in Binghamton, it isn't uncommon. This phenomenon of an individual going into a public place like a school or church or community center and blindly shooting anyone in his path is becoming more and more frequent. It's not even about avoiding certain bad neighborhoods anymore, either. These shootings are happening in the places that are universally visited like schools, churches, etc. With the added pressures of job losses that are also increasing there have been a lot more incidences of people freaking out. It's been happening just these past few days with the three police officers slain in Philadelphia and the father who killed all of his children and then himself in Washington state. What is this world coming to?? I don't understand why people don't see the connections that the emotions and feelings that spur such terrible actions have to the disconnect that we experience from things that are truly meaningful. People are disconnected from their food in that they often times don't know where it comes from and even when they do, the food has become to abstract in its processing that people are able to make themselves not care. How can we not expect people to flip out and go crazy when we are trying to convince ourselves that it's alright to kill someone for killing someone else, and it's alright to torture animals before we eat them because they are lower than us grandiose humans? You'd have to be blind to think that we don't have some pretty crazy ideas ourselves; as a society we have a tendency to lack compassion in a lot of our policies.

This is not meant at all to excuse or validate in any way what Wong did to the immigrants in Binghamton. It was a cruel and heartless act that was committed that day. I'm just saying that things are not as black and white as some people make them out to be. There is a long and deeply rooted history with an associated psychology that makes people do the things they do. I don't believe that someone is just born bad and that's one of the reasons that I can have hope that we can change. I try to do that everyday by staying positive as much as possible and leading a compassionate life with appreciation for all that I have and a true yearning to live as close to the land as possible.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jon Stewart and Danby State Forest

Jon Stewart came to my campus this past Friday night for a stand-up comedy performance and I was SO excited! He is so hilarious and not just in a cheap and typical way... he actually makes some really interesting political and socially-pointed comments.

On the way inside, after waiting online for a while to get in my friend Karen and I realized that we had our cameras in our bags but none were allowed inside. The security people were totally adamant about not letting us in with them but we had nowhere to put them since we had walked from our apartment so I went outside, dug a little hole and buried them, hahaha. I made sure no one was looking when i did it so they wouldn't steal them and then i tried very hard to remember where I put them. Luckily we found them afterwards just fine and I was very proud of myself for thinking of that, hahaha.

In my poetry and drama in performance class we are reading King Lear by Shakespeare and were recently discussing the role of the Fool. He is basically the most upfront, honest and unpretentious character in the play and he's mainly able to get away with that because of his title. He is able to say things to the king and others that are controversial but it's okay because he's just a fool, so what does he know? We expanded on the role of the fool and applied it to our society and I realized the same concept remains true. If a politician said some of the things that Jon Stewart said on Friday night he would be crucified but Jon Stewart is able to get away with it because he's just a comedian, an entertainer. I think that is a really interesting and ironic concept that is remains consistently applicable to society.

The day after the Jon Stewart performance I went for a hike at Danby State Forest with one of the hiking classes that run through my work at Outdoor Pursuits. It was an absolutely beautiful 60 degree day with clear blue skies. It felt great to stretch my legs for the 8.6mi hike. I love hiking so much; i want to just strap on a pack and keep walking!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Community Garden and My Plants

The above photos are of my ecological agriculture building a community garden in Binghamton, NY. Half of my class went this past Tuesday (when I went) and put up a fence, laid leaves down between the beds, and built a couple compost bins. It was a lot of fun! I haven't done fun construction stuff like that since last summer when I worked on the farm in Montana.

The other photos are of the plants growing in my room at 5wks old.

After the seedlings 4th week of life we had a few too many to be able to fit in the number of pots that we had so I got to take some home! I put them on my windowsill which gets some direct light but not enough. I am a very beginner "gardener" (don't know if i can technically call myself that) and I live in a college dorm so I don't have any typical tools. I know that lights help plants so I have been keeping my lamp (in the photo above) on the plants so they only get about 7 hrs of darkness. The tomato plants started out about the same size but the one that has been receiving the most light has really taken off! I also try to talk to them and play music to encourage them! I have seen a couple aphids on them and a couple tiny black flies but i squished them as soon as I saw them and they haven't reappeared since.

I felt that the tomato plant that got a lot bigger probably needed a bigger container but i didn't have anything so I found one of my apartment-mate's liter soda bottles in the recycling, washed it and cut it so I could use it as a planter. I am a bit worried about toxins leaching from the plastic. Does anyone know anything about whether there is a significant amount of that? I looked up the concept of using soda bottles online and found that a lot of people use them, especially in urban agriculture! yay! The plant looks a lot happier in the bigger container. I feel like it can breathe a lot better and this way the roots have more room to move and grow.

Now We're Up to Date...

Okay so the above photos are the most up-to-date pictures of the plants being grown in my class. I took the photos inside, right before we took a bunch of them outside and planted them in the ground under the miniature high tunnel that you see. They are really coming along!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I forgot the Leeks!

Those are the leeks in their 3rd week of life!

Seedling Update!!

I've been so behind in updating this blog! I always remember that I want to write something at the most inconvenient times, when it is impossible. Life is funny like that.

So anyways, I posted photos above of the 3 week old seedlings that were being grown in the classroom. It's amazing how fast they grow into plants!

We pretty quickly had a problem with aphids on the pepper seedlings. Karl (our professor) said he thinks he may have brought them in accidently through the soil that he brought from his farm. We've just been hand picking them off since we don't have too many plants to make it too tedious. They are the most obvious pests that we've had so far (knock on wood!).

Toxic R Us

This is a great editorial! I really like Maureen Dowd.

March 22, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
Toxic R Us


It’s an image that could have come straight out of a McCain campaign ad: Barack Obama growing organic arugula at the White House.

But there was Michelle on Friday, the first day of spring, with a bunch of fifth graders, digging a veggie garden on the South Lawn.

She told The Times there would not be beets, because her husband doesn’t like them, but there would be arugula. And she promised that the entire Obama family, including the president, would go out and pull weeds, “whether they like it or not.”

The tableau of Michelle Obama hoisting a pitchfork on Friday with her sinewy arms and warning that the commander in chief would be commandeered into yard work left me wondering if the wrong Obama is in the Oval.

It’s a time in America’s history where we need less smooth jazz and more martial brass.

Barack Obama prides himself on consensus, soothing warring sides into agreement. But the fury directed at the robber barons by the robbed blind in America has been getting hotter, not cooler. And that’s because the president and his Treasury secretary have been coddling the Wall Street elite, fretting that if they curtail executives’ pay and perks too much, if they make the negotiations with those who siphoned our 401(k)’s too tough, the spoiled Sherman McCoys will run away, the rescue plan will fail and the markets will wither. (Now that Mr. Obama has made $8,605,429 on his books — including $500,000 for letting his memoir be condensed into a kids’ book — maybe he’s lost touch with his hole-in-the-shoe, hole-in-the-Datsun, have-not roots.)

The shafters of the universe have been treated with such kid gloves that they remain obnoxiously oblivious. Vikram “Pandit the Bandit” at Citigroup, which received $50 billion in bailout money, is pulling a Thain, spending $10 million to renovate his Park Avenue offices, complete with a Sub-Zero refrigerator and premium millwork (whatever that is).

Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance behemoth that had $59 billion in losses last year when the government was forced to take it over, and since has asked for $15 billion in taxpayer money, brazenly intends to give $1 million apiece in retention bonuses to four top executives, even though the word retention in a depression is pure Ionesco. Freddie Mac, which has sought $45 billion in aid, has yet to disclose its planned bonuses.

Asked by Jay Leno why our loans to Wall Street haven’t trickled down to Main Street, President Obama conceded that the banks “haven’t started lending it yet.”

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who grew up as a Republican and was head of the New York Fed for five years, sees things from the point of view of that wellspring of masters of the universe, Goldman Sachs. (His Treasury chief of staff was a Goldman lobbyist, who fought then-Senator Obama’s attempt to curb executive compensation — just as Geithner has done within the administration.)

At the New York Fed, Geithner helped preside over the A.I.G. bailout in September. But in October, it was Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general, who had to threaten to sue unless A.I.G. canceled $160 million in planned expenses for conferences and a $600 million bonus pool.

Virtually unnoticed amid the bonus imbroglio was A.I.G.’s grudging disclosure that it had funneled $93 billion — more than half its federal money to date — to its high-flying insurees, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and a group of European banks.

Goldman Sachs separately got $10 billion in bailout money last year, but recently asserted snootily that it’s doing well enough and doesn’t want our money because of the restrictions attached. Yet as Goldman sneers at the federal money at the front door, it’s taking delivery of billions in no-strings federal money through the back door. Can we taxpayers deduct the difference?

Our gift to Goldman demonstrates why the government’s headless and heedless bailout of A.I.G. is so wrong.

And why are we bailing out foreign banks, including a couple of French ones and UBS, a Swiss bank currently tussling with the I.R.S. because it refuses to hand over the names of thousands of U.S. tax-dodgers?

The issue is how much we must pay to preserve financial stability over all, not how much one company promised to pay. At this point, A.I.G. seems to be the only party paying face value on toxic derivatives.

Ed Liddy was put in charge of an essentially bankrupt company, but he never drove a hard bargain on bonuses or counterparty debts. He honored contracts made by an organization that had become a fraudulent scheme. He could have told the leeches inside the company and out that the world had utterly changed, so the contracts would too — as Michelle would say, “whether they like it or not.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Report on Powershift 09

I wrote the below article for Pipe Dream, the student-run newspaper at Binghamton University. I've never written for a newspaper before so I'm sure it could be improved but I'm posting the rough draft here to help sum up my experience. The only thing I would have changed at the conference was to have more actually strategy discussion instead of the more pep-rally mentality that pervaded over the course of the 4 days. I was very excited by how many people showed up. It is inspiring to know people actually care. The only thing I wonder is where the heck these activists of ages similar to that myself were when I was growing up??!! I often times felt like I was the only one who really cared that so much of the world was going to shit but now all of these people are emerging out of the woodworks!! Just had to note that, haha, but it is truly nice to see people involving themselves in social activism and change. =)

Friday, February 27th through Monday, March 2nd marked the historic national summit of 12,000 citizens at Powershift ’09 held in the Washington Convention Center of Washington, DC.

Among those attending included 18 Binghamton University students. The Powershift conference, as its name implies, aims to “successfully fight for clean energy solutions” such as solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and wind energy, as well as for “the creation of a new green economy.” Conference-goers made a point, however, to differentiate between true energy alternatives and options like clean coal and ethanol which do not hold up as well in the scientific community.

The conference were hosted by the Energy Action Coalition, a network of non-profit organizations and their member supporters, which aims each year to educate and empower youth to make change in regards to climate and clean energy policies. Energy Action Coalition is responsible for the Campus Climate Challenge, of which a chapter exists at Binghamton University.

During the course of the 4-day conference students and concerned citizens chose between around 200 options of panels, seminars and workshops to attend. These ranged from addressing leadership and campaign development, to empowering youth through special high school based workshops, to nonviolent direct action strategies, questions of faith and its role in eco-activism, and discussions of local food systems.

The conference gave out prizes to the top-attending universities, including optimal seats for the evening addresses and performances. This was just one way of giving youth an incentive to organize and rally up as many of their friends as they could.

“The more people you bring you bring with you, who experience what you experience, the more you can bring the momentum of the conference back to campus and make some real changes,” said Mary Davis, President of Binghamton University’s chapter of the Student Environmental Awareness Club (SEAC). Davis’ efforts ended up bringing more than half of the total participants from the Binghamton University.

The key note address was opened by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, the first African American to hold the position. She spoke about the importance of funds appropriated to the EPA so that it could adequately carry out its duties and praised President Obama for the $10.5 billion budget he proposed the day before. The EPA is entering its 40th year and with proper funding Jackson confidently assured the audience, the “EPA is back on the job.”

Evenings were filled with other high-profile speakers such as Secretary of State for the Interior, Ken Salazar who stated the importance of everyone doing their part to stop climate change. “Our nation doesn’t end at our borders; we are one planet and one people,” says Salazar. Salazar also announced, to a very enthusiastic audience, the plan of the Department of the Interior to create “thousands of jobs in sustainable energy, and resource management, restoration and protection,” to be opened within the next few weeks. One of his other current projects is focusing on creating the “best 21st century youth conservation corps the world has ever seen.”

Jesse Tolkan, the Powershift ’09 Organizer enthusiastically stated, "it was unbelievable for me to stand last night behind the stage with Administrator Jackson and Secretary Salazar and to realize for the first time in my life as an activist that I had partners and allies inside government to work beside us. They literally said we need your help to make this happen, we need your 12,000 leaders."

Some of the lesser hyped but equally powerful speeches came from names like Van Jones, whose organization Green for All is focusing on the creation and expansion of green-collar jobs. Majora Carter, whose work includes the revitalization of communities in the South Bronx, also made an impassioned speech. Carter pointed out that “Obama” is actually an acronym for “Officially Behaving As Magnificent Americans” and said that we need to take advantage of the energy crisis that we are in right now because “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

To round out the very busy days and evenings, the nights were filled with musical performances by groups like The Roots, London Souls, and an eco-friendly fashion show.

The conference culminated on March 2nd on Capital Hill where participants met with their Congressional Representatives to express their support of legislation increasing the viability and use of clean energy alternatives. Although faced with freezing temperatures and less than ideal weather conditions, approximately 2,500 activists toughed it out and proceeded to the Capital’s coal-fired power plant to form a blockade as an act of civil disobedience. The 99 year old plant has been publicly criticized by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and NASA Climatologist, Dr. James Hanson, for emitting almost 1/3 of the capital’s green house gasses. After nearly four hours the blockade broke up. No arrests were made.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Tomorrow is the Powershift conference in Washington, DC and I am majorly stokked! You can check it out at:

I am going with several other people from Binghamton University and it should be a great experience. I am really hoping to learn a lot. Over both weekend days we get to attend some really great-sounding workshops and then Monday, which is Lobby Day, we are going to meet with our elected officials and have a rally in support of alternative energy (which, contrary to popular opinion, does NOT include "clean" coal and biofuels). I made a really cool poster that says: "Don't be biofools!" =)

There are going to be some awesome big name speakers like Bill McKibben and Nancy Pelosi and, I think on Saturday night, The Roots are playing! On Friday there is a job fair that I will be attending in hopes of finding a cool environmentally -related job! It is definitely rough to be graduating with this economy.

I will definitely post about the conference (while I'm there if I can get a computer) and I will post photos when I get back.

Seedling Update!

So the first picture is of the tomatoes that I planted a little over a week ago and they are now starting to sprout up- I am very excited! The next photo is of the beans (as you can tell from the heart-shaped leaves, forgive the poor picture quality!) and it is truly remarkable how quickly they have sprung up. The next photo is of the pot in which lettuce will one day appear. The final photo is of leeks.
I am really glad I thought to take pictures every week so the progress of the plants can be tracked. It's amazing how you remember when something was a seed (or a puppy, or a baby) and it seems they just grow so fast and the seed stage seems like it was a lifetime ago. I'm hoping to better experience ever stage of seed growth through photography.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Performance Day

Today in my Poetry and Drama in Performance class (same one that I'm writing the Citizen Cope paper for) we performed our assigned scenes from the choreopoem "For Black Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" by Ntozake Shange.
Last week we were put in groups and assigned a certain section to act out. I was a part of the scene in which this woman talks about being a young black girl in St. Louis in 1955. It was so much fun to do and I was very pleased that the performance went well. I had to have a southern accent (which was a LOT of fun) and I memorized all my lines. I was very proud of myself since I've never performed anything like that before.
I'm starting to see a whole other side to theater and am becoming quite interested in it. It is such an amazing medium for self-expression!
It was one thing to read the choreopoem but it is something entirely different to see it acted out or to act it out yourself. Seeing it performed, after reading it, made me realize how some works are meant to be read but others are just not able to be fully understood without being physically performed. This class is probably one of my favorite classes I've taken in college.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Growing Things!

I'm taking an agroecology class this semester and we get to grow some of our own stuff which is very exciting. I've worked on a farm but only used a push seeder and haven't had the experience of tracking a seed to a seedling to a plant (hopefully bearing fruit!) day by day.

Yesterday we planted two types of lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, leeks, and peppers. The seeds come from a company in Maine because, as my professor wisely pointed out, it's important to get seeds from a place that has a climate similar to the one in which you will be planting them. That's such an obvious statement but it is something that could easily be overlooked.

I will take pictures of the seedlings as they come up and post them for you (whoever reads this, haha) to see. They are indoors right now in a classroom under a wide-spectrum light. We took soil from a professor's garden, from an indoor compost bucket (worms included!) and from the earth outside the classroom and mixed it together for the plants to grow in. This way we are hoping to get a good balance of nutrients to help the seeds grow. We all named the worms that made it into our pots. My worm's name is Fredrick and I told him I'm entrusting him with the health of my little seeds so I hope he helps them grow. I'm definitely going to talk to them to encourage them to grow and be healthy! I don't care if people think it's strange! They'll see: My plants will be the healthiest, haha. =)

No but really, I think it is very interesting how plants seem to respond to being talked to and to classical music. I need to look into that more.

Avant-Garde Makeup

SO i just stumbled upon something AWESOME called the Colorful Cosmetic Design Contest that is held each year in Beijing; thats where the above pictures are from. I love funky makeup so much. I wish it was more socially acceptable for people to walk around with crazyyy cool makeup. It's such a great form of artistic expression! Although, some of the headdresses (ie the first photo) seem a bit uncomfortable but the concept is fantastic! =)

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Posting!

Hey There,
So I've started a blog to talk about what I'm up to and to
have a place to stick cool info that I find about all the
topics I am interested in. For a performance class that I'm
taking this semester I get to write a research paper on one
performance artist who inspires me. I am writing my paper
on Citizen Cope because I find his music to be so
incredibly genuine and touching. It's so easy to relate to
and his beats are sweeeet. Above is the cover of his most
recent album (which is amazing). I've been really hoping to
see him live but unfortunately he isn't playing anywhere
nearby any time soon.
Cope: Come to Binghamton!!!

I don't know if it's because of where I am in my life right
now or what but for some reason his music speaks to me
in a way that is so personal. His ability to express himself
through his music is incredible- he is truly eloquent.