Washington State Rally for Environment, Education, and Labor
Monday, February 15, 2010
Olympia, WA — Thousands of people, the crowd size was estimated to be 6,000, rallied on the steps of the Washington State Capitol Legislative Building.
The rally was for the Environment, for Education, and for Labor - as well as against budget cuts that would hurt people.
There were a lot of people advocating for single-payer health care, and also for substantial reform to the tax system. Washington State has the most regressive tax structure of any state in the USA. Some of the proposals in the legislature, like increases to sales taxes, would actually make the tax system even more unfair.
Many of the speeches talked about the need to protect the social safety net, the importance to maintain structures that make society a caring place, and to focus on fairness, equity and justice in the areas of labor environment and education.
None of the speeches during the hour or so long rally touched on the topic of how to raise the revenue.
After the rally I attended a Sisters Organizing for Survival (SOS) meeting. SOS is part of the Radical Women organization. This group is currently organizing an effort toward a progressive state income tax. During the meeting people talked about their experiences at the rally and lobbying for a couple bills that would establish an income tax in the state.
[updated with segment from Democracy Now! and an additional comment.]
Regarding the discussion about Capitol Lake, it seems to me that the lake is unnatural and environmentally destructive. It seems to make sense that the correct way forward - the way that it ecologically correct (and therefore in the long-run also economically correct and socially just) - is to restore function to the natural estuarine ecosystem.
I think it's understandable, considering how industrialization has divorced us, as a society, from the natural world, how it would be difficult to imagine living - to imagine life - in an environment that comes complete within healthy ecosystems, to imagine life in a stable and productive ecosystem, an ecosystem that is teeming with life. It's a real contradiction with our present reality of ecological disease; at one time this area teemed with wildlife. For my part, I believe that to restore ecological health, vibrancy and vitality is an ideal to strive for.
Democracy Now! video below]
The following is a three part video series containing a speech by Mari Margil about law, environmental protection and regulation, and corporate power. After the videos there is an excerpt from and a link to a related article by Mari Margil from Yes! Magazine.
Video Description: The associate director of the Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF) describes the inspiring, groundbreaking work she and CELDF are doing to recognize Rights of Nature in law in both the U.S. and Ecuador, which recently became the worlds first nation to enshrine such rights in its constitution.
Mari Margil Part 1 (of 3)
The NYT Magazine recently featured an article about ecopsychology. This is a topic I am very interested in, because a large source of my distress comes from witnessing the degradation of the natural environment here on Earth. It's so sad to see what humanity is doing to the planet and the living systems of this wonderful world.
Here's a link to the article and an excerpt. This article doesn't say it all, but it's nice to see ecopsychology get some recognition in the mainstream. It's also a decent starting point for learning about the field:
Is There an Ecological Unconscious?
Daniel B. Smith
What if our society was rational? A couple of aspects that it would make sense to change would be to use a soli-lunar calendar, and to get rid of the change between daylight savings time and standard time.
Here's a song/video I love. Jodi Mitchell, Shine:
So, what IS that scent you are wearing? There are no laws requiring the manufacturers of perfumes and other scented products to inform you of their ingredients. When byproducts form by combining them, they don’t have to tell consumers that either.
In the US the word "fragrance" on your ingredients list can be up to 200 undisclosed chemicals, from a pool of 2000, that do not have to be tested for safety. In fact, many of them are known to cause health problems.
It is no wonder that 30% of Americans have reactions ranging from noticeable to debilitating to such products and other chemicals. An estimated 4-6% of these people are forced to change their daily lives dramatically due to severe sensitivity to chemicals. These people suffer an invisible illness, that recieves little recognition. Acknowledgement would point the finger at the big business of chemical production and use, and there are 80,000 chemicals in products used by Americans every day.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or MCS, is a disability that causes individuals to react to even the lowest levels of toxics because of previous chemical exposure. New exposures do not "bother" but further "injure" those with prior chemical injury.
Inundated with pollutants and toxins it is impossible for those affected with MCS to carry on their lives as usual. This includes family and friends. If they want to assist in the better health and maintain a relationship with their loved one, they must make the neccessary changes of eliminating such products from their environment.
Those who develop this lowered tolerance are often industrial workers, occupants in "tight" buildings, residents from contaminated communities, war veterans and individuals with personal exposures to chemicals in a world growing more toxic.
I want to remind everyone again about the great coverage from Copenhagen provided by Democracy Now! - Please consider checking out the last two week's of shows.
Here's a segment from an interview with Vandana Shiva, by Amy Goodman, from a few days ago.
VANDANA SHIVA: I think it’s time for the US to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognizing itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay, a polluter who must pay compensation and pay their ecological debt. This is not about charity. This is about justice.
I've probably posted this before. But this is one of my favorite videos. A terrific speech by Severn Suzuki, daughter of author David Suzuki. Check it out.
Teenager Severn Suzuki addresses the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil. She presents a powerful argument and a powerful request for representatives of the world's nations to take seriously the harm that human societies and economic activities are doing to the planet.
"At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share - not be greedy: then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?" Severn Suzuki
After the Poor People's Candidates Forum last week, I wrote a letter to the Candidates in order to ask them some questions. I wanted to ask them during the forum, but my thoughts weren't as clear as I would have liked, and I was kind of worked up about it. I was trying to compose my question, and I was having trouble listening to the questions people were asking as well as the responses from the Candidates. I kept feeling a very strong and burning nervous sensation whenever I looked in the direction of the front of the room where the Candidates were sitting...
One of Susan Sarandon's favorite bumper stickers is, "Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes." So, in resonance with the spirit of that idea, I wrote the candidates. I will post the original letter below for reference. But I want to preface it with some more thoughts, perhaps to clarify the intent and the message of the original letter. I was originally thinking of posting the Candidates' responses, but upon second thought, I have decided against doing that. I think that this may be not the appropriate forum to deal with this subject matter in that way. Nonetheless, a big Thank YOU to those of you who did respond (although I'm not going to name names now, here on OlyBlog.) I learned a lot from your responses.
This is video from the October 2, 2007 City of Olympia sponsored Climate Change Forum.
I want to especially draw your attention to the great words of Terry Tempest Williams, who speaks at about 37 minutes into the program. Please check out this video!
Commissioner Goldmark has an editorial that appeared in yesterday's Seattle Times. Here's a link to that editorial, and a few choice excerpts:
Tough choices in the recovery of Puget Sound
by Peter Goldmark
Throughout Washington, people understand that the waters of Puget Sound carry great value. Whether your ancestors have fished here for centuries or you have newly arrived in the region, you know the importance of a clean, healthy Puget Sound.
Past policies and decisions illustrate a value system that I believe is not representative of the broader public. It places singular interests above the public good; elevates narrow, short-term benefits for a few over long-term, sustainable benefits for many; and sacrifices our natural heritage. This infectious short-sightedness will be the slow death of the Sound.
I have five grown children, and when they were toddlers it was never a challenge for them to tell me or their mother, "no." They learned this word from their parents attempting to keep them from harm. Somehow over time that word has vanished from our collective vocabulary, as a region and a state, when we are talking about the tough choices necessary to prevent damaging uses on Puget Sound.
What we are witnessing is death by a thousand cuts. It has been all too easy to allow new uses with a slight impact on the health of this tremendous body of water and the orca and salmon that call it home. Far too much is at stake to continue on this path. We need to raise the bar immediately.