Hope in Youth Leadership

If you are feeling overwhelmed by climate news and the threats to our democracy, NextGen America and Our Children’s Trust will hearten your spirit.

NextGen America supports the Youth Vote. It made a huge difference in the 2020 election – the fight to save the soul of America and is now gearing up to influence the vote in 2024. Their mission statement is, “NextGen America’s mission is to empower young voters to engage in the political process and ensure our government is responsive to the largest and most diverse generation in American history.”

In a zoom presentation today with Doug Emhoff encouraged us to make sure the vision and investment in America through the Inflation Reduction Act is widely understood. We need to show how it is making a difference in our lives. See the Rewiring America Guide to the IRA below, a handy guidebook to understand the great deals that are now possible for families and individuals as well as businesses, nonprofits, and states and cities. It is massive in its impact IF AMERICANS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. We’ve got ten years of these programs and their savings with this long lasting program. The money is available but only if each of the stakeholders from individual citizens to families to governments take advantage of it. In other words, Biden and Harris have made the Clean Energy Transition possible but we have to be the agents of change by buying an EV, making our appliances and homes more energy efficient, and helping our communities convert to more renewable power until we make the full transition. Please share with your family and friends.

Another very hopeful youth-led group initiative is Our Children’s Trust which support youth taking their governments to court for violation of their rights to a safe and healthy future. *Coming up June 12, the first constitutional trial is happening in Montana. The implication of a rule in their favor can have a massive impact on moving our slow acting governments to make serious, demonstrable actions toward a safe environment for the young generations here now and those coming behind them. Be sure to view it and share with your friends and family to make people aware of these eloquent and brave youth who are pushing adults in power to do the right thing for theirs and future generations.

Below is the Guide to the IRA for citizens. Download it for your own information and use for your family, neighborhood, business, and community.

Memorial Day in America

In the long sweep of history, the United States of America is a young nation. As a citizen and daughter of a family who gave much of their youth to defending her, my love of this country has never waned.

However, to keep such a fragile thing as a democracy Thomas Jefferson observed that eternal vigilance is the price we pay.

To be an American citizen requires study, discernment, and dialogue with people who hold another viewpoint about its state and its practice. That requires us to possess skills in the art of debate. Critical thinking must be utilized in the arguments put forth by each side of the issue at hand. There is an implied respect for each other in order for any topic to be well examined.

In our current era these skills are lacking in general across media. They thankfully still exist in long forms such as books, literature, and organized interviews and public platforms moderated by intelligent human beings.

On this weekend, in honor of our veterans here and gone from us, I issue the call for all of us Americans to carefully examine how well we utilize these critical thinking skills as we communicate with each other about the current state of the American democracy. For those who gave the final measure, their very lives, we owe it to them.

Photo by Susan Feathers

New RFP: Nonprofit IRA Funding for Energy Efficiency of Facilities

Webpage for the Funding Initiative

This $45 million funding opportunity demonstrates a first-of-its-kind engagement between DOE and the nonprofits sector and recognizes the central role that nonprofits play in American’s lives, as well as their potential significance in the nation’s clean energy transition.

There are approximately 1.5 million 501(c)(3) nonprofits in the United States, operating more than half a million facilities, mostly in commercial spaces where efficiency improvements have the potential to reduce energy use by up to 30%.  

Awards will support projects to reduce energy use in buildings owned and operated by 501(c)(3)s, reducing emissions and utilities costs in these vital institutions so that savings can be redirected to mission-critical work serving communities.  

See the Funding Announcement below. Deadline August 2, 2023. There are two webinars in early June. Make sure you listen in.

The Solace of Nature

Mary Oliver is one of America’s recent poets whose works are memorized by youth and adults alike. See below a YouTube interview with Mary on OnBeing.org with Krista Tippett.

Mary Oliver was one of our greatest and most beloved poets. She is often quoted by people across ages and backgrounds — and it’s fitting, since she described poetry as a sacred community ritual. “When you write a poem, you write it for anybody and everybody,” she said. Mary died on January 17, 2019, at the age of 83. She was a prolific and decorated poet whose honors included the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In this 2015 conversation — one of the rare interviews she granted during her lifetime — she discussed the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing. (Original Air Date: February 5, 2015)

Krista Tippett
Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge – Photo by Susan Feathers

Health Checks During Extreme Heat Events – NCCEH in Canada

The National Collaborating Centre on Environmental Health in Canada prepared this very helpful document on health checks during extreme heat events. Download and keep it with you and your family or coworkers if you are in extreme heat events. Also, see this related post explaining wet bulb science.

UPDATED May 15, 2023

Washington Post article: What Extreme Heat Does to the Human Body

Books I am reading

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” — Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Still in my mind after six months: Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. A prescient book, a wide sweeping story of our near future. I read this when it was first published and am rereading it. Many people across the world believe Robinson’s account is a likely forecast of where the world is heading as we grapple with Climate Change. P.S. Its not a dystopia. There is hope.

Antelope Woman by Louise Erdrich, (I recommend the audio version read by the author), is the most recent version of Antelope Woman originally published in 2016. Louise is the author with whom I most strongly relate as a writer. Her stories arise from a particular place. The Sentence and The Night Watchman are two others I’ve read in the last few years both twice. Check out her books at her bookstore in Minneapolis, Birchbark Books. Below is an interview with Louise on her novel, The Sentence. I recommend any of Erdrich’s books.

The Children’s Fire by Mat Mcartney. Inspiring memoir and challenge to all of us to ask whether we are keepers of the children’s fire in this world changing time on Planet Earth.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks who is another of my favorite writers. Geraldine began writing as a journalist, which I observe is the genesis for many of our best fiction writers. Horse demonstrates the power of a trained researcher who can weave a story around historical facts and mysteries. Year of Wonders, a novel about the Great Plague is a powerful example of how Brooks builds narrative around historical events. I have read all of Brook’s fiction and nonfiction. Each is a gem, a solid work of research and careful thought. Caleb’s Crossing is one that resonated powerfully with me.

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak by Jamil Jan Kochai, a finalist for the National Book Award in 2022, a book of interrelated short stories from which I am learning how to write. Jamil’s works illustrate how important we hear from writers whose direct experience reflect to us how our national policies impact people in other nations. Jamil Jan Kochai was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, to Afghani parents, who later immigrated to America when he was a young boy. I had the rare privilege to participate in a writers’ group with Jamil during the Tucson Festival of Books Masters Review. His refrain for reviewing each of our works – Where’s the fire? – still rings in my mind. There is plenty of fire in this book. And, wonderful humor.

Finally, I am listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead. A reimagined version of Dicken’s David Copperfield, this is an ambitious novel. I was born in the foothills of the Appalachians and I can testify that Barbara’s main character is so authentic that I both laugh and cry (with memories loosed in my mind of my grandparents and aunts and uncles and the people in and around Watauga and Johnson City, Tennessee.) I recall the mash up of local culture and mystical realism and poverty. It is the beginning of the Opioid Pandemic. Barbara, whose book plots are usually complex and nuanced, is a powerful writer whose books are some of the most powerful works of American literature in my lifetime.

Caretta caretta…no, it’s not a song

Caretta caretta…no, it’s not a song. It’s a symphony.

It’s a fair-weather day.

A battalion of brown pelicans coast overhead on dark arched wings. Children build sand castles and bob in the surf, and shorebirds rest in warm dunes—a feast of beauty and abundance.

Santa Rosa Island was named in homage to Isabel Flores de Oliva – the “Rose of Lima.” She was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1671 as Saint Rose.

Pensacola is rich in stories.

Take the story of Caretta caretta for example. She doesn’t even know we’ve tagged her with a dichotomous name to set her species apart from others. Her only inclination is to find a darkened shoreline and lay her burden down.

Buoyed by thick ocean waves she paddles with strong legs through the currents.

Through heavy lid, she looks toward shore and vaguely remembers its smell and warm, gritty touch. The moonlit shore is quiet as she takes purchase on the shifting sand below her.

She looks from just under the water along the beach head where bright lights in hotels and restaurants, homes and gas stations could make her decide to turn away. She looks for a darkened beach, lit only by the silver moonlight. It’s instinctual.

Every May through September along the Gulf shores, female loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) return to lay leathery eggs in the dunes of their birth.

Kemp’s Ridley, Atlantic green turtles and sometimes leatherbacks also use these crystal white beaches as a nursery. It’s been so for thousands of years.

Caretta caretta has spent her youth in the Sargasso Sea, a body of water created from currents in the North Atlantic and where Sargassum seaweed covers over its surface. It is believed the loggerhead turtle feeds and grows in this protective cover.

When she comes of age, dozens of eggs grow within her as she heads back to the same beach where as a hatchling she was just the size of a quarter and prize catch of shorebirds, crabs, and other beachside predators. She is one of the few lucky infant turtles that managed to survive to adulthood.

Now she returns to lay down the next generation. And, should she come ashore, will she struggle to navigate beach chairs, plastic inner tubes, or sandcastles?

What will happen to her offspring? Baby sea turtles are attracted to bright lights, an instinct that should turn them toward a moonlit sea. Will they head toward the hotel lights instead? Rangers report scores of tiny turtles destroyed by cars or desiccated in the hot sun among buildings.

In today’s world, with the human built environment, it takes countless volunteers to tend turtle nests, redirecting the young toward the ocean. Because of this, can we say that these species are self-sustaining?

There are seven species of sea turtles in the world today. Four of them lay their eggs on Santa Rosa Island, Gulf Shores National Seashore. That constitutes a biological treasure for this region, a remaining strand of a once diverse web of life just off these shores.

What if Caretta caretta disappears due to human interference in this annual ritual that replenishes her kind? Should we really care?

Reach back 100 years in Pensacola history to an ocean teeming with life. Fish would be larger and more plentiful and you could scoop up shrimp in Escambia Bay with your hands. There would be hundreds more dunes with waving sea oats, both habitat and nursery to many species.

The loggerhead turtle is part of an ocean web that supports our fishing industry. The biodiversity of our beautiful islands is the basis of tourism, a principal industry. Somehow we have to learn to maintain this natural treasure while going about our business.

We are working that out now. There has got to be a way. Pensacoleans have never been short on ingenuity.

For Caretta caretta we can turn down the lights, sit out on our decks and listen to the oncoming waves. We’ll save money by reducing energy consumption and get a better view of the heavens. Let’s face it: life would be dismal without the beauty of nature.

When we see a dolphin breach the waves, white terns dive and soar, or listen to ocean breezes, we are renewed and encouraged that all is right on this exquisite planet we are so fortunate to share as kin.

Caretta caretta…no, it’s not a song. It’s a symphony.

This is the Time to Stand for Democracy

Joe Biden is the leader we need at this critical period of Defending Democracy Everywhere.

Heather Cox Richardson, American Historian, wrote in A Letter to Americans about Biden’s Announcement, reminding us of how Biden came to the decision to run and to lead the country, and what he has accomplished with the most diverse cabinet in American history, bipartisan major investments in infrastructure and climate adaptation. Another significant achievement is the Justice 40 policy that 40% of investments in the Inflation Reduction Act be in communities which have been left out of the planning and implementation and whose understanding is not in our toolbox but should be. In order to have the strongest strategy for deploying a whole new basis for how we live and what we do with our energy, everyone should be “in on” design and implementation. He has also led the nation to join with other nations in the 30 X 30 initiative to conserve 30% of our land and water by 2030.

Volts Podcast for April 26th. This relates to our present time of transition to the New Grid and all its renewable inputs. The Inflation Reduction Act is front and center. Highly recommended to readers, Volts is moderated by David Roberts who deftly interviews leaders and doers about The Great Energy Transition.