Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coal Trains Please Stay Away

Photo Credit: Paul K. Anderson, Chuckanut Conservancy

One hundred twenty-five
By my count pass.
Seventeen thousand tons
Of trouble and tremble.
Flanged wheels squeal
In protested mass
A dozen kilotons 
Of trundling coal
Shake our very core
And offend our soul.

More like a bomb than a boon
Each clack on track
A passage of time
Each revolution bringing
The fine dust of slow death
Clack, clack, and clack
Diesel streams in clouds
Of ecological ruin
Dressing us in cancer’s cowl.

Photo Credit: Paul K. Anderson, Chuckanut Conservancy
This cargo is carried
And in transit steals
Our dreams and pride.
Never sadder
The train blasts sound and sound.
Happiness and health
All carried away.

Greedy voices say
What we want to hear.
But how outside of addict’s logic
Are their profits worth
Our damaged young
And cast off old? 
So one in six
In pregnant state
Languish with a winged-footed
God of risk.

How comes that awful truth
with Mr. Peabody’s fat thumb
square on the scale?
Money weighs a logic
Out of balance with reality
With benefits for a few
And impacts spread cross
Time and territory.

The talk of taxes and jobs
Rings hollow per tradition
And practice. 
Nothing good for us comes
From this tired path
Except the pain we draw
Through simple error
And misplaced trust. 

So gather and make
A righteous stand
With neighbors and kindred souls
For this is far more about morals
Than money
And a bright future starts
With the first brave stance.
Let it be here and now.

--Bob Ferris 
Executive Director 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RE Birth of a Notion

With open revolts in Egypt and Libya; quakes, a tsunami, and nuclear peril in Japan; and a multitude of corporate interests in the US pushing massive coal exports to China, the world is quite simply a mess that only seems to be getting worse.
To many of us it is clear that the planet can no longer flourish with self-interested, quirky and oppressive leaders. Likewise, we can ill-afford experts that design dangerous undertakings without fully considering all combinations of calamities such as earthquakes and tsunamis. (Who would think that those quintessentially linked occurrences could possibly happen at the same time?) And we can no longer tolerate business and political leaders whose absolute disconnect with and willful disregard for prevailing science jeopardize our well-being or persistence.
Metaphorically we sit in the April showers of our existence waiting for a magical notion to flower. My message to all of us is: Stop waiting and bloom.

What do I mean by that? Quite simply, we will not make any real progress on the above set of issues  unless we all decide to take personal responsibility and act. In keeping with the  theme of re-birth, we have to emerge from “waiting” to enter the space of doing and leading.
So over the course of the month of April in this post and three others on the greenopolis.com blog, I will present examples of what I mean by “doing” and “leading” that are happening in my own backyard in the Pacific Northwest.
The first action is the most simple and direct. Plant something. Plant a seed. Plant a tree. Plant an idea or notion. Key is planting something that will grow and provide benefit to your family, your circle, your community and, perhaps, beyond.
These can range from small to large. Last weekend, for example, my wife and I planted the first beds of our vegetable garden. A little lettuce, some beans, and the first courses of potatoes are now in the ground with other seeds and starters to follow as the temperatures and our schedules permit. We look forward to the harvests not only for what they will bring us, but what we will barter from our neighbors. (I might add that about fifty percent of what we plant comes from free community seed exchanges.)
On the large side of things are the ideas and notions. One particularly nice one was planted by Facebook friend and fellow Greenopolis blogger, Anita Burke, who began a dialogue about how surplus and in-foreclosure housing in Detroit might serve as temporary shelter for folks displaced by earthquake, tsunami, and radiation in Japan. Sure there are logistical challenges and some substantial hurdles in terms of financing the whole enterprise. But maybe there is an idle troop ship and train solution that will benefit all concerned. And maybe it is just a seed of an idea that will not grow, but will lead to an idea than will. The act is in many cases more important than the result.
Come along with us on a journey of re-birth this April. You’ll not be sorry.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director

This blog post was originally published on greenopolis.com. http://greenopolis.com/goblog/bobferris/re-birth-notion

Monday, April 4, 2011

Examining Our Baggage

Did you know April is Plastics Pollution Reduction Month in Bellingham? All throughout April, RE Sources and Bag It Bellingham will be hosting a number of workshops, events, and discussions to get more attention around the issues of consumption and waste of plastic products.

Come out for some fun, alternative events which show you how you can re-use waste creatively, educational presentations on how manufacturers are flooding our oceans with marketing driven over-packaging, and compelling films which inform and encourage viewers on what they can do in their communities to make a difference. Bring your friends, families, and colleagues and join us for a plastics themed Trash Fashion Show, visit Allied arts to see the recycled art exhibit, stop by Western to watch the film "Bag It", join us at Locust Beach for a beach clean-up and garbage art installation, come to the Sustainable Living Center to watch "The Clean Bin Project", or make some junk sculptures at the Whatcom Museum Family Interactive Gallery. Visit our website for event details.

In conjunction with Bellingham's efforts to reduce plastic pollution and increase re-use awareness comes a single-use bag ban ordinance. With the support of city residents of Bag It Bellingham, a local effort to reduce single-use bags, City Councilmember Seth Fleetwood introduced an ordinance for public consideration that will reduce plastic pollution by regulating single-use carryout bags in Bellingham. This proposed ordinance, delivered to the City Council on March 4th, will be the first in Washington State to not only prohibit single-use plastic carryout bags but also incentivize use of reusable bags by requiring a customer to pay 5 cents for a recycled paper bag. "The object is to kick start behavioral change. We live in a profoundly wasteful culture with horrendous environmental implications and corresponding public costs. It's time to lead by example," said City Councilmember, Seth Fleetwood."This is the right thing to do. It is our hope that more cities around the country will implement similar legislation." Check out more information on Bellingham's single-use bag ordinance on Bag It Bellingham's blog.