Saturday, May 29, 2010

Responding to the Gulf Tragedy

Oil is still flowing from the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico. It started on April 20th and hasn’t so much as paused since. That is five weeks of continuous flow that has totaled somewhere between 18 million and 40 million gallons according to the LA Times Blog. The latest attempt to stop the flow is proving doubtful. The San Francisco Chronicle is saying: “It will take 7 years for the oil deposit below the Deepwater Horizon well to empty if left alone. On Saturday, BP acknowledged it may abandon its best chance so far to cork the well: the 'top kill.'” In the paper today: the government has been quietly investigating criminal charges against BP.

Charging BP with criminal charges is, of course, necessary. It is difficult to describe the tragedy as anything but criminal. Attributing criminal blame to BP seems reasonable and placing the cost of cleanup on their shoulders is also reasonable. But the blame is shared by the government at many levels who work with these oil organizations and also by us consumers who have been voting our complacency with our wallets as we continue to purchase petroleum-based products without question or complaint. In short, the blame for the extensive pollution, the impending die-off of myriad species, the horrible concoction of dispersant and crude that burns skin on contact, the travesty that will plague the wetland and marine life in that area (and beyond) for decades (if not longer) is all of ours, it is the system of consumption that has a life of its own. We all contribute to it, allow it and benefit from it and there is no easy way out of this system.

That doesn’t leave us as a species in a comfortable situation though. We are responsible for immense death and we can’t help it, not easily at least. We cannot just stop our role or we will have to give up, well, most everything. Everything that is not individually or community grown agriculture requires intensive use of oil, many medical supplies are plastic, all transportation (even walking – the comfy soles of your shoes are petroleum related somehow) is crude-oil linked. Food, health and transportation, not to mention entertainment, are much of what sustains us and they are oil-related. Life is oil-related.

Sadness, indignation, helplessness are the emotions I know I feel when thinking about this system. The Gulf situation is but a dramatic manifestation of this system and it is difficult to find a proper response— maybe because there isn’t just one. The poet Robert Bly suggests we grieve, that an appropriate response to all loss is appropriate grief. Bill McKibben suggests action. The Dalai Lama suggests meditation, kindness and lightness. Grief, action, meditation, kindness and lightness; I want these mindsets to replace the emotions I’m currently feeling and I am committing myself toward that replacement.

Articulating these mindsets means giving a foundation to respond appropriately from. Practically, it means spending time with people and places (especially nature) that you love, being creative with your community engagement, volunteering with local organizations that have positive and righteous missions, being very mindful of your consumption and how you choose to spend your money (which is voting for what you believe in), sitting quietly with your thoughts about your place in the world, smiling and smiling with others.

It was suggested at the last EcoLink meeting that the reason it has been five weeks and still no progress in repairing the flow is that BP didn’t want to lose their well completely, that they wanted to do all things possible to retain their investment in that expensive well. That is reprehensible. Tuesday, June 1st, is the start of a four month hurricane season that is expected to be busy. That is frightening. With such deliberate evil actions on the part of man and destructive natural forces that promise to exacerbate those actions, it is difficult to imagine focusing your mindset toward the positive, toward a response that involves, among many other things, smiling. But, as a close mentor of mine has repeatedly expressed, the future has always seemed bleak to every generation on the planet yet it still continues.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gulf Oil Tragedy

Here is a link to a new perspective on the oil tragedy. It is very sad. Oil Video

Please come to the EcoLink meeting tonight at the Unitarian Church on Bellflower at 7pm to talk about this tragedy and how we can grieve together and appropriately respond.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Bugs, way too many bugs

We had our field trip this past weekend. It was great.

We saw tarantulas.

And Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

And Christopher Ward.

And more bugs than I've ever seen before in my life. And butterflies too.

And I held a scorpion. I gave in to peer pressure and held a scorpion. Did I mention that I held a scorpion?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Far Flung Correspondent in Louisiana

Tim Anderson reported in from his Parish in Northern Louisiana that because his bayou enjoys an elevation of 187' above sea level, there is little to fear from direct contact with the catastophic oil gush in the Gulf.
Life however remains rich in irony. Returning home from an errand in the Parish Seat, Tim happened across a neighbor plowing under one of his fields. Stopping to greet the friendly farmer, Tim was asked to take over the tractor, while its owner ate the lunch his wife had just delivered. Tim paused a moment to consider how much tractors have evolved from simple mechanical workhorses to giant electronic multi-taskers costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Nothing if not game, Our FFC clambored up into the air-conditioned, fully automatic, 60' wide beheometh, set the GPS and off down the soybean field he juggernauted. As he kept in constant radio contact with the amused farmer, Tim mused on all the different petroleum derived compounds neccessary to successful soybean farming in the twenty-first century. These included weed suppressants, seed coat dissolvers, growth acclerants, fertilizers, pesticides of various kinds, more weed killers and Monsanto knows what all to deliver the crop. And all the while, that self-same petroleum was now killing a very large swath of the Gulf Coast, including Tim's favorite barrier islands.
In the brief time the farmer required to masticate his sandwich and dill pickle and resume possession of his tractor, Tim had plowed under an incredible number of acres, belching diesel and seeding irony all the way.

May Field Trip


Change o' plans. While we were planning to go to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, I saw an ad for the Natural History Museum's Bug Fair and just could not resist. It sounds incredible: "Maybe you want to try to see what a bug tastes like or dance to bug inspired music? If so, be sure not to miss one of our many special programs, that happen throughout the Museum. Bug chefs and bug bands are just some of the special guests that we welcome each year. Learn how to pin an insect for a collection, make a terrarium for a new pet or check out ongoing bug related programming including live animal handlings and informational shows put on by our talented Museum performers."

So off we go. This Sunday (5/16/10) at 9am meet the EcoLink Field Trip crew in the Ralph's parking lot on PCH in the Marina Pacifica shopping center to carpool to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. We will leave promptly at 9:15am to get to the bugs as soon as possible. Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $6.50 for students, seniors and children. This price plus carpool gas money and whatever spending cash for radical bug-gear sounds reasonable for 'bug inspired music' (whatever that may be).

If you are interested in going, please email Taylor at and be sure to include your ability to drive or not.

See you Sunday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Minutes for April

April 29th , 2010

The meeting was called to order by Taylor Parker at 7:20 p.m.
In attendance –
Kerry Martin, Taylor Parker, Mary Parcell, Joe Weinstein, Dorothy Kemmeny, Patricia Sidoti,


General Discussion of last month’s field trip to Santa Rosa Plateau.

LA River Cleanup – La Gran Limpieza – Patricia Sidoti
Discussion of the upcoming LA River Cleanup on May 8th.

El Dorado Nature Center – Kerry Martin
Discussion of the Nature Center and their stream restoration. The stream and the entire walk are now open.

Los Cerritos Wetlands Land Trust
Discussion of all things Los Cerritos Wetlands, including the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday May 6 2010 re the Tank Farm issue and the 2nd & PCH development.

El Dorado Audubon
Discussion of Birdwalks at Hellman every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays @Hellman’s land off Studebaker and PCH and Guy Commeau speaking about California Parks and their flora and fauna on May 20th 2010.

LB Greens – Dorothy Kemeny
Discussion of Haiti Relief Fundraiser this past April and the Solar Electric Light Fund

Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewardship Program – Taylor Parker
Discussion of community-based restoration that has begun.

Friends of Colorado Lagoon-Taylor Parker
Discussion of restoration and FOCL’s education program.

EcoLink-- Taylor Parker
Discussion of next field trip.

Action Items:
-Taylor: Organize field trip for May to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens on May 20th
-Taylor: Write Letter against Development of the Tank Farm

Next Meeting: May 28th , 2010