Flower of the Week

Water Lily. Floating ever so gracefully to adorn your favorite pond like a rooted barrette, she is a prized feature of the somewhat obscure world of water gardening. Changing color throughout the course of her bloom, and having enough charm to inspire the likes of Claude Monet, there is no denying that this aquatic muse is something special.


Boycott BP!

After all, they are the face of the largest and most devastating environmental disaster in U.S. history. We, as citizens, have the power to reflect a clear message that those profligate companies who recklessly pursue profit without a measured consideration for our environment and our livelihoods will face certain consequences as a result of their actions. Already BP's shareholders are pulling out of the company, who's stocks are plumeting because of a perceived lack of trust in its dealings. And the more customers BP looses, the more BP's future will be compromised, and a significant directive will be implied to other negligent corporations: your lack of environmental consideration and sustainability will result in the uncertain sustainability of your business goals. We have this power as citizens, and as consumers.

Of course, it is important to recognize the context of the situation, and that BP is not the sole offender in this crime against the earth. A lack of government regulation , a culture addicted to oil, and the unchecked power of the corporate complex have resulted in a situation that both fuels and encourages such behavior as was brought to light with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig. It is important to examine the systematic infrastructure that prescribes these types of disaster, and to hold accountability at all levels: the government, the corporate, and the individual.

Still, it is up to us whether we explore all the avenues of our power to get the message across that this type of destruction is not o.k. with us. Public Citizen has put together a great petition to show BP and the world that this type of behavior does not reflect our choices as consumers. It features the haunting live-feed video images of the surging oil spill, as well as all of the products and companies that fall under the BP umbrella. Sign the petition here, and let your dissent be heard.

Public Citizen's Boycott BP Petition


10 Ways to Stay off Oil [Condensed]

In light of the recent tragedy of the BP oil spill, I feel as if it's imperative to draw attention to the true root of this environmental catastrophe, which lies in our unbridled and seemingly interminable dependence on oil for our daily lives. It is so embedded in our consumer culture that we are often not fully aware of the plethora of functions in which it plays a role.

And since the original post I had written about staying off oil was probably the longest blog post I have written to date, I thought it would be helpful for a condensed list that would provide the integral information to help raise awareness about oil consumption, but that wouldn't require taking a day off from work just to get through it.

So, if you would like to improve your personal independence from oil, here are a few suggestions:

1. If you don't absolutely have to, don't drive cars (duh!)

2. If you MUST drive, then actively look for ways to improve your gas mileage and get more bang for your buck.

3. Halt the unnecessary use/production of plastic bags.

4. Buy local, in-season produce and other agricultural products.

5. Get yourself a reusable water bottle, and stay away from harmful plastics.

6. Choose bulk items and fresh foods which require little to no packaging.

7. Instead of wearing synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, choose natural fibers like cotton, wool, and hemp.

8. Choose makeups and other skin care products that are not made of petroleum.

9. Weatherize your home.

10. Call for accountability at all levels. This means putting pressure back on our representatives to enforce strict regulations, push for policies that are less detrimental to our environment and our well-being, and to hold the energy giants responsible when they cause incalculable damage.

For a complete description of why all of these points are so important, and to get some suggestions and help for how to implement them on your own, you can read the full article here.



SPC Bradley Manning was arrested two weeks ago at his post in Iraq, and is currently being held in custody in Kuwait with no formal charges. His arrest came after a supposed admission that Manning was responsible for the release of confidential military materials to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks; namely, a video portraying U.S. soldiers firing on and killing innocent civilians and members of the press from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007.

WikiLeaks released the video this past April, and was generally responded to with outrage. Shot from an Apache helicopter, the video clearly shows a shameless act of unprovoked aggression, an act that WikiLeaks has come to refer to as "Collateral Murder." It shows 22 year old Reuter's photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his colleague, Saeed Chmagh, walking down a Baghdad street carrying their equipment, when they were gunned down and killed along with 10 other civilians by U.S. soldiers inside the helicopter. Two small children were also wounded in this attack.

The video had been kept under wraps, despite many attempts by Reuters to obtain it through the Freedom of Information Act. The military had also supposedly performed an investigation into the killings, and deemed the actions of its soldiers justified. According to a military official, "no innocent civilians were killed on our part deliberately. We took great pains to prevent that. I know that two children were hurt, and we did everything we could to help them. I don't know how the children were hurt." If you watch the video, it is clear that these comments are false (Warning: this video depicts murder, and is quite graphic and traumatic; it is NOT for the faint of heart).

The soldiers who shot and killed twelve innocent people for no good reason were never prosecuted nor were they formally reprimanded for their actions. BUT, the man who releases a video revealing these actions is being held for breaching confidentiality? What type of message is the U.S. military sending? That it is o.k. for soldiers to murder civilians, but not o.k. to talk about it? That revealing an embarrassing truth is a criminal act?

Whether or not these soldiers were acting on good faith intentions, they were blatantly indecorous, and should be treated as such. In contrast, I hope that Private Manning is punished in a manner that is reflective of the severity of his actions, and not of the corresponding dishonor that the military has experienced as a result of this embarrassing leak. But despite the internal conflicts this may have created for military personnel, the event was in any case an utter and unnecessary tragedy. My last thought goes to the families of Chmagh and Noor-Eldeen, of the other 10 victims, and all of the victims of collateral murder in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in unspoken wars around the world.


Wings of Hope

The other night, while watching a great documentary about dirt, I heard for the first time the amazing story of the humming bird, and how she never lost sight of hope. Have you heard it? It's a simple tale, but quite inspirational, and it goes something like this:

One day, not so long ago from now, in a place not so different from here, a terrible fire broke out in a forest. All at once, the trees were engulfed in flames, and the woodlands which had been home to so many creatures were suddenly at the mercy of this raging blaze.

Terrified, all of the animals fled their homes as fast as they could. They ran out from the forest, and far away to safety. Once they were far enough, they turned to watch the forest ablaze.

Hopeless, they began to cry and bemoan the destruction of their homes. They felt powerless to stop this monstrous fire which was ravaging the forest that they loved so much. They were sure that there was nothing they could do, no force they could display which would be strong enough to put the mighty fire out.

Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided she would do something. She flew up above the heads of the towering beasts around her, and found a stream nearby. She flew over to the stream, swooped down and scooped up a few drops of water in her tiny little beak. She held the water there and flew as fast as she could back to her forest, where she let the water fall onto the fire.

Then she went back to the stream to pick up a few more drops of water, and she flew back to the forest again. And she did it again, and again, and again, each time carrying just the tiniest bit of water to the flames.

All the other animals watched in disbelief. If the giant elephants and the soaring eagles could not stop the flames from destroying their home, surely this pipsqueak hummingbird would not succeed.

They doubted her strength. They thought eventually she would tire, or be burnt by the flames, or just give up hope as they already had. "Don't bother," they said, "the flames are too big and you are too little. You will not be able to stop that fire."

But still, the diligent hummingbird persisted. She noticed how hopeless all her friends looked, how resigned and afraid they were to loose their homes, and how sad. She wondered why they did not join her. But she did not stop bringing drop by little drop from the stream to the forest, in a seemingly endless effort.

As the fire blazed ferociously upon their beloved forest, one of the animals called up to her: "Hummingbird, why do you waste your time? That fire is too powerful for you. What do you think you are doing?"

And the hummingbird, without turning back or losing a beat of her wing, called back: "I am doing what I can."

Let's all be like the hummingbird, shall we? And do what we can, however small, to save our home.