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by Environment America
WASHINGTON - June 18 - As we hit Day 60 of the Gulf Disaster, citizens across the country launched an effort called Gumbo for the Gulf - hosting over 150 houseparty fundraisers (to date) to benefit Environment America’s effort to address BP’s oil spill and prevent future ones.
Renowned New Orleans chefs Susan Spicer and John Besh spiced up the effort by lending gumbo recipes. Chef and author Anthony Bourdain will soon record a video to promote the effort.
WHEN: Starting the week of June 14th, 2010.
WHERE: See attached map - More than 150 locations in 28 states including: New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City. Media interested in attending local events should contact Environment America for more details.
by Paul Rogat Loeb
Effective activism's a long-haul process, not "save the Earth in 30 days, ask me how." But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. They give us clues on how to reach out to engage our fellow citizens and help us get past our own barriers, not to mention burnout and disappointment. When I was updating my Soul of a Citizen book on citizen activism, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at a Florida university suggested I gather together a Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful. Some I've already explored in various Soul of a Citizen excerpts. I'll flesh out others in coming weeks. But pulling them together in one place seemed useful.
Suggestion #1: Start where you are. You don't need to know everything, and you certainly don't need to be perfect.
Suggestion #2: Take things step by step. You set the pace of your engagement. Don't worry about being swallowed up, because you'll determine how much you get involved.
Suggestion #3: Build a supportive community. You can accomplish far more with even a small group of good people than you can alone.
Suggestion #4: Be strategic. Ask what you're trying to accomplish, where you can find allies, and how to best communicate the urgencies you feel.
Suggestion #5: Enlist the uninvolved. They have their own fears and doubts, so they won't participate automatically; you have to work actively to engage them. If you do, there's no telling what they'll go on to achieve.
by William Rivers Pitt
The other day, in Part I of "Enough of This Crap," I wrote the following:
Reports have been coming out of the Gulf for days about British Petroleum blocking access to beaches and animal-cleaning stations, in some instances using private Blackwater-style mercenaries to do so. Journalists as well as citizens have been thwarted in their attempts to see for themselves the extent of the damage being done by the runaway Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Know what I'd like to see happen? I would like to see a thousand people, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, just show the hell up down there and demand access. Citizens and reporters alike, just get down there, link arms, and walk to the beaches and the marshlands with digital cameras and cell phones for instantaneous blogging of what they see, hear and smell. Pile into as many rented, borrowed and begged boats as can be mustered and plow out there to the scene of the crime. Dare the gendarmes to stop us.
As it turns out, I was not the first person to have this idea. If you are tired of watching in paralyzed fury as the underwater oil spigot from the Deepwater Horizon vomits doom into the sea, if you have the time and ability to do more, then my friends, this note's for you.
by Ruth Rosen
Forty years ago, feminists demanded that special "women's pages," which featured fashion, society and cooking, be banished from newspapers. Instead, they insisted, newspapers should mainstream serious stories about the lives of women throughout their regular news.
Forty years later, the new media have re-segregated women's sections. The good news is that they are no longer about society, cooking and fashion. Most are tough, smart, incisive, analytic, and focus on events, trends or stories that the mainstream online news still ignores. The bad news is that they are not on the "front page" where men might learn about women's lives.
Does this trend signal success of failure? As an early activist in and scholar of the women's movement, I'm concerned that all we have gained after four decades are stand-alone feminist online magazines and web sites and the "right" to have separate women's sections embedded in other magazines. This is the women's pages of 1969 redux, even though these sections promote a broad array of serious subjects from a strong feminist perspective. Nor are all the editors of these online men who have cast women as "the other." Many are feminists who, for whatever reasons, have created these special women's sections.
by Michelle Chen
So much of America's economic activity takes place on faraway shores, from call centers in Mumbai to sweatshops in Shanghai. Still, you'd think that making a baby would be one job that's hard to offshore. But today, for a fee, a woman in another country can serve as a "gestational surrogate," carrying a fertilized egg to term and then delivering the baby straight to your door, halfway around the world. We're not used to talking about that kind of labor as an outsourced job. But farmed-out childbirth has become a full-fledged industry in India, turning the rural poor into wombs for hire.
The practice has become increasingly common with new advancements in in-vitro fertilization. The efficiency of the technology raises ethical, legal and cultural questions about the meaning of parentage.
Like Autotune and drone warfare, the transaction might feel disturbingly mechanized: someone, an infertile couple, for example, creates an embryo in a lab, ships it abroad for gestation in a stranger's body, then takes possession again after birth. But in a consensual financial arrangement, what's the big deal, really? There's less (but still some) stigma surrounding child care services, though that also involves contracting out the duties of motherhood.
In a parallel to the international adoption controversy, the potential for coercion is pervasive: To what extent are impoverished surrogates really free to negotiate their labor, especially if they are controlled by a childbirth clinic that regularly processes "recruits" into a $445 million industry.