Weekly e-Newsletter 5/18/22

Art of the Week

Ghost Forest, by Chinese-American architect and artist Maya Lin, is a NYC sculptural installation of dead trees embodying the death of our forests from climate. 

“With Ghost Forest in Midtown Manhattan, I am bringing together a need to make you aware of the horrible threats we face due to climate change, and a need to connect you in an intimate and powerful way to the simple yet majestic beauty of nature,” as Lin shares.

“[The trees] form a silent grove that bears witness to the immense and almost incomprehensible global forest die-off, and yet there is a haunting beauty to them,” says Lin about her environmental artwork.

Sustainability Tip: Welcome and celebrate diversity

Credit: Bon Vivant, Unsplash

May 21 is UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a chance to celebrate the cultural diversity of people around us, and find out more about what we have in common rather than what separates us.

Some ideas to celebrate diversity from the British Council: Visit a museum dedicated to another culture; learn about another religion; plan an international movie night; or cook/eat traditional food from a culture you aren’t familiar with.

Good News: Indigenous sustainability degree launched

BSU Asst Prof Awanookwe Kingbird-Bratvold prepares wooden trough to grind crystallized maple syrup to fine sugar. Credit: Monika Lawrence/MPR News

Bemidji State University (BSU) in MN now offers an Indigenous Sustainability Studies Program enabling students to “study different Indigenous people across the world and…how to sustainably care for the land base,” says assistant professor Awanookwe Kingbird-Bratvold

“For centuries, much of what the organizers label as Western culture has been taught that human beings are separate from nature — independent and dominant. However, many Indigenous people are raised with the belief that they are a part of nature — equals,” according to the BSU website.

Bad News: US fast fashion fuels eco-disaster in Ghana

Huge dump of donated clothes from US in Ghana. Credit: CBS News

Many Americans donate their used clothing to charities, assuming that it will be reused. But increasing amounts and poor quality mean less can be resold.

The US leads the world in exporting used textiles — more than 1.5 billion pounds are shipped every year, according to CBS News.

It’s estimated that 15 million garments, called Obroni Wawu, or “Dead White Man’s Clothes,” arrive every week in Ghana, a country of 30 million people. Despite reselling, recycling, and up-cycling, a majority of the clothing ends up in overwhelmed landfills emitting toxic fumes.

Calendar

Highlights

– Good News: Indigenous sustainability degree launched
– Bad News: 
US fast fashion fuels eco-disaster in Ghana
– Food for Thought:
US help for Europe with natural gas may harm the climate and BIPOC communities
– Inspiration:
The key roles Chinese immigrants played in the creation of Yosemite National Park
– Take Action: A leader to help stop gun violence
Sustainability Tip: Welcome and celebrate diversity

Credit: Signe Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

At the Alliance

Once again we are in shock and sorrow about the pre-meditated racist shootings of innocent people by a White Nationalist in Buffalo, NY. We shared our deep feelings about the incident in our staff meeting. There was a sense that even before we can begin to recover from one of these traumatic events that another happens and that there seems to be no civil boundary or anyone to come to the rescue.

Shockingly, even some U.S. Representatives spout the hate-filled rhetoric of Tucker Carlson and Fox News about “replacement” theory. If you’re Black, Brown, Native-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Jewish, Muslim or foreign born, you’re seen as a threat by them.

We also discussed that while many of us are in pain about these horrific racist, anti-GLBTQ, anti-Semitic and xenophobic acts, we need to become aware of the significant trauma experienced by Black people and others about their basic safety every day. Too many Black men and boys are regularly targeted and there is visceral fear.    

We are exploring how to address this. One way is by sharing our feelings and fears in open, honest conversations. Another is to reach out to others to celebrate diversity (see our Sustainability Tip), Asian American Pacific Islander Month (see our Art of the Week and Inspiration) and Mental Health Awareness Month. We can also support community members who are struggling and Take Action on gun violence.

Finally, you can support our positive efforts to provide students in schools across the country with our inspiring and informative SHE Kindness School Program with a presentation and e-Book on Sustainability, Health, Equity and Kindness. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.

Inspiration: The key roles Chinese immigrants played in the creation of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Park Ranger Yenyen Chan. Credit: Today

Thousands of Chinese immigrants were the essential workers who built Yosemite National Park in the late 19th century, logging, building roads and railroads, cooking, and doing laundry.

Men often immigrated without their families, meaning work was central and the men worked hard to be able to send money home. “These conditions led them to become stereotyped as industrious and servile, which affected how employers treated them,” says Beth Lew-Williams, an associate professor of history at Princeton.

One of the best known Chinese immigrants working at Yosemite was Tie Sing, who cooked for business and cultural leaders during a two-week trip into the wilderness to convince them to support the idea of a national park system. Within a year of that trip, Congress created the National Park Service, according to Yenyen Chan, a Park Ranger who has researched and championed the contributions of Chinese immigrants to Yosemite’s history.

Take Action: A leader to help stop gun violence

US Attorney Steve Dettelbach with President Biden. Credit: Getty.

You can help make a difference in stemming the growing tide of gun violence in our country with one simple action: Support the Senate confirmation of U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach in the powerful role of Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

The ATF is responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws and holding members of the gun industry accountable. However, it has been operating without a Senate-confirmed director since 2015, thus making the position far less effectual.

Dettelbach will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s agenda on gun control, including cracking down on illegal “ghost guns.” Major nonprofits dedicated to addressing gun violence, such as EveryTown, as well as a bipartisan group of over 100 mayors, have backed his nomination.

Send a message to your Senators and tell them to confirm Steve Dettelbach as the next ATF director.

Food for Thought: US help for Europe with natural gas may harm the climate and BIPOC communities

A natural gas storage tank in Hackberry, Louisiana. Credit: Halle Parker/WWNO

We are faced with a challenging conundrum: to meet Europe’s energy needs we may sacrifice meeting our climate goals. Due to the war in Ukraine and Europe’s commitment to forego Russian gas, President Biden pledged to send an additional 15 billion cubic tons of gas to Europe by the end of the year, possibly necessitating new construction.

But that comes at a tremendous climate cost. Just one of the largest facilities proposed, Driftwood LNG, would likely emit close to 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year, according to state permits. That’s equivalent to the GHG emitted by the entire country of Costa Rica.

To learn more about the environmental justice side of this story, read our blog post.

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