Thursday, November 8, 2018

every vote counts

Dear Mothers,

I voted today, November 8, 2018. Yes, after the big election. Did you?

I went to the grocery to buy something for my fifth grader. Her class is having a party where they’ll be bobbing for apples. Only instead of apples, they want clementines.

I was asked to buy at least three bags for the 25 students because they may bob multiple times. As you may know, clementines don’t grow in the Midwest in November. The clementines I found were from Chile. That’s right: three bags of fruit from Chile for a class party.

Needless to say I lost my shit.

Here’s why.
1)   Do these students even know where Chile is?
2)   Or that this fruit traveled over five thousand miles to get here?
3)   Or that Chile is semi-arid and citrus is a water-intensive fruit?
4)   Do they know what fruit grows where?
5)   Or what fruit grows when?

If you’re going to eat something you didn’t produce yourself then at the very least learn something about where and who it came from and how it got to you. That is how you live, not just say, grace.

6)   Did they consider what conditions are like for those working the clementine groves?
7)   Do they know the majority of agricultural workers around the world are female, subject to unspeakable violence and little representation? 
8)  Do they know that climate change experts warn if we don’t change we’re essentially driving ourselves to extinction?

Caught in the web of capitalism, we are constantly buying things we need, desire or are required to (really basketball couch, my oldest daughter needs another set of Nike warm ups?). Last week we bought candy for Halloween and soon we'll be preparing for Thanksgiving. Many of our goods are made with palm oil. No doubt slave labor is involved because we like our stuff cheap. 

For the handful of days we go to the polls, we take the time to study the issues and candidates to make informed decisions. However the average American spends up to $100 daily. Beyond how an item fits our specific need, do we research its entire cradle to grave impact? That'd be like voting for Ocasio-Cortez because I like her lipstick. And yet daily we buy shiny without knowing its environmental and species politics. 

Capitalism is how we vote literally everyday.  And capitalism is killing our planet.

So Momrades, can you understand why I lost it?  

In the era of climate change, I’m buying three bags of clementines from Chile. If every vote truly counts, then in essence, I am casting my vote toward present-day injustice and the destruction of our children’s future. This is not how I want to vote. 


a momrade

Saturday, October 27, 2018

dear mothers,

I’ve been thinking about you. Every time I read about climate change I wonder if you’re reading too and what passes through your mind. My mind is on our children. I think about the things we do to prepare for their future. In fact we’ve been preparing since before they were born, haven’t we?

We ate the right foods, studied birthing options, became vigilant about safety and consulted Those-Who-Went-Before on everything from poop viscosity to piercings. Now my oldest is studying for the ACT. My middle practices her debate skills ALL. THE. TIME. and my youngest transforms every room into a Ninja warrior arena. I'm sure your children are pursuing adventures of their own. And I see you.

I see you at PTA and recital. I see you shuttling to practice then to Target for poster board while deciding which is less unhealthy: Sonic or McDonald’s as you live a life on the go, accommodating their busy schedules.

I see this in light of what I know about climate catastrophe.

I’ve been blogging about we’re doing to our soil, air, water and other living beings for nearly a decade. I also work in the environmental field with people striving to change corporate culture and public policy. I participate in workshops to increase communal awareness about a future worse than the dystopian novels my oldest is fond of.

And you know what? I’m often the only mom there with kids at home. That’s right. Rarely are there parents with school age children at gatherings focused on the planet’s health.

Where are you?

Of course I know where you are. You are at soccer, tutoring, driving  carpool, making dinner or helping with homework. 
You are attending to your child's present needs to ensure their well-being down the road.

Yet based on all existing evidence--beyond the scope of practices, meets and SATs--that future we’re preparing them for, won’t exist.

It won’t exist because everything on our planet is falling apart. In life’s relay, the earth we’re handing off to them is not the one handed off to us. What we don’t think about—stable weather patterns, breathable air, viable soil, clean and plentiful water, thriving ecosystems—is in severe crisis. The hopes we have for our children are predicated on a planetary stability that is profoundly disintegrating.

I often think we are the swindling tailors in the Emperor’s New Clothes. We weave pure illusion, duping our children regarding the naked facts of their eminent peril.  What we're currently doing will not ready them for the reality to come.

Our schools aren’t preparing them.
The enrichment activities we’re frenzied over won’t either.
Ironically, the externalized costs to the planet via fossil fuel expenditure and resources consumed for these activities jeopardize their futures even more.

Are you up at night wondering how to equip our children for this unprecedented reality? I am.

Only this time we cannot consult Those-Who-Went-Before. There isn’t a virtual or actual community sharing tips on how to thrive as a climate refugee, or after your island has been submerged, after the rivers have become toxic or dried up, after FEMA leaves or declines assistance, after the entire forest has been razed or burned. Or when you literally walk thousands of miles away from the only home you’ve ever known because there’s nothing to eat.

You know what else keeps me up at night? Children, just like ours, across the world, suffering because this future is already their present.

Ah but we’ve been here before, remember? When we first found out we were going to be mothers, we peered into a great unknown.  At the brink of that unprecedented reality, compelled by love and necessity, we got busy.  We prepared.

It’s that time again. 
In fact, we're already past due.

a momrade
Image result for climate refugees

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

forest for the trees

Part 5

For about the last twenty years, I’ve watched my across-the-street neighbor plant grass each spring and fall. She seeds then waters hours day and night. Then, for a short spell she’ll have luminescent lime tendrils and she will stand in the street, hands on hips surveying the tenuous fruit of her labor with satisfaction.

She performs this biannual ritual because there is a redbud in her yard and the neighbors on both sides have oaks leafing shade on her property. Her front yard clearly isn’t meant to grow grass and it keeps trying to tell her that. Nevertheless she’s internalized the edict that if you have a yard there’s supposed to be grass in it.

Distilled from the notion of manifest destiny, this prime directive somehow transcends physical evidence to the contrary, transcends the arithmetic of climate change, global water shortage, mass extinction, dead zones downstream; transcends even refrigerator magnet wisdom: if you do what you’ve always done…

Cut to my daughters’ school. The district’s grounds crew is at work: there’s a man on riding mower jockeying a slope. There’s another on a standing mower traversing a field.

On the steps kids are hanging out, a couple of them are eating hot chips. Hot chips—out of a bag. This bag may get tossed on the lawn to be shredded by mowers, creating plastic confetti, which is hardly celebratory to any being downstream.

Cut to what’s in the news, fall 2018:

*Among other shit storms, hurricane Florence is triggering flooding of CAFOs and coal ash pits in southeastern states.
*40% of US adults and almost 19% of children are obese.
*4 in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air.
*Over 500,000 people are employed in hazardous factory farms.
*Over three million migrant and seasonal workers labor in hazardous American fields.
*The number of uninsured Americans is on the rise yet over half of Americans are on a prescription medication.
*Trump’s dismantles the EPA while strengthening the fossil fuel industry.

How are these things connected to lawns?

A problem of pursuing a monoculture is our sight gets channeled through the crosshairs of the here and now in the rifle of what’s expected. We miss the forest with our my-tree-only perspective. But we live, move and have our being in a global forest, if you will. Unwittingly though, through lawns and landscaping, we’re complicit in a globally, economically, environmentally destructive forest. By contrast, a thriving forest is a mutualistic ecosystem; interrelationships facilitate the health of everything within.

After Hurricane Katrina, people realized that cypress trees were and are the best defense against hurricanes, better even than levees. While that’s great for our species, cypress trees also provide wildlife habitat and restrain invasive plants. Tragically, much of the old growth cypress forest has been turned into mulch for landscaping. My need for a landscaped lawn contributed to the destruction suffered by Louisianans, many of who are still suffering.

How then do we change the prevailing aim of pursuing what-serves-my-tree-only to pursuing what’s-good-for-the-forest?

The words of Mary Parker Follet come to mind:  Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


 at the border

Bueno. One more story, mija.
¿Ay, esa canción, otra vez?  
Ándale or we’ll be late for school.
Ok, another drink.
Sí, te acariciaré la espalda.
Mijo, it’s past your bedtime.                                                                   never

¿Cómo dormiste?
No tengas miedo.
Mamá’s right here, bebé.                                                                        get

¿Qué pasa, cariño?
¿Qué quieres comer?
Lávate las manos, por favor.                                                                   to

Solo un ratito más.
Muy bien, chiquita.
I’m so proud of you.                                                                              say

¡Feliz Navidad!
¡Feliz cumpleaños!
¿Te gusta tu regalo, niño?                                                                      these

Te amo.

mi vida.
mi alma.

every vote counts

Dear Mothers, I voted today, November 8, 2018. Yes, after the big election. Did you? I went to the grocery to buy so...