I’ve taken several classes online, including a Masterclass by reporter Bob Woodward. Woodward basically said that everyone has their own version of the truth. What they saw, from their perspective, given their existing knowledge and underlying belief system.
But underneath what we each believe, there are facts. We are all entitled to our own opinions. No one is entitled to their own set of facts.
I started out as a documentary filmmaker. My 1st picture was on national cable TV. My 2nd picture went undistributed. I couldn’t raise money for the next half dozen pictures I wanted to make, so I have a file cabinet stuffed with unfulfilled dreams. I didn’t make any more documentaries.
But I passionately agree with Woodward that a journalist’s job – and in a Democracy, every citizen’s job – is to come up with the best, most accurate obtainable version of the truth. Because Democracy dies in darkness. Because predators always hide, and human predators create a thicket of false facts to hide in.
Our founding fathers had the optimistic notion that Americans could act like good neighbors. That we could reach smarter decisions together than any one of us could consistently come up with alone. That we could discuss our differences calmly. That we could look past our beliefs to find the facts. That we would then use those facts to improve our all lives.
Without facts there is no sustainable prosperity. Without basic prosperity, life sucks. A family with hungry children is the most politically unstable unit in the world.
Lately, we have seen a triumph of false facts over neighborliness. Below is a poem I wrote about how recent political events have brought new light to a very old set of false facts, that was used to steal Native land and murder Native people.
Black Snake by Katherine Brann Fredricks
Lay aside bitterness. Lay aside fears. There’s a black snake on the Trail of Tears.
It’s been seven generations since we took your land. Now foreign people want mine. Now I understand.
We all drink this water, though we once fought to the knife. At Oglala waters, even old enemies have to agree, water is life!
Cowboy boots and deerskin moccasin, stop the black snake with truth for medicine. Canadian tar sands for Chinese cars. Stop the black snake. Protect what’s ours.
It’s been seven generations since we told those lies: “We’ve come here for your good!” Lies to colonize.
Now I apologize for my ancestor’s lies. Now I recognize tribal wisdom I despised. Now I apologize for the genocide we legalized. Now I cuss foreign enterprise come to vandalize us!
For our sacred waters, for our farms and fields and rights. For our children’s futures, cowboys and Indians, time to unite, Cowboys and Indians, fight!
Obama embalmed the KXL. Trump raised it like a zombie: smell that chemical smell! Biden took a pen. Killed the black snake again. Say yay! But stay tough. Kill a zombie twice? Twice may not be enough!
While we drink these waters, we’ll teach our sons and daughters how to respect each other, and protect each other, so they may safely drink these waters seven generations from now!
In the first year of world war II, I saw the light of day in a village near the city of Nijmegen in The Netherlands. This city, that received its city rights in the year 104, was the last one to be liberated in 1944 under operation market garden (A bridge too far) that spared my family the hardships of the hunger winter that plagued Holland north of the rivers.
After the end of WWII in April 1945, it became time to start schooling, culminating in a diploma in tropical and sub-tropical agriculture from the college in Deventer in 1961, and immigration with a six week boat travel to New Zealand followed in 1962 to work in the Department of Agriculture. (DoA)
New Zealand and Australia Experience – 1962 – 1980
Many eventful things happened in New Zealand. With a family history in civil engineering going back many generations, working in the DoA did not quite fit the bill and I took a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Canterbury, completing that in 1967 and started working with consulting engineers. In the meantime, however fate intervened by bringing me together with my future Australian wife whom I have been married to these past 57 years and who accompanied me on many of the adventures. Of course, it was not just a two-some but three sons were welcomed into the family over a span of four years.
First arriving in NZ meant actually stepping back in time some 15 years, and with the rather limited job opportunities we moved to Australia to work with consulting firms in Townsville and Melbourne from 1968 – 1980. Many interesting projects were carried out, because in those days when there was a lot of infrastructure work to be carried out and few engineers available one had to find out how to do things very quickly, and this was the time before computers and the internet. Calculations were carried out with slide rules and logarithmic tables!!
Having gained substantial experience in those days, working in Indonesia was being considered and a brief visit was made to home in Holland. This ultimately led to the decision to return with the family to Holland in 1980.
Working in Developing countries – 1985 – 2020
Settling in Holland was a major challenge particularly for my wife and sons who had never spoken a word of Dutch and thus had to learn a new language as well as attending high school for the boys. They met the challenges head on and passed with flying colors.
The first project overseas was started in Quetta, Pakistan with a 6 years assignment to improve the sanitary provisions in the town of 250,000 people, after a brief input in a tannery project in Bangladesh. The climate in Quetta is desert like and the city and all agriculture activities relied on ground water for their water supply that was dropping at around 4 feet per year!! The tanneries in Bangladesh are serious environmental polluters with conditions that would turn sensitive stomachs.
The project in Pakistan was completed on time and it provided ample experience to gain an insight into different cultures and their sets of values that have to be respected. The thought should always be in the back of one’s mind: “How would I react if the situations were reversed”?
After Pakistan further infrastructure projects in Bangladesh followed initially for 6 years and then other projects on and off over a period of a total of 10 years. Bangladesh is roughly the same size as Wyoming, but now it has 160 million people. Being situated in the delta of the major Himalayan rivers of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, large areas of the country see serious flooding in September / October when the snowmelt reaches its peak. The whole coast has serious problems with rising sea levels that cause saltwater intrusion into the groundwater and permanent flooding of low-lying areas, land is literally disappearing before your eyes.
Development projects are supported for 80% by international development banks as the country is too poor, with many workers earning $1.00 or less per day. Many of the projects focused on improving the water supply and sanitation is district towns and the capital Dhaka city, with a population of 16 million and a falling groundwater table at a rate of 6 feet per year, making it harder to keep water supplied to the people.
Infrastructure projects in Vietnam followed with the drainage and sanitation systems in Vinh City that is situated about 10 feet above sea level prosing a challenge for the design team. Flooding during heavy rains was a normal occurrence and in fact the entire 1000 mile coastline that is home to many people will experience the impact of rising sea-levels. One of the unique experiences was travelling by train to Hanoi city to watch the miles and miles of rice fields and to realize that all those single rice plants were planted by hand!
The last major project was in the Kyrgyz Republic to protect the environmental beauty of the high altitude (+ 5,000 feet) of Lake Issyk-Kul. This lake stretches for 110 miles and has maximum width of 37 miles. It is an endorheic lake, it has no outflow, so all pollutants flowing into it accumulate over time and it is therefore of utmost importance to ensure that all effluents are treated before discharging to the lake. The final support services were provided in October 2020.
First and foremost, one needs the support of ones’ family and having my supportive wife with me on most of these endeavors has made it possible to be able to complete the assigned projects well. The contacts with national and international staff on these projects has broadened one’s horizon and makes one realize how vulnerable this planet is.
It was through the interaction with a US international specialist working on a project in Bangladesh that we finally landed in Central Point in 2004 and established our base here.
The publication of the “Inconvenient Truth” in 2006 put a lot of things into context and with the data now being available on the internet, it is possible to carry out detailed analysis, all of which point in one direction, too much talk and not enough action or plans that are being adhered to leaving a planet on fire for the next generations to deal with. The problem is that when I grew up there were 2.5 billion people on this earth and by 2080 it is projected that 10.8 billion will share the same space.
The generations now cannot imagine a world without the internet, it is the new “normal”, however the level of social awareness and consideration has not improved.
Let us hope that the Climate conference in Glasgow in November 2021 will create an understanding that we would only succeed in dealing with the problems through a vast international, cooperative effort.
Register for the June Chapter Training Series: Establishing Climate Justice Priorities
Join us for the upcoming Chapter Training Series: Establishing Climate Justice Priorities tomorrow, June 16 at 4PM PST (7 PM ET). This Chapter Training Series will discuss a framework for centering climate and environmental justice in your chapter’s work, mission, and climate action. We will discuss and workshop some climate justice and advocacy skills, explore some common pitfalls, and have the opportunity for a Q&A session at the end.
Climate Reality prioritizes climate justice in our work and chapters program, and this workshop will give you an opportunity to start thinking through how to prioritize climate justice concepts in your chapters. Join us, and let’s get to work!
Petrochemical Opposition Campaign Updates Tackling the A-Z Impacts of Plastic: Protecting Democracy
Join the A-Z team on June 24 at 4PM PST (7 PM ET) for their June program exploring the intersection of our plastics crisis and its connection to the erosion of democracy. Learn how anti-protest bills, preemption laws, and voter suppression not only silence the voices of local grassroots communities, but also perpetuate the fossil fuel and plastics industry crisis. Hear from several guest speakers how they are organizing to protect the power of the people over the vested interests of plastic and petrochemical corporations! Register here.
July 7- Aug 16, each Mon & Wed, 3-5 PM PST (6-8PM EST)
In the “Strikes to the Streets: Youth Climate Organizers Take on Wall Street” political education series, Future Coalition is uniting local youth-led organizations to mobilize for the climate finance movement.
In this six-week virtual training, Future Coalition offers two free training sessions each week with some of the most skilled and experienced activists in the climate movement. The series will launch to the public starting on July 7.
Session topics include:
Stop the Bad: An Overview of Climate Finance
Pay for the Harm: How to Hold Banks Liable and Shifting Power to the People
Investing in the Good: Building a Sustainable Economy through Youth Power
Digital tools and communications for grassroots organizing
Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA)
Registration for the series will open on Monday, June 14 so stay tuned and sign up to join the movement taking on Wall Street! And, please feel free to share this opportunity with your social and professional networks to get more people involved.
If you’re reading this you already know there will be hell to pay if we don’t straighten out this climate issue.
Some people say climate change is caused by human reckless over-consumption. Some people say it’s just a natural planetary happening. The truth is even if climate change isn’t our fault it is our problem. The good news is you can affect the speed and severity that a changing climate will impact your children and grandchildren.There are 3 way that you can help heal the world and optimize the environment. The first is with your personal choices and the choices your family makes. The second is your local community, in America that’s state and local governments. The third is by advocating for national and world change, which seems like a big lift when you’re worried about making dinner and getting the kids to clean their room before they go to sleep. I try to work on all three of these points and find the most rewarding one is my own personal choices. As you know, local, state, and federal politicians have been very unwilling to make any substantial changes. I do see a glimmer of hope though, considering how the war on drugs and the war on homelessness went maybe politicians should consider a war on the environment. But all of that is for another day.
Why I got involved in the environmental movement.
There were three main stages to my climate journey. The first one was shock. Learning about the extent of the climate issue can really send you down a rabbit hole. The amount of information could keep you glued to your phone for literally 10 years. As I researched, I realized many people write with a political or financial agenda but even after removing biased information the real world is suffering and only the most cognitively challenged can’t see it. The second thing that happened to me was the emergence of emotional pain along with my sense of justice being offended to the point of real anger. Anger is an emotion designed to prevent bad decision making. You get angry at the kids for going in the street without looking. Most emotional anger is something that doesn’t just linger with you and over time you get less angry and settle back into a normal routine. This is the least helpful response to anger over environmental issues. The response that brought me piece was the third stage – realizing the source of the pain and responding to it.
Learning to contribute without complaining.
I like to think of myself as an environmentally responsible person. Carrying around my hydroflask, wearing goodwill or local made clothing, turning off the lights, rarely turn on the heat pump and having energy efficient appliances. But one day I realized my food choices nullified any positive impact I was hoping to make. Unnecessary pollution from packaging, refrigeration, and transportation. Poisoning the soil of land due to pesticides, watching the top soil get replaced with an unsustainable chemical mixture, and the massive amount of food waste from peels, stems, etc. I am luckily enough to live in rural Oregon so I can get a good percentage of food from local farmers or farmers markets but not everyone can do that year round, some people not at all.
So, what are we to do as environmental activists?
Sprout at home!
Sprouting allows a nice harvest every 3-5 day of clean fresh organic veggies. Sprouting at home takes almost no time and very little space. No transportation, or packaging pollution and a bare minimum of refrigeration if any at all. Almost no waste and no top or any other kind of soil used and no pesticides. Best Part? Every morning and evening when I spend a minute or two rinsing my sprouts, I am reminded of my fidelity to healing the environment.
For anyone just starting a sprouting adventure, here are the simple steps that people have been doing for thousands of years.
Take some organic non-gmo seeds (the only kind there was until a few years ago) soak them in cool water for 8 hours or so.
Drain the water and rinse 2 times per day until little tails appear, usually in 3-5 days.
Repeat with a new set of seeds.
My website, www.organicsproutbox.com has a 5 minute video that walks you through every step of the way so you will get the best results. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to email us for tips or advice to either up your sprout game or get your sprouting adventure started. I also have a variety of entry level to gourmet vegan sprout recipes. Please look into sprouting today and if you’d like more information, visit us at www.organicsproutbox.com. SPROUT ON!
Every bill with real solutions to climate change is important right now. Among the most hopeful for this Legislative Session in Oregon is HB 2021, sponsored by Southern Oregon Representative, Pam Marsh.
HB 2021 A is moving through committees and support of the bill with comments and testimony couldn’t be more important. The bill accelerates electrification of the Oregon power grid, and offers jobs for Oregonians in communities across the state in a transition focused on community-based projects, affordability, and disaster resilience.
One key opportunity for southwestern and coastal Oregon is the excitement around Offshore Wind energy. Bill Bradbury, a long time advocate of offshore wind and former Oregon State Senator and Oregon Secretary of State joined the meeting to offer testimony in support of the bill.
You can also offer your support for this bill by submitting written comments. To submit a comment, link directly to the 2021 A Legislative Information page, select an upcoming hearing date, and click to leave a comment. If there is no immediate hearing date available, email Pam Marsh, or Khanh Pham–and your own Oregon House Representative–or their staff to let them know of your support.