people + planet @ peace

 

My mission is to strengthen people and planet through philanthropy

 

Entries in Citizenship (10)

Saturday
Apr222017

Factivists: Factivate!

Today I particiapted in the March for Science - San Francisco as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

The event celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet.  The organization is a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.

Please join me in standing up for science.

 And please be aware that we can do more than march, we can: 

  • Vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • Support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • Volunteer as a naturalist, citizen scientist, or environmental steward.
  • Advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • Continue to march to give voice to this important civic value. 

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.

Here are the highlights of today's programming:


Friday
Apr212017

Science Saves Lives

Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the March for Science San Francisco. I support this movement as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

It's no coincidence that this movement is taking place on Earth Day, and most years I appreciate and applaud the awareness that the day brings to our collective conscience, as nothing unites humanity more than our planetary dependence and existence. We all depend on nature's bounty and live within her boundaries.

However, this year is different. I am serving in a new role at the National AIDS Memorial Grove and on a daily basis, I'm exposed to the importance of our health care system, the innovative scientific solutions developed to our most pressing public health concerns, and the critical need to invest in scientific knowledge for public health, safety, and national security. AIDS and other infectious diseases will only disappear if we can bridge the scientific and societal solutions that emerge from our pursuit of new knowledge. We must advance!

This year is also different for me because of the political disreagrd, devalued role, and diminished investment in science. I will not call it a "war" on science, because I feel as though there are already too many casualties literally for this "war on science" metaphor to be sensitive. It is a life-and-death matter, not a tired metaphor.  But I will say this:

Science saves lives. If we are to find a cure for AIDS; if we are to alleviate the unbearable pain and suffering of the sick; and if we are to overcome the deadly viciousness of the virus: we need science and we must speak up for scientific research. Our destiny is in our hands.

In addition to marching, here's what I pledge to do:

  • I will vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • I will support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • I will continue to volunteer as a naturalist and citizen scientist.
  • I will advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • I will continue to march to give voice to this important civic value.

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.

Monday
Mar062017

War metaphor, what is it good for?

Recent guest blog posts by Dr. Jon Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) in Scientific American make no mistake: it is a time of war. There is a war on science.

Metaphorically speaking, right?

In “How to Defeat Those Who Are Waging War on Science,” (Feb. 27, 2017), Foley and Christina Arena write, “America has a choice to make. A choice between advancing civilization or bringing it down. A choice between knowledge and chaos. Now, everyone must choose which side they are on."

Dr. Foley seems to be fixated on the metaphor in “War on Science” (Feb. 20, 2017) and in another article, when he warns: “The War on Facts is a War on Democracy” (Jan. 25, 2017). It’s clear he’s armed for confrontation, if not combat.

YIKES!

Dr. Foley is Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences — a beloved institution in Golden Gate Park where my career in development began in 2010. I now stay involved via iNaturalist and volunteer with citizen science projects that monitor tide pools along the California coast.

I can appreciate what Dr. Foley is trying to say and that he thinks in bold terms. However, while the war metaphor might “rally the troops” in military terms, does it really help advance science in realistic ways? Do scientists really want to be viewed as combatants in a war? How does this advance a culture of "safe spaces?"

Personally, I am deeply troubled by headline emphasis on war and it makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Dr. Foley, I respectfully ask: Do we really need another war metaphor? Now? Aren’t we divided enough? Doesn’t this just perpetuate more “us versus them” thinking? Isn’t that dehumanizing?

It seems like certain generations of Americans love to talk in terms of war. They understand what that means and it speaks to them. OK, but I think a new generation is looking for better metaphors.

At best, it’s a basic metaphor that does what basic metaphors do: symbolize a concept by evoking imagery. However, at worst, the war metaphor implies indirect and direct violence as a proxy for opposing ideas and values. I highly doubt that Dr. Foley is advocating for violence in his war-on-science approach.

To be clear, I DO think there is a real war going on right now due to climate change, which has real victims and globally requires multi-national alliances and creative solutions fueled by innovations in science and technology, much in the same ways that surfaced globally in World War II — read “A World at War” by Bill McKibben.

But this literal war isn’t quite what Dr. Foley and others mean when they metaphorically talk about a war on science, which is another reason I think a better metaphor would suffice. By calling everything a war – war on drugs, war on poverty, war on (FILL IN THE BLANK) – we lose any effectiveness of the metaphor. It’s tired. I’m tired of it.

Further, conservationists in particular should be careful of "crying wolf” too many times. War as a metaphor is, in my opinion, overplayed and way too simple whereas the situation Dr. Foley is describing is incredibly complex. The war metaphor is also incredibly limiting and I implore life-loving scientists and theorists be more sophisticated than that, if less macho...

In looking for a basic critique of the limitations of the war metaphor, I came across a paper, “On revising conceptual metaphors for argument” (2016) by Erik Isaksson, a student at University of Gothenburg's Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science. Isaksson argues that there are serious problems with using war as a conceptual metaphor for argument and discusses several limitations, including:

No Fallacies Argument: “Arguments based on the assumption that in war, anything goes. As long as the war metaphor reigns, nothing but winning matters — there are no fallacies in argument.”

Aggression Argument: “Certain types of people (perhaps those afraid of conflict) are driven away from serious philosophical discourse because of how aggressive it is. And " … it stands to reason that the loss of these people entails a loss in knowledge and competence.”

Blindness Argument: “… as we think of argument as war, we lose sight of some non-adversarial goals. We end up competing rather than cooperating."

Isaksson says, "... we would be well served by picking a metaphor which encourages cooperation rather than competition. Furthermore, the metaphor should aid us in accomplishing the primary goal of argument: arriving at the truth together. Testing one party’s idea against another’s in bloody war is certainly one way of doing this, but there might be other ways. Rather than finding the truth (and agreement) by attacking each other until one of us gives way, perhaps it is possible to cooperate towards finding the truth."

In summary, my reasons for opposing the war metaphor include:

  • It creates an “us versus them” dynamic that is dehumanizing.
  • It implies indirect and direct violence as a proxy for opposing ideas and values.
  • It is an overplayed and tired metaphor that is too limiting.
  • It emphasizes that nothing but winning matters.
  • Aggression alienates people and we lose their knowledge and competence as a result.
  • We end up competing instead of cooperating.

If recent marches have taught me anything, it’s that wit is more energetic and effective than the war metaphor. 

Make wit, not war!

At the San Francisco Women’s March in January, the wit levels were over the top! Thanks to the uplifting power of clever wit and humor, I was energized and inspired far more than any tired war metaphor could ever elicit. I’m excited for the upcoming March for Science – San Francisco, where I expect to see the best/worst placards my science-loving, creative community can come up with. I look forward to it!

Let's disarm the tired war metaphor and energize a new generation of FACTIVISTS!

“Out of our labs and into the streets!”

Let’s promote peace above all. Let’s talk. Let’s make our voices heard. And let’s find a better metaphor than war.

Will you join us?

Sunday
Mar052017

The March for Science - San Francisco

The March for Science - San Francisco celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet. We are a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.
 
Join us on April 22nd, 2017 (Earth Day 2017), as we March For Science!
 
RSVP on Facebook
For more information: MarchForScienceSF.com
Saturday
Mar042017

San Francisco Native Nations March

 
Idle No More SF Bay and Tribal Nations in the west are in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders who are calling on our allies across the United States and around the world to peacefully March for Native American rights on March 10th. We ask that you rise in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of the world whose rights protect Mother Earth for the future generations of all.

The march will begin at 5:00 p.m. at the Federal Building at 7th & Mission. There will be a short rally there before the march to the Civic Center. The rally at the Civic Center will include a traditional California Indigenous opening with Corrina Gould, speakers on the history of Native Americans and the Federal Government, Native American leaders, and others.

This event is co-sponsored by Idle No More SF Bay and the International Indian Treaty Council

RSVP on Facebook. 
Sunday
Feb172013

Forward on Climate Rally

Today, I participated in the largest environmental march in San Francisco history, as thousands gathered outside the State Department headquarters as part of the "Forward on Climate Change" campaign.

The march, which culimated in a rally in the plaza across from the Ferry Building Terminal, was organized by the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, along with 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and several other groups.

In solidarity with protests across the nation, most notably in Washington, D.C., which was the largest climate change rally in U.S. history (and others around the world), the campaign's message is to urge President Obama to reject the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, an extension of a tar-sand oil pipeline that connects Alberta, Canada and multiple Midwest cities.

I've been following the #IdleNoMore campaign as well on this issue, since the Keystone Pipleling project has numerous connections to my tribe and the overall indigenous resistance to this threat to our ways of life and self-determination.

I attended as a member of the steering committee of Bay Localize, an organization that inspires and supports Bay Area residents in building equitable, resilient communities. We confront the challenges of climate instability, rising energy costs, and recession by boosting our region's capacity to provide for everyone's needs, sustainably and equitably. We achieve this by equipping local leaders with flexible tools, models, and policies that strengthen their communities.

See pictures from the march and rally below:

Idle No More had a strong showing at the rally.

San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos speaks at the rally.

Organizers estimated 4,000 people in attendance in San Francisco and 40,000 in Washington, D.C.

Monday
Nov192012

Protect Pe'Sla Lakota Sioux Sacred Site

Artist Shepard Fairey and photographer Aaron Huey created this image in reference to the U.S. government's policy of ignoring the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.Not long ago I wrote a post, Vistory at Pe'Sla, about how Chase Iron Eyes, an attorney in South Dakota, wrote an article on LastRealIndians.com to raise money to purchase Pe'Sla, a sacred site in the Black Hills. At the time, it seemed like a true success story about a group of young, professional, 21st Century American Indians reclaiming our land through grassroots activism.

Sadly, the victory call was too good to be true. For now.

According to The Washington Post, the land holds sacred significance for the Lakotas: "The property is important to their creation story, and tribal members have long held ceremonies there. When the land was put up for sale, tribal members worried it would be developed because of its proximity to Mount Rushmore."

This area is partly owned by the Reynolds family. They planned to auction off almost 2,000 acres on August 25, 2012 to the highest bidder. According to The Washington Post, "Landowners Leonard and Margaret Reynolds canceled a public auction of the property earlier this year after tribal members expressed outrage. The Reynolds then accepted the tribes’ bid to purchase the land for $9 million if they have the money by November 30, 2012."

The Great Sioux Nation must raise $9 million to purchase the land by November 30, 2012, securing it as a sacred, undeveloped site, accessible to all. They've raised $6.5million and with the help of a number of influential celebrities, are on track to get the rest. Spread this video far and wide. Donate and get more info at lastrealindians.com and indiegogo.com/pesla.

This is what the American Indian Movement looks like in the 21st Century. Digital media, social media, and traditional media are spreading the message: NOW is the time to act! Hoka hey!

PE'SLA 2012 from Village Beat on Vimeo.

Tuesday
Sep042012

Victory at Pe'Sla

Artist Shepard Fairey and photographer Aaron Huey created this image in reference to the U.S. government's policy of ignoring the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

Although I live in California, far from the the Black Hills and my family in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, I am still very encouraged to learn about the grassroots efforts of people in my generation making positive contributions to the Lakota people by protecting our sacred lands.

On August 1, Chase Iron Eyes, an attorney in South Dakota, wrote an article on LastRealIndians.com to raise money to purchase Pe'Sla, a sacred site in the Black Hills. He explains:

"Pe' Sla is an area in the Black Hills of South Dakota (just west of Rapid City) that is considered by the Lakota people to be the Center and heart of everything that is. It is part of our creation story. It is a sacred place. We perform certain ceremonies at Pe' Sla which sustain the Lakota way of life and keep the universe in harmony.

This area is partly owned by the Reynolds family. They plan to auction off almost 2,000 acres on August 25, 2012 to the highest bidder. It is likely that the state of South Dakota will put a road directly through Pe' Sla and open up this sacred place for development.

The seven bands of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Oyate (people) aka Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) have a collective effort to buy as much of Pe'Sla as we can at this auction (although we also believe that the land cannot be owned and that our sacred places were illegally taken by the United States). Yet we are trying to work within the current U.S. laws to regain custody of our sacred sites and prevent future road and industrial development. Our sacred ways must be protected and passed on to our future generations so that our children may live.

This area of the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) is also home to many plants and animals who should also be protected. In fact, many consider that the area should possibly be a historical site, which would also assist in protecting it from future development as well.

As Lakota people, our ancestors prayed here, at Pe' Sla, at certain times of year, when the stars aligned. We cannot go elsewhere to pray. We were meant to pray here. This is what they do not understand. Please help the Lakota people. "Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." - Chief Sitting Bull, 1877.

We have a group of young professional Native people that are dedicated to the promotion of education, health, leadership, and sovereignity among our indigenous Nations. Our goal is to assist in any way possible the purchase of Pe' Sla and other sites by a collective effort of the seven bands of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) - the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. All proceeds from this campaign will go towards that effort. This area would be open to tribal nations for ceremonial purposes. The plants, animals, water, and air in the area would be respected and honored."

Over the course of the month, the website raised more than $300,000 that was combined with $1.3 million from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Together, they are credited for purchasing and saving the sacred site:

"We are greatly encouraged by the enormous outpouring of support to protect Pe'Sla and for the reigniting of our collective consciousness related to sacred sites and the Black Hills - Wamaka Ognaka y Cante (the Heart of Everything that is)" reads a press release on LastRealIndians.com.

Family and friends in Rapid City, a rally will be held Wednesday, September 5 at 5 p.m. to celebrate the purchase of Pe’ Sla at the Memorial Park Band Shell.

Watch this video from their press conference on Saturday, September 1, 2012 - Chase Iron Eyes tells the story of this important victory for the Lakota:

Mid-month, I was at a BBQ event in San Francisco and a friend told me about how his family, on vacation, watched a documentary by Aaron Huey, Honor the Treaties. It was in viewing these videos that I came to learn about Chase Iron Eyes' efforts to mobilize people to protect our lands. The documentary, with many hard truths, sends our message of self-determination.  Watch the video:

Honor the Treaties | The Film from eric becker on Vimeo.

Friday
Mar232012

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

When I was in graduate school, I took a course on organization behavior and we had a conversation about "nonprofits acting like people," which led us to the funny image of "kids playing in a sandbox."  A recent project that I've been working on has been one such example of organizations collaborating, fittingly in a park setting.

On May 12, 2012, the Stanford Alumni Association is holding the annual Global Day of Service known as "Beyond the Farm" that extends Stanford's spirit of service to communities around the world through the volunteer efforts of alumni, family and friends. As an alumnus and board member of Stanford Pride, I'm putting together a project to work at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park (full disclosure: I'm on the board of the National AIDS Memorial, too!). We're promoting the event with the Stanford Club of San Francisco in our outreach efforts, among many other service projects in San Francisco on that day.

Our volunteers will help maintain the memorial by clearing weeds and debris, mulching and hauling topsoil, planting new trees and shrubs, and other related projects.

Grab your shovel and join me!  Let's play well together in the sanbox!

Sunday
Feb272011

Museums Advocacy Day

On Monday February 28 and Tuesday March 1 over 320 museum advocates – museum professionals, trustees, students and supporters – will be gathering in Washington, DC for the third annual Museums Advocacy Day

According to the American Association of Museums, it is important to remember that museums play a key role in education, job creation, tourism, economic development, historic preservation, environmental conservation, global competitiveness, and more. The museum community - which includes aquariums, art museums, children’s museums, historic sites, history museums, maritime museums, military museums, natural history museums, planetariums, presidential libraries, public gardens, science centers, zoos, and more – has worked together to develop positions on the vital federal issues affecting museums.

If you're like me and unable to attend the events in Washington, DC, you can be part of the action in your hometown:

  • Watch live streaming of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (a grant-making federal agency supporting museums and libraries of all types) Director Susan Hildreth's address (9:55 a.m. ET Monday) and the Congressional Breakfast (8:15 a.m. ET Tuesday)
  • Learn how to advocate from home —through economic impact statements, dear colleague letters and encouraging those in your community to write to their elected officials on the value of museums.

AAM Statement on NEA Funding Cut

The House of Representatives' 217-209 vote to cut $20.6 million from the National Endowment for the Arts budget for the remainder of FY11 would have a disastrous effect if it is enacted into law. The National Endowment for the Arts supports many of our nation's outstanding museums and plays a key role in building creativity, innovation and the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century. I urge the Senate and President Obama to reject this language as it finalizes the federal budget for the remaining 7 months of FY11. AAM President Ford W. Bell

I support the AAM in this effort because I strongly believe in the value that museums add to communities, informal knowledge and experiential learning, as well as the preservation of our cultural, artistic, and scientific assets. So many museums exist due to creative public/private/corporate partnerships, so their continued prosperity depends on such collaborative efforts. 

Support your local museums today!