April 2011

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #135 Serious Fun

Posted by on 25 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

April 25, 2011

Our topic tonight is “Serious Fun.”  It’s taken from the title of a book by our first guest, Berkeley author-environmentalist Carolyn North, who argues that doing the right thing for the planet can also be amusing, entertaining, and highly creative.

And in the second half of the program, we’ll extend that idea by talking with Marley Zalay and Desi Hatton, of the RARE project of Butte County, a demonstration center shows people imaginative ways to engage in recycling.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Carolyn North

With us on the phone is Carolyn North from Berkeley, who has written a book from Findhorn Press that talks about imaginative ways of being sustainable on such topics as food, waste, water, and money. She is a longtime activist and the founder of the Daily Bread Project in Berkeley, which helps surplus food into the hands of people who need it by way of a network of volunteers.

  • Let’s start with the title of your book.  How, in an age of doom-and-gloom about the earth’s future, can you propose that we have “serious fun”?  What’s your philosophy here?
  • Please explain your argument that working for environmental sustainability is analagous to natural adaptation in the plant and animal worlds. [Do you think humans can adapt their ways fast enough to avoid planetary disaster?]
  • We don’t often think of money in terms of “sustainability.”  Please give us your take on money and how people can use it (and alternative forms of exchange) in creative ways:
    • What is “slow money”?
    • Where does generosity fit into the picture?
    • Can people find employment in ways that are environmentally sound but still bring in the necessary funds for survival?
  • We can’t possibly talk about all the topics in your book.  But we wonder if you could give us an example or several of imaginative approaches to:
    • Food: We’d especially like to hear more about the Daily Bread Project. Also your advice to “play with your food.”
    • Water:  Maybe tell us about the water collecting gadget on the cover and how it serves multiple uses.
    • Waste:  What should we be doing with animal and human Sh–FCC euphemism?  What might we be doing with corpses?
  • The final topic in your book is about Home.  One doesn’t usually list that among environmental topics. Why is home–the structure, the community–important?
  • You are about to launch a new Serious Fun website through your publisher, Findhorn Press.  Please tell us about that.

Our guest has been Carolyn North, author of Serious Fun, published by Findhorn  Press [www.findhornpress.com] on recycled paper that, according to the publisher, saved five trees and 519 pounds of greenhouse gases.  She is at work on a sequel to the book called SHIFT HAPPENS: How Changing Your Mind Can Help Save the World. In addition to the forthcoming blog, she also has two websites that you should check out:  www.healingimprovisations.net and carolynnorth.blogspot.com.

Our Conversation with Marley Zalay and Desi Hatton

In the studio with us now are Marley Zalay, coordinator, and Desi Hatton, assistant, of the RARE project at Chico State.

1. Your project is the Recycle and Rubish Exhibit. Tell us a little about its history.

2. Who sponsors RARE?

3. What is the purpose of RARE? What are each of your roles?

4. Describe the tours you do. What do the exhibits consist of? What
are some of your favorite exhibits? Are they open to the public?
Where are the exhibits?

5. You also do workshops in the schools. Tell us about those.

6. How do teachers sign up to participate? Do you still have spaces
for the spring?

7. What ways are there for community members to become involved?

8. How can we contact you?  http://www.aschico.com/recycle/rare

Playlist for Ecotopia #135: Serious Fun

1. Recycle Reuse Reduce        2:46        Heidi Howe        Give a Hootenanny!
2. reduce, reuse, recycle        3:35        The Junkman (Donald Knaack)        Junk Music 2
3. The 3 R’s        2:54        Jack Johnson        Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies For The Film
Curious George
4. Worms        2:05        Stanley Schwartz        Looking for the Perfect Bagel
Children’s Music
5. Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28        Peter, Paul And Mary        The Very Best of
Peter, Paul and Mary
6. Worms        4:07        Yeasayer        All Hour Cymbals
7. Trash Can Rap        2:41        Jeremy Roske & Karl Anthony        Strike-A-Chord #1
8. Worms        7:23        Dino O’Dell & the Veloci-Rappers        Dino O’Dell & the

Ecotopia #134 Changing Planet–Changing Health

Posted by on 18 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

 April 19, 2011

Tonight our topic is “Changing Planet–Changing Health.” In the first part of the program we’ll talk with author Dan Ferber, who has coauthored a book with that title. He and Paul Epstein have explored in depth the proven and possible consequence of climate change on human health globally. Wonder why you’ve been sneezing more? We’ll ask Dan Ferber to explain.

Then we’ll talk to Chicoan Pamm Larry, who is interested in protecting our health from another threat, genetically modified organisms. She is part of a team sponsoring a ballot initiative that would require labeling on GMO products in California so that consumers have a chance to know what they are eating and make informed decisions about it.

Listen to the program.

Our Discussion with Dan Ferber

Part 1–The Threat:

On previous editions of Ecotopia, we have discussed climate change and how it is affecting the health and survival of wildlife on the planet.  Tonight, we turn to people. Our guest is Dan Ferber, co-author, with Paul Epstein, of a book titled Changing Planet, Changing Health.  Dan is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and has written widely on science issues, including articles in Popular Science, Audubon, and Nature Conservancy.

The subtitle of your book is How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It.  Let’s save the “what we can do about it” part for later in the show and start with the the threat to our health. Broadly, what’s your view of the relationship between climate change and our health?  Why are we in trouble?

You’re not talking about a “theory” or “thesis” here.  You say, “Clearly climate change is hazardous to our health.”  Why do you and Paul Epstein find the evidence so persuasive?

The opening chapter of Changing Climate–Changing Health focuses on Mozambique as an example of the climate-induced health crisis and presents a substantial and frightening list of diseases and epidemics: “an epidemic of epidemics.”
–Why did you choose to begin the book in this way?
–How does Mozambique bear out the theories of early 20th-Century Austrian ecologist, Ludvig von Bertalanffy?
–What is “the science  of the whole”?

A chapter entitled “Every Breath You Take” offers an explanation for  increased sneezing! What’s the relationship between climate change and respiratory problems​?  Who has lobbied against proposed agreements such as Kyoto and Copenhagen (not that the U.S. was signing on to these anyway)?

The book covers a vast range of planetary ailments.  Could you review (your choice of) one or several of these:
–toxic oceans and declining fisheries
–forests in trouble
–agricultural problems
–storms and sickness

You have a chapter called, “Sobering Predictions.”  As we end this segment, we want to ask an impossibly broad questions: Could you please give us a sobering prediction of how health will worsen over, say, the next 50 to 100 years if we do not alter the rate of climate change?

Part II: Solutions Along with sounding the alarm, you and Dr. Epstein have recommendations for “what we can do about it.”  Let’s talk about some of these.

What do you mean by “Gaining Green by Going Green”? 
–How might going green positively effect, say, the insurance and banking industries?
–How else might the economy actually be improved by fighting global climate change?
–Could you please talk about Gary Hirshberg and his dispelling of myths about:  externalities, sending away waste, and pollution dilution?

Can green captialism produce the needed changes?  (We’ve had people on this program argue that by its very nature, capitalism can never be green–it will always be devoted to squeezing out maximum profits by exploiting any resouce it can. What do you think?)

Throughout the book you refer to Kyoto and other international agreements (or non agreements) on climate change.  What’s your view of the possible success of these kinds of global efforts?  Will they produce the change we need?  How can we “prod the politicians”?

Do you sense that community-level strategies can be successful, e.g., smart growth, campaigns and targets to lower emissions?  (In Chico, our Sustainability Task Force is working on these problems.)

What advice do you have for individual listeners to help us “veer from our tarnished history, creating a legacy of healing for both the Earth and ourselves.”

The book is Changing Planet–Changing Health, by Paul Epstein and our guest, Dan Ferber, and it’s published by the University of California Press.  You can learn more about the book at http://www.changingplanetchanginghealth.com/.  Dan also has a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ChangingPlanetChangingHealth, that includes blogs, comments, and links to other articles. We’re posing all those links on our own website, ecotopiakzfr.net.

Our Discussion with Pamm Larry

Pamm Larry has lived in Chico for 33 years and has worn many hats in her tenure here–one as a farmer in the mid ’80s to ’90s. She’s a mother and a grandmother and has been a mini activist for decades. After years of being depressed about the future of our food she had an epiphany on January 20, 2011 to take a strong stand and organize the state for a ballot initiative to require mandatory labling of genetically engineered foods and the factory farmed animals that eat them. 

1.  What was your epiphany?
2. What is the ballot initiative you are creating? What would it require by way of labeling?
3.  Why is it important to have GMO food labeled?  (Does labeling
actually protect us from GMOs or simply alert us to food content?)
4.  Please tell us about your fundraiser this coming Saturday.  (We’re
not allowed to state ticket prices over the air–goofy FCC rule–but
you can tell people how and where to get them.)
5.  How can people learn more about the initiative and get involved?

Playlist for Eco 133: Changing Planet–Changing Health

1. Global Warming Blues 3:42 Lenny Solomon Armando’s Pie
2. Danger (Global Warming) – Radio Mix 3:35 Brick Casey Danger (GlobalWarming)
3. Health 2:50 Electric Guitars Health
4. Good Health 3:37 The Dixie Hummingbirds In Good Health
5. Health and Strength 4:28 Pressure Riddim Ruller: Drop It Riddim
6. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary
7. The Health And Welfare 8:58 Urlaub In Polen Health And Welfare

Ecotopia 132: Making Living While Making a Difference

Posted by on 14 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

April 12, 2011 

On several editions of Ecotopia, we’ve talked with people who argue persuasively that Green Jobs are going to increase dramatically in the future.   Tonight, we’ll be talking with Melissa Everett, a career counselor and green activist from New York, who has mapped out possibilities and strategies for “Making a Living While Making a Difference.”

Listen to the Program

Before we talk with Melissa Everett, we thought we’d share an amusing story from the Wall Street Journal.  Reporter Annie Gasparro says that:

McDonald’s Corp. is hoping to bulk up its burger-tossing forces and recast the image of the “McJob” with a nationwide hiring event April 19. On this self-proclaimed National Hiring Day, McDonald’s and its franchisees plan to recruit as many as 50,000 U.S. employees to add to its roughly 600,000-member ranks.[…]

The fast-food giant is promoting the hiring event in print magazines such as People and Us Weekly, as well as social-media channels. The campaign highlights employees of varying ranks, from cashiers to corporate, in an effort to improve the image of working there. For years, people have used the term “McJob” as derogatory slang for low-paying, dead-end work in the kitchen or behind the counter. McDonald’s thinks by putting the spotlight on employees who have risen through the ranks in successful, long-lasting careers, it will be able to give the McJob a new meaning.

Jim Norberg, a senior vice president in McDonald’s restaurant support office, began his career making french fries when he was 16. This month, he is celebrating his 30th anniversary with the company.

“We want to show people what a McJob really means to those of us who have them,” Mr. Norberg said in an interview. “About 40% of our company staff started out working in the restaurants, so the opportunities are out there in a big way.” […]

McDonald’s says the job offers will be a combination of full- and part-time positions in its 14,000 restaurants. […]

[And here’s the fine print:]

Bringing on more part-time and seasonal workers would allow McDonald’s to decrease full-time staff, which would reduce costs at a time when health insurance and other full-time benefits are becoming more expensive for companies.

“Labor costs are a real problem for restaurants this year,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a Chicago-based industry research and consulting firm. “The changes in health-care benefits are going to force companies to rely more on part-time workers than before.”

You want fries or health insurance with that McJob? 

Melissa Everett has some alternatives to McJobs.

Our Conversation with Melissa Everett

Melissa Everett is author of a book titled Making a Living While Making a Difference.  She is a community activist and a career counselor. As the book title suggests, she believes strongly that it’s possible to contribute in positive and sustainable ways to our world and still make enough dough to keep the wolf from the door.  She also practices what she preaches as Executive Director of a group called Sustainable Hudson Valley, and we will ask her about that in the second part of the interview.

Part I: Making a Living While Making a Difference

  • The subtitle of your book is “Conscious Careers for an Era of Interdependence.” Please tell us what that means and why you think it is important.
  • You write of “sustainable livelihoods–meaningful work that fulfills . . . the needs of all members of a community.”  What are the characteristics of a “sustainable livelihood”?  Could you give us an example or two?
  • In recent programs, we’ve had a lively discussion of “green capitalism.”  Some of our guests have argued that by its very nature, capitalism consumes resources exxtravagantly and really can never be green.  However, your writing is filled with suggestions for working within the system (including the possibility of being a carbon trader!).  Please tell us how your ideas mesh with the problems of unsustainability that we see in the current capitalist system.
  • Please give us a few examples of sustainable, difference-making careers that our listeners might not be aware of.
  • Your book includes a ten-step program for people to find these kinds of careers.  We note that the majority of the steps involve personal self assessment rather than just playing the job market–aiming for self employment.  Why does the individual and his/her values/psyche figure so prominently in your program?
  • You recommend that people do what they think to be important whether or not they get paid.  Is that realistic?  (What’s the difference between volunteerism and entrepreneurism?) (What if you find yourself in a career that does not meet sustainability criteria?)
  • How does your advice vary by age level, say:
    • a high school graduate thinking about military service? [We work with a counter-recruitment group that helps high schoolers think about alternative careers, so we are especially interested in your advice here.]
    • a new college degree holder with a stack of debts?
    • a person plotting a mid-life career change?
    • a senior citizen figuring out how to spend the golden years?
  • How has the financial crash of the last several years affected the market for jobs that make a difference?  Has it affected your optimism about making a living while making a difference?

Part II: Some Questions about Sustainable Hudson Valley

Melissa Everett describes herself as a “social entrepreneur.”  She puts her ideas into practice as Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley, a nonprofit located on the Hudson halfway between New York City and Albany.

  • Please tell us about the formation of Sustainable Hudson Valley in 2004.  Why was it created?  What is your mission?
  • What kinds of projects does your organization undertake?. Could you give us a few examples of projects that you’ve done over the years?
  • What’s the 10% Challenge campaign and how is it going?
  • In the first part of the interview, we talked about (and maybe challenged) your optimism.  Can SHV really make a difference?  How many organizations like it would be required to make the Hudson Valley truly sustainable? the rest of the world? 
  • What is the range of people working in SHV as volunteers or paid professionals?  Have people become self-employed on the job?
  • Since you don’t produce a capitalist profit, how do you sustain the organization itself?
  • What advice can you give people (like listeners to this program) about the most effective ways to make their communities more sustainable?  And what kinds of career choices and changes can you suggest to our listeners so they can be part of this revolution?
  • What’s your next career?

We highly recommend Melissa’s book, Making a Living While Making a Difference.  It’s published by New Society.  Also be sure to check out the Sustainable Hudson Valley website http://www.sustainhv.org, which includes a great range of environmental information as well as Melissa’s blog, which you’ll find at http://www.makinglivingdifference.com.


1. Get a Job        2:27        The Silhouettes        Original Solid Gold Hits, Volume 2                       

2. Working Man’s Blues        3:46        The Devil Makes Three        Do Wrong Right       

3. Sixteen Tons        2:37        Tennessee Ernie Ford        Hotdogs, Hits and Happy Days              

4, Clear Blue Skies (LP Version)        3:07        Crosby, Still, Nash & Young          American Dream       

5. Weave Me the Sunshine        4:28        Peter, Paul And Mary        The Very Best of   Peter, Paul and Mary       

6. Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)        5:11        Neil Young        Ragged Glory        Rock               

7. Working Class Hero        3:09        Shawn Douglas        Shawn Douglas        Blues