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The Animals of Animalia

My podcast begins by saying that I interview people who are “keeping things alive in work and play,” but I more-or-less never bring up the play part.

So this is a fun post that lists out the animals depicted on each letter page of Animalia by Graeme Base. Well, not all the animals, only the ones that are obvious and “real” (not a painting, photo, or statue in the illustration). And I didn’t look any of them up (if I am missing any, which I am, please let me know!).

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Interview

Podcast Episode 004: Sister Eileen O’Connor Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My fourth interview is with Sister Eileen O’Connor, who is a Sister of Mercy, organizer for the Interfaith Climate Justice Community, and has given talks on the Pope’s Encyclical throughout Western New York. In this interview we talk about the meaning of social justice, the importance of taking care of the Earth, and how the Sisters of Mercy research their investments and other businesses they use to make sure they are in line with their values.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Sister Eileen O’Connor:

Interview

Podcast Episode 003: Roger Cook Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My third interview is with Roger Cook, who is the Chair of the Western New York Working Families Party Issues Committee, Chair of the Sierra Club political committee, former Director of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety & Health, and Founder of the Ecumenical Task Force of the Niagara Frontier, which advocated for the relocation of Love Canal and Forest Glen residents and built the NYS Labor-Environment Coalition.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Roger Cook:

Interview

Podcast Episode 002: Jim Anderson Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My second interview is with Jim Anderson who is a peace activist, the President of Peace Action New York State, the Vice President of the Citizen Action New York Board of Directors, and a founding member of the National Black United Front. In this interview, we discuss the importance of teamwork, his experiences as an activist from the late 1960’s to today, and strategies that progressive groups can implement to be more effective in bringing people into the movement.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Jim Anderson:

Interview

Podcast Episode 001: Lynda Schneekloth Shownotes

The first six episodes of Season 1 of the Keeping Things Alive podcast showcase my interviews with six leaders of the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement in Buffalo, New York. This movement started a few months after Pope Francis published his Encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, and a few months before the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. I was fortunate enough to participate in many of the events, and I was so impressed with the diversity and energy of the activists that came together during this time.

My first interview is with Lynda Schneekloth, who spearheaded the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice movement and organized many of the major events. Lynda is the advocacy chair of Western New York Environmental Alliance, Professor Emerita at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, former Sierra Club Niagara Group chair, co-founder of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, and a grandmother. We discuss a variety of topics during this interview, including her background, co-founding Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, geothermal energy, and her experience with the 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice campaign.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Lynda Schneekloth:

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The White Walkers are Climate Change

For the past couple of years, I have created a theory that Game of Thrones is an allegory for the Climate Change problem that our world must face, and that each of the characters (or group of characters) have real-life representatives.  I’ve talked about my theory with close friends, but I never expected to talk about it in public. I dismissed my theory as a buzz-kill that lets my fascination with Climate Change and how people react to it (or not) overtake my ability to simply have fun with an escapism television show.

So last week, I was surprised to see that Vanity Fair published an article about how many people have noticed the parallels between Game of Thrones and our Climate Change problem, and then the author proceeded to name which real-life person in our Climate Change reality matched up with Game of Thrones characters.  I feel so validated.

But beyond the satisfaction of validation, I disagree with most of the matchups in the article. Furthermore, with only a handful of exceptions, I see many of the individual characters as representatives of groups of people in the Climate Change story, not necessarily individuals. I don’t have a perfect Game of Thrones/Climate Change matchup for every character (and I am no Game of Thrones expert; I watched the show once and never read the books), but this connection between fiction and real-life is a beautiful, unintentional phenomenon resulting from George R. R. Martin’s masterful storytelling skills. I believe in the power of story to change minds and hearts, and I am grateful to witness it happening in one of my favorite tales.

So allow me to explain how I interpret the Game of Thrones characters, and the connections I make between them and their real-life representatives that are involved in humanity’s challenge to survive Climate Change (whether they are aware of it or not).

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Meet Climate Activist David Kowalski

The first website I created is called FedGreen, where I used to publish a weekly report on important environmental updates from the Federal Register. It was a worthwhile project, but ultimately, I wanted to do something more creative with my free time, which is why I switched over to creating this website and my Keeping Things Alive Podcast.

Before I decided to do a podcast, however, I started interviewing environmental activists in Buffalo, New York. My first interview-turned-article was with David Kowalski, a retired scientist who now spends his time working on his website Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo and giving educational lectures about climate change throughout Western New York.

In an effort to simplify my life, I’m going to be closing down FedGreen in the near future, so I wanted to move the article I wrote about David to this website instead. Here it goes, enjoy!


For my first Buffalo interview, I spoke with David Kowalski, PhD, a retired research scientist. He’s currently an environmental advocate and serves on the planning committee of the Climate Justice Coalition. David is a member of the Buffalo-Niagara Sierra Club’s Executive Committee, where he is involved in communications and social media. He enthusiastically told me that he “loves Millennials” (he has three millennial-age sons) and has embraced technology as an effective way to connect with other environmentalists around the country. Outside of Sierra Club, David runs the blog Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo, where he posts information about environmental events happening around Western New York and articles about environmental issues. His blog formerly focused on the harmful effects of hydraulic fracturing, but is now devoted to climate change action. David also volunteers his time by giving talks to interested groups and organizations about fracking and climate change.

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Accessory Navicular Surgery

Life has shifted for me once again, and this time I find myself living and sleeping in the “my-parents’-dining-room-turned-my-bedroom” while I recover from my first of four foot surgeries (two on each foot). I’ll get the cheesy puns out of the way now: I have a long road ahead of me, which I must travel one step at a time.

I think it’s worth explaining what type of surgery I had (removal of my accessory navicular with the Kidner procedure), because it’s possible that someone else is staring down this type of procedure and would like to hear from someone else who has gone through it.

So I’m 32, I’ve been rolling my ankles every couple of months since I was about 16, I’ve always hated to run, and I’ve always had a strong preference for supportive, non-heeled shoes. I would tell myself that I roll my ankles because I have bad balance and am clumsier than most other people. I would tell myself that I hate to run because I’m not a well-rounded athlete (swimming is my sport!). And I would tell myself that I prefer ugly, orthopedic shoes because I’m kind to my body and not willing to suffer physically to look a certain way.

But there was another factor at play that I was completely unaware of this entire time – I have (had) an extra bone in my foot! This extra bone, called an accessory navicular, was going about its unstable business completely under my radar, until I sprained my foot at that exact location last July and it never healed. I iced it, rested it, ignored it, went through six weeks of physical therapy, and ignored it some more, but the pain never went away, and so I decided to go see a foot specialist and take additional steps to stablize my feet.

The first surgery happened four days ago, and all is going well so far. I’m in a super heavy bandage/splint for the first week, and then I get a cast for the three weeks after that. I took prescription pain meds the first couple of days (which are a blur), but now I’m just taking Motrin.

The most painful and unexpected thing that happened to me is that my throat got really irritated and sore from the tube that they put down my throat during the procedure. I could not eat anything remotely spicy or acidic for the first two days (including bananas and yogurt), and it took a full four days for my throat to really get back to normal.

I’ve never gone through a “real” surgery before (wisdom teeth only) and it feels strange and scary to be so vulnerable and wounded (I can’t run away, my go-to defense!). I’m so grateful for my family and friends, who are keeping me company and taking care of me. If I did not have them in my life, I would have to pay someone to help me because there is no way I could do this by myself.

Staring down the barrel of these surgeries is really hard, but I can’t help appreciating the timing of it all. I have a job where I work remotely, I want to put more time into this website and my podcast, I am not in school, and my parents are available to help me. I catch myself saying “why didn’t you investigate your unstable ankles when you were in high school/college/law school/two years ago?” But the truth is, it would not have been a good time. I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

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Paris Shame and Motivation

Yesterday the President of the United States announced his decision to withdraw from the international Paris Climate Agreement. I knew it was coming and really, all of his actions on climate and the environment indicate that he has been withdrawing from the Agreement since he took office in January.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I was deeply upset and ashamed of my country when the news officially broke yesterday at 3:00pm. The United States is supposed to be a world leader of innovation and responding to the difficulties of the times, but instead, our government has been hijacked by the fossil fuel industry and pure greed. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is devastating for human rights and international diplomacy.

President Macron of France has made a tempting offer for Americans who care about climate action to come to France and work with them to “make the planet great again.” I would love to do that in theory, but I still want to try to help in the U.S., which remains the largest emitter of carbon pollution in the world. I’m also encouraged that state governments are stepping up to the plate and deciding to remain in the Paris Agreement within their borders. I’m grateful that New York, my home state, is one of them.

Although I did do some grieving yesterday and spent a fair amount of time angry and ashamed, this is ultimately one more action from the current U.S. Administration (and the greedy fossil fuel industry) that motivates me to work even harder on my passion for “keeping things alive.”

I’ll leave this post with my favorite song, “Disparate Youth” by Santigold, which keeps me going when the world seems too difficult:

 

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Radio Interview on Environmental Law

Yesterday I spoke with my second podcast guest, Jim Anderson, on his radio show, Conversations with Jim Anderson.  I brought my recording equipment to the studio and recorded the conversation to include as a special podcast episode, which can be found here on my Soundcloud page.  This is Part 1 of a two-part workshop on environmental law. This Part 1 is a conversation on how environmental law works and why it has not been doing a very good job protecting the environment and public health.  Part 2 happens next week, and it will be a conversation about exciting initiatives like Our Children’s Trust, which are reforming environmental law to do a better job at protecting the Earth and the lives of future generations.