Episode 35: Season 2 Wrap

It’s hard to believe that Season 2 has come to a close! Four months, 17 interview episodes, and 3 non-interview episodes later, it is time to take a break for reflection and setting intentions for Season 3.

Check out Episode 35, the Season 2 Wrap, for a summary of each Season 2 episode, intentions for Season 3, and a list of three books that are helpful guides along the “keeping things alive” path in current times.

Here is the list of episodes in Season 2, with links to them streaming on Soundcloud:

And here are links to the three books that Laura recommends at the end of Episode 35:


Episode 029: Jody Chan – Organizing for the Leap

Episode 29 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Laura’s conversation with Jody Chan, the Organizing Coordinator for The Leap, a Canadian organization that works to implement The Leap Manifesto. Jody and Laura talk about organizing, current Leap projects, self care in the activism space, and much more.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Jody:


Episode 027: Bruno Ávila

Episode 27 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Laura’s conversation with Bruno Ávila. Bruno is the President of the Institute for Collaborative Urbanism (COURB), an NGO based in Brazil. After graduate studies at the University at Buffalo, he co-founded COURB with other Brazilians who wanted to make a difference and promote a more collaborative way to build our cities.  At the moment, he is also the Coordinator of Urban Regulations in the Brasília City Government.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Bruno:


Episode 025: Fossil Free UB

Episode 25 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features an interview with three undergraduate activists (Alexa Ringer, Meghan Griffin, and Aidan Powell) who are a part of Fossil Free UB, a campaign demanding that the University at Buffalo Foundation divest from the fossil fuel industry and re-invest in clean energy and socially responsible alternatives. This episode provides an update on the campaign that Vanessa Dwyer introduced to the Keeping Things Alive Podcast in Episode 9.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Alexa, Meghan, and Aidan of Fossil Free UB:

One week after the interview, the issue that Fossil Free UB is working on (the UB Foundation’s current investment in fracking) was featured in a front-page Buffalo News Article.


Episode 024: JD Hartman on Socially Responsible Investing

Episode 24 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features JD Hartman, the Managing Partner and Investment Advisor with the Buffalo-based Signity Financial. He is an expert on Socially Responsible Investing. For years he has been helping people achieve financial security by investing their money in alignment with their values. In other words, people doing well by doing good!

During the conversation, JD talks about aligning where you invest your capital with your values. Here are examples of capital that many individuals have:

  • IRAs
  • 401(k)s
  • 403(b)s
  • Inherited stock (ex. in National Fuel, M&T Bank, etc.)
  • Brokerage accounts (ex. Schwab, Ameritrade, etc.)

And here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with JD for the Keeping Things Alive Podcast:


Episode 023: Sarah Baird Shownotes

Episode 23 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast features Sarah Baird, the President and Founder of Let There Be Light International, a U.S. nonprofit organization addressing energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. LTBLI donates individual solar lights to families living in extreme poverty (as defined by the World Bank and the United Nations) and prioritizes distribution to handicapped and orphaned children, the elderly, and widows living with HIV/AIDS. LTBLI also raises funds for the installation of complete solar lighting systems at unelectrified, off-grid health facilities in Uganda.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information on what is discussed during Laura’s conversation with Sarah for the the Keeping Things Alive Podcast:



Hurricane Death and Rebirth

Much like a baseball player taking a steady regimen of steroids and then hitting more home-runs, the Earth’s atmosphere has received an increasing amount of energy since we started burning fossil fuels, and the increased power and irregular behavior of the recent hurricanes is one of the results.

After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and now Nate, the places where the storms made landfall are forever changed. There has been so much death, destruction, and suffering in such a short period of time. No one can hold the consequences of these storms in their mind without becoming overwhelmed by the complexity and devastation.

I grieve for the people who have lost their lives or loved ones as a result of the hurricanes. I grieve for the people who lost their homes. I grieve for the pets who were left behind, injured, killed, or lost in the chaos. I grieve for the dead and displaced wildlife. I grieve for the countless people who are going to suffer a lifetime of health problems because of the pollution that infected the air and water as chemical plants, oil refineries, sewage systems, and other infrastructure broke apart. I grieve for the people who will contract diseases like malaria and dengue fever, spread by the mosquitoes that will multiply in the stagnant warm water for months.

There is so much death to grieve, but the story is not over. Rebirth is coming, and in many ways is already here. We are at a critical moment for Houston, Puerto Rico, and the other places that have been forever changed by theses hurricanes – how are we going to move forward?

Continue reading “Hurricane Death and Rebirth”


Episode 005: Rebecca Strong 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 fifth interview is with Rebecca Sophia Strong, a contemplative psychotherapist, social artist, yoga teacher, and was the consultant for the Sierra Club Niagara Chapter’s 2015 Rise Up for Climate Justice campaign. In this interview, we talk about her life path, why the Story of the Universe is so powerful, and the many thought-leaders who have influenced her way of being in this world.

Here are the shownotes, with links to more information about what we talk about during my interview with Rebecca Sophia Strong:


Two Environmental Books I Love

I read a lot. Sometimes I need to remind myself to stop reading and start writing.

Tonight I compromised: here are my thoughts on two environmental books that have shaped the way I think about and approach the environment and climate problems that humanity faces today.

“Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall

This book is an “easier” read (less dense than the other), but it still asks a lot of its reader, mainly to take responsibility and change your behavior based on what you learn from it. Marshall does a great job laying out a Western psychology-based case for why it is so difficult to generate collective action to improve climate change problems.

He quotes veteran ABC journalist Bill Blackmore saying that

“climate change isn’t the elephant in the room; it’s the elephant we’re all inside of.”

After Marshall explains why climate change is so difficult to accept and take action on, he gives his best suggestions for moving forward. The thing that stuck out the most to me is that the “enemy narratives”, even against fossil fuel companies, will not be enough for collective action because

“Climate change is different. The missing truth, deliberately avoided in these enemy narratives, is that in high-carbon societies, everyone contributes to the emissions that cause the problem and everyone has a strong reason to ignore the problem or to write their own alibi.”

He also says that

“I have been convinced that the real battle for mass action will not be won through enemy narratives and that we need to find narratives based on cooperation, mutual interests, and our common humanity.”

“Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age” by Mary C. Wood

This amazing book begins with the following premise, which is difficult to swallow but critical to accept:

“Despite entrenched presumptions that environmental law remains effective, the proof lies in the health of the ecosystems themselves. Society now violates Nature’s laws not only at the level of species and individual ecosystems but also at the level of atmospheric function, ocean health, and biodiversity – a truly global level.”

Wood has meticulously researched and explained the history of how environmental law has gone astray and become the subject of corruption since the 1970’s.

Then Wood explains that there is a better legal framework based on the Public Trust Doctrine, an ancient legal principle that is part of the U.S. Constitution (as well as the founding documents and laws of many states and countries). An incredibly generalized version of the legal framework goes like this: the natural world and its natural resources form Nature’s Trust, on which the health of society (local, natural, global) depends, and the government is responsible for managing Nature’s Trust with a level of care that restores it and then keeps in healthy for current citizens and future generations of citizens.

The Nature’s Trust principle can be the basis of lawsuits against governments who are not taking proper care of Nature’s Trust, forming new laws that protect the environment and society, and a populist principle that can rally citizens together to create a better world.


The White Walkers are Climate Change Part 2

About two months ago, on the weekend of the Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere, I published an article laying out my theory that Game of Thrones is an allegory for the Climate Change problem that our world must face now, and that each of the characters (or group of characters) have real-life representatives in the Climate Change realm (a.k.a. our material reality).

I want to write about this because it’s fun for me to think about, and I’m amazed at how well Game of Thrones tracks our Climate Change situation. I don’t have to try very hard to make these comparisons, and doing it helps me smile at a dire situation.

Here is a list of the comparisons that I made in the first article:

Now that Season 7 is over, here are a few comments about how well my theory held up over the most recent seven episodes of Game of Thrones.

  1. The White Walkers are tracking as Climate Change. They are increasing their size and power, just as the increased amount of energy in the atmosphere is fueling more extreme weather events and destruction around the globe. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are the tip of the iceberg and only effect a small percentage of the world’s population. Other storms hit other places just as hard if not harder.
  2. House Stark is doing better than the Democratic Party.
  3. House Lannister is a bit weaker/smaller than Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else, but otherwise the analogy still applies. I’d like to change the name, though, and call it Organizations that Value Profits and/or Power Over Everything Else.
  4. Women are still matching Sansa Stark quite well, while the Youth are playing out as Arya. Everyone is maturing, and learning to set their own plots and execute their own strategies without being so transparent about it beforehand.
  5. I wish that Technologists were as humble and yielding as Melisandre in Season 7, but nope. There are a lot of Technologists who believe that human ingenuity will save humanity and allow developed countries to continue their over-consumptive lifestyles, but at what cost to life?
  6. Jon Snow is still an Environmental Justice Activist! Jon Snow keeps on building bridges, connecting dots, and inspiring different groups of people to fight alongside one another against the common enemy. I see this happening in the real-life work of Environmental Justice Activists around the world.
  7. Drumroll for the craziest part . . . Daenerys and Beyoncé are tracking one another in unexpected and amazing ways. In Season 7, Daenerys finally sees the White Walkers and loses one of her Dragon children to the Army of the Dead, so she forms an alliance with Jon Snow and commits to defeating the White Walkers before pursuing the Iron Throne. Over the past couple of months, Beyoncé had twins and made a few social media appearances to keep her fans happy, but then Hurricane Harvey, fueled by Climate Change, wreaked havoc on her home city of Houston, Texas. And Beyoncé took action immediately – she even talked about how Climate Change is a social justice issue in a new video. I’m blown away by her response to this disaster (and her ability to connect the dots in her video), and I hope that all of her fans take her message as seriously as I do, because there is real power in numbers committed to facing the problem of Climate Change right now.