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).

Continue reading “The White Walkers are Climate Change”

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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.

Continue reading “Meet Climate Activist David Kowalski”

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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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Podcast Episode About Fossil Fuel Divestment

Today I posted a new Keeping Things Alive podcast episode with University at Buffalo graduating senior, Vanessa Dwyer. Vanessa started the Fossil Free UB campaign in fall 2015 and is currently transitioning it to the hands of other students that are not graduating. The campaign has gained momentum, but a project this large requires coordination, time to plan, and time to execute beyond any one college student’s four years on campus. I am excited to see where the campaign goes in the future.

Fossil Free UB parallels the “Go Fossil Free” divestment campaign, which is a global movement and explained very well by 350.org here.

Along similar climate action lines, I just started getting into a new book, Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. This book came out in mid-April, it is only $13 despite being high quality, and it explains the top 100 ways to “drawdown carbon” from the atmosphere. The brilliance of this book is that it ranks solutions by how big of a carbon-reducing effect each one has compared to the other, but other than the rank, all 100 solutions are treated with equal importance, which they are.

The reality of climate change and climate justice is that all solutions need to be executed at once, as soon as possible, by as many people as possible. This is not bad news. Rather, our intense reality and need to take bold action can be taken as good news — taking meaningful, effective climate change action on a big, urgent scale means that a lot more people get to participate and have jobs addressing this problem than ever before, which improves society at a rapid pace.

I am not ready to throw my hands in the air and say “the Earth will be just fine without us” quite yet. I want to try. Really going after the concepts in Drawdown, which includes divestment from fossil fuels, is the only humane option that I see.

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New Podcast Interviews About Healthcare

Today I posted two new interviews for the Keeping Things Alive podcast, and both of them have to do with healthcare options outside of the U.S. healthcare system.  I am fortunate to have health insurance through my job, but I also use acupuncture and herbal medicine to maintain my health and bolster my wellbeing.  When healthcare is expensive and unreliable, I find it empowering to have affordable and effective options to turn to in my community.


My first new episode is with Craig Labadie, acupuncturist and co-owner of Buffalo Alternative Therapies. I have been going to a community acupuncture clinic since around 2013, and regular treatments have helped me eliminate my mold allergy symptoms. I’ve also found acupuncture to be the best stress relief tool that I have ever found.

During the interview, I mention that I attempted to paint what I see during acupuncture treatments. Here is the painting I am referring to in case you are curious:

acupunture hummingbird


My second new episode is with Sarah Sorci, community herbalist and owner of Sweet Flag Herbs.  Sarah is a good friend of mine and I have learned so much from her about how to use edible and medicinal plants that grow in Western New York to support my health and wellbeing.

At around the 47:00 mark of the episode, we discuss various edible and medicinal plants that Sarah found that day in my backyard in Buffalo, New York.  Here are pictures of the plants that she is talking about:

Self-heal or Heal-all.  Here is the baby self-heal plant that Sarah found, without its flowers yet:

 

Plantain

 

Ground ivy

 

Violet

 

Yarrow

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April Reflections

I didn’t write any new posts this month, although I did update my “Keeping Things Alive Podcast” post a number of times because I finally shared the first six episodes that I have been dreaming up and putting together for a long time now.  It’s amazing to me that I thought of the phrase “keeping things alive” and knew it was the website for me all the way back in Fall 2013.  So much has happened in my life since then, and yet “keeping things alive” continues to be the best way to describe my greatest passion and what I want to do with my life’s work.

Being able to share the Keeping Things Alive Podcast with the world (that has an Internet connection) is exciting and scary.  I’m proud of the interviews and hope that they inspire others to take personal responsibility for making their corner of the world a better place.  Although the interviews showcase incredibly different backgrounds and perspectives, everyone wants to move in the same direction — towards a healthier and better future for all.  I want people to keep listening to the podcast, but even if they don’t, the entire project has been worth it because I learned how to create a podcast, how to be a better interviewer, how to correct a few odd speech habits, and most important, I deepened relationships with people who are doing work that I care about.

I’ve been in a boot and on crutches this entire month because I found out I have an extra bone in my foot (an “accessory navicular” — sounds so fashionable), which has prevented an old ankle sprain from healing.  Being immobile has been incredibly challenging because I walk for exercise and sanity, I live alone with my dog in a second floor apartment, and I’ve discovered that it’s really difficult for me to ask for help.  This month of immobility has been a lesson in asking for help.  I’m grateful that I read Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking, a few months ago because it helped me value the connection that comes from asking and receiving help from others.  I’m still struggling with asking my neighbor to walk my dog, my friend to buy me groceries, and my mom to do my laundry, but it’s getting easier and my relationships are stronger and better for it.

April is my favorite month because it’s Earth Day, my birthday, and the start of real spring weather (Buffalonians coming out of hibernation is real!).  April 2017 was particularly full of “environmental energy” because of the Trump Administration’s dangerous disregard for our global reality and the resulting protest marches.  The March for Science happened on Earth Day, while the Peoples’ Climate March happened yesterday.  I had been planning on going to the Climate March for months, but my ankle kept me from making the bus trip to DC.  Missing this march was definitely disappointing, but probably for the best.  After all, I completed so much more website and podcast work than I would have otherwise.

I have a suspicion that my ankle injury is a blessing in disguise.

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Worlds Collide

When I read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary, converse with someone, or learn in some other way, I internalize the information that resonates with me and leave the rest.  This lifelong-learning method keeps me coming back to two modern-day writers/creators that continue to expand my mind in their own special ways: Mr. Money Mustache (Pete Adeney) and Tim Ferriss.

Neither of them are perfect and I roll my eyes when they take their philosophies to extremes that don’t work for me, but each has a unique and important perspective on how to live an intentional, good life that provides freedom to create and (hopefully) help others.  I owe my current lifestyle (working remotely and using my spare time to recharge and pursue what I care about) to many of their ideas and creations.

Mr. Money Mustache, through his incredible 400+ article blog, has drastically reduced my financial stress by motivating me to spend less and save more. Because of his work, I ride my bike, cook nearly all my meals, and invest in activities that actually make me happy (spending time with people who inspire me, cooking, walking, reading, and writing).  It’s amazing how all of the activities that bring me the most joy are not that expensive. Here is a recorded talk that distills his philosophy into a little less than 30 minutes.

Tim Ferriss, through his books (on working, health, cooking/learning, and life design tools) and podcast, has inspired me to get my work and required life tasks done efficiently, question the status quo, and use my life in the best way possible (whatever that means to me). He has interviewed some amazing human beings on his podcast, and I love the way he asks interview questions and dissects the small details of their approaches to living a good, meaningful life.

So imagine my surprise and (admittedly) fan-girl-freak-out when I found out that Tim Ferriss interviewed Mr. Money Mustache for his podcast! It’s excellent and worth listening to. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • You can skate around the city of Ottawa in winter.
  • Optimization of anything, including finances, is fun and beautiful.
  • Never spend more than $10,000 on a car, and then don’t drive it as much as possible so it lasts longer.
  • Walking is a powerful action and way to get somewhere.
  • The U.S. is “the furnace of the world” because you can start something without anyone noticing until it’s big. MMM loves the grid of U.S. cities and islands – there is so much range and variety of geography.
  • MMM is a true environmentalist, in the best sense of the word. He rules out his spending based on knowing the consumption/science/ecology consequences.
  • Everyone should build a house or shelter in their lifetime.
  • Optimize for happiness, not money.
  • Success is a balanced thing – it depends on how kind you are to the people closest to you.
  • MMM is very passionate about energy issues (as every environmentalist should be in current times), and believes we are at a tipping point where fossil fuels are becoming infeasible. I completely agree.
  • Do the things you want to be good at as often as you can (MMM repeats “use it or lose it” to himself multiple times per day).
  • “Just walk. You’ve paid a high evolutionary price for this ability and let’s not squander it.”