Book

Silent Seasons Inspiration Story

Here is my original inspiration story for Silent Seasons. It really hits at my “why” for all of the work I do, including creating this book.

Warning: this is a sad dog story.

I started writing Silent Seasons with the Book Creator program and New Degree Press last November. The first piece of writing that my development editor, Cassandra, read and reviewed for me is my book’s “inspiration story,” which didn’t make it into the book. Although I was going to include it in the Introduction, Cassandra and I agreed to leave it out because it was so sad and in the end, more disconnected from the rest of the book than I originally expected. I am saving my animal stories for the next book 🙂


One afternoon in November 2020, I said goodbye to my parents’ dog, Archer, on the kitchen floor of my parents’ house, located on a dead end road in a small town south of Buffalo, New York. Archer was a 100-pound Rottweiler in a lot of pain from the ravages of bone cancer at age 9. On this particular day, the last one he spent on this Earth, Archer was laying on my parents’ kitchen floor of dark green tiles while I lay next to him. He welcomed the warm touch of my hands, but was too weak and in too much pain to move much or get up. A large tumor had been growing on the back of his neck, at the base of his skull, for months now, and he struggled with doing much of anything anymore.

I petted him, and softly said, “It’s ok, Archer. You’re an amazing dog and don’t deserve to feel this type of pain. I will tell the world who you are, what has happened to you, who did this to you, and that so many more of our family dogs have died this way before you.”

Archer, being a dog, didn’t answer me back in words, but he always had a soulful, human way about him (especially in his eyes) and he looked at me in a knowing, resolute way. He remained calm and peaceful while I was talking, and I could feel his pain and fatigue while I petted him this one last time.

While we lay there quietly on the floor, rainbows flashed across his black fur as the sun shone light through a kitchen window at just the right angle. I noticed that it matched the new pair of black Vans with rainbow stripes down the side I was wearing.

I still wear this pair of shoes and remember my last day with Archer, and the importance of writing this book.

I’ve stayed silent about how the past six dogs in my family have died young of cancer because revisiting this truth is SO PAINFUL, but it is a big reason why I devote my life and work to environmental law, sustainability, and what to do about climate change. My family’s dogs have always been like “extended siblings” to me. Too many people and animals I love have died of cancer, and as an environmental lawyer and planner with 15 years of education and experience, I know it’s (largely) because we are all living in an environment that is steeped in low-grade (to high-grade) poisons.

I have stayed silent about what I see and what I know in my personal and professional life for too many seasons – literally years of seasons. I am writing this book to break the silence.


Silent Seasons is available as an e-book now, and a paperback within the next couple of days! Check out the “Book” page on this website for more information.

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New Podcast Episodes!

Welcome to Season 7 of the Keeping Things Alive Podcast! Listen to episodes wherever you listen to podcasts (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PocketCast, etc.). It is also streaming on SoundCloud.

This season, Homes Guarantee Organizer, Political Educator, and Afro-futurist John Washington is co-creating many of the podcast episodes with me. John has been on the podcast many times in the past, including the annual ballot reviews like this episode, which we have been publishing during election season since 2018. John has a deep knowledge and understanding of Buffalo, economics, history, systemic racism, housing, environmental justice, comics, music, and more.

Here is a link to the Welcome Episode. Learn about our intentions for the season and more information about my book, Silent Seasons: Chasing Sustainability through the Law, which is now available as an ebook on Amazon and Kobo! This season will be a little different because instead of conducting new interviews, we will be re-releasing many episodes from past seasons and tying them to current issues and events.

I posted the first “regular” episode of Season 7 this week, too! Here is a link to Episode 87, which is my September 2021 interview with Margaret Wooster, a watershed planner and author of Meander: Making Room for Rivers. Margaret’s work aligns with the sustainability lessons of Silent Seasons, especially the lesson that “working with the Earth fosters sustainability, while working against her makes things more difficult and unsustainable.”

 

It feels good to have another season of the Keeping Things Podcast open again! I’m glad that you’re here.

 

 

Book

Silent Seasons the E-Book is Here!

Silent Seasons

Chasing Sustainability through the Law

by: Laura Evans

e-book available for purchase on Amazon HERE for 99¢ until September 28th (then $4.99)!

e-book also available for purchase on Kobo HERE for $4.99!

Paperback arrives the first week of October 2022.

Publisher: New Degree Press

 

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Silent Seasons: Chasing Sustainability through the Law is a thought leadership book about sustainability and US environmental law based on what author Laura Evans has experienced and learned as an environmental lawyer, consultant, and nonprofit staffer living in both Western New York and Austin, Texas.

Silent Seasons combines personal stories and legal information to teach the reader:

  • How specific environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act work.
  • How the current U.S. environmental law system is organized and failing us all.
  • How you can benefit from personal sustainability lessons I learned along the way.
  • How to create a broader framework for addressing current problems like climate change, water pollution, air pollution, species extinction, and more.
  • How to make chicken noodle soup.

The stories and lessons in this book will give the reader broader perspectives and new ways of thinking about sustainability, which will empower us all to move toward a more healthy and sustainable future together.

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Episode 85: Laura Wrote a Book!

After a long pause, the Keeping Things Alive Podcast just published a new episode to share the exciting news that I wrote a book! In this episode, you will learn more about the book, why I decided to write it now, and what is in each chapter.

Silent Seasons: Chasing Sustainability Through the Law will be published by New Degree Press this fall. The purpose of Silent Seasons is to offer accessible information about environmental law and new perspectives on sustainability for everyone, based on Laura’s life.

There are still 6 days left to pre-order your signed copy, get a ticket to launch party, and support the publication of this exciting project!

Click here to pre-order your signed copy now until April 30th!

 

Interview

Episode 83: 2021 Election

Hi, it’s the week of October 25, 2021 and everything is wild! The elections that are happening locally for the City of Buffalo, Erie County, Western New York, and therefore New York State are shaping up to be intense. It’s exhausting and exciting at the same time. And here is a new podcast episode, Episode 83, about it all!

I am proud to say that the Keeping Things Alive Podcast has turned into one of the longest things/projects that I have ever stuck with in my life (that and avoiding sugar since 2014 — omg sugar impacts my brain and body so much!). It’s gotten to the point where I have an annual voting episode, and here it is again! Time flies.

Just in time for the start of early voting which started this past Saturday October 23rd and runs until this Sunday October 31st, this episode is another “ballot review” episode that I put together with John Washington for this year’s election in Buffalo, NY. This is the third year in a row that we have done a review of what government positions will be on the Buffalo, NY ballot. John is a community organizer and political educator out of Buffalo, NY. He’s been on the podcast many times before and I promise that I will re-publish those episodes in the coming months – I am in the process of a re-boot for this website and the podcast, too (stay tuned for new things happening to this site and podcast in 2022!).

The purpose of this ballot review episode is help listeners become aware of what government positions are on the ballot (in the City of Buffalo, which also includes some Erie County seats and voter propositions that apply beyond City of Buffalo residents), and how they may affect an average person’s life. We change it up this year and discuss particular candidates and how we feel about them.

I know that many people fear change, but considering the devastating physical changes that are happening to our planet and all people living on it (mostly due to thoughtless industrialization and greed), the type of change and leadership that India Walton brings to the table is needed in the City of Buffalo and everywhere, like yesterday. I also support Kimberly Beaty to be the Erie County Sheriff. This podcast has covered the human rights violations that continue to take place within the Erie County Holding Center and jail system for years – again, time for actual, accountable leadership and change.

Here is a link to Episode 83, John Washington’s 2021 Ballot Review, streaming on SoundCloud (you can also get it on your favorite podcast player app, Spotify, Google Play, and more). Enjoy!

Here is the website of the Erie County Board of Elections.

Here is the website of the New York Working Family’s Party.

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Season 6 is here!

Hi all,

Apologies for the silence, but Season 6 started in May! Here are links to the episodes that have been published so far:

  • 77: Season 6 Welcome: intentions for the season, and a conversation about the current moment with Jim Anderson
  • 78: May 2021 Info Collage: learn about NY’s new cannabis law, the herb self-heal, the Fool tarot card, and the police in Erie County.
  • 79: EmZee: art, mental health, and Eden, NY
  • 80: June 2021 Info Collage: learn more about the herb plantain, the Erie County sheriff election, cannabis in NY, and the Page of Wands tarot card

As you can see, this season is set up a little bit different. The plan is to run it from May until November, and publish two episodes each month. One monthly episode will be the “standard” long-form interview, while the other will be an “info collage” that is covering four different topics: the legalization of cannabis in New York State, learning about the healing properties of an herb, discussing a tarot card, and hearing stories of peoples’ experiences with the police in Erie County.

Thanks for being here, and I’m looking forward to sharing more information, stories, and conversations about what is happening in and around Western New York as we all do our best to “keep things alive” and move forward on this beautiful and brutal Planet Earth.

Love,

Laura

 

P.S. One more thing: this season, we have EmZee creating the cover art for each episode! Check out @onyxarcplanet on Instagram for more amazing images and videos by EmZee <3

 

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New Year and President Check-In

In case you haven’t heard, it’s 2021 (what?!), there is a raging global pandemic, white supremacists invaded the U.S. Capitol, Redditors have disrupted Wall Street by buying GameStop stock, America has a new President, and the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. I haven’t posted much besides podcast shownotes in a while because I’ve been suffering from a complex case of writer’s block for months (maybe years?).

I am grateful that Trump is out of the White House limelight. He is a narcissistic tyrant who has used masterful hypnotic techniques to manipulate his economically anxious, white supremacist base for years. He also grew significant support from his economically savvy, white supremacist supporters who never went to his rallies, but live in towns, cities, churches, offices, and board rooms across America.

Pop quiz: can you name the common ground that connects all Trump supporters, no matter how different they appear on their face? My answer is white supremacy, the ethos that white people (and what they do, say, and create) are inherently better than people of all other races, which leads to all kinds of dehumanization and harmful systems of oppression. White supremacy is deeply embedded in America’s history, systems, sports, Netflix options, education, hospitals, job searches, public transportation, food systems, the locations of industrial plants — everything. If you are white like I am (and especially if you are white living in a mostly white suburb or rural area), you don’t see white supremacy as much, but it’s always present. There is so much dismantling to do, and it starts with honest acknowledgement of the problem.

While in office, the Trump Administration, bolstered by an overall belief in white supremacy, unapologetically kept children in cages separated from their parents, gutted environmental protection laws, made it easier to drill for fossil fuels, intentionally sowed lies that made the Covid-19 pandemic worse, incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and caused chaos for millions (billions) of people. I am grateful that he did not have another four years to commit more regulatory, physical, and cultural violence, and I visualize what true accountability for his actions will look like every single day.

This podcast episode by Brené Brown about words, actions, dehumanization, and accountability has really helped me sort through my feelings about the January 6th riot at the Capitol, white supremacy, and how to be in this moment.

There is much healing to do, and one piece of that healing is honestly addressing climate injustice, and that starts with re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, which already happened on Biden’s first day in office. This is critical because in December 2015, nearly every nation on Earth met in Paris and agreed to meaningfully address climate change under the premise that the United States, one of the top three greenhouse gas polluters in the world, was committed to the Agreement, too. That premise was destroyed when Trump backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement in January 2017, his first full week of office.

Fast forward four years to January 20, 2021 — on the same day that Biden took his Oath of Office, he signed an Executive Order stating that the U.S. has re-joined the Paris Climate Agreement. Phew. Here is the Executive Order in its entirety:

ACCEPTANCE ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.

Done at Washington this 20th day of January, 2021.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

This one-sentence Executive Order will have an untold impact on our collective future because the Paris Climate Agreement is the basis for International cooperation around climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Nearly four years have passed since the U.S. participated in official Paris Climate Agreement implementation work — there are many relationships to repair and details to work through. John Kerry is Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change with a focus on international climate work and the Paris Agreement, while Gina McCarthy is tapped to be the White House National Climate Adviser and focus on climate action within U.S. borders.

I am optimistic that there will be multiple people addressing climate change at the national and international levels — it is this type of multi-layered strategy that we desperately need if we have any hope of addressing the wicked problem of climate change. Business as usual (i.e. operating under systems of white supremacy and capitalism) will continue to kill us, and I am ready to witness and participate in the massive shifts we need to keep things alive now, and for generations to come.

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Sunday Check-in

It’s Sunday morning and the crisp fall weather is creeping into my apartment through my open window. This is the time of year in Buffalo, NY where I keep the windows open as long as I can stand it, because I know that winter is coming and I will be spending way too much time closed into buildings for the next 6+ months.

It’s incredible to think about the fact that I have been back living in Western New York for 4 years now. I just returned from a 10-day trip to Austin, Texas, which was my home for my first 8 years after college. A friend once told me that the longer you live in a place, the more it becomes a part of you. I feel that with both Austin and Buffalo, which is both wonderful and difficult.

So much has been happening on the climate, environmental, and eco justice fronts, especially with Greta Thunberg and the youth-led climate strikes that have been swelling up all over the world. It feels like a larger group of people are finally waking up and saying enough is enough. It’s beautiful to see and I try my best to be a part of this movement where I can.

I used to wonder “how horrible do things have to get before people start saying enough is enough?” It appears that the combination of the melting of the Arctic, death of coral reefs, mass extinction of animals, an overwhelming public health and refugee crisis, apocalyptic hurricanes, ravaging drought, blazing wildfires, and other forms of doom are finally getting peoples’ time and attention.

I am so grateful to young people for stepping up and speaking out years before I ever had the understanding or courage to do so myself. As for the adults that are joining in for the first time, I am grateful but also confused about what took them so long. And then there are still so many people (of all ages) who continue their lives as though it is business as usual. This type of denial is delusional — the facts are in our faces.

I want to welcome everyone to this eco justice fight because we literally need everyone to change their individual lives and the systems that influence them, but it’s been hard to know what to say or how to coordinate. While all of this climate strike energy has been growing, I’ve been struggling with the grief that comes with the realization that the Earth is dying, and because we are all connected to it and each other, we are, too.

To feed my grief side, this is what I’m reading and relating to:

To feed my solutions side, this is where I go for inspiration on how to live:

Happy Sunday 🙂

 

 

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Climate Justice Activism on the World Stage

Greta Thunberg, spoke to the leaders of 190 countries attending the United Nations COP24 conference on climate change in Poland last week. Here is the text of her speech:

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old.

I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do.

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.

CNN reported that Thurnberg “all but shamed the 190 countries represented at the United Nations COP24 conference in Poland last week.

Here is a link to the video of her speech from Democracy Now!.