Books, Featured, Post

Silent Seasons the Audiobook is Here!

I am so happy and excited to share that Silent Seasons: Chasing Sustainability through the Law (narrated by me!) is now available as an audiobook on Audible/Amazon and iTunes! It’s taken a lot of time, work, and patience to get to this point. I am so proud of myself and the Silent Seasons Author Community for supporting me through this journey.

It was a fun and somewhat daunting challenge to narrate the book! I’ve had a lot of practice speaking with the podcast and my jobs, but narrating an audiobook was more of a “performance” where I had to include as much emotion as possible. I learned how our voice uses our entire body as an instrument. While recording, I stayed hydrated, did many voice exercises, and warmed up with a special meditation from Rainbow Spirit Healing before each session.

Here is an audiobook review from Ashley Lorinsky, Owner of Horse Chit Chat LLC, Horse Behaviorist, and Environmental Consultant:

Laura’s voice gives depth and heart as she tells her story of navigating the environmental realm through law. As she gently paces her story, she expertly brings to life complicated environmental law issues while breaking them up with personal stories. Her story perfectly shows how many of our sustainability practices and laws have not done what they were intended to do and she uses her voice to express ways in which we can do better and heal the earth and ourselves. Laura is not silent, but a powerful and courageous person to share her personal ups and downs in trying to help heal our earth.  

Have you listened to Silent Seasons the audiobook yet? If you have, I would love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think via the Contact Form, or email me at [email protected].

 

Books, Featured, Post

Spring 2023 Book & Sustainability Events

Spring is here! 🌱 How are you celebrating the emergence of flowers, leaves, and all of the amazing plants and animals that hibernated all winter?

There are plenty of upcoming Silent Seasons sustainability events to participate in! Come say hi to Laura and celebrate her favorite season in Springville, Buffalo, Austin, and Hamburg between now and June ❤️

Post

Post-Blizzard Thoughts and Gratitude 💙

Here is the email I just sent out to the Silent Seasons Author Community (subscribe to receive emails from me 2x per month in the right column!). I thought it was worth sharing with more people, so I made a post for it. Here’s to 2023! xoxo, Laura

 

Dear Silent Seasons Author Community,

I hope this email finds you safe, warm, and connected to a reliable source of electricity. My home city Buffalo, NY has once again made national news this year – we are now recovering from the intense “blizzard hurricane” that paralyzed Western New York beginning Friday morning. I just had to check my calendar to confirm that it is now Tuesday because between the holidays and the storm, time has been alternating between fast and slow.

My family (which includes my partner, his 10-year-old son, Sunny the dog, and Neptune the cat) survived the blizzard without any emergencies. Although we did not get to celebrate the holidays in the way that we planned, I am grateful to be safe. It was interesting to pay attention to my thoughts and emotions throughout the blizzard – they started out sad and frustrated that I wouldn’t have a “normal” holiday, and then quickly moved into fear about not having power/heat while the temperature of the house stayed in the mid-30’s, plus deep concern for others in the storm. The worst part was not knowing when the power would come back on. We had a Christmas miracle and our power/heat arrived the afternoon of the 25th! I felt so happy and relieved – I’m still trying to let go of the layers of tension I accumulated while waiting in the cold.

Although our house did not have power or heat, we did have running (cold) water, a working toilet, and a working gas range stove (the oven operates from an electric control pad, so the range was the only part that we could self-light). We went grocery shopping the night before the storm, so we enjoyed huge pots of hot chili and stew and didn’t worry about going hungry. I had a lantern and flashlight in my camping bag, plus many candles. We all camped out in a blanket fort in our living room to stay warm. I have a new appreciation for the game “20 Questions” being able to pass time in the dark.

Although it was uncomfortable and scary throughout this blizzard, I was much more prepared, privileged, and lucky compared to many other people here in Western New York. There are a lot of conversations happening on social media, the press, and between individuals judging people who looted stores during the blizzard and what is “right” and “wrong” about that (did they steal “essentials”?). My perspective on this comes from the fact that the City of Buffalo is one of the poorest and most segregated cities in the US and there are many people that have been living in extreme poverty their entire lives. This blizzard was a life-or-death event where it was clear that no help would be coming, and I am not going to judge people who were put in such a desperate situation with no safety net (again).

I’ve had a lot of time to think about sustainability, resilience, and what “climate action” really means over the past few days. I really hope that Buffalo, Erie County, and all of Western New York will start providing me and my neighbors with the skills, resources, and support they need to survive storms like this, which will inevitably happen again in one form or another. Saying this blizzard is the “Storm of the Century” is a misnomer that lies to people about our future – strong storms will happen again, and sooner than we think. We all must learn from this and build resiliency.

I also want to say that when it comes to climate change action, I know we all want “simple” replacements where gas-powered machines and appliances switch to being electric-powered, but that puts people in an incredibly vulnerable and dependent position when the power goes out. For example, I know gas-powered stoves are being vilified these days, but during this blizzard, my gas range allowed me to cook hot food, make tea, and when the house got really cold (32 degrees), heat up the kitchen a few degrees by heating up large pots of water. Our climate solutions have to be more nuanced, focused on the needs of the people, and based on the characteristics of the specific bioregion they are being implemented in.

Well, this is the last email you will receive from me in 2022! I hope you’re doing well, safe, warm, rested, and gearing up for the New Year. I have many podcast, book, and website plans for 2023 that I am working to set in motion. Stay tuned!

Lots of love,

Laura

Podcast, Post

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.

 

 

Books, Climate Change, Featured, Post, Sustainability

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!

 

Podcast, Post

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:

  • Season 6 Welcome: intentions for the season, and a conversation about the current moment with Jim Anderson
  • 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.
  • EmZee: art, mental health, and Eden, NY
  • 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

 

Politics, Post

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.

Interview, Podcast, Politics, Post

Episode 76: Season 5 Wrap

Season 5 has come to a close! Episode 76: Season 5 Wrap, starts with Laura going through the season episode-by-episode and reflecting on what happened (recorded on Jan. 6, 2021). After that, at the 27:10 mark, Laura shares a conversation with John Washington (recorded over Zoom on Dec. 30, 2020) where they reflect on 2020 U.S. Election results, Biden’s Cabinet picks so far, & the Covid-19 pandemic.

Note: this episode contains a conversation about the Covid-19 Pandemic and is NOT medical advice. If you want/need medical advice, look elsewhere (maybe start with your doctor and/or www.cdc.gov).

Here are links to the shownotes with more information on what was discussed during Episode 76: Season 5 Wrap:

Books, Climate Change, Politics, Post, Sustainability

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 🙂