Archive for April, 2010

When Disaster Strikes


What Destruction Have We Wrought?

In late March President Obama announced he would expand offshore drilling in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast. After the off shore oil-rig explosion Thursday April 22, 2010 and resulting huge oil spill which is still growing in the Gulf of Mexico, the President’s announcement couldn’t have come at a worse time for proponents of  “Drill, Baby Drill!”. Much as clean coal has been shown to be a fraud by the recent deaths of miners in the US and China, the entire fossil fuel machine is proving to be a major drain on humanity and devastating for Mother Earth.

As oil gushes into the water at a rate of  42,000 gallons per day, the media speaks of a “potential” environmental disaster. (CNN 4-27-10) As if the environment isn’t already being irreparably damaged by the toxins, including diesel fuel, that are concentrating in the water. Once again the “economics and industry first” model places the focus on whether fish and shrimp farms along the Louisiana coast will be impacted. Even if they aren’t, which is highly unlikely, the hundreds of species of plant and animal life is being devastated right now.

Some reporters are quick to point out that this is an anomaly and that the safety standards of the industry have approved dramatically in the last 30 years. Yet, with all of this posturing the new technology has not been able to stop the leak. Methods such as bringing in a drill ship to drill relief wells thus taking pressure off of the gushing well and a dome to capture the oil and suck it into tubes away from the water would take weeks to begin and may not work at all. During this time oil will continue to spill into the Gulf.

This is the same Gulf of Mexico that is home to a Dead Zone of over 7,500 square miles, as a result of chemical runoffs flowing down the Mississippi from heavy industry and agribusiness. The Dead Zone is an area of depleted oxygen levels such that neither plant nor animal life can survive, and now oil is being added to the mix. Wonder why the reporters on CNN and other news outlets aren’t speaking about this?

It’s imperative that we break our addiction to fossil fuels and begin to seriously and earnestly invest in solar, wind and other truly “clean” industries.Maybe we won’t be able to produce enough energy to support our current levels of consumption and maybe that’s not a bad idea.

Simplifying and focusing on what we truly need as individuals, families and communities would do wonders for western society which is quickly driving the world toward a materialist, consumption based culture devoid of spirituality, emotional depth and wisdom. There can be no clearer sign than this spill that we need to wake up and recognize that this planet is a living entity and that we must find a way to be in harmony with her or perish.

As President Jugo Chavez of Venezuela stated in his remarks at the Cochabamba Climate Conference, “the planet will continue to evolve with or without us; we are not here to save the planet, we’re here to save ourselves.” As long as profits are more sacred than life, our future will be one disaster after another until only nature is left to record our demise.


Earth Day Is Every Day!!!


Today is recognized as Earth Day, yet we live on this planet every day. People are celebrating the Earth all over the country and the world. Some are changing light bulbs to more energy efficient compact fluorescents, others are pledging to recycle and be more environmentally aware. Forty years ago, on the first Earth Day, such steps would have been great. But now the planet is in a state of crisis.

Our lack of commitment to the well-being of our home has placed Mother Earth in a state of great peril. Nature works in cycles and we too must begin to think and act in this way. One way of life has to die so another can live.

America and the other Western nations comprise 20% of the world’s population yet contribute 80% of the green house gases and other pollutants that are quickly killing life on the planet. North America itself is the leader in CO2 emissions with 20 tons per capita, then follows, Europe with 10 tons per capita, then China with 4 tons per capita, India with 1.2 tons per capita and Africa with .5 tons per capita. It is obvious that we have a great responsibility for the destruction of the planet and an even greater responsibility to change the way we live and interact with the rest of the planet. The limitless demand for more things at cheaper prices has thrown the entire planetary equilibrium off. Over 100 plant and animal species are being lost each day due to deforestation. Much of the deforestation is to create grazing areas for cattle to supply the growing global demand for beef. Our lifestyles of consumption and waste become the floods, droughts and forest fires in the global south.

Our view of the planet as a resource to be exploited must come to an end. We in the developed world must learn to live simply so that our global family may simply live. We have developed and expanded our economy based on the exploitation of the earth’s resources with no concern for the effects on the environment, indigenous peoples or future generations. We have already passed the turning point according to the world’s leading scientists. The rate at which the Earth is warming is unprecedented. The result of our continuing at the current rate of consumption is the end of life on this planet.

It may not be simple to change our lifestyles, but for the sake of the children, for the sake of all those people whose voices are seldom heard and whose faces are seldom seen, we must.

Here are a few action steps . . .Start where you are, study the issue, communicate with others and let’s work together to make Earthday Everyday!!

  • Buy used cars – there are over 250,000,000 cars in the US, an avg. of 2 per household. If we cut back on new cars and cultivate a culture of ride sharing and repairing instead of replacing-the industries involved in transportation would have to invest in more sustainable production vehicles—High Speed rail and other mass transportation would also become more relevant.
  • Bicycle as must as possible—this will increase health while reducing one’s carbon footprint
  • Plant a garden – food security will be increasingly important as the effects of climate change increase
  • Host a “pot-latch”, a Native America tradition of bringing the community together to give away and trade clothing and other items
  • Get to know your neighbors—when we have vital families and communities the need to consume (go to the mall) as a means of recreation is drastically reduced and our ability to enjoy one another and our environment is increased
  • Take a one week veg-pledge –meat production is the #1 contributor to greenhouse gases and factory farming is completely unsustainable – a vegetarian diet increases health and wellness and helps save the planet
  • Join a climate action organization to stay informed about the reality of global climate change
  • Boycott polluting companies
  • Write government officials at the local, state and national levels and call for climate change policies which address the global inequalities among those nations which pollute and those which suffer the effects of the pollution
  • Spend as much time as possible in nature—The more we and our families are exposed to the environment the more we will do to sustain it

We have an opportunity to take control of our lives and create a planet where we are all in harmony with nature. Let’s embark on this adventure with courage, creativity and love.

Zaccai Free, Cochabamba, Bolivia –World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

People Power


Hands Off Mother Earth

Democracy is a word that is so misused in today’s world. Often it refers to simply electing officials who then disappear into the waiting arms of corporate interests who willingly assuage their greed in return for carte blanche. Even a moderate President like Mr. Obama, has to contend with the avaricious schemes of global industry.

It’s time that we who claim to love democracy actually put it to the test and make it come alive for a world in which corporate interests war against human life in pursuit of the bottom line. (If this sounds radical check how banks are too big too fail yet people are allowed to fail daily, even when they have been proven to be victims of corporate predators.)

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia is a grand experiment in DIRECT Democracy. Seventeen working groups composed of hundreds of participants from all over the world (5 continents), met via internet and then hammered out documents representing the various areas of concern over the last 3 days. These documents will be presented by President Evo Morales at December’s UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

The UN has created a structure where only the governments can be heard, yet it is clear that the governments are willing to compromise the lives of citizens in pursuit of economic, imperialist and other goals. What is war but the decision of nations to sacrifice human lives for an economic and/or idealogical end? Of course the justifications given for war and ignoring global needs in pursuit of national interests are pablum for the false patriot all too willing to accept any excuse to not dig deep, ask questions and think independently.

Lisette Parra, Bolivian Women’s Leader

Here in Bolivia there is much deep thought, conversation and organization happening. I participated in the group focused on “Harmony with Nature.” The group elected co-Presidents Michael Johnson, Board Member of South Bronx Board #1, and Lisette Parra, head of la Confederacion de Mujeres Indiginas Originarias de Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa”. These two highly capable folks steered the discussion. The document was being drafted and amended live. As people spoke on the mic their suggestions were placed into the document. The resulting statements were read several times until today’s 12 Point document was agreed upon by consensus.

Michael Johnson, Member South Bronx Borad #1

Of course everyone was not completely happy yet everyone felt as though they were heard. What if more of our national decisions were made by referendum? What if citizens were truly educated and engaged in the decisions being considered by the government? Such a direct approach is what democracy actually looks like and it would do wonders to revive our decaying system so prone to corruption, manipulation and systemic abuse.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth


Pachamama Prayers

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth opened officially today. Here in Cochabamba, Bolivia the event is known as the cumbre (summit) and this word is the best way to describe the event. Against the backdrop of the Tunari mountains, the college town of Tiquipaya hosts most of the conference events. Today’s opening was held at the university stadium. The capacity crowd heard rousing speeches from social leaders and activists representing 5 continents.

As the sun blessed us with warmth, dozens of indigenous spiritual leaders from various traditions from throughout the America’s opened the event with a prayer ceremony. Their prayers inspired this poem:

Smoke & Fire
the burning bush
the turning page
we will no longer
be your slaves

The beast which eats all it sees
will fall under the dancing feet of we
who be free
embracing all of humanity
turning away from vanity

To the sky our heads raised
our hearts open to love
what weapon is there to be scared of?
Kill the body
the soul flies free
to continue the work of liberty

Viva Che!!
Viva Kenyatta!!
U burned hot
we burn hotter

the smoke
the fire
blaze a path
Eden blooms
from Babylon’s ash

A brother from Friends of the Earth, representing Africa, ended his speech with a poem entitled, “I will not Dance to Your Beat.” I love it when intellectuals embrace the arts. This is where social movements get to go–cause it’s the art which enlivens as the intellectual message enlightens.

Faith Gemmill of Pit River/ Wintu and Neets’aii Gwich’in Athabascan from Arctic Village, Alaska, gave the quote of the day. “The people who can change the earth are here.” Yes, they are here, everywhere there are healers, scientists, so many indigenous nations represented.

The collective wisdom of the folks at this conference is exactly what is needed to open the door to the life we dream of; one in which no one goes hungry, no one is without shelter, no one is without community. Tears welled in my eyes as I gave thanks for being able to be present at such a momentous happening.

President Evo Morales took the stage and bust shots at the capitalist, empirialist monster’s insatiable need to consume. “They make the guns, then when the guns don’t sell, they make the wars to sell the guns.” Blocka–Blocka

One section of his speech highlighted how indigenous culture and tradition holds many of the solutions the modern world needs.He even got down to basics holding up household items to make his point; the traditional clay dish used by the campesinos (farmers) compared to the fine china of the wealthy and the plastic plate of the west (america), showing how capitalism wastes while traditional communities preserve and honor the earth.

He went on to address the negative affects of drinking Coca-Cola. “Coca-Cola is destroying our life.” (Bolivia has a soft drink made from coca . . .more natural alternative.) he went on to question western medicines which heal one symptom and then cause another problem, like asparin which helps the headache but hurts the stomach. He spoke on GMO foods like chickens which don’t get you full like the traditional ones do. Everyone laughed as the President described the various ways people are being conned by the West.

The crowd cheered as President Morales concluded by proclaiming the supremacy of people power, the power of social movements in defense of Mother Earth. Together We will Win!!

10 Year Anniversary of Bolivia Beating Bechtel


Bolivians are celebrating the 10 year anniversaryof defeating multi-national giant Bechtel’sattempt to privatize the country’s water. The fight for water rights brought the entire nation together across class and cultural boundaries to defeat the dragon. But now the solidarity is fractured. The work of managing the water system is a huge challenge that Bolivia is struggling to meet. Defeating the enemy is just the start.

There will be many steps before humanity is able to end our addiction to consumption and live harmoniously with our environment and one another. As Bolivia celebrates one victory they are taking a huge leadership step towards another one by initiating a space for the world’s people to define our roles and responsibilities to this planet. What victories are you celebrating in the move towards sustainable living and what larger goals are you reaching for as we move towards 2020?

Bolivia-The Beginning


I´m a Taurus so of course I love this plane!

It all started with an announcement I heard on Democracy Now. The Bolivian President, Evo Morales, was calling for a People’s Conference on Climate change. Forget all those huge NGO’s and corporate titans pulling the strings of politicians to ensure the agenda of growth. This conference would focus on the Rights of Mother Earth and Indigenous People’s who had throughout history lived in harmony with the planet. Ahh a place where the non-aligned could align, I had to be there. So, I called together Mikuak Rai and Maria Firmino-Castillo, two of my artivist friends and we began to organize Earth Emissaries to be a voice to report back from the conference.

Fast forward one month and many Facebook solicitations later and I left Washington DC on the morning of April 15th, 2010, headed to Cochabamba, Bolivia. (We didn’t raise enough $$ for the 3 of us to travel so I am solo-dolo and will do my best to represent) It is interesting to note that I left on tax day and as a resident of the District of Columbia I was told by the Washington Post that I am taxed the highest in the nation, yet have NO representation in the federal government. Sometimes a plane ticket is the best protest to injustice 🙂


When I landed in Miami I realized I had a long layover, close to 12 hours. So I proceeded to take the tri-rail and metro to pick up a few supplies from Best Buy and then on to Kia’s for dinner. Kia Dickinson is a Vietnamese woman who makes the best food in the America’s. Seriously, she grows all her own herbs and uses her food to heal people. I made my way to her door and proceeded to enjoy a feast. We began with her homemade yogurt, Mr. Yogato has nothing on Lady K, and then moved on to her signature Pineapple Soup, desert was Haagen Daz Ice cream bars. If you’re ever in Miami, give her a call. (send me a message for her number.)

I arrived back at the airport in plenty of time to meet a new friend. Lourdes Vasquez, is a citizen of Bolivia who works in New Jersey, she was going home to visit her husband with ½ of New Jersey in 5 huge bags. I only had 2 carry-ons so I did what a good Samaritan must. Work as a community to beat the system. What a blessing my service turned out to be. Lourdes husband is a taxi driver in Cochabamba!! Free ride to the hotel plus a dinner invite for later in the week=SCORE! After arriving in Cochabamba I checked into the hostel and proceeded to wander the streets. Check my photos—more later. Adios (as I was finishing this Lourdes and her husband dropped by with a huge bottle of water and an invite to go out later . . .life is GRAND!)

Some Can, Some Can´t–Guess Subway has more clout than Starbucks-Santa Cruz, Bolivia airport

So is this why they call it 3rd World?

US Transporation Secretary Respects Biking, Why would Anyone Argue Against That?


It’s the classic battle of industry vs humanity. Can’t we just live in harmony? It’s obvious that industrial growth at the expense of humanity’s ability to access clean air, water and quality food is suicidal. We need to recognize that shifting our priorities and industries is not the end of wealth. It’s an opportunity to do things in a way that will lift all boats and recognize that the planet is not just a resource for our exploitation but a habitat where life flourishes. This opportunity can not be squandered amidst bickering over protecting dinosaur industries that need to be composted.

Even the Rocks Cry Out


China Quake

The world is undergoing momentous changes, earthquakes have become a almost daily occurrence, there are landslides, unprecedented extremes in temperature and more. One thing that is clear in all of this is that the human family must come together to organize ways to support each other in these times of upheaval. People living in potential disaster zones need to be relocated. The poor, living in substandard housing need better homes. Our focus on personal wealth and achievement is of little use in these times which call for unity. This is not to say that achieving high levels of competency and education are not necessary.

On the contrary, we need the best and brightest to work together and engineer ways for people to come together beyond the false barriers of race, language and locality. We rush to aid each other in times of disaster and go back to plotting wars both economic and military when the dust settles. Our common need for health and security demands that we come together to create methods for sustainable living. Hopefully the Cochabamba Conference will provide opportunities for us to share, learn, coordinate and collaborate for a better world. If it is to be it is up to WE!!

(Thanks to all who have contributed to this journey . . .This is for all of us!)

Politicians Struggle . . .Call In the People


Governments are known for bureaucracy. They are long to deliberate, slow to act and this is arguably the way it should be. On issues concerning climate and the quality of the environment, waiting on governments to move through the morass of hidden agendas, secret agreements and sacred cows may move us even closer to the point of no return. The point is 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.”, James E. Hansen, NASA.

Official Conference Brochure

As the UN continues with its process, indigenous people, grassroots and community organizations will gather in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth’s goals are multi-faceted and varied. The central point of interest for me is the creation of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Imagine all of this high-level negotiating going on without any acknowledgment of the planet’s rights to life. As my dad, Dr. Lewis Tait Sr. would have said, “seems like they’re majoring on the minors.”

The countdown continues–we are still raising $$ to get the delegation to Bolivia and you can play a role and have us represent you specifically by donating today. It’s simple and tax deductible. Just click the “donate” button and continue to follow our updates.

Look Up & Live


There’s an awakening on the planet, she’s shaking and changing, governments are toppling, technology is moving us ahead. We can work together to create a world that works together.

Solar Plane’s Maiden Voyage