Have you seen the reports that have been released just this month? The Environmental Working Group just published data from their third round of testing on breakfast cereals and found high levels of the carcinogen glyphosate in all but two samples. The FDA quietly released study results showing that a group of “forever chemicals” called PFAS compounds in many different types of food including chocolate cake and icing. PFAS chemicals are poisonous to the immune system and not regulated.
The ongoing recall of blood pressure medication possibly containing cancer causing ingredients was expanded yet again this week. At the same time, we are seeing more brands of vitamins and supplements testing positive for contaminants to the point where major retailers like CVS are trying to assure the public that their requirement of third party purity testing should make us feel good about buying there. What’s a consumer to do? Who can we trust? We haven’t even talked about the issue of vaccines!
Well don’t look up for answers because new analysis of rainwater is now finding microplastics falling from the sky. That’s in addition to the aluminum and other toxic health particles that have been measured in rainwater for the last decade. Government agencies continue to deny geo-engineering, all while new secret documents and patents for space based weather manipulation are uncovered every day.
If we continue on this path, there won’t be anyone still alive to sound the alarm over the poisoning of our planet. We all need to realize our personal power and let our voices be heard. It only takes the coherence of one percent to start a ripple effect of change to the whole. What will you do?
There has been so much buzz around the Green New Deal initiative presented by Democratic Representative Ocazio-Cortez recently. This initiative was proposed to simultaneously tackle climate change and economic inequality.. It’s goals are lofty, and ones that most Americans would love to see happen, but more of a pipe dream than a realistic endeavor right now.
The plan calls for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles to be at zero within ten years. It calls for the end of using fossil fuels across the board, including manufacturing and transportation, and a transition to alternative energy and fuel. Also included is a massive goal of repairing and improving our infrastructure and net zero energy building, which includes upgrading all existing structures. On the economic side, not only does it call for guaranteed living wage employment for everyone, but also reparations and protections for those who have been disadvantaged by industry in the past. Basic utility prices are mandated to be affordable and available to all. Sounds wonderful! But is it realistic or just utopian musings?
With the caveat that the best indicator for future behavior is recent past behavior, critics of this plan are right to be skeptical. Historically, our country has an abysmal track record of bringing bright shiny ideas like this into concrete reality. Just look at the Obama stimulus package. Or the new rail project in California that just got permanently cancelled. Great ideas that offer both economic equality and protection against climate change have broad support in their proposal but almost utter failure in their implementation. The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that the powerful corporations and elite of this world have a big stake in maintaining their wealth and influence and as a whole do not act in ways that would foster equality and access for all. Until this changes, all these ideas are just a dream. One only needs to realize that with all the amazing technological advances we have seen this century alone, we still drive vehicles that are operating with 100 year old technology while patents that would revolutionize this remain suppressed for national security reasons.
I’m not saying we should stop dreaming and wishing for a healthier, cleaner, more just and equal society. I’m saying that in order for this type of change to happen, we all need to clear away the distracting chatter and get serious about how we can address the fundamental blocks to achieving this goal. Until we get real about that…. this is all a beautiful fantasy.
Make Your Voice Heard: Guidelines for Effective Advocacy
One crucial part of my mental health recovery journey is reaching out to help others in need. I do this in a variety of ways. One area that is truly a life saver for me is the volunteer work I do assisting people seeking Protection From Abuse orders, or PFA’s for short. Another area I concentrate on is acting as an advocate for people who are struggling because of their involvement in a system. I offer free help to those encountering issues with the legal system, medical system, tax system, benefits system, and school system the most often, although there are other systems I have tried to help untangle as well. I am learning through these experiences with individuals about the type of advocacy work that is done on a larger scale for whole groups.
Advocates for individual groups often meet unfair policies and practices that hinder rather than help their clients. Changes to such policies in the form of rules, regulations and laws, often require the support and commitment of legislators, political leaders and other policy makers. The following are some guidelines on how to be an effective advocate and communicate your message. Remember that efficiency requires education, both your own and your audiences, as well as reliability, accessibility and persistency.
Identify Your Goal
What do you want to accomplish? For example, decide if you want to introduce legislation to change a discriminatory employment practice like lifting a particular occupational bar or licensing restriction for people with criminal records.
Develop Your Strategy for Accomplishing Your Goal
Who has the power to effect your desired change? What is the process for the policy or regulatory change that you want to make and who has the power to make it. It could be legislators on the local, state or federal level, or perhaps, appointed commissioners on the state level who are responsible for promulgating the particular rule or regulation.
Who are your partners? Identify organizations and individuals that may share your goal and who can help you communicate your message. These may be local or statewide residents, coalitions of individuals and/or groups, as well as community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other advocacy groups.
What is the timeline for your goal? Be aware of legislative timelines, such as when the legislature is in session. Be patient, understand that achieving your goal could take a considerable amount of time.
Create Documents that Will Help You Communicate Your Message
Are your documents clear and concise? Politicians, policy makers and other officials, and their staff, are busy and often do not have time to read a lot of information. However, supplying them with written information that includes data and research on your issue may support your position. Therefore, make sure that the written materials that you provide them with are specific to the issue and the area that they represent.
Helpful Tips for Conducting a Meeting
When introducing yourself make sure that you identify yourself as a constituent or as someone who represents constituents.
State the point of the meeting at the beginning.
Be brief and to the point.
Listen as well as talk during the meeting, as well as take notes on questions or concerns that come up during the meeting.
Be honest. Acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of the issue.
Share written materials during the meeting, if it is appropriate, and leave them behind for the leader of the staff that you are meeting with to read.
Cultivate a Champion
Who can represent and advocate for your issue publicly and champion your goal? It can be incredibly beneficial to have a public figure, such as a famous person or politically powerful person, to help you with your advocacy and to deliver the message you need to achieve your goal. Regardless of who it is they need to be persistent, charismatic and effective.
Most importantly, don’t burn any bridges, whether you achieve your goal or not. You never know who you may need to work with again. Be a gracious winner or loser.