Saturday, November 21, 2009

Get Involved in Your Hot Topic!

Several of us gathered at the Michael Berry Career Center for the 'Hot Topics' Luncheon -Bon Appetit was a wonderful surprise (most of us had never been there.)

We talked about school funding, war budgets and mercenaries, jobs, outsourcing, fair trade, free trade, the automotive industry, term limits and lobbyists and bureaucrats and contacting our elected officials. It is important to voice your concerns and priorities to our representatives and political leaders, but some want to do more.

What can you do?

What are you interested in?

Choose a few 'hot topics', get informed and find a local group that shares your interest.

For example,
if you care about the environment, get specific. For example, if you are interested in access to clean water (people-oriented) or healthy natural habitats (nature and beauty), there are local groups that focus on that topic.

Here are some examples:
Friends of the Rouge
Alliance for Downriver Watershed

and highlights some local organizations here:

Health Care Reform - Resources

The Case for Health Care Reform - In Brief:

56 page summary from Senator Stabenow:

Video of former governor and doctor at LWV convention challenging this generation: "Health Care for the 21st Century"

Frontline Video Series - 5 capitalistic nations and health care systems.
(5 part series, mouseover links just above video frame)

LWV Education papers:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Voting and Equality...LWV turns 90 next year

Next year will be the 90th anniversary of the formation of the League of Women Voters. On February 14, 1920, with passage of the 19th amendment imminent, suffragists met to transform the movement into the LWV to help educate women to be responsible voters. On August 26, 1920, just days after Tennessee became the thirty-sixth (and last needed) state to ratify the amendment, the Secretary of State signed the proclamation enacting the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote

Because of this important history, next year, the LWV should plan to celebrate our ‘90th birthday’ on February 14 and continue the celebration to August 26, the 90th anniversary of “Women’s Equality Day” with passage of the 19th amendment.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others first seriously proposed women’s right to vote at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on July 19, 1848. Prior to this time, Susan B. Anthony was active in the women’s temperance movement. But when she met Stanton in 1851, they joined forces and worked together over the next half of the century – and what a force they were. Although they both died before the goal was reached, they lived long enough to see significant progress and were primarily responsible for the ultimate success. Carrie Chapman Catt, founder and early leader of the League of Women Voters, younger than Anthony and Stanton, entered the struggle later and became a leader in the suffragist movement that helped lead it to victory with passage of the 19th amendment.

The sacrifices these three made to win the right to vote for women is amazing and one that few people recognize today. In most cases, they gave their lives to the movement. Becoming public advocates meant that they were playing unconventional, unacceptable, inappropriate roles – to many they were pariahs. It is impossible to conceive of how difficult their lives were, what hardships they endured – public ridicule, terms in jail, and humiliation.

Text taken from League of Women Voters of United States. – ‘Women’s Equality Day”

Let’s think of ways we can retell the story next year. Who wants to be on this committee?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Water Crisis in the Great Lakes and Global Waters

The Lake Michigan Interleague Organization, now called LMLWV, held its 42nd annual meeting in Saugatuck, MI the first weekend of October.  This beautiful setting, the stunning shoreline and resounding waves of Lake Michigan, prompted great appreciation and awe as we considered this vast resource.    While the Great Lakes are a great treasure that we share with other states and Canada, they are also a great responsibility.  
The weekend was well-planned with interesting topics and speakers, along with a vibrant discussion during the actual annual meeting.  Many started out with a 'toxic tour', a cruise along Kalamazoo River highlighting the challenges faced by this Area of Concern. LWVDDH members Gregg and Jenni Dunn arrived for the dinner and evening program, featuring activist, attorney and author Jim Olson.  While the legal situation concerning aquifer usage by Nestle was a prominent issue (see, so was the overall question about the legal status of water.  Mr. Olson explained the historical basis for water as a Public Trust - something held in common by all people and governed for all people.  The Great Lakes Compact undermined the Public Trust Doctrine by calling water a product.  This little word creates a big legal loophole for commercial interests and private gain.   The evening closed with the profound, award-winning documentary, For the Love of Water (  This film reveals the political, ecological and personal issues of the 21st century water crisis.  We purchased a similar DVD called 'Blue Gold', which is available for a future program.
On Saturday, the LMLWV meeting was very informative, with reports from State delegates - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin along with other news and a report about the Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition (see  The updated LWVMI position on preserving and enhancing Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Ecosystem was adopted.  This group focused on the Lake Michigan Basin and we are in the Lake Erie Basin, but the obvious interlink between local bodies of water, global water and our global ecosystem compels us to work together.  This interleague group will continue working with HOW to implement the Great Lakes Restoration as a top area of emphasis.
The nature walk and field trip came indoors due to inclement weather as John Legge, West Michigan Conservation Director for the Nature Conservancy explained the complexities of the world's most extensive freshwater dunes.  We learned of threatened species, invasive species and threats to the dune ecosystem.  The surprise invader was 'Baby's Breath, that popular bit of white in floral arrangements.  Don't be fooled by its name, it has a mighty root!  As overwhelming as the problems seemed, Mr. Legge gave us a simple assignment.  By the time the general public is aware of an invasive species problem, it is almost impossible to eradicate it. Early detection and rapid response (EDRR) will be aided by choosing 3 species to know well enough to identify and notify (see
A final presentation was given by scientist and author Melvin Visser.  His book, Cold, Clear and Deadly is probably as shockingly informative as this afternoon program.   He explained the atmospheric and global source of POPS, persistent organic pollutants, entering the Great Lakes.  Even though these products have been banned in the US since the 80s, their continued use in other nations means these semi-volatiles will evaporate, move and condense across the globe.  Disturbing data and depressing dilemmas bombarded the audience, but the speaker directed us to a solution.  Pressure our state to be honest about fish advisories.  For example, Large Trout are highly contaminated and yet are not given any restrictions on consumption.  PCB contamination has been proven to hinder motor skills and intelligence.  Michigan needs to take this problem seriously, and LWVMI is a player as a member of the Michigan Environmental Council (  He also promoted the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which you can read about at and get this hot topic into our conversations and actions, locally and globally.