Saturday, November 21, 2009
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.
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 MiEarth.org highlights some local organizations here:
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
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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 www.savemiwater.org), 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 (www.flowthefilm.com). 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 www.healthylakes.org). 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 www.misin.msu.edu)
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 (www.environmentalcouncil.org). He also promoted the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which you can read about at chm.pops.int and get this hot topic into our conversations and actions, locally and globally.