Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Largest Protected Area on Earth Created – Now What? Volunteer!

underwater shot of endangered Hawaiian monk seal

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

Last week, President Obama signed legislation creating the largest protected area anywhere. The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (which was set aside as a protected Pacific ocean space in 2006) was quadrupled in size. The newly expanded marine preserve is now double the size of the state of Texas. Its area, called by some a “Blue Park,” encompasses a large spread of the waters to the NorthWest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Now a hefty 582,578 square miles, the National Monument is larger than all the US National Parks combined. It is now a protected sanctuary for thousands of species, many of them endangered, and many found exclusively in these waters. Its protection will stop any future deep-sea mining and other depleting practices. Commercial fishing is also restricted in these remote seas, though licensed recreational fishing is still permitted.

So here’s the cool part–to celebrate the newest baby park (a huge baby, at that) why not consider getting involved as a volunteer? Some of the Marine National Monument volunteer activities include: Communications and office-based help, habitat restoration on some of the atolls and small islands, wildlife sanctuary work, and wildlife biology volunteers. Some of the volunteer stints are smaller in commitment, some last up to 6 or 7 months living in remote places–a dream for a drop-off-the-grid service-oriented soul.

It sounds pretty dreamy to an island lover like me!

Photo credit: USFWS Headquarters via VisualHunt / CC BY

Ocean Blue

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…and we still want to be able to do the same in 2092.

Tomorrow, January 13, is “Wear Blue for the Oceans” day, so break out your cobalt, azure, navy, robin’s egg, cornflower, sapphire, turquoise, powder, denim, aquamarine, cerulean, indigo, sky, and any other blue clothes you’ve got to tell the administration that you support national policies that protect, maintain, and restore the oceans. The organization Ocean Champions (“the political voice for the oceans”) is staging public rallies in Washington DC, San Francisco, Honolulu, Cambridge, and New Orleans, so if you are nearby, stop in and show your literal support with a simple wardrobe choice.

Take a picture of you and your blue buddies, at a rally or at home or work, and send it in to the Wear Blue for the Oceans website so that everyone can see how much you care.

Remember, the goal is to motivate President Obama to issue an Executive Order creating a National Ocean Policy.  He’s getting pressure from anti-ocean interests, and this is your chance to show him that Americans truly care about the ocean.


915227_59731382We interrupt this blog to bring you an opportunity to hang your head in shame for our society.

If this doesn’t piss you off–you’re not awake. Pinch yourself, take a cold shower, and read it again. Pissed now?

If not–I don’t want to know you.

Below is an action alert I truly hope you will act upon from Color of Change, an organization created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help use the Internet to empower and engage black America, looking for ways to combat the ferocious racism still faced in this country in 2009 .

This event just happened in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago–where children of color, in an organized summer camp activity for which they had paid a rental fee,  were made ashamed and kicked out of a pool with an unstated but very firm “Whites Only” rule. Read all the way to the bottom for the club’s somewhat panicked response.

Disgusting and indefensible.

See below–go to the link–take action. This does not represent the world we are committed to, but it does represent how much work we still have to do. Let’s get busy…


Dear friends,

Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, sixty-five children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club their camp had a contract to use. Evidently, the club didn’t know the kids were largely Black.

When the campers entered the pool, White parents took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club’s staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that they would refund their money. When asked why, the club’s leader said the “kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”

A “Whites only” pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club’s actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act. Whether or not any laws were violated, a “Whites only” pool should be something every American condemns.

I’ve just joined in doing exactly that — will you join me, and email your friends and family asking them to do the same? We’re also calling on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:

Obama is President but that doesn’t mean that suddenly all is fine when it comes to race in America. This is a vivid reminder of what we know still lies beneath the surface.

We all know stories like this one — similar incidents play out quietly every day in different communities across the country. The difference in this case is that folks got caught and there was a contract in place that makes for a potentially illegal act.

Standing up now isn’t just about making things right for these kids in Philadelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called the Valley Swim Club). It’s about creating a climate of accountability everywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold them accountable for this incident, it will make others think twice before engaging in this kind of discrimination.

Please join me in condemning the Valley Swim Club’s blatant discrimination and calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether they violated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.


Here are some links to more info:

“Pool Boots Kids Who Might ‘Change the Complexion,'” NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09

“60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black — Speak Out,” Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09

“Valley Swim Club: Day Two,” Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09

“Section 1981 Summary,” Employment Law Information Network


A statement from the club, on their website, which is being overloaded (I do appreciate the tone and tenor of the message. They must be crapping their pants, and if a representative of the club did say the reason was the desire not to change the “complexion” of their facility…they should be).

The Valley Club is deeply troubled by the recent allegations of racism which are completely untrue.

We had originally agreed to invite the camps to use our facility, knowing full well that the children from the camps were from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that we underestimated the capacity of our facilities and realized that we could not accommodate the number of children from these camps. All funds were returned to the camps and we will re-evaluate the issue at a later date to determine whether it can be feasible in the future.

Our Valley Club deplores discrimination in any form, as is evidenced by our multi-ethnic and diverse membership. Whatever comments may or may not have been made by an individual member is an opinion not shared by The Valley Club Board.

Hope at 100

1206564437220005566cibo00_barack_obama_10svgmedIt doesn’t matter on which side of the aisle your candidates/elected officials/wished for winners sit or sat, the first one hundred days of the new presidency (today is day 99) is a milestone and worthy of reflection. Not as polarizing as the previous president, but not the insta-savior many hoped for either, President Obama has been hard at work doing one of the jobs I can’t imagine being less desirable or daunting (perhaps Iceland’s new Prime Minister is faced with a battle just a hair more uphill, since that nation’s economy collapsed entirely). One thing your politics can’t color is the delicious fact that this President and First Lady are all about service. They have brought a renewed vigor to the intention to lead by example and do for others. A vegetable garden at the Whitehouse is just one photo-friendly example of their personal and professional decisions to act on behalf of others. National days of service, national service programs, and fluid communication about the importance of finding a way to contribute to the well-being of larger communities tumble out of the Oval Office in an easy, natural way (Think of ways to make it just as natural around your house). It might be tougher than ever to open your checkbook, but the ability to give of your time, your skills, and your energy are as easy now as ever. Find a way to motivate yourself and your family, then talk about it at brunch or the office or at the gym. Lead by example. Be proud of your contribution and brag. When others see how making service a priority has not forced you to compromise your lifestyle (and in fact has bettered your life) they see possibility for themselves. Change by doing…every day, even if just in thought or outlook.