a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Posts Tagged ‘news’

The Evening [OLD] News

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I haven’t watched television for several years (my local video store loves me, however!), so when I overheard some of the tv-speak  while visiting family recently, I was caught unprepared for the shock. How little has changed in the mainstream media in the last decade! There’s the same old stories and drama of felonious events, sports scores and the neutralized political reports. The commercial breaks are higher tech, but just as loud, fast and furious in their bombarding consumer messages.

It was the weather report that really made my heart sink. While generically debriefing viewers on record-breaking wild fires in the overly dry Southwest, the historical drought in the Southeast, the floods in the Mid-west and a number or approaching hurricanes, there was no mention of global environmental issues which are playing a large role in the increasing number of catastrophic events. In fact, major news and weather channels seem to refuse to acknowledge global warming or pose any of the how and why questions.

During the most severe part of the Southeastern drought (our resovoirs were at a mere 30% capacity through last Winter), I wrote letters and sent emails to our local tv and radio stations, imploring them to not just report on current weather conditions (partly cloudy with no chance of rain) but to use the opportunity to inform their audience of the big picture. I also suggested they supply their captive audience with ideas and encouragement  regarding water conservation. I received no response.

Unfortunately, major news networks reach most of the population, most of the time, and their generic status quo pesentation leaves the mainstream with a false sense of security and encourages “business as usual”.  Out of sight is out of mind. We need a way to stay mindful to make change happen. It’s time we know what’s news.

No Easy Way Down – but we can enjoy the ride

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I had a dream several years ago which I have never forgotten. It came during one of those times that comes around to all of us – when life seems full of questions and doubts. The dream went like this:

I was riding up a chair lift at a ski resort. I meant to get on a lift to a beginner slope but as I continued to ascend, the mountains got bigger and bigger. I saw a sign with the dreaded symbol of double black diamonds (the universal symbol for difficult slopes. Below the symbol were the words, “For Experts Only. No easy way down.”

Barack Obama, standing in for Senator, Edward M. Kennedy, delivered the commencement speech at Wesleyan University in Connecticut last Sunday. He echoed a theme Kennedy planned to focus on, a call to students to change the country and the world through service.

He also told them to not take the ‘easy way out’. “I hope you’ll remember,” he said, “during those times of doubt and frustration, that there is nothing naive about your impulse to change the world.”

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself, because our individual salvation depends on our collective slavation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realized your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.” (For more on this story, visit this link at

There IS no easy way down or out. But there is a challenging and fullfilling prophecy we can choose to shape our future. And, as I recall it, I awoke from that dream not filled with fear, but of excitement and determination.

Sunscreen Alert

Friday, April 18th, 2008

The Changers are spending the weekend at our local music festival and since Spring has sprung here it has triggered a discussion on sunscreen safety. In other words, should we subject our skin to sunscreen chemicals or risk sun exposure/burn? Fortunately, there’s a third choice – non-chemical sunscreen. This is an important information for all of us, whether you like to hit the beach or just scoot around town by bike or bus. In fact, please don’t even consider waiting for your current tube of sunscreen to run out before making the switch. Read on. It’s big.

Studies show that popular chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free-radical generating properties. Commonly used sunscreen chemicals also have strong estrogenic actions that may cause serious hormone disruption in men and women, and may further increase cancer risks. Benzophenone is one of the most powerful free-radical generators known and when it interacts with UV light, it becomes even more powerful. Other common chemicals in sunscreens are estrogen mimickers and can cause feminization of tissues. Frighteningly, studies show that melanoma (and cancers like breast, uterine and prostate) has increased in areas where physicians have heavily promoted the use of sunscreen, such as parts of Australia.

Chemical-free sunscreens hit the market last year, the active ingredient going back to lifeguard basics – titanium dioxide, a naturally-occuring mineral that is an “opacifier” (white pigment) that reflects light and creates a barrier on the skin. Yes, the mineral does leave the skin with a white “glow”, to varying degrees, depending on the spf. I’ve found Dr. Hauschka’s and Aubrey’s brands to be effective without looking mask-like. Burt’s Bees and California Baby have also introduced similar products, the latter said to contain a “micronized” titanium dioxide which is non-whitening.

At least 35% of sunscreens (or anything?) applied to skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. The rest is rinsed off directly into lakes, oceans and our shower drains. Grist reports that up to 6,000 tons of sunscreen wash off in the oceans every year, threatening coral reefs and aquatic plant life and could encourage dormant algae viruses to proliferate.

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