Grantee & Partner News

Fixing old water and gas pipelines would create far more jobs than building Keystone XL

January 29, 2014

Grantee News From Grist:

In the coming months, President Obama will decide whether to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude tar-sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. We know that the pipeline would greatly aggravate climate change, allowing massive amounts of the world’s dirtiest oil to be extracted and later burned.

The payoff, say supporters such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a job boom in construction industries, which are currently suffering from high unemployment. Earlier this month, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue called on the president “to put American jobs before special interest politics.”

If you believe headline-grabbing challenges such as Donohue’s, the president is painted into a corner on the KXL pipeline — trapped by a stagnant economy and an ailing environment.

The president knows KXL’s jobs promises are way overblown. In July, he explained it this way to The New York Times: “Republicans have said this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that is true.” The most realistic estimates, said the president, show that KXL “might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two.” And after that, “we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”

Still, even a few thousand construction jobs can’t be dismissed out of hand, in an industry where nearly a million people are estimated to be out of work. Those jobs would put food on the table and pay mortgages. They would alleviate a lot of pain, even if only temporarily. As a country, we’re still hungry for jobs. It seems as if we’re collectively out on the street and KXL is the only offer that has come along.

But that’s not actually the case.

According to “The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy,” a study just released by Economics for Equity and Environment and the Labor Network for Sustainability, targeted investments in our existing water and natural-gas pipeline infrastructure needs along the proposed five-state corridor of the KXL pipeline would create many more long-term jobs than Keystone XL, both in absolute terms and per unit of investment.  More>

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2014: The Year the Pro-Choice Crowd Fights Back

January 23, 2014

Grantee News From: NARAL Pro-Choice America:

The anniversary of Roe v. Wade always brings familiar sights in Washington, D.C., and this Jan. 22, the 41st anniversary of that landmark Supreme Court case, is no different. Anti-choice protesters — many on a break from the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting — will march through the streets, calling for an end to legal abortion. Organizations like the one I lead, NARAL Pro-Choice America, will celebrate the anniversary of the decision that enshrined into law a woman’s freedom to decide when, how and with whom to have a family.

Like these annual rituals, the war over abortion rights can give you a case of déjà vu, but as the new president of a reproductive freedom organization, I have a different perspective. Sure, 2013 was not a great year for reproductive freedom — 53 anti-choice measures were adopted at the state level, and we narrowly averted a federal government shutdown when House Republicans demanded that bosses have control over their employees’ birth control coverage (though we later had a shutdown, anyway).

But 2013 also showed record-high public support for the rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade: Twice as many pro-choice measures as the prior year were enacted at the state level, and voters turned out to vote into office a pro-choice governor in Virginia and soundly defeat the first municipal ballot measure to ban abortion after 20 weeks. In 2013, we saw a movement starting to embody the old adage that the best defense is a good offense.

It will take time for this shifting momentum to result in a full sea change. We’re in the midst of a decadeslong strategy by anti-choice activists to chip away at reproductive rights. This well-coordinated and well-funded movement has taken over statehouses, paid careful attention to judicial appointments and used redistricting efforts to make sure anti-choice politicians have a solid foothold in the House of Representatives. The impact has been severe and the stakes are high. A study published in 2013 to evaluate the impact of the 2011 clinic closures showed that 7 percent of women who need abortion care in Texas try to self-abort. Americans have been down this road, and we know where it leads.

But 2013 also offered ample evidence that politicians understand just how outside the mainstream they are on these issues. Time after time, we saw elected officials obfuscate and bend the rules to ram through abortion restrictions, as in North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory recanted a campaign promise and signed a litany of restrictions that had been substituted into a “motorcycle safety bill.” His favorability rating promptly took a dive. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio passed his restrictions in a budget bill, and Gov. Rick Perry had to call two special sessions to get the Texas abortion restrictions that made Wendy Davis a national star passed by the state Senate.


Ilyse Hogue is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.


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Street artists trace against time — and sea-level rise

January 14, 2014

Grantee News From Grist:


highwaterline 1

This is a story about an all-American machine, and two women who are leading an unusual effort to prepare our cities for climate change.

The machine is known as a Heavy Hitter. It’s an aluminum box about the size of a bulldog that rides on 10-inch diameter pneumatic wheels. Push the Heavy Hitter forward, and a spring-loaded gizmo inside sifts a dusty line of powdered chalk onto the ground below.

You’ve probably seen one of these bad boys being used for its intended purpose: to draw the lines on a baseball field. But back in 2007, an artist named Eve Mosher found another use for a Heavy Hitter: She used it to transcribe a line from a map onto the streets of New York. The line marked 10 feet above sea level, tracing areas of the city that would be flooded in a serious storm surge — an event made more likely by climate change.

The project, which Mosher called HighWaterLine, got a smattering of media attention — and she won some proof-of-concept in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy pushed floodwaters right up to the line in some spots. But the most remarkable thing was the buzz it generated on the streets. People came out of their houses to see what she was up to, she told me when I wrote about the project in 2011. “Kids followed me around like the Pied Piper.”

In the Heavy Hitter, Mosher had found a way to do something that environmentalists and scientists have struggled mightily to do: broach the topic of climate change in a way that made it real for people, right where they lived, and that brought it to them in a non-threatening way. “It wouldn’t have worked if I was walking around dressed up as a jellyfish or something,” she told me recently. “There’s something about pushing a baseball field line machine — it’s odd, but it’s not too weird.”  More>

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Photo: Jayme Gershen


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The Entire IPCC Report in 19 Illustrated Haiku

December 20, 2013

News From Sightline Daily:
This post is part of the research project: Flashcards

The Future.

Reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) can be daunting, even for science and policy insiders. The full Physical Science Assessment, the first installment of the Fifth Assessment Report (pdf), released in manuscript form earlier this year, is over 2,000 pages long.

And even the Summary for Policymakers, rather optimistically referred to as a “brochure,” is a dense 27 pages.

What if we could communicate the essence of this important information in plain language and pictures? Well, that’s just what one Northwest oceanographer has done. He’s distilled the entire report into 19 illustrated haiku.

The result is stunning, sobering, and brilliant. It’s poetry. It’s a work of art. But it doubles as clear, concise, powerful talking points and a compelling visual guide.

How did it come about? Housebound with a rotten cold one recent weekend, Greg Johnson found himself paring his key takeaways from the IPCC report into haiku. He finds that the constraints of the form focus his thoughts (he told me he posts exclusively in haiku on Facebook), and described the process as a sort of meditation. He never intended to share these “IPCC” poems.

Johnson’s daughter, an artist, inspired him to try his hand at watercolors. On a whim he illustrated each haiku and shared the results with family and a few friends.

When I got wind of it, I had to see it. And I’m glad I got the chance. I immediately wanted everybody I know to see it too!

Condensing to this degree is not how scientists typically operate. But, as Johnson proves, scientists can also be poets. Still, he’s is quick to caution that this is his own unofficial artistic interpretation and that it omits all the quantitative details and the IPCC’s scientific qualifications.

Therein lies the beauty; stripped of the jargon and unfathomably large numbers, the limitations and the scales of confidence that confound and distract us laypeople, it is an arresting and informative entree into the science—not, of course, a substitute for the full report.

We are delighted to share Johnson’s beautiful meditation here (Also as a PDF, DIY booklet, and video slide show for personal or educational nonprofit use.) More>

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Fulbright – National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowships

December 18, 2013

News From Institute of International Education (IIE):

A great opportunity for some Udallers!
The U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society are partnering to launch the inaugural competition for the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.  The new component of the Fulbright Program will offer up to five awards to U.S. citizens for nine months of overseas travel and multi-media storytelling on globally significant social or environmental topics. Fellows will focus their digital stories on one of the program’s eight themes: biodiversity, cities, cultures, disasters, energy, food, oceans, and water.

The Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship will provide a unique platform for U.S. Fulbrighters to undertake an in-depth exploration of a globally relevant issue, comparing and contrasting how that issue is experienced across borders. Utilizing a variety of digital storytelling tools and media, including blogs, photography, video, and social media, Fellows will share their stories by providing content to a National Geographic blog and other platforms with the support of National Geographic’s editorial team.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1946, the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries. The Fulbright Program annually supports more than 8,000  students, scholars, artists and professionals from the United States and more than 155 countries to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international challenges.

“Inspiring people to care about the planet” since 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, promoting exploration and on topics such as geography, natural science, and conservation. Operating across a diverse set of media platforms, National Geographic is a trusted leader in digital storytelling.

With complementary missions, Fulbright and National Geographic are distinctively suited to deliver this Fellowship opportunity.  This Fellowship will allow Fulbrighters to tell stories from around the world and advance U.S. public diplomacy goals while bringing new voices to National Geographic and expanding its in-depth coverage of pressing transnational issues.

IIE will cooperate with the U.S. Department of State in recruitment and application review. For more information and to apply for the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship, visit the Fulbright website.

The deadline for applications is February 28, 2014.

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December 12, 2013

New Documentary Series Coming in 2014 on Showtime:

This groundbreaking documentary series event explores the human impact of climate change. From the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy to the upheaval caused by drought in the Middle East, YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY combines the blockbuster storytelling styles of top Hollywood movie makers with serious reporting.

Watch Trailer

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Nelson Mandela’s Under-reported Legacy

December 11, 2013

Grantee News From Ilyse G. Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America:

Nelson Mandela’s passing has elicited a flood of personal memories and tributes from people he touched across the world. I am one of those people. In elementary school in Dallas in the early 1980s, I was fascinated by the televised images of mock shanty-towns on US college campuses. Questions about the South African divestment campaign started me down a path that opened up a world of social justice and politically inspired change.

In 2003, I visited South Africa during the World Summit on Sustainable Development and spent weeks working alongside local organizers in townships around Johannesburg and learning about the strategies they used to thrive even under the oppressive apartheid regime. Everywhere I went, I was blown away by how powerful the women were. Vocal and forthright, they were often their communities’ spokespeople and leaders.

That experience of strong female leadership owed more than a little to the Constitution of 1996put in place largely by Mandela. In its new Bill of Rights, it listed not only race as impermissible grounds for discrimination, but “gender,” and then “sex,” and then uniquely, it also added “pregnancy.” And in case the meaning of that was not clear, the Bill of Rights went on (emphasis added):

Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right

a.  to make decisions concerning reproduction;
b.  to security in and control over their body; and
c.  not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent.

This official recognition that gender equality requires embracing reproductive freedom remains a high-water mark of international law. This important commitment was foreshadowed by a law passed months before the constitution went into effect. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy law —which replaced one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world with one of the most liberal and humane—allows South African women full autonomy to decide when to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, complete with financial assistance if required. (Abortion is also allowed within widely defined exceptions in the second trimester.) With this act, President Nelson Mandela transformed the lives of millions of South African women.

In the Jewish tradition, we have a saying we repeat at every Passover Seder: “dayenu,” or “it would have been enough.” It would have been enough for Nelson Mandela put his life on the line in 1964 in the struggle for racial equality. It would have been enough for Mandela to inspire us through his twenty-seven years in prison. It would have been enough for him to lead successful negotiations with then-President deKlerk to abolish apartheid. But once he had become his country’s first black president, instead of resting on his laurels—or resting, period—he tackled the issue of abortion, which was considered even more controversial in South Africa at the time than it was here. Why would he do this?

In his famous April 20, 1964, “Speech from the Dock,” given just before he was sentenced to life imprisonment, he offered a clue:

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

The simple answer, then, is that he had more left to do. Mandela acted, as he always had, not out of political calculation but with laser-like moral focus. He knew that for women to have full freedom and equality, we must have autonomy over all issues pertaining to our lives, especially our reproductive destiny.

Mandela’s intimate experience with poverty and oppression showed him that reproductive freedom was intrinsically tied to economic security. Thus, this Nobel Peace Prize winner known worldwide for his pursuit of human equality chose as one of his first acts of elected leadership to cement that fundamental cornerstone of women’s equality into law.

Although a solid, consistent majority of Americans support the protections outlined in Roe v. Wade, well-funded attacks on reproductive freedom are consuming an enormous amount of time and attention in our country. So I was fascinated to see in all the press coverage of Mandela’s death how little was said about his legacy of advancing abortion rights.

It’s been mentioned primarily on women-defined blogs and press, which is important, but not enough. Major network tributes and even mainstream progressive outlets have not seen fit to mention it.

Unsurprisingly, his legacy championing women’s basic freedoms is not lost on extremists in this country hell-bent on taking them away. With their typical tone-deafness, they opine:

“Nelson Mandela has the blood of preborn children on his hands … lots of them,” wrote anti-choice blogger Jill Stanek on Saturday.

“[I]t makes no sense for pro-life Christians to praise Mandela’s example considering what he did with that power once he became president,” wrote Paul Tuns, editor of the Canadian pro-life publication The Interim.

“The organization Keep Life Legal asked the question: “What about apartheid in the womb?”

One of the first things I noticed when I joined NARAL Pro-Choice America as president was how much these extremists depend on their aggressive public vitriol to stigmatize the medical procedure of abortion and silence the majority in this country who understand that reproductive rights are vital to the freedom and self-determination that makes us Americans. The anti-choice lobby trades in hatred and fear to frighten people into avoiding the issue so they can they win by forfeit.

In attacking the moral leadership of one of the world’s most beloved freedom fighters, these zealots have once again gone too far. But their slander is not the only reason we must talk about Mandela’s contributions to women’s freedom. We must go there, because he went there. And because if we want to honor Nelson Mandela’s vision and commitment to a society “in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” we only do justice when we loudly recognize that his vision of human dignity included women’s freedom to make their own decisions about when we have children.

Tribute after tribute has unfolded with this chapter deleted, leaving all the successes and gains for South African women invisible. I am not going to bow to that pressure to hold my tongue. I will praise Mandela loudly and proudly for refusing to leave women behind. And if enough of us do so, maybe someday soon all women can be assured the respect and freedom that Mandela fought to bring to the women of South Africa.

Ilyse G. Hogue

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We Respected ABQ Women and We Won

December 2, 2013

Grantee News From Strong Families:

In a historic victory, Albuquerque voters defeated an attempt to limit access to abortion by a huge margin last night.

“Today Albuquerque voters respected women—and sent a clear message here and across the country that voters reject callous attempts to take away complex, personal decisions from women, their families, and their faith,” said Adriann Barboa, Respect ABQ Women Steering Committee and Field Director for Strong Families New Mexico. “We won in part because of the strong, diverse local organizations that have pulled together, year after year, to ensure justice for every New Mexico family.”

Adriann’s quote on MSNBC says it all. This win is a testimony to the strength of local organizations that have been building a strong movement for justice in New Mexico for many years. And it’s a testament to the reality that when we lead with our Strong Families frame, including ensuring that women of color are at the decision-making table representing the needs of our families, we win.

The Respect ABQ Women campaign ran a dynamic, effective grassroots campaign that was truly New Mexican: it reflected the lived experiences of our communities and ensured that communities of color, people of faith and young people were deeply engaged in all aspects of the campaign. It built off the principles of our Strong Families work, bringing a proactive and inclusive frame to a challenging campaign.

Strong Families New Mexico, staffed by Forward Together, Strong Families Leadership Team member Young Women United and Strong Families New Mexico partner, New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice were leaders in all aspects of the campaign strategy.

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‘Food, Inc.’ Non-Profit Award Winner: The Lexicon of Sustainability

Grantee News From Lexicon of Sustainability:

Photographs and the definitions of niche food words are this project’s tools for building communities and educating.

food inc awards

Hopefully, you’ve seen the images: stunning photographs of rooftop farmers, of urban beekeepers, of school gardens, each picture shot through with curling white script. The Lexicon of Sustainability is a singular undertaking—a complex marriage of images and text that strives to define the terms we use to describe our food systems.

Founded in 2009 by husband and wife Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton, the Lexicon of Sustainability, winner of the Food, Inc. Non-Profit Award, works to engage communities in food issues through photographs. The couple have gone from hosting them on The Lexicon’s website to encouraging fans to curate pop-up gallery shows to pursuing a new, youth-focused endeavor called Project Localize.

But for all of the reach and success The Lexicon has had, Howard-Gayeton says it was her father’s response to her nonprofit work that she’s most proud of.

“Getting my parents engaged in not buying partially hydrogenated crackers and stopping some food habits they’ve had for a long time fell on deaf ears for a decade,” she says. But when she and her husband started The Lexicon, her parents got on board immediately.

“My mom and my dad are now 75 years old,” she says, “and they’re carting these posters around and engaging with all of these people and are very proud to be experts on food systems.”

That’s the wonderful thing about The Lexicon of Sustainability: It takes a wonky exercise in lexicography and turns the definitions for otherwise niche terms into relatable, understandable works of art. Arriving at that point involves far more than shooting the photos and writing on the text.

“Oftentimes, it’s weeks or even months of dialogue with those subjects, going back and forth, so that they’re really happy with what’s distilled from hours and hours and days and weeks of talking,” Howard-Gayeton says of the definitions and other language that appears on the images. “Because often these are very complicated ideas. They have a lot of history to them, a lot of involving moving parts.”

Putting that kind of time and effort into the images for The Lexicon of Sustainability is more than worth it, as they are achieving their intent: to get people talking, to educate, to build communities, to drive change. If it has worked for Howard-Gayeton’s family, she’s certain it can work for others too.

“I know if I can get through to my dad, I can get through to anyone in this country,” she says.

(Photo by Lauren Wade)

November 24, 2013 By Willy Blackmore

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, LA Weekly, and elsewhere

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On Abortion, the People Are Speaking. Is Anyone Listening?

November 20, 2013

Grantee News From RH Reality Check:

Megaphone via Shutterstock

On Tuesday, in a tremendous upset victory, voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, defeated a proposed 20-week abortion ban by roughly 55 percent to 45 percent. Arguments for the ban were largely based on the medically disproven claim that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks’ gestation. In public statements, however, proponents of the ban, such as the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List revealed a far darker agenda, one of forcing women to continue a pregnancy and bear a child under virtually any circumstance, even when a fetus is found to have abnormalities incompatible with life.

The original ballot measure was initiated by anti-choice missionaries Tara and Bud Shaver, who after receiving training from Operation Rescue moved to Albuquerque in 2010 with the goal of jump-starting the process of a ballot initiative. Operation Rescue, known for anti-choice terrorist tactics and affiliated with Scott Roeder, the murderer of Dr. George Tiller, targeted Albuquerque in large part because it is home to two providers abortions post 20-weeks gestation and one of a handful of clinics left in the United States that still perform abortions after 24 weeks. By outlawing abortions after 20 weeks, despite almost certain court challenges, anti-choicers hoped not only to close two clinics essential to women urgently in need of health care, but also to spark similar initiatives across the country.  More>

November 20, 2013 – 9:24 am

by Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief, RH Reality Check

Editor’s note: This article was amended at 12:14 pm on Wednesday, November 20th, to clarify that of the two practices offering abortions post 20-weeks gestation in Albuquerque, only one of those provides abortions up to 27 weeks.

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