Thursday, November 14, 2013

Get the Facts -- The U.S. Post Office Deficit Is Not From Its Operations!

So we all know that the U.S. Post Office (USPO) is running at a deficit. Because of that, various major changes are being discussed to try to save it. 

This leads to people having all sorts of opinions about the situation -- some of which are based on facts -- but others which are adamantly stated but factually wrong (sigh, my favorite combination!). 

For instance, we commonly hear people demanding to know why our tax dollars are subsidizing the post office, and declaring that the USPO "is an expensive and bloated relic that should be replaced by competitive private business" (as someone posted on one of my threads). 

Except both of these assertions just aren't true. We need to see the facts accurately in order to understand which changes are helpful and which ones are harmful. Through that, we can help keep the USPO as a key institution in our society, economy, and democracy.

So what are the key facts that I think we all need to know about the USPO today?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Donating eco-food at the holidays

© Photos by Patricia Dines, 2012 
Seeing the food donation barrels come out for the holidays made me pause and remember to be grateful that I have enough to eat. Unfortunately, many people in this country do not – including the "working poor," who support so much of the structure of our community. Also impacted are their families, as well as many of our culture's elders, who are living out their golden years on limited incomes.

So I thought to myself that maybe this year I wanted to send some money to the Redwood Empire Food Bank

But I hesitated, wondered why, and realized that it was because my money probably wouldn't be used to buy them organic food

I rolled my eyes at myself. Really? I know that any food would be appreciated, and I'm glad for the work REFB does. 

Still, I listened to my own heart too. Yes, I'm not personally excited to give people mainstream food that I know probably has toxics and a lot lower nutrients.

But then I realized – I can buy them organic food and put it into one of these bins!  Well, duh! So I found the organic form of the packaged staples that REFB says folks need most (and got them at good sale prices) then put them in the barrel. Yay!

So that felt good. But still I wondered, “Is that the best I can do?” 

Just then my calendar rolled up with a notice for the Ceres Community Project Annual Holiday Party, being held at their new Sebastopol building. Oooo, I love the work that this nonprofit does, so I was glad for the chance to get an update and look for ways that I can support their activities. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Discovering Eva: The etheric voice of singer Eva Cassidy

Music has long been such a gift in my life, offering beauty, play, empathy, nourishment, and so much more. One of my personal pleasures is the feeling of singing, and I was even a DJ at my college radio station! 

I won’t be discussing music much on this blog – that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. But I had to make sure you knew about the amazing etheric voice of Eva Cassidy. 

When she passed away in 1996, at the too-young age of 33, she had a following in her native Washington DC. But it wasn’t until four years later that she was discovered more broadly, when a British DJ played her signature song "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow." 

People’s overwhelming and positive response to that song rippled around the globe, making her an unexpected sensation, just because of the quality of her singing. Her songs have gone on to sell millions of copies and top the charts in various countries. Her friends say that she was actually quite shy, so they feel that perhaps it's OK that this outpouring happened after she passed.

I just recently discovered her, when I heard her version of "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow" on the radio, and (like so many other folks) was stopped in my tracks. Something amazing was going on there. I had to find out who she was! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Announcing my Ask EcoGirl Theme Pages!

Because I've designed this blog to be a more informal space, I'm going to be mostly keeping it separate from my more formal print columns and articles. Therefore I won't be publishing a post for each print article I publish, including my Ask EcoGirl columns. 

However, you can get easily notified of my print articles (which are mostly on eco-topics) by signing up for my low-volume Articles Announcement List at (It's just 1 to 3 emails a month.) I also post these notices on my website's What's News page

And, if you want to get email notices when I post new blogs, just enter your email in the box to the right.

>> In this post I want to let you know about another convenient way you can peruse my high-quality and inspiring print eco-columns and articles: My Ask EcoGirl Theme Pages!

Here, I've gathered my more formal pieces into topic groups, so that it's easier for you and others to find the articles that meet your specific needs, when you need them. 

My pieces are written as always in a cheerful, accurate, and useful style – so that you can more quickly move into action and getting results, while having fun along the way. I believe that taking eco-action can feel inspiring and rewarding!

On my main Ask EcoGirl Themes Page, you will see links for these topic areas: Food and Agriculture, Jobs and EconomyEnergy and Transportation, Toxics and Health, Healthy HomeBeing an Eco-Smart ConsumerEco-CitizenryEffective ActivismGreening Your Holidays, and Shifting Our Thinking

I'll continue to update each of these Themes pages as new articles of mine are published, so they will stay current.  

I also invite you to look for ways to share these links with others in your personal or work worlds, as helpful resources for them. For instance, you might post the link to a specific theme on your Facebook page or website. Then people can access my quality print articles in that topic area on an ongoing basis.

I hope you find this helpful, and I welcome your feedback. 

Thanks for your interest!

Blog content (c) Copyright Patricia Dines, 2012. All rights reserved. Links are encouraged! My content is also available for reprint, but please contact me for permission first. Thanks!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The holidays bring Indigenous' warehouse clothing sale

With the return of the winter holiday season comes one of my favorite events: the Indigenous' Annual Holiday Warehouse sale, which this year is on Dec. 6, 7, and 8.  

And I post this only as a fan sharing a secret insider treat!

I love this company's long-term deep commitment to making clothes that are beautiful and high-quality while also being respectful of both the earth and the artisans that craft the items. The folks at Indigenous really have been pioneering that path, braving the challenges to show us what can be done. 

Usually you can only get their clothes in stores or online. But once a year, for three days, they open the doors of their Santa Rosa offices and offer a wide range of samples and other extras for 60-70% off retail. (It's mostly women's clothing and accessories, but there are some nice selections for men.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

GMO Strategy: Why are you calling the election officials?

In my recent post What do we do now about GMOs?, I outlined what I think are the key beneficial actions that we can do now to protect ourselves and others from risky experimental "novel" GMO food and agricultural products.

In today's blog, I want to highlight an action that I do NOT think is a smart one to take. I'm open to hearing additional facts, but from what I see so far, it doesn't make any sense, and could even have negative impacts. 

To me, when we call others to action, we have a responsibility to make sure that the action is fact-based and strategically smart.

I also think that right now we're in a particularly powerful moment regarding the GMO issue, because so many people have had their attention drawn to it because of our recent election's California Proposition 37 (GMO labeling).

But when we call on people to take ill-considered actions, or worse follow wild goose chases, it can harm not help our mission. For instance:
  • It can make our movement look incompetent and silly, undermining our credibility with people who know the facts, and compromising the quality work being done by competent people.
  • It can hurt our relationship with our allies, disrupting their ability to take action for our benefit, and even making them want to reduce or withdraw their support for our cause.
  • It can waste people's time and energy that could be better spent on actions that are much more likely to have a positive outcome. 
  • It can dissipate people's enthusiasm so that they abandon taking action and retreat back into their individual lives.
Let's not waste this opportunity! Let's make sure the actions we do, and encourage others to do, make sense and are the best use of their time and enthusiasm.

The action I'm discussing here is the request that we phone California election officials and ask them to count all the votes. The advocates assert that this will benefit the outcome for Prop. 37. There's also an online petition making a similar request.

However, my assessment is that this will not help Prop. 37 and could hurt our larger mission. Therefore, I encourage people NOT to do or forward this action. Instead, I invite you to look at at my prior blog for smarter actions that we can all do.

OK, so let's look more at this situation.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What do we do now about GMOs? (Part II)

Wow, this conversation about what to do next about GMOs is really buzzing! In my prior post, I covered what I think are the key strategies and my favorite groups. Read that first! 

Then in this post I've gathered some more good action ideas and resources. There are lots of things we can do, so just skim to see what's of interest to you!