Coming Full Circle to Victory

A year ago, I had the great privilege of working alongside Rebecca Parrish, doing location sound recording for Jen Gilomen, one of the filmmakers behind Working Films documentary Deep Down when they brought their film’s protagonist Beverly May to Chicago. They were here for an ITVS Community Cinema Screening, but first stopped by Little Village to meet the members of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) to learn about their fight against several toxic industries, including two huge coal power plants that were poisoning the air and the people in those neighborhoods.

LVEJO member Ian took us on a walking tour of his neighborhood, where we got to stand right outside the towering gates of the Fisk plant in Pilsen. The change in the quality of air I was breathing was immediately noticeable. There was no running away from the foul smell of chemicals in the air. As I crinkled my nose and started to fear the effect breathing the air would have on my brain that day, I wondered how the City of Chicago could allow such a toxic-emitting plant to carry on running right where people’s homes are. A 2010 study showed that pollution from the Fisk and Crawford plants alone leads to 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year!

Fast forward to today, I found myself back in Pilsen, where the smoke stack of the Fisk plant towered over me once again. A large crowd had gathered in the park across the street carrying signs and chanting continuously. This time, the looks on the faces of Pilsen residents were ones of sheer joy and celebration. Just yesterday, news broke that both coal plants in Chicago will soon shut down.
Plant Closing Celebration

That’s when Greenpeace, one of the organizations that’s been fighting for this for years, called me to help document this historic victory.

Greenpeace blog

Visit their blog to read their recap of the day and watch a clip of Lelia Mendez, a member of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), giving an emotionally-charged speech.

(Thank you Mitch, for passing this opportunity along. It was so great to come full circle.)

Media Impact Spotlight – Ep5 – Van Jones

I had the opportunity to meet Van Jones recently. Best known for being an environmental advocate and bestselling author of The Green Collar Economy, President Barack Obama appointed him as the Special Advisor for Green Jobs back in 2009. Hear what he has to say about the most pertinent issue we need to tackle in 2011, and what the media’s role should be.

Thanks to Northwestern SEED for organizing the event and inviting Van Jones for their Fall Speaker series. It was incredibly inspiring and enjoyable.

Media Impact Spotlight is a web video series featuring professionals utilizing various forms of media for positive social change. Watch previous episodes and subscribe to the series here.

Why it’s time to ditch disposable bottled water

When was the last time you bought a bottle of water from a store? How much did it cost you? A dollar? Maybe two?  How much would it have cost you to fill your own non-disposable bottle with tap water? $0.002.

Maybe you thought that with the pretty pictures of snow-capped mountains on the labels of these bottles, the water you purchased had to be from the clean, pristine streams of mountains from a land far far away and therefore worth the price. Sorry to burst your bubble. Nearly 40% of bottled water is simply filtered tap water. The bottled water industry is not only charging you almost two thousand times more for the water you can easily get from your running tap, but is also causing health problems for people who have to breathe in the fumes where these single-use plastic bottles are manufactured. Add that to the detrimental effect on the environment we have when we dispose of these bottles and they end up in landfills.

How is it then, that the average American drinks about 200 bottles of water a year? Convenience.

“I want water and I want it now.” so you walk into the nearest 7-Eleven to purchase one.

“I’m too lazy to carry my own non-disposable bottle around.” so you leave the house without one.

Well, i think the first step to change is to educate yourself with the facts. The Story of Bottled Water does a great job in 8 minutes explaining it.


And if you’ve got time, catch the great documentary Tapped. I first saw it at the Talking Pictures Film Festival last year and was amazed by all the things about the bottled water industry i never knew. Think of it as the Food, Inc. movie for water.

And if you’re wondering now about which reusable bottle to get that’ll be safe, durable and eco-friendly, I highly recommend the stainless steel line from Kleen Kanteen. Not made from plastic, so you don’t have to worry about BPA leeching into your water. Not made from Aluminum, so you don’t have a liner that makes your water taste funky. Their factories practice fair labor standards, and 1% of all their sales go towards the planet. It’s a small sacrifice in convenience for a hundred times the benefit in return. Ditch that disposable bottled water today.

This entry was written as a part of Blog Action Day 2010, an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

Join me on Blog Action Day

A week from today, the world will unite to shine a spotlight on the very essence of life – Water.

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Its aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.

Will you join me on Oct 15th?