Earth Month April 2017 Newsletter

Features…

Letter Writing Party for the Lake Erie Wind Project

Thursday, 3/30/17, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Forest City Brewery, 2135 Columbus Road, Cleveland 44113

The Icebreaker Project, which would bring a demonstration project of 6 wind turbines in Lake Erie, is not a done deal! It is being examined by the Ohio Power Siting Board on April 3, 2017. We need to get some letters of support in ASAP. Come join us to write some letters of support. We’ll have an information sheet on the Icebreaker Project, envelopes, paper, pens, stamps, and light refreshments. Forest City Brewery is a great host with fabulous local brewed beer, crafted sodas and great cheese and meat bites, etc. Plus we get to be together working on transitioning Cleveland to a renewable energy future. What a great way to spend a Thursday evening! RSVP…


EarthFest 2017

Join Earth Day Coalition for EarthFest 2017 on Saturday, April 22 from 10am-5pm for activities/exhibits and ALL NEW 4pm-7pm Party with the Planet concert featuring Cats on Holiday at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. Celebrate the Year of Vibrant Green Space at Ohio’s largest environmental education event and the longest running Earth Day celebration in the nation. EarthFest will feature over 270 exhibitors in our nine eco-exhibit areas including Vibrant Green Space, Clean Transportation, Clean Water, Community Works, Environmental & Energy Science, Family Fun, Green Home & Garden, Health & Fitness and Local & Sustainable Food.


Arbor Day Volunteers Needed

The Arbor Day Coalition is sponsoring a tree seedling give-away at Earth Fest on April 22 at the Cuyahoga Co. Fairgrounds. Volunteers are needed to assembly planting packets to be given out with the seedlings. If you can help, please contact Isaac Robb at irobb@wrlandconservancy.org or 503-385-6988.


NEO Sierra Club partners with the Cleveland International Film Festival

The NEO Sierra Club is partnering with the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) to present The Age of Consequences, a film that explores the conflict and security implications of climate change. The schedule for the film’s screenings at Tower City Cinemas is as follows:

Friday, March 31, 6:15 PM
Saturday, April 1, 11:10 AM
Sunday, April 2, 9:35 AM

Tickets are on sale now at www.clevelandfilm.org or at the Tower City box office. Sierra Club members can receive a $2 discount on each ticket purchased by using the code word “Sierra” when purchasing tickets. Advance ticket purchases are advised as films often sell out.


Ecuador, Mining, and Environmental Protection

By Michael Melampy, NEOSC Rainforest Committee Chair

As we struggle with the Trump administration over the role of government in environmental protection, health care and just about everything else, we tend to lose sight of important struggles over similar issues in other parts of the world. Even though the U.S. is the center of our universe, what happens in other parts of the world does affect us. This is particularly true of tropical countries that harbor carbon dioxide sequestering forests and most of the world’s biodiversity.

Right now, Ecuador, a Colorado-sized country in tropical South America, is in the midst of a presidential election that will determine its future direction for economic development and, most importantly for us, the management of its natural resources. Current president, Rafael Correa, has implemented an aggressive social welfare program that has halved poverty, improved health care, rebuilt roads, and expanded educational opportunities around the country. While his accomplishments are impressive, they have come at a steep cost in terms of civil rights and environmental damage. Anyone opposed to his policies has been subject to harassment, even lawsuits. Non-governmental organizations devoted to indigenous rights and environmental protection have been attacked in Correa’s weekly televised addresses to the nation and at least one environmental NGO, Pachamama, was forced to close. At the same time, Correa has increasingly turned to extractivist industries, particularly oil and mining, to generate the revenues needed for his social welfare program.

The two candidates in the current election, Lenin Moreno and Guillermo Lasso, may or may not change Correa’s policies. Moreno, formerly Correa’s vice president, will probably seek to maintain many if not most of Correa’s policies. Lasso, a banker, promises change but it is not clear what type of change he favors. Some environmentalists favor Lasso because he has talked about retreating from extractivism, but it is not clear how he would replace the lost revenue or if he would even have the power to significantly alter Ecuador’s current path. Correa has cut Ecuador off from significant sources of international credit by refusing payment on a large part of the international debt that Ecuador racked up in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Instead, he has turned to the Chinese for credit. The Chinese want minerals in return and mining concessions throughout Ecuador. They are currently involved in a highly controversial effort to open a large, open-pit mine on land claimed by the Shaur Indians in southern Ecuador. The Shaur are staunchly opposed to the mine and have clashed violently with government police and army personnel who are protecting the mining operation. Despite the clashes, the Chinese hold on Ecuador’s finances may make it very difficult for the new president to change course on mining concessions.

Ecuador’s situation vis a vis extractive industries is similar to that found in many Latin American countries, e.g. Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. In these countries, mining is sold as the solution to serious social ills but often serves only to exacerbate those ills by contaminating soil, air and water to the point of making large areasd unlivable. Furthermore, corrupt government officials often misuse mining revenues, leaving the poor even worse off than they had been without the intrusions of mining companies.

So what is to be done? Costa Rica may offer one possible alternative. Back in the 1970’s, the Costa Rican government in collaboration with environmental and scientific NGO’s embarked on an aggressive program to protect Costa Rica’s forests and establish a large system of national parks and reserves. With government assistance, nature tour operators established tourist facilities associated with the parks and encouraged international visitors to come and view Costa Rica’s impressive wildlife. These efforts resulted in one of the finest ecotourism industries in the world, which provides Costa Rica an important source of funding for government programs. Those programs have produced a healthy, highly educated population that has attracted the attention of high tech industries. New software companies in Costa Rica now offer high paying jobs that do not require environmental destruction. But is the Costa Rica model replicable in other countries? Much depends on the international demand for metals. Our purchases of a never-ending stream of electronic products that require copper, gold, platinum and rare earth elements provide constant pressure to find new sources of these raw materials. Countries with large mineral deposits will be tempted to sign mining agreements such as the one that Ecuador has with China.

While we need to reduce our demand for metals, that is not enough. We must consider the utility of direct payments for the protection of natural resources. Ecuador tried to implement an innovative program to avoid opening oil wells in the Yasuni National Park, perhaps the most biodiverse tropical rainforest in the world. Ecuador’s government agreed not to sell oil extraction concessions in the Yasuni if the international community would deposit $3 billion or approximately half of the money that Yasuni oil would have generated in a UN account earmarked for sustainable development projects in Ecuador. The global response was underwhelming with less than $100 million promised by European governments and nothing by the U.S. Critics complained that Ecuador was trying to hold the Yasuni hostage in return for what amounted to a ransom and that a national park should have been off limits to oil development. Maybe national parks are sacrosanct in the U.S. and Europe but Ecuador needs its oil revenues to lift itself out of poverty and has gone ahead with drilling in the Yasuni. Until we recognize the urgency of helping countries like Ecuador to meet their immediate financial needs, we can forget about rainforest conservation. It simply will not happen. President Trump’s current “America First” policy is particularly damaging in this regard as it seeks to cut back all forms of U.S. spending except for defense and stopping illegal immigration. Such a policy certainly threatens the remaining rainforests of the world and may doom future generations to extreme climate change. But Trump cannot enact policy by himself. If we act effectively, we can still help the Ecuadors of the world and save ourselves in the process.


Cleveland, Ohio — Cuyahoga County businesses and residents can donate their unwanted items with the help of a useful book published by the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District called Pass It On: A Resource-Full Guide to Donating Usable Stuff.

Since 1997, this free book has helped thousands of people pass along their unwanted but usable items to those in need. Printed in August 2016, the 7th edition of Pass It On lists 140 community service and nonprofit organizations that use donated items to support their work. These organizations work on behalf of youth, seniors, the homeless and others in Cuyahoga County. Toys, art supplies, clothing, books, school supplies, office equipment, sporting goods, tools, furniture and more can be donated to the organizations listed in this helpful guide. Donating usable goods helps others and reduces waste.

Would-be donators of goods can also search how to donate or recycle their items on the District’s “What Do I Do With?” database at www.CuyahogaRecycles.org. Additionally, a printable PDF is available at http://cuyahogarecycles.org/pass_it_on_book. People can also request copies of the soft-bound book by calling the Solid Waste District at 216.443.3749 or online at http://cuyahogarecycles.org/PublicationRequest.aspx.

About The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District
The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District is the public agency helping the people of Cuyahoga County reduce, reuse and recycle at home, at work and in their communities. We serve as the leading resource in the County for information, expertise and programs that support sustainable materials management and reduce the environmental impact of waste. Visit www.CuyahogaRecycles.org or call 216.443.3749 to learn how to recycle in your community and discover other recycling and disposal options.


Tell Wendys to do the right thing!

By Laurel Hopwood, Chair, NEO Sierra Club Agriculture Committee

Text or Call (888) 624-8140

Talking points:

I understand Wendy’s has not yet joined the Fair Food Program (FFP). The FFP guarantees rights for farmworkers, such as rights to shade and rest breaks from their grueling work, and zero tolerance for sexual harassment and modern slavery.

Rather than participate in what has been called the “best workplace monitoring program in the U.S.”, Wendy’s has run from responsibility and abandoned tomato growers. Thus, Wendy’s has opted to profit from farmworker abuse and poverty.

When will you join McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King, which have already joined the Fair Food Program, and commit to buying tomatoes from farms where workers rights are upheld and paid a small Fair Food Premium?


Rock For Water – April 29th, 7PM

PRESALE $35/$25/$15
Rock for Water is an annual recycled fashion show turning trash into art! Dryer sheets, newspapers, plastic bags, and more will be brought to life by our models and the designers to put on a high energy performance for the audience. The outfits will be made by A David Anthony Salon + Spa, Mona Lisa Eco Salon, Firefish Arts, local fashion designer Jevon Terance, and Off Broadway Floral with all different themes and ideas. Prepare to be amazed! Proceeds will go towards The Sierra Club and The Black River Clean Up.

For more info: lorainpalace.org/rock-for-water-april-29th7pm-presale-352515/


Letter Writing for the Environment

By Natalie Cabrera

The Northeast Ohio Sierra Club organized a Letter-Writing for the Environment event on Thursday, March 2 at the Forest City Brewery. Over 50 people attended and we sent a total of 186 postcards and letters to public officials to voice opinions on recent attacks on the environment. Attendees also were entered into a free raffle for Sierra Club swag and a few items generously donated by the Forest City Brewery. Thank you to all who attended for making this such a successful event!

Click here for a PDF of the letter writing info and addresses. You can still send in your own!


New Meeting Time: The Energy and Fracking Committees will meet together on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:30-8:30 At the Cleveland Hts Main Library, 2345 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights 44118


People’s Climate March

Please plan to join us on April 29 for the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC. A bus from Cleveland is being planned. We will post the details when they are available. Right now we need at least 52 people committed to making the trip so that we can secure at least one bus.

Please sign up for this bus trip at this Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/1895330470700175/?ti=icl.

In 2014 The People’s Climate March brought 400,000 people to New York City to march as the United Nations Climate Summit was convened. That march sparked an awareness in our leaders that the People demand meaningful action on the climate crisis.

Now the nomination of climate deniers to important cabinet posts and the appointment of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson as the US Secretary of State demand a loud response from the people. We will not back down on our demand for a renewable energy future. Help make this People’s Climate March even bigger than the first one! Plan to take the Cleveland bus to Washington to march on April 29, 2017!


Black River Clean-Up

It’s Black River Clean-Up (BRCU) time again!! BRCU’17 is Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7, from 9:00am – 2:00pm with lunch beginning around 1:30. As usual, you are welcome to check-in anytime between 9:00am and 1:00pm, and everyone must be checked-out by 2:00pm. Stay for as little or as long as you’d like. We appreciate every minute you can give. Online registration will be available in the next month or so.


4 Miles 4 Water

Saturday, May 6, 8 AM- 1 PM at Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica (2014 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, OH 44113)

This is an event to raise awareness for the challenges people in developing countries face to access drinking water. The money raised from registrations for the event will go toward projects in east Africa to give communities sustainable water sources. There will be a 4 mile race and 1 mile walk and an All Things Water Festival that includes educational booths, games, vegan brunch food trucks, beer/wine bar, and bloody-mary bar.

This is a non-NEOSC event. Entry fee is $30. For more information, go to www.drinklocaldrinktap.org/activism/4-miles-4-water.


Meetings

Executive Committee meetings begin immediately after the 7 PM Conservation meeting. The March meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 1 at the Brooklyn Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library at 4480 Ridge Rd.

The Energy and Fracking Committees will meet together on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 6:30-8:30 At the Cleveland Hts Main Library, 2345 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights 44118

Coal & Energy Committee meets at 4105 Stilmore Rd, South Euclid, Ohio 44121. Please contact Randy Cunningham at 216-631-3337 for the time and date of the next meeting.

Green Transportation Committee Please contact Akshai Singh via email for more information. State Transportation are now at 7pm EST on the 2nd Monday of each month. For folks interested in our efforts, follow along at Ohio for Transportation Equity’s facebook (website coming soon), or for more local work, Clevelanders for Public Transit, who also have a website.

Rainforest Committee For details on meeting times and places, contact Michael Melampy at 440-263-6483 or via email.

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Committee News

Executive Committee

There are many opportunities to volunteer with the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club. We have an opening in our ExCom Committee, we need fundraising and events volunteers, help with Inspiring Connections Outdoors–a program for taking kids on monthly outings and more. Read more…

Coal & Energy

Stand up against coal bailouts in person June 15 in Columbus. June 15 marks the beginning of legal proceedings for First Energy’s bailout proposal. Read more…

Rainforest Committee

On June 9, at the behest of Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s National Assembly approved changes to the Organic Law that reduce protection for the marine reserve and facilitate investment of foreign capital for the development of large hotels, resorts, and new residential areas. Read more…