WATWB – Arctic Ice Abounds

 

Arctic Ice

In Philadelphia this past winter, the total snowfall count was a wafer thin 0.3 inches.  While many Philadelphians celebrated the fact that they didn’t have to scrap the snow off their cars there was yet another upside:  an uptick in arctic ice!  By keeping the frigid air up north, the ice, like the plot, thickened.  It’s still the 11th lowest since we’ve been keeping score with 42 years of satellite photos, but at least it’s not the worst, eh?

A small blip of good news and a reason for celebration in a time when there’s very little else to celebrate.

Remember when hunkering down in your house was because of this:

instead of this:

 

It’s the last Friday of the month.  Time to share the good news on We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by the good news.  If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, you know, that kind of stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list.  This month’s cohosts are:

Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas,
Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion,
and Belinda Witzenhausen.

Thanks for reading.

pam lazos 3.27.20

Posted in #WATWB, arctic ice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Amigos por Agua

 

Amigos por Agua

Imagine what it would be like to have running water for the first time in your life.  The feeling of sheer joy and exhilaration.  That’s exactly what these kids, residents of Chinandega, Nicaragua are feeling.

 

[All photos by John Bland, Amigos for Christ]

I just had an article published in the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water. I’ve been on the editorial board there for the last five or six years, a labor of love that I feel is so very important because it relates to the narrative we tell about water.

You can read the article here.

 

There is so much to say about water:  how women bear the burden of collecting water where it is not readily provided or available; how approximately a billion people lack access to clean, safe water and about 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation; how that lack of access can lead to infant mortality, a myriad of adult diseases, and even death; and how the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals are working to assure that one day, everyone will have access to water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH.

Here’s the abstract from my article, Amigos por Agua:

The role of non-profit organizations in outfitting the developing world with clean water has become more extensive as the world’s population grows, especially in places such as Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Nicaraguans suffer high rates of kidney disease, respiratory illnesses and parasites as a result of water borne diseases. NGOs such as Amigos for Christ are stepping in to fill the void in Chinandega where the local government lacks the financial wherewithal to provide a basic WASH infrastructure to its inhabitants. It is the goal of Amigos for Christ to bring water to every household in Chinandega thereby improving the health, education and welfare of the populace. This article is based on transcripts from an interview on how this NGO accomplishes their work.

With a staff of 123, this small but mighty group is aiming to bring water to every home in Chinandega — population approximately 150,000 —  and in doing so will alter those residents lives forever.

Amigos digs wells, runs water lines and installs bathrooms such as the one pictured above, AND they teach organic farming methods to the locals so they can improve their standard of living.  It’s an amazing organization with a terrific track record of improving people’s lives.

I encourage you to read the interview with John Bland, founder of Amigos for Christ.  You may be moved to take a week off from work and head to Nicaragua to help drill a well.  Or maybe you’d like to send Amigos a donation.  Or even offer up a good wish or two for their continued success.

Whatever you do, I dare you not to be inspired.

pam lazos 3.11.20

Posted in NGOs, organic farming, United Nations, water, water conservation, water purification, water security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

The Night Bus

The Night Bus

You know that lovely feeling you get when you crack the spine on a book and after a few sentences in you know you’re in the presence of a master?  That was my takeaway from reading The Night Bus, by U.K. resident, Mick Canning, a collection of stories and poems teeming with vitality and resonant with the flavor of the wide open world.  The Night Bus is Mick’s second indie-published work; the first was a novel, Making Friends with the Crocodile.  

So enthralled was I with Mick’s writing that I asked him if he would stop by and chat a little.  This is what ensued.

First, congratulations on the release of The Night Bus (Nov. 2019).  It’s always exciting to release a new work, and quite cathartic, I think. How long have you been writing, Mick?  How did you first get started?

I’ve always written – I used to make up stories as a small child and read them out to my parents. I am one of those writers who ‘has to write’ – it is almost a compulsion. I always carry a notebook and scribble down ideas for new pieces or something I’m working on at the time.

From where do your ideas come?  What inspires you?  How do you keep the creative spark going?

If I knew where they came from, I’d market that! But seriously, we all have ideas. We see or think of something and think it might make a good story, but the difference is that the writer notes them down and works on some of them later. I don’t think there is anything in particular that inspires me, though. It can be as diverse as a chance thought, something in the news or a view of some mountains. As for keeping it going, when I feel a bit stuck or stale, I go for a long walk. It never fails to free whatever block I have at the time.

These have also been my experiences.  If I fail to write something down, the idea seems lost forever.  Similarly, if I get stuck, a walk dislodges all the blocks, probably because you’re giving your body something to do so your mind is free to think as it pleases.  It’s amazing how many writers have similar experiences.  From reading your stories, I assume you’ve traveled extensively.  What were some of the most profound places you’ve been to?  How does travel inform your writing?

If by profound you mean intense, then India immediately comes to mind. It is an intense country in many ways, a country of extremes and intensity. As such, it provides marvelous colour and background for stories. My novel, Making Friends with the Crocodile, is set in an Indian village, and a lot of what happens there – especially the round of day to day life – comes from my own experiences in a similar village. And then the title piece of The Night Bus is based strongly on a bus journey through Northern India and Nepal I took over thirty years ago. But places closer to home inspire me, too. I’ve set a lot of my writing in the UK (not surprisingly), and it’s possible to find the exotic even in places that might be considered more mundane since, in the end, it is often people that make places.

Have you had any of the metaphysical experiences you write about in your stories? If so, tell us about one.

They’re all out of my imagination, sadly!

What message do you most want to convey with your writing?

That would depend on the story or poem. In Making Friends with the Crocodile, I am writing very overtly about the prejudices and abuse faced by women, but in other pieces I am usually aiming to entertain rather than get a message across. That doesn’t mean I don’t throw in a few pointers or make a few points, of course. As someone with strong opinions about many subjects, I think that’s inevitable.

Do you go for a clear message or do you want the reader to extrapolate?

That rather depends – see above!

Do you work outside of writing, i.e., do you have day job?

I’m now retired.

What has been your greatest writing lesson?  How about life lesson?

As far as writing is concerned, there is no substitute for writing as much and as often as possible. That is how you develop your style. To read as much and as widely as possible. That is how you learn so much about structuring. And finally to actually learn and know how to use grammar. That is how you stop your books sounding lazy and amateurish. And then a serious edit. I have read many, many samples of self-published books on Amazon, and I am amazed and appalled at how incredibly sloppy and poor some of them are. It is scary enough putting yourself out in the world to be read and judged by strangers, so why make yourself look extra foolish? And make someone who has bought your book feel short-changed and resentful?

A life lesson? Live in the present. It’s all we have.

Who are your biggest influences?  Inspirations?  Present day? Historical?

The writers who have had the greatest influence on me are possibly the South American short story writer Jorge Luis Borges and the novelist Hermann Hesse, but I suspect that everything I’ve read has had some sort of influence, and it’s more than likely that I don’t recognize some of them. Perhaps readers might be more likely to spot them.

Now that you mention Borges, I can see his influence on your work.  He’s a very trippy (metaphysical) writer in my opinion.  As far as you own work, where do you want to be ten years from now as far as creative accomplishments?

It would be nice to sell a few more books…

I know from reading your blog that you have a deep respect for nature and the environment.  What can we do as writers to help nature out or at least educate our fellows in this critical time?

The obvious, really. Use whichever platforms we have to educate and inform. My blog reaches more readers than my books, and on a regular basis, so that is where I write on environmental issues. That’s not to say I won’t perhaps explore those other avenues sometime.

Anything else you want to add?

Thanks for inviting me here, Pam.

My pleaseure, Mick.  I look forward to your future works. 

Making Friends with the Crocodile:

Siddiqa was only just into her teens when she was forced to leave her home to live with her new husband and his family in another village. The years have passed, and now Siddiqa has three children of her own. Her grown up son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowliest in the household, for she has a daughter-in-law.

Life in rural India is particularly harsh for women. This novel explores themes of female oppression and tradition and asks whether the next generation will find life any easier.

The Night Bus:

This book is in two parts. A collection of seven short – and not so short – stories, which make up the bulk of the book, followed by a selection of recent poems.
Travel has always been a passion of mine and, one way or another, nearly every piece here is to do with journeys. Some of the stories are quite dark, but the majority of the poems have a lighter touch.

Two stories are set in India; in one, a young man goes in search of a mysterious destiny, while in the other a traveling Englishman becomes embroiled in a chilling disappearance. One story speaks of the support and comradeship of a close-knit island community while another tells of jealous intelligences far older than mankind.

There is one long poem, which gives the title to this collection and tells of a journey across India and into the mountains. There is also a short series of poems about the ancient paths and tracks of Britain; in these, especially, a love of the natural world shines through.

Mick can be reached at:

http://www.mickcanning.co

pam lazos 3.8.20

Posted in author interview, book promotion, book release, books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Let it Snow Geese

 

Let It Snow Geese

Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersville in Lancaster and Lebanon counties is a 6,000-acre parcel that provides a stopover for migrating birds en route from sunnier climes south of Pennsylvania to their spring and summer breeding grounds on the Arctic tundra. 

Operated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the site was created from 1965 to 1972 from pieces of various local farms and offered local hunters the opportunity to enter a drawing to win one of a set amount of licenses to hunt Canadian geese. 

Fast forward to present day where thousands of snow geese — who mate for life, by the way — take a break on their long flight home.  On President’s Day this year, about 130,000 geese took a swim, grabbed some lunch and raised a ruckus at Middle Creek, drawing hundreds of locals, many with camera lenses as long as your arm, to witness the spectacle. 

Once home, a pair of snow geese will produce between two and six eggs which the female will incubate over a period of 22 to 25 days.  Come fall, the family hits the sky again, migrating along the Atlantic Coast to warmer weather. 

The record for the most snow geese at Middle Creek was set on February 21, 2018 at 200,000 geese. I have no idea how they count them.

I took these pictures with my phone so the depth is no where near what it could be, but you get the idea.  The most intriguing part to me was not just the number of geese but the noise they make.  It’s a real treat to see it live, but if you can’t get there…  

go here for the live snow geese cam and see these beautiful birds for yourself.  Hurry, while they’re still hanging around the place. 

pam lazos 2.23.20

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 41 Comments

Happy Hearts

 

HAPPY HEARTS

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps.  Kiss your honey, your kids, your cats, your dogs, yourself even, and everyone else you love to have in your life.  It will make them feel loved and a lot lighter, and it will boost your immune system, too!  #GiveLove #SpreadLove #BigLove

Bleeding hearts…

Foody hearts…

Electric hearts…

Green and glowing hearts…

Cups of hearts…

Home is where the heart is.

Spread Love! Give Love!  Big Love! oxo

pam lazos 2.14.20

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Technology for a Greener World

 

There are a lot of people producing a lot of great environmentally friendly content on the internet these days.  People like Mark Harris at Awareness Toolkits, one of a small group of folks committed to finding ways to live more sustainably and to pass that information on to the rest of us.  Mark reached out to me about writing this post — which you’ll note is chock full of terrific ideas — but you can contact the folks at Awareness Toolkits for help with anything environmental and they’ll research it for you.  Yes, it truly is a wonderful world.  Thanks, Mark.

I trust you will find the following most helpful.  Feel free to share liberally and enjoy!

pam lazos 2.9.20

Image via Unsplash

 

How to Use Technology at Home for a Greener World

by Mark Harris

Everywhere we look, we are confronted with the threat of global warming and pollution and reminded that we are leaving our grandchildren an unstable and unhealthy environment. We all want to have a greener, healthier lifestyle, but many of us are afraid we’ll have to give up the techno-gadgets that are so important to our work and home life.

Fortunately, that isn’t necessary. There are myriad technological advancements that do not harm the environment at all, and some even help us live a greener lifestyle.

Energy Usage

Smart thermostats help you save money and energy by connecting to the internet so you can adjust them from anywhere. Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat learn your heating and cooling routine and apply your preferences to the system, so you stay comfortable all the time without lifting a finger. Another useful thermostat is Ecobee’s newest model which provides energy and usage reports and can work with many smart home platforms. Smart thermostats save energy and money because they only work when necessary, and on top of that, you can adjust your thermostat from your phone if you’re getting home late or are on vacation.

Power Strips and Surge Protectors

As Temple University explains, a lot of energy is wasted by the phenomenon of vampire waste, also known as phantom energy use. This colloquial term refers to how electrical gadgets will draw electricity when not in use. Plugging into a surge protector or power strip instead of the wall will prevent phantom energy use.

Some power strips connect to the internet allowing you to turn things off remotely. Stop televisions, microwaves, and computers from draining energy and raising the electric bill with a simple power strip.

Water Filtration

According to Forbes, 91 percent of disposable water bottles are not recycled, adding tons of waste in United States landfills every year. These discarded bottles damage the natural ecosystem in several ways. They destroy the natural habitats of wildlife and pollute the oceans and waterways as well.

A simple solution is to drink tap water. There are a plethora of technological water filters available commercially. They filter particles of debris from tap water as well as chlorine and mineral deposits leaving you with great-tasting filtered water for only pennies on the bottle. Add a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated when on the go.

Alternative Lighting

The incandescent light bulbs we have traditionally used are huge energy monsters. LED lights on the other hand are extreme energy savers. Although traditional bulbs are considerably less expensive at the onset, LED lights save much more in the long run. According to Scherer Electric, the cost of using a halogen or incandescent light for a year is $6.02 compared to $1.26 for a year of LED lighting.

Not only do LED lights save money, but they offer a slew of other benefits such as a range of colors and brightness. You can also connect them to your smart home system and control your home lighting remotely.

Thermal Leak Detector

An airtight home naturally saves you money and energy use. With that in mind, look to thermal leak detectors to show you where heat is leaking out of your home. Use it to check around ducts, windows, and doors as well as other insulated places that are vulnerable. Simply scan the area in question and watch as the detector turns red for warm or blue for cool. These nifty gadgets can also be used to check the effectiveness of freezers, refrigerators, and even your vehicle’s coolant system.

Boosting the insulation in your home can stretch energy savings even further and help you make the most of that energy you’re holding in your four walls.

It doesn’t seem possible, but our everyday technology can be used to make the world a greener, healthier place. From saving energy to cutting down on pollution, there are many ways to use technology for a greater good. Together, we can make a difference.

You can contact Mark at:

mark@awarenesstoolkits.com

 

Posted in eco, ecosystems, electricity, environment, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Toward a Circular Economy: Trash Picking

Toward a Circular Economy:  Trash Picking

Over half of the world’s population doesn’t have a formal waste disposal scheme in place.  One hundred years ago, when the ubiquitous material known as plastic had not yet been invented this may have been okay.  People composted; containers were made of paper, cardboard, cloth, glass, and other materials that broke down readily.  Today, everything seems to be made of plastic which is sturdy and shatter-resistant and lasts for a thousand years — literally.

And that’s the problem.  Plastic’s long shelf life is an anathema on the planet because no one wants to take the time to sort it all out.  On our current trajectory, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, certainly not a sustainable course, right, but what to do when the product that has become so entrenched?

Luckily, when there’s a need, the market fills it.  Enter The Body Shop and their partnership with Plastics for Change and their offspring:  fair trade plastics.  Both companies are certified by the World Fair Trade Organization and that their union would have produced such a happy and bountiful offspring was really just a matter of time.  Here’s how it works. 

Plastics for Change connects trash pickers — of which there are about 1.5 million world-wide — and global markets, ensuring that supply will always meet demand, and provides over 6,000 tons (!) of plastic everyday for recycling. 

Okay, I know.  Trash-picking is probably the least glamorous job around, but if you are living in Bengaluru as one of India’s Dalits, a member of the lowest, or “untouchable” class whose economic standing means they have next to nothing, including basic necessities like housing and access to clean water, then you are happy for a job sanctioned by the World Fair Trade Organization because it will comply with the 10 fair trade principles.  

The Body Shop then uses a portion of the recycled plastic to make the plastics that contain products we love.  And not to worry — several years went into assuring quality control.  As the program grows, so will the percentage of Fair Trade Plastics, a win for the market, the economy, and the planet.  Read the full article here.

And if you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines follow:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, you know, that kind of stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

pam lazos 1.31.20

Posted in plastics, recycling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments