New Beginnings

[all photos:  Cape May, New Jersey, by yours truly]

New Beginnings

They say every day is a new beginning.  What if you, like the earth, could start anew…

 

a clean slate…

a chance to fly with the tree swallows…

 

or the gulls…

to shimmer like the sun on the water…

hugging the horizon for a time only to rise and run across the sky…

What if?

Yesterday’s gone.  Today’s rainbow awaits.  Go lasso it.  It’s yours for the asking.

pam lazos 10.21.19

 

Posted in beach conservation, conservation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Hamilton: Showtime, Showtime!

Hamilton:  Showtime, Showtime!

Many days I wake up with a song in my head — a message from a loved one, the universe, my Soul — often an answer to a question that’s been beguiling me, popping out of my memory and into my consciousness like confetti, fleeting, elusive, everywhere, then gone.  More often it’s just that I’ve listened to a song on repeat so many times that now it won’t leave me be.

My love affair with music started early.  When I was still in single digits, my sister and I  would dance around the living room after Sunday breakfast to my dad’s records.  We had a ginormous console, a beautiful blond wood cabinet that opened from the top.  The record player sat inside in the middle with the speakers on either side housed behind patterned mesh fronting that allowed for sound to pass. 

We had unlimited access to my dad’s vinyl collection:  Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. — the music spoke to me on a cellular level.  I’d stack the albums like pancakes inside the console, my sister and I spinning like astronauts preparing for a space mission, laughing so hard we almost spit up the pancakes we just ate for breakfast, and in our altered states of consciousness — spinning does that to you — we’d fall to the carpet and laugh.

To this day I cannot hear the Sarah Vaughan song, One, Two, Three, without stopping to dance.  Magic happened in that living room.

Over the past year, I’ve awakened with a Hamilton song in my head so many times I thought maybe I’d gone totally round the bend as my Aussie friend used to say.  So I stopped listening to the soundtrack to see what would happen, but the music clung to me like sticky rice.  

Tickets to see it on Broadway required a refinance on our mortgage so I bided my time until Hamilton arrived in Philadelphia then ordered tickets for just me and the girls — fie on my husband who had ridiculed our Hamiltonian devotion; and my son, well, he would rather do anything but see a play — and counted the days, tick tock, tick tock, until showtime.

 

And then the day arrived.  

It was a perfect fall night.  We had dinner outside at the Caribou Cafe a few doors down from the Forrest Theater, and then we were giggling in line, bouncing on our toes like elementary school kids waiting for recess, thrilled to be almost there, so close to our dream that it was visceral.  We took our front row seats (OMG — front row!), the lights dimmed, and I was transported, the music moving me like I was still a kid dancing in my parents’ living room.

The set didn’t change much during the show:  an enormous brick and scaffolding backdrop, ropes hanging from railings, stairways that moved up and down, and elevated walkways graced the stage from start to finish.  On the ground, the actors would add a desk (for obvious reasons, lots of things happened at desks), a few chairs here, a street lamp there, but nothing elaborate, just a careful brick-by-brick construction like the slow growth of our nation.  At the center of the stage were two rotating wooden circles, one inside the other that allowed for the look of activity, the actors walking and moving about while really standing still, and the walls had little niches where the actors stashed their props.  From our seats, I couldn’t see the dramatic lighting illuminating the floor of the stage, but my friend sitting farther back said it was a stunning use of light to punctuate aspects of the performance.

Lin-Manuel Miranda had long since left the lead role; the women who played Eliza and Angelica didn’t have the powerhouse voices that I’d grown accustomed to on the CD; and we were in Philly, not Manhattan, but none of that mattered, because the overall effect was transcendent.  By the end of the first act I was floating a few feet off the ground. 

The hilarity of intermission — seven or eight hundred women being shepherded through a bathroom break in the space of 15 minutes by our “bathroom hostess,” holding her cellphone timer aloft like the Statue of Liberty.  We made it back to our seats with over two minutes to spare.  The second half, energized, emotional, profound, much sadder then the first.  When the lights finally went down following Eliza’s final note, I laughed and cried at once, grateful for the darkness.  

For three hours I had been mesmerized, captivated by every breath drawn, every surreptitious handkerchief to a brow, every spray of spittle illuminated by the stage lights, in a heightened state of awareness and emotion.  Really, how often does that happen?  Was it that I’d known every word that would be sung or spoken onstage before I walked into the theater or was it something else?

I’m going to say it was a combo platter.  

Outside the obvious — that Lin-Manuel Miranda has created an unprecedented work of genius — I think there’s a similarity to the energy of the times then and now.  As Angelica and Eliza sing in The Schuyler Sisters:  “people shouting in the square”/“new ideas in the air,” two different takes on the world, one nervous and apprehensive of the tumult, one hopeful and energized by it.

Like then, our world is hungry for change, and like then, there’s a schism in the collective thinking about the best way to get there.  It’s this schism that feeds our collective unrest. If we view our lives through the lens of fractal time, humanity is ready for a huge evolutionary leap forward, just like the revolutionaries in Hamiltonian times.  

Isn’t it interesting that many of the same issues — race relations, gun control, immigration — still bedevil us? 

We can improve upon our past by making societal changes that will benefit the whole of society, but this time, let’s do it in a peaceful manner through positive social discourse, and you know what that means, right?  We have to listen to each other. 

So, rather than revolve — from the Latin, revolvere, meaning to roll back— why not evolve — from the Latin, evolvere, to unroll?  

It doesn’t take much to evolve, especially when the planet and her treasure trove of natural resources are pushing us in that direction.  All it takes is an open mind and a sincere desire to do things in a way — read: differently — that will lead to improvement.  The old ways, like the old days, are gone.  If history teaches us anything, it’s that we need to absorb the lessons of what worked, toss away what didn’t and keep moving forward.

It’s a lot less work and we should give it a try.

Let’s not throw away our shot.

pam lazos 10.14.19

Posted in natural resources, revolution, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

#WATWB – The Greta Thunberg Helpline!

The Greta Thurnberg Helpline!

Okay, I couldn’t help myself with this one.  In honor of the U.N. Climate Summit — may we all come to our senses and do something about the planet before the planet does it for us — and the 16-year old who is raising awareness in ways that our politicians never could with more bravery, insight, and clear-headedness than most of us adults, I give you this for your viewing pleasure.

If we’re not laughing, we’re crying, and frankly, there’s really no time for tears, just action!

Welcome to this month’s #WATWB, a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by the good news.

This month’s co-hosts are:
Sylvia Stein, Eric Lahti, Shilpa Garg, and Lizbeth Hartz.

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…

Posted in children's social movement, climate change, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Protect. Restore. Fund.

 

There is a Massive Social Movement afoot, and it started with a child, a child who sat on the steps in front of Parliament in her native Sweden with a sign demanding climate action.  And she sat and she sat and she sat.

Three days ago Greta Thunberg testified before the U.S. Congress where she said:

I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists.  And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action.

Yesterday, as many as four million people around the world protested on behalf of a cleaner, greener world.  If a 16-year old can cause this kind of stir, imagine what we can all do together.

I’m sure you’ve already read the headlines, but if not, read here and here and here and here, for starters.

Also, a little something to remember:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.  Margaret Mead, American Scientist

Now go out there and do something to make the world a kinder, gentler, less climate-challenged place.  Whether it’s walking instead of driving, taking one less bag, planting a tree or a garden, eating one less steak or shutting off the tap when you brush your teeth.  No offering or action is too small.  Oh, and call you politicians and demand that they do something, too.  They’ve got the power of the purse.

Our house is on fire and it will take all of us to help put it out.  On behalf of the planet, thank you in advance.

pam lazos 9.21.19

 

 

Posted in children's social movement, climate change, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

O’Roarke’s Destiny

I asked my friend, the lovely Shehanne Moore, Blogger (Shehanne Moore); Dramatist (performs in productions written by her husband, a playwright); PUBlisher (Black Wolf Books); wife (married to the Mr.); Mother (to her darlings); Grandmother (she’s way too young); avid hiker (the hills of Glencoe in her native Scotland and beyond), keeper of The Dudes (hamsters of the utmost taste and refinement), and, of course, Historical Romance Writer which doesn’t get a parenthetical because it’s the reason we are here today, to celebrate the release of Lady Shey’s new book, her seventh!, entitled, O’Roarke’s Destiny, released on – when else? – Friday the 13th. I mean, hey, if you want to release a book about a couple of characters who are a bit down on their luck, at least for starters, you couldn’t pick a better day, ay?

Smugglers, connivers, and dreamers fill the pages of O’Roarke’s Destiny which you can read all about below, but in the meantime, let’s see what Ms. Moore has to say about the land from which these characters come and how it may have affected their identities.  

Also just as an aside, when Lady Shey’s original publisher changed the rules on her, rules that ran afoul of the long-standing commitment they had both enjoyed to their mutual enrichment and benefit, what did she do?  She didn’t take it lying down, I’ll tell you that.  No sir, she didn’t.  Instead — and just like her heroines she went out and started her own publishing company.  That’s the Kind of Woman we are dealing with here on these pages, not one to be trifled with, put out, or bandied about, a real class act, so without further introduction or delay, let’s hear a bit from the Lady herself about the setting for her new book — Cornwall and the surrounding environs:     

Take it away, Shey:

The Historical Cornish Environment – A Land of Smugglers and Secrets…

 

A separate people. Throughout the early modern period, many Cornish people continued to regard Cornwall, not as an English county, but as a British country called Kernow.

 

Physical isolation provides the key to Cornish history. A rocky peninsula, jutting out some 90 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall stands at the extreme south-western corner of the British Isles. Surrounded by waves on all sides but one, it is practically severed from the adjoining lands to the east by the River Tamar, which runs almost from sea to sea.

 

Although mediaeval Cornwall was — technically speaking — an English county just like any other, the culture of the ordinary Cornish people remained entirely different from that of their English neighbours. They still spoke in the Cornish tongue:  a language, closely allied with Welsh. They still prided themselves on being descended from British ancestors, rather than Saxon ones. And, as late as the mid-16th century, they still possessed their own styles of dress, their own folklore, their own naming-customs, their own agricultural practices, and their own games.

 

The past economy of Cornwall might have been based on a range of industries, including metal mining, fishing, china clay production, wool cloth manufacture, quarrying and shipbuilding. Indeed Cornwalls rich mineral resources may certainly have been exploited on a large scale since mediaeval times, and rows may rage today between surfers, environmentalists, and those bent on lifting the tin tailings sitting on the sea bed to be used in gadgets like cellphones and computers, but Cornwall is also known, historically for another industry, a sort of cottage one in which a rather large number of its inhabitants were once involved.

 

One that the landscape and environment lent itself to naturally.

 

Smuggling. 

But the location and the fact the people saw themselves as different werent the only things to lend themselves to the trade. Parts of the actual coastline were very nicely placed for trips to France and the Scillies. Then there was the nature of the terrain, vast empty beaches, rocky caves, jutting headlands, little better than cart tracks for roadsand, as a quick glance at any map of Cornwall will show, quite a big expanse of moor sitting smack in the middle, while the inhabited bits clustered round the coast.  It was nicely private all right. 

 

At its peak, an estimated 500,000 gallons of French brandy per year were smuggled into Cornish coves. Smuggling has many stereotypes and these images often include a small group of men unloading barrels in the night. However, until the early 1800s, it was a highly organized, well-financed business that was run on very efficient lines.

 

Of course, the reason for all this unhindered smuggling wasnt just the highly organized locals, it was the weakness of the excisemen, although in their defence, the  level of local support, the sheer organizational skills of those involved, which frequently included the clergy, the landowners, and other inhabitants, in fact, you name it, and the overwhelming numbers of those involved, made it quite impossible, even for the most dedicated exciseman, to police. So a lot went on right under their noses, in broad daylight.

 

They were told that if they persisted in trying to make an arrest they would have their brains blown out. As the law now stands, I fear a criminal prosecution would have been useless for the reason, which it shocks me to mention, that a Cornish jury would certainly acquit the smugglers….These, my lord, are the facts.

 

Did the tramp, tramp of smugglers feet, the alleged digging of tunnels from houses to sea damage the rock, the wildflowers, the beach grasses, the environment? I have no idea.  But I’ve devoured books set both there and further along the south coast, and I felt the ruggedness, the isolation, the crumbling decay of their lives, those that lived there, and I realized that what drove them into this world might lend itself to a book someday.

 

And it has. Finally. Set in Cornwall at a point when the government was beginning to fight back and seriously crackdown by every means at their disposal, is O’Roarke’s Destiny.  I hope this book trailer roughly explains it. 

 

 

Pam, thank you so much, not just for inviting me to your wonderful blog which does so much to highlight the need to look after the planet we share, but for your friendship and support. You should know, you rock. x

 

Synopsis for O’Roarke’s Destiny:

Once hed have died to possess her, now he just might 

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish mans dream. Until Divers ORoarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backward glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasnt fallen down about her headher ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing:  Everything she touches withers to dust. 

Hed cursed her with ruin.

Now shed have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers ORoarke is far from sure of his standing with Destiny Rhodes. He had no desire to win her, doesnt want her in his house, but while hes bent on the future, is there one when a passionate and deadly game of bluff ensues with the woman he once cursed? A game where no one and nothing is what it seems. Him most of all. 

And when everything she touches turns to dust, what will be his fate as passion erupts?  Will laying past ghosts come at the highest price of all? 

September 13th2019 Black Wolf Books. Amazon.

Ready to give Shey’s new book a go?  You can get O’Roarke’s Destiny here.  Happy smuggling.

pam lazos 9.18.19

Posted in book excerpt, book release, books, coastal cities, publisher, rivers, romance writer, seas, Uncategorized, writer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Material Value

MATERIAL VALUE

The word sustainability seems to be on everyone’s lips these days and if you don’t know what it means then you’ll want to pick up a copy of Julia Goldstein’s book, Material Value, More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products, and treat yourself to an eye-opening panoply of all things recyclable.

Part tutorial, part exposé, part field guide, this wonderful book does all the research so you can sit back and learn how the everyday items we buy are affecting the planet.

Goldstein discusses how goods are manufactured, how we as a society are addicted to wasteful consumerism, and how we all can take steps to reduce waste at the source, thereby improving our world.

She includes interviews with many pioneers in the sustainable manufacturing industry, giving dozens of examples of how various processes can be redirected so as to decrease our carbon footprint and reduce post-consumer waste, conserve virgin resources, and create a robust job market.

Material Value is a must read for consumers, marketers and manufacturers. Simply becoming aware of the waste stream created by each of the industrial products we buy frees us to make better choices at the point of purchase.

Pick up a copy of Material Value and learn how you can reduce your personal pollution contribution in a world that could use some positive environmental mojo.

After reading Julia’s book, I wanted to get her thoughts on a few more things.  This is what she had to say:

What is your hope for this book – other than to be a best seller, of course?

When I hear readers say that the book encouraged them to think carefully before buying a new smartphone or reduce their use of disposable packaging, I see that as a success. I want to spread the message that business and sustainability can and should co-exist by sharing stories of professionals who are making that happen. On a personal level, I hope that publishing Material Value will help me shift my client base toward writing for more companies that are truly embracing responsible actions and want to communicate their efforts honestly to potential customers.

You started your work life as an engineer. How did you get from there to here, an author and content writer for various companies on sustainability issues. Did you burn out on engineering or was writing always your first love?

My standard line is that I was always the engineer writing the project reports and the articles for publication in trade magazines, but there’s more to it. In 2000, I was working on contract in an engineering position that was veering toward project management. I liked the work but couldn’t put in enough hours per week onsite because my 2-year-old refused to nap at preschool. I had to pick him up at noon. Working for a trade magazine gave me the flexible schedule I needed and allowed me to further develop my writing skills. Although my children are now grown, I still appreciate the flexibility of setting my working hours and I enjoy writing. My unique background gives me credibility when I interview engineers because I used to be one of them.

What’s the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to sustainability? How about recycling?

Businesses like to use the word “sustainability” and tout their progress but often neglect to honestly discuss the true impact of their products or manufacturing processes on the environment. They can’t admit that stopping production would be the most environmentally friendly option. Then there’s the love/hate relationship with fossil fuels. We know that fossil fuels pollute and contribute to climate change, but we still want to power our vehicles and homes.

Many of the plastics that people toss into recycling bins don’t actually get recycled into new products. Cross-contaminated mixed plastic waste often ends up in the landfill. We like to give ourselves a pat on the back for recycling when we toss things into the blue bin because that’s easier than facing the reality of dismal plastic recycling rates.

I’m avid about getting plastics out of the ocean and am gathering data to write a plastics recycling law now. If you could write or change one U.S. law dealing with any environmental topic, what would it be?

I would like to end all energy subsidies. Subsidies for solar power got a lot of bad press when thin film solar cell producer Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving large federal loans, but the fossil fuel industry has been receiving subsidies for decades. When I asked a question about removing all subsidies at a conference a few years ago, though, the panelists claimed that it would be impossible and not worth pursuing.

Impossible only because no one has done it yet.  It just takes a little vision, right?  So what do you think is most effective at changing behavior: laws; great marketing campaigns; public opinion; public persuasion; or something else?

Laws change behavior, but they often cause resentment. Individuals and businesses tend to complain about being forced to comply. In the absence of restrictive laws, businesses that sell consumer products will change their behavior to keep or gain customers. One example is major beverage manufacturers dropping membership in the Plastics Industry Association this year and moving away from plastic packaging. Public pressure is behind the move.

If you could write the playbook, how would you go about shifting us from the country that uses 37% of the world’s global resources to a net zero waste stream and zero carbon footprint, and is such a scenario even possible?

Achieving zero carbon footprint isn’t possible, even if we returned to a pre-industrial lifestyle, because we would still need to eat. Drastic reductions in emissions are possible but require a monumental shift in national priorities. For one thing, Americans would need to get over their love affair with cars. Electric vehicles aren’t a panacea since they require electricity to manufacture and power them, not to mention the looming battery disposal problem. If the cost of energy (fuel, heating, electricity) increased substantially, that would help incent people to use less of it.

Zero waste to landfill is more doable and also helps with carbon footprint, but it requires a huge investment in recycling and composting facilities along with massive consumer education. We need everyone to buy fewer items, use them longer, repair them when they break, and discard them properly when they have outlived their usefulness. Businesses have the opportunity to lead the way on waste reduction by viewing it as a cost-saving measure. Companies that rely on revenue from frequent repeat purchases will need to rethink their strategy and perhaps make fewer but longer-lasting, more expensive products.

Great advice, Julia.  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me and for writing such a useful and informative book.  Great luck with marketing Material Value.  We’ll look forward to a sequel.

pam lazos 9.8.19

 

Posted in conservation, environment, environmental conservation, environmental effects, evolution, recycling, regeneration, renewable, renewable energy, Sustainability, Uncategorized, upcycling, zero waste | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

#WATWB — Sailing to America

Sailing to America

How much do I love this kid?  Right now, Greta Thunberg is sailing to America to join the United Nations Climate Change summit, a 3,000 mile trip from Plymouth England to New York.  The journey is somewhat arduous and lacking in such creature comforts as a toilet (she uses a bucket).  She’ll eat freeze-dried food and write in her diary by lamplight over the course of the next two weeks, but her carbon footprint will be ZERO.

Proving a point — yes, of course. It’s not practical for the world to start traveling by sailboat or horse and buggy or other zero waste modes of travel, but for raising awareness for climate change and environmental degradation — priceless!

The Swedish teen’s got detractors aplenty but is undeterred.  Imagine if more members of congress had a portion of her guts and determination, we wouldn’t even be in this environmental pickle!

The flag on the ship says:  Unite Behind the Science.  Really, is there anything else to say?

Want to learn more about the We Are the World Blogfest?  Then go here where my friend Damyanti Biswas will give you the 411 and then you, too, can join the fun!

#WATWB is the last Friday of every month.  See you here next month.

pam lazos 8.30.19

Posted in #WATWB, environment, environmental conservation, environmental effects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments