Latino eco-festival in Colorado, USA


This video from the USA is called 1st Americas Latino Eco Festival 2013 ALEF.

By Sara Bernard in the USA:

Latino eco-festival hosts big stars, bigger ideas

9 Sep 2014 7:02 AM

Irene Vilar has always felt a strong pull towards social change. In fact, activism is in her blood: In 1954, the book publisher and award-winning author’s grandmother went to jail in the name of Puerto Rican independence. Sixty years later, Vilar wants to tackle the biggest social change campaign on the planet: the one that’s trying to save it.

In 2007, Vilar founded the nonprofit Americas for Conservation + the Arts, a Latin America-focused arts and education network, and last year, she launched Americas Latino Eco Festival, the U.S.’s first-ever Latino-themed enviro fest. The second ALEF kicks off this week, from September 11-16 in Boulder, Colo.

Vilar’s event is nothing if not ambitious. Dubbed a “Latino South by Southwest,” ALEF is “a high-end festival of ideas,” she says, complete with Grammy Award-winning musicians, Broadway actors, documentary filmmakers, Newbery Award-winning illustrators, educators, visual artists, chefs, and activists. But she’s also brought in high-profile environmental leaders of all stripes to talk about everything from fossil fuels to GMOs, environmental justice to water scarcity.

The event’s co-sponsors include the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and Boulder-based The Dairy Center for the Arts. Speakers include Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, actors and environmentalists Edward James Olmos and Ed Begley Jr., Mexican-American climate scientist Patricia Romero Lankao (one of the recipients of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Al Gore), and environmental justice scholar Dorceta Taylor (whom Grist interviewed a few months back). In addition to all the film screenings and art exhibits and discussion panels, there’s an entire art-and-workshop-filled K-12 education component, too — which could have been, Vilar says, “a whole festival in itself” — focused on how climate change affects bird migration.

Gathering the resources for such a monumental showcase is no simple task (Vilar’s team is still a few thousand in the red from last year’s fest, and as of a few weeks ago, was still looking for the last bit of funding for this one), but that has no bearing on its tenacity — or its success. They’ve raised double what they raised last year and have attracted a slew of green- and Latino-minded sponsors, including Whole Foods, Patagonia, Telemundo, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

For Vilar, money is not what’s at stake: It’s our planet, ourselves, and the importance of actively engaging all communities, particularly communities of color, in the conversation about climate change. “I cannot afford to start small,” she says. “It needs to be fast. Super fast. We’ve got to create a precedent, and then see what happens.”

We caught up with Vilar to talk about how the festival got started, why Latinos in particular are concerned about the environment, how talking about climate change can be an umbrella for talking about social change, and why it’s more crucial than ever to include everyone in these discussions. Here’s an edited and condensed version of what she had to say:

On why book publishing is still important — but not enough:

For the last 20 years, I’ve edited a book series that publishes minority writers of the Americas. We publish literature in translation. Less than 1 percent of people in the United States read literature in translation. [*Editor's note: That's tough to quantify, but it's true that less than 1 percent of all fiction and poetry published in the U.S. is in translation.] As a publisher, you’re impacting culture in a very slow way. A book takes about 10 years to penetrate culture. What needs to be done now is raising awareness through bringing people together, creating noise, and gathering once a year to create a platform and raise our voices.

On diversity in the environmental movement:

Being in Colorado, and being in Boulder, one of the greenest cities in America, I wanted to get involved more with the environmental movement. Everywhere you go there’s an organization or a flier. I would go to meetings and show up sometimes, but I felt really disconnected.

There are these campaigns of misinformation that make people believe they’re not qualified to participate. You have this incredible disproportion between the actual multicultural fabric of the country and all these institutions: higher education, conservation organizations, politics, Hollywood. The country has been brown for a long time, but these institutions do not represent the brown face of the country. When that happens, my children grow up feeling like they do not belong.

We all talk about diversity, but diversity and inclusion are two different things.  We have to reach across borders. We have to reconnect with our cultures of origin. Natural resources have no national borders. Our entire future depends on the extent to which we engage communities of color. If we don’t do that, there’s no future.

On Latinos as huge environmentalists:

Over 90 percent of Latinos believe in [human-caused] climate change; that’s compared to about 50 percent of Americans in general.

When I was doing research for the festival, my first impression was to buy the story we are sold — that there is no Latino leader in the environmental movement. What I discovered is that the supply is there. I realized that it’s not about educating our communities, but the white communities! It’s more about educating them and validating us. There are a few issues; one of them is that the environmental movement is looking for PhDs. Our community is underserved. Many of my friends have grandfathers and fathers and mothers that have not even high school degrees, but we’re great conservation leaders.

By 2050, 30 percent of this country will be Hispanic. In Colorado, 52 percent of the high schoolers will be Hispanic. And in the last two years, amazing things have been happening. Things are moving very fast. Green LatinosNRDC, the League of Conservation Voters (it has wonderful Spanish language outreach), HECHO, the Hispanic Access FoundationVoces VerdesLatino Outdoors: We’re bringing them all to the festival.

On why Latinos are huge environmentalists:

Because we are living it in our skin, because we suffer from it. Latin Americans and African Americans are disproportionately affected by pollution, especially clean air. They suffer more than whites from asthma. They live in the most polluted cities. The big bulk of these communities, especially Latin Americans, are working outdoors, in agriculture. They’re exposed to sun, to climate change, to pesticides and chemicals.

And we come from societies that have a huge respect for science. In Latin America, science is huge. We look up to science. We want our children to be scientists.

Latin Americans also come from a very ecological tradition. Indigenous elements survive in our cultures, in our crafts, in our extended families. We have a legacy of recycle, reuse, upcycle because we cannot afford to dispose of anything or anyone.

On social justice and climate change:

Racism, social justice, human rights: climate change is something that unites all these platforms.  The reality of climate change made me sensitive to the fact that this gathering has to be framed around the environment. It’s the issue of the moment — and of the future. It’s also a wonderful platform to talk about these other issues.

When we talk about social justice, we need to be framing it in ways that don’t create fear, create walls. We’re all mothers, no matter what. Immigrant or no immigrant, we want our children to breathe good air, eat real food, and have access to clean water. We can talk about social justice, immigration, and all these issues that are very important, but the environmental platform will kind of dilute the defenses.

On the fact that people do care:

Last year was wonderful. We were able to rely on human capital, which proved to me that the product that we were launching — the multicultural Latino eco-festival — was filling a huge void. We saw a lot of excitement from people.

And the most inspiring thing is to really have an experience of what social capital is. The festival happened in its first year and is happening now only because of the power of people, of social capital. You have to stick by that because the element of disbelief can be so big in enterprises of this nature. As a mother of two Latina girls, I ask myself, how is the world going to be for them when they’re my age? Sometimes I feel hopeless. But I’ve discovered that there is hope.

New poetry books reviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

13 January 2014

Dannie Abse reads from Speak, Old Parrot at the T S Eliot Prize Readings, held at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Dannie Abse is a poet, author, doctor and playwright. He has written and edited more than sixteen books of poetry, as well as fiction and a range of other publications, in a long and varied writing life. His most recent novel, The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (Robson Books, 2002), was long-listed for the Booker Prize and his diaries, The Presence (Vintage, 2008), won the Wales Book of the Year Award. He is president of the Welsh Academy of Letters and was awarded a CBE in 2012.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

Words of wisdom as old parrot speaks out

Thursday 27th February 2014

Andy Croft reviews some of the latest poetry

Dannie Abse has published over 30 books but few as satisfying or as enjoyable as Speak Old Parrot (Hutchinson, £15).

Now in his 90th year, Abse is naturally concerned with the passage of time: “profligate, I wasted time/- those yawning postponements on rainy days,/those paperhat hours of benign frivolity./Now time wastes me.”

There are some great poems here about the comedy of ageing, like The Old Gods – Trident has lost his trident, Saturn has time on his hands and Bacchus has cirrhosis of the liver – and some fine poems about youth and memory like Cricket Bat, Moonbright and Sunbright.

But best of all is the brilliant Winged Back, in which Abse recalls the “recurring decimal of calamity” of our age: “Famine. Murder. Pollinating fires./When they stubbed one out another flared./Statesmen lit their cigars from the embers./They still do. With every enrichment/an injury. They bicker and banquet,/confer and dally, pull on cigars that glow/with blood-light. And all my years,/like the arson of Troy, are elsewhere. Ashes.”

Rob Hindle’s Yoke And Arrows (Smokestack, £8.95) takes its title from “el yugo y las flechas,” the emblem of the 15th-century Catholic monarchs who expelled the Moors and Jews from Spain.

It was also the symbol of the falange militia who murdered the radical poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca in the first weeks of the Spanish civil war. Here is one of these Black Squads listening to the singing of the prisoners about to be executed: “The night goes quietly./In the stove’s red cowl the fire collapses/a little: a brief yellow light jumps into the room,/shocking the men’s faces, glistening teeth/and tongues. Through the floorboards come/voices like the voices of the damned, singing/lullabies and songs of the country.”

Kevin Powers served in the US army in Iraq. At the heart of his first book of poems, Letter Composed During A Lull In The Fighting (Sceptre, £12.99), is a series of meditations on the loneliness of the soldier in a strange landscape – “the unending sun, the bite of sweat in eyes” – and in a meaningless conflict: “war is just us/making little pieces of metal/pass through each other.”

There are no issues on a battlefield except survival: “for one day at least I don’t have to decide/between dying and shooting a little boy.” And Powers knows that there can be no survivors: “how scared I am still, alone/in bars these three years later.”

The strongest poems in the book, like Death Mother And Child and the Extraordinary Improvised Explosive Device are about the necessity – and the impossibility – of writing about the experience: “If this poem had fragments/of metal coming out of it, if these words were your best friend’s leg,/dangling… If this poem had wires for words,/you would want someone to pay./If this poem had wires coming out of it,/you wouldn’t read it./If these words were made of metal/they could kill us all. But these/are only words. Go on,/they are safe to fold and put into your pocket./Even better, they are safe/to be forgotten.”

The New York-Puerto Rican poet Martin Espada has worked as a bouncer, a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman, a petrol attendant and a tenant lawyer. His new collection, The Meaning Of The Shovel (Smokestack, £8.95), is a celebration of work, of the emotional and often invisible landscape of labour, “the rude Mechanicals: the tailor, the weaver, the tinker, the bellows-mender.”

It is by turns grim, cynical, funny – and revolutionary. Here is Espada digging latrines in Nicaragua: “I dig because yesterday/I saw four walls of photographs:/the faces of volunteers/in high school uniforms/who taught campesinos to read,/bringing an alphabet/sandwiched in notebooks/to places where the mist never rises/from the trees… I dig because I have hauled garbage/and pumped gas and cut paper/and sold encyclopaedias door to door./I dig, digging until the passport in my back pocket saturates with dirt,/because here I work for nothing/and for everything.”

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Maduro to propose Puerto Rico’s membership at upcoming CELAC Summit


Originally posted on JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba:

January  23 2014

nicolas maduro  with pr flagVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he will propose the membership of Puerto Rico at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, whose second summit will be held January 28 and 29 in Havana.

During a forum in Caracas for the independence of Puerto Rico, attended by Puerto Rican independence leaders, Maduro said that Venezuela will propose that the regional bloc declares Latin America as a territory free of colonialism, since he said, it is a shame that there are still colonies in this part of the world.
“Puerto Rico is in the pending agenda of Liberator Simon Bolivar and Latin America and the Caribbean  are now uniting, and Latin American unity was born right here, Maduro noted.
The Venezuelan head of state called for the renewal of supportive actions with Puerto Rico as he said that “we have to cultivate solidarity of Venezuelans with the fight of…

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Leatherback turtles satellite tags research


This video from Puerto Rico says about itself:

Leatherback Turtle Nesting in Daylight on Vieques – Very Rare! (subtítulos CC en español)

3 April 2012

This leatherback sea turtle was filmed nesting during the day at Navío beach on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Daytime nesting is very rare for this endangered species. The eggs were transported by the DNRA up the beach, away from the waterline.

This beach has an ever shifting coastline because of the direction it faces and many times large sections of sand are washed away overnight with a good storm.

From the Cornell Chronicle in the USA:

Jan. 21, 2014

Satellite tags, fishing data reveal turtle danger zones

By Krishna Ramanujan

One of the biggest threats to critically endangered leatherback turtles is bycatch from industrial fishing in the open oceans.

Now, a team of researchers has satellite-tracked 135 leatherbacks with transmitters to determine the turtles’ patterns of movement in the Pacific Ocean. Combined with fisheries data, the researchers entered the information into a computer model to predict bycatch hotspots in the Pacific.

With this information, researchers and authorities hope to work with fisheries managers to avoid fishing when and where there is higher risk of also catching turtles in the area.

Though the ocean is vast and the turtles’ movements are dynamic and unpredictable, the small chance of an individual leatherback getting hooked or caught in fishing lines is multiplied by 760 million in the Pacific Ocean alone, said Stephen Morreale, referring to the number of longline hooks set annually in the Pacific. Morreale is a Cornell senior research associate and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and a co-author of the study published online Jan. 7 in the Proceedings of [the] Royal Society B.

“It’s a waste,” he said. “This is not a case of people trying merely trying to feed their families. The fishing industry does not want to catch leatherbacks, and the turtles that are caught are just discarded.”

In the Pacific, the researchers identified two genetically distinct populations, one western Pacific population that nests in Indonesia and feeds off the California coast, and another eastern Pacific population that nests in Costa Rica and Mexico and migrates along a corridor past the Galapagos Islands to a broad pelagic zone known as the South Pacific Gyre.

The maps reveal seasonal and geographic areas of greatest risk. For the western Pacific nesting populations, areas of highest risk included water around the Indonesian Islands near primary nesting beaches, and for the eastern Pacific populations, areas of greatest risk were in the South Pacific Gyre.

Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest sea turtles and the most massive reptile, reaching maximum weights of close to 2,000 pounds. The leathery-shelled turtles, which feed on jellyfish, use their flippers like wings to swim vast distances at surprising speeds; they also dive to depths of 1,200 meters, shuttling to and from the surface to breathe.

Once they hatch, males spend their entire lifetimes in the water. They take up to 20 years to reach maturity. As adults, females return throughout their lifetimes to the same nesting beach to lay clutches of 80 to 100 eggs in the sand, which they may repeat every two weeks over the course of a nesting season. Once they have laid all their eggs, they may not return for three to five years.

Because of the many risks over decades that leatherbacks face before they reach maturity, “an adult’s [ecological] value is huge,” said Morreale. Also, since so little has been known about their movements once they enter the ocean, conservationists have historically focused on protecting beach areas where they can be monitored and protected.

But “their protection at sea is extremely important,” and only recently, through satellite transmitters, are researchers beginning to understand the turtles’ complex habits in the ocean, which will hopefully lead to better protection, said Morreale.

Next steps for this research include acquiring more Pacificwide data for interactions between fisheries and turtles, as well as data for the Atlantic Ocean, Morreale added.

John Roe, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, was the paper’s lead author, along with Morreale and Frank Paladino at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, while Drexel University professor James Spotila assembled the research team.

Funding was provided mainly by the Lenfest Oceans Program.

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Turtles and tortoises in Puerto Rico and Britain


This video from Puerto Rico says about itself:

Leatherback Turtle Nesting in Daylight on Vieques – Very Rare! (subtítulos CC en español)

3 Apr 2012

This leatherback sea turtle was filmed nesting during the day at Navío beach on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Video: Karl Alexander

Daytime nesting is very rare for this endangered species. The eggs were transported by the DNRA up the beach, away from the waterline.

This beach has an ever shifting coastline because of the direction it faces and many times large sections of sand are washed away overnight with a good storm.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Turtles and terrapins succeed where Hitler could not

Friday 29th November 2013

Invading reptile species have assimilated rather well in Britain, monopolising many a local pond or river, says PETER FROST

Imagine the scene. It is August 1988 on a holiday beach near Harlech in Wales. A huge beast has washed up on the beach. It is nearly the size and shape of a Volkswagen beetle car.

In fact it is a leatherback turtle. And at just under ten foot/3m long nose to tail, and weighing in at just under a tonne it is the biggest leatherback ever seen anywhere in the world.

The leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living turtles.

Unlike most other sea turtles it has no bony shell. Instead, its carapace is covered by oily flesh and tough leathery skin.

Today sightings of leatherback turtles are increasing all around the Welsh coast and in south-west England. They are are drawn here by the high numbers of jellyfish – the main diet of these huge marine reptiles.

Sadly many turtles risk death or serious injury by mistaking the many polythene bags and other plastic litter that floats in the sea as its jellyfish diet.

The leatherback turtles lay their eggs on Caribbean beaches before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to feed in Welsh coastal waters.

To those lucky enough to spot one they are one of the most spectacular species to visit our coastal waters.

On inland waters too turtles and terrapins are becoming more and more common. There is a healthy colony at the London Wetland Centre at Barnes.

I often see them in the ponds at Cambridge University botanical gardens.

The rangers on Hampstead Heath‘s ponds in London wage a constant battle with the sliders more at home in the waters of Florida’s Everglades.

Every now and again the invasion excites tabloid journalists, “Terror Turtles” or even “Terrorpins” make very good headlines but are probably a bit exaggerated.

Even so more and more these exotic visitors – some as big as dinner plates – are being spotted on canals, slow flowing rivers and in ponds and lakes.

The main problem probably goes back to the time when thousands were bought as pets when the Mutant Ninja Turtles were the latest thing on TV and in pet shops.

The terrapins soon got too big for their tanks or nipped their young owners once too often. Just as likely the kids got bored and went on to another latest craze.

Thousands of pet turtles and terrapins got dumped in rivers, lakes and ponds. Most died but a few flourished, some even managed to breed and now we have a small but growing population of these fascinating and colourful reptiles.

Most of them are either red-eared terrapins or snapping turtles the two commonest species imported for the pet trade.

The red-eared terrapin is relatively harmless but can give a human a painful nip. Many of them also carry salmonella.

A snapping turtle is a much more aggressive animal. It will kill young ducks and a bite from its jaws can easily sever a human finger.

Britain actually has no native Chelonia, the family that includes tortoises, terrapins and turtles except the marine turtles that visit our shores.

Any terrapins, fresh water turtles or tortoises living here are invasive species and as such can undermine established food chains and interfere with natural biodiversity.

Many years ago various desert tortoises were cheap and popular pets. They arrived from north Africa as ballast in ships docking in British ports. Most died on the journey but the few that survived were sold cheaply by pet shops.

Many a small garden had its pet tortoise and once established they could live for a very long time.

This trade in cheap tortoises forced many wild tortoise populations into extinction and now the trade has been made illegal with the animals protected by law.