What did you think an ecojustice pipe looked like?

California is the Golden State.

Become the media!

Back in the 1980s, Scoop Nisker used to end the KFOG newscast by saying "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own!" It wasn't until I had been a Green Activist for quite some time that I heard he got the idea from Jello Biafra. I listened to Angie Cueiro interview Scoop on KQED on 4/11/03, where he said he had channeled the idea from a news goddess, and that it would be on his tombstone. It's a great idea, wherever it came from.

Light Pollution could be a Solution.

In a message dated 12/15/99 10:55:21 AM, kevin@mckeown.net writes:

>Santa Monica's City Council tonight adopted a comprehensive and

>pioneering series of Green Building Guidelines that will be codified into

>city ordinances. This makes Santa Monica the first California city to

>mandate environmental construction standards in excess of California's

>1999 Title 24 regulations.


>Kevin McKeown, one of two Greens on the Santa Monica City Council,

>successfully incorporated an amendment calling for a "dark sky" ordinance

>improving energy efficiency and reducing light pollution. The ordinance

>will be based on the work of Green Julie Partansky, who sponsored a

>similar ordinance a year ago as mayor of Davis, CA.


I found out that Julie Partansky had passed her ordinance from the L.A. Times on Thanksgiving Day, and because there wasn't a lot going on for me at the time, I started thinking about it. One of the first things that I realized was that all the issues of scale that make dealing with problems like our garbage truly horrifying make "light pollution" really ridiculous.

I have met many people that feel there are cultural ways to solve the truly deeply rooted problems of our society. For example, vegetarians have told me "violence against animals begins in your kitchen." Gun control activists have told me we could solve half the problem by healing the way we use arms in our language. I set out to figure out what the cultural manifestations of light pollution were. Enlightenment came quickly to mind.

At the time it was hard to open my email box without spotting spam. I finally figured out the stuff was "point source pollution," and the solution was not to single out the guilty, but to look at the ways we all participate in the problem. Since I was working at AOL at the time, I took a Freak Brothers Munchie Bar (with embedded rice objects) to work with me and showed many people the side splitting warning on the back. I enjoyed presenting it to people, usually prefacing the experience by saying "this is a dangerous weapon in the battle against stupidity in government." Lots of people got a good laugh out of the experience.

Orange LED shines on a finger tip in the dark.Since leaving the corporate world I have had my nose rubbed again on how impossible it is to solve problems that people don't care about. Accordingly, I decided to start carrying a "light saber," really a tiny flashlight (just a red* LED) on my key ring. One weekend, late in the last millennium, while walking in the redwood forest I found a sign with "arm" in it. I highlighted the "sound nibble" for my hiking buddy as a way of arming the Redwood Trees. The giggle/Watt-hour ration for that small expenditure of energy was much better than what any incumbent government can get out of a street light.

Tian Harter

Red means stop.

Green means go.

* A year later it was a blue LED. A couple of years after that I changed to a green LED. After a year of that I changed to a yellow LED. As of (2/17/2005) it was an orange LED on my keyring. As of 8/7/2006 I still have an orange LED on the keyring with my local keys on it, but now I have a red LED on the keyring with the car key on it. I only use that one the one day a week or so I need the vehicle.

As of June 1st 2009 I've not had an LED on my key ring for more than a year. Some biologist I gave a "hit of enlightenment" to explained to me that my battery was going to be a pill of toxic waste mother earth is likely to swallow when I'm done with it. Even if I dispose of it properly the light is still going to be eWaste when it dies. After that I stopped buying more batteries for the thing. When it finally died I put a fob that looks like a bicycle and works like a church key (good for opening beers) in its place.

On 3/14/2002 TheReluctantActivist wrote about this page:

>It's definitely fun, but what does light pollution have to do with 

>campaign finance reform? I realize I'm probably going to slap 

>my head after you explain it and say "D'oh!" but I have to ask.


Consider "killing the lights". It takes about the same amount of effort as voting for someone, but the effect is dramatically more immediate and predictable. It's also democratic, in the sense that everybody expects the same thing to happen when they throw the switch. The bonus is that getting someone to do it reduces light pollution.

Consider the idea "treading lightly". What is that if not a political philosophy? Have you ever tried to convince somebody who delights in consumption that consuming less is better? What is that if not political action? I have always found that "do as I do" is better politics than "do as I say". Christina's answer to "do as I say" was to point out that "denial is a river in Egypt". Does that sound like a mainstream idea? Ooops, I was trying to talk about light instead of water.

Consider the idea "the pun is mightier than the gun!" How does that work if there is no overlap between "political power" and "electric power"? Voting for less light pollution is a great way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The electric power lobby is so powerful in Washington, Sacramento, and most of the other electoral centers I know of that the only other choice is grass roots politics, which is an expression that only works if you can conceive of people at the grass roots. What is "grass roots" if not a pun that has had the serial numbers filed off? Trying to take the puns out of our language is not worth it.

The headline on today's San Francisco Chronicle reads "Fuel efficiency bill runs out of gas". People wouldn't write things like that if they didn't think "everybody" would "get it." I think the problems with our incumbents on the gas issue are the same as the ones on the electricity issue, which is one reason I am a Green Party Activist instead of a Washington Lobbyist. For contrast, the San Jose Mercury News headline was "SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST", with a picture of a guy pedaling for his life. I like the fact that riding a bike is better for your health than going by car.


On the left, my power company. To the right of that a bottle of olive oil I consumed years ago.