Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fashion forward (and socially conscious, too!)

I love tee shirts. I've decided that if I'm going to wear tee shirts on a regular basis (and I can, because I'm in grad school), I may as well be original, fashionable, and socially conscious. So I just bought two new tee shirts from Threadless.

Here's the deal: Joe Schmo creates an original tee shirt design and submits it to Threadless (based in Chicago--they have a van that is completely covered in Threadless stickers). If Joe Schmo's original design gets chosen, he gets paid by Threadless with $1,500, a membership to the 12-month club, and a $300 Threadless gift certificate, and Threadless will add tee shirts with Joe Schmo's design to their stock for the public to buy. The designs are printed on tee shirts from American Apparel, which is American-made and sweatshop-free. And the shirts are cheap: $15-25 each.

So yeah, buy Threadless. Support a local Chicago business, independent artists, and socially conscious apparel.

Monday, September 18, 2006

An environmentally responsible alternative to AAA

The cuz posted this information on her blog, and even though there's a link to her blog on this blog, I thought I would mention it because everyone should know about it: the Better World Club. It's a roadside assistance, travel, and insurance club, just like AAA, but it's environmentally conscious. I could list all the benefits, but to quote Levar Burton (remember Reading Rainbow?), don't take my word for it. Go to the Better World Club website and check it out for yourself.
Thanks, K-Dawg, for helping others be better world citizens. I'm still loving my Co-op America membership and I recommend it to people all the time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And the Big Box debate rages on

Mayor Daley vetoed the Big Box ordinance passed in Chicago that would require stores like Target and Walmart to pay workers a living wage, and today City Council members failed to garner enough votes to override the veto. Alderman Joe Moore (49th) assured the City Council that the issue would not go away and promised to produce a broader ordinance that would apply to workers of companies with at least 1,000 employees. Not sure what this means, but if it leads to fairer wages for all Chicago employees, then let's hope for the best. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Paul Salopek will be freed on Saturday from Sudan, where he was being held on charges of espionage. Salopek acknowledges that he entered the country without a visa, which is a civil offense in Sudan. Bill Richards, Governor of New Mexico, helped secure his release in a meeting with Sudan's president Al-Bashir. Richardson had worked with al-Bashir in 1996 on the release of three Red Cross workers detained by Marxist rebels in Sudan, and Salopek is a resident of New Mexico. But there's another element to this story:
From the Chicago Tribune: During the meeting, according to Humphrey, al-Bashir said, "When I announce this, the Sudanese people will say, 'What about our people in Guantanamo Bay?'"

Ah yes, what about the people in Guantanamo Bay? Perhaps we should ship them to one of the secret prisons that Bush recently admitted that the U.S. runs after all? Pres. Bush said he would send the message immediately to release the detainees, so we'll see what happens. Isn't this, in effect, similar to negotiating with terrorists? The Sudanese government isn't terrorist per se, but it looks like they agreed to let people go in exchange for the U.S. release of some Sudanese prisoners. Hmmm...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Journalism versus Activism

In high school, I was trying to decide between conservation biology and journalism as a future college major. I chose journalism, with the hopes that I could write about conservation. Then my frustration with my journalistic skills and my burgeoning passion for environmental advocacy collided, and I decided this journalism thing was just a phase. Obviously I have moved on. These journalists have found a way to do what I couldn't figure out: how to balance environmentalism and journalism. Props to them. Keep on fighting the good fight.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What price, conservation?

In a tragic and ironic turn of events, Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died today. He was filming a documentary segment called "Ocean's Deadliest" when he was stabbed in the heart by the deadly barb of a stingray. It's almost poetic. Saving the world is an expensive proposition, and Steve Irwin paid for it with his life, leaving behind a wife and two young children. (Is his dog Suey still around?)

And a jab at the national media: when the anchor on Good Morning America previewed the story about Steve Irwin (which I missed, but I read that another great, Jack Hanna, came on the program to talk about it), she announced the tragedy and paired it with a story about whether stingrays are a threat to everyone else. Steve must be rolling in his not-yet-dug grave. Fear is not the answer. Let's not start a crusade to rid our oceans of stingrays, let's educate the public about stingray behavior and about why we should be working to preserve the natural habitats of these animals. Steve was trying to do just that.

Rest In Peace, Steve Irwin. Thank you for being crazy enough to show us just how wonderful, important, and dangerous the animal kingdom is.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Anticlimactic rainstorm, anyone?

Last night's tropical storm here in Durham was the same as any old rainstorm in Chicago: Steady (and heavy at times) rain, with lots of wind. No local flooding, and it was 65 degrees and windy and drizzly today. Ho hum. It was worse south and east of here, but mostly just some power outages and high wind, with some local flooding. If they hadn't hyped it up as a tropical storm, I would have thought it was just a front moving through.

That's the problem with the media (I wrote a J200 paper on this my sophomore year of college). Weather is weather. It's great to be prepared for HUGE weather events, but it need not be the entire day's news. This morning we had all local news instead of Good Morning America/Today Show. And all they talked about was that it rained. They do the same thing everywhere--any sort of bigger weather event warrants over-coverage, which ends up either freaking people out over nothing or repeating the same news instead of giving people useful information. Whatever happened to the days when a little box would sit in the corner of the screen with color codings for watches and warnings, and if specific areas were in immediate danger, a warning would come over the air telling people to seek shelter immediately. When the storm blew through, the warnings and boxes would go away and we would go about our lives, usually none the worse for wear.