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The Elements

Spring tonic

Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Green River, Williamstown, Mass.; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

Within minutes of my house, the Green River meanders through a small park along the edge of a cemetery. In a twinkling I can be there, park by the rows of silent neighbors, and carefully make my way through wild edibles, ferns, and other flora wet with mist to sit on the bank and watch the foam rush by. Birds and insects are my only distraction. 

Here I feel my mood lift, pulse rate drop, and general overall feeling enhanced. I will not stay long. I don’t need to. More important is that I do this often. Breathe deeply, think deeply. 

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Plástica non grata

Photo by Nikki Dawson; via Pixabay
A distressingly familiar sight at beaches all over the world. Image by Nikki Dawson, via Pixabay

China doesn’t want our plastic crap anymore. What do we do with it now?

This week’s hot topic seems to be the banning of plastic waste. Google “petition, plastic,” I dare you. It’s as if the primary occupation of our progressive population is writing and circulating petitions. Moveon.org is a great place to start. They have a “petition” section where you can sign up to ban plastic bottles, straws, bags, and Styrofoam. I didn’t make it to the end of the list. Add that Trump is behind it, in favor of it, promoting it, etc. and people climb over each other to sign up. As though we haven’t been doing this for decades. China has absorbed nearly half of this waste since 1992. And now it has nowhere to go. But signing petitions isn’t going to solve the problem.

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Fast Fashion: The environmental threat hiding in your closet

Photo source, Pixabay.com.

When we think of pollution, we tend to think of single issues like air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and the bottom line, the climate change that is exacerbated by the production process. But the fashion industry encompasses all of these — the “Four Horsemen” if you will. And it destroys lives.

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Glyphosate: Why we need a clean food revolution

Pl77 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Liquid spraying equipment at work in a corn field, by Pl77, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“If it was bad for us, they wouldn’t sell it.” This was the response I got from the maintenance man when I objected to his spraying weeds with Roundup. Well actually, that isn’t true. “A number of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer,” notes Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC here in a recently updated list. The firm has links to several lawsuits brought against Monsanto by plaintiffs who claim their cancers were caused by Roundup, including the action of Edwin Hardeman, which was settled on March 27, for more than $80 million in damages.

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March 15, 2019:
International Youth Climate Strike

Members of the student group, R.E.V., at Mt. Greylock Regional School, Karen McComish, Sophie Jones, Maddy Art, and Ella Dudley speak at the Feburary 24 meeting of Greylock Together at the UNO Center in North Adams; photo by Jason Velázquez.
Members of the student group, R.E.V., at Mt. Greylock Regional School, Karen McComish, Sophie Jones, Maddy Art, and Ella Dudley speak at the Feburary 24 meeting of Greylock Together at the UNO Center in North Adams; photo by Jason Velázquez.

The youth of Earth have a message for its leaders today: You have failed to lead, so now you’ve forced us to.

By synchronizing worldwide demonstrations demanding action to reduce the human activities driving climate change, young people from elementary school on up through college are staging sit-ins, walkouts, marches, strikes, and town halls to make it clear to elected officials that they won’t sit by idly as the planet burns. Or floods. Or is ravaged by extreme weather. Or all of the above.

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Seeing our way clear to sustainability

Prominent pollution in 2006 photo Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped); CC BY-SA 3.0; via Wikimedia Commons.
Prominent pollution in a 2006 photo of Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It could be said that we will not have peace on Earth until peace becomes more profitable than war, but applying this same principle to the choice between fossil fuels and clean, renewable energy is a no-brainer. The benefits of the transition to clean energy are not only numerous but quite profitable.

Fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas, have been the lifeblood of America since well before the Industrial Revolution, and it could easily be argued that fossil fuels made a very large contribution towards making America the economic force in the world that it is today.

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Family Ice Fishing Festival on for February

Ice fishing, circa 1910.
Ice fishing, circa 1910.

The question of how long humans have been ice fishing might be best answered by another question: How long have humans run out of food in the middle of winter? One can imagine an ancestor gazing hungrily out over a frozen expanse of lake or pond, a gnawing ache in the belly matched by a gnawing panic about the survival of self, family, tribe. A prehistoric thought likely occurred one desperate day that provided a glimmer of hope: “If I’m awake and hungry during this deadly, dormant season, maybe, just maybe, those tasty fishes are awake, too, under that barrier of ice.”

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Environmentally radical views of Turner & Constable

“Rockets And Blue Lights (Close At Hand) To Warn Steamboats Of Shoal Water,” Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, 1775–1851; 1840, Oil on canvas; Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1932
“Rockets And Blue Lights (Close At Hand) To Warn Steamboats Of Shoal Water,” Joseph Mallord William Turner, English, 1775–1851; 1840, Oil on canvas; Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1932

“The sun is God”

— (attributed to) J.M.W. Turner 

Yes! Turner & Constable, 19th century artists, present two environmentally progressive perspectives of the natural world on view at the Clark Art Institute. The exhibit, Turner & Constable: The Inhabited Landscape, compares and contrasts two entirely different styles of painting that both elevated the genre of landscape painting beyond historical and mythological works while recognizing the invincibility of nature and our intrinsic human dependency upon it. Keep Reading

Hitting the Slopes — preventing youth skiing injuries

Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.
Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.

by Jason Velázquez

A few years ago, when I told my buddy Mike that my eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son would be taking skiing lessons through their school next week, he reminded me that his own daughter had been skiing since she was three.

Helmets are now required during high-speed winter sports for anyone under the age of 18 in many states; photo courtesy maxpixel.net.

When Mike and I were talking about skiing —before my kids had shown any real interest in the sport — he had encouraged me to take them to the slopes, assuring me that the younger kids learn, the safer they are, and the more naturally they adapt to the sport. Due to shortages of money, time, and trust that my babies would survive the bunny slope, however, somehow the winter slipped by with no skiing for my darling little daredevils.

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TLC #63—We catch up, then cross the line to cover the Poor People’s Campaign

Lt. Gov. candidate Quentin Palfrey, poet Clarrisa Sacherski, Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention, mystery author Chris Wondoloski, The Poor People’s Campaign

Welcome, Greylock Nation, to episode #63 of the Top Left Corner here at the Greylock Glass. We’ll hear more from Carrisa later in the show, and if you behave, I’ll even treat you to one of her recent poems she was kind enough to record and share with us.

A no-foolin'-around sized force of City of Albany and New York State Capitol police was on hand at the June 4 Poor People's Campaign event. Some twenty-seven arrests were made for trespassing and disturbing the peace; photo by Jason Velázquez.
A no-foolin’-around sized force of City of Albany and New York State Capitol police was on hand at the June 4 Poor People’s Campaign event. Some twenty-seven arrests were made for trespassing and disturbing the peace; photo by Jason Velázquez.

We have a pretty sizable show for you this week. Guests include candidate for Lt. Governor, Quentin Palfrey, Poetess Carissa Sacherski, author Chris Wondoloski, organizer of the first ever Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention Jim Wright, AND special coverage of the June 4 Poor People’s Campaign rally and action in Albany, including speaking with North County activists Sam Smith and Reverend Mark Longhurst, Poor People’s Campaign- NY organizer Barbara Smith, and Vocal-NY staff member G.G. Morgan. Keep Reading

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