Update: December 2010. You may know I've been working on a book! It's about living in earth, animal & people friendly ways. So the topic of the mass killing of up to 400 Canada geese - geese I knew - in Brooklyn's Prospect Park captured my attention. The larger book is about living with other species, told through my own experiences as rock publicist, activist & blogger. The entire book is still being worked on but I'm offering this now, based on research and my thoughts on the topic. I'll write more about this but for now you can get it here.
Give Geese a Chance: The Story Behind the Massacre of New York City's Geese
A story I've followed closely. Only $6 + $1.50 shipping + sales tax (if you're in NY State).
May 3rd, 2007
My very first entry into activism occurred when I heard they were mass spraying pesticides - via helicopter - through the air in New York City. It seems hard to imagine now that it happened but under Mayor Giuliani, who orchestrated this as if it was a military operation - from his bunker in World Trade Center building # 7 - there was a war on mosquitoes. Streets that hadn't seen a mosquito since horses were running down them were sprayed with toxic chemicals. It was quite remarkable.
My awareness of this arose the first year this occurred in 1999, when I read an article in the New York Times about how this would affect everything down to the smallest insects, and the impact it would have on our eco-system. For reasons I can't quite put together, this over-the-top war on the environment, not to mention assault on other creatures (birds, bees, ladybugs, etc.) and human health got my attention and resonated with me. I'd always been concerned about animals and the environment but this was too outrageous for me to sit idly by.
On my last night in my apartment on Hudson Street Manhattan's West Village in year 2000, I kept the windows closed despite the extreme heat. Pesticide spray trucks were going to be charging down my block with toxic chemicals spewing from them. A few months prior to that, I had attended my first meeting of the No Spray Coalition. (I raced by taxi to the Sixth Street Community Center expecting hundreds of fellow New Yorkers outraged about this - there were about 30 people there, a good number, but certainly less than I anticipated.) I have been involved ever since in this fight to get the truth told about the effects of the pyrethroid pesticides that are sprayed against West Nile mosquitoes. These pesticides have been linked to breast cancer, neurological damage, thyroid damage, respiratory problems, kidney damage and more.
The No Spray Coalition, and seven other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the City of New York contesting its spray program in July of 2000. At that time, we were trying to get a temporary injunction - a stop - to the spraying. Because citizens had long ago been stripped of their right to sue manufacturers under a statute called FIFRA, the case was narrowed down to the Clean Water Act - whether or not the city sprayed over water. Human Health is left to government agencies to regulate, apparently. In court, video was shown -- taken by a courageous volunteer who followed a spray truck -- of the trucks careening through the streets of Harlem spraying a pregnant woman and children in their wake. This video was shown that evening on every news channel in NYC. It had quite an effect.
The No Spray Coalition had an important victory in our latest ruling and reached a settlement with the City of New York a week ago.
It took so long and we lost some members (who died from health issues) along the way. The non-interest of the press remains astounding to me. As a publicist, even more so. If the government issues a press release, it is reported practically verbatim. If NYC Mayor Bloomberg holds a press conference, information is repeated as if it is all fact and all news. When did real issues become so uninteresting to the press? It's similar to when protests are only covered under threat of some conflict with the police. This actually makes me very sad.
Music journalists follow musician's careers and know facts and figures at the top of their heads. Sports journalists report more than I can even imagine but do so in a creative manner. Why do politics and human health and people's activism get ignored? Something that truly has to do with setting the record straight after lies that were told year after year is ignored. It's not sexy. It's not exciting. When the No Spray Coalition was trying to stop the city's reckless spraying the second year and get a temporary injunction, you'd have thought we had set the world ablaze. Every newspaper, every television station covered this action. Few papers have covered the result, some six years later, from the court case and no tv.
What did the case ultimately bring? Well, now the city has admitted pesticides remain in the environment, have adverse affects on human health among other things. The media gives it a big yawn.
$80,000 is awarded as part of the settlement to five grassroots environmental and wildlife rehabilitation groups - would you have seen this reported anywhere? Oh. Yes. One place. The New York Post. They got one thing wrong - the money does not go to the groups involved in the lawsuit. Under the Clean Water Act, the plaintiffs do not get any money but some other really great groups do!
So even though this might be the only place you'll hear of this, it is still an important decision!
If you can help out the No Spray Coalition by either spreading the word or donating some $, it is appreciated. Please go to: No Spray Coalition!
span style="font-family: arial ms; font-size: large;">February 9th, 2007
News! Where to begin in our *new* News section? Sometimes it seems like the world is upside down. We're hopeful because we see more & more people who are concerned about the environment, animals, doing yoga, drinking fair trade/shade grown coffee, and so forth but then, at the same time, there seems to be this incredible disconnect between so many things. Like yoga is a beautiful, amazing thing but it really wasn't supposed to be (in my understanding) *just* about getting your body in shape. There's supposed to be a spiritual connect to it. So I often ponder how with all these people doing yoga in the world, the world doesn't seem like it's getting kinder? Having said that, I feel like there is this massive underbelly of change going on and, one day, before we even realize it is happening, boom ! things will have changed. We really hope that B-girl can be part of that change. I've been working on a writing project that's geared to that and we hope to have news about that SOON!
When Bruce Springsteen wrote the song "My Hometown," it was a nostalgic look back at his time growing up. Well, I have nostalgia too but at the moment I have mostly frustration. I grew up in the town of Livingston, New Jersey which is about 20 miles from New York City. My parents lived there for 31 years. We moved there when I was 3. Even tho' I didn't consider it the perfect place to grow up, I feel an attachment, concerned still to this day about what happens there. The Livingston Town Council decided a couple of years ago that the town needed a "downtown." I read about it from afar in the local paper, which I continued getting because my parents' subscription after they died hadn't quite ended. I read about how they were going to cut down 9 acres of woods, not just for the downtown, but to also build homes and more homes to accompany this downtown. I was angry then. I wondered... why was their no concern for the wildlife that lived in those woods? Where exactly did they think those birds and squirrels and deer and whatever else lived there were going to GO? There's not exactly a lot of open space left as it was and here they are chopping down 9 acres of woodland because, all of a sudden, after so many years as a thriving community, the town needed a "downtown." (And I'm sorry, it is not really a downtown, it is just a shopping area that doesn't even seem well designed or to promote "community.")
In the last few years of my parents' lives in Livingston, deer had begun to appear in our backyard. A family of deer. It was amazing and so unexpected. We had a nice brook running behind our house but not a huge amount of woods and it was hard to imagine the deer could survive within that small amount of woods. But survive they did. I realized as I became more conscious of the environment and wildlife issues that the reason they were there is because they had been pushed out of some previous habitat. Development, in other words, had claimed the deer's home.
Now, the news has reached me that Livingston has decided there are too many deer and set up a "Deer Management Committee." Livingston, considered a somewhat affluent, well-to-do community, has a Town Council that this week passed a resolution to have deer hunted with bows! I am completely serious about this and I am completely outraged. The problem also is that the decision was made before the issue even went for a vote. How else could we explain that they did not allow comments from an opposing, alternate view and only allowed the viewpoint of the "committee" (which was pro-hunting) to be put forth before being put to an unannounced vote? (& thank you to the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance for their hard work despite the recklessness of the Council's actions.)
It is a cyclical problem in our society. We take up the land of a species and then we wonder why deer and bears and whatever else are in our backyards. We then blame that species for getting too close to us! (Note: Please make this mentality stop!) We say they get in our gardens. They hit our cars. The problem is that we are not planning, taking into account these other species' RIGHT to occupy the space of this earth. To SHARE the earth with us.
In this instance, the New Jersey Audobon Society is going around doing presentations in suburban towns saying that the deer need to be limited. The AUDOBON SOCIETY! Can't they stick to their issue - of birds? They know if a local government hears from them that their position will be taken seriously. It is not like having a hunting organization advocate killing deer. They should NOT be using their prestige - whether legitimate or not - to harm other species. Apparently tho', Audobon Society has aligned themselves more recently with hunters. So any prestige they once had in my book is now negated.
I am not sure what to do about this situation but this is wrong, outright wrong. Some other deer, roaming like the deer in the backyard of the house I grew up in, are now going to be shot with bows, probably not even killed instantly, all so some hunters can get to exercise their "skill," a town council can seem like they "solved" a problem, and an uncompassionate, mean-spirited action is allowed to move forward. The deer get to share the earth with us. We as a species have to stop believing that we are the only ones that matter.
Any ideas or feedback appreciated! Thanks. I found contact information so read below for what you can do to help ! And maybe do something kind for animals today if you can.
peace, Cathryn. B-girl.
span style="font-family: arial ms; font-size: large;">Don't leave yet! *** What we can do!***span style="font-family: arial ms; font-size: medium;">
Sometimes it seems like sending letters and writing emails is all we do but in a small community it actually has more of an impact! Here (not easily found on the Livingston New Jersey web site) is contact information, if you are inspired, please write, fax or call! Or all three.
Mayor Steve Santola
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: (h) 973-992-7253
(w)973-316-9400, Town Hall fax # 973-535-7967
Deputy Mayor Lee Peyser
email: email@example.com, phone: 973-600-2070
Councilman Charles August
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 973-992-5261
Councilwoman Arlene Johnson
email: email@example.com, phone: 973-994-2314
Councilman Gary Schneiderman
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 973-994-2969
Important Note: While we think this is flawed and a horribly mean-spirited, unnecessary decision; when talking or emailing to these people, try to note the following: the flawed process - why was the other 'side' not given a chance to respond to the "deer management committee's" recommendations? Why was there not advance notice that a vote was going to be taken at that meeting? But, of course, to note primarily: the flawed decision making - there is no evidence that this will help curtail the deer population. Why is the town not working with animal advocates to find a GOOD solution? Deer are a species that deserve to share the earth with us. While that may not fit into every businessperson's 'model,' if they had considered the deer and other wildlife before the excessive "development," they would not be worrying about this now. Since there is debate over the "committee's" conclusions, the process should be restarted however hunting should be a very last resort and not even considered in this day and age. The people of the town should be given a chance to let the Town Council know what they think about this. thank you.