The Role of Direct Action in the Battle to Slow Climate Change
Two activists featured in Josh Fox’s new documentary, How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change), join us to discuss the role of direct action in fighting global warming.
Aria Doe is co-founder and executive director of the Action Center for Education and Community Development in Far Rockaway, Queens, in New York City and Tim DeChristopher founded the Climate Disobedience Center after spending 21 months in federal custody for posing as a bidder in 2008 to prevent oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in his home state of Utah. We also speak with Fox about his plans to take the film on the road and distribute it for free as a tool in the climate justice movement.
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Amy Goodman: We’re broadcasting live from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, as we return to our conversation about Josh Fox’s new film, How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change). Josh Fox is the director of the Academy Award-nominated film Gasland, which exposed the dangers of fracking. He’s joining us here in Park City along with two of his subjects in his film, who are activists around the country. Aria Doe is co-founder and executive director of the Action Center for Education and Community Development in Far Rockaway, Queens, in New York City. And Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist and founder of the Climate Disobedience Center. He spent 21 months in prison for posing as a bidder in 2008 to prevent oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in his home state of Utah. He was charged under the Bush administration, but he was sentenced and tried under the Obama administration.
So, we welcome you all to Democracy Now! This terrible storm that has just blanketed the East Coast brings us back to other storms of different kinds, like Hurricane Sandy.
Aria Doe: Absolutely.
Amy Goodman: And that’s something, Aria Doe, that you were deeply involved with. And storms don’t affect all people equally.
Aria Doe: Absolutely not. When Hurricane Sandy hit, of course, everyone got wet. But when you live in an area such as the Rockaways, then it affects people different. And it’s a perfect example. On one side, you have multimillionaires; on another side, you have middle class; and in the middle, the populace that we deal with, 65 percent live 200 percent below poverty level. This is all within the 11.5-mile spectra. But the millionaires were able to get up and to go. If they had homes and their homes were destroyed, they had people in Brooklyn or France or wherever that they could go to. On the middle class and, yes, if your home was destroyed, you did have options, you did have choices. But we deal with the voiceless and we deal with the choiceless. And we deal—when you’re dealing with a population 200 percent below poverty levels, if all of their family lives on one floor of project housing, where are you going to go? If you deal with your family and when you need a little bit to get through the rest of the week and you all have lost your jobs, what are you going to do? Prior to Sandy, we did not have lines of people and have to feed 25,000—provide 25,000 plates of food a month. We’re still doing that, a thousand days after Sandy. We still have—
Amy Goodman: Wait. Why are you doing that a thousand days later?
Aria Doe: After Sandy, when you have five people in your family that have lost their jobs, you have no one to go to. When you have to deal with between—you’re choosing between shoes for your kids or milk for your babies or a coat for yourself, you need to come and you need to have those plates replaced, because that’s $20 you don’t have to spend that you can spend on something else. When your child is getting asthma or when they’re eating lead paint because the storm has washed away the coverage that was there, then you have more doctor bills. And a deductible of $20, when you have nothing, might as well be $200 or $2 million. So, when you have choices, you can act, even if you all get wet. When you don’t have choices, a thousand days later, you are still impacted, for generations to come.
Amy Goodman: And how do you organize around the issue of poverty in—what we’re seeing is this dramatically changing climate—in a fossil fuel economy that does not seem to change that much?
Aria Doe: Well, you work on connecting the dots, because there is no one more powerful than a parent who’s fighting for their child and there’s no one stronger than the poor and impoverished who must stand on the line to make sure—and put aside their pride—that folks get fed. So we have to speak the language to the poor of fossil fuel and connect the dots. How does solar energy affect you? Why is it important? If it will help you get further in a week and be able to get more for your kids, then you’re going to come and you’re going to fight. All of a sudden, solar energy is important to you.
We had an example of that on May 18 in the Rockaways, where we had a gathering of 200 people. And Josh was there and leading the call. And, of course, 50 percent of them were the choirs, the people who understand about solar energy, the folks who understand about fracking and why it is bad. And normally and too often, that’s all who’s in the room—the choir preaching to the choir. But we also had 50 percent of folks who were worried about getting to the PTA the next day, worried about getting shoes for their kids, because now they understood that if we’re in this room and if we’re empowered and if someone sees this picture of us being activated, then my child has a better future and I’m on board for that.
Amy Goodman: Tim DeChristopher, talk about your activism in this time when, what, the report just came out—2015 by far the hottest on record, surpassing only 2014, the year before—this storm, a massive, epic storm that the East Coast is still digging out from under. We spoke to you just a few weeks ago. You were in Seattle, not where you’re based, but you were there to support a group of climate activists who went on trial, the Delta 5. Why don’t you tell us what happened with them and why you’re involved with them?
Tim DeChristopher: Yeah, so I was there working with the Climate Disobedience Center to support the Delta 5 as they were going into trial. And we were there just to give whatever kind of support that they needed and that ended up being media support and organizing support and financial support.
Amy Goodman: What were they on trial for?
Tim DeChristopher: They were on trial for blockading an oil train about a year and a half ago. And they were the first ones who were able to present the necessity defense. And so, they had climate activists on the stand. They had oil train safety activists on the stand.
Amy Goodman: Explain what an oil train is, what they were trying to block.
Tim DeChristopher: Well, they were blocking a mile-and-a-half-long oil train carrying Bakken oil out of North Dakota, which is a fairly new phenomenon of all oil tanker cars on one big long train that presents massive new risk to the communities that it rolls through. And so they were there blockading that. And they were able to present really the most comprehensive case for climate action over the course of four days in a courtroom that I’ve ever seen in an American courtroom and perhaps the strongest case I’ve seen anywhere over four-and-a-half days. And then they had an amazing result, with jurors coming out and supporting them afterwards, signing up with the lead defendant to go to her next lobby day at the state Capitol.
Amy Goodman: But what happened? What was the verdict?
Tim DeChristopher: There was a split verdict that acquitted them of the obstruction of a train charge and convicted them of trespass. And things got complicated in the end, where they weren’t able to make the necessity defense argument in their closing statements and the judge actually asked the jurors to ignore all of the expert testimony that they had heard for three days. So, it was an interesting and complicated case that taught us, with the Climate Disobedience Center, a lot about how to do that case better the next time. And so, I’m going to continue supporting folks that are taking their case to trial and are engaging in civil disobedience.
Amy Goodman: And what does the verdict mean for oil trains? Some call them bomb trains, is that right? And why?
Tim DeChristopher: Because they’re extremely explosive, as we saw with the Lac-Mégantic disaster and a lot of other oil train disasters around North America. And, you know, I mean, I think all it means for the oil train shipping is that people are going to continue to stand up against it, you know and so we’re going to continue working with the folks who are standing up against it. So, I’m working with them. I’m also working with the Keep It in the Ground campaign that is calling for an end of fossil fuel leasing on public lands. So I’m kind of involved in a lot of different things and trying to remain as independent as possible in the climate movement, because—because it’s such a rapidly shifting crisis.
Amy Goodman: We had a conversation about what’s going on in Oregon right now. And there are developments—the standoff that’s taking place or the occupation of federal lands by the right-wing militia with guns. Talk about that in comparison to what you faced, for example. You went to—explain what you did, why you ended up in prison for almost two years in Utah.
Tim DeChristopher: Well—
Amy Goodman: Well, not in Utah, but your action was in Utah.
Tim DeChristopher: Yeah, so, with the occupation in Oregon, you know, I think there’s a lot of the country that’s kind of just trying to laugh at it and hope that if they just laugh at them, they’ll go away. But there are folks who are also seeing this as a real threat that is part of a consistent challenge to the idea of public lands and the idea of public goods in our country. So, there are folks from the Center for Biological Diversity who are up there right now, making their presence known as people who do care about our public lands and who are standing up to this threat of violence in order to get their way.
Amy Goodman: So they’re standing up against the militia that is there?
Tim DeChristopher: Yeah, yeah. I think they’re about the only people who aren’t armed in the whole county right now. So they’re standing up nonviolently against this violent force that’s out there.
Amy Goodman: How do you frame this is an anti-federal lands encounter that’s going on? And explain what you are seeing, the trend.
Tim DeChristopher: Well, I think it’s something that has grown out of the wise use movement that was funded by the fossil fuel industry and the mining industry for the last couple of decades, that has challenged the very idea of public lands and public resources. And so, I think there are people trying to support that idea of public lands in a lot of different ways. And it’s also what’s kind of supporting the public trust doctrine cases that young people are taking to the courts. So there’s all these different efforts throughout the climate movement trying to approach things in new and creative ways, which I think is necessary—
Amy Goodman: And what you did in Utah?
Tim DeChristopher: —when you have this, this extremely rapid, rapidly developing crisis that—where we’re up against an opponent, the fossil fuel industry, that is also adapting to what we’re doing. So, you know, I think trying all these new things in a lot of different new ways is critical. And part of the reason that I’m an independent activist is that what we’re seeing is that our institutions have this inertia, whether that’s big climate organizations or, you know, the academic organizations that I’ve spent a couple years with at Harvard Divinity School. They’re not keeping up with the pace of the crisis. They’re not adapting. They get bogged down in this inertia. And so, part of the reason that I’m involved in this film is that it was able to tell the truth in a different way than either of the climate organizations that I’ve been involved with, who are scared to talk about what it means to be too late to stop climate change or even the academic institutions that I’ve been a part of, that also are—I think, aren’t keeping up with the pace of the crisis.
Amy Goodman: My last question for you has to do with—you served almost two years in prison for trying to participate in an auction auctioning off public land to be drilled. You ended up preventing that auction from going forward, but you went to prison for almost two years.
Tim DeChristopher: Yeah.
Amy Goodman: Now you’re trying to stop drilling on public land all over the country.
Tim DeChristopher: Yeah and there’s a lot of people working with me on that. And there’s actually a lot of big organizations in the climate movement that have now gotten to that point of challenging—
Amy Goodman: What’s the campaign called?
Tim DeChristopher: —that whole system. It’s called the Keep It in the Ground campaign, with Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians. A lot of big organizations now are challenging that whole system. And they’re trying to move past this sort of one at a time, stop this destructive project, try to fight off that destructive project and say this whole system is broken. It’s all ignoring this overwhelming threat of climate change and we need to stop the whole system.
Amy Goodman: Aria, when you’re talking with people in the Rockaways and you’re providing service to people who have been made homeless, who are still dealing with the effects not only of Sandy years ago, but now with the newest storm—
Aria Doe: Absolutely.
Amy Goodman: —how do you address the issue, an issue that’s close to your heart, of climate change, when someone’s just trying to feed their kid?
Aria Doe: You educate—educate and activate. And our motto is "act now, cry later." So we have to get you to act, to understand what that plate of food means. And if you don’t start acting with the things that can contaminate that plate of food, yes, you can eat, but what are you doing to your body? So we activate, educate and we act now. And then we cry later. And it’s working.
Amy Goodman: And, Josh, the actions you’ve been documenting not only around this country, but around the world—I want to go for a minute to a clip from How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. This is from China, Josh Fox speaking to environmentalist Ella Chou.
Ella Chou: I believe there is something called the moral imagination.
Josh Fox: The moral imagination.
Ella Chou: The moral imagination. So, I think the moral imagination forces us to get out of our box of thinking about, for instance, what is being successful. Society might tell you that you should work for McKinsey or Goldman Sachs or whatever. You know, as a college graduate, you should go find a job. That’s your top priority. You should buy a house. The moral imagination allows us to think outside of this box, having a moral value about what you want as a person, as an individual, what you want out of your own humanity. What do you want to do for the world, for yourself?
Josh Fox: If there was any idea that could rocket you off into the stratosphere, this was it. The moral imagination wrote the Bill of Rights, came up with the idea of democracy. It dreamed up all the core values that were emerging in all these climate warriors around the globe. And all across the Earth, a movement was being imagined.
Amy Goodman: That’s Ella Chou in Josh Fox’s new documentary that’s premiered at Sundance, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. Talk about why Ella is included in this film.
Josh Fox: Ella is a remarkable individual. She works at the National Renewable Energy Labs, which is the only part of the Department of Energy that doesn’t have to do with our nuclear stockpile. That National Renewable Energy Lab—
Amy Goodman: And where is that?
Josh Fox: In Golden, Colorado. But she’s our envoy to China, to advise China on community solar. So that means challenging the fossil fuel industry in a whole other way, right? How do you replace coal-fired power plants, gas-fired power plants, all these pipelines, the bomb trains? Well, you do this with renewable energy. And what the science tells us is that we can get 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources right now. We don’t need to shift to anything else. So Ella talks about renewables. But she also, remarkably, on the Great Wall of China, talks about this call to a moral imagination. And what I think Tim and Aria are doing is imagining the next steps of our society, that all across America, that movement is being imagined, all across the world. So—
Amy Goodman: Aria, do you use solar panels in Far Rockaway?
Aria Doe: In housing projects, solar panels are not used.
Josh Fox: They’re not—it’s hard. We’ve been working on that.
Aria Doe: We want to. We want to.
Josh Fox: But in the Rockaways, during Sandy, some of the only people who had power were powered by solar-paneled trucks that came in from Greenpeace, you know. So what we’re talking about here is—
Amy Goodman: And we have a minute, so if you want to talk about what this new journey you’re going to go on around the country is?
Josh Fox: Oh, absolutely. All the people who are blocking bomb trains, who are blocking pipelines, who are protesting the fracked gas power plant in their backyard, of which there are 300 currently proposed for the U.S.—if we do that, we will never make a Paris climate target. So we’re taking this film, the Let Go and Love Tour, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, the Let Go and Love Tour, to support all those grassroots actions. So we’re calling for people and we’re making that map right now, where we’re going to go, a hundred cities around the U.S. We’re going to offer the film free of charge to those communities as a rallying point. So, please, we’re asking people to support the tour on Kickstarter. But this is something we did with Gasland. This is about galvanizing a movement on the ground. And that’s worked. We’ve seen this activism ban fracking in New York state and start a lot of other things.
Amy Goodman: You’re an Oscar-nominated filmmaker for Gasland a few years ago. Do you believe in a boycott against the Oscars because of its lack of diversity?
Josh Fox: Well, I think we have a huge problem with the—I mean, there are amazing films that have been made over the last two years by black filmmakers. So, you know, I support them, of course. And I support that all of these things within our system as filmmakers have to become much more conscious and much, much more awake.
Amy Goodman: I want to thank you all for being with us, Aria Doe, co-founder of the Action Center for Education and Community Development in Queens; Tim DeChristopher, Climate Disobedience Center, he’s based in Rhode Island; and Josh Fox, director of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.
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What is Family Burnout?<p>How do you know if you're experiencing family burnout resulting from COVID-19 togetherness?</p><p><a href="https://www.communitypsychiatry.com/providers/dr-pavan-madan-m-d/" target="_blank">Dr. Pavan Madan</a> is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist with <a href="https://www.communitypsychiatry.com/" target="_blank">Community Psychiatry</a>, the largest outpatient mental health organization in California. He explained there are three main symptoms to look out for. They are:</p><ul><li>feeling physically or emotionally exhausted</li><li>not being able to handle usual tasks</li><li>feeling annoyed easily</li></ul><p>These are symptoms a large number of people may be feeling right now, with exhaustion <a href="https://patient.info/news-and-features/why-lockdown-is-making-us-feel-exhausted" target="_blank">being reported across the internet</a>. Also, despite the fact that people are home and seemingly have all the time in the world on their hands, this inexplicable fatigue is becoming a common phenomenon.</p><p>In fact, Madan said, "Although no clear data is available, a <a href="http://bpinetwork.com/parental-burnout-crisis-in-corporate-america" target="_blank">2018 survey</a> found that half of all parents experience burnout — and this was prior to the pandemic."</p><p>Given the heightened rates of family togetherness now, it stands to reason those numbers are much higher, especially for single parents.</p>
The Additional Toll Faced by Single Parents<p>For single parents still working, now depleted of their normal childcare assistance, the pandemic may mean more to do and fewer opportunities for self-care than ever before.</p><p><a href="https://journeyswithprairie.com/prairie-conlon-licensed-therapist/" target="_blank">Prairie Conlon</a> is a licensed mental health professional and clinical director of the telehealth company <a href="https://www.certapet.com/" target="_blank">CertaPet</a>.</p><p>She explained, "In a two-parent household, division of tasks allows each parent to have some relief, but single-parent households typically take on all of these tasks themselves, which can absolutely lead to burnout quicker."</p><p>For single parents in a pandemic, there's no partner to help share responsibilities and there are few, if any, opportunities to get away and breathe by oneself. The result can easily lead to family burnout.</p><p>"One of the earliest signs of burnout is having less patience," Conlon said, "whether it's snapping at your kids or making a microwave dinner."</p><p>There are other factors that can contribute to family burnout in the time of COVID-19 as well.</p><p>"How demanding your job is or how the rest of your family is handling quarantine can further exacerbate burnout," Conlon said.</p>
Family Burnout Can Affect Romantic Relationships Too<p>Months together in quarantine can also be a strain on romantic relationships.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandrasternlicht/2020/04/23/couples-in-quarantine-only-18-are-satisfied-with-their-communication-during-coronavirus-pandemic/#178957045807" target="_blank">recent Forbes article</a> reported on a survey that found only 18 percent of respondents were happy with the communication within their relationships since the pandemic began. And in China, an <a href="https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200601-how-is-covid-19-is-affecting-relationships" target="_blank">unprecedented number of divorce requests</a> were filed as soon as marriage offices began reopening.</p><p>Will we see similar numbers as our states continue reopening here in the United States?</p><p>"When one person in a relationship is experiencing burnout, the other can typically pick up the slack, but when both are, it can be a struggle to connect and feel your best," Conlon said.</p><p>The impact on marriages and romantic relationships is considered part of the <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/202004/how-covid-19-affects-marriage-and-how-adapt" target="_blank">collateral damage</a> of COVID-19. In times of high stress, it may not always be the best thing to be locked at home together, incapable of getting the space and clear head that's often needed to work through marital discord.</p>
It’s Not Just Parents and Adults — Kids Can Experience Family Burnout As Well<p>It's important to remember that amidst all this, adults aren't the only ones experiencing burnout.</p><p>"Burnout in children often presents as anxiety, being irritable, poor academic performance, or staying isolated from peers and not expressing interest in playing," Madan said.</p><p>A recent <a href="https://time.com/5854243/coronavirus-lockdown-impact-children/" target="_blank">survey in Italy</a> found that children are experiencing psychological impacts as a result of lockdown. They're more irritable, having trouble sleeping, and many are regressing developmentally.</p><p>"Compared to younger children, teenagers may be more likely to experience burnout due to higher academic workload, greater need for peer interaction, and more frequent conflicts with parents," Madan said.</p>
How to Reduce the Impact of Burnout in Your Household<p>But just because so many are experiencing burnout doesn't mean it can't be helped.</p><p>"Burnout can be prevented by having a better balance between family time versus me time," Madan said.</p><p>When dealing with kids who may be acting out as a result of lockdown stress, he suggests parents try using encouragement and positive reinforcement over punishment techniques.</p><p>This gentler approach may be best for helping to redirect kids while also honoring the life struggles we're all facing right now.</p><p>"Having a routine for sleep, meals, and study time can help children feel prepared for the next activity and avoid some conflicts," Madan explained.</p><p>How can parents manage their own feelings of burnout?</p><p>"Parents must consider stress management techniques at work and aim towards a better work-life balance," Madan said.</p><p>Conlon agreed, adding that those in two-parent households can help each other by giving one another time off from household obligations and child-rearing duties every once in a while.</p><p>Conlon suggested telling your partner to go out for a walk, or ask for the chance to sit in the tub with a book uninterrupted for the next hour. He explained that mini-breaks such as these can do both parents a world of good.</p><p>"For the kids, try to switch up their activities — take them bike riding, to the pool, or to the park," she said.</p>
Knowing When to Ask for Help<p>It's important to recognize there's a difference between having a slightly shorter fuse and feeling like you're actually on the edge of combusting.</p><p>"When burnout symptoms are moderate to severe, consider getting professional consultation with family therapy, individual therapist, or psychiatrist depending on the situation," Madan said.</p><p>While it may seem as though COVID-19 has made seeking mental health help more difficult, that's simply not the case. In fact, it may currently be easier to get that help than ever before, as many insurance companies have <a href="https://www.ahip.org/health-insurance-providers-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19/" target="_blank">removed deductibles and copays</a> for telehealth appointments.</p><p>"Parenting is not easy and burnout is fairly common," Madan explained. "I advise parents to take care of themselves not only for their own well-being, but also to model good behavior for their children to emulate now and for the years to come, even when we are back to 'normal.'"</p><p>Experts emphasize that it's OK to honor your own needs and recognize you may require additional help right now.</p><p>Most mental health practitioners are welcoming telehealth visits, and with antidepression and anti-anxiety prescriptions <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/depression-during-covid-19" target="_blank">both on the rise</a>, you're certainly not alone if you decide you need that additional assistance right now as well.</p><p>The most important thing is that you take care of yourself. After all, your family needs you to be healthy and whole.</p>
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By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz
With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.
1. Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Generosity by Priya Basil (forthcoming November 2020)<p>Priya Basil explores the meaning of hospitality within a variety of cultural, linguistic, and sociopolitical contexts in this short read. Basil uses her cross-cultural experience to illustrate how food amplifies discourse within families and touches on the hospitality and the lack thereof that migrants and refugees experience. <em>Be My Guest </em>is at once an enjoyable read and a hopeful meditation on how food and hospitality can make a positive difference in our world.</p>
2. Biodiversity, Food and Nutrition: A New Agenda for Sustainable Food Systems by Danny Hunter, Teresa Borelli, and Eliot Gee<p>In <em>Biodiversity, Food and Nutrition</em>, leading professionals from Bioversity International examine the positive impacts of biodiversity on nutrition and sustainability. The book highlights agrobiodiversity initiatives in Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Turkey, featuring research from the <a href="https://www.bioversityinternational.org/research-portfolio/diet-diversity/biodiversity-for-food-and-nutrition/" target="_blank">Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project </a>(BFN) of the <a href="https://www.bioversityinternational.org/alliance/" target="_blank">Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT</a>. Through this analysis, the authors propose that the localized activities in these countries are not only benefiting communities, but are transferable to other regions.</p>
3. Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. by Ashanté M. Reese<p>In <em>Black Food Geographies, </em>Ashanté Reese draws on her fieldwork to highlight community agency in response to unequal food access. Focusing on a majority-Black neighborhood in Washington, DC, Reese explores issues of racism, gentrification, and urban food access. Through her analysis, she argues that racism impacts and exacerbates issues of unequal food distribution systems.</p>
4. Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice edited by Hanna Garth and Ashanté M. Reese (forthcoming October 2020)<p>Access, equity, justice, and privilege are the central themes in this forthcoming collection of essays. The food justice movement often ignores the voices of Black communities and white food norms shape the notions of healthy food. Named for Black Lives Matter, <em>Black Food Matters </em>highlights the history and impact of Black communities and their food cultures in the food justice movement.</p>
5. Diners Dudes & Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture by Emily J.H. Contois (forthcoming November 2020)<p>In <em>Diners, Dudes & Diets</em>, Emily Contois looks at media's influence on eating habits and gendered perceptions of food. Focusing on the concept of dude foods, the book follows the evolution of food marketing for men. In doing so, Contois shows how industries used masculine stereotypes to sell diet and weight loss products to a new demographic. She argues that this has influenced both the way consumers think about food and their own identities.</p>
6. Feeding the Crisis: Care and Abandonment in America’s Food Safety Net by Maggie Dickinson<p>The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is essential for individuals who face food insecurity on a daily basis. Still, the program fails to reach many, including those who are unemployed, underemployed, or undocumented. <em>Feeding the Crisis</em> provides a historical overview of SNAP's expansion and traces the lives of eight families who must navigate the changing landscape of welfare policy in the United States.</p>
7. Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege, and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries by Rebecca T. de Souza<p>In <em>Feeding the Other</em>, Rebecca de Souza explores the relationship between food pantries and people dependent on their services. Throughout the work, de Souza underscores the structural failures that contribute to hunger and poverty, the racial dynamics within pantries, and the charged idea of a handout. She argues that while food pantries currently stigmatize clients, there is an opportunity to make them agents of food justice.</p>
8. Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato by Rebecca Earle<p>In <em>Feeding the People,</em> Rebecca Earle tells the story of the potato and its journey from a relatively unknown crop to a staple in modern diets around the world. Earle's work highlights the importance of the potato during famines, war, and explains the politics behind consumers' embrace of this food. Interspersed throughout are also potato recipes that any reader can try.</p>
9. Food in Cuba: The Pursuit of a Decent Meal by Hanna Garth<p>In <em>Food in Cuba</em>, Dr. Hannah Garth looks at food security and food sovereignty in the context of Cuba's second largest city, Santiago de Cuba. Throughout the work, Garth defines a decent meal as one that is culturally appropriate and of high quality. And through stories about families' sociopolitical barriers to food access, Garth shows how ideas of food and moral character become intimately linked.</p>
10. Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America by Marcia Chatelain<p>Scholar, speaker, and strategist Marcia Chatelain provides readers insight into the ways fast food restaurants expanded throughout Black communities. Dr. Chatelain traces their growth during the 20th century and their intersection with Black capitalists and the civil rights movement. This book highlights the dichotomy between fast food's negative impacts on Black communities and the potential economic and political opportunities that the businesses offered them.</p>
11. Honey And Venom: Confessions of an Urban Beekeeper by Andrew Coté<p>In <em>Honey and Venom,</em> Andrew Coté provides a history of beekeeping while taking the reader through his own trajectory in the industry. A manager of over one hundred beehives, Coté raises colonies across New York City, on the rooftops of churches, schools, and more. Coté's<em> </em>passion for beekeeping comes through clearly as he narrates the challenges and rewards of his career.</p>
12. Life on the Other Border: Farmworkers and Food Justice in Vermont by Teresa M. Mares<p>Agriculture, immigration, and Central American and Mexican farm workers may conjure ideas of the Mexico-U.S. border, but in <em>Life on the Other Border</em>, Teresa Mares gives a voice to those laboring much farther north. Mares introduces the readers to the Latinx immigrants who work in Vermont's dairy industry while they advocate for themselves and navigate life as undocumented workers. This is an inspiring read that touches on the intersection of food justice, immigration, and labor policy.</p>
13. Meals Matter: A Radical Economics Through Gastronomy by Michael Symons<p>In <em>Meals Matter</em>, Michael Symons argues that economics used to be, in its essence, about feeding the world but has since become fixated with the pursuit of money. Symons introduces readers to gastronomic liberalism and applies the ideas of philosophers like Epicurus and John Locke to the food system. Through this approach, he seeks to understand how large corporations gained control of the market and challenges readers to rethink their understanding of food economics.</p>
14. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg<p>Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit and has since been a global symbol of environmental activism. Her community organizing and impassioned speeches are uncompromising as she argues that climate change is an existential crisis that needs to be confronted immediately. <em>No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference </em>includes Thunberg's speeches and includes her 2019 address to the United Nations.</p>
15. Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It by Tom Philpott (forthcoming August 2020)<p>In <em>Perilous Bounty</em>, journalist Tom Philpott critically analyzes the centralized food system in the U.S. and argues that it is headed for disaster unless it sees some much-needed changes. Philpot argues that actors within the U.S. food system are prioritizing themselves over the nation's wellbeing and provides well-researched data to back up his claims. Providing readers insight into the experiences of activists, farmers, and scientists, this is a great read for those starting to learn about the state of the country's food system and for those who are already deeply involved.</p>
16. Plucked: Chicken, Antibiotics, And How Big Business Changed The Way The World Eats by Maryn McKenna<p>In this exposé on the chicken industry, acclaimed author Maryn McKenna explains the role antibiotics played in making chicken a global commodity. <em>Plucked </em>makes it clear that food choices matter and show how consumers' desire for meat, especially chicken, has impacted human health. McKenna also offers a way forward and outlines ways that stakeholders can make food safer again.</p>
17. Stirrings: How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice by Lana Dee Povitz<p>Between 1970 and 2000, food activists in New York City pushed to improve public school lunches, provide meals to those impacted by the AIDS epidemic, and established food co-ops. In <em>Stirrings</em>,<em> </em>Lana Dee Povitz draws on oral histories and archives to recount the stories of individuals who led these efforts. She highlights the successes of grassroots movements and reminds readers of the many women leaders in the New York food justice movement.</p>
18. The New American Farmer: Immigration, Race, and the Struggle for Sustainability by Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern<p>In <em>The New American Farmer</em>, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern offers a look at farm labor in the U.S. Although most farm owners are white Americans, farm workers are overwhelmingly immigrants and people of color. In this book, Minkoff-Zern details the experiences of farm laborers who are becoming farm owners themselves and outlines the many barriers that workers must overcome during this transition. Through interviews with farmers and organizers, Minkoff-Zern shows that these farmers bring sustainable agricultural practices that can benefit our food system.</p>
19. The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here by Hope Jahren<p>Hope Jahren breaks down climate change for readers in an accessible and data-driven book. <em>The Story of More </em>explains<em> </em>how greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of natural resources in developed nations exacerbate climate change and outlines the consequences of these actions. Although she argues that the planet is in danger, she also provides a variety of everyday actions, like decreasing meat consumption, that consumers can take to make a difference.</p>
20. Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry<p>Author, chef, and food justice activist Bryant Terry provides readers with over a hundred recipes to create approachable and flavorful vegan dishes, without relying on meat alternatives. This book is a wonderfully practical recipe book that begins with a list of recommended tools, is organized by ingredients, and even includes a music playlist. Vegans and non-vegans alike will appreciate Chef Terry's <em>Vegetable Kingdom</em>.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Make+this+summer+a+season+of+reflection+and+self-education+with+Food+Tank%27s+reading+list+%E2%80%94+new+and+important+books+from+%40AMReese07%2C+%40GretaThunberg%2C+%40EmilyContois%2C+%40BryantTerry%2C+%40DrMChatelain%2C+and+more&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffoodtank.com%2Fnews%2F2020%2F07%2Ffood-tanks-summer-2020-reading-list%2F&via=foodtank"><span></span></a>
By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.
Goodwill's Canton, Mich. site looks overwhelmed on June 16, with an oversupply of donations and little immediate chance for resale. Brian Love / CC BY-ND
Recyclers Under Pressure<p>Since March 2020, when most shelter-in-place orders began, sanitation workers have noted massive increases in municipal garbage and recyclables. For example, in cities like Chicago, workers have seen up to <a href="https://chicago.suntimes.com/coronavirus/2020/4/7/21212543/coronavirus-chicago-garbage-pickup-streets-sanitation-masks" target="_blank">50% more waste</a>.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://swana.org/" target="_blank">Solid Waste Association of North America</a>, U.S. cities saw a <a href="https://swana.org/news/swana-news/article/2020/06/17/swana-submits-statement-on-recycling-challenges-for-u.s.-senate-hearing" target="_blank">20% average increase</a> in municipal solid waste and recycling collection from March into April 2020. Increased trash can be attributed partly to spring cleaning, but most of it is due to people spending greater time at home. Restaurants struggling to survive under COVID-19 restrictions are contributing to the rise in plastic and paper waste with <a href="https://theconversation.com/using-lots-of-plastic-packaging-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-youre-not-alone-135553" target="_blank">takeout packaging</a>.</p><p>Although higher volumes of recyclables are being set on the curb, budget deficits are squeezing recycling programs. Many municipalities are struggling with <a href="https://www.ketv.com/article/omaha-mayor-health-officials-to-provide-covid-19-update-friday-afternoon/32498068#" target="_blank">multimillion-dollar shortfalls</a>. Some communities, such as Rock Springs, Wyoming, and East Peoria, Illinois, <a href="https://resource-recycling.com/recycling/2020/05/27/budget-shortfalls-threaten-local-recycling-programs/" target="_blank">have cut recycling programs</a>.</p><p>And these stresses are testing a business already faced uncertainty.</p>
While bottle deposit stations remain closed, recyclables pile up in basements and garages. David Rieland / CC BY-ND
Turmoil in Scrap Markets<p>The global recycling economy has suffered since 2018 as first China and then other Asian nations <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-more-developing-countries-reject-plastic-waste-exports-wealthy-nations-seek-solutions-at-home-117163" target="_blank">banned imports of low-quality scrap</a> — often meaning improperly cleaned food packaging and poorly sorted recyclable materials. As in any business, the value of raw recyclables is linked to supply and demand. Without demand from nations like China, which formerly took up to 700,000 tons of U.S. scrap annually, recyclers have scrambled to stay in business.</p><p>The pandemic has boosted prices for some materials. One industry leader told us that between February and May 2020, prices doubled for recycled paper and tripled for recycled cardboard. These shifts reflect higher demand for tissue products and shipping packaging under shelter-in-place orders.</p><p>However, he also reported that prices for the most-recycled categories of reclaimed plastics — PET (#1) and PE (#2 and #4) – were at 10-year lows. An influx of cheap oil has driven the raw material cost of oil-derived virgin plastics to their lowest levels in decades, <a href="https://millerrecycling.com/oil-prices-recycling#:%7E:text=Higher%20oil%20prices%20can%20also,robust%20market%20for%20recycled%20plastic." target="_blank">outcompeting recycled feedstocks</a>.</p>
Difficult Economics<p>Ideally, revenues from recycling offset municipalities' costs for collecting and disposing of solid wastes. However, given worker safety concerns, low market prices for scrap materials, a slowed economy and cheaper alternatives for disposal, many communities and businesses across the U.S. have <a href="https://www.wastedive.com/news/recycling-mrfs-prison-labor-suspensions-coronavirus-covid-19/574301/" target="_blank">temporarily suspended</a> collection of recyclables and bottle deposits.</p><p>Meanwhile, as the commercial sector slowed, the distribution of waste generation changed. As people have spent more time producing waste at home, waste collectors implemented <a href="https://www.wastedive.com/news/coronavirus-covid-waste-recycling-safety-collection-mrf/574359/" target="_blank">new procedures</a> to protect their employees from infection.</p><p>Recycling is a very hands-on process that requires workers to manually sort out items from the collection stream that are unsuitable for mechanical processing. Workers and waste collection companies have <a href="https://www.wastedive.com/news/coronavirus-covid-waste-recycling-safety-collection-mrf/574359/" target="_blank">raised many safety questions</a> about recycling during the pandemic.</p><p>Precautions like social distancing and use of personal protective equipment have become commonplace among waste collectors and sorters, though concerns remain. Sorters are increasingly relying on automation, but implementation can be costly and takes time.</p>
Collections on Pause<p>Based on monitoring since 2017 by the trade publication <a href="https://www.wastedive.com/news/curbside-recycling-cancellation-tracker/569250/" target="_blank">Waste Dive</a>, nearly 90 curbside recycling programs had experienced or continue to experience a prolonged suspension over the past several years. About 30 of these suspensions have occurred since January 2020.</p>
Like many bottle deposit programs, Kroger's Ann Arbor, Mich. drop-off center shut down on March 23. Michigan bottle deposits across the state resumed on June 15, 2020 with new safety protocols. Brian Love / CC BY-ND<p>On a broader scale, it's not clear how much more waste Americans are currently producing during shutdowns. Commercial and residential waste aren't directly comparable. For example, a granola bar wrapper thrown away at the office is tallied differently than if discarded at home.</p><p>It is also challenging to quantify the effects of the pandemic while it is still unfolding. Historically, waste output from the commercial and industrial sectors has far outweighed the municipal stream. With many offices and business closed or operating at low levels, total U.S. waste production could actually be at a record low during this time. However, data on commercial and industrial wastes are not readily available.</p><p>At the California-based <a href="https://resource-recycling.com/recycling/2020/04/28/city-data-shows-covid-19-impacts-on-recycling-tonnages/" target="_blank">Peninsula Sanitary Service</a>, which serves the Stanford University community, total tonnage was down 60% in March. The company attributes this drop to reduced commercial waste, particularly from construction. Similarly, the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, noted a <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/metro-vancouver-garbage-decrease-covdi-19-1.5544942" target="_blank">10% decrease</a> year over year of waste collection levels for April.</p>
Expected sectors of plastic waste increase due to COVID-19, based on 2018 plastic usage distribution data from PlasticsEurope and Klemes et al., 2020. Brian Love and Julie Rieland / CC BY-ND