Watch These Young Spoken-Word Poets Take On Climate Change
By Courtney Lindwall
Across the world, tens of thousands of young people are taking to the streets to protest climate inaction. And at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem last month, more than a dozen of them took to the stage.
On the final night of Climate Speaks, New York City's Climate Museum put on a spoken-word poetry performance where high school students from across the city came to describe, in rhythm and rhyme, a rapidly warming planet to a packed house.
As the finalists of a lengthy audition process, the poets came prepared for a war of words: Since March, the students had been busy writing, rewriting, rehearsing, and receiving coaching from pros like slam poet Darian Dauchan on everything from hand gestures to intonation to pacing.
"We had to get all the words right, but we also had to make sure to know who we were speaking to. That matters a lot because it guides what expressions you choose," said Jenny Gomez, who just graduated from Brooklyn's Northside Charter High School. "When I was hopeful, I thought of [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez. When I was angry, I thought of [Donald] Trump." Gomez said she imagined that the president was sitting in the audience and that she was speaking directly to him.
The performances felt like a real-time reckoning — by a generation still coming to terms with a catastrophe that it did not create. "At its heart, the show was expressing the single greatest injustice of the climate crisis," said Miranda Massie, director of the Climate Museum, of the plight of the world's children. "Even if you were not aware of it in every moment, it was in the room."
Many of the poems were rife with grief, mourning everything from "once-colorful corals" to future daughters who will inherit an unlivable planet, and even the poets' own childhoods. In her poem on fleeing extreme storms, Katie Lu reflected, "My parents could only bring one suitcase, so my youth and responsibility could not both fit."
Others bluntly assigned blame, calling out polluting corporations by name, the governments that enable them, and the greenhouse gases themselves.
"It is then that I realize that I have no seat at this table. That I am invisible," stated Andreas Psahos, whose poem, "Corporate Round Table," spoke directly to the executives who have knowingly chosen profits over the planet's health. "That company men have no business making this earth hospitable or making the water more drinkable or making life more livable. Despicable. Criminal. Predictable."
Eliza Schiff, who just graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, also pointed a finger. "A band played along as the Titanic went down, a sad and mournful tune as hope ran aground. Now our ship is sinking, our world is burning, our cities languish as they gasp for air. But who is dancing to this melody?" Schiff asked. "Is it you, Charles and David Koch, who sit behind a desk in an office, holding back the remedy?"
Still, some of the poets offered hope.
"Big problems are made up of little ones, and solutions are the same way," recited Jordan Sanchez, who recently graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and is heading to Harvard in the fall. "They start in this room, and end under the sunlight of a new day."
To vie for a place in the final performance, the poets attended a Climate Museum workshop in the spring — a chance to learn more about the intersection of climate change, social justice, and the arts from expert performers. From there, the students submitted their own spoken-word pieces — many of them were taking on the medium for the first time — and hoped to beat out dozens of others for a chance to perform on the hallowed Apollo stage.
"Young people do know about this issue," Gomez said of her generation. "They're educated about it from their teachers and friends, but what they need is inspiration and support."
The Climate Museum's Massie and the Climate Speaks team provided just that. "In the end, what was striking to me was the variety of voices and themes in the final performance," Massie said. "We were careful not to sand that down or workshop that away. All we really did was give the performers room to create, with some support where they needed it. It was self-guided."
Massie remembers how profound it was to watch these young activist poets learn about and begin to address something people of all generations are grappling with. "We all, every day, more deeply absorb the extent of the crisis and what it means. There's no final wrapping of one's head around it, of that I'm confident. Not even a 50-year-old climatologist fully embraces the extent of this crisis."
Some students, like Jade Lozada, a senior at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, learned about climate change in depth for the first time during the Climate Speaks process. Now she considers herself a climate activist, aligned with a growing movement of young demonstrators led by Swedish superstar Greta Thunberg, whose weekly school strikes for climate action outside the Swedish parliament have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
"This never was a one-person job," read Lozada from her piece, titled "Baby Girls." "Now we're relying on a 16-year-old across the world to lead the mob." In the fall, Lozada said, she plans to join the Friday strikes alongside Thunberg and others.
The students hope their words will move the audience to action too. At the end of the event, each performer took the mic to offer a tangible next step: Vote on climate, ride a bike, go solar, they suggested. And perhaps most important: Speak out.
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
A new campaign unveiled this weekend by the nonprofit organization Fossil Free Media aims to expand on the goals of the fossil fuel divestment movement, cutting into oil and gas companies' profit margins through their public relations and ad campaigns.
<div id="1dcf1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d5e39a5a3812bc2589ba8aa0563756e0"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330177734799208465" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">PR and ad companies' work for the fossil fuel industry is pushing the planet past the breaking point.… https://t.co/wOuDBM26ne</div> — Clean Creatives (@Clean Creatives)<a href="https://twitter.com/cleancreatives/statuses/1330177734799208465">1605974060.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="21b90" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bdc23e69ff18075b4fb5df6d4939b9f5"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1330205383848288257" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Porter Novelli isn't some small shop: they've got offices and clients in 60 countries and are part of @Omnicom, the… https://t.co/iw0BCmrdzx</div> — Jamie Henn (@Jamie Henn)<a href="https://twitter.com/jamieclimate/statuses/1330205383848288257">1605980652.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"It's a BIG deal that they're dropping fossil fuel clients—let's make sure it's the drop that starts a flood," wrote Henn. </p>
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By Jason Farley
COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives, and it is poised to completely disrupt the holiday season. As people make holiday plans and think about ways to reduce the risks to their loved ones, a strategy is essential.
Are masks really necessary at family gatherings?<p>If you're gathering with friends and family who don't live in your home, yes. Just because you're with people you know doesn't mean you're safe from the coronavirus. Infection rates are <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">higher now than they have ever been</a> in the U.S., and <a href="https://youtu.be/ehdgceGzQxs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">small gatherings have been a source</a> of viral spread. All it takes is one infected person who doesn't know they have the coronavirus to infect others.</p><p>Remember, people can be <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/covid-19-updates/2020/07/how-long-symptom-onset-person-contagious" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">contagious two to three days</a> before symptoms show – that's one thing that makes this virus so hard to stop. And it's why, even if you feel fine, you should wear a mask.</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that when both people are wearing masks, the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">likelihood of infection is low</a>.</p>
Who am I protecting when I wear a mask?<p>In a word: everyone. The coronavirus <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">spreads through respiratory droplets</a> that you send out into the air when you talk, sing or even just breathe. The tiniest of these droplets can float on air currents for long periods.</p><p>Face masks stop many of those droplets, reducing the amount of virus in the air. That lowers your chances of getting infected, and it also lowers the chances that you'll infect someone else.</p><p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">Studies of people who had prolonged exposure</a> to others with COVID-19 have demonstrated how masks can reduce the chance of the virus spreading. In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">well-fitted cloth masks</a> made up of multiple layers can stop most large droplets and at least half of the tiny ones. Plastic <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.05.20207241" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">face shields</a> alone are far less effective. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/13/cdc-mask-guidance-masks-valves/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Face masks with valves or vents</a> might be good for construction work, but they don't stop the wearer from breathing out virus into the air.</p>
Can I reuse a mask and when should I replace it?<p>Reusable masks should be kept clean and dry. We're moving into cold and flu season, and noses get drippy. A rule of thumb: Anytime a mask is wet to the point that you can discern the wetness, it's time for a new one if it's disposable, or it's time to clean your reusable mask.</p><p>Wetness allows viruses to more easily move through paper or fabric because it allows the threads to move and may reduce the electrostatic charge in the masks that add extra protection with some fabrics.</p><p>In general, you can use a mask that stays clean and dry for about a week before you need to wash or discard it.</p>
How should I clean a cloth mask?<p>Washing your mask is like washing your clothes. You know when it is time.</p><p>In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">cleaning your mask weekly</a> should be sufficient. If odors develop before then, it's a good idea to wash it sooner. Odor generally means bacterial buildup.</p><p>Cleaning your mask by hand with soap and water is your best option. Using a general detergent on a gentle cycle in the washing machine is also fine, but that may increase the risk of damage, depending on the quality of the material. COVID-19 is not a hardy virus. Any soap or detergent should work fine. There's no need for special chemicals, bleach or harsh soaps.</p><p>Be careful to remove any inserts before washing. Inserted filters are generally not washable.</p><p>Air drying masks works best. Remember, masks should be completely dry before use. So be sure to have a replacement mask handy while the one you just washed dries.</p><p>Sunlight is always a great source of heat to dry your mask. Also, sunlight has ultraviolet radiation, which has been shown to <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/php.13293" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eliminate coronavirus</a> and is also known to have antibacterial properties.</p>
Can I wear the mask below my nose?<p>Wearing your mask below your nose is, frankly, ridiculous.</p><p>Think about it. If you are breathing through your nose and only covering your mouth, you are effectively eliminating the point of the mask. Properly wearing a mask requires covering both your nose and mouth at all times.</p><p>Studies show that wearing a proper cloth mask or surgical mask while exercising <a href="http://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.202008-990CME" target="_blank">doesn't affect the flow of oxygen</a> or carbon dioxide in any detectable way. So, unless you have serious heart and lung problems, that isn't an excuse.</p>
How do I safely remove my mask if I’m going to eat or drink?<p>When you <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">take your mask off</a>, remove it carefully by the straps without touching anything else and put it somewhere safe, like wrapped in paper in a purse, bag or pocket. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When you put it back on, wash your hands again.</p>
So, how can I have a safe holiday gathering?<p>The safest way to celebrate this year is to do so with members only within your household. The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CDC is now stressing that point</a>, as well. If you do celebrate with friends and relatives from outside your household, you need an action plan to reduce the risk of exposure.</p><p>Here are five recommendations:</p><ul><li>Limit the number of people – fewer people means fewer opportunities for exposure, and you'll have more room to spread out.</li><li>Require masks when not eating or drinking.</li><li>Use physical distancing when eating. Try to seat people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3223" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least 6 feet apart</a>. Eat outside if you can.</li><li>Consider being tested for COVID-19 before traveling or gathering. It's not a guarantee, but it can help flag illnesses. Remember to self-isolate between the test and the event.</li><li>Be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days after traveling or participating in any event that involves people from outside your home.</li></ul><p>[<em>Research into coronavirus and other news from science</em> <a href="https://theconversation.com/us/newsletters/science-editors-picks-71/?utm_source=TCUS&utm_medium=inline-link&utm_campaign=newsletter-text&utm_content=science-corona-research" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subscribe to The Conversation's new science newsletter</a>.]</p><p><em>The map has been updated with New Hampshire announcing a mask mandate effective Nov. 20.</em></p><p><em>Jason Farley is a professor, infectious disease-trained epidemiologist and nurse practitioner at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.<br></em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, FAAN receives funding from the National Institutes of Health on the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for COVID-19 and Becton Dickinson for studies on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-face-masks-belong-at-your-thanksgiving-gathering-7-things-you-need-to-know-about-wearing-them-150130" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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