No one’s gonna do change for you

“How many trees do we waste on Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan?” – Winona La Duke, speaking about the paper waste contributed by tabloid magazines on these two controversial Hollywood stars

I was given the delightful chance to meet 2-time Vice Presidential candidate and American-Indian representative Winona La Duke at CCBC Essex’ Student Life -sponsored Spotlight Speaker Series (try saying that 8 times fast). Winona is a true proponent of the green revolution and I would be re-miss not to talk about the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that she shared about living on this one planet we have.

Her big bone of contention was the way our government was handling our future. She talks about wealth disparity, which is the great difference between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. For the love of greed, she counters, our country prioritizes bank bailouts and US military excessiveness, thus leading to more national debt and waste of the nuclear and pollution type. Her beef with corporations is how they have the same rights as individuals do but are exempt from criminal liabilities.

This makes you just wonder: But what if another product recall kills people? How about another Ponzi scheme gone unchecked and our bank accounts gone to dust? What has ever happened to the Yakima dump that has made people sick and die? Just in our own backyards, why do you think we never get our blue crabs and scallops from the Inner Harbor? (The old chromium plant from the Inner Harbor in the 1930s has polluted the Chesapeake Bay; thus you wouldn’t want to consume these carcinogenic shellfish).

She is very concerned about our planet (as we all should be); and has even shackled herself to the front fence of an LA-based telephone book company. Why, you asked? It’s because she was protesting the impending death sentence this company had on an ancient tree that they were about to cut down to make, of all useless things, telephone books.

Anger put to the side, it all boils down to what she calls, RESPONSIBLE CITIZENRY. Civic engagement, or taking the initiative to help the community, one project at a time will help our planet NOW. Don’t worry about the grandkids’ future, worry about our future. She advocated that no one’s gonna do change for you.

On her Indian Reservation, she told us how her tribe overcame great adversity from the government and society. Half of the people on the reservation were living below the poverty line with nearly 4 generations of them living in abject poverty. The nearest place to work was 38 miles away; many had no cars and the men commonly had alcohol abuse problems (as the nearest liquor store was not necessarily on the reservation, it being illegal, but within just walking distance off the reservation). She thought of employing war veterans to create windmills for the Indian reservation which would generate their electricity needs. Her idea was, “The more diverse the thinking, the more you’ll get better answers.”

Winona strongly enjoins everyone to visit the website¬†Honor the Earth. Instead of consuming fast food, try slow food (google: Slow Food World Congress) to get some insight on how you live and ways to better it. She asks us to grow organic vegetables in our front yards and to stop using pesticides to make our lawns “green and pretty” yet toxic to us and Mother Earth as the rain water run-off from our pesticide-laden lawns get into our sewers and are recycled into our tap water. To turn our unused front yards into gardens, she said, would give us 750 pounds of fruits/vegetables a year! Ms. La Duke emphatically ended her speech with something to ruminate on: “Water is a basic human right. Even bottled water should be free water.”

CCBC is genuinely inspired by her. I’ll take this time to plug the next CCBC Student Life Trip during the Spring Break (April 16-22) to the Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We will learn from them and we will get to help them in their day-to-day needs. Deadline is December 17th, so act fast. I hope to see you there!

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