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Positive Notes

Positive Notes

Flight Paths Saved
More than 618,000 acres of protected wetlands that provide habitat for birds migrating through the Azov and Black seas in Ukraine and Russia are due to be dramatically improved thanks to a $6.9-million grant from the UN's Global Environment Facility. Wetlands fringing the seas provide east-west and north-south flight paths, the most critical area being an intersection of marshes, lagoons and mudflats. With around 7 million inhabitants, the area also has the densest human population in the Ukraine. The project, which has World Bank approval, will reduce soil and nutrient runoff from farms and build the capacity of local organizations to improve environmental protection.

Moore Money for Conservation
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (Gordon Moore is a co-founder of Intel Corp.) has given $261 million to Conservation International (CI) to help save threatened and unique wildlife in tropical wilderness and biodiverse areas. The grant will be used as seed money to generate $1.5 billion from private sources and another $4.5 billion from the public sector. "The rate of species loss and habitat destruction demands immediate attention," said Moore. CI's programs will operate in more than 40 countries but are focused on tropical wilderness areas including the Congo River Basin in Central Africa, the Amazon in South America and New Guinea.

Doing Good by Doing Food
Paul Newman has become justly revered for his line of organic food items adorned with the promise that "all royalties after taxes... [fund] educational and charitable purposes." Now Bette Midler has found a way to combine epicureanism with activism. Midler's New Leaf Café in Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park is dedicating 100 percent of its profits to the maintenance of the park. The proceeds are channeled through Midler's New York Restoration Project, a seven-year-old effort to upgrade abandoned urban areas.

Ranger Reinstated
On December 27, Bob Jackson, a seasonal Park Ranger who has patrolled Yellowstone's back country for the past 24 years, won his "whistleblower" claim against the National Park Service. US law protects whistleblowers who report health and safety problems or rules violations by their employers. Jackson had been told to stop telling reporters that elk-baiting in the adjacent Bridger Teton National Forest was leading grizzlies to rely on human elk kills rather than their own hunting skills. Bob Jackson will be back at work this summer - with a letter of commendation in his file.

Shantytown Recycles for Profit
The Kenyan town of Korogocho (the name means "without hope" in the local dialect) provides an example of how recycling can be a significant source of income for local residents. In 1995, American student Mathew Meyer and Kenyan Benson Wikyo founded the Wikyo Akala Project to recycle rubber tires from the town dump into "ecosandals." In 2001, the project set up a website [www.ecosandals.com] and sold around $1,500 worth of ecosandals in North America within the first three weeks. As the most fortunate of Korogocho families earns around a dollar a day, the profits from handcrafting ecosandals has made a significant difference to the small Kenyan community.

Women Found Eco Law in Iran
Victoria Jamali, director of environmental research at the University of Tehran, and several colleagues, are creating Iran's first environmental law program. Jamali founded the Women's Society Against Environmental Pollution, one of the country's most active non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that now boasts 2,500 members and publishes a bilingual journal, Cry of the Earth. Jamali is a pioneer of citizen initiatives in a country where women are not generally found in leadership roles. Iranians are becoming increasingly aware of severe water and air pollution, over-fishing in the Caspian sea and the loss of large predators such as the Persian cheetah. [To contact Victoria Jamali, write to: Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Tehran, 16 Azar St., Enghelab Ave., Tehran, Iran]

Parrots and the Apes
What the Orangutan Told Alice, a new environmental storybook by Dale Smith, tells the story of two teenagers who wander into a Borneo rainforest where they encounter endangered orangutans and a primatologist working to save them from extinction. The novel, aimed at readers aged 11 to 17, shows how young people can become involved in efforts to save endangered species. The book is part of a series that also includes Smith's highly acclaimed, What the Parrot Told Alice. [Deer Creek Publishing, PO Box 1594, Nevada City, CA 95959, (530) 478-1758, fax -1759, www.deercreekpublishing.com]

So Much for Progress
The Salvatierra residential development, a 200-foot-long, four-story apartment complex in Rennes, Brittany, France, employed some ancient building techniques to produce a highly energy-efficient structure. Adobe-like cob construction (made from straw, clay soil and cement) provides thick walls for the project's 40 homes while hemp fiber was used to further insulate walls, lofts and partitions. The 969 square-feet of rooftop solar panels provides 45 percent of the building's hot water. As a member of CEPHEUS (Cost Efficient Passive Houses as European Standards) the project leaves one home open for public display and monitors the residences to assess energy use.

Spiritual Movement Launched
The Tikkun Community, a new multi-denominational organization of spiritual politics, promotes love and caring as antidotes to an America mired in a spiritual crisis generated by selfishness and materialism. Writing in Tikkun magazine [http://www.tikkun.org], Rabbi Michael Lerner named some of their challenges as: "the despair generated by yet further escalations of violence in Israel [and] the complete lack of vision of a mainstream alternative to the Republicans."

Greenworks TV
This Pennsylvania-based website [www.greenworks.tv] boasts live webcasts, streaming wildlife webcams and the "world's largest collection of online environmental videos." And if that's not "green" enough for you, the website is powered entirely by the sun, thanks to Solar Host [www.solarhost.com], the country's only web hosting company powered by solar panels.

Green Press Initiative
More than 40 percent of logged timber is turned into paper. The nonprofit Green Press Initiative believes that "authors and publishers have the power to save trees" by pledging to have their words printed only on 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper. The first authors to make the commitment include Paul Hawkin, Julia Butterfly Hill, Fritjof Capra, David Suzuki, and Winona LaDuke - all Earth Island Journal contributors. Book publishers can become GPI-certified by agreeing to print at least 10 percent of their titles on 100 percent recycled paper. GPI hopes to meet the even higher standard set by Earth Island Founder Dave Brower, who had his last book, Let the Mountains Talk; Let the Rivers Sing, (New Society Publishers) printed on 100 percent tree-free kenaf plant paper. [Green Press Initiative: 137 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024, (800) 694-8355, www.greenpressinitiative.org]

Journal staff contribution. Can be reprinted for non-profit purposes. Please credit and notify Earth Island Journal.

   

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