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IslandWire: December 17, 2020


a photo a woman, words Mexicos Hero Award Winner

Celebrating Conservation in Mexico

Bringing hope to Mexico and to the world, Pati Ruiz Corzo, cofounder and leader of the Sierra Gorda citizen conservation movement Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, of which Earth Island’s Viva Sierra Gorda is a part, has just been awarded a Global Citizen Prize. Hosted by singer John Legend, the Global Citizen Prize ceremony will air on NBC television December 19 at 8:00 p.m. EST. The Sierra Gorda is a remote region in one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Central Mexico. Thanks to the work of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda and participation from the 638 communities living in the biosphere reserve, the Sierra Gorda has become a global benchmark for citizen-based conservation in rural high-biodiversity areas.


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Reversing the Rollbacks

The Trump administration has spent much of the past four years pummeling environmental protections through a series of regulatory rollbacks. Reversing some of this damage will require a sustained effort by federal agencies to repeal them and replace regulations. Other damage can be reversed more swiftly through executive order, agency guidance, and discretionary actions. For those seeking to understand what it will take, our colleagues at the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at Berkeley Law, including Ken Alex, an Earth Island board director, have compiled a database of almost 200 rollbacks and a roadmap for reversing them — by federal agency, by tactic, by rules and regulations, and by impact. Check it out here.


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#PlasticFreePresident

A group of more than 550 diverse organizations, including Earth Island and its projects, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Raptors Are the Solution, International Marine Mammal Project, Project Coyote, and 1000 Fountains, recently endorsed a Presidential Plastics Action Plan urging President-elect Joe Biden to take eight key executive actions to solve the plastic pollution crisis and become a #PlasticFreePresident. Plastic Pollution Coalition played a key role as a convening partner and brought its coalition members to the campaign. In addition to the action plan, the campaign is gathering signatures for a petition urging President Biden to be the leader we need in the fight to end the plastic pollution crisis. The groundbreaking lawsuit Earth Island filed in February of this year against the 10 largest corporate polluters of plastic is currently making its way through the courts. More information here.


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Paying Our Fair Share

This month, Earth Island’s EcoEquity and the U.S. Climate Action Network, a large coalition of climate and climate justice groups, launched the U.S. Climate Fair Share campaign, designed to explain why the United States has a moral and political obligation not only to reduce its domestic emissions to net zero but also to support poorer countries in their efforts to do the same. It’s not enough for the U.S. to act only within its own borders. Despite staggering levels of poverty, the U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world, and it bears a huge responsibility for the carbon pollution that is causing catastrophic climate chaos in developing countries. This issue was recently covered by Bill McKibben in his column for The New Yorker. Read more about the U.S. Climate Fair Share here


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Undergraduate Experience for Social Good

Students in the Fung Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, are collaborating with three Earth Island projects to address real-world problems and develop viable solutions for environmental issues. The three projects are Save Our Soil, which works to stop the use of hazardous ingredients in fertilizer; Shark Stewards, an international program dedicated to saving sharks and ocean habitat; and EFC West, which empowers vulnerable populations and builds community capacity. The Eating Conscious team seen here worked on the Save Our Soil project. The Fung Fellowship is an immersive undergraduate learning experience that inspires students to become innovators for social good. As the students design solutions for community partners, the fellowship aims to shape the next generation of leaders for a better world. Read more here.


photo of a handsome hyena

Wild Hope Winter Issue

The latest issue of Wild Hope, a publication of one of Earth Island’s projects, has just been released. Published biannually in a print format (and released simultaneously in a digital edition as well), the magazine is beautifully curated with content by naturalists, conservationists, biologists, ecologists, nature writers, photographers, and artists. Included in this issue are stories about community science programs, saving coral reefs with giant sculptures, a sea otter sanctuary that educates the public about responsible wildlife viewing, a bird-rescue program that reunited a family of eagles, the protection of a horned lizard population in Texas, and new research on the intelligence and charisma of hyenas.


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Food Shift Reaches Upcycling Milestone

Since April, Earth Island’s Food Shift has upcycled more than 200,000 pounds — double the usual amount — of wasted food into critical food assistance for its San Francisco Bay Area community. This is a milestone, but it tells only half the story. It doesn’t reveal the community-specific aspect of the operation, a vital feature of Food Shift’s Covid-19 relief initiative, Operation Together. Food Shift provides nourishing food to 12 partner organizations each week, tailored to each partner’s needs. One-size-fits-all national programs often leave our most marginalized neighbors behind. Food assistance is surely needed on a widespread level, but it’s equally important to have projects like Food Shift that are able to meet the needs of the communities they serve.


photo of a oyster shells

Rewilding through Biodiversity

Earth Island’s Wild Oyster Project is striving to rewild the San Francisco Bay by increasing its biodiversity through the restoration of oyster reefs that provide shelter and habitat for many marine species, including endangered or threatened species such as coho salmon and tidewater goby. Oyster reefs also serve as barriers to storms and tides, preventing erosion and protecting productive estuary waters. While recent Covid-19 restrictions have curtailed some of its reef-building projects, the Wild Oyster Project is promoting its volunteer sign-up and online educational offerings for kids, enabling the project to stay involved with its community and prepare for the work ahead. One volunteer role in particular that they’ll be developing over the coming months is Oyster Bay Camp Captains, who will work at the project’s Oyster Bay Camps in the Bay Area. You can read more about the Oyster Bay Camps in this newsletter.


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Skateboarding Toward Positive Futures

Earth Island’s Seeding Sovereignty has been working since the start of the pandemic to provide essential needs and community care through its Indigenous Impact Community Care Initiative. As Covid-19 rates continue to spike, and isolation and emotional fatigue increase, we must address the soaring rates of depression and suicide among our Indigenous youth. According to a recent University of Southern California study, skateboarding promotes mental and physical wellness, creates a connection to place and community, and provides skill-building habits that can support youth in challenging circumstances. To meet mental health needs and to acknowledge the land we are on, Seeding Sovereignty is launching a Covid-relief Indigenous youth skateboard project and fundraising campaign to help Indigenous youth kickflip their way toward healthier mental and emotional well-being.


The Winter 2021 issue of Earth Island Journal is now available. Please consider subscribing to support independent journalism and this important publication on environmental issues.

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