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IslandWire: June 18, 2020

In Earth Island Institute's statement on the death of George Floyd, we express our commitment to Black communities during this time — and as we continue to march forward toward a better world. International in its scope, our work crosses boundaries and borders to bring together people who are fighting to create a world in which healthier living environments can be accessed by those who are marginalized. There is no environmental justice without racial justice.

"Game-Changer" Ruling on Oil Spill Lawsuit

photo of plane flying over the sea, spraying something

Earlier this year, the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Earth Island's ALERT Project, other environmental groups, and individual plaintiffs, against the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its rules on the use of chemical agents to clean up oil spills. In a significant decision in the ongoing lawsuit, the judge recently ruled that the Clean Water Act requires the EPA to keep the nation's oil spill response plans current and effective and also denied the fossil-fuel industry's motion to intervene. This is a "game-changer" as it relates to our nation's oil-spill response plans. Stay up to date on the lawsuit here.

Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids Streaming Live


In 2016, Earth Island's Planet Earth Arts, in collaboration with new play incubator PlayGround, commissioned playwright Vincent Terrell Durham to develop a play about the explosive encounter between white environmental activists and the Black Lives Matter movement. Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids speaks to some of the most pressing subjects of our time: gentrification, white fragility, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police violence against Black bodies. On June 19 at 7:00 p.m. PDT, Planet Earth Arts, PlayGround, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre will be among nearly 30 San Francisco Bay Area theaters to present a Zoom live-stream presentation of this play. More information here.

Success with Remote Gardening

photo of someone working in a garden

When the Bay Area shelter-in-place began in March, Earth Island's West County DIGS shifted from its in-school programs and began providing kids and their families with plant starts as a way for them to stay connected and to promote home gardening during challenging times. Since then, the organization has given away 600 plant starts, which has been documented in this wonderfully uplifting video. The organization also recently set up three social media platforms with tutorials, crafts, recipes, and gardening tips as a way to keep everyone connected.

Food Justice is Racial Justice

photo of a demonstration

Earth Island's Food Shift recognizes that structural racism is built into our food system, and addresses this by codifying its inclusive behaviors into metrics. This involves making sure that at least two candidates for job positions are Black and 50 percent are people of color before hiring decisions are made. The organization has also shifted its focus to provide food to people at the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the San Francisco Bay Area and to feed Black neighbors arrested and injured at protest actions.

World Oceans Day Marked by New Ocean Hope Spot

a man happy from a SCUBA dive

On World Oceans Day earlier this month, we celebrated Earth Island's Shark Stewards for its role in getting the northern waters of Timor-Leste designated as the Ombai-Wetar Strait Hope Spot. Hope Spots are special places critical to the health of the ocean that recognize, empower, and support local communities and governments around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean. With local partners, including the Marine Tourism Association and USAID in Timor-Leste, Shark Stewards is working to stop commercial shark fishing in the area and establish permanent shark and marine protection in the country.

Caring for Our Community


Earth Island's People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, and Environment, or PGM ONE, is offering ongoing space/opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (aka People of the Global Majority) to stay powered up, well resourced, cared for, and in community with one another so that they can keep up the big movements for Black lives, environmental justice, and collective liberation. Upcoming sessions include a Black affinity space, a BIPOC affinity space, and a plein air painting workshop.

Camping Season Preparation, Covid-Style

photo of a plate of food outdoors

In preparation for the camping season, Covid-style, Earth Island's Bay Area Wilderness Training is offering a number of virtual programs this month to keep our camping skills sharp. The organization's Lunch and Learn Series includes webinars on the leave-no-trace ethic of camping and on providing inclusive community camping experiences. BAWT also provides a one-on-one consultation for trip planning support as well as gear loans for trained leaders and gear rentals for others.

Call for Moratorium on Rodenticides

photo of a roadside billboard showing rat-poison victims

Earth Island's Raptors Are the Solution is renewing its call for California Governor Gavin Newsom to place an emergency moratorium on second-generation anticoagulant rat poisons that have recently been linked to the deaths of wild animals that have ingested poisoned rodents. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has been delaying its reevaluation of these highly dangerous products. As part of its broader campaign to bring more attention to the issue, RATS just posted a billboard in Humboldt County and plans to put up two billboards in Petaluma this summer.

Serengeti Wildlife Featured in New Film Series

photo of a lion in a tree

In collaboration with their colleagues in Africa, Earth Island's Serengeti Watch is posting a stunning series of videos about Serengeti National Park on its Facebook page as a way to keep the interest in Serengeti tourism alive during the pandemic. Tourism is essential for the well-being of the park and the welfare of the people it supports. Serengeti Live, the producer of the videos, is based in Tanzania and is supported by Serengeti Watch.

Black Lives Matter and Environmental Learning Resources for Kids

photo of young person enjoying the natural world

Summer camp with Earth Island's Kids for the Bay, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, has unfortunately been canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that has not kept the organization from maintaining a connection with its community. It has created at-home activities and storytime videos to keep kids engaged with environmental learning. It has also recommended Black Lives Matter resources, including a list of relevant books, a video on racial injustice, and a video reading of a book about racism, which Kids for the Bay Director Mandi Billinge says families have found useful.

Earth Island Preparing to Protect Marine National Monuments

underwater photo of manta

Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project and Shark Stewards are bracing for action as the Trump administration promises to open marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean to commercial fishing operations in violation of federal law and conservation standards. On June 5, President Trump announced the opening of the Northeastern Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean to fishing with nets, longlines, and other destructive fishing techniques. He further promised to open Pacific monuments in the future. IMMP is urging the public to contact the White House to protest, and Shark Stewards has a petition as well. Photo: Ian Shive / Tandem.

Leadership Training for Social Change

photo of a banner on a fence, words, change the world

For more than a decade, Earth Island's YEA Camp has been running transformative leadership camps that have helped hundreds of teens get active on the social and environmental justice causes they care about. In light of everything that's happening in the world, YEA Camp recently announced its virtual summer leadership training for social change, starting in July and running through August. For progressive youth ages 10 to 17, the camp will help kids learn more about the problems in the world, develop their activist skills, and help them build confidence. More information here.

Outdoor Classrooms for Schools

photo of tables outdoors in a school

Schools are facing an uphill battle as they figure out how to navigate physical distancing requirements that will allow students to return to classrooms amid the pandemic. Repurposing outdoor spaces is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature. On the front lines of this effort is Earth Island's Green Schoolyards America, which is collaborating with partners to spearhead a national effort to move learning outdoors so schools can safely reopen. This effort includes 10 working groups to develop frameworks, strategies, and guidance to share with school districts across the country. More than 1,000 people registered for their first event earlier this month, demonstrating this urgent need.

Wild Hope Releases Spring/Summer Issue

photo of a magazine cover featuring an ourangutan

Wild Hope, a publication of one of Earth Island's projects, has just released its Spring/Summer 2020 issue. Published biannually in a print format (although released simultaneously, this time around, 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 on restoring habitat for imperiled orangutans in Borneo, things we can do to end wildlife trafficking, saving the endangered southern resident killer whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the fight to protect the largest floodplain forest in the US.

Release of Healthy Pregnancy Guide

photo of a magazine cover featuring an ourangutan

Plastic Pollution Coalition recently partnered to create The Healthy Pregnancy Guide that provides information, tools, and product recommendations to help parents-to-be protect their families from toxic chemicals, including those in plastics, and create a healthier environment. "Our hope is that this guide empowers women with tools for positive change," says PPC Co-Founder and Managing Director Julia Cohen.

The Best of Earth Island Journal

Get the latest environmental news from Earth Island Journal. Here are our top readers' and editors' choices from the past month:

photo of a wolf

Most Popular: Elimination of Mexican Gray Wolf Pack a Blow to Conservation Efforts. Journal intern Fiona McLeod writes about the killing of the Prieto wolf pack in Gila National Forest and the longstanding tensions between wolf conservation and public lands livestock grazing.

photo of a glowing plant

Editors' Pick: Engineered Glow. In the Journal's Summer 2020 digital issue cover story, writer Anna Gibbs discusses the huge strides researchers are making towards creating light-emitting plants, and the uncertainty around whether they are more likely to offer environmental benefits or cause unexpected harms.

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