Tell Me: What IS Environmental Justice?

The BeZine is currently open for submissions for the September 15 issue (September 10, submission deadline) that will focus on Environmental Justice, which is also the theme of our 100 Thousand Poets (and friends*) for Change virtual event on September 24. In order to propel the discussion into deeper focus from the outset, we invite and encourage contributing authors to ponder a few things about their perspective and their voice on this topic.

When we talk about Justice, it is sometimes assumed that people will agree on what is ‘the right thing to do’. However, as with anything else, our decision-making about Justice is influenced by our values, by the things that we deem ‘special’, ‘important’, or ‘sacred’. I propose that there are (at least) three categories of valued environments, or ‘Holy Ground’: Nature, Place and Community. Think about these three different arenas and how you see Justice being applied to them.

For example, if Community is your value, you may feel that Environmental Justice has to do with how people are impacted and how human activity creates change. If Place is your value, then questions about Justice probably will involve a particular area with borders of a physical or conceptual nature. It may be that feelings of injustice are felt in terms of ‘This, not That’ or ‘Us, not Them’ or in a desire to see a Place resist change. If Nature is your value, then you may see Justice in more fluid terms as the balance of resources between producers/consumers and prey/predator is in a state of constant flux with perhaps no ultimate goal.

So, as you sit down to write about Environmental Justice in your unique voice, identify your values. Perhaps use the lenses of Nature, Place and Community to focus. What is important to you? Why? How does it affect your decision-making? What factors impact this ‘sacred’ ground? How do different cultural models or systems impact your cherished home? What feelings arise in you – what empathy for Living Things or Living Habitats? What fears?

Thank you for spending time with these concepts and these questions. Your presence, your life energy, and your embodiment of love is a gift that we are privileged and honored to receive. Please, share your thoughts, your words and pictures with us!

  • What started as a poets’ event in 2011 now includes artists, photographers, musicians, drummers, mimes, dancers, arts lovers and other peacemakers. Neither the September issue of The BeZine nor the 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) virtual event to be held here on September 24 are restricted to poetry. Send Zine submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com no later than September 10.  For the 100TPC event, work can be shared in the comments section and via Mister Linkey.  Michael Dickel, 100TPC Master of Ceremonies, will provide direction for sharing in his blog post on the 24th.  All work will be archived here and at Standford University. Feel free also to post comments, work in progress and questions in the comments section here today.  

Priscilla Galasso and Steve Wiencek, editors

me & Steve

© 2016, prompt text and photograph, Priscilla Galasso and Steve Wiencek, All rights reserved.

RELATED:

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 2)~ The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation there.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

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This conversation was started on our The BeZine 100TPC 2015 Facebook Group Page by Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

It’s only a little more than a month until 100 Thousand Poets for Change—Fifth Anniversary—26 September! Time to start some provocations…

Just to get us thinking abou the Poverty Theme next month—this was posted in a FB group, “Philosophy,” a while back but just appeared in my timeline.

The question I have is, does the standing man reach into his pocket because of empathy? Does he see that the beggar could be him? Or is it narcissism, that he sees an extension of himself (rather than seeing the person himself as separate)? Is he only giving b/c it is another version of himself (white male)? Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?

I don’t ask these questions to be cynical, but because I think the cartoon suggests all of this and possibly more. Who do we see when we see poverty? Who do we help? Who do we wonder why they are not “making something” of their lives (as one commenter on the posted photo said he would ask “himself”—the beggar self—in this situation)?

Jamie asked me to take the lead for the poverty-100TPC page, if I understood correctly, so consider this a first provocation. I hope to put out a couple of more in the next couple of weeks.

Are they prompts? Inspiration? Irritants? I like the idea of provoking thoughts, creativity, ideas. So I call them provocations. Mainly, just use what generates something for you, ignore the rest or all if you’ve got your own excitement rolling.

– Michael Dickel

Some of the discussion that resulted from Michael’s prompt follows:

“Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?” Heartbreaking that we even have to ask. And we know the artist’s perspective, he is not seeing the other.” Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“I’d like to think in the spiritual sense he’s seeing himself but that is wishful thinking, eh? Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

“The ‘but for the grace of God, go I’ response. Maybe. I was more cynical…I was seeing the ego. Ego demands giving to look good. Ugh. I’ve been doing justice work too long.” Terri Stewart

“I think the cartoon suggest all of this—the empathy of “there but for the Grace of God” likely the intent of the artist. The ego the reflection in the mirror, and possibly also intent? Who knows, I guess about intent… and that sense of I will help those like me. And what about those not like me? Terri Stewart

The drawing is provocative. And privileged. And as such, regardless of intent, draws attention to our own privilege, those like me anyway, white male, sitting at my expensive computer writing on FaceBook, drinking good coffee, and not worrying about where my next meal will come from, just whether I can afford to install central AC.” Michael Dickel

What are YOUR thoughts? Please feel free to share them below.

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15. The theme for August is music.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY ~ Common Sense(s)

I am a visual, hands-on learner. My husband is more auditory. If I’m sitting through a lecture, I need to take notes in order to incorporate the key points being delivered. David will just sit, listen and absorb. It’s disconcerting to both of us when he starts discussing things such as the stock market or how to improve my golf swing and I don’t follow…(and it’s hard to take notes when you’re already in bed.)

People do differ in their favored modes of sensory perception. You may want to touch or taste, while your friend will associate sounds, colors or aromas with a place or event. That’s why it’s important to evaluate descriptions in terms of the senses. Make sure you haven’t just focused on those things that speak to you.

Photo: morethanbranding.com
Photo: morethanbranding.com

Last Thursday at dVerse Poets’ Pub, I offered a prompt, asking those who wished to participate to really pay attention to an object, to dissect it with their senses, to let it tell a story or tease out a long forgotten memory.

Here’s what I suggested:

You could begin by enlisting the help of your senses. How does it smell, taste, feel to touch? Describe what you see or hear. Does it make you feel a certain way or engage a memory? Where did you find it? Give some environmental details if appropriate. Are there any verbs that pop into mind when you see this thing?

Go ahead, take it a step further. Is it possible that this artifact can be used metaphorically? Does that stale bread remind you of a relationship, or the gravel beneath your bare feet the pain you find along life’s journey? Does it, perhaps, remind you of someone or something in your own life? Personify it, if you like.

I’d like to share with you some examples from the opening chapter of my novel, The Sin of His Father. The protagonist is at the deathbed of his mother. Here’s how I’ve tried to incorporate the senses:

Sight: “The dim light threw his mother’s profile into an eerie silhouette. It was as though someone had let the air out of a grotesque balloon–the parody of an Irish washer woman paraded down Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago on St. Paddy’s day…”

Taste: “…the taste of bitter coffee he’d sipped a few hours earlier crept up his esophagus and caused him to gag.”

Hearing: “Ellen’s roommate breathed slowly before turning in her sleep. That was the only sound Matt heard, aside from his mother’s raspy breathing, the bubbles of the oxygen humidifier and the gentle hiss of the gas escaping around the small prongs sticking in her nose.”

Touch: “He fondled the smooth bowl of the pipe that waited for his attention in the pocket of his jacket and longed to step outside to indulge his habit.”

Smell: “His mother’s fetid breath stroked his cheek. He wanted to flee the close air of the room and take off into the night.”

Attention to sensory descriptions throughout the process of rewriting is an excellent way to enrich your manuscript. Perhaps you will select a key scene from one of your stories or a poem and rewrite it, utilizing as many senses as you can. Or write a new paragraph or poem that focuses on sensory detail. Check out the post at dVerse if you like for some samples of poetry, including Neruda, Keats and myself.

Photo: thepaleodiet.com
Photo: thepaleodiet.com

To Participate as a Group:

  • Write your poem or short prose and post it on your blog or website.
  • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and add your name and the direct URL to your post.
  • Visit others, if you are able, and see what they came up with. Reading each other’s work is, for me, a great way to learn.

Above all, have fun, enjoy the process.

I look forward to reading your work. Victoria

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.