Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sustainable Monroeville Meetings, Monroeville Citizen's Night and More! You Tube Link on FERC and Eminent Domain...

I want to take this time to thank everybody who attended April's Sustainable Monroeville meeting, and for any of you who may have missed it, the video is pinned to the top of the Sustainable Monroeville's Facebook page. 

Please mark your calendar for our next Sustainable Monroeville meeting on Monday, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm at the Monroeville Public Library (MPL). During April, 2018, our concerns with Huntley and Huntley’s operations were not resolved and these concerns will be discussed. The seismic testing company hired by H&H, Geokinetics, may have ushered their seismic testing equipment away from Monroeville, but they didn’t leave here before violating duties outlined in Monroeville's seismic testing settlement agreement. There are unanswered questions as to why this happened. We need to remind Monroeville Municipal Council of this at the Monroeville Council Meeting on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 7:00 PM in Monroeville Municipal Council Chambers) while Geokinetics continues their seismic surveys in surrounding areas. For this reason, we recommend anyone having a “no seismic testing” yard sign continue displaying them. If more are needed, we’ll have them available this coming Monday evening at the Sustainable Monroeville meeting at the MPL.

  • Update on local Seismic Testing challenges - an update from Food and Water Watch. Q&A to address those concerns. 
  • Information by Lois Drumheller relating to Air Quality Standards and Environmental Protection (EPA). 
  • We also welcome our guest,  Debra Smit, who is Communications Director of the Breathe project. Her talk will go into further detail about what is being done locally about the standards of air and water. Remember, we have a municipality that has not yet addressed this in any form of an ordinance to regulate what MUST be done with the oil and gas industry to guarantee our air and water rules when it comes to gas and oil operations.
  • Meeting Dates:
  • Monday, May 7, at 7:00 PM Sustainable Monroeville at MPL
  • Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00 PM Monroeville Council Meeting at the Monroeville Municipal Building

Please join us on Monday, May 7th at 7 PM, Monroeville Public Library’s Program Room (downstairs, by the children’s library) and save the other meeting date too. 

Feel free to share this information widely and invite your councilperson, the Mayor of Monroeville, and the Municipal manager personally to the upcoming meeting of Sustainable Monroeville by sending an e-mail or calling the municipal building...This is a community job! 


For Sustainable Monroeville, Great Thanks!

412.374.0870-412.736.1765 (m)

Like Sustainable Monroeville on Facebook!

Check out this brand new informational video:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Groups of 10, what's in a lawn, and meeting dates for the rest of April and May, 2018

What is the history of Air Pollution in Western PA? Tonight, Wednesday, April 18, 2018 is the inaugural meeting of Groups of 10 at the Monroeville Public Library. Groups of 10 is a project of the Clean Air Council. For details contact Madeline Havrilla,

What's in a lawn? Or rather, why is it sooooo very important to understand why the answers to our civilizational woes are in the soil?

Civilizations rise and fall based on the quality and fertility of their soil. Soil is a living civilization under our feet! Or it ought to be...In the past 10 years in the state of PA, we've not been paying much attention to the state of our soil. Did I say the past ten years? Hmmmm, it's really more like the past 100+ years! With the industrial revolution in the U.S. and around the world, and the rise of the use of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, on our lawns, on our food and other crops, and the rise of post WWII Agribusiness with a huge influx of genetically modified (GMO) crops, our soil and our physical health has gone to #@^&amp....Well, you get the idea!

 Most recently deep Marcellus Shale exploration to force natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations thousands of feet, miles below us, (aka Fracking) using millions of gallons of our river water....specifically at the moment being planned for right here in Monroeville, PA, and occurring already in the surrounding communities of Penn Township, Murrysville, Upper and Lower Burrell, and elsewhere, we have not been respecting Mother Earth one bit...And with that, our once fertile Western PA soils are not so fertile anymore...Neither are the people for that matter. Studies have shown due to the agrochemicals from industrial farming and the chemicals used, produced and poured into our environment through the air and water in coal, nuclear, and gas exploitation, men's sperm counts are down and women are having trouble conceiving children. It's the issue of hormone disruption. Sexual confusion. Boys being born with undescended testicles or no prostate, and women's sex organs confused...No wonder our youth and young adults are so mixed up! Literally...physically mixed up due to the effects of hormone disrupting chemicals being ingested by mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers...Read the works of Theo Colburn and the Environmental Working Group for more information on this topic (

It's time to go back to no-till farming methods. It's time to do organic farming our front yards, our back yards and our side yards. It's time to vote people in that understand Life on this planet. It's time to reconnect with our Mother. Mother Earth, Panchamama! How? Scroll back to 2009 and 2010 up to the present on this very blog,, and Extra Extra, Read all about Permaculture and the culture of LIFE rather than us continuing on with the extractive industries and the Culture of DEATH. Our lives as human beings on Planet Earth depend on it!

It's time to wake up and smell the roses...if you can through some of the most polluted air in the world, here in these beautiful hills and valleys of Western PA...where the industrial revolution began and is in the process of ending as we have known it!

Be strong, be empowered, speak up and out whenever you can. Write, call, text, e-mail to your councilperson, your Mayor, your Municipal Manager...And then do it again! Your voice and most of all your VOTE matters!

Meeting Dates for April and May, 2018:

The next meeting of Sustainable Monroeville is on Monday evening, May 7, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Public Library.
The next Monroeville Citizen's Night is Thursday evening, May 10 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Municipal building.
The next council meeting is on May 15, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Monroeville Municipal building.

All municipal officials, the municipal manager and the Mayor are always invited to Sustainable Monroeville meetings. We're hoping they join us for the month of May and then plan a Town Meeting in council chambers. The citizens of Monroeville sure have a LOT of unanswered questions about how the Seismic Testing was conducted by Geokinetics and what plans Huntley and Huntley has for the development of Marcellus and Utica Shale exploration in our town...

Onward we Go!

Many Blessings for a wonderful springtime and remember to shine your light bright!

The truth will prevail,

Elisa Beck on behalf of
Sustainable Monroeville
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Share this blog address with your friends and remember to report stinky air on the SMELLPGH App. Remind your friends to do the same!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Seismic Testing in April, 2018 Monroeville, PA. What's Next?

Hello, and Happy windy and cold April! The delicate buds are peeking out of the ground in Monroeville, PA. So pretty. Soon the lime green buds will take over and bathe us in new life and a new way of seeing ourselves and what has been going on here in Monroeville, PA...

Be sure to mark your calendar for the April 10, 2018 at 7:00 PM Monroeville Council meeting at the Monroeville Muncipal building. Does anyone know if citizens concerns about the Seismic Testing that has been occurring in the Municipality of Monroeville has been placed on the agenda for this upcoming council meeting? Please call Mr. Little, the municipal manager, or e-mail to him to ask. Our guess is there will be many citizens at the meeting wanting some answers about what has transpired in our beautiful town of Monroeville, PA over these past few weeks. Is the testing still occurring? Seismic testing that is? Has Geokinetics completed its work? If not, when will the work be complete? Will citizens be informed of upcoming exact dates and times if Seismic charges, aka explosives,  are used so we know what to expect? Who knew this would be occurring or has already occurred in at least one cemetery in Monroeville, PA? Is that a legal use of Seismic Testing, explosive seismic testing in a cemetery? These questions and many more were asked by residents at the Sustainable Monroeville meeting this past week. These questions remain unanswered. And now we're not sure what to believe based on what's in the Seismic Testing ordinance, and what's really been happening.

Here's links to a few articles that appeared in TribLive this week regarding what's been happening in Monroeville, PA this week:

As of this writing at 3:30 PM on Friday afternoon, April 5, 2018, there have been sightings of Geokinetics in Monroeville, PA. What are they doing, and where are they doing it?

The next meeting of Sustainable Monroeville will be on Monday evening, May 7, 2018 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM.  As always these meetings are in the downstairs program room of the Monroeville Public Library and are free and open to the public.  All municipal officials, councilpersons, the Mayor, and of course all community members are invited to this next meeting where the agenda will focus on putting updated and most appropriate oil and gas laws in place to protect our property and our health as it seems fracking is coming down the pike! Please reach out to your councilperson directly to invite them to this upcoming meeting.
Based on how the Seismic Testing was handled, we, the citizens must be vigilant and be sure everyone is following the rules. We must be proactive because it has become apparent that once the industry begins what they set out to do, the ball keeps rolling even if they are not necessarily following the rules...

Below is from Doug Shields of Food and Water Watch, a Non-Profit. Doug has been helping us along in this process of educating the public about Seismic Testing and now soon, Fracking so We the People, the Citizens of Monroeville, PA will be able to protect our residences, business and health. Thanks Doug!

"There is an Oil and Gas Drilling zoning ordinance in place in Monroeville.

A brief History…

Last summer, I worked with Sustainable Monroeville to get the Seismic Survey Ordinance enacted (9/2017).

At that time I met with Manager, Tim Little, and pointed out to him that Monroeville’s zoning code:
1. Has an oil and gas section.
2. That the code allowed for fracking, as a conditional use exception, in all zoning districts of the municipality. See old ordinance (still on line)

  1. Informed that this was an incompatible use with residential and commercial and other non-industrial zoning districts.
  2. Fracking is an industrial land use
  3. Any fracking operations should be limited to the municipality’s industrial zones, as a conditional use; it is an industrial activity it goes to the industrial zone. The industrial zones are noted in light blue on the municipal zoning map: You will note that this amendment to the zoning code significantly limits areas where drilling/fracking can be done

  1. In October, 2017, Monroeville Council amended their code to do just that.
  2. In December 2017, legislation was offered in Council (no one would admit to being the bill’s sponsor which is very odd) to further amend the zoning code to allow fracking in the S1 Special Conservancy district. See zoning map – dark green area in the SW of the municipality.  This would increase the likelihood of fracking as there is room for a well pad there. It is about 3 miles from the well going in at the Edgar Thompson Steel mill (the portion in in N. Versailles).
  3. Huntley and Huntley has leases for gas in this area as well.  (see FracTracker lease map:
The leases are noted in orange. Click on the large orange tracts in south Monroeville – note the area is all leased by Huntley and Huntley.  Then, attempt to convince me that they don’t want to frack in Monroeville. Who sponsored the amendment to expand fracking us in the S1- Special Conservancy district? I have no idea. You have to have a council member introduce the legislation. Were it not for the vigilance of Sustainable Monroeville members, the amendment may well have been passed unnoticed. 

The S1- Special Conservancy district is essentially the area occupied by the old Chambers municipal waste landfill (now owned by Waste Management).  The Planning commission gave the amendment a negative recommendation. Allegheny County Planning review of the proposed ordinance raised significant questions about the amendment as to both its form and substance.

The Council took action last month to remove the offered amendment from the agenda. 

Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code (which allows municipalities to employ zoning) you cannot ban a legal land use via zoning. I provide you with a link to a document that explains the basics of zoning very well. The matter of exclusionary zoning is defined there at page 8. “

This is a very good resource to understand the basics of zoning in PA. Easy to read and understand."


Doug Shields 

Douglas A. Shields
W. PA Outreach Liaison
Food & Water Watch

Cell:  1 412 969 5816

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

April Meetings in Monroeville, PA about Seismic Testing and Fracking in Monroeville, PA

Hello, Everybody!

March came in … not with a good, good, good Beach Boys vibration, but with vibes we had been warned about in Butler, Fayette and Westmoreland Counties sounding off on seismic testing. As we head into April, our group of Sustainable Monroeville Volunteers have meanwhile been busy canvassing all over Monroeville. The overwhelming numbers of homeowners are NOT happy about seismic testing. Have you seen the signs? There is one more event door knocking event to complete, as our volunteers have covered 8 out of 9 territories (turfs). 

Come to the next Sustainable Monroeville Meeting to hear about and discuss Monroeville’s reaction to the O&G Industry. 

Monday, April 2, 2018, 7:00 PM, Monroeville Public Library Program Room

  • Seismic Testing and miscommunications (or, How GeoKinetics - the seismic testing arm of Huntley and Huntley, are stomping and shaking their way through Monroeville).
  • News of Air Quality Monitoring Systems, with thanks to our friends in Westmoreland County, where they know a thing or two about safety measurements. An Allegheny County Update on that.
  • Monroeville Council’s upcoming Seven Springs Mountain Resort Meeting, which is the reason Council has moved Citizens’ Night up to Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 7:00 PM, Municipality of Monroeville (let’s wish them a great time in the resort learning about new initiatives, and … wait - there is nothing at this conference about the Oil and Gas Industry???)

See you Monday night, April 2, 2018… Bring a friend. Bring a neighbor. Everyone is welcomed! 

Great Big Thank You,

412.374.0870-412.736.1765 (m)

Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.    St. Augustine

Sunday, January 14, 2018

IMPORTANT FRACKING in MONROEVILLE, PA Public Meeting Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:30 PM

Dear residents of Western Pennsylvania,

SHARE WIDELY AND Please attend the Monroeville Planning Commission meeting at the Monroeville Municipal building on Wednesday evening, January 17, 2018, at 7:30 PM. It is so important to voice your opinion about fracking in Monroeville if you are a Monroeville resident. Sit in solidarity if you are a resident of Western PA. 
Today, January 14, 2018, the front page of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an article by Anya Litvak titled, Gas drillers supersizing well pads. She states "...from a 10-acre spot, a company can theoretically slurp natural gas from underneath an area nearly the size of the City of Pittsburgh." It seems Monroeville is preparing 150 acres of property adjacent to Pitcairn where Monroeville's landfill is located, for this purpose... Elisa Beck

From Lois Drumheller:

Thank you for giving me a platform to communicate recent local governmental actions to control the one industry NO municipality in PA by law can impede - gas and oil, drilling into the Marcellus Shale.

Most people reading this are interested in how Monroeville's members of Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board will carry out by law as their responsibility for: the health, safety and welfare of the public

Because the Oil Industry’s Monroeville based Huntley and Huntley has an interest in fracking Allegheny and therefore, Monroeville, Monroeville's reactions to “cooperate” abruptly changed some allowances of seismic testing. It took little time after GeoKinentics, the seismic testing contractor working with Huntley & Huntley to challenge restrictions to seismic testing all over Monroeville (seismic testing is the first step in fracking). This left many Monroeville households confused when approached by those conducting the sell on seismic testing. 

Many who have attended Council meetings were introduced to our group, Sustainable Monroeville. Waking up can be hard. However, we have been instrumental to hold Monroeville Council's promise to re-evaluate zoning regulations over oil and gas. We have accomplished much since last October, when the issue was raised on testing and drilling. From our actions, the zoning ordinance that showed an allowable, but conditional use of oil and gas exploration in every zoning district was quickly changed to that allowing this only in the M-2 (Industrial district). Since then, in December of 2017, we encouraged and Solicitor Wratcher responded by giving Council a proposed ordinance that the public had not seen. Thanks to meeting attendees like Dave Mintz, the public was able to see the proposed ordinance the day after that meeting. Why shouldn’t we have? 

Now, in January, we learned Monroeville's Zoning Ordinance (which had a long overdue update) would now have this proposed ordinance as an amendment to regulate the gas and oil industry for fracking (horizontal drilling). This ordinance (introduced January 4, 2018) and a new zoning map is linked to here:

Council will ultimately act to pass the proposed ordinance, or revise the draft into final recommendations, per the body of governments who should do that sort of thing. Meanwhile, the next step in that discussion will be this Wednesday when the proposed ordinance will go in front of the Planning Commission for review/recommendations. This is where I am asking everyone who can to attend this Wednesday night meeting (Jan 17, 7:30 PM, Monroeville Municipal Council Chambers) so that the public is able to be heard! We need to question after examining it. I’m sure many will have questions and more advice for clarification. Start writing your questions down, as I am also doing. The ordinance is on the Wednesday agenda as the last item. 

See where S-1 is located. How much of S-1 is owned by the municipality? Are there concerns with surrounding infrastructure? Will air quality be measured? Who will the municipality recommend as hydrologist in the assessment of the infrastructure? Where would the water come from? 

Planning Commission 1/17/2018 Agenda linked here:

Please contact me if you have further questions or need clarifications. I’ll do what I can to answer. The people who are in the vicinity of the S-1 district will no doubt have questions because the land fill is nearby, coal seams are running down the middle of the airport, and our neighbors in Pitcairn aren’t even aware of this, as far as I can tell. This is why I asked the Times Express to attend.

Hoping to see them and you Wednesday evening.

Great Thanks,
Lois Drumheller
412.736.1765 (m)

Hope has two daughters, anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.    St. Augustine

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

All We Need is Love & Ray Kemble in Dimock, PA

What are we doing here on Planet Earth anyway? Are we here to fight with one another, or are we here to love one another? We know for sure both ends of the spectrum are happening on Planet Earth at this moment in time. Where do you fall on the spectrum? HATE........LOVE.......HATE.......LOVE......
What are we here for? Could we be here to love ourselves? Consider that. Breathe Deeply. Perhaps once we begin to love and take care of ourselves, to nurture ourselves, we will all love Planet Earth, take care of her, ourselves and one another...
The information below came to me today from local groups in Western PA who follow the shale fracking situation very closely. Read it. Digest it. Educate your neighbors and friends about what we have to look forward to in our future if we continue along the extractive path...
"There is a new push to end all fracking-related gag orders and expose the truth about the amount of contamination suffered by Americans so far. 
There is an enormous portion of the population who still have no idea about the harmful effects of fracking - in large part due to gag orders and insufficient media coverage.  Ray should be thanked for his courage in continuing to speak out, despite the gag order.

Youtube of Ray Kemble speaking to the EPA about his water being contaminated.
Water Pollution Victim Sued by Polluter
Dimock, Pennsylvania - November 30, 2017 - Cabot Oil & Gas has filed a $5 million dollar lawsuit against a water pollution victim and his lawyers. The first hearing in the case is set for December 11 in Montrose Pa.
Ray Kemble’s water well was contaminated in 2008, along with the water wells of eighteen of his neighbors. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) determined Cabot’s poor well construction led to the contamination of the aquifer.
Cabot was banned from drilling and fracking in the area. That ban remains in effect today.
PADEP settled an enforcement action against Cabot in 2010. Cabot also settled a lawsuit brought by 19 victims in 2012.
Despite the state’s ban on Cabot’s gas extraction activities in and around Dimock, late in 2012 Cabot was allowed to frack multiple gas wells they had drilled years earlier. Soon after, Mr. Kemble’s water well was re-contaminated. At least three other water wells nearby were also contaminated after that fracking occurred.
Victims of water pollution are often required to sign non-disclosure agreements which bar them from speaking about their pollution cases. Mr. Kemble’s lawyers re-wrote his agreement to give Mr. Kemble more latitude to continue to speak publicly about the harm he suffered.
Cabot is suing Mr. Kemble for business disparagement, believing he did not have had the right to continue to speak publicly about his case."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

You Are Invited! Celebrating Moving Into Our Regenerative Future Now!

Hello, and Happy warm sunny days! *** 

Sustainable Monroeville has been collaborating with Food and Water Watch, and we are deeply grateful for their insights regarding our move into our beyond sustainable, regenerative future. What does a regenerative future, now, look like? Hey, scroll back and read and study the blogs from the inception of Sustainable Monroeville in 2009-2010 to learn about morphing culture... How do we create a healthier economy in Monroeville, PA and beyond? We can support many more small businesses, social and environmental justice, more community interaction and integrating solar, wind, and growing our own food... Imagine what it will look like in our town with all of the front, back and side yards in Monroeville of both private residences, municipal property, and commercial spaces, including the lawn of Forbes Regional Hospital as Food Forests with solar panels and small cylindrical Wind Stax, wind turbines .. Plant that seed today! Blessings for a wonderful end of 2017, Elisa Beck:)

What's Next?
Let's celebrate our accomplishments! 
December 4, 2017 from 6:00 to 10:00 PM: Please join Food & Water Watch and Sustainable Monroeville as we host a potluck celebrating a year of Allegheny County communities standing up to fight the fracking industry.

***Help us keep track of how many people we should be prepared for by RSVPing here: Once you RSVP, we'll send you an email with the event location ***

We’ve seen amazing victories over the past year. In Monroeville and Oakmont, we passed ordinances to protect communities from seismic testing, and are moving forward with oil and gas zoning ordinances to protect families from fracking. The Plum Borough community is fighting newly proposed fracking wells and underground injection wells for the disposal of fracking wastewater.

These victories show what is possible when we get organized to fight for our health and safety. Food & Water Watch wants to replicate our fight in many of the surrounding communities, such as North Huntington, Upper and Lower Burrell, Pitcairn, and Penn Hills. That means building the resources we’ll need to scale up this important work.

Please consider signing up as a monthly contributor to Food & Water Watch at this event! If you can't make the event, or want to sign up as a member before you come, you can do so here:

We’ll have de-toxifying green drinks, made with organic veggies and roots, as well as delicious salad and soup. There will be a potluck starting at 6 PM so please feel free to bring vegan, preferably organic, dishes.

Starting at 7 PM we'll have a short program with speakers including former Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields, who has led the Food & Water Watch’s Municipal Outreach Project.

RSVP at this link and we'll send you an email with the event location:

To read more about our campaign, check out this Post-Gazette article:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Super We, the Earth, and Me Essay, and SAVE the DATES!

Hello Sustainable Monroeville and way beyond,
Please, let's continue to be supportive of one another as we move into our Regenerative Future NOW without the extractive culture of Western, Pennsylvania's past. First, we must be sure to protect our health, wellness and property values through the enforcement of Protective Seismic Testing and Oil and Gas Ordinances, and next we must start to grow our own food, support the solar and wind revolution in our suburban community and well, come to our meetings to learn more, and get involved in our Transition Town Community!
Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM  Budget meeting at the Monroeville Municipal building. 
Monday, November 6, 2017, at 7:00 PM, for the next Sustainable Monroeville meeting with Heather Harr of the League of Women Voters, Debbie Larson of the Environmental Health Project & Doug Shields of Food and Water Watch followed by open discussion at the Monroeville Public Library.
Thursday, November 9, 2017, at 6:30 PM for the Budget Meeting and 7:00 PM (ish) for Monroeville Citizen's Night at the Municipal Building
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 7:00 PM for Council Meeting at the Municipal Building
Monday, November 13, 2017, for the FREE Shale and Public Health Education Day in Pittsburgh, PA, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Registration is open!
Pediatrician Ned Ketyer, will be one of the speakers at the Shale and Public Health Conference!

This incredible essay was posted by Sybil Azur, a new graduate of The Climate Reality Project that just trained 1400 people, including me, at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA, from October 17-October 19, 2017. My estimate is that about 400 to 500 people in the training were from the Western, PA, region. Halleluyah! Enjoy this essay, so appropriate for the Halloween season, and let us know how you love the essay, and how it resonated with you. Send responses, questions, inquiries and to learn about volunteer opportunities to us at Have a blessed day! Elisa Beck, Sustainable Monroeville :)😍
Super We, the Earth, and Me, by Sybil Azur
When my son was two-years-old, he entered a typical toddler phase- the superhero obsession. He had never seen Batman on TV or in the movies, nor had my husband or I spoken to him about Superman’s super-human skill set. Yet somehow, the moment he laid eyes on the big black bat emblazoned on the eight dollar cape and shirt set at Target, he knew that there was something inherently magical on that hanger that he needed to be a part of. More than three years and three shirt sizes later, he has matured from zealot to enthusiast, but his dedication to these icons still burns strong. Scared of getting a flu shot? Fearful of the the whir of the dentist’s tools? He tucked a twelve-inch plastic Falcon action figure under his arm to give him courage. His Batman costume (which he wore two years in a row and many days in between) made him feel invincible, and he, along with his partners in trick-or-treating, Batgirl and Supergirl, ran down the dark streets of our California suburb, unafraid of the ghouls and goblins, committed to their search for candy. These characters make him and every kid like him feel brave, capable, and poised to come to the rescue. So now, it’s my turn.
It’s been eleven years since I first saw An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President Al Gore’s harrowingly brilliant documentary about climate change. I was petrified, heart broken, and horrified about the dismal fate that was barreling our way. At the same time, I was energized and inspired to step in the ring and join the fight. I was ready to go beyond energy-efficient lightbulbs, recycling, and a plant-based diet, so I went back to school in my thirties and earned my degree in International Development and Environmental Studies. After giving up weekends, summers, and sunlight for years in exchange for empowerment, I graduated with honors, and was ready to activate my newfound powers. I was confident that with commitment, a well-crafted plan, and grit, we could nudge the world in the right direction.
But then life happened. I went through an amicable turned spiteful divorce, changed careers, and got a job that had me working fifteen-hour days, six days a week for close to minimum wage. The following year, the tides turned, and I moved in with my boyfriend and started planning for a family. Nearly six years and two kids later, I’ve done virtually nothing for our planet. I have chronic mommy brain (yes, it is a real thing); it has emptied the contents of my cerebral matter, sapped my energy, and made it impossible to focus on anything when the children are around (which up to late has been ALWAYS). But finally, yes finally, my babies are getting older (they’re five and three now), and they spend most of their days learning, playing, and snacking at their respective elementary and preschools. It’s time for me to get back to another noble mission, defeating the most insidious and fast-moving nemesis of our time.
On August 19th of this year, my now husband and I dedicated our date night to seeing An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Just when I thought that by not looking, the problem may have disappeared, retreated back into the genie’s bottle, leaving little more than a trace of smog as a memento, I discovered that I was wrong. Ignorance is not bliss, it merely compounds the problem, eventually rendering it impossible to ignore. In this jarring follow up to Mr. Gore’s first film, the audience is given an insider’s view into the Paris Climate Accord negotiations. In addition, it showcases various training sessions (the first one took place in a barn on his property in 2006, and was attended by a handful of ardent and resolute participants), in which Mr. Gore and his team educate everyday people to sound the alarm about climate change and work as a collective to advocate for the planet. I saw these trainings and a light went on. I searched online and discovered that the next coaching session was around the corner. It was time to step up to the plate, so with the support of my husband, I applied for the training. Exactly two months later, to the day, I sit here typing, flying home with a certificate of completion tucked in my folder, and a green circle pinned to my sweater, signaling that I’ve been inducted into the ranks of Climate Reality Leaders. Today, I, along with 1,400 other new trainees from thirty countries (the largest graduating class to date), join forces with a league of courageous warriors fighting for truth, environmental justice, and a sustainable prosperity. What an honor.
We are armed with ingenuity and technology, empirical evidence and tenacity, fellowship and heart, and most importantly, hope. These are the supernatural tools we will employ to win the war against climate change. Our mission is clear: build consensus among our peers and work fervently yet thoughtfully to reverse course on a path that will otherwise undoubtedly lead to our destruction. Denial is not an option, just as ignoring a cancer will not make it go away. Our enemy is cunning. This villain is sinister and has weapons in its arsenal that kill at will, without discrimination (although it often targets the most vulnerable first), and without regard to whether or not you believe in its existence. With each passing year, we are experiencing weather events that are more extreme, more frequent, and more relentless in their punishment. Hurricanes yield more destruction, rising waters drown out cries for help, fires burn brighter, droughts last longer, and temperatures continue to hit new highs.
If your child was suffering from a chronic disease, wouldn’t you comfort them, seek a diagnosis, and do everything in your power to find a cure? Shouldn’t we do the very same when our home, the only home of our children and every life force that sustains us, is pleading, warning us that catastrophe is near? The command is irrefutable. It can be overwhelming, complex, and depressing. But like any other sleep-deprived, shell-shocked new parent, I know that WE can dedicate ourselves to this most worthy and necessary duty with focus, straightforwardness, optimism, and above all, teamwork. Because we are the creators of this ailment, we must also be the ones to save the Earth from its tragic fate. It is time to put on our capes and be brave, capable, and poised to come to the rescue. Our little superheroes are depending on us. ~ Sybil Azur

Thanks Sybil, for sharing your amazing and inspiring essay with us. As we move into this amazing new world, we need everyone to be a participant in the shift that we see happening before our very eyes! Life is so much fun! Blessings and thanks to all of you for all you are and all you do...
Elisa Beck :)
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