by Larry Glass and Carrie Tully
As environmentally conscious people grapple with the spread of COVID-19, we must point out the obvious: that the same science-denial which has led us to the climate crisis is leading this country down a path of death and destruction. When we think about all of the social and environmental disasters that our generation alone has experienced, it is impossible to ignore how they are all connected. It is the goal of the NEC to show our community how vital it is to not only understand these connections, but to work towards improving them as well. Our goal is to educate the public so that we can all make science-based decisions about our lives and the world. Despite having to be sheltered at home, we have continued to function as the NEC remotely. Though our lives have all changed significantly over the last few months, here at the Center we are working harder, smarter, and safer than ever before!
Our staff and board members are still hard at work and practicing “spacious solidarity” and they haven’t missed a step. Here is what each of us has been working on:
- NEC’s Administrative Assistant, Outreach Coordinator, and EcoNews Graphic Designer, Chelsea Pulliam has been working hard to bring you EcoNews. Chelsea has been making sure to keep you informed with the latest news on social media and the NEC website. Additionally, she is the creative mind behind our new event, Trash-A-Thon: a creative, direct-action activism and fundraising event during social distancing.
- Coastal Programs at the NEC have kicked into high gear with the help of our year-round part time Coastal Programs Coordinator, Casey Cruikshank. We facilitate year-round debris data collection around Humboldt and use the data to guide us toward solution-based projects regarding local marine debris. The Coastal Programs Advisory Committee brings heads together from debris focused groups around Humboldt County creating a collaborative and productive environment for tackling these issues.
- Caroline Griffith, EcoNews Coordinator and Journalist has been working to provide more digital news content. One challenge of only publishing every other month has been keeping news stories pertinent and timely. Though we maintained distribution of the paper during April and May, the shelter-in-place order gave us the opportunity to put more energy into our digital presence in preparation for transitioning to monthly publication.
- Our HSU Work Study Office Support Staff, Brittany Kleinschnitz, was unable to do Work Study, but opted to continue to support the NEC as a volunteer throughout the Summer. She had to shelter-in-place in Berkeley in the beginning while working on staff projects as well as producing our weekly Mindful Mondays on social media – nature based wellness tips and connections to supportive resources during COVID-19.
- I would like to report what a great job our new Administrative and Development Director, Carrie Tully, has done despite starting work at the NEC in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. She has been working hard to learn the ins and outs of the office from a distance. She is enhancing connection with our already enthusiastic staff by encouraging collaboration, while supporting their initiatives to continue to create new content, projects, and events. It is a great symbiotic relationship as she inspires them, and they inspire her.
- We continue to work along with national and regional conservation groups to support Congressman Huffman and Senator Kamala Harris’s bills to protect Public Lands in California. The bill has been expanded to include two other Public Lands bills in Central and Southern California, making them one unified bill called The Public Lands Act. This Act encompasses all of the areas that we set out to protect in Congressman Huffman’s original Mountains and Rivers Bill as well as lands in Central and Southern California. Recently, with the help of Councilman Brett Watson and our encouragement, the Arcata City Council sent a unanimous letter of support directly to Senator Harris.
- We are still monitoring the Six Rivers National Forest Fuels and Fire Project and are awaiting the release of the draft Environmental Assessment (EA). So far we are supportive of their attempts at using fire as a management tool, and we hope to see their implementation plan. I recently attended a demonstration of a new tool at their disposal called an Air Curtain which will allow them to burn slash and brush at times of the year that they normally would not be able to. It does this without any visible smoke!
- We are at the beginning stages of organizing around the Forest Planning Process in Region Five (CA) of the U.S. Forest Service after they announced that they will begin some form of scoping process for their Land and Resource Management Plans in four Northwest California forests later this year.