the Eleven – March 2009

The Eleven – March 2009

is located here – and below 🙂

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AlbertIdeation Newsletter
The Eleven March 2009
In This Issue
Lobby Day – Take Supportive Action
Sunflowers, Family Visit and Positive Vibrations
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Welcome to this month’s The Eleven, my e-letter about life on planet Earth.  I try to include an action item and am open to suggestions on that front – if you have one, please send it my way.  To unsubscribe, please use the link below. I also welcome you to forward my newsletter on to friends and family – there is a link to the newsletter (and past versions) on my website, as well.  This month I’ll mostly be talking about my passion for activism on population growth issues and share some family news.

Capitol BuildingLobby Day for Americans for UNFPA – March 2009

For the past 15 years I’ve chosen the issue of our world’s population as my activism focus. This has led to leadership in Population Connection (formerly ZPG – Zero Population Growth) as well as activities on behalf of other groups such as the Population Media Center,VHEMTPlanned ParenthoodNARAL, and the Sierra Club. I have led lobbying trips to Washington, DC and State Capitols in Oregon and Washington, sent a slew of letters to editors and kept up an e-mail list for the topic with about 300 subscribers (ask me if you’d like to join) for the past 12 years.
With all of the talk about climate change and how we’re doomed, you’d think that there would be more mention in traditional media about the root cause of increased amounts of carbon in our atmosphere – population growth. Instead, this topic is mostly taboo, though it’s mention is increasing – for instance, Al Gore does talk about it in “An Inconvenient Truth“. But still, most politicians and journalists would prefer to talk about how this band-aid (wind power) or that fix (green building) will get us back to greenhouse gas levels of the 1990s. Don’t get me wrong – wind power, green building, planting trees, and the million other efforts we can make to reduce carbon are all good and important. But if we continue to grow at 75 million people a year (current growth rate) we’ll increase beyond our current level of 6.7 billion to who knows how high? The UN has predicted that we’ll level off at 9-12 billion – but who wants to live in such a crowded world, and with everyone on the planet wishing for an existence like we have in the US – cars, eating meat, and wearing a different pair of shoes each day… we have to take population growth seriously. The UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is one organization that takes this issue seriously and I hope someday they’re as well-known as UNICEF.Last week I flew to Washington, DC for the organization, Americans for UNFPA to lobby for more funding for the UNFPA. The UNFPA provides services to women and families in some of the least developed countries around the world. The places with the highest levels of un-met needs for contraception and reproductive healthcare. Places where many women die in childbirth because giving birth is still unsafe. During the Bush years, the US contribution to the UNFPA was $34 million, but though congress repeatedly allocated this money, Bush refused to send it on, and so our contribution for the past 8 years has been 0. This year we were asking for $50 million (this was listed in the Appropriations bill that has already passed the House and is has just (3/10!) been passed by the Senate). Interestingly, there was an amendment (Wicker) which would have affected future UNFPA funding which came up for a vote while we were visiting our Senators – which was, luckily, defeated 35-65. Our other “ask” was for $65 million for the 2010 budget. This was the first time of my 8 visits to lobby on Capitol Hill where something I was lobbying about was being decided that day – very exciting. During a lunch with Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey (NY) who has been a huge supporter of womens’ rights, we learned that the amendment had been defeated, and it was a rousing moment for everyone in the room.I got to meet Will White who is the new Senior Advisor to Oregon Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley. Will agreed that our issue is important and assured me that Senator Merkley would most likely support these levels of funding. After working on the Merkley campaign in 2008 (voting party, fundraiser, phone-banking, and a Merkley-pumpkin-carving party with friends) it felt fantastic to walk into his office. Though his staff is crammed into some space in the basement for now, I took pride in knowing that I, and so many others, worked hard to defeat the previous incumbent 2-term Republican schmuck from Oregon and replace him with a progressive Democrat. I look forward to great things coming from Senator Merkley and his staff.Next up I met with staff from Oregon Democrat Senator Wyden’s office – Ben Widness (Legislative Aide) and Mary Polce-Lynch, Ph.D. who is an APA/AAAS Fellow. Senator Wyden has always supported UNFPA funding, so mostly our visit to his office was to thank him for his votes and support in the past and to let him know of our request for 2010 funding. Again, we met supporters on our issue. I also went on three other Senate visits of which 2 were a little less welcoming – Ohio Republican Senator Voinovich’s office (Pro-Life, retiring in 2010), NC Republican Richard Burr (foe of choice and other related issues) – my sense is that a lot of Republicans are basically against contraception, not just reproductive healthcare. I also visited NC Democrat Senator Kay Hagen’s office which was a great visit. So, my ask to you is this: please find your Senator and Congressperson’s contact information and write them a short note asking for $65 million to be included in the 2010 budget for the UNFPA. And, if you’re feeling inspired, please become a friend and/or donate $ to the organization Americans for UNFPA. They ran a great lobby day, and are doing important work to make the world a better place.Washington, DC really feels different to me on this visit. It’s almost as if the wicked witch is gone (ding, dong the wicked witch – which old witch? the wicked witch…). Talking to staffers of the Republican Senators who do not have much power in DC right now was a very different experience from how things stood when they held the White House and could count on Bush to veto, well, almost everything in the end – but most things progressive, all during his term. I stood for a while in front of the White House and sent President Barack Obama positive energy – gave he and his family the thumbs up and waved. Just standing there felt different. Being in the House and Senate buildings felt different. The airport felt different. It’s as if a sea change is going on – and though I missed the inauguration, I am so glad I got to visit the city during the early days of the Obama administration. Just waking up to the forward progress printed in the daily Washington Post (am so pissed that I can’t get a subscription here in Portland…) was refreshing. And, I met a friend who works for a Executive Dept. agency and his tales of how his agency has been holding on for 8 years and now is so relieved at the positive change – was also refreshing.If you get a chance to visit DC anytime soon, I would recommend it – and going to lobby for a day gives you a great feeling of empowerment and participation – some direction on what to see, and a chance to effect change in our world.

sunflowers this big!Sunflowers, Family Visit and Positive Vibrations For a few years I’ve been growing sunflowers and saving the seeds.  Last year I decided to take it to a new level and created 500 seed packets and gave them out to friends and neighbors.  I decided to do it again – these seeds are from a few farms in Washington County – Thanks Syd, Brian and Edie, and my own effort last year.  There are reds, and mammoths in the mix and I would be happy to send you some if you’ll provide your address.  A good planting time is April/May for most of the US – and add sun and water regularly and you will have some pretty nice sunflowers gracing your world. (save the seeds and join the project :)I also decided to step up my gardening efforts this year and planted garlic and cover crop last Fall.  This Spring I’ve planted lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, and broccoli by seed and am looking forward to moving the starts outside soon – to be joined by peas, beans and kale (a comfort food for some 🙂  Through Twitter, I found a woman who is coordinating a site where people are exchanging seeds, and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me.In the past month I have been reminded of a friend’s clear direction that if you’re not working, work out.  This has led me to spending more time at the gym (always looking for work-out buddies) and yoga (mostly at the Yoga Space studios on 29th and Stark).  Thanks to Kristi’s recommendation of the book, Younger Next Year, I am also trying to remind my father who is very sedentary (72) that movement is the best way to fight aging, disease, etc.

I also read the book The Four Hour Work Week recently, which has a lot of great ideas on time management – one of the author’s recommendations is to go on a media diet, and I have cut back on my Oregonian habit in the last month, significantly.  Another positive change is that I’m finally licking, excuse the pun, my coffee addiction.  I’m down to drinking it once every 2 weeks or so, and if I’m about to order some, I welcome reminders that it’s not doing great things for me.  Thanks!

My visit to the East Coast was also a chance to catch up with my brother, Dan in Arlington and to work side by side in his office.  We also drove to Wyncoate to visit my parents and my sister, Liz and her family (picture of my niece, Sophie, who turns 4 soon) who are doing very well.  I think it was probably the easiest visit I can remember – and especially nice was the dusting of snow we got which slowed things down for a couple days.

Sophie Taylor


Like everyone, I am experiencing the economic slow-down.  I’m partly excited about our economy, and the world economy shifting away from the precipice of over-consumption I think we were headed towards.  And, at the same time, I recognize that this change is having real, hard effects on peoples’ lives – additional stress, hunger, unemployment, underemployment – all of these are real.  It really struck me how lucky we in the West are at the moment, when I read this article on migration in the WA Post (yes, you need to subscribe, but it’s pretty quick).  I am excited at all of the talk and organizing towards a new society – a more equitable and interesting one – more on this topic in the next issue. I am also looking forward to the end of our wars in Iraq and Afganistan – thanks to Todd who just sent me this link on how to move us towards peace.

It’s good to be alive. Right now. I hope things are going well for you and that you are loved and supported.

To close, I want to offer something that was in a friend’s e-newsletter Core Source News – Carolyn Campbell, a great life and business coach wrote this as the 8th item in list of things to help us through these times, and life, in general.  I recommend signing up for her newsletter.

8) Have & nourish a community of support.And last, but certainly not least, have a community of support that nourishes your soul and supports your vision. Just as you can’t rely on your partner for all your companionship needs, nor should you rely on one group for all your support. Instead, imagine being part of multiple threads of connections, all of which enrich one or more aspects of your life.In the end, you will create a rich tapestry that provides solace for your soul, inspiration for your spirit and success for your business.

Happy Spring!

Albert Kaufman
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Albert on Workshop Hike in Israel, 1979PS – From Facebook comes life in the past – my friend, Larry, posted this neat picture of me from a hike in the Sinai desert in 1979.  I haven’t changed a bit 🙂

 

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