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(Note: This post first appeared on Grist.com.)
By Christopher Mims
Maybe you’ve heard that we’re now using more trees for toilet paper than for newsprint. (Not least because the newspaper industry is even more in the toilet than toilet paper.) But did you know that because of Americans’ demand for super-soft TP for our bungholes, 98 percent of the pulp used to make the stuff comes from virgin wood?
“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution,” Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council, told the Guardian.
More toilet paper used to be made out of recycled office paper,
(Note: This post first appeared on Philanthropy New York’s Smart Assets blog.)
By Beth Herz
Leading the charge on an issue can bring an organization’s work into the spotlight—and sometimes also under a microscope. Madeline Janis, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), learned this when her own organization’s work came under scrutiny for less-than-benevolent reasons. While under her leadership, LAANE learned that an unnamed political ops firm was conducting a careful investigation of all of its records, apparently intending to find fodder for a smear campaign.
On November 29th, Philanthropy New York hosted a funders briefing to discuss the rise of this type of political attack on advocacy work and the roles foundations can play in responding. The briefing’s two panels included Madeline Janis’s story and a case study from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood.
El Segundo city manager Doug Willmore didn’t know who he was messing with.
In January, 2012 the L.A. Times reported that El Segundo, home to a huge Chevron refinery, was considering raising the oil giant’s taxes to help meet the demands of a growing town. Refineries around the state pay far higher taxes to their local governments than Chevron does – which is why Willmore figured the proposal made sense.
Chevron’s El Segundo tax bill is $5 million, far less than other cities receive from their refineries. Torrance got $9.8 million from Exxon Mobil and Carson got $10.2 million from BP. Chevron paid $15.4 million to Richmond for its Northern California facility.
Chevron, of course, wants to hold on to its growing profits and is fighting hard against any tax increase. When the proposal first came forward Chevron reacted with disbelief that the proposal would be made public before they knew about it.
It’s about 6 p.m. and I’m speed-walking to the Seventh and Figueroa Red Line stop to make sure I catch the train after work. At 6:10, the train promptly arrives at the platform and I’m home in 12 minutes. Fortunately, I never have to think twice about hopping on that train or worry about whether the train will shut down or collapse. I also have a convenient alternative to sitting in traffic, and while riding the train I feel secure knowing that our subway system was safely built by skilled hands thanks to government investment in our transit system.
But with the state of the economy and all the talk about the decline of our infrastructure in the United States, I wonder if I have taken what public transportation we have for granted. Then I say to myself, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” (Pun may or may not be intended.)
Here in Los Angeles,
Recently I was invited to speak at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement. Never heard of it?
In 1962, at a United Auto Workers conference center in Port Huron, Michigan, about 60 student activists collectively hammered out what they named an “Agenda for a Generation” with the strong belief that this document could help create the world they hoped for. “We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love,” it optimistically declared.
Most were in their 20s, several veterans of civil rights sit-ins or campaigns to end the nuclear arms race. Participatory Democracy was the overall framework – a political vision in which people have power over the decisions that affect their lives. In all-night sessions they argued about wording and emphasis and produced a document that addressed the major challenges of unrepresentative politics, a profit-driven economy and inequality at home and abroad.