One Microphone, One Planet

I had the amazing privilege of volunteering this month at the Full Circle Fund annual event in San Francisco. Al Gore gave the keynote to help them launch their environmental circle which is being chaired by Melanie Nutter- the Deputy District Director for Nancy Pelosi.

Thank you Victoria!! Sorry for the crappy cellcam photo of City Hall's North Light Court here:



The evening incorporated not just the launch of Full Circle Fund's new environmental circle, but also the announcement of its first awardee: The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland.
To summary his talk - many of his messages were those he shared with us in the Academy Award-winning An Inconvenient Truth. But the emotion Al expressed in front of some 600 of us (assumed by him to be the change makers of the future) is that he too feels powerless in getting people to understand and recognize the urgency of the challenges and to adapt their lifestyles in answer our planetary emergency. I found the movie more educational and journalisticly distant (despite the personal stories he shares about growing up in the south- I spent a good team of time there myself as a child too), but in person you can tell how long he's been fighting. He said he can't find the words to make people care, make them more aware. So he looked to us in the audience to be his messengers, to be the next generation of those on the front lines in addressing this and the many related issues (overpopulation, energy consumption, etc.) that are impacting our environment.

He talked about the unprecedented nature of climate change, how we've never had to think about our impacts in this way even though the science of correlating temperature changes with pollution levels in the atmosphere (it's just 1/1000th as thick as the planet's diameter) is 150+ years old. He cited a New York times poll from the same week (mid-November) asking voters what the top Presidential campaign issues were in their minds. The environment was much further down the list of priorities than he'd hoped.



In current news on the issue, the IPCC has said that a third of all species are at risk with our current course of inaction.

Al said we do have the capability to adapt ourselves and change to address climate change. The scientific and technological (Ruby slippers) revolutions have made our species a bull in a China shop- we have the capability for rapid global response to the environmental crisis, but we must do the right thing and be careful of the changes we make having unanticipated effects.



He issued the call to listeners: When we realize what is happening, do we turn away or do we respond morally? He cited and added to the proverb: If you want to go quickly- go alone. If you want to go far- go together, with the declaration that we must go far and quickly. We as a planet all face the same planetary emergency. There is no more us vs. them. He also reminded us that to some, evil is the absence of truth.


He shared with us a dream of his grandchildren one day mocking this decade when we had been afraid of the drastic effects of climate change, when we'd finally reach a time when we could look back on now and wonder at how urgent our situation had been (sometime in the future after we've adapted our way of life).

Also from those mid-November weeks, it crossed the wires that Bush would honor Al at the White House- it should be in the news on the 26th. Carry your message Al. Maybe there is a ray of hope it won't fall on the ears that to date have been not just deaf, but also evil.

After Al finished, there was another notable who took the microphone- Van Jones, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Van charmed us by telling us how proud he would be to tell his Mom he'd shared a microphone with Al Gore- and he even gave the gadget a quick peck of honor. Van shared a disturbing statistic as he laid out his vision and raw passion for his work: 1 in 4 prisoners in the world are housed in the United States.




Van accused our culture of being guilty of both throwing away people and species. His dream (and the reason the Ella Baker Center was chosen to receive the Full Circle grant) is to create a green economy- an opportunity to invest in America by providing green jobs to the people who need jobs the most- at-risk and under served minority communities where the cycles of poverty and violence keep the people powerless and voiceless.

It's a brilliant vision to share the most exciting, soon to be even more rapidly growing part of our economy with those who need it most.

Bravo to the FCF members who had the vision to make this grant to a visionary right here in my hometown!


Video by FAQ Productions

Read The Silent "I" account of the evening. More on Van Jones' speech and the event.

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