February 28, 2011

Whereas, People Need Some Reason to Believe

Why We Celebrate Jackson Browne Day in Santa Cruz
by guest blogger Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols, SOS Board Member and marine biologist

My daughters Grayce and Julia and their friend Kanami presented Jackson Browne with an Ocean Hero Award this week. He kicked off his solo acoustic tour in Santa Cruz, a community that loves both him and the ocean.

The award itself is an "Ocean Platter", as the kids called it. One side has a classic Japanese wave, the other side a collage of heartfelt messages" LIVEBLUE", "You Rock", "tank you," a smiley face, a peace sign. It's meant to be a beautiful, useful reminder. My brother Josh, a sculptor, guided the kids through the process of making it during an all day session at our local pottery studio, Petroglyph. A true multigenerational a
rtistic collaboration.

The kids presented the award to Jackson on behalf of Save Our Shores, the City of Santa Cruz, and Gateway School. Save Our Shores worked with the city to formally declare February 23, 2011, Jackson Browne Day, and a framed and signed proclamation was shared as well.

The honor recognized Mr. Browne's steady leadership on social and environmental issues, most recently related to plastic pollution. His tour successfully strives to be single-use plastic-free (I forgot to ask about his guitar picks).

The proclamation itself is a series of official sounding "whereas's" and "therefore's" highlighting some of Jackson's tireless work for people and our planet over the past decades. In fact, my brother-in-law recalls hearing the teenage Jackson play at Columbia University in the mid 60's with the gone-too-soon Tim Buckley.

Near its rambling end the official Jackson Brown Day proclamation reaches the statement: "WHEREAS, PEOPLE NEED SOME REASON TO BELIEVE".

When the songwriter got to that line, he stopped. He said, I think about the English language a lot when I write songs. And I've always thought that lyric was missing something. I'll see if I can fit the "whereas" in there tonight during the show when I sing.

Cool, funny, talented and a warrior.

During the show he did fit it in. He paused to explain his personal commitment to fighting plastic pollution and his ocean connection, reflected on how simple it was to change how his tour is run and lamented the amount of unnecessary plastic around the fruit basket in his hotel room. Maybe it was meant to be a backup raincoat in anticipation of this winter downpour?

He thanked the community for their efforts. Then, someone from the crowd in the packed Civic Auditorium shouted, "Happy Jackson Browne Day!" And he said, oh, you know about that?

Yes, we do!

He also sang his brand new song, If I Could Be Anywhere, about the ocean and plastic pollution.

Our local Monterey Bay crew of Save Our Shores, Surfrider, Dan Haifley, Laura Kasa, Manuel Maqueda, Mark Stone, Ximena Waissbluth, Daniella Russo, Dan Cort, Dustin McDonald and many thousands of other organizations and individuals around the world work hard to promote better policies and physically clean up plastic on our coast and ocean. The plastic industry is better funded, highly motivated and intricately enlaced with the world economy and
political power.

The relentless grind to make day to day progress against a seemingly endless stream of plastic pollution is critically important.

But so is the music, the celebration, the art. It's the glue, the flow and the fuel for the tiresome work and the grind.

Sometimes, we need to stand together in a crowded hall and sing along with Jackson Browne and his guitar.

"Everyone I know, everywhere I go [WHEREAS] people need some reason to believe..."

Check out Jackson Browne singing his hit song 'Running on Empty'...

February 23, 2011

Happy Jackson Browne Day!

“All the plastic the world has ever made is still out there," says Jackson Browne, in his interview with the Santa Cruz Weekly. "It doesn't go anywhere because it doesn't break down. This is a critical moment in our planet’s life. Plastic was a big mistake, and we need to do something about it." Save Our Shores couldn't agree more.

Today, Feb. 23, Browne kicks off his Solo Acoustic tour here in Santa Cruz and today has been officially proclaimed 'Jackson Browne Day' by the City of Santa Cruz. Save Our Shores will be presenting Browne with our 2011 Ocean Hero Award today for his continuous anti-plastic activism. Not only is Jackson Browne a talented, world-famous musician, he's a pioneering member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, raising awareness through his REFUSE Disposable Plastics Campaign.

Jackson Browne is most well known for his song, "Running on Empty" and for writing the Eagles song "Take it Easy," but he recently wrote a song about plastic activism, watch the video below and be inspired!

February 17, 2011

Love is in the Air...for Sharks!

On Monday, February 14th, 2011 love was in the air...for sharks that is. AB 376 was introduced to the California Assembly by lawmakers Paul Fong, D-Cupertino and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. This bill would end all California trade in shark fins, which are used to make a Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. A similar ban was enacted in Hawaii in 2010 and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands just last month.

The California market for this very expensive dish is aiding the raging shark finning in international waters. The act of shark finning is one of the worst forms of animal cruelty, the shark is caught and held down while it's fins are cut off. The shark, still alive, is not worth much money and is then thrown back into the ocean defenseless and bleed to death. Due to the Shark Conservation act of 2010, it is now illegal to throw the shark back into the water after finning in US waters, you must take on that weight leading to less sharks dying and a less cruel death. However, this practice goes unenforced and has not changed the industry.

Sharks have lived on this earth nearly unchanged for 400 million years, they are a keystone species for the marine ecosystem and without them it could fall apart. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) found that 32% of open ocean sharks are threatened by extinction mainly due to overfishing. If we continue to fish these sharks the way we are, the marine ecosystem will become highly unbalanced and could have devastating consequences.

What can you do? Sign the petition to support AB 376. Talk to your local California assembly members and urge them to vote yes on this bill. Always make sure to eat only sustainable seafood, approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Guide. The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors wrote a letter of support, you can too. And lastly and obviously, do not eat shark fin soup, there is a good chance you would be eating an endangered species.

Further Reading:

Further Watching: