Conservation Required

I’m obsessed with all of the beautiful plant life in California: palm trees, succulents, moss, vines, so many vibrant flowers…

Such a different landscape here on the West Coast, as compared to growing up on a farm in the Midwest. The ground feels different, the plants here in San Diego, alien-like and fascinating.

I am so appreciative to be able to wake up and take a walk each day, surrounded by these lovely things, sprouted from the earth. Surely, this is a feeling that most California transplants experience. 

The sense is a little surreal, especially in juxtaposition with my lifelines back home, posting photos of snow and sleeping trees. Although, the snow has been so minimal this winter, it doesn’t feel the same. 

It’s got me thinking about climate change, and the rate at which our earth is being altered.

It’s scary.

We need to conserve our natural resources and change the harmful ways in which we’re slowly draining the earth.

We could make a change if we would all just commit.

Here is just one of many petitions to encourage global citizens to speak up about climate change,  this one originating in South Africa by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The petition calls upon U.S. President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to set a target of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Radical, yes. But, possible with cooperation and tireless work. It’s all part of a bigger picture, that so many of us are failing to recognize. 

Click here to lend your voice to the solution! It takes literally, one minute. 

Photo taken in my backyard, 3/12/16.

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It’s International Women’s Day!

How can we celebrate International Women’s Day 2016? Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to taking action. #PledgeforParity 

  • Help women & girls achieve their ambitions
  • Challenge conscious and unconscious bias
  • Call for gender-based leadership
  • Value everyone’s contributions equally
  • Create inclusive, flexible cultures
  • Further Gender Parity Resources

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Google released a short video for Tuesday’s Doodle that salutes the aspirations of women around the world.

Shot in 13 cities and in several languages, the film asks women to finish the statement, “One day I will …” The crew spoke to 337 women as they criss-crossed the globe, recording dreams from discussing the environment with the Pope to playing major league baseball and seeing that every girl has an education.

Watch out for notable appearances from anthropologist Jane Goodall and Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai.



Gaycation Episode 1 Stream

In the words of prolific TV icon Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson,  “Everybody’s a little gay.” Yes, I did just quote Honey Boo Boo, don’t judge. You may or may not agree, (some more loudly than others) but HEY, that’s ok.

Regardless, check out this new documentary series from Viceland. “Gaycation” debuted last week with Japan as the first destination.

The docu-series follows Ellen Page and her best friend, Ian Daniel, as they set off on a personal journey to explore LGBTQ cultures around the world.

Watch Episode 1 of Gaycation: Japan, here.

You can view the entire series on Viceland’s website with a login from your cable provider.


Muay Thai for 8-year-olds?

I recently discovered the documentary, Buffalo Girls, the brutal and heart wrenching story of two eight-year-old Thai girls participating in their country’s national Muay Thai championship. 

Stam, one of the girls featured in Buffalo Girls, poses after a win.
Stam, one of the girls featured in Buffalo Girls, poses after a win.

For those who aren’t familiar, Muay Thai itself is a 700-year-old martial art with a long and cherished history in Thailand. Brutal in its nature, the fighting style is comparable to that of MMA.

There are some 30,000 children under the age of 15 fighting in the Muay Thai rings of rural Thailand.

Blood, sweat and tears: Muay Thai child fighters

Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"
Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters”

Fighting without headgear and incurring bruises, bloody noses and even broken bones, there is absolutely a physical toll on the children involved. To Westerners, the participation of children in Muay Thai may appear reprehensible and dangerous.

But in a country where the per-capita income is less than 10% of that of the United States, there are other harsh realities to consider before making judgements. The impoverished farming communities of rural Thailand offer few opportunities for people to better their lives and boxing is one of the few alternatives to the country’s commercial sex trade as a means of escaping the extreme poverty.

Only recently has it become acceptable for females to be near the action, let alone enter the ring, which is all the more reason why the Buffalo Girls documentary is so fascinating.

For the villages involved, an evening of boxing becomes a community event with farmers and laborers enthusiastically betting on the matches. With their limited incomes and little or no access to affordable credit, gambling is viewed as a viable part of the local economy and a means of increasing their meager resources.

Photo by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"

Photo by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, "Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters"
Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters”

These children, if they are successful in the sport, earn enough to provide food for their families, put their siblings through school, improve their own quality of life. Child boxers in Thailand can often earn as much as half of a family’s monthly rent from a single bout, sometimes taking home more than what a farmer or factory worker earns in an entire month.

The documentary, Buffalo Girls, follows the successes of the two eight-year-old girls, Stam and Pet, as they work with professional trainers. They do sit-ups and push-ups, lift weights and run, all in preparation for their upcoming fights. They are lean, powerful and athletic, glowing with confidence from their participation in the sport.

Photos by Jean-Michel Clajot from the Gallery, “Blood, Sweat and Tears: Muay Thai Child Fighters.”

“When I first saw the children boxing, I absolutely thought it was horrible,” said director Todd Kellstein. But after spending two years in the rural Thai provinces documenting this world, Kellstein admits that his overall perspective has changed. His initial anger with the parents of the children for putting them in the ring gave way to a resigned empathy for their circumstances. 

“It is difficult to understand the economic circumstances that lead to child boxing, but what now angers me is economic inequalities in the world. These circumstances exist and we should think of ways to make it better for everyone. Not just in Thailand, but everywhere.”

What do you think?

Watch the trailer for Buffalo Girls:

THC Tenets: IL

Three weeks after the legalization of medical marijuana, the Illinois Department of Public Health has posted a draft of regulations online.

In order to gain the highly sought after medical marijuana license in Illinois, patients will need to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check and pay $150 yearly fee for a photo ID card.

A lengthy 48 pages, the cannabis regulations clarify exactly how the system is intended to play out. The department plans to open an informal public comment period before officially submitting the proposal to the state.

“We’re really excited about a really transparent process. It’s quite unprecedented for us to go through these steps,” Bob Morgan, coordinator of the state’s medical cannabis program, told the AP.

A nine-member advisory board was proposed to review petitions for adding medical conditions to the list approved for marijuana. The governor-appointed board would include a patient advocate and eight health professionals in the fields of neurology, pain management, cancer, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine, medical ethics and pharmacy.

Although the legalization is a step in the right direction, the IL laws regarding medicinal cannabis are among the strictest in the nation. Several mandatory, high-ticket fees will be associated not only with obtaining the medical marijuana registry ID card but also for the other requirements necessary to become involved in the process.

Additionally, there are detailed regulations dictating who can or cannot obtain a card, the latter including citizens with a concealed carry card and those who have been convicted of drug-related felonies.

State Officials expect a flood of applications once the process is set to begin. The state’s medical marijuana program website has already received more than 12,000 unique visitors and more than 2,000 people have signed up for email notifications about the program.