Want To Help Me Save the Planet? It’s Easy! Here’s How:

Want To Help Me Save the Planet? It’s Easy! Here’s How:

It was an accident.

I ended up in the park on a whim.

Taking an offbeat walk one afternoon, I took a left instead of my usual right. And there it was. The sign. I snapped a photo and immediately shared it on my instagram stories with the caption, “Oh no you don’t, motherfuckers.”

It was basically on from there.

The sign said this, exactly:

And I couldn’t let it happen.

SDG&E is the power company for San Diego, and I knew that whatever reason they had for clearcutting almost a hundred trees, including endangered Torrey Pines, I needed to hear it.

The Torrey Pines are an endangered species of pine that only grow in one area in San Diego, California, Torrey Pines – a scenic area now named for the tree. It was one of the rarest pine species in the world in the early 20th century, with only around 100 trees surviving. Because of this, Torrey Pines is visited by travelers from all over the world and by local residents who come daily to rest at the stunning overlooks, walk a peaceful trail or parks, or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. It is also the namesake of many tourist destinations and local favorites, such as Torrey Pines golf course, Torrey Pines High School, Torrey Pines hiking trail and more.

It was November 7th. I was having flashbacks about the last 365 days all morning and this – the possible removal of practically all the trees in this park – was NOT the news I could swallow.

I went home, fuming. And I googled.

I happened to know what district I live in, because I take an especially (especially more than most) interest in politics. So I googled our district + our councilwoman + her phone number.

And then I dialed.

“Hello?” answered a sweet voice.Young woman in her twenties. A secretary.

“Yes, hi,” I started, ” I was in the park today and saw a sign about SDGE removing 75 trees?”

“Ah, yes,”

So she was familiar with it.

“Let me transfer you.”

I was transferred to a The Parks Department, where I was informed that a drastic 75 trees, including endangered Torrey Pines, were scheduled to be clear cut before the end of the year.

“There is a meeting tonight,” the voice on the other end told me, “In about 2 hours. At 4:30.”

“Where is it?” I asked.

That question steered the course of my life forever.

THE FIRST MEETING:

I showed up about 15 minutes early to the meeting, just to make sure I had arrived at the correct place. I had never been to a community meeting before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Representatives from SDG&E were there, as well as members and volunteers from San Diego City and about 5 other members of the community.

On my way there, I had called my best friend Abbey Gibb, an Emmy winning anchor for the San Diego’s Fox News Station. She came immediately with a cameraman, plopped a microphone on the desk, and started filming.

When I arrived, they had already decided that the clear cutting was happening before the end of the year. They passed out flyers entitled “OPTIONS FOR TREE REPLACEMENT” which was 5 out of 6 pages of SDG&E explaining why they couldn’t plant certain trees to replace the mature, healthy trees they planned to clear cut. I was astounded, but I sat and listened.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

  • The power company, SDG&E was proposing to clear cut 75 endangered trees, including Torrey Pine trees in the town of Carmel Valley, City of San Diego over the next 3 years. Their plan includes clear cutting 25 trees a year in large clusters in public parks and by private homes.
  • Their initial justification for this was public safety. They cited one tree fall last year, which could have happened from due to a vast number of causes, none of which SDG&E has bothered to look into.
  • At a public meeting representatives from SDG&E explained that they “must think in worst-case scenarios” and that the trees “pose a potential danger to the power lines, should they fall.”
  • With SDG&E’s logic, one could argue that every tree on every block in America should be cut down, since most suburban trees are located by power lines!

We made every argument we could think of at the meeting. I pointed out that there must be other solutions, such as anchoring the trees together to ensure they don’t fall. I was told then, that the problem was not tree fall, but power lines.

Surely, I said, there was a way we could begin manicuring the branches of trees to make sure they don’t hit the power lines!

  • SDG&E’s response to our compromise was that it was “unhealthy for the tree” to cut off various branches as necessary. Well, since we are now talking about the health of the trees, let us remind SDG&E that the MOST unhealthy thing for the trees would be to cut them down completely, leaving only stumps!
  • Also unaddressed is that this would leave no space to plant more trees, but STUMPS of the trees that once were all over our neighborhood. Who profits from the endangered tree bark gathered from these trees is still unclear.

I knew that none of the healthy, mature trees in this park were in danger of falling! In fact, the intricate tree structure was likely the reason that they had stayed so healthy for so many years. Even after a mandatory water restriction for the last 5+ years, the endangered trees are still thriving, despite not being watered at all!

That meeting as adjourned with no resolution, and another meeting was called in December.

In the meantime, I started a petition on Change.org. Surely I was not the only person who felt this way about the trees!

Overnight, I was floored.

THE RESPONSE

Since the petition went live, I have been CC’d on dozens and dozens of heartbreaking, outraged, impassioned emails from family’s who live in the community, sent directly to SDG&E. And trust me, they have made a dent. I’ve cried, I’ve wept, I’ve reached out to you, I’ve met the most incredible people. These trees are not just trees. They represent sentimental and personal value to people. They are sometimes the SOLE reason people have moved to this wonderful community. Look around the trees and you see homes, people, stories, memories and a community who loves these endangered, beautiful plants and their park with all their hearts.

So, on December 4th I went door to door with signs, speaking with thousands of neighbors and letting them know that if they wanted to protect their park, to PLEASE show up at the meeting on December 5th at 4:30. Many people said they’d be working, but would sign my petition. Many people said they’d be there.

On December 5th, about 45 impassioned families showed up to the meeting to protest. They were shocked to learn that the representatives from SDG&E chose to skip the meeting, after hearing that the community was unhappy with their proposal.

However, at this meeting, a new map was presented to the community. It was even more drastic than the last!! Here’s the map:

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

This new map shows the power company SDG&E’s plans to remove nearly every single tree on the West side of the park, including almost a dozen endangered Torrey Pines that are perfectly mature and healthy!

• SDG&E’s new tree cutting map, which was brought to our attention at the last community meeting, shows a clear and imminent plan by SDG&E to deforest the entire West Side of Carmel Mission Park, including clear cutting endangered Torrey Pines. This plan would leave the West side of the park not only unprotected from sound or wind, it would leave no protection of the homes lining the park against potential wildfires. Our real question is still WHY? One look at this map shows a distinct and clear plan to rid one side of the park of trees in a straight line for about a mile. What are they planning to do with that cleared space?

• In an interview back in August with the Del Mar Times, Greg Peck from SDG&E admitted that this would drastically change the look of the park, saying “It’s going to look completely different because those are tall, beautiful trees [and they will be gone.]”

• At the last community meeting, we were told that tree replacement options were NOT going to be limited to just 15 gallon potted plants, which would be absolutely no replacement for the healthy, endangered, mature, oxygen-giving trees we currently have. Our current trees have taken 50+ years to grow, and many of our older residents are afraid they will “not be around to see any new trees mature.” We were assured that SDG&E was giving the community a few decisions about which trees were replacement options when they first proposed this drastic plan.

• And yet we were shocked to then read another direct contradiction in the August Del Mar Times article. Here is their official statement from SDG&E: ”For every tree removed, SDG&E will replace it with two 15-gallon tree replacements that would grow to about 30 to 40 feet at the most.” This was the opposite of what the community was told.

• In the November community meeting that myself and SDG&E attended, the community was also told that stumps would be removed and we would be able to replant. Another contradiction. The article cites, “After the trees are removed there will be no stump grinding because of the threat of soil erosion on the hillside.” This would leave us with stumps all around the park: an eyesore and threat to our property values. This is the official word from the city on the power company’s final plans. Read the story here: http://www.delmartimes.net/news/sd-cm-nc-mission-park-20170803-story.html

• In the last week, San Diego has seen devastating wildfires and hurricane-high winds unlike those previously recorded. None of the trees in our park – or even any of the branches – fell or were in danger of falling. This directly contradicts SDG&E assertion that the trees are in danger of experiencing “tree failure” and falling onto power lines in the face of storms.

• In fact, healthy trees like the ones lining our park may have had a direct impact in stopping recent wildfires from spreading to our town, as they offset carbon emissions. Last week, California’s attorney general announced that carbon emissions are the leading cause of California’s wildfires, and that, without stopping them, we may continue to see wildfires like ones in neighboring towns of Oceanside and Bonsall for years to come.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because my life is forever changed. Activism is not just a buzz word that rears its head when Washington abuses it’s powers. Activism happens in your own backyard. In your own inbox. In your own town. It’s happening all around you. Every time a community comes together to create change, you’re watching activism in action. And it’s SO inspiring, so energizing, and so beautiful. It really has moved me so much, and I know it can change your life, too. Best part? It’s free!

You can be involved, you can be present, and you can be heard, simply by saying out loud that you won’t be silenced. We only have one planet and you can protect it.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

It’s safe to say that if I didn’t show up at the November meeting, the trees would already be gone. They were already scheduled for removal by the end of the year.

Many people feel like they don’t have the power to change the outcome, or that they’re too small to fight big corporations.

Through this experience, I’ve been reminded – and I’ve truly learned – that nothing changes without individuals making changes. People pushing back. People getting angry. People getting educated. Community’s coming together. Every day folks getting passionate.

Without me making a stink, without me starting a petition, without people from all over the world reaching out to those who needed to hear it, those trees would be gone. The park would be on it’s way to being barren.

Want to help me save the trees? The most important thing you can do is continue to reach out to the people who need to hear it most, SDG&E and San Diego City. You don’t need to live in the neighborhood for them to hear you. This sets a precedent worldwide. If SDGE gets away with the logic that trees are a danger to power lines, every tree on every street in the country is in peril!

Tell them you are against the deforestation and would like SDG&E to consider alternate options besides clear cutting Carmel Mission Park (such as anchoring the trees together with a cable or manicuring branches on selected trees, for example):

Greg Peck (SDG&E)
Email – gpeck@semprautilities.com
Phone – 619-405-8120

Michael Daleo (SDG&E)
Email – mdaleo@semprautilities.com
Phone – 858-654-8630

Barbara Bry (City Council Member for Carmel Valley)
Email – barbarabry@sandiego.gov

Please CC me: taramackey@me.com

This is THE most important thing that you can do. Next month I will take all your signatures and comments to our final meeting with the Community Planning Board and City Council Members, who will decide the next best steps along with the citizens.

We want to protect the community. We look forward to doing that. Please get involved and sign the petition. It means so much to the cause.

Thank you so much for your continued efforts to save our community and protect our world. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

 

Why We Exist and What You Can Do About It

Why We Exist and What You Can Do About It

Altruism.

It’s one of the most important words I learned while studying genetics and evolution.

By its principals, it supports the very idea that none of us would be here without each other’s kindness. Somewhere, sometime, someone saved one of your ancestors from certain death so that you could be here today. Maybe someone even risked (or lost!) their own life so that your ancestors could survive and you could be here. That’s still such a raw truth to me. We exist because of one anothers’ kindness.

***

When I travel, I’m reminded of just how much there truly is to go around. I’m also constantly hit over the head with this fact: the idea that we need to be greedy because ‘there aren’t enough resources’ or there’s ‘not enough money’ or ‘not enough land’ is a complete fallacy.

From my understanding, money isn’t going to run out: it stopped being backed by gold a long time ago and they keep printing more of the stuff every day. There are countless opportunities to make it! There are millions of acres of untouched fertile land. There are zillions of experiences out there you can create for yourself to enrich your life. Someone else’s success is also your success because they are paving the way for YOU.

Photo by Cameron Offer

No one should be driven to hate. No one should feel driven to take anything (rights, land, lives, opportunities) from another person. Because when one of us wins, we ALL win. And when one of us loses, we ALL lose. We’re here to pave the way for each other. We always have been. Yes, of course population density and hatred and its consequences are real.

So, what can we do about that?

We can acknowledge that human kindness is also real. We can prove it to other people by being the example.

You can choose to do better than your parents did. You can choose to define justice for yourself in a positive way. You can choose to create the world you wish existed. You can creative positive, important things, instead of dwelling in negative thoughts. You can acknowledge that people face different challenges than you do – in your words as well as your actions. You can be different than how you were taught to be.

Love is real. Miracles are real, too and they’re happening every single day. It’s a miracle that we all woke up this morning. It’s a miracle that we can do better than we did yesterday. Our choices change the world. If you want to see a change, start to change. No justice, no peace.

Here’s my challenge:

Start creating miracles instead of denying them.

Start appreciating daily miracles instead of allowing anger get the best of you. You don’t need to deny reality. You need to swallow reality, then be exactly what you want the world to be, and the world will start to reflect you. Acknowledge that someone saved your ancestors so you could live.

Appreciate that fact in everyone you meet.

THAT’s where change begins.

You got this, my love. Now go live it.

Health & Happiness,

Tara

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Adrian Grenier Wants To Help You Save The Planet (And You’re Gonna Love It!)

Adrian Grenier Wants To Help You Save The Planet (And You’re Gonna Love It!)

Living by the ocean during the last few years, I’ve become very passionate about ocean conservation.

By that, I mean I WILL certainly tell a stranger’s kids to stop digging at the cliffs. I will educate a vacationer on using the trashcan. It means I’ll happily pick up bits and pieces of litter that wash up from the sea on my own free time.

What I’ve found throughout this time is that activism is surprisingly EASY.

Most of the time, it doesn’t require a big donation or even a lot of education.

True activism is a feeling you get when you see injustice.

Activism is simply the willingness to fight injustice – head on.

At the beginning of May, I got an opportunity to do just that. A personal invite from The Lonely Whale Foundation along with my good friend Isa to go whale watching and see the ocean and it’s intricate marine life first-hand. This should be on everyone’s bucket list as it was truly amazing. There are companies all over the place that offer it, for example san diego whale watching trips and California whale watching trips, so make sure you check when you next go travelling.

Many of you may known Adrian Grenier from his movies. Some of you may know him from his hit HBO show, Entourage, that was on for eight seasons. Some of you may be familiar with Adrian’s beer company, his production company or the musical acts he represents. This multi-talented man wears many hats.

That day, I got to know Adrian as a kind friend and a dedicated activist. Adrian started The Lonely Whale Foundation in 2015 in order to educate and inspire others about one of his greatest passions: ocean wildlife.

The Lonely Whale Foundation is dedicated to bringing people closer to the world’s oceans through education and awareness, inspiring empathy and action for ocean health and the wellbeing of marine wildlife.

What I learned is that 100,000 marine creatures die every year from plastics in our ocean.

On our whale watch alone, 6 plastic party balloons were saved from the sea.

It’s a privilege to live on such a beautiful planet with marine life. They’re incredible creatures. There is an endless planet underwater that needs our help to thrive. They’re our allies on the earth!

The government is doing NOTHING about this. ALL of the action happening to protect the ocean is privately funded. It comes from people who care opening their wallets and deciding that this is something they want to put their hard-earned money towards. That was eye opening to me.

Without any money to donate, I asked, what can we do?

Turns out, you may already be doing a lot of it. And some of the suggestions are so easy, I knew I had to share them with you! These suggestions were born from my conversations with Adrian and The Lonely Whale Foundation throughout the day.

Here are 4 simple ways that you can save the ocean:

4. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land. The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year. We use over 500 million straws every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life. We want to encourage people to stop using plastic straws for good. If we don’t act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

By just simply switching to glass straws, you alone can save thousands of straws from unnecessarily being wasted in your lifetime. Here are the glass ones that I use! These bamboo straws are great too – also not as breakable as the glass! It depends on your preference. 🙂

3. There are still a few pockets of land in this world that are untouched – that strive to protect their marine life. One of the best ways that you can donate back to this preservation is by visiting and truly experiencing those places. There is no education quite like first-hand knowledge.

The next time you book a vacation or a retreat, research the culture of where you are visiting. What do they do to preserve their land and protect their wildlife?

For instance, I am running a wellness retreat in August in the paradise island of Huahine, Tahiti and the profits go straight back to the island. This will keep their reefs a clear, pristine aqua and their marine life thriving for many years. It’s very important to me that what I do gives back – and the feeling of knowing you’re helping to preserve the planet is unmatched to any other feeling of giving back. This is the very best way that you can educate, inspire and promote true organic living as well as save our oceans directly!

2. Few people realize that straws are among the top 10 items found during beach clean ups (I know I had no idea!) Straws can do so much harm to seabirds, turtles and other marine creatures. An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. What would our oceans be without marine life?

Already using glass straws? Awesome! Join the #stopsucking campaign! Just share a photo of yourself using a glass straw on FB, twitter or instagram and use hashtag #STOPSUCKING to express why it’s important to you. Spreading awareness of these facts is a key part to starting major change!

1. Always (and I mean ALWAYS) bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants. This saves countless plastic bottles being wasted – per day!!

I take my Swell bottle with me everywhere – since it carries both hot and cold drinks, I don’t have to worry about if I need to bring tea or a smoothie (or bring a smoothie and then get tea!) This is one of my favorite ways to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups. I used this method on my recent scouting trip to Tahiti and it saved me dozens of plastic bottles!

The biggest thank you to The Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier + Isa’s Restoratives, for the best day ever, and for bringing awareness to this important cause.