Over this past weekend, I partied for the planet at a MoveOn house party planned around the Live Earth concert promoted by Al Gore. Now that I have had some time to think about it, here is a recap.As MoveOn always does, they had organized a whole another (and very cool if I might add) event around the event – a virtual town hall on climate with all the Democratic primary contenders. Supporters were asked to post YouTube videos of environmental questions that they wanted to ask. Selected few were shown to the candidates. Their answers were put together on a DVD. People watched snippets in house parties across the country, along with the Live Earth concert. Everyone was urged to go online to view the full videos and to vote on who had the best answers (see voting results).A great idea to get more people involved in the political process while also providing a platform for the candidates to nix the sound bite culture in favor of discussion on a single topic. Of course, only MoveOn has the political, financial, and organization muscle to pull this off. But we should also remember that they painstakingly built this foundation with countless events over many years. I got to party at Dr. Ines Cifuentes’ house. She is a seismologist who had to overcome gender and race stereotypes to get to where she is today. She came to the US from Latin America when she was 12; was the only woman majoring in Physics/Astronomy at Swarthmore; got her Master’s degree in geophysics from Stanford; became the first woman to get a Ph.D in seismology from Columbia University. How many times does one get to meet someone who has blazed a completely new trail? Go read Dr. Cifuentes’ bio at the Science Hero page and feel jealous. I also met Mary Pat Brennan who works as the Project Coordinator for Women’s Programs at the Center for Global Justice & Reconciliation (CGJR), a program at the Washington National Cathedral. From their web site:
The Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation (CGJR), one of the five centers of the Cathedral College, is the Cathedral’s platform for international affairs. Founded in 2005, the Center focuses its efforts on poverty, social justice, and peacemaking initiatives around the globe.
CGJR has a women’s empowerment program area, which is pretty neat. So, now that I got all the exciting parts out of the way, let me get to some of the uncomfortable questions that have been nagging me since the house party. How effective are these multi-country rock concerts? There have been a string of these – Live Aid, Live 8, NetAid. As concerts they may have been successful. But as causes? The TV network that we were watching the concert on kept exhorting viewers to shop. Just so that their names could be displayed the all the viewers in a scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen. Reminded me of a time not so long ago when we were asked to fight terrorists by shopping. And finally, what is with this “partying” for the planet? Isn’t that precisely our problem – we are literally in a stew because we indiscriminately partied at the planet’s expense? Instead, shouldn’t someone be asking me what I am personally sacrificing to combat global warming? Yikes, I have to stop this line of questioning before it leads to my car being sold off or something even more drastic. Plus, how can one go shopping without a car? ;-)