Category: Health

Environmental Justice for Gordon Plaza | Systematic Failure to Protect Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 7, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Gordon Plaza is a subdivision in the New Orlean’s Desire neighborhood that was developed on the ASL hazardous waste site in the early 1980’s. The first residents, excited about securing their little piece of the pie, moved into their new homes in 1981, 40 years ago. Most of the houses are modest ranches with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, on 5,000 square ft lots. The properties were federally funded and intentionally marketed as affordable housing to low income wage earners seeking an opportunity to move on up. 

Black American public culture in 1981 was framed in part by the award winning sitcom, The Jeffersons, which aired each week on CBS from 1975 – 1985. Moving on Up was the upbeat theme song: “Movin’ on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie… Took a whole lot of tryin’, Just to get up that hill. Now we’re up in the big leagues, Gettin’ our turn at bat.” The song writers are Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois. It seems highly probable that there were many subdivision developers and realtors across the country who were selling to black communities and linking their sales pitches to this inspirational sentiment in the hopes of motivating potential black buyers to take the plunge. Interestingly, 1981 was the year that Isabel Sanford was the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Louise “Weezy” in The Jeffersons.  

This tidy grid of streets in New Orlean’s 9th Ward, was federally funded through HUD as well as the Community Development Block Grant Program. Back in 1981, when potential buyers were shopping around, they were apparently kept in the dark about the former hazardous waste dump. They’ve pointed out often that they felt they were duped into buying homes in Gordon Plaza. 

The history of Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) makes this shameful failure to inform all the more egregious. The area had been plagued with spontaneous combustion during the 1950’s when the dangerous toxins would regularly mix beneath the surface. Drivers back then would have to slow to a crawl, inching along at 10 miles per hour, guided by the police, on days when the air became so thick with toxic smoke that visibility was impaired. New Orleans Historical website notes that back in the day, this location used to be referred to as Dante’s Inferno. 

Gordon Plaza was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 1994. 

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The Gordon Plaza residents’ hellacious plight drew international attention in December of 2019 when The Guardian featured the subdivision in its series Cancer Town. This was following the 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listing Gordon Plaza as having the second highest cancer rate in Louisiana.

Heart of the matter. After decades of fighting for fully funded relocation, and winning several class action lawsuits against city agencies and insurance companies, as described in The Guardian piece, residents have yet to be paid any money from the lawsuits, or to be relocated to safe grounds. Protesting regularly, Gordon Plaza residents showcase a remarkable amount of grit and determination in their quest to receive what they deserve, and are asking for.

Climate and environmental injustice is only going to get worse. It’s very important to amplify the life-threatening situations homeowners are facing in vulnerable locations as the heat and the water rises. City, state and federal agencies are failing to protect human life and adequately respond.

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

Shockingly, the mistreatment of the Gordon Plaza residents is pretty consistent across the United States for low income minority communities. At a recent Senate Subcommittee hearing on Public Works and Environmental Justice, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) pointed out that “Seventy percent of the nation’s most environmentally contaminated sites are located within just one mile of federal assisted housing.” This stark reality shows a system of abuse and environmental injustice towards minority low income wage earners, and is very effective in explaining why the dire situation at Gordon Plaza has been ignored. No governmental agency, or city leader should be holding a blind eye to the shocking injustice.

In a request of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for comment, a City Hall spokesperson responded: “The City is exploring the feasibility of returning the Agriculture St. Landfill Superfund site to a productive use. As part of that process, the Cantrell Administration, unlike any previous administration, has reached out to Gordon Plaza residents to gauge their interest in redeveloping the site. The responses we’ve received have confirmed that while some residents adamantly favor a relocation and then redevelopment of the site, other residents want to stay in the neighborhood they call home. This is a complicated issue, and the City is working towards an amicable solution that will satisfy all of the interests of the residents.”

A recent article written by staff writer Halle Parker for nola.com outlined that there are 54 families seeking fully funded relocation. The conflict revolves around what the city thinks is a fair market value and what residents feel is the fair market value. Halle Parker featured a comment by Gordon Plaza resident Leona Floyd in her March 15, 2021 article:

“We are rightfully due the full compensation for our house, not a devalued amount as a result of the city of New Orleans building our homes on toxic soil. We know that fair market value will not be fair to us, and we should not go into debt moving out of a situation that was presented to us as part of the American Dream.”

A quick online search, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, shows what appears to be a gap of approximately $70,000. It looks like a home in the area that is not on toxic land is valued at approximately $85,000, but a comp home is only worth $15,00 if the property is on the extremely dangerous superfund site. If this is the heart of the matter, then it’s clear why the issue hasn’t been resolved. Is there anyone who would settle for this microscopic amount after being misled from the start four decades earlier, which resulted in a cascade of endless heartache and suffering? No weekly television series is ever produced about this “piece of the pie.” But if we all collectively amplify the Gordon Plaza SOS message each week, it will hopefully net a positive outcome for these traumatized residents who are on the front lines of environmental and climate inequities in the United States.

The Gordon Plaza residents certainly deserve the Outstanding Fighters award.

Next Step

New Orleans is on the front lines of the climate crisis, with regular flooding, high heat, and endless hurricanes. In fact, the sate of Louisiana loses 25-35 miles of coastline per year from rising water levels. Additionally, there is the increased hazard of the wet bulb temperature that will potentially increase toxicity levels on the chemicals stuffed beneath the surface of Gordon Plaza. Ten years ago, back in June of 2011, the EPA became worried about it’s inability to protect human health and the environment in the age of climate change. The EPA asked states to draft Climate Change Adaptation Plans. Louisiana was one of only 14 states that did not comply and thus Louisiana has no Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Yet Louisiana is on the front lines of climate change with a large number of citizens living in environmental justice communities with climate taking a direct toll their health.

Be sure to check back for updates.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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What To Do if You’re Feeling Like Miley | Vegan Scene

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 1, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

Whether you have been vegan for a long time or are new to the scene, you probably saw that Miley Cyrus made headlines last September after her interview with Joe Rogan on September 3rd. Cyrus shocked listeners and fans when she revealed that she is no longer vegan. Miley ditched meat in 2013, and since has been a major advocate for animal rights and veganism.  She has been actively involved in PETA campaigns and has spoken publicly about animal abuse on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She even has the “Vegan Society Approved” symbol tattooed on her arm. So how could the woman that PETA declared to “Mrs. Vegan,” just leave the team? 

Instagram – @mileycyrus

In the interview with Joe Rogan, Miley said, “I’ve had to introduce fish and omegas into my life because my brain wasn’t functioning properly.” When a star that has inspired you during your vegan journey says something like this, it can get confusing. So, what should you do if you are feeling like Miley?

Eat a Variety of Whole Foods

What Miley is describing is called brain fog.  It is not associated with veganism— rather, it is a symptom of a variety of common ailments including anxiety, allergies, dehydration, and overall poor nutrition. Whether you are vegan or not, if you aren’t eating nutritious whole foods, you may suffer from brain fog. A ‘whole food’ is a single-ingredient unprocessed food–  like kale, broccoli, beets, or mushrooms–  and eating a wide variety of these plant-based babies will boost your brainpower and overall health. 

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B12 & B6

According to study results published by Empower Your Health Magazine, taking B vitamins reduces “the rate of developing brain atrophy, which has been connected to dementia and aging-related cognitive changes.” While many people say that B12 is only found naturally in meat, that’s not entirely true. B12 is produced naturally in bacteria, and most ‘livestock’ animals are given B12 supplements prior to slaughter, and many others are exposed to–  or even fed–  manure, which contributes to their ultimately adding B12 to the meat eater’s diet. In general, people have a hard time absorbing B12, and B12 deficiency is common among some people, even those who consume large quantities of meat. Vegans can easily get B12 from nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, supplements, and shots.

Time to face the music. #ClimateJustice and #EnvironmentalJustice require a lot of sacrifices to make things right. Sacrifices are much easier if we have awesome music along the way. Take a listen. Sacrifices are MAGIC!

Omega 3

Many people turn to Omegas when they are looking to improve their brain function. According to Healthline, Omega 3’s help with anxiety, promote eye health, reduce cardiovascular issues, and improve overall brain health. Miley said that she had to start eating fish to ‘introduce omegas’ into her life, but nobody has to do that. The fact is that walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, and many other whole foods provide more than enough Omega 3 to meet the 250 mg. daily minimum.

Twitter- @conciouslyveg

Iron

The daily iron requirement for men is about 18 mg per day, and for women, it is 19 mg per day. No matter if one claims to be a meat-eater, vegan, keto, or anything else, what you eat matters. A diet of Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches, french fries, and soda–  for example–  is going to eventually lead to Iron deficiency, which can lead to ‘brain fog.’ Many iron-rich vegan foods, including tofu, cashews, kale, lentils, chickpeas, and pumpkin seeds, can help you in your search for optimal health.

So, if you are ‘feeling like Miley’ or you’re worried about getting enough nutrients in your vegan diet, don’t fret. Veganism is completely healthy, and eating a balanced diet of plant-based whole foods with plenty of B vitamins, Omega 3s, and iron will surely keep any ‘brain fog’ away!


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Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Climate Change and the Explosive Book: Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction. 

How is this possible?

The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.  

In short, there are:

  • 1,344 federal superfund sites 
  • 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
  • 450,000 brownfield sites

These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.

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Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities. 

Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding. 

Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested. 

Environmental Activist Fred Siegel being arrested for protesting environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg. 

I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid.  As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats. 

When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.” 

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.

Next Steps

  • Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
  • Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
  • Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com 
  • Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
  • Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Social Distancing in Stores Is Harder Than We Think

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 5, 2020 | by Noreen Wise

Most of us have the face masks and facial coverings down. I rarely see anyone without, except outdoors. But shopping in Whole Foods the other day was a huge wake-up call that it will be difficult to safely reach the other side of covid, when the vaccine is released next year, if we don’t think of better solutions for grocery shopping.

So many well-intentioned people completely zone-out in a grocery store aisle. Are grocery aisles even 6 feet wide? It doesn’t seem like they are. I plan to bring a measuring tape next visit so I can prove this. The biggest shock, were the two Whole Foods’ employees who totally stoked my fears that I would get covid if they couldn’t keep their distance. They must have a timed task list. I get it, the shopper who stands in front of the shelf where you want to quickly grab a product and just continues staring at shelf undecided. That same shopper is also oblivious to the fact that you’re waiting for them to move because you have to stand six feet away.

How about the woman who invaded my space in front of a fruit display because I was trying to keep my six feet distance from a nearby shopper. But this woman, saw an opportunity to maneuver in front of me and grabbed the item I was going to select. That’s not right. The weird part was that it didn’t seem like she did this intentionally, but rather it was if her thoughts were a million miles away and she was trying to bee-line over to what she needed because she was in a rush and her mind was elsewhere. Regardless, it still presents a health risk.

The biggest shock came when the Whole Foods employee decided to open a register when the line became so long. With a long bank of approximately 10-12 registers with only two in use, she opened the register right next to the checkout lane I was in which meant her customer was only inches away from me while we both checked out. I quickly moved to stand 6 feet away, but neither the employee nor the customer seemed to be aware that we were all too close and the cashier should have opened a register further away.

Next time I’ll be more vocal and go straight to customer service and ask for intervention. I now view this experience as a trial run that revealed the short comings of which there are many. This is not a time to be quiet about important issues like covid. The pandemic is going to be around for the next 12 months. If we want to save lives, including our own, we have to speak up and give the store the opportunity to address the situation.

I just read in Bloomberg News that there are now social distancing bracelets that beep if we get too close. Buzz-off, an italian start-up, is one example. We all need these. Again, it’s about saving lives.

Good luck out there! 😷

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

Working Out While Stuck At Home | Fitness Matters During Pandemic

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 20, 2020
NWHillReport-Pic by Noreen Wise

Time to order a jump rope from Amazon ASAP. There are a plethora of options. However, I don’t think suppliers have 300 million jump ropes in their inventory, so better hustle before it’s too late. BTW, the amazing jump rope I just ordered only cost $14.99.

The health benefits of fitness are immeasurable:

  • Strengthens immune system
  • Boosts mental health. According to cathe.com 5 critical neurotransmitters are released while exercising:
    • Serotonin  – the mood chemical that boosts positivity and substantially decreases depression
    • Norepinephrine – the brain chemical that makes us more alert and focused
    • BDNF – memory hormone that has a three fold increase through exercise, improving cognitive function
    • Dopamine – the brain chemical that fuels motivation and reward
    • Endorphins – the “feel good” chemicals
  • 30 minutes of daily exercise improves sleep which strengthens immune system
  • Reduces stress
  • Burns calories and keeps us looking and feeling great

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When something is this easy and has this many benefits, during such a critical, life-threatening time in American history, you have no choice but to just do it.

Let’s GO!

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© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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So Many Beautiful & Exciting Possibilities | Cutting Carbon

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 21, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.” ~Luther Burbank

And flowers cut carbon too! Flower boxes in the windows of our homes and businesses, and hanging baskets from street lights, will add yet another layer of nature to absorb carbon. We need as much help as we can get. It’s another exceptional tool in our climate action tool shed that will reap a wave of benefits, improving both our atmospheric carbon levels, and our quality of life.

Will flower boxes in the windows of the majority of homes and businesses increase property values? I guess we’ll find out as soon as we begin a window flower box campaign.

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PODCAST- daily conversation that focuses on how to turn negative circumstances into positives and land on the bright side.

According to BestLife, flowers:

  • Reduce stress
  • Elevate mood
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increase memory
  • Certain flowers can help us fall asleep
  • Help us heal

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Not only do flowers absorb CO2, they’re also air purifiers, absorbing pollutants such as benzene, acetone, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

We can do this! Warm weather climates can begin today. The rest of us can begin planning today so we’re ready to spring into action as soon as the weather breaks. 🌺

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© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Weather Bombs & the Superfund Sites

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 18, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

There’s no better example of climate injustice in the Unites States than those Americans living near Superfund sites. Superfund sites came to be in 1980, and are ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
labeled with this classification based on hazardous waste contamination.

  • The United States currently has 1,344 Superfund sites on the National Priorities list
  • An additional 48 sites are in the process of being added
  • There are 2 million Americans who live near Superfund sites
  • A large number of the sites are near populated coastal communities  — Portsmouth, NH, Boston, New York City as well as both coasts in Florida.
  • Hurricane Harvey flooded over a dozen Superfund Sites in the Houston area

Following World War II, it was common practice for corporations to dump their waste into the ground. No one thought much of it at the time. But eventually, medical conditions began to spike, and we grew to learn that toxins cause major health risks and in many cases lead to cancer, heart problems and birth defects. So the EPA was tasked to clean up these life-threatening toxic locations.

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And then along came climate change extremes. Weather bombs are fierce deluges over a relatively short period of time that result in major flooding. Flooding near a Superfund site results in water spreading the toxins far and wide, endangering the well-being of millions more people. The toxins are usually invisible. So, once spread, it’s nearly impossible to retrieve, and families are left unaware that they’ve now been impacted.

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There now needs to be a major push in congress to address this calamity immediately. The health consequences of not moving quickly, are extreme and incalculable.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch & ‘The Ocean Cleanup’

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 2, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

The simple fact about cutting carbon, and saving our civilization and returning to 350 PPM, is that if everyone does their little part now, we’ll succeed. And if not, we won’t. It’s that basic.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Knowing this, it becomes super exciting to see individuals, families, groups, corporations and innovators dive in and act, and quite infuriating when corporations that I love from a consumer perspective, do nothing. In fact, I feel extremely disappointed with the “do nothing” sector, and if it’s a corporation, quickly search to see whether their top competitor is moving more quickly with climate action.

Saving our civilization is going to take grit and sacrifice, two vital traits that require practice to make perfect. Both become charged when inspired. The story of 25-year-old Dutchman Boyan Slat, and his seven year journey of bringing a dream to life, drawing a diagram on a napkin while in high school, and having his boat The Ocean Cleanup  set sail from San Francisco, CA on September 9, 2019, is quite dazzling. He’s young, lives across the globe, yet he was the one who became so infuriated with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that he moved into high gear and took action.

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The Ocean Cleanup is testing it’s theory that the ship can use ocean currents along with a massive boon and skirt to collect the plastic from the garbage patch — that’s twice the land mass of France — and harvest it. Slat had to make the huge personal sacrifice of foregoing his studies in aeronautical engineering to follow through with his vision. But his sacrifice paid off. And we’ll be able to follow the success of this determined humanitarian. Mr. Slat recently became the youngest winner ever of the UN’s greatest environmental honor, The Champion of the Earth award. Congratulations!

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Our contribution to this noble cause of saving our oceans which then saves humanity is very simple. We all MUST:

  • Use reusable bags INSTEAD of single use plastic
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Metal straws
  • Fly kites instead of balloons

Nominal cost, maximum gain. It doesn’t get any easier than this. #ActNow

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Music Catalog Meets TV Series | Oh, the Wonder

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 1, 2019
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Two great experiences combined into one unique series is sure to net an exciting result. MGM Television is joining Universal Music Publishing Group to breath dramatic life into Billy Joel’s deep music catalog and create a TV anthology series based on Mr. Joel’s extensive repertoire of stories told through his lyrics. How brilliant!

ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300It’s the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups concept, “two great tastes that taste great together.” I’m so in the mood for something original, especially when it’s rooted in something extremely successful — Billy Joel’s incredibly deep catalog. Nearly every single series streaming service is bloated with way too much dark horror, which I personally find depressing at the end of a dark day of current events. Isn’t entertainment supposed to be fun and uplifting, a vehicle through which the public can “forget about life for awhile?”

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is landing at an ideal time, providing a unique entertainment experience for viewers. Billy Joel’s music appeals to all generations, evidenced through his Madison Square Garden monthly residency. More than 70 consecutive sold out shows, beginning January 27, 2014 and running to the present. I’ve attended several — most recently this past Friday night September 27, 2019 — and was in awe that one packed event could contain multiple generations of die hard fans. In fact, a 14 year old boy explained that his high school band plays 4 – 5 Billy Joel songs. According to this young piano player, the school’s band members love Billy Joel’s music because his songs contain so many instruments.

Kevin Fox is writing the Scenes from an Italian Restaurant series. Mr. Fox is a heavy hitter, the creator of Law & Order: SVU, so very familiar with New York City, Mr. Joel’s home turf.  Mr. Joel & Mr. Fox will be the Executive Producers along with Joel’s producing partner, Steve Cohen. Mr. Cohen is Billy Joel’s co-created Billy Joel — New York State of Mind together.

The “arc-thology” — what is an arc-thology anyway, I googled and couldn’t find an answer (it appears to be a new word invented just for this series) — will be based on Billy Joel lyrics “reimagined and rearranged by Joel’s music team — with his input — and take his tunes in new directions.” I speculate that this means transformed to the present. Many of Joel’s greatest hits were released in the mid to late 70’s, before computers and smart phones were invented. Joel also mentions brands and hairstyles in his songs, some of which are now extinct. As well as years —  “summer of ’75” for one — which are so last century. It’s a whole new world out there. It would make sense if we could see Joel’s universal themes that run through his songs, themes that have remained true across the centuries just like Aesop’s Fables, as well as the different generations in modern times, brought into the present. Disney does this with it’s classics. But please don’t hold me to this, I’m merely speculating absent any specific details.

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What I consider the most exciting part about a unique series like Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is that so many Billy Joel songs have become the soundtracks of our lives. Listening to these faves, brings back waves of nostalgia, reminding us of “good times,” but also about American ideals, as well as our country’s history. I’ve enjoyed seeing this at the MSG concerts. Thousands of people collectively enjoying awesome memories.

Through this series, it seems like we’ll be able to create new memories too, with a whole new collection of mental images to match up to the lyrics, broadening and deepening the song’s imprint on our lives. I love it!

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And most impressively, there’s also the positive health impact of Billy Joel’s broad eclectic collection of genres. The actual melodies and beats and the instruments themselves. I began noticing this a while ago and took a deep dive into researching how music impacts health, as well as music’s connection to our body chemistry, and was astounded. I was very aware of it personally I guess, when I discovered I could run twice as far (four miles) listening to Scenes From An Italian Restaurant over and over, versus any other song. This was so consistent that I determined there must be a scientific explanation. I’ve noticed the same type of phenomenon when driving long distances. No matter what music I used to listened to, I would eventually become groggy and terrified I’d fall asleep. The only exception was a Billy Joel soundtrack. How bizarre is that? Researching, I discovered Pythagoras’ “quantum harmonies” and how these harmonies connect humankind to the cosmos. I’m convinced that many, if not all, of Billy Joel’s compositions are quantum harmonies.

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I wish it was more clear what “coming soon” means. Once an exciting series like this is hinted at, it’s must more difficult to scroll through Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime offerings and not feel disappointed. Six of Billy Joel’s thirteen albums were released in October & November, so my fingers are crossed that “soon” means real soon.

News of the Scenes from an Italian Restaurant series broke on September 25, 2019, so I’ll speculate that the pilot is complete and ready to air. (Is that wishful thinking?) And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that there’s a wise risk-taker at one of these networks that has enjoyed a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and can recognize brilliance when she/he sees it.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Hope for the Future of Healthcare In America | Gathering Ideas

Washington (Gallant Gold Media Hill Report | Perspective | May 27, 2019)
NoreenByLine by Noreen Wise

The House Congressional Budget Office attempted to shed light on the pressing healthcare issues Wednesday May 22, 2019, during a robust exchange of bipartisan ideas shared at its hearing on a potential single payer healthcare system for America.

Fielding questions from the House CBO Committee members was a panel of experts:

  • Mark Hadley, Deputy Director, Congressional Budget Office
  • Dr. Jessica Banthin, Deputy Assistant Director for Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis, Congressional Budget Office
  • Dr. Jeffrey Kling, Associate Director for Economic Analysis, Congressional Budget Office

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After several rounds of questions and answers between House Representatives and the panel of witnesses, it seemed clear that there is bipartisan support for unravelling the healthcare tangled knots of challenges and finding solutions for each one. Doing so will enable a bipartisan push towards creating a strong healthcare system for all Americans. The following are several key areas that need to be addressed in order to reach a bipartisan agreement:

  • Finding a way for Americans with strong private healthcare plans, provided by their employer, to keep these plans if they so choose. Typically, these healthcare plans are associated with America’s largest companies.
    • The vast majority of large companies are located in specific regions of the country, as well as in certain cities. For example, silicon valley employs nearly 1 million people. They likely all have exceptional healthcare and won’t want to change it, nor should they have to.
    • However, just a few hundred miles away it may be that the majority of employers are small mom & pops who struggle to provide adequate healthcare for themselves as well as the few employees they may have, and are eagerly awaiting a government healthcare plan.
    • A substantial percent of the employed work as contractors and are simultaneously reliant of alternative solutions.

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  • IT infrastructure. A looming obstacle for establishing one giant healthcare plan for America, is crafting the IT plan for securing all medical records and making them accessible anywhere. An example cited was the modernization of securing the VA health records.
    • The IRS seems to have this down and may be a potential roadmap for healthcare.
    • Our election systems are another possible pathway that can be duplicated for health records. However, we’ve recently learned that this intricate system can be successfully hacked.
    • The GOP House Representative who raised the IT roadblock, seemed to be implying that this was the reason why we would never be able to implement a massive national healthcare program. But again, we have several expansive systems already in place that can be be potentially duplicated and modified for healthcare. Breaking down the large national map into smaller state components, divided into districts just like our voting districts, seems like an effective starting point on the IT front.

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  • Competition. Our American system of free markets has proven that competition results in innovation, strengthens ingenuity and resourcefulness, and drives down prices. It was apparent at the hearing, that a bipartisan majority believe that competition will improve the quality and price of healthcare in America.
  • Toxic and contaminated zones that impact health. Certain parts of the country are more toxic than others. Industries such as coal and oil, farming communities with toxic fertilizers, military bases, superfund sites, polluted city air all impact health and create a large pool of Americans who are often born with pre-existing conditions as well as impacted with health conditions at a young age. It’s self-evident that these Americans have been impacted health wise through no fault of their own and should be covered by some type of medical plan that can aid with managing their care –  ie, healthcare support similar to what was provided to those who worked at Ground Zero following 9/11.

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  • The real cost of healthcare. The real cost of healthcare is mystifying, but thanks to technology, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. What we know instinctively as individuals by going through bills with a fine-tooth comb, is that there’s a huge markup and that none of us would pay that price if we had to cover everything on our own. But since the insurance company writes the check for a significant portion, we often let it go, even if when frustrated. However, a certain percent of Americans end up filing for bankruptcy when the monster medical bills begin to roll in.
  • Miscellaneous. Establishing creative solutions for those who believe in natural and holistic methods for staying healthy, and are willing to cover the cost of their own vitamins and wellness regemines, and only need healthcare for a catastrophic event. There are currently no alternatives for this slice of the public if they’re over the age of 30. And yet, there’s an increasing number each year who fall into this particular niche. An effective healthcare plan should find ways to grow this niche.

If we’re willing to find common ground in these specific areas, and are open to comprise, then we should be able to find a path that will lead to bipartisan support for a healthcare overhaul sooner rather than later.

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