Don’t Look Away


By Karen Topakian

It would be easy to look away from the frightened faces of young children ripped from their parents’ arms because it’s too painful.

It would be easy to look away from the EPA Administrator’s plans to roll back environmental protections because it’s too scary.

It would be easy to look away from the news about the thousands who died in Puerto Rico from neglect and racism after Hurricane Maria because it’s too horrific.

But don’t…look away.

As humans, when we encounter a threat to our health and safety, our animal brain gives us a choice. Flight or Fight.

I implore us to not pick flight but to fight – nonviolently, of course.

Of course, it’s uncomfortable. Of course, it’s painful. Of course, it’s horrific.

But it’s much harder for those whose lives are directly affected by these events. They can’t look away. They can’t ignore. They can’t turn the page.

If you’re not affected or immediately threatened, I implore you to stay focused. Raise your voice. Open your wallet. Call. Join. Volunteer. Sign up. Show up.

And if you are affected or immediately threatened, tell us what you need, how we can help, what we can do.

If we pick flight we may lose our chance to fight.

With Valentine’s Day just a few days in the past, the Republicans aren’t in love

by Karen Topakian

They’re not even in like. With any federal program.

Arts? Nope.

Environmental protection? Nope.

Heating subsidies for the poor? Double nope.

Farm subsidies. Social Security. Medicare Medicaid? Nope Nope and Nope

Planned Parenthood? Absolutely not

Obama’s Health Care Plan? What are you smoking?

Legal Services for the poor? R U crazee?

What do they like?

Special Education? a little.

Amtrak? Maybe.

Untreated waste flows into San Diego and its coastal beaches? Sort of

Fire departments? Kind of

What’s left?             THE PENTAGON!!

Let’s see what they say and do with the $158 billion dollar price tag attached to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s when we’ll see the love. The big love. True love. Heart racing. Blood rising love.

Happy World Wetlands Day


by Karen Topakian 

Did you have fun on Tuesday celebrating World Wetlands Day? It’s not a big holiday. Nobody gets dressed up in costumes. Large family gatherings don’t occur. Religious observances don’t take place. Sadly, it’s not even a candy holiday. I bet you couldn’t find a Happy World Wetlands Day card in your local card store, if you tried. 

Nonetheless we should celebrate wetlands.  Because…

they capture and hold rainfall and snow melt, retain sediments and purify water, playing a vital role in the water cycle. Wetlands play a major role in supporting aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. Poor management strategies can cause wetland related diseases that claim the lives of millions of people each year. Pollution from agriculture and human waste contribute to the health of wetlands and our fresh water supply.

This under celebrated holiday began on February 2, 1971, at the first ecologically focused convention that took place in Ramsar, Iran where countries from around the world met and signed the Convention on Wetlands. In the past 39 years, 158 countries have signed the Treaty and 169 million hectares of wetlands (1828 sites) have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance.

Don’t be fooled, the problem isn’t solved.

For example, on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Maarten, which is a signatory to the Convention, their ponds have been reduced by 50 percent in the last 15 years. From 10 to five. How does this happen? And it’s not unique to St. Maarten. But when zoning plans and wetland protection legislation are not developed, implemented and enforced. The wetlands disappear. Since coastal habitats provide primary targets for economic development, wetlands protection struggles to compete. 

The good news… a few local groups work hard to counter the development, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean, St. Maarten Pride Foundation, Nature Foundation and the Seaside Nature Park.  

If by accident you did destroy some wetlands on World Wetlands Day, please restore them immediately.