Hello and welcome to this month's The Eleven, brought to you by yours truly. I've been publishing this newsletter since before November of 2008 - it's a place where I share what I'm thinking about, what I'm working on and a suggestion for action.This month is devoted to phonebooks, and more particularly how you can help me reduce their number, a lot!
shall we end this together?
Remember the last time you used a phone book? Well, for many of us, that was a long time ago. Yet, even in the Internet age when it's become much easier to look up a number on-line or on one's phone (unless you have a landline), these bulky tomes keep coming to us. You might ask, why, when there is so much going wrong in the world have I chosen to focus on phonebooks? Well, I learned a while ago that it makes sense to focus on a thread, and keep on pulling, and somewhere along the way, the wastefulness and just downright pain in the ass to deal with of phonebooks got to me. I'm not alone. If you search YouTube for yellow pages you'll see many people who are disgusted enough by their continued existence and delivery that they make short videos detailing their experience. I thought I'd get in the act by creating a video that describes the issue, too.
So, 2 years ago I asked my fantastic State legislator, Jules Bailey, to submit legislation on my behalf - moving Oregon to an opt-in system for phone books. The bill, HB 3477, was presented at the very end of the 2009 session, landed in a committee, had a hearing and promptly passed into history. Since that time, the books keep coming. The people who make the Yellow Pages insist that it's free speech; that there are ways to opt-out (they are ineffective, ever try it?); and it turns out that phone companies are trying to get out of printing white pages (no money in it for them).
TAKE ACTION - HERE
In 2010 I decided to get a little more proactive, and presented the legislation again, this time to my State Senator, Chip Shields, well advance of the 2011 legislative session. Senator Shields presented it in Salem and now Senate Bill 525 or SB525 has landed in the Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee and awaits a hearing. The next step is to pressure the head of that committee, Senator Lee Beyer of Springfield, Oregon, to give the bill a hearing. Educating the other members of the committee, it turns out, is also important, because they'll all have to vote on it if it gets a hearing, and any one of them can suggest to Senator Beyer that the bill get heard. The committee is comprised of 3 D's and 3 R's. Here are the email addresses for everyone on the committee.
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
As you might be guessing, there's a lot to learn about passing legislation on the State level. And, you hear different things from different people. At the same time as this is going on, I'm trying to get letters of support and offers to testify from various environmental groups and YOUR NAME HERE. One big issue in Salem, environmentally-speaking, this session, is an effort to ban the plastic bag, so that's getting a lot of attention, but a few radio, TV stations and newspapers are picking up the story of SB 525 and I expect more will as the session progresses. (Also, there's a big push to make marine preserves happen in this session which would be extremely cool. )
Besides the fact that the Yellow Pages industry and those who profit from it, such as SuperMedia, would lose billions of dollars in lost ad revenue (not a small thing), one issue that keeps coming up around SB 525 is that it threatens jobs. Whose jobs? Well, all sorts of peoples' jobs, probably - the person who cuts down the tree; drives the logs to mill, mills the logs, makes the paper (the amount of paper these tomes use is not insignificant), prints the books, puts the books in a plastic sleeve, gathers the data, sells the advertising, delivers the books, recycles the books (80% go to landfills), etc. - all of these jobs would be threatened if we moved to an opt-in system for telephone books.
|Latest image from Portland artist, Aaron Trotter|
But in a time when States are scrounging around for any savings at all (as are cities, counties, etc), you'd think they/we/me might wish to pay less for things like garbage/recycling collection - as would all taxpayers who are the actual financial backers of this system.
Is this where you want your money going? Think of it - millions of phonebooks a year could NOT BE MADE. Reduce, in the phrase Reduce, recycle, reuse. But instead, we're a bit stuck with this system because some corporations are making money on the deal, so we keep doing what we've always done.
OK, so here's my question to you. Jobs are important. Putting food on one's table is important. But are all jobs necessary? And do we keep unnecessary jobs at all costs? If phonebooks are unnecessary, and most people agree that they are, then how can we as a society clearly say ENOUGH!
TAKE ACTION HERE
Recently, my friend, Ken, gave me a calendar from Mercy Corps, headquartered here in Portland. On the front cover is a young girl from Columbia. In the picture she is standing there looking directly into the camera. She looks at me with her big brown eyes and seems to be asking: "how much longer are we going to continue like this?" When will we start treating this planet and its life forms as if we care, and what are you doing about it right now?" A while back I wrote about how I commune with God in the desert every summer at Burning Man (yes, I have my tickets and am going, probably) and that that entity has reminded me repeatedly that it's time to get on with it. This little girl seems to be here to keep me honest.
I wish the people who worked for the Yellow Pages industry were equally honest, but instead, I think they're trying to make money, not make sense. The yellow pages are no longer necessary. Online? OK. Large blocks of wood dropped off 7 times a year by different companies? Not so much. If you agree with me, please feel free to spread the love - click on the link, take the action - spread the meme by suggesting the same legislation for your state/country.
|heart on fire|
Recently, I started doing Weightwatchers. I've lost a little weight, but more importantly, it's taught me some things about myself - when I'm hungry/not or satiated/stuffed. It's got me exercising more, too and staying away from sweets as I notice how many points plus they hold. I've also started reading Tim Ferris's new book, The Four Hour Body, which looks inspiring. A little too inspiring.
I'm the neighborhood planting coordinator for Irvington for an upcoming tree planting on Saturday, March 12th, 2011, and I'd love to have friends come and help. - ping me if you'd like to be involved or just show up on the day of planting - children welcome! Also, if you know a Portland business that you think would enjoy a tree or two in front of their building, please give them this flyer. Thanks.
|Plant trees in front of Portland Businesses for fun|
If you live in Seattle or thereabouts, Miss Wileyware will be having a great open studio sale at her place this weekend.
Finally, here's to love. Happy Valentine's Day/Week/Month/Year. I'm filled with a lot of love - both for my gal, Eecole, but also for all my friends and family who show me through words and deeds and smiles and hugs how much they love me. I hope you have that kind of love coursing through your life, too. If not, know that it is possible, and available and that there are ways to cultivate it - I found one route being ecstatic dance - we have a big, lovely, frothy band of dancers here in Portland, and I'm sure this type of movement is available in some form where you are, too - try NIA, if that exists where you live, or just invite everyone over for a big potluck and pull out some guitars. Community is definitely key for living a full life and for getting stuff accomplished. I can't see how I'd get anything I want to get done done without having a big bunch of friends who do favors and kindnesses for each other. And love each other.
Next month, how I sold my car and got my bike tuned up!