Why protect ANWR?

by Heather Kallevig

For more than 30 years, the state of Alaska has been a high priority on environmental organizations watch list. Known as “the Last Frontier,” anyone who has visited the state of Alaska knows it deserves the name. With more coastlines than the contiguous United States combined, 3 million lakes, and 663,300 square miles for its 736,732 people, Alaska is truly a sanctuary for wildlife (Facts about Alaska, n.d.). The state is also a rich area for natural resources. The clash of these two advantages is the reason for many long-standing disputes over Alaska’s frontiers.   In 2015, environmental advocates achieved a coup when the Obama administration proposed an extension of “wilderness” in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to 12.28 million acres. While this recommendation does not ensure the region’s protection, it is a significant step in the right direction. Nonprofit organization’s crisis communication tactics have played an instrumental role in gaining the support of other organizations – private and public – and the attention of the people, to aid and protect Alaska’s lands (Sanders, 2015).

The future of ANWR has rested in the balance for years. Coined, “The American Serengeti” for its rich biodiversity and pristine ecosystems, ANWR on Alaska’s North Slope offers habitat to over 200 species of birds, 42 species of fish, and 45 mammals – including the polar bear and a herd of 120,000 caribou (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2015). Established as a refuge in 1960 by the Eisenhower Administration, this region is also protected from oil and gas drilling. The issue concerning ANWR has seen several threatening events since the 1980s, which have brought the refuge into public attention. The first took place in 1989, when a bill to open the refuge nearly passed, failing only because public attention was so wrought by the disastrous Exxon-Valdez oil spill.

While this disaster brought discussions on ANWR to a halt, recent developments have “tipped” the refuge back into the public eye. “Despite the current administration’s repeal of the offshore drilling ban, 130 members of Congress have cosponsored pending Arctic refuge wilderness bills” (Englehard, 2010). Other protected areas in Alaska are also under contestation including the Chukchi Sea and the National Petroleum Reserve, the decisions concerning ANWR could set an important precedent for Alaska’ future. Lobbyists for both environmental organizations and energy corporations are actively vying for the future of ANWR, hoping to sway future policy in their favor (Eilperin, 2015).

Environmental organizations heavily contest drilling in prominent wildlife sanctuaries. The history of oil and gas extraction in Alaska is polluted by ongoing, distressing mishaps, which dumped crude materials into important breeding and nesting areas. The Exxon-Valdez oil spill is the worse case, but not the only instance. Environmentalists and their allies are striving to ensure these events don’t increase by limiting drilling in key sanctuaries.

Rallying for ANWR

Nonprofit organizations must often work with limited resources to complete large jobs. This is why it is essential for these groups to build and maintain relationships with like-minded organizations. By building coalitions, they gain financial resources, geographic spread, and communicative manpower. In response to ANWR, they developed a large coalition of individuals, local, state, and national organizations. These included noted journalists, local and national politicians, and pro-environment, anti-drilling organizations. Other noted supporters include the National Wildlife Federation, the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Senator John McCain, while running for president on the republican ticket, with an Alaskan vice president, quoted “As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades. This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world” (Khanna, 2008). Words like this, prove the support of committed groups and individuals is invaluable. The strength and reach of the coalition is a strong and valuable tool in a crisis campaign.

One of the most valuable responses for a nonprofit in crisis is to gain the support of the general public. Often impacted individuals are unaware of potential threats; by informing the public NPOs can gain the support of motivated and influential advocates. Organizations utilize several tactics to inform their publics. These include weekly newsletters, regular social media postings, relevant blogs, and a regularly updated webpage. Organizations’ state and local chapters are also instrumental in gaining the attention of the media, maintaining relationships with journalists, and encouraging the regular publication of crisis-related stories. These stories often link to a group’s main webpage where individuals have the opportunity to donate, sign petitions, and send letters or e-mails to their state and national representatives. These final steps are also important for gaining the attention of policy leaders in Washington.

The final step taken by environmental NPOs is to gain the attention of government officials through constituent attention and building relationships with leaders through necessary lobbying. In the American political system, it is necessary to contribute to candidate funding to lobby important issues. Because of limited funding, environmental organization’s contribution is quite small when compared to large industries and corporations with competing views. This is why the other two tactics – building coalitions and informing the publics – are also essential for an NPO facing crisis.

In modern society, environmental nonprofit organizations are constantly on the brink of crisis. There is an ongoing chance that one of the many issues watched by an organization will suddenly tip over into crisis. When this takes place, organizations must be ready to respond quickly. To do so, they must be prepared with a communication action plan – an established coalition of supporters, a means for networking and informing the public, and the presence of influential lobbyists in Washington. The primary purpose of environmental nonprofits is to influence public policy, organizational action, or social norms and values (Smith, 1997). In the case of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, their success can be gauged by President Obama’s January 2015 endorsement to further protect this valuable sanctuary. Their dedicated and widespread communication tactics are a fundamental element of this victory. It is likely, this is not last time ANWR will be under attack, therefore it is important that environmentalists and their supporters remain prepared with a plan in place for rapid mobilization when the future tipping event strikes again.

Eilperin, J. (2015, January 26). Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge — Alaska Republicans declare war. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/01/25/obama-administration-to-propose-new-wilderness-protections-in-arctic-refuge-alaska-republicans-declare-war/

Facts About Alaska. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://alaska.gov/kids/learn/facts.htm

Khanna, S. (2008, June 19). McCain Now Says He’s ‘More Than Happy’ To Consider Flip-Flopping On Alaskan Oil Drilling. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2008/06/19/24920/mccain-anwr/

Sanders, S. (2015, January 25). Obama Proposes New Protections For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/25/379795695/obama-proposes-new-protections-for-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

Smith, S. (1997, March 15). Developing new reflexes in framing stories. Paper presented at the Pew Center/RTNDF workshop “Civic Journalism: Doing it Daily,” Chicago. Retrieved February 16, 2006 from: http://www.pewcenter.org/doingcj/civiccat/displayCivcat.php?id=97

How to choose an earth friendly day

by Heather Kallevig



Today is Earth Day, thirty-five years since the first national event. 20 million people took to the streets, environmental awareness was raised, and valuable legislation was later established. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act have all had a major impact in the years since. Today Earth Day is a global observance. Whether you’re able to join a large-scale celebration, or are simply honoring Earth Day at home, it’s important to recognize this day. Here’s a list of options for recognizing Earth Day by making small changes to your daily routine. Whether you choose all or only a few, these options help you make some healthy earth choices and begin making an impact today.

  1. Don’t buy anything unnecessary

Our society has become gradually more and more materialistic, creating many residual issues – we work harder, longer, and spend more time indoors shopping than outside enjoying. Choose today to lay off materialism, avoid unneeded shopping, and enjoy the things you have, the people who are with you, and the fresh air outside.

  1. Eat earth friendly

As a society, our eating choices heavily impact our planet, whether its pollution, deforestation, or transportation costs. You can make earthy-friendly eating choices by being conscientious about what you eat– lower your intake of meat, avoid palm oil, and choose local goods.

  1. Pick up loose garbage

Litter can be found anywhere. Today rather than simply passing by, bring a spare set of gloves and a plastic bag and pick up the garbage you might usually pass. If everyone made this concerted effort it would make a great impact!

  1. Choose a clean form of transportation

If you have the option, choose a cleaner form of transportation today. The optimal choice is to go motor free – walk, bike, roller blade, or longboard. If these options aren’t available to you, choose public transportation, carpool, share a ride. You’ll contribute to cleaner air and lower traffic.

  1. End your day outside and electronic free

At the end of the day, often it feels the only energy we have is for vegging out in front of the TV. Choose instead to spend the evening outside – have a picnic, sit out in the yard, or go for a walk. It’s amazing the rejuvenating affect these activities can have. You’ll be surprised how much energy you possess!


Today’s Earth Day can be marked by a large-scale concerted celebration, or it can be by simply making mindful choices at home. If every person made an effort to follow these few choices, imagine the change we would see! Whatever works best for you, please get out, enjoy the day, and honor the planet – it’s the only one we call home.

Happy Earth Day!

Quote of the Day – John Muir

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

~John Muir



So many ways to celebrate Earth Day

Photo from geni.com

by Heather Kallevig

Earth day this year falls on a Wednesday, which for some people may mean more time for celebrating, while for others it may be more difficult. Either way, it’s important to commemorate this special day and all that it represents – unity for a cause, history and environmental wellness, caring for animals, and leaving a healthy planet for future generations.

Today’s post offers a list of ideas to celebrate Earth Day. You may choose one or several. Either way, I hope it encourages you to get out and participate!


  • Go through the house and look for things you no longer need, give them to good will for those who may need it more.
  • Make your own, toxin-free household cleaners. Here’s a link to some great recipes.
  • Purchase compostable or recycled material garbage bags.
  • Thermostat impact – if it’s hot outside let your house be a few degrees warmer, it’s if it’s cold turn it down and put on a sweater.
  • Check for energy suckers – make sure unnecessary appliances are unplugged.
  • Rethink your fridge – are you overpurchasing each week? How much food is going to waste? Take an inventory of the amount of food you own and eat, determine if you’re purchasing the right amount.


  • Choose plants for your garden that are indigenous to the area.
  • If you live in a dry environment avoid high-water plants. Choose ornate grasses requiring less care.
  • Let parts of your yard grow long, the birds and wildlife in the area will appreciate it. IMG_7593This also means you’ll have far less to mow and keep up.
  • Feed a hungry bee. Bees are at risk today, so if you come across a bee that looks like it’s sleepy or near death – it may be in need of sugar water, bring it a spoon with water and sugar and send it on its way.
  • Put up a bird feeder and bath. Whether the squirrels or the birds love it more, you’ll have some appreciative wildlife to enjoy and observe.
  • Consider bird houses and bat boxes for your yard – this will keep the birds around longer, and the bats are great for maintaining the insect population.


  • Most communities have Earth day events including educational fairs, spring clean ups, etc. Check your community calendar and get involved.
  • Volunteer at a local school, teachers are often in need of assistance with fun Earth day projects. Help out and make this day memorable for future generations.
  • Start your own Earth day celebration. Get a group together to pick up garbage in an area you know is in need, plant trees or flowers, or hang up bird feeders, bird houses, or bat boxes in your local area.


  • If you have a long workday ahead of you and won’t be able to schedule time to get outside, you can still celebrate Earth day. There are people all over the world who work to make our planet a better place every day. Offer your long-distance support, starting on Earth day.
  • Donate to a favorite charity.
  • Find a new charity and offer your financial aid.
  • Let each member of your family research their own organization, explain why they chose it, and donate $10 each.
  • Donate to an Indiegogo or Grommet campaign .
  • Sign a petition – there are many organizations trying to change public policy and petitions are very important. Check your favorite organizations or try web-based sites like Care2.

There are many different ways to celebrate Earth day, and no contribution is too small. By making a concerted effort this one day, it raises the chance that small habits begun will continue. So pick an activity that interests you, get outdoors, and

Happy Earth Day!!


Earth Day: A brief history and a necessary future

By Heather Kallevig

The 1970s are recognized in history as a decade driven by political revolution. American students were motivated by a number of issues – war, equality, counterculture, and the environment. The latter received its inception during the 70s, stemmed by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times best seller Silent Spring published in 1962. This book, which sold more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, was one of the first marked pieces of literature to raise awareness about biodiversity, pollution, and environmental degradation.

Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin’s U.S. senator and founder of Earth Day, capitalized on the consciousness created by Carson’s book and the revolutionary spirit of the American public. Enraged by the disastrous effects of the 1969 Santa Barbara, California oil spill, Nelson sought to raise awareness about air and water pollution and to bring environmental issues into the public agenda.

Nelson realized to begin progress and truly impact change, the environmentalist movement would require more than parades and marketing, it would require an institutional change – beginning with education. He began the process of engaging the media in “a national teach-in on the environment.” He developed a staff of 85, recruiting other influential politicos including Republican congressman, Pete McCloskey as co-chair and Denis Hayes as national coordinator.

Earth Day was set for April 22nd, and 20 million supporters rallied coast-to-coast to raise awareness and fight against worsening environmental issues – deforestation, water pollution, habitat destruction, loss of wildlife, chemical spills, and raw sewage to name a few. Environmental proponents united, linking politicians and activists, corporations and small businesses, students and institutions. Earth Day represented a cohesive front, achieving a “rare political enlightenment,” aligning opposing groups on a single issue. The passionate outcry of the first Earth Day led to the development of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

earthdayEarth Day continued to be recognized annually on April 22nd, and made a comeback in 1990 when Denis Hayes partnered with environmental leaders to take Earth Day global, reaching 200 million people in 141 countries. With globalization, Earth Day could no longer be the focus of a single country – the environment became an agenda for the entire planet. At the turn of the century and again in 2010, environmentalists boosted their efforts to commemorate this momentous event.

Today, the planet faces new perils. Globalization, industrialization, materialism, and overpopulation create serious repercussions for the health of the planet. Earth Day needs to become more than a single day of memory. It must again become a movement. The 1969 oil spill, which first prompted the idea, is a small disaster compared to the damages we’ve recently inflicted on our planet. The BP oil spill in the gulf, drilling in the Chukchi Sea, and mining in pristine environments are a few of the injuries incurred. Not to mention the growing debris of garbage, plastic waste, toxic chemicals.

The cooperation of the first Earth Day should offer an example for our current legislature who guards their bi-partisanship as a means of division rather than construction. Regardless of the Obama administration’s attempts to lessen our environmental impact, the current U.S. legislature, in its first 100 days, has permitted more attacks on the U.S. environment than any preceding body. This is unacceptable in a society empowered by social media and communication. We need to embrace our power and our potential. Once again, active politicians, influential organizations, and the people must step forward and make the health of our environment a top priority in public discourse. Earth day every day is our future agenda.

Make this week’s Earth day a commemorative celebration in your household – educate your family, plant a tree, clean up garbage, and make the important decision to do your part for the environment.


US Environmental Protection Agency

Earth Day Network

History Channel

Quote of the Day – Activism an Internal Drive

By Heather Kallevig

If you ever feel a sudden fit of activism or even an ongoing compulsion to make the world a better place, you’re not alone.  Whatever sparks your interest and motivates your involvement, activism is what makes the world a better place.  Take part online, in person, and every chance you get.  Every activist has felt this way at one point or another.  It’s an internal drive, and you’re not alone…

“..An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something.  That person is not usually motivated by a need for power or money or fame, but in fact is driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness, so much so that he or she is compelled by some internal moral engine to make it better.”

~Eve Ensler, Forward My Name is Jody Williams

Patagonia’s Worn-Wear Campaign “If it’s broke – fix it!”

by Heather Kallevig

Patagonia's Worn-Wear CampaignImagine a simpler world, not so long ago, when everyone was capable of wielding a needle and thread. A tear was repaired, shoes were “gooed”, and consumers sought products that were built to last. Today, we see a slightly different culture. Modern society is a consumer driven, materialistic world, in which a clothing company’s main goal is to encourage shoppers to buy. Clothes go out of style, fall apart, or lose their owner’s interest. For a company dependent on a steady stream of sales, these are desirables.

What if, however, we saw yet another shift, using our modern technology and innovation to build better products, market longer-lasting, livable styles, and encouraged consumers to develop a healthy relationship with their “stuff?”

Patagonia's Worn-Wear CampaignThis spring, Patagonia is taking a momentous step in making this clothing possibility a future reality. Patagonia, a company known for their commitment to social responsibility, has introduced a pioneering approach to marketing using conscious capitalism. Rather than encouraging people to buy more goods, they are advocating effective use, regular repair, and bonding relationships with our high quality goods.   This is the start of a clothing movement. They’re calling it the Spring 2015 Worn-Wear Tour, and it rests on the back of a wood-repaired biodiesel truck. Their mission states:

“Out to change our relationship with stuff, this spring Patagonia’s biodiesel repair wagon will travel coast to coast repairing clothing for free, teaching folks how to fix things themselves and selling used Patagonia® clothing. Bring us your tired, well-loved clothing for repair. If you don’t have any, we’ll supply it. Fix it and you can keep it. Join us for local food and drink, and celebrate the stories we wear.”

Patagonia proposes a commendable mission, to change our relationship with clothes. Moving from a culture where we own innumerable items that are expendable, to one where we possess a simpler closet of well-loved goods.

To join the movement, visit Patagonia’s website and watch their “Worn-Wear Stories.” All see their summer schedule and consider getting involved. Finally, consider a few steps you can take in your own life and use your purchasing power to enhance the movement.

Step 1: Purchase quality

Patagonia's Worn-Wear CampaignAvoid goods that are cheap and likely to fall apart after a few wears. Instead of buying four $10 shirts with a short life, save your money for one $40 shirt that will last years.  It may cost more in the long-run, but you’ll have the chance to wear that shirt and develop a relationship with your clothes rather than throwing it out.  Think of your favorite shoes when you were a kid – didn’t you wear them through the soles?

Step 2: Limit your number of outfits

Patagonia's Worn-Wear Campaign - Live SimplyWhile the many different clothes combos on Pinterest are cute and fun, it does not mean you need each of them in your closet. Pick your favorite clothes, items that are versatile with a few fun favorites thrown in.

Step 3: Choose activities that don’t include shopping

Even if you don’t plan on buying, time spent in stores or malls inevitably leads to acquiring new stuff. Rather than spending your time at stores or the mall, get outdoors and make some memories.  Outdoor activities not only encourage us to step away from consumerism, they also encourage a healthier lifestyle based on sustainability and minimalism.  So get out and discover!

Patagonia's Worn-Wear Campaign

To learn more about Patagonia’s Worn-Wear Campaign, check out this link or share your stories at Patagonia’s Worn-Wear Stories

LIke a Girl – Negative Impact on our Sense of Self

by Heather Kallevig

Sense of Self – The phrase implies a meaning held and developed by one’s self, however a person’s identity is often as extrinsically motivated as it is internal. From the day we are born, humans are bombarded by the influences of people around us. These can have a positive or negative impact, making us feel stylish or frumpy, fat or skinny, intelligent or not. Certain ideas or phrases pertaining to Self can be used so frequently they eventually develop into accepted cultural phrases.

The company, Always, began a campaign this fall trying to change one of the many labels which negative impacts the personal identity of women, particularly young girls. They released a commercial, “Like a Girl.” This video is notable because few think twice about the negative connotation connected to gender nor its impact on  sense of self. “Throw like a girl, run like a girl, talk like a girl” are all ideas generally expressed in a deprecating manner. It’s no wonder many girls struggle with self esteem.

These words “like a girl” impact women at all ages, but are especially detrimental for young women. We need to follow Always’ example and spread the idea. Often a standing notion like this is hard to change, but with the power of social media and the strength of today’s technology we can alter sense of self for future generations. Watch this video, “Like a Girl,” – do you have any past experiences or stories that support its importance? You can be a part of the movement. Share “Like a girl” and make this expression a statement of power.

The Living Tree

Heather Kallevig

“He laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree’s skin and of the life within it.  He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.” 

~J.R.R. Tolkein

From the Fellowship of the ring – Lothlorien

The Audubon Society: Shaping Conservation History and Hope for the Future

by Heather Kallevig

The Audubon Society is recognized as one of the most influential environmental nonprofits in the United States. The first chapter was created in Massachusetts by a group of female advocates angered by the slaughter of millions of waterbirds for the millinery of women’s hats. Their founding date was 1896 (Obmascik, 2004). The group took the Egret for their symbol to honor these beginnings. By 1898, 16 states across the country followed suit including Maine, California, and Indiana. In 1901, these state-level organizations combined forces to help establish the first National Wildlife Refuge in the U.S., the Pelican Islands of Florida.

For over a century, the Audubon Society has been a leader in securing wild lands for future generations, educating the public, protecting biodiversity, and shaping public policy. Audubon laid its stamp on many important landmark laws in American history, including the Audubon Model Law passed in 1901 to protect water birds from plume hunting, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 which protected all migratory birds in the US and Canada and established valuable sanctuaries, aggressive campaigns which led to the 1972 EPA bans on DDT, and the Everglades Protection and Restoration Act signed by President Clinton in 2000.

Partnering with other environmental organizations, the Audubon makes education a priority, encouraging several yearly bird counts and other forms of citizen science. In 2014, the Audubon society drew heavy notice with their release of the watershed climate report an extensive study supported by decades of research.   This report predicted that climate change, through loss of habitat, would cause the demise or endangerment of 314 bird species by 2080 (The History of Audubon, 2015).

In the 117 years, since the Audubon society was first founded, the organization has grown to nearly 500 chapters. While education and conservation are a top priority, establishing laws to protect them is essential. “Audubon environmental policy, education and science experts guide lawmakers, agencies, and our grassroots in shaping effective conservation plans, actions and the policies to support them” (Audubon: About us, 2015).

As the millennial generation comes of age, they begin to assess possible membership of organizations and societies. The Audubon Society’s dedication to education, environmental protection, and biodiversity preservation makes it a valuable organization, one that present and future generations should support and maintain.

Audubon: About Us. (2015). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from  https://www.audubon.org/about

The History of Audubon. (2015, January 9). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from  http://www.audubon.org/content/history-audubon-and-waterbird-conservation

Obmascik, M. (2004). The Early Birds. In The big year: A tale of man, nature, and fowl obsession. New York: Free Press.