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Heal the Bay Blog

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Looking for a good read this summer? Talia Walsh, Heal the Bay’s Associate Director of Communications, has a new book recommendation just for you!

Children’s doctor, immigrant and mom, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha captured national attention as the whistleblower for the Flint Water Crisis. In her new book titled, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City”, she opens up about today’s public and environmental health issues reverberating in cities across America.

From the front lines of Flint, Michigan, Dr. Mona’s story inspires and challenges us to better understand adversity in our communities. She urges each one of us, who has had the privilege of realizing the American Dream, to pass it forward to the next generation.

Ahead of Dr. Mona’s visit to Los Angeles on July 11 at the ALOUD event, we caught up with her about the new book — a must-have on your summer reading list.

HTB: You’ve remained FOCUSED and you’ve kept our attention on the Flint Water Crisis. This is no easy feat in today’s 24/7 news cycle. How do you stay focused?

DR. MONA: The kids that I care for absolutely ground me every day. They remind me what this work is about. It’s easy to get angry, its easy to get jaded, it’s easy to point fingers. But, when your mission is protecting the future of children, that is what enables me to keep my focus, and to fight in a science-driven way for what is right for them.

Heal the Bay: What’s the biggest takeaway lesson from your Flint Water Crisis experience?

DR. MONA: Flint is not an isolated story. There are the same crises happening in cities all across our nation. From issues with democracy and environmental injustice, to austerity, the breakdown of infrastructure and the neglect for children. The biggest takeaway lesson from Flint was that we opened our eyes and we said, this is not how it should be and we can make a change. You have the power and you have a role to stand up for your environment and our children.

HTB: Immigration is a big theme in your new book. As a child, you immigrated to this country from Iraq with your parents. What words of encouragement do you have for immigrant families facing adversity today?

DR. MONA: What’s happening in our nation today touches me on so many levels. As a pediatrician, it is disturbing. I know the consequences of trauma. From facing difficult situations to being separated from family to being discriminated against once in this country. Those traumas, from a medical and behavioral health perspective, impact children for their life-course trajectories.

I wrote this book, not only to share the lessons of Flint, not only to inspire folks to be active, to resist, and to work to better their communities. But, it was also the intent to share positive immigrant stories, especially of Arab-Americans, who we were going to ban from this country and who we only associate with war and terrorism. 

As an immigrant, as a kid who came to this country when I was four… by and large, I was welcomed with open arms. I grew up very confident and competent. That is not happening right now. Ultimately, besides the native people, we are a nation of immigrants. If those doors were closed to me when I was four, you wonder what we are missing out on in this nation because of folks who no longer come here for that opportunity, for that freedom. So as an immigrant it’s also disturbing. And then, as a mom, as a parent, it’s heartbreaking, especially with the separations.

This book is a fast-paced story about what happened in Flint. It’s also a memoir.

To understand my role in this crisis, you have to understand where I came from and who I am… the lens through which I see the world. And [the topic of immigration] probably would not have been as big in this book, if it were not for the last election.

HTB: With all of this going on today in the U.S. and from your experience on a hyper-local level in Flint, is the AMERICAN DREAM still alive for you?

DR. MONA: The American Dream was what we came for, me and my family, in 1980. It was absolutely realized for me and my family. We reaped the American Dream. My parents came here with nothing besides their education. They worked hard. They sent their kids to public schools and received a great education. We are a consequence of the American Dream. But, that is being closed on folks. Not only for incoming immigrants, but also for my kids in Flint.

My kids in Flint — it’s like two Americas — they wake up to a nightmare.

Even before the water crisis, it has been a nightmare for kids in Flint and kids throughout our country who live with so many toxicities. Not only the toxicity of contaminated water, but the toxicity of poverty, violence, crumbling schools, discrimination, racism and all of the other adversities that impact them. In places like Flint, just like many others in this country, the zip code you are born in predicts your life-course trajectory. It is hard to change your situation in life when you have so much adversity piled up against you. [These kids] don’t have access to the American Dream like I did.

HTB: Do you think democracy can ever be restored in Flint, especially for the African-American community who were disproportionally impacted by the Flint Water Crisis?

DR. MONA: Flint is an extreme example where democracy was usurped. The city was under state-appointed emergency management. At one point in 2013, half of African-Americans in Michigan were under emergency management, as compared to 2% of Whites. Grossly undemocratic, no accountability, no role for elected officials. But, this is similar to other issues in this country in regards to lack of democracy. Look what’s happening with gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, mass incarceration. We are shifting populations and we are minimizing the voice of certain people.

Going back to Flint, the power of the local officials has been restored. The Mayor does have power back. But the city was starved for so long, it’s hard to be fully functioning when your capacity was so limited. You know, it will take a long time to be a functioning democracy.

HTB: When you started this journey in Flint, who were your LOCAL ALLIES to get things done?

DR. MONA: One of the reasons I did not want to write this book was that this story is NOT about me! This story is about a team. It took a team of folks — a random, diverse group of professionals that all came together for the same cause. It was moms, activists, pastors, local faith-based organizations, nonprofits, the ACLU, the EPA, a water scientist from Virginia, my girlfriend who works at a nonprofit water group. It was a mix of folks that opened up their eyes together to uncover this story. That is such an important lesson.

So often in our work, whatever our work may be, we are very siloed. We only work with people who do the exact same thing that we do. And we don’t realize the other solutions out there in different disciplines, from people who look different than us, who live somewhere else and who vote different than us, yet who also care about the same things. The beauty is being able to find that village and come together.

HTB: What about the ratepayers, the consumers of the water themselves. How do they stay informed about local water issues?

DR. MONA: It’s hard. The people of Flint have been heroic. They were the first to raise the alarm bells. Amazing moms and activists who pushed every button and started the domino effect of uncovering this crisis. There are folks in Flint that suffer from incredible obstacles to information and access. We have a 60% poverty rate for our children… huge transportation issues, literacy issues… there are so many obstacles associated with poverty that have made communication and information-sharing quite difficult.

That’s why things in Flint are always done at the grassroots level.

The folks who go door-to-door are your neighbors; they are the ones helping with the water filter installation and the maintenance.

HTB: In Los Angeles County, there are many GRASSROOTS efforts. What words of wisdom do you have for grassroots leaders and clean water advocates here in L.A.?

DR. MONA: One of the reasons I wrote this book is to be an inspiring call to action. [This book] is about the people, places and problems that we choose not to see. We all have to open our eyes. When we work together we can tap into this incredible power that is within all of us to create change. There couldn’t be a more timely moment to share that message with what is happening in our nation—where there is an incredible need for ongoing activism and informed communities.

Buy the book

Meet the author on July 11


A Quick Refresher on the Flint Water Crisis

Before Flint, Michigan realized its water crisis in 2014, the city was nearing bankruptcy and took a series of deliberate actions to cut costs. When Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency in the state, he removed a swath of elected government positions and appointed “emergency managers” into these roles. His swift move created the conditions for a murky view into local public policy.

As if losing the right to vote and access to public information was not enough a blow to overcome, community members in Flint had no say when state-appointed emergency managers hastily switched the drinking water source and treatment policy.

In a temporary plan to save the city of Flint money, emergency managers claimed they could cut costs by sourcing water from the Flint River instead of the Great Lakes. The new plan did not include sufficient water treatment procedures like corrosion control, a method to avoid lead leaching into the water, which is outlined in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. As a direct result, nearly 100,000 Flint residents were exposed to lead and harmful bacteria.

When the community began complaining about the condition of the water coming out of their taps, they were not getting any straight answers from city officials. Flint residents were left defenseless — their ability to vote and hold local officials accountable had been taken away by the Governor. They were cut off from critical information. Yet they persevered.

Community heroes like Dr. Mona began to listen, connect the dots and speak up.

Today the water in Flint, Michigan still needs to be filtered or residents must use bottled water. But, conditions are improving and there is a big plan underway to replace all of the corroded lead pipes in the region. Some justice is also being served. Over a dozen individuals and water infrastructure firms involved in the Flint Water Crisis are currently being investigated for felony and misdemeanor criminal charges, including negligent homicide, conspiracy and misconduct in office.

If Dr. Mona and other water warriors did not turn their knowledge into action, if they did not use their chorus of voices to create a platform for change, it’s unclear how long the Flint community would have suffered from lead poisoning and exposure to other harmful toxins.



stormwater in los angeles county heal the bay

 

1. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Attend the Public Hearing

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will decide July 17 (formerly July 10) whether to place a public funding measure (The Safe, Clean Water Program) on the November ballot to increase stormwater capture throughout our region.

The measure would raise $300 million for such nature-based water quality amenities as green streets, multi-benefit parks and revitalized wetlands.

We are going to turn greater L.A. into a sponge, harvesting billions of gallons of rain for reuse instead of sending it uselessly to the sea!  There are dozens of reasons to support increased capture of rainwater and other urban runoff.

These projects would:

  • Keep harmful bacteria and trash from ruining your favorite beaches.
  • Protect the animals that call the Bay home from gross runoff and plastic pollution.
  • Provide a supply of reliable and locally sourced water as climate change worsens. 

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink L.A.’s outdated water model and better prepare for an increasingly arid future.  

We need YOU to attend the public hearing with us on July 17, 2018 to encourage the Board to place this water-saving measure on the ballot. RSVP here, and wear your favorite blue shirt to show your support!

 


 

2. CONTACT YOUR ELECTED SUPERVISOR

Send a Tweet

If you can’t make it to the public hearing in person, you can still take action! If you live in greater Los Angeles, please contact your supervisor to show your support during this critical time:

Look up your district by your zip code.

Then, find your district’s elected Supervisor:

  • First District: Hilda L. Solis
  • Second District: Mark Ridley-Thomas
  • Third District: Sheila Kuehl
  • Fourth District: Janice Hahn
  • Fifth District: Kathryn Barger

Next, call or email your Supervisor:

“My name is (your name), from (city) and (zip code). I stand with Heal the Bay and the OurWaterLA coalition in full support of The Safe, Clean Water Program, which could raise $300 Million every year for nature-based stormwater capture projects. I hope we can count on you, to vote YES at the Public Hearing on July 17th, in support of this important measure.”

First District: Hilda L. Solis
Phone: 213-974-4111
Email: firstdistrict@bos.lacounty.gov

Second District: Mark Ridley-Thomas
Phone: 213-974-2222
Email: markridley-thomas@bos.lacounty.gov

Third District: Sheila Kuehl
Phone: 213-974-3333
Email: sheila@bos.lacounty.gov

Fourth District: Janice Hahn
Phone: 213-974-4444
Email: fourthdistrict@bos.lacounty.gov

Fifth District: Kathryn Barger
Phone: 213-974-5555
Email: kathryn@bos.lacounty.gov

Finally, send a Tweet to your Supervisor:

Please vote YES on The Safe, Clean Water Program, a public funding measure for nature-based water quality projects in L.A. County #OurWaterLA @SheilaKuehl @mridleythomas @HildaSolis @SupJaniceHahn @kathrynbarger

 


 

3. GET THE FACTS

Add Your Name to Our Petition

The Safe, Clean Water Program treats runoff as a resource—not a nuisance. Watch Meredith McCarthy, Interim Operations Director at Heal the Bay, explain why we need to save more stormwater in L.A.

OurWaterLA, a coalition of leading environmental, labor and social justice organizations, is united behind The Safe, Clean Water Program. See our joint letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors:

 



Eric Garcetti and Zooey Deschanel at Heal the Bay Gala 2018

Please browse Flickr for images from the Gala and our Blue Carpet.

The fates shone on Heal the Bay last night at our annual “Bring Back the Beach” Annual Awards Gala.

After a week of May Gray, the sun gloriously took over at the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica. Under a gentle breeze and the gaze of a beaming lighthouse, more than 700 guests schmoozed on the sand and saluted our honorees: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Univision TV anchor Gabriela Teissier and Hollywood couple and sustainability champions Zooey Deschanel and husband Jacob Pechenik of The Farm Project.

L.A.’s biggest beach party always draws an eclectic crowd — from Venice artists to Silver Lake activists, DTLA policy wonks to South Bay surfers. Buoyed by tasty cocktails (blood orange margaritas!) and good vibes, our guests came out in beach-chic style to support our biggest fundraiser of the year.

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Thanks to their generosity we met our goals, raising more than one-fifth of our annual operating budget in a single night. Proceeds of the night underwrite a number of programs, from water-quality monitoring to subsidized field trips for underserved youth to visit our Aquarium.

Mayor Garcetti was the undeniable star of the evening. His sincere and humble comments about what Heal the Bay has meant to our city – and to him personally – had the crowd rapt. With his quick wit and clear command of policy, it’s easy to see why he’s a rumored candidate for the 2020 presidency. The Mayor bookended his speech with poems by Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda. Here is the beginning of “The Sea”:

I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

In addition to Univision brass, Teissier brought her entire family to salute her longtime commitment to broadcasting stories about ocean and river protection to L.A.’s Spanish-speaking community. Fundraising galas can be long events, so it was endearing to see her sons patiently playing on a jungle gym while waiting for Mom to get her big award. Speaking passionately in both English and Spanish, Teissier recounted stories of her own upbringing and reaffirmed that Latino women have historically stood at the forefront of the environmental movement in Southern California.

Board member and fellow actress Amy Smart welcomed Deschanel and Pechenik to the Heal the Bay family. The couple, who run The Farm Project to better connect consumers directly to the producers of the food, spoke passionately about the growing scourge of plastic pollution in our food chain and greater environment. To cheers, Zooey talked about making smarter choices as consumer: “You weigh the options — single-use plastic vs. a healthy planet … get rid of that single-use plastic! It’s not worth it. It’s convenient filler. It doesn’t do ANYTHING for you. It doesn’t make you laugh or cry!” Well said.

Other supporters making waves: Meg Gill, an HTB board member and founder of Golden Road Brewing, sampling the newly revised version of Heal the Bay IPA with other beer lovers. (Gill is an avid swimmer, who still holds the female record for the fastest 50-meter swim ever recorded in the Ivy League!); Black Surfers Collective leaders Jeff Williams and Greg Rachal charming “Jumanji” co-star Ser’Darius Blain into participating in our upcoming Nick Gabaldon Day; a determined and persistent online bidder from New Jersey who triumphed at our Live Auction to secure a private Goodyear Blimp tour of the Santa Monica Bay.

Major props to the musical talent for the evening – the James Gang. The multi-player party band had supporters boogieing to the very end with their diverse chops, from spirited covers of Dr. Dre to soulful send-ups of Van the Man. They sent many a guest shimmying to their awaiting Lyft rides.

And a deep thank you to our dinner co-chairs: Malibu architect David Hertz and South Bay champion Kim Conant-Blum. Their boundless energy proved to be the ideal one-two punch for a successful evening under the stars.

A final thank you to our dynamic team of Heal the Bay volunteers, staff, leadership, Board, our incredible photographers Colin Young-Wolff, Dan Do-Linh and Nicola Buck, our brilliant event producer Natalie McAdams of NAMEVENTS and all of the gracious staff at the Jonathan Club.




(Photo by: Jessica Weinberg McClosky)

Heal the Bay is taking part in the third annual City Nature Challenge! The competition runs from April 27-30, so you can make observations the entire weekend.

The City Nature Challenge is a four-day competition between major cities to see who can make the most observations of nature, identify a variety of species, and engage their residents in a BioBlitz. This year, over 60 cities are competing on six continents.

Heal the Bay is hosting a BioBlitz at Malibu Lagoon State Beach, which is part of a region with high biodiversity and high risk of habitat loss. Malibu Lagoon is a tidal lagoon, and one of the few wetland habitats in Southern California. The lagoon has faced tremendous pressure from development in the surrounding area causing the ecosystem to become impaired. From 2012-2013, Malibu Lagoon underwent a substantial habitat restoration, which makes it a fascinating area to study for theBioBlitz.

We are primarily using the iNaturalist app in thisBioBlitz, though submissions are also accepted through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and email. The iNaturalist app is easy to use: snap a photo of wildlife and animals and it will make species ID suggestions for you. If none of them fit, upload the photo and members of the community will make recommendations for you. Remember to use the hashtag  #NatureinLA when posting on social media or email your observations to nature@nhm.org.

Join Heal the Bay for ourBioBlitz on April 28th! We will begin with an overview of the City Nature Challenge, iNaturalist, and a brief beach cleanup to incorporate site stewardship into our biodiversity project. The event begins at 1pm and ends at 4pm with a raffle for all participants. During that span of time, the tide in the lagoon will be lowering and we’ll search for sea stars, anemones, and chitons in the tide pools. If you can, please download the iNaturalist app before arriving at our cleanup. More info can be found at inaturalist.org.

RSVP TO BIOBLITZ



Party People, we’ve got some good news to share about our huge gala next month.

We’ve got an eclectic list of honorees for our annual “Bring Back the Beach” bash, drawing from the worlds of politics, entertainment and media.

We’re super stoked to salute the good work of three leaders who embody the spirit of protecting what you love: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Univision news anchor Gabriela Teissier and sustainability advocates Zooey Deschanel and Jacob Pechenik.

All guests of honor will mingle on the sand with us May 17 at the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica. A lively mix of artists, surfers, policy wonks, engineers, business owners and everyday ocean lovers always turns out for the year’s biggest beach party.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has a long history of collaboration with Heal the Bay, starting with his days as an L.A. City Council member. (He’s pictured above on the L.A River). His administration has made significant progress in making our region more environmentally healthy and economically prosperous under his ambitious 20-year Sustainability pLAn. He is the first L.A. Mayor to design and implement a master sustainability blueprint for the city. Under his leadership, the city has partnered with Heal the Bay and other nonprofits to meet a goal of producing 50% of our water locally by 2035.

Gabriela Teissier is a longtime supporter of our work. Led by her vision and editorial direction, Univision has provided thoughtful coverage of such issues as plastic pollution, climate change, contaminated seafood, and beach safety. By covering these issues, the region’s leading Spanish-language broadcaster has connected Latino audiences to the shoreline, to their watershed and to each other. Her husband, famed surfer and chef Raphael Lunetta, is also a longtime fixture on Venice and Santa Monica beaches.

Zooey Deschanel, a native Angeleno, may be best known for her work in film and music. But the actress and singer spends considerable creative energy on The Farm Project, an initiative to connect people directly to their food. Together with entrepreneur husband Jacob Pechenik, they help reduce carbon emissions – and warming seas – by empowering city residents to easily grow their own food at their home or business through their new service Lettuce Grow.  The couple also has been creating awareness around the dangers of plastic pollution in our ocean and food chain through short-form videos.


We hope you can join us May 17 to celebrate good people doing good work. The event is loose and fun, but it’s seriously our biggest fundraiser of the year. We rely on the support of the community on this one night to sustain us year-round

Seats always sell out each year, so please purchase your table or individual tickets today to avoid being disappointed. Here’s a visual roundup of last year’s gala in case you missed it.

See you on the sand!

 

 



¡Involúcrese con Heal the Bay este Mes del Planeta! Celebre el Planeta con nosotros y diviértase aprendiendo de todas las criaturas marinas locales que habitan nuestras costas.

DISFRUTE
Noche de Película en el Acuario
Viernes, Abril 13, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Los estudiantes del Club Heal the Bay tendrán una noche de película este viernes 13 de abril en el acuario para ayudar a celebrar este mes del Planeta. También habrá una exposición virtual cual solo estará en exposición esa noche. Por cierto, cada viernes a las 2:30 p.m. ustedes pueden darles de comer a las estrellas del mar en nuestro Acuario y a la vez aprender más de los hábitats marinos locales.

ACTUE
Limpieza Costera del Día del Planeta
Sábado, Abril 21, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Acompáñenos y a cientos de voluntarios locales en proteger lo que amamos – las playas y el océano. No se necesita talentos o experiencia – solo un cariño al mar y las animales cual le llaman casa. Los participantes de la limpieza también recibirán la entrada gratis a nuestro Acuario.

EXPLORE
La Celebración del Día del Planeta en nuestro Acuario
Sábado, Abril 21, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

¡Vengan a conocer los animales marinos locales! Tenemos tiburones pequeños, caballitos del mar, langostas, anguilas, y docenas de otras especies cuales pueden explorar. Relájense con nuestras sesiones de cuentos, y asómbrense con nuestras exposiciones de polución este fin de semana.

Haga su donación del Mes del Planeta

¿Quiere hacer un impacto cual durara todo el año? Considere hacer una pequeña donación a nuestros programas de ciencia y póliza.  Una donación de $50 paga por la monitorización de la calidad de agua en una playa impactada por polución en el Sur de California.

¡Vean mas eventos del Mes del Planeta!



¡FELIZ MES DEL PLANETA!

En honor al Mes del Planeta, les ofrecemos una lista breve cual contiene los retos más desafiantes que enfrentan nuestros océanos – y lo que se puede hacer este mes y el resto del año para hacer una diferencia.

PLASTICO

Se estima que habrá más plástico que peces en los océanos del mundo en el año 2050.

En los últimos 33 años, los voluntarios de Heal the Bay han removido más de 2 millones de libras de basura de nuestras costas. La basura asociada con bebidas como: pajas, botellas de agua de plástico, y contenedores de poliestireno, son los más comunes cual se encuentran en las limpiezas de Heal the Bay.

Por esa razón Heal the Bay estará lanzando la campana #FoamFree este mes en cual usted puede decirle “No Gracias” a las pajas, botes de agua de plástico, y al poliestireno. Hablen con su bolsillo – ¡intenten remplazar el plástico o poliestireno con utensilios alternativos reusables!

EL CLIMA

De acuerdo a la Encuesta de Geológica de E.E. U.U, el condado de Los Ángeles está en riesgo de perder alrededor de la mitad de sus playas para el año 2100 debido a la erosión costera relacionada con el calentamiento del océano.

Reduciendo nuestro impacto ambiental es un esfuerzo sumamente complicado cual requiere acuerdos multi-nacionales – pero si hay pasos cual se pueden tomar en su vida diaria que pueden ayudar a reducir el impacto al océano. Como consumidores, podemos empezar a realizar cambio en nuestros modos de transportación, igual que con nuestras opciones de comida. So no son vegetarianos o vegano, piensen en remplazar la carne una vez a la semana, talvez tener un “lunes sin Carne.” Si tienen un carro, piensen en tomar transporte publico una vez a la semana o organice un viaje compartido con amigos, familia, o compañero de trabajo.

LA SOBRE PESCA

Aproximadamente, 90% de las poblaciones de peces depredadores grandes han desaparecido mundialmente.

Además, más de la mitad de las poblaciones de peces han sido maximizadas. Esto significa que deberíamos de comer menos en la cadena alimentaria del océano. Aparte de la tuna, el salmo, y el halibut, existen muchas más especies de pez cual pueden ser consumidos. Es tiempo de ampliar nuestro paladar, y el océano nos agradecerá.

EL SUMINISTRO DE AGUA

El 80% de basura e bacteria cual es encontrada en las costas del condado de Los Ángeles es acabo de la escorrentía urbana.

Hasta en los días más secos y calientes del verano, un estimado de 100 millones de galones de escorrentía contaminada fluye hacia el océano vía los drenajes de tormenta del condado de Los Ángeles. La corriente contiene desechos humanos e de animal, químicos y fertilizantes, gasolina, plástico, y embalaje y los deposita directamente al océano.  Para reducir su flujo, Heal the Bay sugiere que remplace su césped con opciones más ecológicas, que use un lavacoches de la vecindad (la mayoría reciclan agua) en vez de lavar los carros en casa, e instalar barriles en su propiedad cual puedan capturar el agua en vez de mandarla directo al océano.

Al nivel más amplio, el condado de Los Ángeles necesita hacer un mejor trabajo de capturando e reusando el agua cual ya tenemos. Se necesita construir una infraestructura cual capturara las aguas pluviales y reciclara las aguas residuales. Heal the Bay está trabajando en una medida publica cual estará en los boletos de votación este Noviembre.



Earth Day is April 22, and we’re celebrating with a month full of events in greater Los Angeles. In honor of Earth Month, here’s a snapshot look at the biggest challenges facing our oceans – and what you can do this month and year-round to make a difference.

PLASTIC: It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.

Drink-related trash forms the bulk of human-made debris found at Heal the Bay cleanups, accounting for over one third of all items found on L.A. County beaches.

In the last 33 years, Heal the Bay volunteers have removed more than 2 million pounds of trash from our shores – that’s the weight of two fully loaded 747 passenger jets! This summer, Heal the Bay will launch a #FoamFree campaign, but you can get started today by saying “No thanks” to polystyrene to-go containers, single-use straws, and plastic water bottles. Go reusable instead.

CLIMATE: L.A. County could lose more than half of its beaches by 2100 due to coastal erosion related to warming seas, according to a U.S. Geological Survey.

Reducing our carbon footprint is obviously a complicated endeavor involving multi-national agreements, but there are steps you can take in your daily life to reduce your impact on the sea. Transportation and food choices are an obvious place to start as a consumer. If you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan, think about skipping meat one day a week, maybe on “Meatless Mondays”. If you still own a car, think about taking public transit one day a week or coordinating a carpool.

OVERFISHING: Approximately 90 percent of fish stocks of large predatory fish like tuna have disappeared globally.

And more than half of all fish stocks have been maximized. That means we should all eat lower down on the ocean food chain. There is much more to fine dining from the sea than limiting yourself to tuna, salmon and halibut! Widen your palate, and the ocean will thank you. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide.

WATER SUPPLY: Urban runoff accounts for 80 percent of the trash and bacteria found on L.A. County shorelines.

Even on the driest, hottest summer day, an estimated 100 million gallons of polluted runoff flows to ocean via L.A. County’s massive stormdrain system. That flow carries a sickening slurry of animal and human waste, chemicals and fertilizers, automotive fluid, fast-food packaging and single-use plastics to the sea. To reduce your flow, Heal the Bay suggests you rip out water-thirsty lawns in favor of native landscaping, use a neighborhood carwash (most recycle water) instead of hosing down cars on driveways, and installing rain barrels or cisterns on your property to capture water instead of sending it uselessly to the sea.

At a macro level, L.A. County needs to do a better job of capturing and reusing the water we already have by building infrastructure that captures stormwater and recycles treated wastewater. Heal the Bay is now working to get a public funding measure on the November ballot to build “green street”-style projects in greater L.A.

Get Involved with Heal the Bay this Earth Month

Here is a list of awesome Earth Month and Earth Day events in greater Los Angeles.

ENJOY: Movie Night at the Aquarium
Friday, April 13, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Club Heal the Bay students will host a special Friday the 13th movie night at the Aquarium to help kick off Earth Month and Earth Day celebrations. There will be a special virtual experience on exhibit that night only. By the way, every Friday at 2:30 p.m. you can feed the sea stars at our Aquarium and learn more about local underwater habitats.

ACT: Earth Day Beach Cleanup at the Santa Monica Pier
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. to Noon
Join hundreds of local volunteers in protecting what we all love – our beaches and ocean. No special talent or experience required – just a soft spot for the Bay and the animals that call it home. Cleanup participants also get free admission to our nearby Aquarium.

EXPLORE: Earth Day Celebration at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Come meet the locals – all the creatures that live in the ocean right off the L.A. coastline. We’ve got small sharks, sea horses, lobsters, moray eels and dozens of other species to investigate. Relax during our story-time sessions, and get grossed out by our pollution exhibits at this special Earth Day celebration weekend.

WATCH: Earth Focus Environmental Film Festival
Saturday, April 21, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
KCET and Link TV Present an all-day festival of films at Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica on Saturday, April 21 in celebration of Earth Day. The event is family friendly and features local environmental organizations, live Q&As with directors and celebrity-introduced acclaimed films about the environment.

CELEBRATE: Golden Road x Heal the Bay Earth Day Pop Up
Sunday, April 22, Noon – 10 p.m.
On Earth Day, we plan to celebrate our partnership with Golden Road, and you are invited to join us. Check out our Earth Day Pop Up at The Rose Room in Venice. We’ll have an open gallery space featuring local art from Noon to 4 p.m. and a celebratory evening event from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with food and commemorative glassware. Delicious Golden Road brews will be available for 21+ all day.

CONNECT: Sustainable Quality Awards 2018
Thursday, April 26, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Connect and network with sustainably-minded business leaders, recognize achievements, enjoy sustainable gourmet bites from local establishments and sources, and hear from keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Bunje, Chief Scientist and VP at XPrize.

DOCUMENT: City Nature Challenge: Malibu Lagoon BioBlitz
Saturday, April 28, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Put on your citizen scientist hat – it’s BioBlitz time. The City Nature Challenge is a competition between major cities to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage their residents in the worldwide BioBlitz. Help us represent greater Los Angeles. Install the iNaturalist app, or bring your camera, and head outside with us in Malibu.

DISCOVER: Lecture & Panel: Old Shells, New Insights for Santa Monica Bay
Sunday, April 29, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
If these shells could talk… Shells sampled from the top of the seafloor can help us decipher human impacts in our southern California coastal waters. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay’s president, will speak on this topic on a panel with the Surfrider Foundation and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The thought-provoking discussion will be moderated by Mark Gold (UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability and Past President of Heal the Bay), and is set to follow a lively lecture by Dr. Kidwell.

PLAY: More Bubbles – Sparkling Wine Tasting
Friday, May 4, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Heal the Bay is the non profit partner for the EFFERVESCENCE 2018 More Bubbles event, which will transform the historic Avalon Hollywood nightclub into a special tasting experience, with sparkling wines from every corner of the globe, including California’s finest fizz. This event isn’t happening in April, but proceeds benefit Heal the Bay – and, you can book your tickets during Earth Month. 😉

Make Your Earth Month Donation

Want to make an impact that lasts all year? Consider making a small donation to our award-winning science and policy programs. A gift of $50 pays for summer water-quality monitoring at one pollution-impacted beach in Southern California.

GIVE



Heal the Bay Year In Review 2017

 

It’s been a hot year, but these 7 memories helped us keep our cool.

 

7. Marching for Science, NOT Silence.
Fighting Federal rollbacks with 50,000 Angelenos. Watch Facebook LIVE video >


(Photo Credit: Austin Francalancia)


 

6. Skipping the Straw.
Empowering local business patrons to reduce plastic pollution in our seas. See campaign >

Plastic Free


 

5. Protecting the Pacific Seahorse.
Caring for local animals and willdlife at our S.M. Pier Aquarium. Explore our Aquarium >

Pacific Seahorse


 

4. Changing the Course of the L.A. River.
Expanding the River Report Card to protect public health and habitats. View the River Report Card >


 

3. Championing Community Cleanups.
Leading 37,000+ volunteers to remove 418,000+ trash and debris items. Sign up for a 2018 cleanup >

Los Angeles Beach Cleanup


 

2. Bringing Back Ballona.
Advocating for the robust restoration of L.A.’s last remaining large wetland. Get the latest update >


 

1. YOU!
Your voice. Your time. Your energy. Your contribution. Thank YOU.

We want to make new memories and powerful change next year. But, we can’t do it without the support of ocean lovers like you.


Year in Review Infographics


Will you make your tax deductible Year-End Gift today?
(If you’ve already given this season, thank you.)

Make Your Year-End Gift



Spending time with some exceptional students at the 28th annual Coastal Cleanup Day serves as a real pick-me-up for Communications Director Matthew King.

After 10 years at Heal the Bay, I’ve become a bit jaded about our cleanups. I see the same mounds of trash every time I head to a site – cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, fast-food wrappers, you name it.

In the time I’ve worked here, our cleanup volunteers have removed more than 2.6 million items of man-made debris from L.A. County shorelines. That astounding figure stirs mixed emotions. It’s saddening to realize that we still treat our natural places as trash dumps, but it’s also reassuring to know so many Angelenos still care enough to donate a Saturday morning to protect what they love.

Coastal Cleanup Day 2017 was no different. Under pleasantly overcast skies, volunteers stretching from Compton to Malibu collected roughly 23,000 pounds of trash in just under three hours. To put that in perspective, that’s about the weight of two enormous T. Rex dinosaurs!

Beyond the usual suspects, we found a few oddball items this year – a drone that must have crash landed underneath the Redondo Pier, a whole set of unopened men’s dress shirts resting forlornly on the sand at Will Rogers State Beach, and a jock-strap and cup in Palos Verdes. (Props to whoever had the nerve to pick it up!)

It’s also revealing to see what we didn’t find. A veteran site captain at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve was astounded how few plastic bags they found at this L.A. River location, which has historically been visibly choked with plastic bags. It’s a good sign that the recently passed state ban is working!

In all, more than 9,600 volunteers joined us at 61 sites across the County today. We always mobilize a cross-section of greater L.A, both the famous and not-so-famous. I’ve met professional surfers, NBA centers, All-Star outfielders and Oscar-winning actors. But it’s usually the everyday folks like you and me who have interesting stories to tell.

Take the inspiring group of six students from Bell Gardens High School who served as site captains for our beach cleanup in Playa del Rey today, under the caring guidance of teacher Patty Jimenez.  The youth brigade — Angel Diaz, Christopher Linares, Heidi Lara, Kimberly Gonzalez, Otzara Villalobos and Vanexi Jaramillo — mobilized 342 volunteers, who collected 235 pounds of ocean-bound debris.

I first met four of these kids last Wednesday morning at a KTLA Channel 5 news shoot to promote today’s cleanup. They had all arisen at 3 a.m., clambered into Patty’s sedan and traveled 23 miles in darkness to do a series of live interviews at the Del Rey Lagoon. With the bright lights of the camera staring them down as dawn broke, they spoke passionately and endearingly on live TV about their desire to curb cigarette-related pollution. Patty beamed at each of her charges, nodding as they offered simple but powerful testimony.

But what really touched me that chilly morning had come a half hour earlier.  I had approached Patty’s car to give the group a heads-up and to share some media tips. A gaggle of kids sat quietly inside, dressed in their teen uniform of denim, hoodies and Vans tennis shoes.

And then I saw something beautiful that made me well up.

In the cramped back seat, two students scanned textbooks, using their mobile phones to illuminate the pages in the dark. They were doing their math homework — in an unfamiliar neighborhood, hours before their school day would start and hours before most of their peers would even be awake.

I told Patty how moving the sight had been and she shared that that these students’ work ethic and optimism keep her motivated when she faces obstacles at school. She shared that this same group of students played a lead role last month in convincing the Bell Gardens City Council to adopt its first ban on smoking in parks and recreation areas.

The simple scene in the car gave me a moment of hope about the public school system, and Patty’s story gave me hope about the next generation of environmental stewards. This is why I work at Heal the Bay, to help my colleagues create leadership opportunities for students like Patty’s, to connect people from all across our region to their watersheds and to each other.

That to me is the real gift of Coastal Cleanup Day.

You can find more images from the day on our Flickr album and at our Facebook Page (check out the new videos, too).

Thank you to all our site captains, volunteers, partners and staff. We couldn’t have done this without you! And a special thank you to this year’s organizers, sponsors and otherwise remarkable organizations: California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, City of Santa Monica, Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Schuchart/Dow, Union Bank, LAcarGUY, KIND Snacks and REI, as well as our photographers Nicola Buck, Cali Gilbert and Alvin Lam.

If you weren’t able to join us today, we have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year – out in the field, in our offices, or at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Explore the various options and time commitments here.