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April 2003

SARS Hero

The first Hero in the new world war

Dr Urbani, 46, was the first WHO officer to identify the outbreak of the disease. He died yesterday. Dr. Urbani was married with three children. He kept working intensively with victims of SARS before they knew exactly what was going on. He implemented and improved infection controls and slowed the rate of infection in the early days. He is a hero.

As of 3/313/2003 there have been a total of 1,550 SARS cases and 54 deaths reported from 13 countries. This is almost a 4% mortality rate in countries with fair medical infrastructure at their disposal.

A good percentage of the survivors seem to develop immunity. When SARS hits populations with AIDS and HIV it is going to start killing at a much higher ratio. Hopefully, Dr Urbani has given folks a little more time to get hands around what could be the worst epidemic to threaten US in 86 years. (Flu of 1917)

The CDC's weekly surveilance report, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report - SARS update...


NJ Toxics Maps Demonstrate Ambient Exposure Estimates

NJ Toxics Map

This is a very cool sample of ways that states can build maps that display combined ambient toxics estimates in a way the public can understand.

Environmental and health groups should leverage the State investments to explain how the communities are exposed to these toxics and what are the possible reactions we expect in the health of the people and the natural systems.

We should see how the groups in NJ leverage this investment by the state and see if we can encourage more states to map exposures in a similar fashion.

Example of NJ and Benzene
Benzene is nasty stuff. It causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and decreases the red blood cells leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can whack immune systems therefore increasing the chance for other infections. It is a a known human carcinogen.

Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia.

Are there places in NJ that expose people to high doses of benzene? Look at the map

Very bad news but very cool public information.


Sante Fe - Conference of State League of Conservation Voters Day Two.

After wrapping up last night with a dinner at La Fonda. FSCVL launched a test of the website. The guest speaker was Martha Marks of REP America. She was funny. She offered some good points about sticking with your friends and the importance of bipartisan environmentalism. She was also a Republican. (Full Text of Speech)
Day Two

Board development session by Jean Block. Jean runs a consulting service that focuses on nonprofit board development and administration. Two things that make a Board effective is their ability to advocate and raise funds. Jean recommends that Board members have many opportunities to get involved with the organization. In an original package layout the scope, job description and alternative participation options.

Mantra -" You get what you expect and reward." Keep standards for performance high. Keep reimbursement policy very clear.

Plugs for her books F A S T : Fundraising Facts For Fame & Fortune and T H E A B C s of Building Better Boards

She provides some great tips on the basics to be included in recruiting and organizing materials. She highly recommends orientation and orientation materials. She recommends the president elect or the past president sit on the nominating committee with community leaders, ED and a current Board member. She developed a simple Board grid to help groups define gaps in Board talent.


Sante Fe - Conference of State League of Conservation Voters Day One.

New Mexico is an amazing place. We are here to talk with leaders of State Environmental Conservation Directors. My goals are to discuss network-centric advocacy concepts with field practitioners. In return, I hope to help them get up to speed on the way technology is being used to manage the "spikes" of media and public attention.

I have enjoyed two presentations. The first by Joel Bradshaw on the "Lay of the Land" . Joel is very big on organizational development, tips on being strategic and building coalition. Joel and I sat down over lunch to discuss the frustrations of getting organizations to think long-term and strategic. I started to layout some arguments that we need get away from putting all our resources into organizations is a strategy doomed to failure.

Second, I listened to Shelli Bischcoff who mentioned the marketing book on the "Millennials". Younger folks are "very global"??????? It is an interconnected generation that wants to get civic. The millennials will behave like the depression and WWII generation. (Big crowd disagreement) Shelli was very excited about the next generation. The point is that we are not getting messages and not using methods to get information to this wonderful generation.

Shelli really wants enviros to market segment based on Cultural Creatives market segments. We were able to kick around things and focus for a bit on impulsive activism.

Governor Bill Richardson stopped in for lunch and gave a strong endorsement to LCV. He hoped they would focus on Dirty Dozen, active political pressure and media work at the state level.


Shock and Awe-full media coverage

The US media repeated use of "shock and awe" is a troubling display of media ineffectiveness.

The repeated use of Pentagon spin unsettling. "Shock and Awe" is a nice way to say massive bombs are exploding in and around population centers. The huge explosions are terrorizing the millions of people (7 million in Baghdad + 15 Million viewers of Arab TV) that can see, feel and hear these munitions.

September 11 burns into our collective memory not only because of the horrific loss of life but also because of the strong visuals that grip our attention. We watched as explosions ripped apart the structures that define our most notable skyline. Media that described that day as anything but a horrendous display of death and senseless loss would certainly been biased and ridiculed by world opinion.

Today, our media plays the explosions over Baghdad with the giddy delight. The description of such traumatic events with no sympathy or sense of the effects the bombs have on the innocent can not be considered fair and accurate reporting. The media use of "shock and awe" terminology is a symptom of a broader collapse of journalistic integrity and a ratings driven addition to big visual stories. The American public would quickly grow cold to visuals that were described as they are in reality, massive explosions tearing a part a country and traumatizing the population.

Yet again, (happened even with visuals of Sept. 11) our sense of humanity is slowly being chipped away by media focused on the visuals rather then the story that makes the visuals relevant.

Giddy Media
CNN
CNN
ABCNEWS
The Star-Ledger.


CNN kills Media blog

http://www.kevinsites.net/

Media potential of blogs (step 1.) Paid reporters generate thier own blogs to insure full stories are published without editor review. Alternative and typically filtered content would make it out of the newsrooms. Unfortunately, CNN seems to have put the breaks on this site.

Step 2. is when nonjournalists blogs start getting picked up by media and mainstreamed.


Collaborative Document Development

One of the huge challenges to organizing a diverse movement on the fly is figuring out a way to tap the talent of people that are willing to help. 13myths is an incredibly cool use of open sites to create and edit documents.

This idea needs to be expanded and added to many websites. I can think of many zoning and sprawl fights where this type of activity takes place via email.


Planning for the PR disaster

For many companies a lawsuit, industrial accident, discovery of illegal and shady practices is a public relations nightmare. Unfortunately, many of these disasters are avoidable and have been predicted by environmental and health advocacy groups. These groups work to reduce use of toxic chemicals, improve public right to know laws and regulate these industries.

The problem is that in the midst of a crisis the PR machines of the industries ramp up to deflect any discussion of the issues and pressure the public to move on to the next story.

Industry PR advise consistently focuses on ways to counter the work of grassroots communities that are subjected to thier policy and managment mistakles.

We need to develop a rapid attack instead of a rapid response communicaitons plan. How will the advocacy movements use the shorter spikes in media and political attention to accomplish long term policy goals?

Interesting reading on Crisis Communications (reverse enginneering plans for activists)


PIER Systems

Crisis Managment


If I read one more crisis coaching or crisis communications plan I am going to puke. We need to push policy change in the wake of these disasters. When the public is finally ready to listen to advocacy groups they have limited to no ability to "ramp up" in response.

I really want to shapen the "how to" skills for groups so they can plan strategies to move agendas during the "spikes" of attention.


The family video

Ok. so you have 30 hours of the baby. Very cool. However, did you ever think that the video camera might be valuable hardware for environmental protection.

Everyday environmental groups and activists attempt to tell stories about the importance of protecting our landscape, water and air. We talk about the death of species and the loss of great places. Take some video.

While amature cam shots might not work for TV news (they do play it sometimes) the video editing and playback tools are cheap enough that groups should be able to create video that complements the story of the movement.

Try to apply this to environmental advocacy.

Check out:
"Camcorders in Activist's Hands"- You don't need to be a filmmaker to use video as a tool for social change.Activists around the world are using cameras to do everything from helping with domestic abuse situations to protecting protesters from thepolice. Find out how....

http://www.mediarights.org/news/article.php?art_id=00020


Hello World

I have been interested in the idea of how blogs influence the media. Do they create feedback loops for mainstream press and do media contacts write blogs of the material that is edited by the outlets.

My initial goals are to:

* play with movabletype (very nice)
* see how blogs can play a role in advocacy communicaitons
* rant on the web