Monthly Archives: April 2009

Reusable Bags: The BETTER Choice

Here’s a rustic print ad I did with the help of my friend Saira who modeled for me-thank you Saira! (this was part of an assignment that I did for a Communications class I’m currently taking):

Paper AND plastic are BOTH bad choices for your health

Paper AND plastic are BOTH bad choices for your health

These are the basic elements of the ad:

Attention grabber: bright colors in the fruit and vegetables

Appeal: fruit, healthy living, relatable to you (you could see yourself doing what Saira is doing).

Narrative: the ad asks the question that you often hear at the grocery store: “paper or plastic?” It then urges you to be different, to “step outside of the box” and to support and pick “the better choice”: reusable bags.

Call to action: it asks you to reject the use of paper AND plastic bags so you can instead use reusable bags; it also invites you to visit the site  so you can get your own reusable bag.  In the future, the site could change to something like (Heal the Bay does not have a site that has such a name … yet) that could be a centralized online center for people to take action (like send letters of support to newspapers and legislators or the like) on various issues dealing with marine debris.  Ideally, the center would reinforce the idea that it’s going to take all of us to solve the problem of plastic bags polluting our environment, working together: 1) through legislation that taxes the use of plastic and paper bags to discourage usage, 2) cleanup efforts, and 3) reclycling campaigns; and that if you take one element out (because of pressure from powerful moneyed interests), the efforts will most likely fail to solve much. 

I’m also trying to frame the situation very clearly with this ad with some long-term messaging:

  • Plastic AND paper bags = bad for your health (because it impacts your quality of life).
  • Reusable bags = healthy living, promising future, protecting your children from pollution.

Sure, the ad is not commercial-quality, but I think it gets the point across very effectively nevertheless.

  PS Don’t forget to click on the picture of the print ad above: it takes you to a video that CurrentTV aired about the problem of plastic bag pollution in our rivers and ocean.


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Filed under Environment, Health, Healthy Communities

Swine Flu

So apparently we’re under swine flu watch.  Yes, it’s all over the news, like the bird flu and the mad cow desease were.  They way the media is talking about it, you’d think our civilization is coming to an end a-la Twelve Monkeys movie. 

The Center for Desease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following up on their website:

“Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. […]

From December 2005 through February 2009, a total of 12 human infections with swine influenza were reported from 10 states in the United States. Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified. An investigation into these cases is ongoing. […]”

People are taking advantage of this opportunity of the flu being on the news 24/7 and so we get videos trying to sell you vitamins and others to promote crazy right-wing tinfoil hat libertarian conspiracy theories:

I’m still unclear as to how exactly this “new” flu is more serious than other kinds of flu (other than being related to pigs).  According to the CDC, these are the symptoms:

“What are the symptoms of swine flu in humans?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are expected to be similar to the symptoms of regular human
seasonal influenza and include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people with swine flu also have reported runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.”

…uhm, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those more or less the symptoms of regular flu? (if there is such a thing-because the flu can come in many strains).

I realize this “swine” flu is a serious matter because people have died from it … but again, correct me if I’m wrong: don’t people die of “regular” flu too when it’s accompanied by complications and not treated with the right medical approaches?  Also, how come no one is asking “who is cashing in on the flu paranoia?”  The manufacturers of desinfectant products and people like Donald Rumsfeld are sure making money on the deal, among others.  Meanwhile, the racist right-wing pig media talking heads are having a field day with this story even though there are now reports emerging that the “swine” flu might have actually originated in the United States.  To top things off, some political extremists have used this opportunity to display their own idiocy, just watch what Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said here

Perhaps what is most annoying about this whole thing is the hypocrisy inherent in all this media circus.  IF there were such a sincere concern for pandemics, you’d think conservatives (like Michelle Bachmann) and its media talking heads would agree that it is now more urgent than ever to approve a public healthcare option that would care for all as quickly as possible … well, guess again-they’re trying to kill off any attempts to fix our healthcare system that would cover us all.  By the way, you can fight back the politicians that are trying to choke healthcare reform in its crib; to fight them, visit:

Update: Luckily, there are some personalities emerging in the cable news that are being more realist about this whole thing. Watch Keith Olbermann talking about this strain of influenza in a more serious in-depth manner; click here.

Also, Media Matters for America did a great week-in-review wrap up of how the right-wing media personalities hyped it up to blame immigrants and even Obama for the “outbreak”.  Click here to read it.

I leave you with this “Swine Flu Overload” infoMania Editorial. Enough said.


Filed under Economic Refugees, Health, Immigration, Media Literacy

Oh poor little innocent Miss California…

So no doubt you’ve heard about Miss California and how she answered a question about Gay Marriage in a beauty pageant.  The question was asked by media-drama queen Perez Hilton:

It’s been interesting to watch how the various media outlets have cut and spliced the event

There are multiple reasons why I think these made such big news; but I think there are two that stand out the most:

1) The event was pretty unusual-anything outside of the norm steals the show.  Remember when the media picked up on Miss Teen South Carolina’s response?:

We stereotype beauty pageant constentants as not being, ehr shall we say, Albert Einsteins.  Because Miss Teen South Carolina’s response was so way out there even for beauty pageant standards, it made huge news because the news media thrives on the unusual. 

2) Usually during the beauty pageants, questions of such complexity or controversy are not asked-the more usual questions are those that have to do with neutral topics like “what is your opinion of world hunger” or the like.  Miss California’s response stood out also because it was not a “neutral” response but rather one loaded with conflict, which the media just loves.    

3)The massive right-wing media is having a field day with this.  She’s now being paraded around as an example of how the “gay mafia” is trying to take over the world because it took poor little innocent Miss California’s crown away.  Yes, I can almost see the commercials on the right-wing propaganda network Fox News starting with Miss California crying over what “was done to her” and then ridiculously asking “what’s next? putting you in jail for opposing gay marriage?”  Amazing how they can manipulate the public’s perception huh?

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Filed under Gay Marriage

Tweeter me this twitter me that!

Do you twitter?  Here’s another CurrentTV video on the topic:

I am so lost in twitterland and I guess I’m not alone; the whole thing seems so esoteric to me.  Here’s Twitter’s CEO explaining what exactly Twitter is and how it come about:

 SO do you tweet … ehr, I mean, “twitter”?

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Filed under Online Social Network Site

Are your Facebook friends really your friends?

Check out this video from Current TV:

An AlterNet article recently explored this very same topic: whether or not your online social network “friends” are really true friends.  Personally, I think online social networking is simply enhancing face-to-face interaction, rather than replacing it.  The claim that Facebook and MySpace are turning us into anti-social hermits seems to me a little bit of, uhm, I don’t know, shall way say “old-people’s way of thinking?”…

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Building Community

I often hear people complain about how our media is further segregating us into compartmentalized categories all for the sake of “target demographics”.  So it was nice to see a use of media that was trying to actually create a feeling of connectedness and community rather than trying to separate it into various niche markets:

Signs promoting an environmental project in the streets of Portland, OR.

Signs promoting an environmental project in the streets of Portland, OR.

The piece of media that I ran into was an advertisement on the streets of Portland, Oregon (picture above) for a Friends of Trees project that reminded me very much of another project local to that city that some enviro activists have told me about before: City Repair.  Below is a video that describes The  City Repair Project more in detail, which started back in 1996 (as one watches the video, one cannot help but feel the striking similarities between where Portland started and the current way things are in the City of Los Angeles):

Additionally, the signage reminded me of another beautificaton community-run & empowering project that Heal the Bay has been working on in South L.A.: their outdoor public “Living Rooms” (pages 8-9) community spaces that are currently installed on the corner of Vemont & Manchester AVE and the corner of Main & 91st/92nd ST (with a third one slated to be installed on the corner of Broadway & Century Blvd).

But I guess I should back up and first explain that the reason I went up to Portland was because I was part of a delegation from South L.A. that included community leaders, agency representatives, and activists that the City of Los Angeles put together and flew out to Portland, Oregon to study the transit system there.  The purpose of the trip was to give us a first-hand experience of the Portland’s so-called Transit-Oriented Development in light of the fact that the Expo Line is in the works to soon be built in Los Angeles, which will touch on a portion of a South L.A.  In the written materials that were presented to us South L.A. folks, the City of L.A. explained why visiting Portland was key:

Representatives from communities around the country and the world visit Portland to see first-hand how good planning around a new rail transit line can lead to successful places for housing, retail, office, and educational uses.  Portland gives visitors a unique opportunity to see both how mature communities work with rail transit and how transit lines reach into newer communities.

Portland has been successful in strengthening communities around transit by focusing on how to make them more walkable, affordable, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable with a mix of building types, public open spaces, and plazas.  The City has also been successful at encouraging better developments near transit lines and in achieving community-wide public involvement in the planning and design process. 

Overall, I was struck with how powerful small incremental, but nevertheless coordinated, steps can be towards creating lines of connections between communities.  The perfect example in Portland of how synergy can be crafted for the purposes of creating a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere is that of the Pearl District.  The story of how that place came to look like it does now is simply amazing.  It started out as a bunch of “rail yards and empty warehouses” and eventuall became a hub of urban renewal in large part thanks to the business community taking the leadership to work with the city.  The Pearl district is not the only jewel of Portland’s success of blending space and creating more community-friendly atmospheres; other examples include the Sea Change Gallery and the supportive housing projects, to name a few.  Granted, Portland Oregon has very different circumstances than L.A.  Yet, it was striking and quite surprising to hear similarities in the way Portland used to be at one point compared to how L.A. is currently set up.  As I look for our own examples of projects here in L.A. that have the potential for making those kinds of connections among centers of activity (since Los Angeles is basically a cluster of cities) and thus lay the framework for further blending of space, the first that comes to mind is the Los Angeles River Rivatilization project.  As we explored the Portland transit rail lines, what became immediately evident was that a city’s agencies and community groups need to work in concert-it is an absolute necessity.  I mean, for God’s sakes, even Portland State University seemed to be very actively and aggressively involved in the development of public transit and overall landscape of the surrounding areas near the campus.  Will USC and/or UCLA ever be like Portland State U.?  Will the different mismatched groups that make up L.A. ever work in concert just like Portland’s?  I hope so, for the sake of our future.


Filed under Healthy Communities

A ray of light on the news: Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow is breaking ground every day as the first openly lesbian “non-babe” to have her own cable news show on prime time.  She is such a huge success that she’s even beating Larry King Live on the ratings almost every night.  Literally, she is living proof that “common sense” about what is supposed to get ratings is NOT necessarily actual common sense.  Here’s a recent appearance that she had on The View daytime TV show:

Catch her show on MSNBC weeknights:

Here’s more background on her:

“Gay for Rachel Maddow”: What a Hot, Smart, Lesbian Pundit Means for an Uneasy America


By Jonanna Widner, Bitch Magazine. Posted March 11, 2009.

Cable news isn’t the most female-friendly or queer-friendly place. As a whole, it is Middle America; Maddow is more Middlesex.

When the Rachel Maddow Show debuted on MSNBC back in September 2008, not many people knew her now-famous story. They were not aware that this impish, handsome figure with a sideways grin, a scholar’s brain, and a lawyer’s logic was a Rhodes scholar, former activist, and open lesbian. It was fun, that first week, watching as she nimbly dismantled right-wing arguments without raising her voice. Maddow’s affable goofy-geek persona, her ability to skewer other pundits’ arguments without coming off like an asshole, and her genius flair for translating policy arguments into interesting, digestible bites charmed the pants off a lefty populace that had been lusting for a cable-news rock star all its own since … well, since the invention of cable news. It was a good debut.

Then, all of a sudden, that shit blew up. Maddow started whipping Larry King’s anorexic tail in the ratings. She more than doubled MSNBC’s viewership for her time slot, from 800,000 to about 1.7 million. She almost single-handedly made MSNBC — for years the loser third wheel of the cable-news party — a player. And, best of all, she started handing Pat Buchanan his ass almost every night. Suddenly, the nation couldn’t get enough of this 6-foot-tall dyke who put douchey white men in their place on a regular basis.

To read the rest of this story on Rachel Maddow, go to:

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Filed under Political, Progressive Media Personalities