June 9, 2014

Sex and the City Saves Elephants

Actress Kristin Davis, co-star of the show Sex and the City, traveled to Kenya a few years ago for a safari. A ranger approached her vehicle and asked if they'd seen a baby elephant, so the whole truck stayed with the rangers for two days helping look for the baby. They finally found her among lava rocks, scared and angry, and had to cover her eyes and practically tackle her to get her safe. They gave her water, moistened her skin and transported her back to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where she'd be cared for.

The rangers who approached Kristin's truck did so not because they thought approaching a celebrity would help, but because they simply needed more eyes. In fact, they didn't know she was a celebrity. It took DSWT a few weeks to realize who she was. Kristin Davis adopted the baby elephant she helped find, who was named for the area they found her, for $50, getting her email updates as to the elephant's health.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust takes in orphaned elephants, most of whom are orphans because their mothers were slaughtered for their ivory tusks, and raises them to be released back into the wild. Some of the adult elephants actually come back to the reserve on occasion for a visit.

Oh, and Kristin Davis is also an advocate of women's rights. While her character in the TV series would get into the gritty details of her sex life, the actress laments that there are so few shows on TV that star women that each one still gets compared to Sex and the City, which ended 8 years ago. She does Broadway now, has adopted a baby girl, and has become the public face of the Wildlife Trust. She feels strongly about women's health issues and women's rights; she wants to raise her daughter to grow up in a world where there are not only elephants but complete freedom for women. Surely having played such a liberal, confident woman for so many years has helped shape her own beliefs and ideals (or did her beliefs and ideals shape the character?), but to have a show that starred and focused almost entirely on women be as popular as it was encouraged the teens and young women watching it to pursue their dreams.

Kristin Davis has done a lot to educate herself on the plight of elephants over the last few years and has compared buying ivory to buying blood diamonds, bringing something people widely regard as into the spotlight, using terms they recognize and understand. She's trying to bring attention to the severity of the problem (elephants could be gone in less than 10 years), describing the scenes she herself has witnessed (an elephant's head hacked off after it had been chained to a tree and left to die, with another not a half mile away).

"You want gritty details?" She asks, fully prepared to give journalists the shock they're looking for.

Oh yeah, and she's also passionate about women's issues and laments that there aren't enough shows about women. I don't think I could like a celebrity any more.

June 4, 2014


Not feeling particularly confident about the state of humanity lately. 

San Diego's fire season started in May. We were supposed to be unhappily stuck in May Gray, but there wasn't been a cloud in the sky for days. Santa Ana winds - pretty uncommon this early in the year - removes what remaining moisture we had in the air. San Diego battled 9 separate fires. Again, in May. We've had bigger fires before, and worse fire conditions for sure, but I don't know that there's ever been this many fires burning at once. And the scarier part is all of these fires are in highly populated areas. These aren't out in the boonies fires, burning acres of brush and threatening a handful of homes and structures on the edges of civilization - these are threatening thousands of homes and dozens of communities. Schools are closed. People aren't driving.

Oh, and we don't have any water to fight all these fires because we're in an unprecedented, historical drought. So that's awesome.

Meanwhile, Colorado and other states still had snow. IN MAY. Hurricane season is practically lasting all year, tornadoes are getting more destructive, and we're seeing record breaking weather every single season in all parts of the world. Coastal communities are already having to deal with rising waters, scooting their structures back. New Jersey already has regulations in place for new construction due to the rising waters and frequent storms.

But somehow, SOMEHOW, there's still doubt as to whether climate change is real, whether our activities are having an effect on the world's climate. It's not just that the ice caps in the arctic circle are melting thousands of miles away, affecting some sorry polar bear and human populations we don't really care about. This is what climate change looks like. We're living it right now, yet we're sticking our heads in the sand, going "weeeeeelllll I don't know."

We're still mining the earth for coal (awful) and stones (stupid), and then are shocked at safety violations when mines collapse and kill dozens or hundreds. We're still bringing new oil pipelines across our lands after SO MANY of them have burst and destroyed the environments they inhabit, not to mention the people that live there. We're watching elephants disappear before our very eyes so we can sell their teeth and use the money to fund terrorist groups that kidnap thousands of school kids, selling them to slavery, turning them into prostitutes, or forcing them to become soldiers. We're auctioning off the opportunity for some rich fuck to kill an endangered rhino to "save the species" (how?) for not even much money - $300,000, not even half a million - and we have no idea that money will ever see a conservation group. 

Women around the world, including right here in the United States, fear for their lives every single day. Around the world, women get raped all the time and authority figures do nothing. That happens sometimes here, too - and women learn to stay quiet about assault and abuse because it only makes it worse to say anything. And the rest of us wonder if today will be the day some spurned boy decides to bring a gun into public because he's lonely. Or whether we're wearing anything too revealing (because that's asking for it), or if we'll be safe in a group  or safe walking home.

We're also putting kids in jail for having some weed, or for shoplifting (usually something minor), and then acting amazed when those kids get out and turn into adults who end right back up in jail. And kid jail isn't a rehabilitation facility - it's intense adult prison where the same rapes and same solitary confinement happens. To kids. Kids who may have been abused by their parents and acted out, or kids raised in deplorable conditions, or maybe even just kids who were shit heads. But kids who said goodbye to life before their teenage years were over.

Instead or actively working on solving any of these very important issues, we're talking about how some high profile newsroom editor (a woman, because this discussion doesn't exist for male editors) is "not very approachable." We're oggling celebrities who decide to not put on makeup to go to Starbucks. We're getting offended when a football rookie celebrates success with a kiss. We're listening to high profile bigots bitch about black people to black people (but we're not doing anything about it). We're closing abortion clinics because abortion is icky (except when we need one). We're arguing about whether marriage should be allowed for certain people. 

Seems like there are way more important things to worry about than the things we pay attention to. But we don't seem to care.