Monday, March 12, 2007

Teresa Heinz Kerry: "We're all in this together"

Upcoming conference, newsletter, book tour to promote environmental activism
Long-time environmental activist Teresa Heinz Kerry believes passionately that the only way to solve our environmental problems is to get everyone involved, from stay-at-home moms to research scientists to business leaders. Central to her vision is breaking down divisions and bringing people together: helping cutting-edge researchers to share their expertise with the public; forging collaborations between unlikely allies.

Her deeply-held belief that “all relevant parties must be involved" in resolving environmental problems forms the guiding philosophy of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, which she founded in 1995 for the express purpose of bringing together business, government, scientists and environmental activists to collaborate on environmental policy issues. Other projects in the same spirit have included helping to launch the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and the Green Building Alliance, in which environmental activists work together with allies in the business community.

The other side of the coin is education: Heinz Kerry is equally passionate about giving the public the information and tools they need to get involved. She’s pioneered an array of public service campaigns, conferences, and publications, and helped to found a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the development of “an environmentally literate citizenry.” “With our right to know comes our responsibility to understand,” she writes, touching on the unifying theme of her environmental work: that we are all in this together, and have not only the right but the responsibility to come together and aid the search for solutions.

Heinz Kerry has several exciting new projects to further her vision of increasing environmental literacy and collaboration: a conference on Women's Health and the Environment, a new monthly newsletter Women's Health and Environment News, and a national tour in support of the book which Heinz Kerry co-authored with her husband John Kerry, This Moment On Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future.

11th Annual Conference on Women's Health and the Environment

Since 1996, Teresa Heinz Kerry has sponsored an annual conference in Boston designed "to arm women with information about the relationship between the environment and their health." Conference speakers have included prominent figures in the fields of public policy, science, medicine and environmental activism. In Heinz Kerry's words, the conferences "have been able to offer participants the freshest research available, along with the best thinking of experts in health, public policy and advocacy." This year's conference, Women's Health and the Environment: New Science, New Solutions, will feature presentations on topics ranging from Contaminated Without Consent: How Pollutants in Air, Food and Water Violate Human Rights to Paradigm Change in Environmental Health Science. The conference website states, "This day-long conference will empower and inform you to take actions that can improve your life and the lives of the women - and men - you love." The conference will be held on April 20, 2007, in Pittsburgh. Registration for the conference is free; a post-conference reception featuring a performance by the Indigo Girls costs $50. Conference presentations will be archived for viewing on the web after the conference. See the conference website for details.

Online Newsletter: Women's Health and Environment News

Teresa Heinz Kerry's new online newsletter debuts with its February 2007 issue, a four-page article authored by Heinz Kerry on the dangers posed by "Our 'Body Burden' of Chemicals." The article highlights several disturbing reports which suggest that startlingly high concentrations of chemicals are commonplace not only in the bodies of adults, but also in very young children. Of our response to these unsettling facts, Heinz Kerry asks, "Are we listening and understanding? And then acting on those understandings?" Noting that "We're all in this chemical mix -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- together," she calls on all of us to take practical actions at the same time that we insist that government and manufacturers do their part. Most of all, she stresses that a piecemeal or litigation-based approach to the management of toxic chemicals has already proven utterly inadequate, and calls for a fundamental shift to a paradigm in which ecologically responsible behavior benefits a company's bottom line at the same time that it benefits society. "Our next era of sound environmentalism must be based, like other good public policy efforts, on increased collaboration among a growing cadre of informed and enlightened interests," she writes. In the spirit of fostering dialogue, she provides a personal e-mail address for readers to send her their thoughts.

Nationwide Book Tour for This Moment on Earth

The power of individual initiative and collaborative, solutions-based environmental action is celebrated in the forthcoming book by John and Teresa Heinz Kerry, This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. It promises to be a different kind of environmental book: not a doom-and-gloom report nor merely a prescription for new policies, but a series of encounters with real people from all walks of life who are taking action and making a difference -- many of whom, according to this excerpt from the preface, "do not consider themselves part of a 'movement,' or, for that matter, even want to be called 'environmentalists.' They're more down to earth than that: pragmatic people who have set out to solve a problem, often in the face of great opposition from vested interests, and largely unsupported by government." Their journeys into activism are an example and a call to action for all of us, and a reminder that "one of the privileges of living in a democracy is that if enough people want to change the way things are done, change is bound to happen."

John and Teresa Heinz Kerry are embarking on a book tour to discuss the book, the issues that drew them to write it, and the insights they've gained through their encounters with citizens across the country who, as they put it, "expand our sense of what can be accomplished, providing tangible hope that real achievements are within our reach." You can check the tour schedule and order tickets to an event through this website. You will also find information there about their upcoming television appearances; they are currently scheduled to appear on Imus in the Morning on March 23rd, NBC's Today Show on March 26th, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on March 26th.

UPDATE: A blogger who attended the first event on the book tour last night (3/12) has posted an interesting and informative recap at the official Kerry Blog.


Blogger Kerryvisionary said...

Thank you for this wonderful and informative post! It's great to hear about everything Mrs. Heinz Kerry is doing to educate and inspire. I can't wait to read the new book!

Beautiful graphics -- and I love that they are also links to the relevant sites!

10:22 PM  
Blogger Karen van Hoek said...

Thanks for the lovely comment! And thank you so much for beta-reading the rough drafts of this post. Your feedback on both text and layout *really* helped.

10:30 PM  

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