The Lieutenant’s Log is a biweekly, journal-style update on the travels, tribulations, and successes of the Lieutenant Planet initiative. Real-time access, along with a continuous Video docu-series, is currently available only through subscription. As little as $1/month gets you access and helps support this exciting environmental initiative! Click here to get in on the awesomeness!
Lieutenants Log 5-5-19
Salutations! I have finally begun to really settle in Portland. It took a little longer than I had hoped for, but here we are and all is well.
Portland is a beautiful town, with many environmental initiatives in place. Some I have seen before, like the scooter-sharing initiative that I first saw in Atlanta. Other things I have found so far, just on the surface level, are very promising. For one, residential units have 3 different waste options: trash, recycling, and compost. Trash pickups is once every two weeks, while recycling and compost pickup is every week.
Businesses have the same options as well. Seeing this kind of system in place is uplifting. I am working at an Hopworks Urban Brewery, and they have gotten it down to an art-form. The different bins within the restaurant are placed to make separation easy, and it’s a barely noticeable process.
A few years ago, I wrote my undergrad thesis on glass recycling options (or the lack thereof) for service industry businesses in my hometown of downtown Saint Petersburg. I found that, save for a few places on the ritzier strip, nobody recycled glass. Further, there were no viable options available for businesses that would be interested in being more responsible with their waste. And while I focused on glass and the bar scene, the same went for plastics and paper. Compost options weren’t even on the table.
The same held true in New Orleans, though glass was used less, single-use plastic cups abounded. There were no options for recycling in sight, and overflowing trash cans everywhere.
Both places would benefit from comprehensive recycling systems and the closed-loop economies that go along with them. But Louisiana has a lot of corporate plastics production, creating a legislative hurdle that people are tired of jumping at this point.
Both states have phosphate mining operations, which are environmentally devastating. Florida is a top producer of phosphates for the entire world. A multi-billion dollar venture, most of the phosphates are used as fertilizer to increase crop yields. As industrial farming practices degrade the soil, more fertilizer is needed. But what if more states had public initiatives for composting? Could we use our massive food waste to fertilize our soils instead of the phosphate mining that leaves the land and water systems toxic and radioactive? It seems like it would be a huge boon for the health of the wetlands in both states.
Portland also has all kinds of public transportation, and is extremely bike/pedestrian friendly. A lot of people grow fruit trees in their front yards, which are currently in bloom down every street, making it even more pedestrian friendly. The city even has a program that will give you a rebate if you plant a tree on your property.
This is all surface-level stuff. I am looking forward to diving into the meat and potatoes of environmental policy here over the year and becoming versed in how to bring about real policy changes in other places. I have reached out to several environmental groups, and am in the search for a good cleanup opportunity.
Thank you to my followers and supporters for being patient as I settled down here- after living in the van for 3 months, it was quite a transition! But Lieutenant Planet has now hit the ground running!
Solidarity to all fighters for environmental justice.
Lieutenant’s Log 4/6/2019
What a whirlwind it has been! The last month has seen Lieutenant Planet go from Atlanta, GA to Sonora, Mexico to Portland, Oregon.
I left Louisiana in the second week of March. I headed to Atlanta, stopping for some trails at Noccalula Falls in Alabama on the way. In Atlanta, I attended a 3-day training conference to become a Climate Reality Leader, gaining a global network of environmental activists to draw from, as well as multiple sources of raw data. The Lieutenant Planet concept has been shared with many prominent people in the industry, and has grown accordingly since.
During one of the days at the conference, I found an unofficial meeting of artists interested in creating a movement related to the environment and climate change. Together, a group was created, one that is currently hatching some big ideas and will be working closely with the Climate Reality Project in the future. Our goal is to facilitate the rise of an artistic era dedicated to saving humanity from the literal and figurative rising tides that threaten us. The United Climate Artists are just starting, but it is a group to watch in the near future.
Leaving Atlanta refreshed, the Lieutenant Planet initiative made its way westward. A pre-planned stop at the border town of Nogales, Arizona turned into a rewarding and eye-opening trip into Mexico that you can read about here. After that experience, it was time to head North, and within a week, I found myself in Portland, ready to begin the next phase of the Lieutenant Planet project.
Moving forward, Lieutenant Planet will be shifting gears. As the project has evolved, so have it’s goals. Originally, I wanted to expand into the increasingly coming-of-age tech of virtual reality and it’s relationship with journalism. I believe it can and will be an incredibly useful journalistic tool, with many artistic capabilities. I still want to do that, but I have broadened the scope of the initiative as a whole to counter the fact that as this project has grown, it has unearthed so many environmental atrocities that simply covering them after-the-fact is no longer enough.
Phase II of the Lieutenant Planet project will take place in Portland, an incredibly environmentally progressive city. I will be studying the language of local environmental policy, the cost/benefit margins of various initiatives, and how the “environment conversation” plays out here. I plan to go on a deep journey into both local and state politics and political centers to see how environmental policy is brought about and how the community is involved.
Outside the political spectrum, I have also gotten a job at one of the most environmentally conscious Eco-breweries in the United States, and will use my time there to develop a sense of what businesses can do, and how the benefits can outweigh the seemingly high costs of being a responsible steward of the environment. A certified B-Corporation, Hopworks Urban Brewery is also Salmon-Safe certified, organic, and has multiple initiatives in place to reduce water usage, waste, and energy consumption, whilst promoting closed-loop recycling practices.
Over the next year, I will be exploring the various avenues of political and business-related environmental stewardship, while continuing to travel the Pacific Northwest and the wilds it has to offer. I am also looking into making Lieutenant Planet an officially-recognized NGO, as well as helping the United Climate Artist group to expand. Along the way, I will work to purchase new hardware for a virtual reality expansion of the Lieutenant Planet project, but the ultimate goal of Phase II is to learn everything I need to learn in order to bolster my impact in Phase III.
Phase III involves traveling back East, but not back home. I will be traveling to Washington DC, to lobby for the environment as a NGO, backed by a community of Planeteers that I will be working to continuously expand. I will stay in DC for the entirety of the 2020 election cycle, reporting about federal environmental policy changes and where candidates sit on specific environmental policies/reforms, as well as being active as a demonstrator and lobbyist on the national stage of the capital.
In 2020, Lieutenant Planet will no longer just report to you. Phase II is about growing into a grassroots movement that will FIGHT for you, during what will be an intense and historic battle for the future of mankind and the planet. I have come to admire and respect so many environmental justice advocates on this journey already. I can’t wait to stand beside them, united in a defiance of avarice. I can’t wait to stand with the weight of an enlightened community behind me, pushing against the walls of bureaucratic tradition. Together, I believe we can forge a new and more harmonious path for humanity and the natural world.
I look forward to it all.
Lieutenant’s Log: 3-7-2019
I know I am a little late with this installment of the Lieutenant’s Log. I have been working overtime at a temporary job while I’m in New Orleans. But I will only be here for one more week- after that, I’m off to Atlanta for the Climate Reality Leadership Conference. Only 2,000 people from around the world were accepted to attend, and I am one of them! I’m nervous and excited to meet some of the speakers and mentors, but I can’t wait to become a Climate Reality Leader, and have access to all the environmental data and networking opportunities that go along with that title to use to help grow the Lieutenant Planet initiative.
The past few weeks I have largely just put my head down and made whatever money I could in preparation for Atlanta and the westward journey that immediately follows the Conference. I hope to be in Portland Oregon sometime in April! Along the way, I will be doing some guerilla tree-planting for my Tree-Hugger level supporters on Patreon. I will be preparing the seeds next week. This will be the only stretch of planting until the fall, so if you want a tree planted in your name, along with it’s exact coordinates, become a Tree-Hugger HERE! Your small monthly donation will help support an independent environmental activist, and even comes with other perks!
Yesterday, I went to the Barataria Natural Preserve. The preserve has a couple miles of boardwalk just over the bayou. I got up close and personal with some gators. All the pictures and video are available on Patreon, but here is the unfortunate Picture of the Day:
Usually on my excursions into parks and wildlands, I pick up any trash I find. Especially plastic. The Lieutenant’s Oath requires it! This park was pretty well-maintained, but this photo captures a reality all too common for wildlife around the world. I know that being one activist on this large planet can seem like it doesn’t make much of a difference, but the way I view it is different. I don’t have to be a hero all by myself, I just have to be a catalyst. Together, as a community, we can all be a hero!
My supporters make it all possible. For anyone that may not yet be a supporter, you can start with just a $1 per month recurring donation and get access to all the videos from the Lieutenant Planet initiative as it traverses the country. Like I said, my next journey will end up in Portland, Oregon. My plan is stay in the Northwest US for about a year- exploring the wilderness, writing about environmental problems and solutions, and building the Lieutenant Planet community into a self-sustaining, ongoing project supporting the creation and distribution of environmental news and eco-friendly ideas around the country and the world.
Next year, Lieutenant Planet will cross the country again, ending up in Washington DC before the 2020 elections to lobby for constructive environmental policy. With enough grassroots monthly supporters, I will be able to do this Full-Time, completely untethered from corporate funding.
I’m excited to see what the next year brings. I encourage anyone who has any questions, traveling advice, or specific concerns to contact Lieutenant Planet. And please support! United, we are strong!
Lieutenant’s Log- 2/8/2019
Five weeks in to the Lieutenant Planet initiative. After spending some time in Tallahassee, Florida, I am currently in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s less than a month until Mardi Gras, and the excitement is palpable.
I sent a proposal to Florida legislators about legislation opportunities to improve roadside cleanup while I was in Tallahassee. So far I’ve had zero response. I will continue to press the issue.
I picked New Orleans because I saw it as an opportunity for part-time seasonal work to supplement my income while Lieutenant Planet is in its infancy. I also have to remain in the Southeastern US until Mid-March, as I have been accepted to attend a 3-day conference in Atlanta, put together by the Climate Reality group and headed by Al Gore. The conference will give me access to a ton of climate and environmental research, and will also be an amazing networking opportunity for Lieutenant Planet. I will also be named as an official Climate Reality Leader through the organization, which comes with its own responsibilities.
It turns out that while many businesses are hiring for seasonal work, a great many more people are here to apply for that same work. So it has been a slow process and now I’m playing the waiting game. Which is fine, because now I get focus on writing, and there is a LOT to write about in Louisiana. Cancer Alley (the industrial area along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge plagued with a history of malfeasance) to offshore drilling, air and water pollution, and the production of oil and oil products like single-use plastics. I have a collection of article titles on my laptop waiting for expansion.
My first article since coming here, concerning the potential of an environmental disaster at a local Mosaic fertilizer plant, which you can read here, has made some rounds locally. Specifically, a reporter at The Lens responded to the initial report I spread through twitter, and has subsequently written and posted his own article on the subject. This is a win for Lieutenant Planet, as it promotes the mission of spreading awareness!
Currently, I am semi-permanently parked in a Walmart parking lot near downtown, next to the train-tracks and a dockyard. Parking is otherwise extremely limited and/or excessively expensive for this kind of endeavor. I did get a bus-pass for the time that I am here, though, which has afforded me the opportunity to look for jobs, and also explore the city without paying for parking. Bourbon Street and the French Quarter are more incredible than I imagined. The whole city is very colorful and unique. It is also extremely dirty, filled with trash, and rife with homelessness and poverty that is unabashedly intermixed with 5-star hotels and restaurants and an endless flow of tourists. For many, the Big Easy is anything but.
But that is the contemporary human condition, I suppose.
There is a beauty in it all- A desperate, diverse, life-affirming beauty, built by the hustle and maintained by the bustle. New Orleans is definitely a testament to human resourcefulness, creativity, and ingenuity.
I can only hope those qualities rub off on me while I am here.
Lieutenant’s Log: 1/20/19
It’s been almost 3 weeks on the road now. The first week I had my brother with me. Since then, I have largely just been with my van and my thoughts. So I’ve decided to start a journal for all the beautiful Planeteers following along.
My sleep schedule has changed drastically. I now rise and set with the sun. That’s a big difference from the life I gave up as a bar manager, where I was regularly up until 4-5am. My days consist of research, writing, travel, and picking up trash where I find it. I’ve visited quite a few state parks, and had a major win in the Ocala National Forest. When I got confirmation that the forest would be cleaned up as contracted, and was able to spread the information that residents needed to keep the forest clean, I felt more accomplished than I can remember ever feeling! I felt like a hero. And now that I have a taste, I want more. It’s such a clean, wholesome feeling- it reverberates through the soul. I hope you can feel it, too, because you are why this is happening! And hopefully as time goes on, I might be able to inspire more people into an action they can be proud of as well- After all, that’s a hero’s true power, right?
I recently got a power converter for the van- and man, is that a game changer! For the first couple weeks, I had to go to coffee shops to work on my laptop where I could charge it. Now I can charge it straight from the van, and use my hotspot wifi. I won’t have wifi everywhere on my travels, but that’s expected, and will be fairly nourishing, I’m sure.
I’m not an environmental scientist. I got my degree in Political Science, and only used it in conversations with drunks and with anonymous trolls online. A lot of the science has been a learning curve, and sometimes the specifics go over my head- but I try to use that. If I can understand it without the technical jargon, than I explain it that way as well, which is arguably more important. I’m not starting a movement for everyone to become scientists after all, I want to start a movement to get people to understand the science behind the question of why we need to act quickly to save our planet.
I have always been interested in politics and policy, and that hasn’t changed. I would love to use my degree for good so I can justify what I spent on getting it! This journey is teaching me how to fight the power through experience instead of through book-learning, and it’s a wild ride that I’m excited to continue. My next stop will be Tallahassee, the capital of my home state. I hope to learn a good deal more there- things I can share! I also hope to make an impact, and that’s where you come in.
A signature on a petition only implies support. A paying supporter for an environmental movement and cause like this one is worth a hundred signatures- because the act of subscribing is itself a strong political action. And I think in this case it is a bipartisan and inherently essential action!
That is why I need subscribers. That is why I lowered the minimum subscription amount to just $1/month. Yes, I am currently working with startup funds and my own savings and living in my van. And yes, Planeteer subscriptions are vital to keeping me on the road and being able to devote my time to this initiative in the future. But I want this political action to be affordable- And politically, we are stronger with a thousand $1-$10 subscriptions than one to ten $1000 subscriptions. We are a constituency!
I can’t wait to see this dream come to fruition. I am working to grow my influence and continue putting out content and being the environmental change I want to see. I keep reminding myself it has only been 3 weeks, and what a 3 weeks! I’m excited to see a future where we are a thousand strong, or more! A future where we have political clout and environmental impact wherever we go. And I know we can get it done.
Planeteers, if you have friends that would be interested in supporting this initiative and being part of this group, send them here!