This morning I received this email from Annie Leonard. It was addressed to me personally even though I have never personally met Annie Leonard. It talks about us as people, individuals with the power and the choice to become active citizens.
As the producer of “The Story of Stuff”, a must see video, since the inception of her project in 2007, she has consistently brought awareness of environmental issues and concerns in ways that are clear and easy to understand. Please read the attached email letter and then my response at the end.
I’m a person.
Chances are if you’re reading this you’re a person too.
Exxon? Not a person.
But one year ago today, five members of the U.S. Supreme Court got this simple truth all wrong.
In the case Citizens United v. FEC they ruled that the limited existing restrictions on corporate spending on U.S. elections were unconstitutional because corporations are entitled to the same first amendment speech protections that individual citizens–people–enjoy in our democracy.
And boy did corporations put this ruling to good use:
According to a new report by our friends at Public Citizen, spending by outside groups during the 2010 midterm elections in the United States jumped to $294.2 million, up from just $68.9 million in the 2006 cycle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone spent $31.2 million to influence election outcomes.
That means that unless we act, our concerns–from good jobs to clean air to safe products–will take even more of a backseat to the concerns of Walmart, Exxon, and Dow than they do now.
Which is why on March 1st we’re launching Season Two of our on-line movie series with The Story of Citizens United v. FEC: Why Democracy Only Works When People are in Charge.
I made The Story of Stuff back in 2007 because I wanted people to understand that there’s a system behind the way we make, use and throw away Stuff. Many of us spend so much time feeling guilty about the consumer choices we make in life that we sometimes forget an important truth: the choices that got us into our current environmental and economic mess had very little to do with which light bulb or shampoo we buy.
It wasn’t you or I who decided to gut public transportation funding in favor of the interstate highway system, or to turn a blind eye to oil rig safety, or to put carcinogens in our products. At least, I didn’t!
I founded The Story of Stuff Project because I knew we’d never be able to take on and change this system unless people got engaged–not only as conscious consumers, but also as active citizens. Unfortunately, there’s a big obstacle in our way: corporations have way too much influence in our democracy.
Our team believes that getting corporations out of our democracy (and getting people back in) is critical to making progress on a huge range of issues that we Americans, and many others around the world, care about.
So on March 1st, we’re jumping in.
Here’s what you can do to help:
Join an event today or this weekend marking the anniversary of the Citizens United decision. You can find a listing of events around the country on Public Citizen’s website. If you can’t make an event, definitely sign their petition . Let’s help push them past 100,000 signatures!
Sign-up to host a viewing party on March 1st, the day we release the movie. We’ll send you a DVD and a house party kit to guide discussion and action in your community. Our goal is to have 150 viewing parties the night of the launch.
Help spread the word! Watch for the teaser in about a month and share it with your neighbors, friends and family. We’ll also be launching an ‘I Am A Person’ photo project in two weeks, so stay tuned for that.
Thanks for your participation in this community and for all you do to make the world a better place.
Annie, Michael, Allison, Christina and Renee
The Story of Stuff Project
P.S. You can visit Public Citizen’s website to learn more about the Citizens United v. FEC case and corporate money in American elections.”
Dear Annie Leonard,
Whew, as far as I know when I woke up this morning I am still a person, so yes! you did reach a person.
As always, your words and ideas are concise, logical and to the point. Emphasizing that while we may individually do the right thing everyday by our planet and community, there is massive waste, corruption and power influences that are determining the fate of our planet, our civilization that too often pursue life threatening priorities.
I, for one, each and every day actively engage in making choices that will support the earth and its inhabitants. I know many others who do the same. We are not champions or heroes but rather simply walking down a common sense path of survival.
Constant degradation of our natural resources, exhaustion of our humanity seems beyond greedy to downright stupid. Survival of the species is a very powerful “instinct” that illustrates so well how far detached we have become from the essentials of our existence that companies such as Exxon could exert so much influence over the quality of our lives.
So, I will be watching your teaser (and obviously sharing with a few thousand of my closest personal friends), signing the petition, joining a local event and yes, hosting a viewing party.
Thanks for asking me to remember, “I am A Person”, sometimes we almost forget.
Valerie, Mordechai, Isaac and Aryeh
Fort Lauderdale Green Culture Examiner
National Green Living Examiner