Signs Of The Times

Sometimes I feel like I grew up on the ledge – a ledge that was propelled into action by the signs of the times. With the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the Women's Movement simmering to a boiling point. It was ALL personal. It was ALL political.


In many ways, I stopped jumping off ledges when I had kids. I’m still easily riled up, but politics moved to the back burner. The choices changed from demanding equal pay and peace on earth, to whether or not to use cloth diapers, and what school to send the kids to. Believe me, there were many worthy ledges to jump off of, but most were personal – kids, jobs, house. Politically, the most ledgework I could muster up was to rant to my family and vote with my conscience.

My 20-something year old children are also ledge-leaning. If I'm willing to drink a little beer and hum along with the guitar into the wee morning hours, I can engage them in a lively discussion about eco-energy issues like, dirty coal, fracking, mercury testing, and voting to keep the Clean Air Act from being rendered impotent.

Signs Of The Times

"Yes, yes, mom – We'll vote!" They will, but they are worried about another "eco" –  a sign of their times. Their minds are filled with the economics of finding and securing jobs. So many recent college graduates are buried under this weight.

Growing up in the '60’s and '70's, we jumped off ledges. The work got done. Attitudes changed. The results were fair and everlasting, or so we thought...


Most people were so outraged by prejudice and segregation that laws got changed. Currently, on the clean air front, more non-white children live with the highest concentrations of air pollution. 60% of Latino children are more likely to suffer from asthma and other environmental illnesses…and three times as likely to die of asthma? How fair is that?

Most people were so outraged about the inequality of women that laws got changed. I couldn't be more elated that women are in the political arena. We fought hard for political equality, but not all female politicians have their priorities straight. Just last week, Sarah Palin proudly announced to a group of veterans and TV cameras, “I love that smell of the emissions.” It is unfathomable to me that a mom of 5 could debunk the scientific knowledge that greenhouse gas emissions have increased by a record amount last year, leaving us with the highest carbon output in history. How fair is that?

Most people were so outraged about an unjust war that they ended it. Now our wars are based on energy politics. Some politicians, backed by energy corporations have much to lose and little to gain from leading us into a truly clean energy revolution. Instead of looking to, and legislating for squeaky clean renewable energy, some politicians are putting the Clean Air Act on the chopping block to protect their "assets." How fair is that?


Our kids are teeter-tottering on a dangerous ledge. Are you ready to do a little ledgework for your kids and help keep the air clean for our kids to breathe? Those of you with young children will have to jump off the ledge for them. Those of us with older children will need to give them a hefty nudge because their generation is rightfully distracted. Here’s what you can do to help save the Clean Air Act.

It will be a sign of “good” times when our kids thank us by texting, “Hey Mom - Peace, Love and Clean Air.”

Photo credit: Ted Fink  Drawing: Liza Donnelly