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6 September, 2001


Sundance, UT. A long summer now over for most of you. Some of you may have hoped it would never end. Others perhaps anticipating the return to school and friends or the start of college. I am not home yet, prolonging my summer under the guise of a few days of interrupted work in an incredibly beautiful environment of majestic mountains, natural springs and aspens shimmering as their colors change.

What I love about every summer are the opportunities for exploration. New friends met at camp, in the neighborhood or community activities, on trips or even if summer means, as it does for many, summer school or regular session in crowded districts. A time to reflect. We are outside in the summer more than any other season and it becomes a terrific moment to ponder what we breathe, what we see and what opportunities there are for us out there - everywhere.

It is also a time when the summer light washes and alters ordinary perceptions and tempts us to use our senses to see the beauty always around us, whether in a forest or on our own streets. A time to explore what is there including the art and expression of others.

An example: The Seeds of Peace International Camp where youth from war-torn countries come together for better understanding. &

Something to think about: All that we do in the summer, from sitting on the beach or in a park to traveling in cities or hiking up mountains is subject to the decisions made by others, whether it be:
a. legislation concerning highway repair, how many cars can travel through a national forest, to how much the airlines can charge for a trip abroad
b. land use funding and regulations allowing your favorite camp or local park to continue to provide you with a great summer experience
c. available funding for families and children who live in inner cities to be able to escape to the country or mountains
d. funding for activities that protect existing wildlife or work to restore nature's balance
e. pollution, clean air and water concerns that permit us to enjoy our air and environment and ensure that we are well enough to use them and that they are well enough to permit their use.

To the extent you want these activities, you must actively care for them. When others attempt to interfere with nature in a manner that harms the environment, then as a world we all lose. When others think that they are protecting us from determining on our own what we read, what we see and what we experience, we cannot progress. This newsletter is about how we can all be aware of our incredible resources, including those within us, and how we must protect them.

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, an issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now! My website and this newsletter provide updates on current issues along with resources for change.


A. Some Current News & Concerns.
B. Youth Activism
C. Make Yourself Heard! Opportunities for Involvement
D. What I Am Reading

A. SOME CURRENT NEWS & CONCERNS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. WILDLIFE & ENVIRONMENT
a. Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be part of a unique event: the third reintroduction of the endangered swift fox to its historic environment on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana.

Through a collaborative effort by the Blackfeet Fish & Wildlife Department , Defenders of Wildlife and the Cochrane Ecological Institute who conducted an excellent captive breeding program, 21 of these cute, sociable and curious little creatures (5 pounds) were released on what at first seemed like an arid and desolate plain. The swift fox released in this multi-year project will be studied and monitored for research into their survival and ability to reestablish themselves in this area of the northwest where they have been extinct for decades as a result of numerous factors, including incidental poisoning by bait set out for wolves and coyotes, trapping, habitat loss to agriculture, and loss of food sources like prairie dogs and ground squirrels as part of federal eradication campaigns.

While concentrating on the swift fox, we soon realized how populous and alive is this land with its glorious plant and animal life from of hardy sage, prickly pear to prairie dogs and hawks. Curly Bear Wagner, cultural historian for the Blackfeet Nation, says that everything, even the rocks, are full of life and knowledge. It was not hard to believe as we sat in the stillness of the plain that day.

See: Defenders of Wildlife (with a great email newsletter!) & on swift foxes: The Chocrane Ecological Institute Information on the Blackfeet Nation

There are wild animals whose existence is endangered and there are those, like the swift fox, who are being returned to their land. But it takes work to protect or return. Governments - local and global - often forget that their actions with respect to land management, tourism, drilling or other industry directly affect animal and plant life whose existence upon the land is a part of nature's ecological balance. It behooves us to continue to be aware and remind our representatives that they must look and weigh all factors ever so closely anytime development affects our lives.

b. Several weeks prior to my trip to Montana, I visited the American Wild Horse Sanctuary at the Return to Freedom Ranch in Lompoc, CA. The wild horses, descendants of the mustano brought here by the Spanish and the Calvary horses of the American West are being eradicated by the government from public and private lands where their continued existence does little harm to the environment. These strong and intelligent horses are essential to our breeding stock as well as representative of our historic western pioneer spirit.

The American Wild Horse Sanctuary is actively seeking support to help with the horses they have saved and to raise the awareness of this issue throughout the country. for more information and... some terrific photos!

c. And since I am writing this from Utah, I'll mention their "Save Our Canyons" campaign,, a highly thoughtful and educational campaign to protect the fragile wildlife and ecosystem - one that accounts for Salt Lake City's and the Wasatch Front watershed. This land is the "most intensely used public forest lands in America's National Forest System" with its incredible recreation opportunities. But it is also vulnerable to the increased recreation, population and other demands from its local population and others. This coming year the 2002 Winter Olympics are broadcast from its mountains.

Visit the website (including ) not only for its multi-dimensional approach to monitoring and suggesting pragmatic solutions for management but as an example of a highly organized and effective campaign that can be copied by many of you for your own local concerns.

To understand the National Forest Management Act & Forest Service Plan Revision considerations (at least every 15 years):

d. Just in from the Center for Environmental Citizenship: "Okay, this alert's got a really short shelf life! President Bush is considering rolling back the Roadless Area Conservation rule that could save thousands of acres of land. The only thing that may stop this reversal is a concerted outcry from concerned citizens. The comment period ends September 10. That's right, next Monday!"

Let the Forest Service know that you support the roadless area protection rule by sending letters from FOR MORE INFO:;;

a. Internet Filtering yet again. Check out Annalee Newitz' August 30, 2001 article on the capriciousness of the filtering programs, "The Kids Are Alright/Regulating Minors' Access to the Internet Can Backfire" where she starts, "When Chris Manley, a high school senior in South Carolina, started thinking about applying for college, his teachers recommended he use the school library computer to research universities like Duke and Stanford. But he couldn't reach their Web sites. This was hardly a case of computer illiteracy. 'At my school they have filtering software,' Manley says simply, 'and I can't get to these sites, because they've been blocked.' "

The article reports on the positive aspects of youth online, including community-building and healthy communication, citing life-saving factors such as PlanetOut Partners' report that gay youth are being deterred from suicide by the ability to relate their struggles to others through their email connections with the website and mentions kid-friendly portals such as Berit's Best Site for Children, librarian Berit Erickson's annotated list of sites by and for kids. Many of these are blocked by filtering programs.

b. July brought us news of an artist commissioned by American Airlines to design a floor artwork for their newly renovated terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The design, including likenesses of muscular men, unclothed but with their genitals fully obscured by subtle shading, posed as if in flight sandblasted into oval granite slabs, was based upon extensive research into the history of flying and mankind's wish to soar toward the heavens. It was approved not only by the airline but the LA Cultural Affairs Commission, both known for their awareness of the interests and sensitivities of the public.

However airport officials immediately objected and ordered brown paper to cover the artwork, alleging that although they were not offended, travelers "may" be.

Within a short period of time, the paper was removed and the issue resolved for what is was but the question remains whether we are regressing into a society where the slightest fear that "someone" might be offended prevents us from expressing even the most innocent and noble of images or language. The more others try to determine what is good for us, the less creativity will be allowed to flourish in an environment where corporations and public agencies may back away from any project that portends controversy even when there should be none.

c. Banned Books Week. September 22, 2001 - Read a Banned Book! Sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Association of American Publishers, Banned Books Week brings challenged books to the public's attention as "it celebrates the freedom to read what we want and the freedom to express our opinions, even if those opinions are considered unorthodox or unpopular. Banned Books Week reminds us of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and how important it is to protect them. "

From Pat Scales, author of Teaching Banned Books: 12 Guides for Young Readers: "Parents have the right and responsibility to restrict what their children read, but no one should be able to make those decisions for someone else's children. The freedom to read is one of the best and most important ways kids learn about the world around them."

Why do we read a banned book? To understand that each of us has a different perception with respect to issues within the work and that if the issues are difficult to countenance, that itself is an important lesson for the student and for parents and teachers. The lesson is called "critical-thinking", a debate within about what this issue means to the reader or to society. It is about questions as to decency, tolerance, or self-worth. See "Parents, Kids and Banned Books"

d. From the Student Press Law Center: Requests for help from public high school journalists needing free help on a censorship matter rose more than 41 percent in 2000.

3. POLITICS. "Voter Turnout Rose in 2000, But No Lasting Impact Is Seen", 8/31/01 The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate (Curtis B. Gans) released its study of the 2000 election last which showed voter turnout inching slightly up (51.2% of the eligible electorate), but voter registration down, especially among young voters. Let's do something about this!!!!!!!

4. IMMIGRATION. The current meetings between US President Bush and Mexican President Fox are significant. USA Today (9/6/01) is running several articles on this issue at


1. For profiles of 12 high school seniors who are activists in defending civil liberties, check out , ACLU's 2001 Youth Activism Scholarship Awards. Perhaps one of you might submit yourself for next year??????

2. In the last newsletter, I mentioned Danny Silverman's article in Salon, about his internet filtering busting at his high school. There is a radio interview with Danny at and an article on his efforts at

3. 15 year-old takes his case to ACLU to protest school expulsion for his home-created skateboard website.


1. Adbusters wants politically oriented fiction, humor, graphics, poems, photographs & activist strategies. See and their submission guidelines.

2. Having spoken about censorship involving the Internet above, one must still admit that there is an issue of web safety. Filtering is not the answer but here is one that is and one in which you can be involved: an organization of 13-17 year-old specially trained volunteers who act as messengers to other youth about web safety. Teen Angels:

3. Read Ben Cohen's (of Ben & Jerry's) article where he states that "children's advocates would rather use the $33 billion earmarked for the Pentagon to begin modernizing our crumbling public schools and to buy health insurance for millions of U.S. kids and Head Start for the one-third of eligible children who can't get in because it's under-funded. " But how do we turn around our priorities? Ben asks us for "killer" ideas. Read the article, and email him.

4. YouthNOISE, Save the Children's new "web-centered initiative to inspire and empower teens to improve the lives of their generation locally, nationally, and globally" is officially launched, headed by Julia Cohen, former Executive Director of Youth Vote Coalition. Lots of opportunities for involvement!

5. Check out the award application at The George Adams, Jr. awards are a project of Local Initiative Support Training and Education Network (LISTEN). The awards "recognize the work of grassroots youth and young adult leaders and organizations that are focused on restoring hope and transforming some of the poorest, most marginalized communities in the nation. These leaders work on a variety of issues including youth employment, education reform, juvenile justice reform, electoral reform, environmental justice, low-income housing/gentrification, and youth development."


1. What I plan to read: Marvin Kalb's "One Scandalous Story: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Thirteen Days" (out this fall), a "detailed account of how journalism debased itself with a feeding frenzy in 1998, when l'affaire Lewinsky first broke. Kalb's report on reporting is an engrossing and disturbing story of what happens when integrity gives way to expediency." (Publishers Weekly)

2. PowerUP's e-newsletter. "PowerUP is comprised of dozens of non-profit organizations, major corporations and state and federal government agencies that have joined together to ensure that America's underserved youth acquires the skills, experiences and resources they need to succeed in the digital age. In our first year of operation, PowerUP has installed computer labs in schools, public housing complexes, youth serving facilities, and community centers throughout the United States and Puerto Rico."


a. I try to check in on a lot of publications - not as regularly as I would like. "The Weekly Standard" is conservative and thoughtful, with respected contributors and considered views that do not always stay with one political stance.
b. Barbara Ehrenreich's NICKEL AND DIMED (Metropolitan Books), an account of the two years the author spent working around the country as a waitress, Wal-Mart clerk, and maid to see if others (and she) could live in this country with the jobs always available but that no one really wants or will pay for. Read's book review
c. Email news summaries from Grist Magazine The Daily Grist (or you can sign up for the Weekly Grist), "offers environmental news summaries from around the globe, served up with a touch of humor."
d. The League of Conservation Voters serves as a watchdog on our administration and Congress on environmental issues, keeping them "accountable" to the public for their actions. Their most recent online report "Bush and the Environment: A Citizen's Guide to the First 100 Days" is designed to give the public an objective tool by which to measure the Bush administration's environmental commitment and approach. Whether you agree or not, use this well-researched report as your basic guide.
e. E-News, The National Environmental Wire for Students, full of great student activism and other stories, including great environmental data at

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and its companion website, TPP was written as a guide and a tool for activism. If ever that tool was needed, it is now.

Again, please let me know of a concern or activity you would like me to tell others about. And send this on to others and suggest that they e-mail me if they would like to be added to this list (or if they wish to be removed).

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list.

Sara Jane Boyers
Press/Twenty-First Century Book ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5, paper $9.95/ISBN
0-7613-1307-9 hardcover, $25.90
© 2001 Sara Jane Boyers