Kate Smallwood is the campaign coordinator for the BC Endangered Species Coalition in Vancouver, British Columbia. An Australian with a highly questionable sense of humor, and a desire to shock as many North Americans as possible, she can be reached at ksmallwood@wcel.org. Donations of Tanqueray gin are actively solicited.

Monday, 19 Jun 2000

SMITHERS, British Columbia

There’s nothing like a challenge and some abuse to get those Grist dudes groveling and pleading with you to provide them with five days of free copy. After their fourth case of Tanqueray gin was delivered, I succumbed.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Grist publisher Chip Giller in a light-hearted moment.

Anything that presents itself as “an irreverent magazine that’s trying to lighten up a movement that’s too serious” is open season in my book. And that Chip Giller bloke looks like a serious young insect. So, after reading about the Gristers in the Vancouver Sun, I sent them a provocative missive about our Extinction Sucks campaign and bingo — the gin deliveries began. At least they knew which gin …

Bored with the standard environmental fare of fuzzy critters, scenic vistas, and dire pronouncements on the future of the planet, I thought we should have some fun with our campaign for strong Canadian and B.C. endangered species legislation. And so should you.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Our invitation?

Extinction sucks. So make a beast of yourself.

You can stay at your computer. You can keep sipping your Starbucks latte. You can chew on that organic berry muffin and wish it were a Hostess Ding Dong. And for less than a minute of your time and a couple of clicks of your mouse, you can send a free online fax pushing for strong Canadian species legislation. Your fax will hit the office of Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Where it counts. When it counts. Which is right now. Just click here! Go on. Be beastly. You’ll be glad you did.

Which brings us to the fun part of this week’s diary — the “Beastly Gender Fax-Off” and the “Great Canadian Tacky Gift Opportunity.”

Let’s start with the Beastly Gender Fax-Off. (This should tell us if anyone actually reads Grist.) Based on our website statistics, we would have to say that women are more beastly than men. Yep, chicks just get it — they’re way more active with their mouse. So what is with you guys? Are you happy coming a very, very poor second? Here’s your opportunity to dominate this week and still be politically correct.

Fax away! And don’t forget to tell us your gender on the information form. We’ll keep you posted on who is the most beastly — women or men.

Now to the Great Canadian Tacky Gift Opportunity. We know that the best way to get “fax action” for species is to reach folks who are online. So whoever sends us the best list of sources for online promotion — online magazines, news services, listservs, etc — gets a truly Canadian tacky gift. Previous recipients of our infamous tacky gifts have them on proud display in their offices. And you’ll get instant fame when your name is mentioned as the winner in Grist Magazine. Email me at ksmallwood@wcel.org with your hit list.

A Canadian grizzly bear considers life insurance.
Photo: Ian McAllister.

So what’s the skinny on species protection in Canada? The country currently has no endangered species act. Canada has just released endangered species legislation, the Species at Risk Act — but it’s a stinker. For starters, it’s mainly limited to federal lands in Canada. That’s a whopping 5 percent of Canada if you exclude the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. For species lucky enough to find themselves at a post office, military base, Indian reserve, Coast Guard station, or national park, life rocks. For at-risk species in the other 95 percent of Canada, life insurance is a hot item.

Why should you Americans give a damn what those crazy Canucks do with their species? For starters, over 80 percent of Canadian species migrate or range into the U.S. Species like the grizzly bear, Orca whale, and Monarch butterfly. Species protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act face “open season” in Canada.

And then there’s that small matter of Canadians helping replace species that you folks have all but wiped out. Yep, Canadian wolves, lynxes, and grizzly bears have all been sent on a permanent breeding holiday down south. We’ve heard they like the exchange rate.

You could just sit there. And do nothing. Continue to read Grist on your employer’s tab. Or you could take a moment to be beastly. And reward yourself by eating that Ding Dong. It goes well with Starbucks.

Tuesday, 20 Jun 2000

SMITHERS, British Columbia

With clean undies and a lint-free navel, I am ready to do my Grist diary day two. (After all, they sent another free case of Tanqueray gin yesterday, so it’s the least I can do.)

(Click here to skip straight to today’s update on the Beastly Gender Fax-Off. Find out who’s more beastly, women or men.)

Today, we are going to talk about “point and click” activism. Not with a gun. With your mouse. Yep, Internet activism.

Why? Because it’s central to our Extinction Sucks campaign for strong Canadian and BC endangered species legislation. And it’s a tool with incredible potential for civil society.

The Man.

It all began in May of last year, when I contacted those amazing dudes at ONE/Northwest (Online Networking for the Environment). My request? Help us do some serious “Internet Shit Disturbing.” Naturally, they leapt at the chance to work on such a prestigious-sounding effort. Soon, the “ISD” project, as it became known, was off and running with Dean “the Man” Ericksen leading the way.

Internet activism is still in the early stages of development, but is rapidly becoming a powerful tool for social change. Sites like Vote.com in the U.S. are dramatically changing public involvement in policy development. For example, in just over four months, Vote.com generated more than 8 million emails to U.S. politicians and decision-makers on various issues.

(We interrupt this too-serious chatter for a Beastly Moment. Hit our fax action page and send your fax calling for strong Canadian endangered species legislation. Ah. That feels better. Nothing like a good dose of online activism to start your day. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.)

Looking for action.

Photo: Larry Aumiller.

Environmental campaigns in the U.S. have also harnessed Internet activism in their work. The Heritage Forest email postcard campaign led the way and generated more than 150,000 emails to VP Al Gore in support of forest conservation. Similar Internet efforts are running to preserve Alaskan rainforests (Alaska Rainforest Campaign) and to remove dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers (Columbia & Snake Rivers Campaign).

With our Extinction Sucks site, ONE/Northwest has created a model that delivers and tracks fax, email, and print correspondence. You could send an email to the decision-maker’s office, but a real-time fax is likely to get more attention. Other groovy features: a copy of the fax is also sent to the sender’s federal politician and hard copies of all correspondence are stored separately for collection and further distribution. We’ll soon be including an online option to fax or email letters to the editor to key print media. And there are other spiffy things that those super-clever ONE/Northwest dudes are still devising. They could be raking in the dough and having pleasant meetings with U.S. Justice Department folks over questionable trade practices, but instead they want to work with folk like us. Incredible.

You otter send a fax.

Photo: Jeff Foott.

A U.S. survey conducted last year confirmed that folks like me should be pestering folks like you way more to get involved with Internet activism. Yep, the potential for online activism and online fundraising is “vast and as yet largely untapped,” according to the survey conducted by the Mellman Group. It found that two-thirds of socially engaged Internet users remain unaware of the opportunities to take action online. (You can download a copy of the survey — Socially Engaged Internet Users: Prospects for Philanthropy and Activism — for yourself.)

Which brings us back to you being beastly. Because if you haven’t sent your fax yet, it’s about time you did. Don’t forget to tell us your gender, so we can work toward the definitive pronouncement on Friday on whether men or women are more beastly.

Nothing like some abuse and a challenge to get males to rise to the occasion. Yesterday, they dominated! Men sent 64 faxes versus 46 from the chicks. Whether the men can continue this level of dominance remains to be seen. Women, after all, have way better staying power.

The second interactive part of this week’s diary gives you the chance to win some loot. Tacky Canadian loot that you’ll be damn proud to have on display in your office or living room. All you have to do is hit Kate at ksmallwood@wcel.org with some good ideas for online promotion of our extinction sucks fax action. Because, after all, the more beasts the better.

Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000

SMITHERS, British Columbia

Another case of Tanqueray gin arrived from the Grist dudes yesterday. Guess they’re pretty pleased that we’ve proven folks actually read these ramblings.

A vulnerable Great Basin spadefoot toad.

Photo: Leah Ramsay.

This week at work, I have launched myself at online magazines and online news services. A complete neophyte staggering around in the world of Internet media. Pitching our campaign and related stories. Hoping to get some hot online coverage. The old tools of campaigning — grassroots organizing and public outreach — but through a completely different medium — the Internet.

Why the Internet? Because the best way to ensure traffic to our site and hot fax action is to reach folks who are already online. Other more traditional advertising methods certainly work, but the highest percentage of hits come from online folks like you.

I’ve learned a lot since we launched our pilot Internet activism campaign back in February. Our Extinction Sucks campaign is one of the first Canadian environmental campaigns to use the Internet in any measurable way, so I’ve had to learn from scratch. I’m still learning. There’s no one here to say, “do this now,” “use this outreach tool,” “try this approach.” A lot of our Internet work has been gut-instinct, by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of stuff.

The “Spirit Bear” — help save this neighbor to the north.

Photo: Wayne McCrory.

You could help us develop our Internet strategy by taking part in the Great Canadian Tacky Gift Opportunity. Win an infamous Canadian tacky gift (like the boootiful three-dimensional grizzly bear carved from a fine hunk of Canadian lumber that we gave to Dean “the Man” Ericksen from ONE/Northwest as thanks for building our Internet activism system). And get instant fame when your name (and even your photo, if you send a mug shot along) are published in Grist Magazine this Friday. All you have to do to enter is email me at ksmallwood@wcel.org with your hit list of the best sources for online promotion of our campaign. We’d even count a pitch from you to your local area network at work. Especially if you work at Boeing or Microsoft.

Interestingly, the U.S. has been a much better source of online promotion than Canada. Electronic networking is generally way more advanced down south, with more options for online news and magazines. That’s probably because computers don’t work as well in igloos. And moose have that irritating habit of chewing your computer cords.

Update on the Beastly Gender Fax-Off: Males everywhere are seizing the opportunity to really dominate this week. And now that we women have let those men feel better about themselves, it’s time to really strut our stuff for species. So grrrrls, prove that your gender is way more beastly! Take a minute and send a free online fax to Canada’s Prime Minister calling for strong Canadian endangered species legislation. Who said environmental campaigns were boring?

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to be an environmentalist and not be serious, depressing, and dull.

Thursday, 22 Jun 2000

SMITHERS, British Columbia

Today’s diary focus is how to be an environmentalist and not be serious, depressing, and downright dull. This is way more interesting than the work I’m actually doing today, which is much the same as what I did yesterday — online outreach to promote our Extinction Sucks campaign. Wish me luck with Canoe.ca.

Shed that fleece.

Photo: Jared Hobbs.

First, all enviros please stand up and “release your fleece.” Yes, it will still be there for you later. With one last pathetic look at your phone and computer, leave your office. I repeat: Leave your office. Nice try, but no taking your Gore-tex either. You can take your Palm Pilot, though.

Now that you’re outside, either put up your umbrella (Seattle and Vancouver) or stan
d there and enjoy the sunshine. It’s probably been some time since you left the office. And your skin could certainly use some vitamin D.

Head off down the road to some funky coffee bar. We’ll even pretend that you’ll be ordering herbal tea, though we all know you are a total coffee addict. After all, you’ve brought your travel mug along. Now order something wickedly delicious to eat. Take a seat with your fix and your treats. Gaze out the window and book your next holiday right there in your diary. Yes, that’s correct. Holiday. Out in the bush. Because how long has it been since you really had a holiday? Experienced the very places or species you are fighting for? Or saw friends who don’t work in “the movement”? Laughed aloud? Frequently? In the same week?

Looking for inspiration?

Photo: Jared Hobbs.

Borrow a pen and a couple of pieces of scrap paper. Write the words “passionate martyrdom” at the top. Then list all the reasons why your work ethic is so unhealthy. Why you have so little fun. Why you hardly see your friends. You’ll return to this later.

On another piece of paper, draw what it is that really inspires you to do the work that you do. That’s right. A drawing. No artistic experience required. Then leave the café with both papers.

Once back on the street, pull out the passionate martyrdom list. The list that explains why you are so stressed, serious, and downright dull. As you burn it in the gutter, much to the surprise and consternation of passersby, mentally release these practices. Think of that amazing image you just drew. Your source of inspiration.

Ah. That’s better. It’s been a while since we all saw you smiling like that. Now you can return to the office.

Avoid that insidious temptation to rush back to work. Fight it. Fight it. Stick your drawing up on the wall right by your desk. Change your voicemail to say you’ll be out of the office for the rest of the day/week/month. Then bugger off. Have some time to yourself for a change. Organize that holiday. Call up those friends you haven’t seen in ages.

Time to chill.

Photo: Larry Aumiller.

When you eventually return to the office after your holiday, refreshed and renewed, have some fun with your campaign. It’s way more interesting. Because if it’s fun for you, it’s bound to be fun for other people. We’ve certainly found that with our “extinction sucks” and “make a beast of yourself” approach.

Speaking of … Things are hotting up on the Beastly Gender Fax-Off. As expected, the guys hit fast and early and have wilted somewhat. The chicks are showing their true staying power and are in the forefront once again. This gives you guys one last day to mobilize the soccer team or the primal screaming circle, for species and your gender. And grrrls, don’t slack off at the end, because we all know that victory is sweet but gender victories are even sweeter. Sent your fax yet?

No gin arrived today from the Grist dudes, but the personal call from BIG Bill’s assistant more than made up for the lack of Tanqueray. (I’ll look for a double case tomorrow, though).

Yep, it seems that Mr. Gates was a tad distressed that Microsoft’s local area network was being used to promote online beastly activity. Nonprofit activity at that. But their tone changed somewhat when I suggested that Microsoft could learn a thing or two from subspecies. How splitting in two was a proven path to evolutionary success and survival of the fittest. I’m popping down in the jet next week to see them.

Credible? Possible? It could be, if any of you overworked, lily-livered Microsoft dudes out there did some group email action. Send word of the Extinction Sucks campaign out to the other ‘Softies as a hot new software prospect. You may even get a big fat bonus and a trip to beautiful British Columbia!

Friday, 23 Jun 2000

SMITHERS, British Columbia

I’m cheating a bit, writing Friday’s diary entry on Thursday evening. Having taken my own advice, I am now on holiday, gin and tonic in hand. I have left the office and the province. True to the activist work ethic, I am working on my holiday — but just for Grist and just for that last case of Tanqueray gin. Extinction sucks, but gin doesn’t.

Time to get out of town.

Photo: Kate Smallwood.

I’ll be out hiking in the Rockies this weekend. As I watch the sunset through my friends’ window in Calgary, I think about how little we know of the natural world. Here we are trying to protect endangered species, and we have no idea how many species are out there. Scientists estimate that we have probably only identified and given a scientific name to 10 percent of the world’s species. As to estimating the total number of species on Planet Earth, there could be 10 million, there could be 100 million — we really have no idea. The ballpark estimate is about 14 million.

Canada’s endangered species legislation will either pass by the end of this year or disappear into the ether if a federal election is called. If done properly — and we are a long way from that in Canada — endangered species legislation operates like a hospital. It deals with the sick and wounded. If done poorly, it operates at best as an emergency ward, dealing with the critically ill. Either way, legislation will not conserve biological diversity in and of itself. We need a broader “health care” program for biodiversity.

During my holidays this summer, I’ll be thinking seriously about where we go after Canada has passed its endangered species legislation. I’ve been pondering this for some time now and still don’t have a concrete answer on what I will do for biodiversity. How do you take on a global crisis? Must have been a question the climate change folks pondered several years back. Where to start? How can you show your funders that the small steps that you can take, and help others to take, are worth the effort? Because they are.

I want to continue the outreach to popular culture that we’ve just started to explore with our Extinction Sucks campaign. In 1998, the Biodiversity Project completed an impressive “road map” on biodiversity communication. They found that the environmental community relied primarily on news media to get its messages across. And that the focus was primarily reactive.

In contrast, popular culture and popular media were rarely used by the environmental community. Yet popular culture and popular media have much greater influence on shaping public opinion. So I decided that we should focus our efforts on the pop scene.

We’ve had an incredible response to our hip campaign ads and campaign logo. Using humor, bright colors, and provocative messaging, our ads have been noticed in niche magazines and on public transit (which is an incredibly cheap way to get extensive coverage). A small advertising budget, but we get noticed. I keep trying to imagine what we could do with a serious chunk of change.

But enough of this navel gazing. Let’s get down to the real results. The Great Canadian Tacky Gift Opportunity p
roved to be a complete dud. You handbags. If any of you still have any neat ideas about good sources for online promotion of our campaign, send them my way at ksmallwood@wcel.org.

But what you lacked in online ideas, you more than made up for in Beastly Behavior. Yes, the Beastly Gender Fax-Off has proved to be a huge success. Thanks to word of our campaign in Grist, we’ve hit an all-time monthly faxing high. But you don’t get the final results of the Fax-Off that easily.

Salmon could be up a creek without your help.

Photo: Ian McAllister.

If you haven’t sent your fax yet, please take a moment to do so. For species. For habitat. It’s not often you can actually make a difference with just a few minutes of your time. And not leave your desk. So on a Friday, when you are distracted with thoughts of your forthcoming misdemeanors, send that fax to Canada’s Prime Minister calling for strong species protection. Be Beastly. It will set you in good stead for the weekend.

And now. The Beastly truth. Hard as it is to admit it, the guys won the day. Aarrgh! Although the women out-faxed the guys every day but Monday, the blokes did such an impressive job on Day 1 that the chicks never caught up. (Still, if victory is defined in terms of daily victories, the chicks whipped the guys four out of five days.) Nice effort guys, and I’ve just lost out on quite a few gin and tonics to some dude I’ve never met who lives in Washington, D.C. Bummer. He was going to match me gins for the number of female faxes over the guys’ faxes.

So. Yea and verily it is hereby declared that Men Are More Beastly (go guys!!!) than women when it comes to species. (At least this week.)

Thanks to the Grist dudes for their good humor and patience. And to all of you who took a moment to send a fax for species.

My ice has melted. My drink is finished. My friends are patiently waiting downstairs for their very rude visitor to stop working and come and hang out. And so I bid you all goodnight.