Recap: Watchdog, Smog, & Dialogue

 

HEAL’s 2018 fall party, Watchdog, Smog, & Dialogue had something for everyone. Staff speeches full of rhymes, haikus, and limericks. Incredible food, drinks, and live music. Reconnecting with many of HEAL’s long-term supporters and some new ones. And a tribute to retiring board members who’ve been with HEAL for over a decade. It all combined to help us appreciate HEAL’s past, celebrate the progress we’ve made this year, and look forward to our campaigns and 20th Anniversary in 2019.

There’s a palpable energy in a room filled with dedicated HEALers that you can’t find anywhere else. The energy is passionate, heartfelt, and fierce for the work that we all do to protect Utah and our health from environmental threats. This year, attendees enjoyed delicious food and drinks while mingling alongside the live music by Fur Foxen. Supporters new and old got to connect throughout the evening and had fun stopping by our HEAL photobooth.

Our fall party is, of course, also a fundraiser for our organization. Every year, we challenge ourselves to raise more money than we did the prior year. This year, because we had $30,000 already pledged for the fall party but we lost one of our major fundraising events (Love Utah Give Utah), we decided to double our goal! Right now, we are just a few thousand shy of this new, $60,000 goal and so, if you couldn’t make the party, there is still time for you to help us hit it!

To get you in the HEAL fall party spirit of giving, here’s a quick recap of what was said that encouraged so many people to donate so generously that night:

Scott:

Scott began by introducing Jordan Stein, HEAL’s newest staff member, and thanking her for all she does as our Administrative Assistant to ensure things run smoothly at HEAL.

Even though Scott had a long career in medicine, he was originally an English major, a fact that was well on display during his speech as he used two limericks to introduce his topics.

They want to put DU out in Clive
That no brine shrimp or seagull could survive
If we allow them to stow it
Then our kids better know it
Will still be hot when their great, great, great, great grandkids are alive

While we were successful in stopping EnergySolutions from skirting a law governing depleted uranium (DU) shipments, the battle against DU isn’t over. In the spring of 2019, the Department of Environmental Quality will release their 7-year-long performance assessment on DU. This assessment will determine whether EnergySolutions’ facility is a suitable site to store this dangerous waste for thousands of years. When that assessment comes out, we will be there to make sure DU stays out of Utah and we hope you will be there with us at regulatory meetings and sending in public comments to stop this waste.

Some people pronounce the word “nu-cu-lar”
Bush, Clinton, and Eisenhower in particular
Michael Shea’s pronunciation
Is the same aberration
So we call him presidentially inarticular

Scott then spoke about small modular reactors (SMRs). SMRs are a new type of nuclear power plant proposed to be built in Idaho that is comprised of several small reactors and proposes to supply around 30 local Utah towns with nuclear power for the first time in our state’s history. In order to not create more nuclear waste, that would likely be stored in our state, we are speaking with these towns and industry experts about the environmental and financial risks of SMRs and renewable electricity options for them to consider as alternatives. In the next 18-24 months, we will need you to show up to local town meetings with us to help stop this project.

 

Jessica:

Jessica began with a haiku (5-syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) which previewed what she would speak to the crowd about:

We will need YOUR voice
To get all of these bills passed!
Tell your rep: VOTE YES

Haikus out of the way, Jessica highlighted the clean air bills that HEAL will be working on during the 2019 legislative session. Our first priority bill, the coal rollers bill, will improve the system to report those who roll coal (when someone purposefully and illegally tampers with a diesel engine so it spews black smoke on command) and increases the punishment for those who do so. The second bill we will be working closely on, Free Fare Days, seeks to create a pilot program in which all UTA public transportation is free on certain days in during our winter inversion season order to encourage citizens to take public transit instead of their cars.

 

Michael:

While Michael defiantly had no limericks, haikus, or rhymes in his speech, he did give himself perhaps the hardest challenge of the night: explaining “securitization” in 2 minutes (which he just barely missed!). To put it simply, securitization is a creative financing tool meant to ease the transition from older, uneconomic power generation to modern, clean renewable generation in a way that protects the climate and interests of ratepayers, investors, and communities with coal-dependent economies. And yes, that’s the simple version of it! In the 2019 legislative session, HEAL will be helping to push through a bill which would enable securitization to occur. This bill is something that, in its current form, will have never been done before throughout the country. No pressure!

 

Noah:

If our rhymes and games weren’t inspiring for you during the fall party, Noah was there to save the day. Noah took a look at everything we’ve done with our supporters this last year — from citizen lobbying days of anywhere from 3 people to 30 people and tabling at events across the state, to action alerts submitted and evenings spent together at community nights or phone banking — and reminded everyone in the room that it’s because of their dedication and participation that we were able to educate new citizens, pass bills like the climate change resolution, and stop the EnergySolutions exemption request on depleted uranium. Looking forward to 2019, Noah hopes that more citizens get involved and that even more voices are empowered, elevated, and heard.

 

Grace:

Grace launched right into the rhyming theme of the night (taken from the event’s title, Watchdog, Smog, & Dialogue) and took advantage of how many things rhyme with Grace (face, place, brace, case, space). After the rhyming was over, she emphasized the importance of following HEAL Utah on social and really engaging with us there. Liking and commenting our posts can not only help that post get higher in the queue for people to see, but sharing our posts can add your credibility to help us reach, educate, and empower an entirely new network of people who we couldn’t reach without your help! Grace also invited everyone to join our 2019 Clear the Air Challenge team and commit to taking alternative transportation with us throughout February to help improve our air (and, she made sure to mention, that if you follow us on social media and read our emails, you’ll stay in the loop about when this challenge is coming up).

 

Hannah:
Jordan and Hannah

Hannah had a few unexpected rhymes up her sleeve (“We cannot succeed by operating in a bubble, so let’s work together to stay out of trouble!”) and spent her time with the mic to talk about change. Things are always changing — our planet’s climate, Utah’s political climate, and HEAL’s funding sources. As a totally community funded organization, we depend on individual donors, recurring donations, foundations, and grants to give us the funding we need to operate and improve our state. But what doesn’t change is the dedication of our supporters, the people who make up HEAL Utah — you! It’s your voices and donations that enable us to exist and, even more than that, to thrive. Hannah asked everyone in the room to share, with a friend, online, at work, anywhere and with anyone, that they support HEAL Utah and to encourage those others to support us too.

Scott took center stage again in order to recognize a few of our board members who are stepping down this year, after long stints of providing committed leadership for HEAL.

Jeff Clay has been on HEAL’s board for 9 years and is an active member of Utah’s environmental nonprofit community. He has not only given HEAL IT advice and some of his incredible photos to use, but he has provided us insight, enthusiasm, and a global perspective throughout his time on the board. Thank you Jeff!

Bob Archibald and Mary Ellen Navas are stepping down from being HEAL’s board co-chairs after having spent 12 years on the board, and even more years involved in HEAL. From passing the baton between executive directors to ensuring that HEAL’s work remains mission-drive and effective, we are sure going to miss Bob and Mary Ellen. HEAL is the successful organization it is today because of them. See what all our executive directors had to say about Bob and Mary Ellen here.

Finally, Mary Ellen stepped up to ask everyone one more time to give this evening. She reflected on her time at HEAL, including how she and Bob got involved in the first place when they came to a citizen lobbying day at the Capitol. She saw the organization grow, win and lose, overcome obstacles, and become what it is today. What remained the same through it all? The dedication of our supporters.

An enormous thank you to all who gave leading up to and at our fall party. You blew us away with your contributions this year. If you haven’t given yet, please give today:

Donate here!

 

And, as always, thank you to our volunteers, our photographer Ed Kosmicki (all photos in this post are by Ed Kosmicki/www.photosourcewest.com) and to the sponsors of this event:

Climate Champions:

Smog Slayers: 

Waste Watchdogs: