Baristas Across the Country Tell the Same Story

Public retail spaces are the front-lines of community spread. It is part-time, minimum wage workers who are being asked to keep those spaces safe – at great personal risk to themselves. I spent eight months trying, and I can attest that none of us were trained for it and those who tried harder faced more abuse. Many of us were pressured to stop doing it by management.

I shared my experience working at Starbucks during the pandemic. My concerns for Covid safety, the pressure from management, the customer harassment I was facing, and the management negligence and corporate malfeasance as I witnessed it.

But, that story is not just mine. With over 13,000 stores across the country, Starbucks employees an estimated 349,000 people in the United States.

Here are a few stories from baristas who were brave enough to speak up about their experience of the pandemic: how the company is endangering them, how customers are treating them, and how scared they are.…

Continue Reading

How and Why I Quit Starbucks

I’ve been working as a Starbucks barista for the last year. That’s eight months as an essential worker serving members of the general public in a front-facing customer service position. That’s the entire pandemic working for a company that straddles the line between the restaurant industry and retail, whose workers are not protected by any union organizations, and which is known for its culture of “toxic positivity”.

I have been handing out face masks to children, teenagers, working class families, wealthy business men, middle-aged housewives, tourists, and local unsheltered residents of the community. I’ve been offering masking encouragement and reminders to men who flew in from Vegas that day, women who tell me their 90 year old mother is sitting outside, elderly who couldn’t walk without canes, and more. I’ve worked eight hour shifts where every single time I looked up from the bar, I saw unmasked customers and uncovered noses — some days every ten minutes, some days every ten seconds.…

Continue Reading

Working in conservation is fighting a war

Working in conservation is fighting a war.

Waking up every day to fight a war you know you’re losing, on every front you can count.

And you’re doing it while working under geopolitical gag orders.

We’re losing in terms of both mortalities and morbidities – and counting the bodies that make it to a shelter or a sanctuary is only the tip of the iceberg. And the ones that live past their bullet wounds and witnessing the death of their mothers have lifelong effects of PTSD, malnutrition, and increased viral exposure from human contact.

We’re losing in terms of territory – parks, reserves, forests have their borders arbitrarily. Maps get redrawn to please industrial interests.

We’re losing in terms of public perception – begging for money on the other side of the world who see themselves as benevolent dictators with strings attached to every penny, at the worst, and an overwhelming desire for a photo op with an infant or their name on a plaque on a building in the forest at best.…

Continue Reading
Covid Uncategorised

Covid-19 Quarantine, Day 6



“If they fast-track some vaccine for coronavirus, how are all of us going to defend ourselves?” she asked. “I’ll let them vaccinate my daughter over my dead body.”

Other members of the group, Tarrant County Crunchy Mamas, chimed in.

“Hide in the floors like they hid the Jews from the Nazis,” one suggested. “Hide them in our gun safe (yes, it’s a big safe and yes, we love our guns),” said another.

“Researchers are calling on citizen scientists to play a free online game called Foldit, in which they help design and identify proteins that may be able to bind to and neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that it uses to invade host cells. The scientists hope that players’ creations will yield insights that will allow them to create an effective antiviral therapy for COVID-19.”

As the coronavirus pandemic shut down cities and cloistered people indoors around the world, images began to circulate online of what appeared to be nature retaking territory it had previously ceded to humans.
Continue Reading
conservation personal

Dinner & A Reading List: A California Thanksgiving

While schoolchildren still learn that Thanksgiving marks the day that Pilgrims met helpful Indians who gave them food and farming tips to survive the winter, a group called the United American Indians of New England established Thanksgiving as its National Day of Mourning in 1970. The fact that UAINE mourns on this day poses a question to socially conscious Americans: Should Thanksgiving be celebrated?

To celebrate the current Thanksgiving mythology is to celebrate the act of land expansion through ethnic cleansing and slavery — most of which happened at the point of a gun. It is masked recognition that this country was founded on the actions of generations of Europeans who depended on the joint violence of genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African people to conquer this land, the legacy of which is still felt today.

Stories told about the first Thanksgiving often perpetuate harmful stereotypes and racism.

Continue Reading
conservation travel

Borneo’s Forests

A piece I wrote about land surveys and conservation work in Indonesian Borneo.

Surveying the Land: by foot, by boat, and by air

A large part of OFI’s work to save orangutans from extinction involves protecting the forests of Borneo. Orangutans must have a place to live.


With our surveys, we watch the towns spread with octopus-like arms. We watch the expansion of the gridded plantations with their artificial lines and right angles – but we also get to glimpse the forests of Borneo as they were before. When we’re lucky, having trudged in deep black water swamps, crawling along the streams that snake through the underbelly of the forest or flying with our drones near the clouds, we get to see a different view. We get to see the Borneo that the orangutans know, the one that they call home. The one that we are trying to save.

Read the whole story on OFI’s website

Continue Reading