Marcia G. Yerman

Marcia G. Yerman
New York, New York, USA
February 10
Marcia G. Yerman is based in New York City. Her writings – profiles, interviews, essays, and articles – focus on women’s issues, the environment, politics, culture and the arts, and can be found at She has been published by The New York Times, Women News Network, AlterNet, RH Reality Check, AlterNet, The Raw Story, and the Women's Media Center. She also writes for Moms Clean Air Force, a site bringing visibility to the issue of clean air and environmental concerns. Yerman was a co-founder of cultureID, an online platform that was dedicated to the nexus of culture and activism.


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APRIL 3, 2012 10:40PM

Fueling The Hearts Of Others: Ways To Fight For Clean Air

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As the 2012 election fills the news cycle with a mixture of information and noise, many people will tune in and some will opt out. Crucial issues will be debated and discussed. One of them will be clean air. How best to connect with the average voter?

I recently picked up a book by Peter Alduino called The Citizen Leader. Alduino’s biography describes him as having twenty years of experience in the field of leadership development, personal growth, and executive coaching. The book—which is a mixture of insights, guiding exercises, and work tools—embraces key points about “active leadership.” Alduino’s “core belief” is that we are “co-creators of the world we live in,” thereby contributing to the character of the society around us.

Alduino describes the process of constructing community as being “engaged, participating, and proactive.” The building blocks of this endeavor include principles, personal integrity, and engaging others to create a better social order.

I couldn’t help thinking about the set of environmental activists that I have been connected with for a year at Moms Clean Air Force. They are parents—predominately mothers. “Creating action, through shared values,” as Alduino says, has galvanized this demographic to support and build a safe planet for the next generation.

According to Alduino, personal responsibility can yield change and transformation by behaving and speaking in ways that are concrete. Knowing, caring, acting, and courage are all components that can be used to activate those not currently engaged—by “fueling the hearts of others.”

I saw examples of this concept exemplified by two recent instances. The first was through a group phone call that featured E.P.A. Administrator Lisa Jackson. She spoke of her efforts to protect the health of all Americans, as well as the challenges faced by her two sons with asthma. In addition, a mother openly shared with listeners the tragic death of her teenage daughter from asthma. This month, Chandra Baldwin-Woods wrote about the loss of her 16-year-old son to a fatal asthma attack, expressing her fear that the power of corporate polluters could trump the well-being of children.

Currently, there is a lot of antagonism toward those who are advocating to secure government regulations for clean air, specifically when it comes into conflict with perceived issues of economic security. Yet, as Alduino points out, “acting with conviction, especially in the face of obstacles, can make changes happen.” This has been evidenced by those who were brought up in the coal community, who have broken ranks to speak out against the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining.

I contacted Alduino by phone to discuss his philosophy. Having written his book to demonstrate the importance of personal self-realization and how it leads to an understanding of who you are and who you want to be in the world, he fleshed out how individuals can envision themselves as spokespersons for a cause. He noted that mothers (and fathers) create the foundation of communities through the family structure—establishing mind, body, and spirit values. Alduino believes that for parents wondering what they can do, that there are “a ton of possibilities for taking initiatives.” He illustrated that for a mother who held health as a priority, he would ask, “To what degree are your actions about your children’s everyday health?”

We conversed about public leadership at the highest level, in the context of environmental concerns. Alduino stressed that goals are not about the pursuit of the prize before principles, or making exceptions to the rule. He said, “Obama, to his credit, has been a clarion for alternate energy thinking.” However, Alduino admitted that he was “gut-punched” and “livid when the Obama administration walked back on air standards.” He characterized it as a “capitulation.” Pointing to the larger framework he asked, “When do you draw the line and say no?”

The second part of The Citizen Leader serves as a roadmap for acting on causes. Alduino prompts readers to “think for themselves” to determine the role that want to play. In relationship to the environmental space, he qualified it as, “Do I want to be part of a society that condones dirty air?”

Most importantly, Aludino believes that each human being can make a difference—and that’s where he is placing his faith. The vision of a person extending themselves on behalf of a community, without concern for personal gain, is intrinsic to his point of view. His refrains are, “What do you care about? Why do you care about it? Marry your head to your heart. A person’s values are their signature.”

Using courage as a verb, Alduino spoke about making choices not because they are convenient, but because they are “non-negotiable.” His model to me was, “I courage to fight for clean air.”

The Citizen Leader is an individual who applies their character and conviction to the common good. Quoting Margaret Mead, Alduino said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

The Citizen Leader 

This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.



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Marcia: The question is how do we fight? How can indivudual make a difference? I don't know the answer but I do beleive this planet is in for a Crude Awakening and the next 50 years will determine if the human species survives. At the VERY best life as we know it will chjange radically. Do take the time to see The Crisis  of Civilisation and view this in the larger context - you will thank me.  Sólo si nos adentramos en los corazones de los demás, descubrimos que es mucho más lo que nos une que lo que nos diferencia... which, roiughly translated means " Only when you look into the hearts of others can you see we are all the same.  R
Thanks for posting this Marcia. "There is a lot of antagonism toward those who are advocating to secure government regulations for clean air, specifically when it comes into conflict with perceived issues of economic security..." I think that is maybe the key we don't understand yet as a nation, that a little bit of perceived short-term economic security for some is not worth sacrificing the long-term environmental (and therefore economic) security for all of us. Anyone who grew up on a farm knows if you trash your own natural resources, you are trashing your economic future, but maybe we're too far removed from the land to remember?

I agree, we're the co-creators of the world we live in, and we do need to act on principles rather than whim, ignorance, hysteria, fear, short-term political/financial gain, etc. Thanks again for sharing this thought-provoking and inspiring post, and The Citizen Leader, Marcia!