Posted by: Deb Henry | 11/11/2014

Deb, “Environmental Activist”

Growing up, there was very little chance I was going to be nominated most likely to become an environmental activist: I grew up eating food without the ability to think about where it came from or what it was doing to my body because we were tight on money. I drank water from disposable plastic bottles without thinking about where they were made or where they would end up. And I certainly didn’t think of a bicycle as a form of transportation because we lived in a generic suburb that didn’t exactly give you anywhere to go safely except around the block (and only on the sidewalk, of course).

On September 11th, 2001 — my world changed.

I almost lost my father, a FDNY Captain. I almost lost my uncle, a FDNY Battalion Chief, but he survived both collapses. I did, however, lose my cousin, FDNY Firefighter and EMT Joseph Patrick Henry; the cousin I had looked up to for a lot of my life because he was so, so playful, and just a little bit older than me.  His three brothers, also FDNY and NYPD, lost their baby brother.

4 brothers

Joey, Eddie, Danny and Michael, the weekend before 9/11 at the Irish Fair in Brooklyn

My dad could tell me stories about each of the firefighters who had died that day. He knew their kids’ names and all of their families. It is absolutely brutal how much he loved and valued his FDNY brothers and the job they were doing. I didn’t see him for months because he was at Ground Zero with every free second he had.

My mom called me shortly after noon on 9/11 and said “your dad is OK” — but I was confused — because why wouldn’t he be OK, right? What I didn’t realize was that he had been on-shift that day, but happened to be in a yearly training, far away from Ground Zero when the call went out about the attack. It had not occurred to me until that moment that rescue workers had made it inside the towers. Then my brother calls and tells me our cousin is missing. My heart sank. Jim calls me back and corrects himself: it was the firefighter/ EMT/ Probie cousin, the youngest, the baby of 4 boys. I started crying and a stranger grabbed me and hugged me with everything he had. (I’ll never forget that hug.)

Dad went to lots of funerals over the next few weeks. We didn’t see him for months. He was working, clearing the site looking for survivors, or at funerals. The Environmental Protection Agency told the firefighters the air was fine to breathe, so they didn’t have or wear dust masks for almost 10 days. The older radios the firefighters were using on 9/11 weren’t working properly that day, so many of them probably didn’t get the message the first tower had collapsed and that they should get out soon. Rudy Giuliani didn’t want to pay the search workers overtime, so he tried to cut back responders to 40 hours/ week so they’d move faster and be less reverent about their work.

“What Giuliani showed following 9/11 is a disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen and those brothers still searching for them. He valued the money and gold and wanted the [World Trade Center] site cleared before he left office at the end of 2001 more than he valued the lives and memories of those lost.” — IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger

Here is my dad at a protest specifically pushing back on that policy:

Dad, the original protester.

Dad, the original protester.

I read all of the bios of the deceased in the NYTimes to show my respects and try to wrap my head around the magnitude of what had been lost. The NYT printed around 200 words about 15 people, each day, in the paper for a long time. There’s a whole book of the bios now. Dad may have a crappy memory, but he can tell me stories about 100+ of those firefighters to this day. They all came up on his watch.

I didn’t eat for 2 weeks. I dropped my classes that semester and spent time at home with my family. I grew up quickly and started paying attention.

My mission seemed (naively) simple at that point: I needed to stop buildings from falling down on firefighters. I changed my major to Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on Structural Engineering. As the days ticked on and the country slid towards war in Afghanistan, I began processing the fact that someone hated us THAT MUCH and I tried to suss out why. Being 19 and naive, it took me a while to start to put the pieces together. I began trying to “use less oil” and changing my habits in a way that would lead to less oil consumption and (what I thought would be) more autonomy from the global economy, more respect, less wars, less terrorist attacks.

I became frustrated during a class called “Transportation Planning” when I found out the whole class was about highway widening. I asked how trains and bicycles fit into the equation, but my professor moved on. After ranting at lunch, a friend who has spent time in Europe (and already rode his bike daily to class and was a bike messenger in NYC during the summers) recommended I start taking classes with John Pucher, a transportation economics legend from MIT who was a professor at Rutgers. While taking his classes, I began to see how many of the questions I had been asking in Civil Engineering about the WHY of our designs stemmed from Urban Planning and a misreading of the economics and cost-benefit of different decisions. I read Asphalt Nation and then Suburban Nation and all of the pieces started to click. I became a self-inflicted bibliophile. It felt like a landslide of understanding and I needed to know more. I’ve been striving in understanding and sharing those overlaps ever since. Our transportation and infrastructure choices lead to economic choices which lead to health impacts and so on.

A few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with and fought lung cancer from 9/11. He had surgery and had part of his lung removed. He’s now fighting early stages of colon cancer, also connected to 9/11. My mom’s cousin Patrick Finnegan, FDNY, just lost his fight to cancer a few days ago. On September 22, 2014, three 9/11 fire fighters lost their battles with cancer on the same day. My cousins have lung problems as a result of 9/11 and have left the fire department.  Our Congress even fought to not include cancer coverage for 9/11 responders, and yet, we re-elect them. More than 1,100 people who worked or lived near the World Trade Center on 9/11 have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Average and normal people lose their battles to environmentally inflicted cancers every single day as a result from water and air that is seemingly clean, but somehow isn’t important enough for media coverage.

Dad is now retired after 33 years as a firefighter and spends his days with my mom playing softball and hanging out with his firefighter friends who are still with us:

Retired FDNY

Retired FDNY enjoying the sun in Florida, 2012

Mom and Dad in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2010.

Mom and Dad in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 2010

So, yes, technically I am an environmental activist — because that’s the easiest box to put me in. But I really want people to understand that I can’t unsee all the dots my personal experience have helped me connect. I come at “environmental activism” from a very different angle than many of my allies fighting to end contamination all over the world. We all have our stories about how we got to where we are, and this is my story. I just really just want innocent families who are good people and who love their children to stop being manipulated and used as pawns in a fight they didn’t start… and I want people to be able to find communities of people they connect with that make them feel genuine, safe, empowered and welcomed.

peaceful up dancing

Peaceful Uprising members dancing in solidarity outside Tim DeChristopher’s trial; March 2011. Photo by Sallie Dean Shatz

… and I want my brand-new nephew to have clean air, clean water and four loving grandparents for years to come. Xoxo.


James <3, Photo by his momma Sarah Henry of Ink Anchor Photography in New Jersey

Posted by: Deb Henry | 07/05/2013

Homeless in Sugar House

Our Sugar House Community Council mused this past Wednesday about how to get rid of the homeless people in Sugar House. I wanted to ask questions such as, “Where should we put them? Why just in Sugar House? Why not in all of SLC or all of the USA? Which ones stay and which ones go?”

…but the conversation is so much bigger than our compact, monthly meetings. I do, however, want to have the conversation — because being down at Pioneer Park during Occupy Salt Lake opened my eyes to many issues and shattered many of my own stereotypes about what it means to be homeless.

Some things to consider: (AKA Things I learned at Occupy and while as a volunteer at the Homeless Youth Resource Center)

  • Between 20 percent and 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, meaning that hundreds of thousands of LGBT children and young adults are living on the streets each year. Homelessness disrupts the lives and development of these young people and can lead to significant negative long-term outcomes in mental and physical health, lower educational attainment, and economic instability.
  • You cannot bring your bags into some of the shelters. If you have possessions, you’re expected to leave them outside or dispose of them in many cases. Sometimes, everything someone owns (including their winter jacket and baby pictures) is in their bag.
  • In order to continue working and being able to get to work, they must choose whether or not they have an automobile OR a stable apartment since public transit by the Utah Transit Authority fails most of our residents.
  • In the Philadelphia region, moderate-income households are faced with average housing and transportation costs exceeding 90 percent of their income in some neighborhoods.
  • You need an ID to get into the shelters. If you don’t have an ID, you can get one with the shelter’s address on it, but then when you apply for a job, they know you’re homeless and probably will quit or have trouble getting to the job — so they don’t hire you.
  • Some of them are recovering addicts and the temptations and pressures in the shelter are significant enough for them to choose to take their chances elsewhere.
  • Some of them are in significant debt and would rather pay off some of their debt and couchsurf for a while instead of paying rent for a space they never have time to enjoy.
  • If you have bad credit because of unexpected health problems or foreclosure, many times it’s very difficult to find affordable housing or anyone that will rent to you after they run your credit.
  • Many of these people have PTSD as a result of a personal experience. Their animals keep them sane. Homeless shelters do not allow pets.
  • A study by the group 100,000 Homes said that, though veterans are 9 percent of the population, 15 percent of the 32,000 homeless people surveyed had served in the military.

There has also been some discussion about Form Based Code/ the upcoming expansion to residences in Sugar House and whether or not we should support SROs or Single Room Occupancy Housing. Sugar House is seriously lacking in a diversity of housing types. This market failure is pricing families out of the ability to stay close to each other after graduating school or during retirement. It has been my experience that mixed housing of this nature creates more social and economic cross-pollination and supports empathy for our neighbors.

Housing of this nature would also allow those pesky homeless people to have a place for themselves and pay rent — addressing many of the issues above.

Posted by: Deb Henry | 03/05/2013

Vice-chair speech, take 2!

I want to be clear about what happened on Saturday, 12/08/2012, at the Vice-chair election for the Utah Democrats.

After my friend and mentor Jim Judd’s untimely death last year, I ran for the seat as Vice-chair of the Utah Democratic Party for a second time. Jim and I had become good friends during the original Vice-chair election in 2011 and we had split the vote in the election, with Judd winning the seat. It was only natural that I run for the position again.

Jane Marquardt, purveyor of private prisons with Management and Training Corporation (MTC) also ran for the position. Marquardt sought to maintain her ‘prestigious’ spot on the Democratic National Committee (which goes to the highest ranking woman on the executive committee). Marquardt was appointed to the position in 2011 by her friend, Jim Dabakis, shortly after I lost and left the executive committee without a single female member.

The Utah Democratic Party has recently put its focus and financial resources toward recruiting Latinos. To this end, Jane Marquardt was not a good match for the position of Vice-chair. We cannot expect to recruit Latinos while simultaneously imprisoning their brothers and sisters in Marquardt’s border prisons like Willacy (know for their sexual abuse – Frontline). My understanding of Jane’s position (in talking to several of her close friends) is that although she is Vice-chair of the Board of Directors at MTC, she does not believe she has a hand in the decision-making process and therefore cannot be held responsible for the actions of the corporation. At the same time, the Marquardt’s family company profits from the disproportionate caging and abuse of LGBT people (especially transgender women) and undermines the very work of Equality Utah and other LGBT organizations.

During Jane’s speech, there was a disruption by a group of activists. I was not a part of the planning or execution of this protest. Uneasy with the then perceived sympathy for Jane in the audience after the disruption, I dropped out of the race to combine my supporters with Josie Valdez’s to ensure Josie’s win, even if it was at my personal and political expense. Marquardt took 59% of the vote in the first round of voting for the 7 candidates, but needed 60% to win. The top two people go to a second round of voting and Josie Valdez won the final election. Josie Valdez is a longtime Democratic activist, a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and most recently, a candidate for Utah’s Senate 8.

I am very satisfied with the outcome of the election.


(Here is my speech from December 8, 2013. I am sharing it because I still believe the Democratic Party of Utah needs a dramatic strategy shift.)

My name is Deb Henry and I am a Utah Democrat.

As a volunteer, campaign manager and candidate who has worked on campaigns on the federal, state, county and local level, I have seen the Utah Democratic Party from some flattering angles, and some not-so-flattering angles.

I do not believe that we will be able to elect a flawless Democrat in a state-wide race until our county parties are stronger. I believe that winning elections starts with electing Democrats locally — getting people used to the idea of the Democratic brand and trust — and then giving them reasons to vote Democrat in slightly bigger elections until we then reach the state level. We need to make some serious structural improvements that serve our county parties and local candidates to cultivate more candidates and more support.

It is for this reason that I cherish the endorsements of Dorothy Engelman of Washington County and Caralee Woods of Kane County where we have made significant progress in localizing Democratic values. I wish they could be here today.

I am not saying that fundraising isn’t important, either — but I do think that there are people out there hesitant to put their money into a pool that includes our more questionable donors at sums that make regular donations look like pocket change. I have helped raise 10’s of thousands of dollars nationally and locally for organizations such as KRCL radio, The Bicycle Collective, Josie Valdez for Senate, Peaceful Uprising and many other non-profits and campaigns. It will be so much easier to raise money when we stick to our values and therefore get buy-in to our vision.

Because of this perspective, I reject the idea that we have to take money from any institution or donor that actively and knowingly trades one person’s human rights for another. We will never have the respect of the general public until we put our values before money.  It is bad enough that anytime a wealthy candidate enters a Utah Democratic race, all of the other capable, competent candidates are brushed aside. But never has this party had to face a person with uglier and more immoral money than the wealthiest candidate in this race.

Today you have a mighty choice in front of you that will affect my generation for years to come.  I ran for office because I wanted to offer you a choice. I wanted to remind you that you always have a choice and it is your choices that define you and the Democratic Party of Utah.

Read More…

Posted by: Deb Henry | 05/03/2012

Larry Gibson

I am livid. Someone vandalized our friend Larry Gibson’s property in West Virginia.

Larry Gibson is an activist fighting coal mining in West Virginia. He lives on his family’s property on Kayford Mountain in Stanley Heirs Park, West Virginia. The mountain all around his property has been mined so that he is now the highest point on the mountain. He has had nooses hung from trees outside his window. They killed his dog. He has people shoot at his house regularly.

This is the email I got from his organization:

This is Larry Gibson with the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation writing you an urgent message,

Recently, between April 23rd and 26th we had a break in at my place and it wasn’t a random break in. They did extensive, extensive damage; stole a bullet proof vest, guns; destroyed at least four cameras on the cabin plus damaged the security system itself, the solar panel and stole $750 worth of batteries that ran the system.

The enormous amount of stuff broken and stolen is too high to be put in this email. But what I’m asking you to do now is to:

—> View & Share This Video of one the burglars captured on our security system and please let us know if you recognize him so we can bring him to justice

—> Make a Donation to help us buy the equipment necessary to make my family’s land on Kayford Mountain in Stanley Heirs Park a better protected, safer place for all of us

This attack is not directly on Larry Gibson, the attack is about the issue at hand. It’s trying to stop people like Larry Gibson and others to fight back. It’s not really directed toward me, if it was the wouldn’t have destroyed my cabin, they would have just come at me. The fact is, they’re fighting the issue their way. We’re fight the issue our way, and we can’t do it without your help.
For those of you that knew about the break-in, and have already donated, thank you for your donations. They are well received.

Those of you that didn’t, and are finding out through this message. Remember we’re fighting to save Appalachia. It’s not mine alone. It’s yours too. You’re not making a donation to Larry Gibson, you making a donation to the issue. So we can fight. When they attack me, they attack you- that’s what they’ve done here. You might not even know it, but you’ve been attacked because of what you believe in, because you’re following the issue of mountaintop removal and coal.

So, those that still believe in what we’re doing as a team, help as much as you can. Stay with us on this. We appreciate you.

Larry Gibson, Keeper of the Mountains

Please make a donation to Larry, now.

This is what the property looks like from his house:

We visited him last year after my arrest at PowerShift:

(Tim DeChristopher, Ashley Anderson, Henia Belalia, Steve Liptay, Flora Bernard, Jake Hanson)

Please make a donation to Larry, now.

Larry Gibson Biography
Environmental Activist against Mountaintop Removal, 1946–

“You could walk through the forest. You could hear the animals. The woods like to talk to you. You could feel a part of Mother Nature. In other words, everywhere you looked there was life. Now you put me on the same ground where I walked, and the only thing you can feel is the vibration of dynamite or heavy machinery. No life, just dust. They’re doing the same thing to us they done to the Native Americans.”

Appalachia is not a beautiful place simply for visitors, ecologists and those who wish to hike the famous Appalachian Trail. It is home to people who have lived, worked and raised families there for generations. It’s an area rich with forests, birds, fish-filled streams, and coal. Once, mining underground for coal provided many livelihoods for residents of these communities. However, as that traditional form of mining has given way to mountaintop removal, where fewer workers are needed, the economy and the environment of these towns have been permanently damaged. Mountaintop removal uses explosives to slice off the mountaintops. The seams of coal are then extracted and processed, with the waste and toxins dumped into the valleys and streams as “fill.” People like Larry Gibson, who may have never seen himself becoming an activist, are called to bring attention to the tragedy and fight to end it.

Larry Gibson has lived on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia all of his life. The property he owns, a few acres with several small buildings and the family cemetery, is the only green spot amidst a desolate landscape. He refuses to sell to any coal company and leave his home, though his land has rich beds of coal beneath it. This refusal comes at a cost. Miners, told that Gibson’s decision not to sell is an attempt to put them out of work, have shot at his very modest home (where bullet holes are visible as evidence), and set fire to another building. Two of his dogs were killed, and he was run off the road in his truck. The stress of living in these conditions has taken its toll on his marriage; still, he won’t give in, saying, “If I stopped fighting for the land maybe we’d have a chance. But this is my heritage. How can I walk away from that?”

And so he stays, allowing, for more than two decades, thousands of journalists and environmental activists to visit and see first-hand the mining process and the devastation. Seeing his swath of green set against the vast gray wasteland is something coal companies don’t wish outsiders to witness. Gibson also records the growing list of the threats and vandalism against him, and travels the country talking to people about the crisis in the mountains and his own story, working to increase awareness and create change.

Please make a donation to Larry, now.

Posted by: Deb Henry | 05/02/2012

Stop SkiLink

“It is a lovely and terrible wilderness; …its great sky without a smudge of taint from Technocracy. Save a piece of country like that intact, and it does not matter in the slightest that only a few people every year will go into it. That is precisely its value.” – Wallace Stegner

SkiLink is the proposed (and controversial) gondola lift that would connect Canyons and Solitude Mountain Resorts in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The gondola is being pitched as a necessary and important competitive advantage for the tourism industry in Utah and as a way to decrease transportation volumes in Big Cottonwood Canyon (SR-190) and Parley’s Canyon (I-80) — but residents and outdoor enthusiasts are overwhelmingly against the project.

Here’s what Talisker doesn’t tell you about the project:

  • It takes 4 lifts and 1.5+ hrs to get to the location at Canyons Resort where SkiLink would start/end. It takes 2 lifts to get to the location at Solitude where SkiLink would start/end. Neither resort has an half-day morning pass for recreation, so you would have to purchase tickets at full-price at both resorts for a total of $166 (2011-12 prices: $96/Canyons, $68/ Solitude).
  • Talisker claims an 11 minute trip because it does not consider the time on lifts to get to SkiLink.
  • Talisker is a Canadian company who has hired former mayor/ now lobbyist, Ted Wilson, to advise them through the federal and local hurdles to accelerate the construction of SkiLink. Talisker (owner of Canyons) already funnels its profits outside of Utah and the USA. To say that SkiLink is important to the local economy is misguided. Utah does not need to rely on foreign corporations to have a stable economy. Also, billionaire owner Gary DeSeelhorst, is getting up there in years and may be looking to sell the resort soon. One of his sons prefers running a vineyard in California and the other takes little interest in improving operations at Solitude. Who wants to guess that Talisker will buy Solitude and turn it into another over-developed, expensive resort like Canyons?
  • Utah Senator Hatch and Utah Congressman Rob Bishop simultaneously filed the Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act in both the House (HR 3452) and Senate (S 1883) to allow Talisker to have their way with our mountains.  These efforts include the sale of 30 acres of YOUR public lands to Talisker via federal bill sponsored by Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, and Senator’s Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee.  This would ensure the entire SkiLink proposal would be on private land, a sneaky way to circumvent the public process and take regulatory authority out of the hands of the Forest Service; as the 2003 Forest Service Plan explicitly prohibits ski area expansion. Bishop’s bill is aiming to bypass the public process, at a time when it is clear the public (94%) overwhelmingly supports limiting resort boundaries to existing Forest Service permit boundaries in the Wasatch, as expressed in the Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow public process.
  • Missy Larsen, Ted Wilson’s daughter, is running for Salt Lake County Council, District #4 (map) as a Republican for a seat currently held by Democrat Jani Iwamoto (who has decided not to run for re-election). The Council make-up is currently 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Assuming Missy Larsen will vote in favor of SkiLink to further Ted’s influence, it is CRITICAL that Democrat Sam Granato win District #4 (east bench from UofU to Cottonwood Heights) in November’s election to ensure our fight against SkiLink.
  • SkiLink is being framed as a way to reduce vehicle trips and improve air quality. Since it takes less time to get to the top of Solitude than Canyons, it will increase and induce traffic  in Big Cottonwood Canyon (I’m a transportation engineer) and pollute SLCo’s air for the benefit of a foreign corporation. Considering it takes 30 minutes to drive from 7-11 to 7-11 near both resorts, it is unlikely that a 1.5+ hour trip will deter people from driving to either resort.
  • The 2010 Wasatch Canyons Tomorrow survey reported that 62% of the public would like SL County to strengthen regulations on land use in the canyons. It also reported that  62.5% of the public thinks that the Wasatch canyons are currently overused.
  • The legislation proposed by Bishop and Hatch will set an unfavorable precedent to sell off actively used and appreciated public lands for the benefit of a private business entity. The legislation circumvents the public process and, in this instance, a public that has already expressed sentiments against the wanton expansion of ski areas in the Wasatch. It will become the impetus for a range war of construction of additional lifts which span the Wasatch crest and put at risk the integrity of our watershed and diminish the backcountry skier/hiker/biker/tourist experience.
  • Utah currently receives approximately 95 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. The ski lifts in Utah are *ALL* powered by this dirty energy and the proposed SkiLink gondola will also be powered by coal. Burning coal releases toxic mercury that rains down onto rivers and streams and contaminates fish. The pollution then makes its way into our bodies when we eat the fish. Mercury is especially dangerous to pregnant women and young children because it’s a powerful neurotoxin that can damage the brain and nervous system — causing developmental problems and learning disabilities. Each year, coal pollution causes 12,000 emergency room visits and $100 billion in health costs.
  • Talisker is currently bullying Park City Mountain Resort, a locally owned company, to take over its land in Summit County. Most of the land currently owner by Talisker is in Summit County. They are interested in generating more revenue from that land at the expense of Salt Lake County.
  • SkiLink will not have any intermediate stops anywhere in the path between the resorts, so getting off the link at peaks during the summers (like at Snowbird) is not an option. It will not allow access to disabled people or anyone else who is currently unable to access our mountains. SkiLink touts this as not increasing the volumes in the mountains.
  • Talisker Ski Link’s environmental impact statement is insensitive: ” Clearing required for the corridor may have an adverse impact on habitat value for species that require habitat contiguity. The impacted habitats, however, are common to the region and many habitat contiguity options exist … If future studies reveal potential impacts to sensitive species, they will be mitigated by adjusting the corridor alignment or construction schedule or other modifications.”
  • SkiLink would cut a swath of trees right through our incredible Wasatch Mountains and potentially compromise the Wasatch Crest Trail, a favorite mountain bike trail for locals.

Things you can do:

  • Elect Sam Granato for Salt Lake County Council, District #4 to make sure the SLCo Council does not give approval for SkiLink. Follow Sam Granato on Facebook here to get updates on how to help with his election.
  • Write to Republican Missy Larsen and let her know you will do everything in your power to stop SkiLink and elect Democrat Sam Granato for our SLCo Council. Without Sam, the Council could be 6 Republicans and 3 Democrats and potentially green-light the construction of SkiLink.
  • Get Senator Orrin Hatch out of office. Vote instead for Dan  Liljenquist in the June 26th primary.  Add it to your calendar now. You must be a registered Republican to vote in a Republican primary. You can register (at the latest) 15 days in advance of the election in person at your local county clerk’s office. You can change your affiliation (to whatever you want) immediately following the election. Democrat Scott Howell will run against the winner of the primary in November.
  • Make sure there is a viable candidate to run against Rob Bishop for Congressional District #1 (northern Utah, Summit County,  map) in November. Bishop introduced the Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act in U.S. Congress that would facilitate the construction of SkiLink (and he also voted for NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial).
  • Donna McAleer is our best choice to beat Congressman Rob Bishop. Donna McAleer is a West Point graduate, Veteran, an Olympic athlete, and an author who penned “Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point’s Long Gray Line.”  Written as a model for the teenaged girls she coached in volleyball, the book features women who exhibited courage, strength, and character in overcoming numerous obstacles, both in uniform and later after embarking on civilian careers.  Much like Donna herself, who embodies service above self and has practical experience in both the private and publics sectors. In this TED talk, Donna McAleer focuses on facing fears, with examples from her own life. She is also a founder of the The People’s Health Clinic, serving the uninsured in Summit and Wasatch counties. Donna is in a primary fight June 26, 2012, so immediate efforts are necessary to ensure her win in order to face Bishop in November. Volunteer for her campaign here. If you have friends in her district (Summit, Weber, Cache, Davis, Morgan Counties + more), make sure they know they have the opportunity to elect someone incredible, and ask them to participate in getting Donna elected.

More links about SkiLink:

Love Wilderness?
  • Help SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) fight the destruction of our public lands. Utah’s announcement that it will sue the federal government over more than 25,000 so-called “roads” is the most serious threat to the future of Utah’s remaining wild lands, designated wilderness, national parks, national monuments and other scenic wild lands, and the Department of Interior must do everything in its power to ensure that the sanctity of our public lands remains protected. Follow SUWA on Facebook  and Twitter.
As custodians of thousands of acres of pristine land, environmental protection is of paramount importance to residents of Utah for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
Posted by: Deb Henry | 04/10/2012

Delegate Email #1 for my campaign for County Council

Dear Delegate,

When Jani Iwamoto announced she would not be running for re-election on the Salt Lake County Council, the committee I am chairing to get more women elected statewide had the challenge to find someone who could fill her shoes. With only a few days to go, and thanks to encouragement from our community, I decided to step up and make sure that Salt Lake County continued to be in good hands.

It is not enough just to know the issues. Each of us has to be ready to be a part of creating the solutions.

You became a delegate because you, too, care about the intersection of the challenges facing our county and wanted a voice in selecting the representative who shares your vision for a better world and more accountability in our elected officials.

My name is Deb Henry and I would like to earn your vote for Salt Lake County Council, District #4.

When I chose Salt Lake County as my home more than 5 years ago, I chose Utah because of the beauty, economic potential, and quality of life that I felt were unparalleled anywhere in the nation. I hit the ground running volunteering on the Obama campaign and starting the Farmer’s Market voter registration booth at Pioneer Park with some friends. We have registered thousands of new voters, and the effort continues to this day. I have worked on campaigns to get quality leaders elected. I ran for leadership of the Utah Democratic Party to encourage more people like you to get involved. The committee to get more women to run for office has a fresh crop of leaders ready to go for this November.

I have served as volunteer coordinator for KRCL community radio bringing our community together through music and community events. I worked directly for Governor Huntsman to understand how our state government nurtures leadership in our county. I have also helped organize nationwide efforts to get more people involved in grassroots organizing around the issues of climate change and social justice.

This election is not about me.

This election is about you choosing a leader that genuinely wants your participation in the process and will open doors for you to continue participation long after the polls are closed. I have a long history of quality communication skills both in person and with social media. I expect you to hold me accountable and to engage with me on a regular basis. Together, we will raise the bar for civic engagement, accountability in our elected officials and protection of our local economy — without sacrificing our environment.

I look forward to working with you after convention to engage our neighbors and bring them back into the political process — but first I need your vote at the Salt Lake County Convention this Saturday, April 14th.

Feel free to browse my campaign website, blog and my social media sites to get to know me better. If I can answer any questions for you or you want to talk about issues that are important to you in more depth, please feel free to contact me directly if I haven’t contacted you already.

See you on Saturday!

Deb Henry
Candidate for Salt Lake County Council, District #4


Posted by: Deb Henry | 04/02/2012

I am running for elected office!

I am running for Salt Lake County Council in District 4 which spans the east bench of Salt Lake County, Utah from Federal Heights (in SLC, near the University) to Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

I have been chairing a committee to get more women elected in the State of Utah and it was brought to my attention that Jani Iwamoto decided not to run again with very little time for our team to find a capable, female replacement. After strong encouragement from my community, I decided to run in order to ensure women, mothers and people of my community access to their voice being heard on the council. We need voices on the council who will use their position to open up the conversation about what is best for our county to everyone who lives here, not just their friends. You can learn more about me at my website and on the Facebook page I link to at the bottom of this post.

The first hurdle to my election in November is the Salt Lake County convention on April 14, 2012. There are 4 candidates currently running. I need to be in the top 2 after the first vote, then I need 60% after the second vote — or there will be a THIRD vote. If I do not get 60% of the vote at that point, the race goes to an expensive primary (which will be muddied with corporate money, thanks to the influence of Citizen’s United in our election process). I hope to have the 60% of the vote by the end of convention on Saturday — so I will need your help talking to people at convention to make sure that they understand the process. Contact me on my website if you’d like to volunteer. PLEASE MAKE SURE DELEGATES KNOW TO STICK AROUND FOR THE SUBSEQUENT VOTES! After I make it through the convention this Saturday, everyone in District 4 will have the opportunity to vote for me in November.

Like my Facebook Fan page to get updates on the campaign.

Here is my website with a place to donate. Please make a donation if you believe in our ability to change the world together.

“You cannot be… an active spectator. We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.” – Abigail Adams

See you this Saturday, April 14, 2012 at Murray High School for the convention!



Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/25/2012

Shel knew 50 years ago.

It wasn’t too very long ago
Some folks walked with a hi-dee-ho
And other folks walked around kind of low
Sayin’ “Yowzah” and “Sho nuff” and “Yassuh boss”.
It was ashes to ashes and dust to dust,
And they didn’t believe in makin’ a fuss,
So they quietly moved to the back of the bus
Sayin’ “Yowzah” and “Sho nuff” and “Yassuh boss”.
And when things got rough, they did a little prayin’…
Little arm wavin’ and a little bit of swayin’.
Didn’t do no good — they kept right on a-sayin’,
Sayin’ “Yowzah” and “Sho nuff” and “Yassuh boss”.
So they all went out and did a little standin’,
Little less askin’ and a lot more demandin’,
Little less liftin’, and a little less totin’.
A lot more thinkin’ and a lot more votin’,
A little less hopin’, a little less waitin’,
A whole lot more demonstratin’…a lot less pearly gate’n’.
A lot more fightin’ and a lot more walkin’
Until finally no one at all was talkin’…
Like “Yowzah” and “Sho nuff” and “Yassuh boss”!
The end of this story is plain to see…
They finally achieved equality
And now like you and me they can stand up strong and free
And say, “Yes, sir” and “Of course, sir” and “Anything you say, J.B.!”!

– Shel Silverstein

Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/17/2012

I love like this:

From Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters:

Oh, what a night we had last Sunday at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. The glitz! The Glamour! SEACREST! Where do I begin?? Chillin’ with Lil’ Wayne…meeting Cyndi Lauper’s adorable mother…the complimentary blinking Coldplay bracelet…..much too much to recap. It’s really is still a bit of a blur. But, if there’s one thing that I remember VERY clearly, it was accepting the Grammy for Best Rock Performance…and then saying this:

“To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do… It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about sounding absolutely correct, it’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head].”

Not the Gettysburg Address, but hey……I’m a drummer, remember?

Well, me and my big mouth. Never has a 33 second acceptance rant evoked such caps-lock postboard rage as my lil’ ode to analog recording has. OK….maybe Kanye has me on this one, but….Imma let you finish….just wanted to clarify something…

I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5…..I love music. Electronic or acoustic, it doesn’t matter to me. The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician’s personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and…..human.

That’s exactly what I was referring to. The “human element”. That thing that happens when a song speeds up slightly, or a vocal goes a little sharp. That thing that makes people sound like PEOPLE. Somewhere along the line those things became “bad” things, and with the great advances in digital recording technology over the years they became easily “fixed”. The end result? I my humble opinion…..a lot of music that sounds perfect, but lacks personality. The one thing that makes music so exciting in the first place.

And, unfortunately, some of these great advances have taken the focus off of the actual craft of performance. Look, I am not Yngwie Malmsteen. I am not John Bonham. Hell…I’m not even Josh Groban, for that matter. But I try really fucking hard so that I don’t have to rely on anything but my hands and my heart to play a song. I do the best that I possibly can within my limitations, and accept that it sounds like me. Because that’s what I think is most important. It should be real, right? Everybody wants something real.

I don’t know how to do what Skrillex does (though I fucking love it) but I do know that the reason he is so loved is because he sounds like Skrillex, and that’s badass. We have a different process and a different set of tools, but the “craft” is equally as important, I’m sure. I mean…..if it were that easy, anyone could do it, right? (See what I did there?)

So, don’t give me two Crown Royals and then ask me to make a speech at your wedding, because I might just bust into the advantages of recording to 2 inch tape.

Now, I think I have to go scream at some kids to get off my lawn.

Stay frosty.

Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/13/2012

Occupy ALEC

If anyone thinks that the 850+ bills active on Utah’s Capitol Hill were all drafted from scratch by honest, well-intentioned,  public servants that heard the needs of their constituents — they are fooling themselves.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provides a venue for private individuals and corporations to assist politicians in developing what it considers model laws serving the economic and political aims of its members. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research the handling and “best practices” of policy in other states. Almost 98% of ALEC’s cash is from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, trade associations, and corporate foundations.

ALEC was founded in September 1973, when a small group of conservative state legislators and policy advocates met in Chicago with the stated purpose of founding “A nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” ALEC offers scholarships to cover travels and accommodations for legislators to attend several luxurious conventions they hold each year. The conventions also provide ALEC with a vehicle to indoctrinate legislators with so-called “experts” on issues related to ALEC’s model legislation as well as introduces legislators to wealthy potential donors.

ALEC is the conduit through which the policy aims of corporations get drafted into legislation. In July of 2011, over 800 of ALEC’s “model” bills were leaked and posted online. The Center for Media and Democracy made a new website to house the bills which were previously unavailable to the public. It developed dozens of tools to enable citizens to track ALEC politicians, ALEC corporations, and ALEC bills moving in their states.

Here in Utah, ALEC’s influence can be seen from school voucher legislation to health policy to voter ID laws. Arizona’s HB1070 immigration bill? ALEC. The bill was approved by an ALEC task force that included the private prison corporations Corrections Corporation of America and the American Bail Coalition, both of which stand to benefit from an increase in immigrant detention and imprisonment. The Arizona resolution to de-fund ACORN? ALEC.

These ideas are not new. They are a result of years of carefully crafted language that exclusively benefits the corporations that bankroll the drafting of the model bills. ALEC’s model legislation reflects long-term goals: downsizing government, removing regulations on corporations and making it harder to hold the economically and politically powerful to account.

This summer, for only $7,000 (though $25,000 gets you better access!) you can attend their annual meeting here in Salt Lake City.

Legislators can attend the meeting for $50.

See the list of Utah Legislators with ALEC ties.

For information about SLC’s movement to plan actions directed at raising awareness and challenging how the American Legislative Exchange Council affects our political system, get updates here.

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