A Monthly Publication from Citrin Consulting
When You Can't Say No
July | 2012


IN THIS ISSUE

Courageous Leadership

TED Talks

Women and Girls Foundation

 
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Courageous Leadership

When You Can't Say No

In 1869 a French artist and amateur entomologist, Etienne Trouvelot who was living in Massachusetts was experimenting with ways to increase silk production from native silkworms. On a trip to France, he returned with a few gypsy moth larvae that he thought he could crossbreed with the silk worm to improve and increase silk production. Unfortunately, a few of the larvae escaped and thus began an infestation of the destructive insects that spread throughout the northeastern part of the US destroying popular deciduous trees including maples, oaks and elms. Over the next 85 years, efforts to control the infestation met with good success through the use of natural predators, quarantine measures and localized spraying. Despite these successes, the US Department of Agriculture decided to embark on an all out aerial campaign to saturate New York and Long Island with the chemical insecticide DDT. Their efforts meant that massive distribution of the poison was spread systematically across the landscape. For a biologist and an early environmentalist who had already concluded that pesticide use was already out of control, this action required a response. It led Rachel Carson to tell a colleague, "There would be no peace for me, if I kept silent".

Rachel Carson was born in 1907 just up the road from me in Springdale, Pa, on a 65-acre farm not far from the shores of the Allegheny River. She wrote stories as a child and had her first one published when she was 11 years old. After attending college at what is now Chatham University in Pittsburgh, she finished a master's degree in biology at Johns Hopkins. During a summer internship at the Marine Biology Laboratory at Woods Hole Massachusetts, she fell in love with and began studying the sea and its complex ecosystems. Due to family crises, Carson left graduate school in 1935 before obtaining her Ph.D. and took a part-time job with the US Bureau of Fisheries writing radio copy for what today would be called a series of podcasts on aquatic life. Her success led her to take a civil service exam and she became the second woman hired by the Bureau for a professional position.

To supplement her salary, she began writing articles about the ocean. In 1936 Atlantic Monthly published her first article entitled "Undersea". Encouraged by her early success and expanding knowledge of the subject matter, she went on to publish 3 books about the history and ecology of the oceans. Her writing style received wide praise by many for its scientific accuracy, ease of reading and its engaging prose. By 1952, Rachel Carson was a recognized naturalist whose literary success allowed her to focus on writing full time.

Rachel Carson did not want to write Silent Spring. She was not a crusader for change but a scientist who created accessibility to the natural world for her readers. Her research for Silent Spring was impeccable and she enlisted scientists and public figures (such as Supreme Court Justice William Douglas) to align with her. She knew that the forces of industry and government would do their best to undermine her work and her prior to publication of the book. Despite their best efforts to discredit her, or perhaps because of them, Silent Spring was a success. Rachel Carson received an outpouring of support and more importantly the public in both urban and rural settings demanded change. Further investigation by President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee concluded that pesticide use was dangerous to humans and the environment and that new legislation was required to regulate their use.

Rachel Carson was blessed that she found her path early in life and built upon it to change the world. She provided us with many enduring lessons — Love and appreciate the natural world — Respect and recognize that there is a natural order in the universe and recognizing that we may not be able to control everything in our lives but that we must try to do the best we can to improve our world, even in the smallest way.

 

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TED Talks

When I was in junior high school, my older brother Jay was determined to help me learn algebra. He spent many hours coaching and screaming at me to solve "x". I was, however, only focused on why was the letter "x" used for the unknown. Not even my wise brother Jay knew the answer to that. 45 years later, I was thrilled to find out that there was an explanation. If only I had studied Arabic instead of French. Check out Terry Moore's scholarship on "Why is X the Unknown".

 

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Women and Girls Foundation

I am honored to be nominated as one of 47 men who are being recognized as part of the Women and Girls Foundation Celebration of woMEN. This event to be held on December 1, 2012 is honoring men who have advanced women's rights and opportunities in our region and beyond.

The Women and Girls Foundation is an independent community based foundation that serves Southwestern PA. Their mission is help women and girls gain equal access, opportunity and influence in our community. Read more about their work at http://wgfpa.org/ and plan to join us on December 1.

 

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