– writer & journalist, essays & latest updates

A fantastic water movement is happening!

August 29th, 2023

Surface water Australasia and Pacific


Monday, 21 August 2023

From the Whanganui in New Zealand to the Atrato in Colombia, rivers worldwide are gaining unprecedented legal personhood, heralding a new era of recognition, protection, and sustainability. We explore what impact this has had on the water source in their respective countries.

Recognising rivers as legal persons

Over the past decade, a remarkable movement has been gaining momentum in various parts of the world – the granting of legal personhood to rivers. This groundbreaking concept elevates rivers to the status of legal persons, affording them the same rights and protections as human beings.

The movement, which began with the Whanganui River in New Zealand in 2017, has since spread to other countries, with the Atrato River in Colombia and the Magpie River in Canada also receiving this unique status and others following suit. 

The concept of granting legal personhood to natural entities is rooted in the idea that ecosystems, like rivers, have intrinsic value and deserve protection against environmental degradation and exploitation. This innovative approach challenges the conventional view of nature as mere property and instead recognizes the inherent rights of these natural entities to exist, flourish, and regenerate.

Impact on water Sources: the case of Whanganui River

In 2017, the Whanganui River in New Zealand made history by becoming the first river in the world to be granted legal personhood. The legislation bestowed the river with the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of a person, creating a powerful precedent for other countries to follow.

The legal personhood of the Whanganui River has had significant implications for the water source and its surrounding environment. The river, considered sacred by the indigenous M?ori people, has long been an integral part of their cultural identity and sustenance. By granting it legal personhood, the New Zealand government acknowledges the river’s cultural and ecological significance and commits to its protection.

With its new status, the Whanganui River now has its own guardians, appointed by both the M?ori community and the government, to advocate for its interests and ensure sustainable management. The recognition of the river as a legal person has given the M?ori people a voice in decision-making processes concerning its well-being, leading to more inclusive and community-led conservation efforts.

As part of the law, NZ$80 million will be used to redress damage caused to the river between 1880 and 1920 from works on a steamer service on the river to extract minerals from its bed, which eroded its ecological quality, destroying eel weirs and fisheries.

Reverence for nature: Ganga and Yamuna Rivers in India
India followed suit in 2017 by granting legal personhood to two of its most sacred rivers, the Ganga and Yamuna. These rivers hold immense spiritual significance for millions of Indians and have long suffered from pollution and over-extraction.

By recognising the Ganga and Yamuna as legal persons, India said it sought to safeguard the rivers’ ecological health and restore their purity. The new status allowed for more stringent legal action against polluters and those harming the rivers, creating a stronger deterrent against water pollution.

However, the decision was appealed to the supreme court and campaigners are still waiting for the verdict and the rivers sadly continue to be polluted and exploited.

The Atrato River: An environmental lifeline in Colombia
In 2019, Colombia made a significant move towards environmental conservation by granting legal personhood to the Atrato River. As one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, Colombia is acutely aware of the importance of preserving its water sources and natural habitats.

The Atrato River, located in the Chocó region, is an environmental lifeline for countless communities and diverse species. By bestowing it with legal personhood, Colombia acknowledges its crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and ensures a more holistic approach to its protection.

Hydro electric dam development

The Magpie River in Canada has become one of the latest rivers to receive legal personhood. The river faced increasing threats from industrial development and resource extraction activities and concerns were raised about potential ecological damage, water pollution, and habitat destruction from the development of hydro electric dams.

The 120-mile-long waterway is also sacred to the Innu First Nation, who call it Mutuhekau Shipu. They’ve depended on it as a major highway, food source, and natural pharmacy for centuries.

The journey towards granting legal personhood to the Magpie River involved years of advocacy and engagement with various stakeholders. Environmental activists, indigenous leaders, legal experts, and concerned citizens collaborated to raise awareness about the river’s value and the need for its protection. The process also included consultation with indigenous communities, ensuring their perspectives were integral to the decision-making process.

Challenges and future prospects

While granting legal personhood to rivers represents a significant step forward in environmental protection, it also brings with it complex legal and practical challenges. Balancing the rights of the river with existing human activities and development needs requires careful consideration and collaborative efforts.

However, the impact of this paradigm shift is already evident, as these rivers are receiving greater attention and resources for restoration and conservation. The recognition of rivers as legal persons reflects a growing global consciousness about the need to protect our natural resources and embrace a more sustainable approach to development.

The granting of legal personhood to rivers marks a profound shift in how societies perceive and value their natural resources. As rivers gain legal personhood, they become living entities with a voice, advocating for their well-being and conservation. This transformation instills a renewed sense of responsibility among communities and governments to protect and cherish these vital lifelines. 

Originally published in

Sound of Freedom is Drumming Near You

July 25th, 2023
QR code to pay it forward by purchasing tickets so that others can attend

We can certainly pick apart this film, its execution in that some scenes were predictable and bordered on idealism. One film critic asked why the lead actor Jim Caviezel holds a gun in his left hand in the movie poster when he refused to carry one on an undercover raid. Umm, don’t all Homeland Security officers carry a firearm normally, sir?

I thought this film was beautifully photographed considering the heinous and ugly subject matter of children sex slaves. Gorka Gomez Andreu. Remember that name. He made excellent use of everyone’s eyes—particularly the quite serious and dedicated Mr. Caviezel. But oh my, when he smiled, you want to stand up and shout, “I BELIEVE!” He lights up the screen as if he ingested the sun. His teeth are beautiful in its imperfect crookedness that belong in real life.

Director Alejandro Montemarde directed and co-wrote the screenplay based on Tim Ballard‘s work. Senor Montemarde spares us the grisly details of violent rape and left me to my own imagination. I broke my heart most capably without his assistance of moving pictures.

I could go on and on in the details of the story’s pluses and minuses but the fact that there always seems to be a complicit female involved in sex trafficking just boggles my mind. It’s not just evil male degenerates masterminding these operations, women too.

Most recently in the last five years, “He whose name we shall not speak of”—one committed “suicide” in jail, had a girlfriend (female) luring young girls to his island. And the other is jailed for life—he had female assistants who looked away and didn’t warn naive and gullible actresses from his deviant proclivities.

It’s not just in South America where they prey on children. It’s here too. So before you dismiss the faith-based message in this story: think about the utter helplessness a six-year-old child feels in the world of dangerous, lawless adults forcing horror after horror on him or her. If a medallion of a deceased human saint gives them hope, so be it.

By now, you know that this is not a feel good movie but spoiler alert: there is a powerful relief in knowing there are real life heroes not only helping to dismantle these pedophile rings but that the survivors of sex trafficking often commit their life to Herculean efforts in helping other abductees to escape. These survivors deserve our praise and sincerest hope that good always prevails by exposing the monsters who hide in plain sight. Even if it is Hydra with nine heads.

As a former Los Angeleno, it was most gratifying to witness a usually placid and laid-back San Diego audience spontaneously applaud! It is the sound of freedom that rings through-out the theater.

Stay safe folks and see you at the movies! j

Reservation Dogs, Season 3 on August 2nd–SKODEN!!

May 17th, 2023

Season 2, Episode 5 = The. Most. Hilarious. Episode. Ever.

Sacred Waters 2023

February 7th, 2023

Excited to hear Indigenous voices speaking about solutions for the future! Please join me…

Divine Intervention

December 5th, 2022

Happy birthday Sweet Jesus!

Please bless this beautiful planet with your divine love and benevolence.

Your servant <3,


“Give Time to Share Precious Thoughts”

August 16th, 2022


The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart, and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

— George Carlin, rest in eternal hilarity  1937 ~ 2008

Inaugural Pioneertown International Film Festival on May 27-29, 2022

March 22nd, 2022

The Pioneertown International Film Festival Announces the

2022 Lineup including the world premiere of the Jason Momoa-produced and starring in the Western, “The Last Manhunt.”

The inaugural festival, presented by Fistful of Bourbon and The Autry Museum Of The American West, will be held on 27-29 May 2022, in Pioneertown, CA, at the original studios built by Roy Rogers & Gene Autry in the 1940’s as an Old West movie set, repurposed for the occasion.

Pioneertown International Film Festival will be a 3-day immersion experience celebrating the Western genre, independent cinema, and the American culture of the west, with themed film screenings, masterclasses, live music, and screenings under the stars that will transport you to the heart of the American frontier.

Filmmaker Julian T. Pinder, and head programmer, Todd Luoto (formerly of the Sundance, CineVegas, Newport Beach, and Silver Lake Film Festivals), are excited to announce the 2022’s full line-up, which will feature an opening night performance by The Dandy Warhols, the world premiere of The Last Manhunt, produced by Jason Momoa / directed by Christian Camargo, that tells the tragic true story of the last great American manhunt of the old west, based on the oral history of the Chemehuevi tribe – located in the festival’s founder, award-winning Joshua Tree, CA – who will be present with the cast, for the screening.

The program will include International Premieres, Short Film Programs, Exclusive Panels and Events, a Paramount Restored Classics series, Anniversary screenings, and Special Presentations of classics such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Heartworn Highways and Heartworn Highways Revisited, the “30ish” Anniversary screening of Western animated classic

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, a Special Presentation of the Acid Westerns of Jack Nicholson and Monte Hellman, presented by their respective daughters, a screening of Amigo The Devil: Caving In featuring the “murder folk” balladeer directed by COURTNEY GAUGER, a special program of Stupid F*cking White Man: The Indigenous Image in Westerns curated by programmer and filmmaker ADAM PIRON (Kiowa/Mohawk), Director of the Sundance Indigenous Program, and joined by filmmaker and one of the directors of FX’s Reservation Dogs series BLACKHORSE LOWE (Navajo Nation) as they discuss the legacy of Jim Jarmusch’s Western Dead Man, and many more.

The closing night will feature a special screening of Alexandre O. Philippe’s Western documentary The Taking, and a live performance by The Sons of the Pioneers that will conclude the 3-day festival.


Special screening at The Autry Museum Of The American West :

The Autry Museum Of The American West, associated with Pioneertown International Film Festival, will be showing an exclusive screening of ‘The Last Manhunt’ to their members, as well as offer free entry to the museum to all the festival’s attendees up until the end of the year.

A wide range of industry professionals and celebrities will be in attendance, including many of the filmmakers whose films are being showcased or premiered : multi- hyphenate film talent and celebrated special effects makeup artist ROBERT KURTZMAN who co-produced and originally conceived the idea for From Dusk Till Dawn, director PHIL NIBBELINK presenting an anniversary screening of their Western animation An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, producer GRAHAM LEADER presenting special screenings of his iconic Outlaw Country documentaries Heartworn Highways & Heartworn Highways Revisited, the CAST of The Last Manhunt, LISA OGDIE who is the North America Cinema Programmer at Soho House, and many more.

Participants include the festival’s prestigious are the Board of Advisors: actress JENNIFER NICHOLSON, Producer CHRIS HANLEY (Spring Breakers, American Psycho, The Virgin Suicides, Buffalo 66…), actor and director CHRISTIAN CAMARGO (Dexter, House of Cards, The Twilight Saga), musician MAT DEVINE, (lead singer of the band Kill Hannah, Head of Music Partnerships at CAMEO), actor RAOUL MAX TRUJILLO (The Mayans, iconic villain Zero Wolf in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto), actress, producer and daughter of filmmaker Monte Hellman, MELISSA HELLMAN (Occupational Hazards, For Muriel, Macadam a? deux voies…), top-tier entertainment lawyer JORDAN M. BROWNING, and co-founders MIKE BRUCE and ALAN TRIGER.

I WON! By peer review of four stories published in News From Native California. (Please visit Essays.)

November 4th, 2021


California Ethnic Media Awards-WINNER!

June 7th, 2021

Look Ma!! I made it to the finalists—actually, I am a winner! So utterly grateful to have been awarded this Special Commendation by a jury of distinguished academia and veteran journalists. Thank you to Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media. I am honored. And thank you eternally to Terria Smith, editor extraordinaire at News From Native California. And thank you to Marina Drummer, champion of civil liberties, formerly of the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival and to Carly Tex, language whisperer.

The path of truth is not linear and the pen serves as a razor sharp machete for hacking the overgrown branches of falsehoods out of the way. May we all continue to write with courage and uphold the human race to accountability when the need rises.

Blessings and peace to all the Indigenous children, women, and men who suffered tremendous trauma and cruelty from forced removal from their families and punishment for speaking their Native language and practicing their tribal culture. And to all the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at the concentration camps ironically built on tribal lands which, includes Manzanar National Historic Site in Owens Valley.


WOW! We made it to 2021!

March 23rd, 2021

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. Pass the butter.

Masks are still on, people are running for the COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna or Pfizer? That is the hot question right now…a new contender is on the horizon: Johnson & Johnson. One shot stop. Prefer that because I HATE needles. Won’t even watch it on movies and they love filming close-ups of it going into skin. WHY?

Where can I go so that I can stand in yet another long, long, long line? Trader Joe’s line is longer than the DMV’s.

Thinking about embracing my wisdom highlights (grey hair)—just thinking about it….don’t go all crazy on me. Ain’t ready to be a grandma!!

I have lost all three of my sweet, sweet pets in the last two years. The last to walk on the Rainbow Bridge was Oliver (Ollie) at 13 years old with diabetes – Friday the 13, 2020. Rest in peace, my furry friend. xoxoxo

Stay safe out there in the big wide world friends! To quote Diana Ross: “Reach out and touch someone’s hand”—-from six feet apart if you can. Love, j