April 4, 2013

Honorary Chirping Birds, Olivia and Carter Ries

Chirping birds are folks who are not afraid to speak out about issues of moral concern. Famous names that could be classified as chirping birds come to mind: Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Nelson Mandela, and perhaps less widely known, Helen Suzman, who inspired me to write this blog.

During the apartheid period in South Africa, Helen Suzman was the only MP in the SA parliament, who spoke out about the evils of apartheid. She even visited Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned on Robben island and Helen talked so much about the evils of apartheid, she was dubbed the ‘Chirping Bird.’ The name resonated with me and after becoming aware of the plastic mess in which our planet now struggles to survive, I was motivated to form the Chirping Bird Society, a blog to honor and relate the stories of current chirping birds hoping that others will be inspired and become chirping birds in their own right.

When I first encountered Capt. Charles Moore, the sea captain, who accidently discovered the first of the oceanic gyres, and took his findings to the media about ‘the plastic ocean’ I realized that I had met my first current ‘Chirping Bird.’

Shortly thereafter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hosted an oceanic conference in Honolulu, co-sponsored by two of the biggest plastic polluters in the world, Coca Cola and the American Chemical Council. While other participants at the conference spoke softly about ‘ocean debris’ in deference to the conference sponsors, Daniella Dimitrova Russo, Executive Director of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org , had the backbone to call it what it is; namely ‘plastic litter.’ I had found another Chirping Bird.

And later, I discovered Beth Terry’s blog, www.myplasticfreelife.com   in which she explained how she became concerned about the plastic issue and set about finding antidotes to plastic products. Beth has even published a plastic free book, ‘Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too’ in which she provides all kinds of alternatives to plastic. product.(see link in column)

I have since discovered that chirping birds come in all ages and the youngest birds which I have had the great pleasure to meet are Olivia (10½) and Carter (12) Ries, who founded One More Generation (OMG), www.OneMoreGeneration.org , an organization committed to bringing awareness to the plight of animals and prevent extinction for at least one more generation, and hopefully beyond.

Olivia and Carter first became aware of the impending extinction of certain animals when they first adopted cheetahs from South Africa. Distressed by the thought of such creatures becoming extinct, the children persuaded their parents to form a non-profit in order to bring awareness to the problems. The children did not want animals to keep dying, never to be seen again.

Shortly after starting OMG, the oil spill happened in the Gulf after which the children were horrified to see the struggling oil covered creatures trying to survive in the waters. The kids immediately begged their parents to help out.

Subsequently, they learned about the connection between oil, plastic and the environment and how plastic is such a devastating threat to sea birds and marine life. Since then Olivia and Carter have gone on to educate thousands of their peers on the issue of plastic pollution. In the past few months the children have met Ocean Elders, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Ted Turner and Richard Branson and they have also appeared on the Steve Harvey Show in Chicago. During the show, much to the delight of the children and their parents, Mr. Harvey surprised the family with complimentary tickets from South African Airways, to Johannesburg, providing the children the opportunity to deliver petitions to President Zuma to help save the gravely endangered rhinos.

We at the Chirping Bird Society wish our youngest honorary birds the best of luck and the greatest good fortune with their mission for one more generation and beyond.


  1. Thank you again Goffinet!
    Beth Wiley

    1. Beth, Thank you. I am sure that Olivia and Carter will appreciate your comment. They are great kids. And don't forget you are also a chirping bird.