Make Earth Day Every Day!

With the light seemingly showing at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it is quite fitting that this year’s Earth Day theme is “Restore Our Earth”. The COVID-19 pandemic caused humanity to remember how to preserve and improve our health, livelihood, and quality of life.  This year, we at Octane feel that Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect on how we can improve the quality of our lives through the preservation of our planet. 

Typically, we hear about climate change, pollution, and deforestation as some of the problems facing Earth, but as most of us have been “sheltering in place” for the past several months – rightfully so – there’s been an uptick towards in-home energy use. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is just one contributor of greenhouse gas emissions that causes climate change and decreases the quality of our lives as living beings on this planet.

Earth Day is not only about acknowledging a need to do better for our Earth but also making and implementing those plans. The District is committed to fighting climate change and has plans and programs in place for climate adaptation and preparedness. Washington, D.C. has one of the most ambitious climate plans in the United States, including transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent in 2032! 

Working with government departments, sustainability companies and groups in the District, Reduce Energy Use DC launched on April 19th encouraging businesses and residents of DC to increase climate literacy, take inventory of energy use, and pledge to continue these habits for a better future. Today, Octane invites you to minimize your energy-use footprint and unplug for the day, clean up a local park or attend a virtual event that teaches ways to reduce energy consumption. Together, we can fight climate change and commit to a better Earth for our community, our families, and our future!

The Verdict in the Murder Trial of Derek Chauvin: Key Ways to Prepare Your Organization for the Outcome

George Floyd, left, Derek Chauvin, right
Source: ESSENCE – George Floyd, left, Derek Chauvin, right

Jury deliberations in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continue today. Regardless of the verdict, many believe that this is yet another incident of police brutality and systemic racism, that resulted in the tragic death of an unarmed black man.

It’s important to be prepared to support your employees during this time. After the final verdict is issued, individuals in your organization may require unbiased emotional and mental health support. Here are some key ways to prepare your organization for the outcome: 

  1. Draft an internal memo, in advance of the verdict, that displays empathy and provides details for internal and external resources such as mental health/trauma counseling.
  2. Develop an external communications strategy to implement if necessary. Use social media to state your company’s position (if any), sympathy for the Floyd family and support for your company’s values of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
  3. Utilize the leaders of Employee Resource Groups to send additional communications and to provide forums for conversation and support.
  4. If you have returned to an in-person work environment, designate safe place locations throughout the office where staff may have private discussions with each other or mental health counseling professionals.
  5. Allow staff to use paid time off during work hours for confidential and personal appointments.
  6. Collaborate with the Human Resources team to host employee support groups.

All staff must be aware that specific words and/or actions may provoke an emotional or angry response.  Everyone is encouraged to use courteous and encouraging language and exhibit their natural supportive demeanor while engaging with each other. Staff must also be respectful of individuals that choose not to engage in discussions about the final verdict. 

We are hopeful that the outcome of this controversial case will motivate staff to embrace one another for who we all are. Social equity is essential to the betterment of our organizations and the global community. 


Closer than Ever – Reflecting on Washington D.C.’s Civil Rights Journey to Statehood

DC residents protesting for Statehood rights.
UNITED STATES AUGUST 24: DC statehood supporters march to the Lincoln Memorial for the rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. DC officials, including Mayor Vince Gray held a DC Statehood rally at the D.C. War Memorial before marching to the larger rally on the National Mall. (Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images)

It’s Emancipation Day here in the District! Today, we celebrate the end of institution of slavery in our city, and the beginning of the advancement of African Americans in Washington D.C. While we have come a long way since then, there is still progress to be made in achieving true equity and dismantling systemic oppression. D.C. is closer than ever to becoming the 51st state, and it’s important to understand the journey to statehood is a civil rights story.

Last month, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shared before Congress how the District’s overwhelming majority of African American residents resulted in “racist efforts” to deny equal rights to residents. This started back in the 1870s when Congress removed DC residents’ voting rights specifically to dismantle the growing political power of African Americans in the city. John Tyler Morgan, a senator from Alabama and former confederate general, later said that Congress had “to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats…the rats being the negro population and the barn being the government of the District of Columbia”.

In a recent report by Statehood Research DC, historical data and information is presented to support the fact that the city lost its franchise and remained a voteless capital of democracy primarily because of race. D.C. became the first majority-black major city in the United States in 1957. By 1970, the District was more than 70 percent black, officially earning its alias, “Chocolate City”. While the city has rapidly gentrified since then, African Americans still make up 46 percent of the population.

Washingtonians could not vote in presidential elections until 1964. It was not until 1974 that they were permitted to elect their own municipal government, which still cannot pass laws or annual budgets without Congressional review. However, D.C. residents pay more taxes than residents in 22 states and pay more per capita to the federal government than any state — Hence the city’s coined phrase that captures their injustice, “No taxation without representation”.

This is why activists, D.C. residents, and people all around the world, are fighting the equal citizenship of the District’s more than 700,000 residents. This is unconstitutional, racist behavior, and we must call on Congress to make the fair, and just decision next week, to make Washington D.C. our 51st state.

At Octane, we are proud and honored to support the movement towards DC Statehood through our work. Our client, the Statehood division of the Office of Federal and Regional Affairs (OFRA), is leading this critical fight for justice every day.

“We know that DC Statehood is the one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our lifetime and we have the support from President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Americans across the nation who recognize this injustice. The time has come for this historic wrong to be corrected. – Senior Advisor to Mayor Bowser, Beverly Perry.

While we’re celebrating Emancipation Day today and over the weekend, let’s not forget about the fight we’re facing right now. Call on Congress to pass DC Statehood!