Member since: 2016
Dane Kamin joined Population Connection in 2016 and swiftly became one of our most active volunteers, both in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and, in fact, the entire U.S. As an environmentalist, he naturally enjoys the outdoors and staying fit, which he does by participating in a local bike club and riding at least 5,000 miles a year! Not only does he appreciate the outdoors but he does his best to preserve it. Dane’s career, hobbies, and local involvement have all played a role in increasing his awareness of environmental issues as well as the demands population growth puts on our natural resources.
Conversations with colleagues in the financial investment field, as well as with others involved in environmental advocacy and academia, have helped Dane recognize the complexity surrounding environmental issues. He started with a concern over the high demands for oil around the world and soon realized that developing countries’ appetite for oil was growing. In his mind, this was just one drop in the ocean of problems to tackle. Global warming, a lack of clean drinking water, air pollution … How could he address all of these issues that mattered to him?
Through his involvement with The Sierra Club, Dane encountered Population Connection at a shared tabling event. Eager to learn more about our organization, Dane registered for Capital Hill Days —an intensive, three-day training and advocacy event in Washington, D.C. Through this event, Dane learned more about our role in addressing environmental issues by advocating full, voluntary access to family planning and reproductive health care. He was thoroughly impressed and inspired by all of the like-minded individuals. It was at this event that he made the “Population Connection.” With natural resources stretched thin, Population Connection’s mission of zero population growth appealed to Dane’s desire to get to the root of our world’s environmental problems.
Dane knew that raising awareness about each individual environmental issue would not be enough. With population growth as the fundamental issue, Dane agreed with Population Connection that the solution centered on empowering women. He saw the domino effect: educating and empowering women to make their own reproductive choices would result in eventual population stabilization.
There are 214 million women in the developing world who aren’t using modern contraceptives and don’t want to get pregnant right now. If every one of these women had access to modern contraceptives and the full spectrum of basic reproductive health care, there would be an estimated 67 million fewer unintended pregnancies a year. By empowering women to have the number of children they desire—if any at all—we can ease the pressure that rapid population growth puts on the Earth’s resources.
Dane soon became a consistent volunteer with Population Connection. He has hosted many film screenings in his community and tabled at a variety of events, including VegFests, sustainability festivals, and Earth Day. He enjoys educating people about population, championing women rights, and advocating for increased access to contraceptives. He believes that “education, tabling, and regular day-to-day conversations are the most effective way” to participate in ending rapid population growth.
“Conversations around rapid population growth are scarce. People are aware of environmental problems, they know that climate change is a threat, and they also recognize that women’s rights must be upheld. What they don’t always have is a conversation about population. You’re running in circles if you don’t talk about population,” said Dane. Even though conversations about rapid population growth are fairly new to Dane’s community, people have been very receptive to it. Dane focuses on connecting with people at a personal level, discovering what issues are important to them, and then helping them make the population connection.
We applaud Dane for his dedication to our cause and his continued efforts! We are happy to work with such an inspiring individual.
If you’re ready to spread the word in your community about the importance of population stabilization, contact a membership relations coordinator at email@example.com to get started! There are many ways to be an activist for Population Connection, and this team is here to support your efforts!
In September of 2018, Population Connection lost a remarkable member and volunteer—Paul Rodgers of Dallas, Texas. Paul left us too soon. He joined Population Connection in 1992 and, over time, became our most active member in Dallas. His passing wasn’t just a loss for Population Connection, but for the many organizations he supported—such as his church and local food banks. An avid reader, Paul spent his spare time catching up on the latest in politics and economics.
When Population Connection launched our new membership engagement program in 2017, Paul quickly jumped in to lead our efforts in Dallas. He shared Population Connection’s message on the impacts of rapid population growth at Earth Day events, film screenings, and numerous presentations on the topics of population, health, and the environment.
Addressing population growth was always a priority for Paul. As he told us recently, he made the connection early in his life. He realized that alleviating population issues would not only help reduce pressures on our natural resources, but would improve the quality of life for people around the world.
He was enthusiastic about advocating for population stabilization through grassroots outreach and education. He said, “We have to address this problem politically and help change the laws of this country.” Volunteering with Population Connection gave Paul the platform he needed to motivate others to seek change.
Paul admitted that conversations around this topic were not always easy. “It’s hard to motivate somebody if they are not already interested. You really have to tap in to find out what their interest is, what their concerns can be, what their ability to help out is.” That didn’t stop him from engaging those who opposed his point of view. He found that, most of the time, “people already knew the problem;” he simply helped them identify ways to solve it.
His favorite conversations were with teachers. “Most teachers are willing to talk about environmental issues,” he said, but would often run into a lack of resources. He heard teachers’ frustrations as they tried to bring up these important conversations with their students. Paul’s familiarity with Population Connection’s programs enabled him to point teachers directly to Population Education—our K-12 program aimed at increasing students’ awareness about population issues—as a valuable source for lesson plans and activities.
Paul gave generously of his time and his resources. He was a true leader on population issues, and we are grateful to have known him.
Member since: 2014
Rob Meyer is an active member of Population Connection and represents one of the hundreds of members in the Minneapolis region. Rob’s passion for population came at a very young age, when he identified that many of the environmental problems he witnessed, such as loss of natural lands and urban sprawl, were a direct consequence of rapid human population growth. As Rob grew older, he would recall various projections related to the earth’s carrying capacity and remembers a time when population stabilization was at the forefront of environmental and political agendas. “Now,” he says, “All such projections have been surpassed. Most talk now about 10 billion people on the planet.”
While he has consistently supported several environmental organizations, mainly via monetary contributions, Rob has become increasingly wary of the dichotomy that oftentimes exists between efforts in favor of environmental sustainability and those focused on population stabilization. The way he sees it, one of the major foundational issues related both to environmental destruction and societal imbalance, such as access to resources, is undeniably population. In this way, making the connection between population, health, and the environment is absolutely vital in effectively advocating for a more sustainable future.
That’s why, in 2014, Rob decided to become a member of Population Connection. “I like Pop Connect because they are doing things. They have some tables and charts and graphs, but they are not a think tank. They are difference makers specifically addressing the population problem at its core.”
Rob got involved in January 2018 when Population Connection hosted a screening of the short film, “Not Yet Rain,” which ethnographically investigates the importance of access to abortion in Ethiopia. Rob was actively engaged in the discussion that followed, and posed many interesting and relevant questions ranging from the US’s role in international family planning to the many cultural and geographically specific barriers women face when confronting the need for increased access to family planning services. It was clear then that Rob would be a great activist! And, sure enough, Rob has since expressed substantial interest in becoming involved in his community and an advocate for global population stabilization. For example, Rob volunteered to spearhead an initiative to host an educational table at this year’s MayDay event in Minneapolis! Additionally, he will be working to lead future film screenings in his area, and has begun collaborating with other organizations focused in environmental conservation and population.
“I think local efforts are an important way to get the Population issue back on the ‘national agenda.’ It was there 45 years ago, but has drifted off for many reasons.” Echoing sentiments expressed by members Dirk and Bonnie Walters of San Luis Obispo, CA, Rob agrees that:
“…population is the fundamental problem. It is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.”
Rob believes that “Population Connection is both helping solve the problem and pushing it back on the national agenda.”
We are lucky to have Rob as a member and active volunteer in his community, and we’d like to thank him for his thoughtful efforts in promoting global population stabilization!
Bonnie and Dirk Walters
Members since: 1979
Meet Dirk and Bonnie Walters, who have been members of Population Connection since 1979! Dirk and Bonnie are dedicated population activists, hosting an informational table on the second and last Thursday of every month at the San Luis Obispo farmers market in California. In fact, they have been hosting an educational table in their community since 1985!
Bonnie explained her interest in supporting us by explaining that, to her: “Population Connection is well named; it is connected to everything! It didn’t take me long to realize that this issue is fundamental and will overwhelm everything else. The scientist in me can understand exponential growth and doubling rates, so this issue isn’t going away.”
Dirk and Bonnie both advocate for “the education of women, letting them know they have choices and helping them achieve those choices. We also need money to support women making their choices, which is peanuts compared to how we spend our federal budget.” In fact, increasing the federal budget for family planning programs domestically and internationally has shown to be the most cost-effective tool for empowering women and creating a more egalitarian society.
After over 30 years of advocacy, Bonnie still finds that “it is interesting to speak with someone who has been lied to. I remember a young boy whose mother dragged him away from our table. Once there was a young lady who though that birth control was more dangerous than pregnancy! The ones who stop by, we try to get them to thinking.” The Walters have found that people in their local communities are very receptive to this message: “Lots of people say ‘right on, glad you’re here, don’t give up!’ That’s always nice.”
Bonnie wants to inspire other people to get out in their community: “[Population] is the fundamental problem, the elephant in the room. “The more people we can get saying it out loud, the better. Tell people this problem isn’t going away. Get the education and dedication out there!”
If you’re ready to spread the word in your community about the importance of population stabilization, contact the Membership Relations Team at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started! There are many ways to be an activist and this team is here to support your efforts!