An Open Letter to Phil Tagami from East Bay Yogis and Yoginis

Dear Mr. Tagami,

We are yogis and yoginis who live and practice in Oakland and the East Bay. We write to you as a fellow yogi, an owner of Ume Yoga, a parent and a fellow human being.

We urge you to drop your lawsuit against the City of Oakland, which seeks to overturn a unanimous City Council decision to ban the storage and handling of coal in Oakland. The people of Oakland, and our elected representatives, have made it clear that we do not want a coal terminal in our beloved city.

One of the key values provided to us, as part of our yogic path, is that of “ahimsa,” or the non-harming of other living beings. It has been well documented that the coal terminal would have long-term negative health and environmental impacts on Oakland residents, especially those living in West Oakland, a neighborhood where lower-income families of color already suffer disproportionately from pollution.

Mr. Tagami, please ask yourself: Can you both practice ahimsa and be responsible for asthma and other illnesses impacting children in West Oakland from leaked coal dust, for a detectable rise in global temperatures from this coal in particular, for possible toxic spills or explosions, as well as the financial impact this case will have on the City of Oakland?

Your lawsuit could have national implications for local authority over public health, safety, and environmental hazards. Given the current political climate, you may unwittingly hand Donald Trump’s administration a precedent-setting victory over local communities’ rights to implement our own laws and policies, based on our values. This would seem an odd position for you to take, given your role as the Governor’s Delegate to the California Democratic Party, and a major supporter of Democratic Party candidates.

On its website, you describe Ume Yoga as a “calm place in a world gone mad.” We urge you to consider that your actions are causing madness in Oakland. The inordinate amount of money and time the City of Oakland will spend to defend our residents against your lawsuit could be better spent on positive benefits to our community, such as well-funded schools, clean parks and playgrounds, and services for youth, the elderly, refugees and immigrants. We urge you to drop this lawsuit and help make Oakland a calm place for everyone, not just for those fortunate enough to practice at Ume Yoga.

As fellow yogis and yoginis, we implore you to look into your heart and think about your own children and all of Oakland’s children. What future do you want for them? What is your role in helping to create that future for ALL children? Please practice your values as a yogi, both on and off your mat, and drop this lawsuit.

Namaste,

Dari Love Sylvia, Owner, Loka Yoga
Leah Gillman, Founder & Director, Barefoot Movement
BK Bose, Executive Director, Niroga Yoga Studio and Center for Well-being
Jean Marie Moore, Co-Owner, Anasa Yoga
Katy Cryer, Owner, Square One Yoga
Kimberly Leo, Owner, Namaste Yoga

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(for more background on this issue, and other ways to get involved, please see http://nocoalinoakland.info/)

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