04 December 2016

Stand By ... for Standing Rock

Television used to remind us that we shared Turtle Island

Stand by, folks ... I'm attending something really cool later today and want to report on it then.

Thank you for your patience. A very, very dear friend from the Anishinabe First Nation came to our small community today to help us with a vigil for Standing Rock (one of a great many worldwide). The ceremony itself — especially the water blessing and the song Water is Life (written by someone here in our community) — was loving and healing

The talking circle afterwards, however, was POWERFUL. So powerful that when we got home, we learned that the American government (President Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior) had earlier today denied the easement that would have allowed the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River through Standing Rock Sioux territory in North Dakota.

Frankly, I think the arrival of 4,000 US veterans woke a few people up — like smelling salts or a slap across the face. All of a sudden, all those militarized "law" enforcement officers were facing not "the other" but themselves. I can imagine that the arrival of the veterans felt like a rebuke ... but one from a loving elder who sees his younger (foolish) self in the faces of his grandchildren, and wants to guide them away from their foolishness. (But I could be imagining things.)

During our talking circle this afternoon, we heard the story about a grandmother's way of dealing with a bully. "The next time he bullies you or is mean to you, just look into his eyes until you see the Creator there," she told her granddaughter. The storyteller, who was quite young when this happened, did so. The next time the bully was mean to her, she gazed up into his face until suddenly, she saw the Creator in his eyes. "He melted," she said. "The bully in him just melted away." (I burst into tears realizing it was perhaps the first time that boy had ever felt truly seen.)

I think the enforcement officers at Standing Rock were looked at deeply today. I think they could not remain immune to the gaze when the gazers were themselves. "How could," they'd have been wondering, "thousands of my brothers and sisters be standing on the other side instead of on my side? What is wrong with my side?" Turns out it was so that the veterans could look deep into their eyes ... and see the Creator.

I pray that the enforcement folks finally felt seen and understood — and that they can now stand down, as fellow human beings, realizing how wrong they were about the people they'd turned into the enemy. "The friend of my friend must be my friend."

And we are all one on this Earth.

BTW, we here on the west coast of Canada are steeling ourselves for a fight to protect our ocean. And we will follow the lead of our coastal First Nations. Thank you, Standing Rock, for inspiring us with your example, your bravery and your fortitude. You've really started something!


Whenever we talk about Standing Rock and other protests, we need to remember that if not stopped, fracking and the burning of oil, natural gas and coal will decimate the viability and the habitability of our biosphere. 

27 November 2016

It Would Appear Evil Has Triumphed

Evil has "trumped" good. The future can feel the reverberations.

Here's an excerpt from an essay-in-progress by Dr. Peter Carter, an indomitable climate change activist.

How bad can a Trump US presidency be?
Surely it would not be the end of world? Actually it would.
The surprise Trump win turns out to be the latest episode in a decades long overt conspiracy and campaign of deception and "big money" political influence by the American fossil fuel corporations to keep America and the world dependent on and dominated by the fossil fuel industry.
This makes Trump the greatest ever threat to world and US national security. A Trump presidency in the United States would be the end of our world, including particularly America.
During the campaign, a number of reasons were given for a Trump win to be a national security nightmare, but the greatest, most definite security issue has been all but missed.
Trump as president would be the end of US national and world security because his stated agenda is to pollute the planet to death with catastrophic levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, global warming, climate disruption, and ocean acidification.
This is definite. It is in his platform on his campaign website, where, if elected president, Trump promises to "unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves." That "unleashing" — at a time when we should be desperately trying to meet a goal of zero carbon emissions — would result in the collapse of the life-sustaining biosphere, both land and oceans.
Since the Trump win, several reasons have been given why the Electoral College in the United States should not confirm Trump, but global climatic annihilation is not one of them.
The reason a Trump presidency would be the end of the world, which he has made no secret of, is that he rejects any measures to mitigate the effects of atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution. Worse still, his election platform is to burn all the American fossil fuels as fast as they can be fracked and mined. According to the science of greenhouse gases, this will lead to the end of American and world agriculture, ending civilization and making an unlivable world for today’s children.
The resulting global climate disruption, with its ever escalating heat waves, forest fires, drought, ocean heating, ocean deoxygenation and ocean acidification makes the Trump agenda for his nation a death sentence for our planet.
The media gave the impression during the lead up to the election that Donald Trump had no fixed policies and just made things up as he went along the campaign trail — and they are still saying he has no election mandate. That is dangerously not the case. 
We're now hearing that Trump is back pedalling on a lot of his campaign rhetoric, including admitting that climate change might be real. But let's not be fooled. This man is a shill for Big Money and the fossil fuel corporations — and we know they will stop at nothing. There is no longer any distinction between the Church of Greed and State in the United States of America.

20 November 2016

I Think Permaculture Can Save the World (or At Least Delay Our Demise)

I finally found it. In the least expected place!

I was listening to a wonderfully inspiring webinar yesterday morning called Regenerative Moringa Farming. But it was about much more than that. Aaron Elton (a Vancouverite) was actually talking about a model that is lifting orphanages and villages in Uganda (his adopted homeland) out of food insecurity and poverty with large scale permaculture projects that include regenerative moringa farming.

As someone who's going to be teaching an introduction to sustainable development to first year university students in the new year, I was excited to hear Aaron talking about initiatives that are profitable (economy), healthy (social equity), beneficial (environment) — the 3 Es of sustainability — and fun (if it ain't fun, it ain't sustainable).

One of my most important take-aways from the webinar was the importance of being open to and building partnerships (including unlikely ones) when trying to get something new off (or on!) the ground.

I think I've admitted this before, but sometimes the only thing that can get me up in the morning is the potential for preservation of our species found in the principles and processes of permaculture.

Okay, so what was it that I finally found in this unexpected place? Aaron shared a quote that crisply explains my view of hope in the face of demise.

There is nothing so well known
as that we should not expect
something for nothing —
but we all do
and call it Hope.
— Edgar Watson Howe
There. That's it. You want hope? Then do something about the climate change emergency! Do not do nothing and expect a result. False hope never saved anyone's skin.

And if you want to do something exciting, take a class on permaculture ... and then get to work in the soil.

13 November 2016

"Your Anger is a Gift"

Someone writing about the self-doubt that keeps new permaculturalists from spreading the word as permaculture educators quoted a powerful rock song from the early 1990s.


These words have been muttered by Rage Against the Machine’s lead singer Zac Dela Rocha for at least two decades, and its likeness noted within any cultural movement attempting to reapportion justice for centuries prior, members of permaculture being no exception.

We need to learn to harness, or "catch and store" our energy in whatever form it takes. And all too often when faced with our contemporary scenario we are struck by an overwhelming anger. I’m saying we need to use it."
"Your anger is a gift." That first word, "your," really spoke to me this week. 

I was starting to feel pretty hysterical the night of the American election. I live in western Canada, a stone's throw from our border with the United States, and the angst on this side of the boundary cast a pall over our small community. But my nerves and tears and nausea turned to anger when I realized what (and who) American voters had unleashed on the rest of the world, especially what their president-elect stands for.

Then it began, early the next morning. All the posts and messages and listserves and articles exhorting us to remain positive and full of love and hope and light. To which I say, Phooey! That's like asking someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one to buck up. No, thank you. My anger is my gift!

My love and light and compassion are reserved for the children — of all species — and all future generations who do not deserve to have the sins of their elders visited upon them, especially when we thought we'd made some progress in so many areas. 

Mother Bear anger is a completely rationale reaction to what is going on south of our border. I need my anger to give me strength to stick up for what I know is right. I need my anger to energize me for the climate change fights ahead. I need my anger to give me courage in case the hate crimes and horrible bullying creep across the border. I will not stand idly by. 

p.s. Two days after the election came the news that Our Children's Trust has been given the green light to carry on with its climate change suit against the US federal government. Now THAT'S something to feel good about!