16 July 2017

Everybody Deserves Some Time Off

When a friend said to me this morning, "I know all the environmental problems still exist, but ...." I cut her off by adding, "But you still have to eat breakfast, right?" "Exactly," was her response.

Well, I still have to eat breakfast. I need some time to recharge my batteries and reinvigorate my soul. It's been a taxing year, with illness and change and sad news. So I'm going to take some time off from this blog, and I'll see you back here when the spirit moves me.

Meantime, I'll leave you with some delightful news!

Gravity is illuminating sub-Saharan Africa

See this article in The Guardian about an innovative solution to burning kerosene (which produces black carbon, or soot, a byproduct of incomplete combustion; one kilogram of black carbon gives rise to "as much warming in a month as 700 kilograms of carbon dioxide does over 100 years") for light. More than a billion people (250-300 million households) around the world burn kerosene as their primary source of light. 

Kirk Smith, professor at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and director of the Global Health and Environment Program, says: "There are no magic bullets that will solve all of our greenhouse gas problems, but replacing kerosene lamps is low-hanging fruit, and we don't have many examples of that in the climate world."

Says Jim Reeves, technical director of the Gravity Light Foundation and designer of this simple technology, "I was always a creative person, and did really enjoy making things. The potential outcome of some creative process, where you're just trying to solve a problem, where that outcome can be used in such a tremendously positive way, it really drives you to set about solving that problem.... If you're going to do anything that's vaguely innovative, then you're going to go through loops of real frustration and crushing disappointment. That's going to be part of that journey."

But, he added, "What we're trying to do is have a positive impact, improving life in general."

One of the first recipients of the gravity light said, "The bad thing with kerosene is that it is very expensive. Sometimes people get health problems because of the smoke. When you don't have money, you have to live in the dark." 

Until now. 


What can you do about the climate change emergency? Encourage and support creative problem solving and innovation. Talk about innovative solutions like GravityLight with your family and friends, neighbours and colleagues.

09 July 2017

Summer Vacation!

I'm offline for a few days, folks, while visiting friends. Hope you're enjoying summer (or winter), wherever you are.

My thoughts are with those affected by all the wildfires this season. 

Take care, everyone!


04 July 2017

My Big News ... and a Public Promise

This post comes a couple of days late. Sorry about that. It was a busy holiday weekend here for us, with guests (and more guests), and lots of fun things to do. 

But my big news is that I retired this past Friday. It was a relatively sudden decision, but it seemed (and still seems) the right (altough bittersweet) thing. After 32 (not all full-time) years as a teacher, I said goodbye to my official job title (and my benefits) and am now, officially, into my "endless summer" of early retirement.

But retiring from my job as a teacher (and what a wonderful job it was, too, with thanks to everyone involved with the Spring Leaves Family Learning program over the past 10 years!) doesn't mean I'm retiring from work as an educator — especially a climate change educator. 

Remember I told you last weekend about a wonderful nature attunement workshop I took? Well, a wonderful arbutus tree, with five large branches all reaching in the same direction, reminded me that it's okay to take another path, but that I'll probably always walk the path of a teacher in my heart.

This time, like all times, is a very good one
if we but know what to do with it. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So what will I do with "this time"? Well, right here, right now, I want to make my commitment public. Because I don't plan to take up golf or spend all my time sailing. Besides cleaning up the loft in our house (a long-overdo task), I am going to:
  • create a GreenHeart Education course, to help teachers green the heart of the work they do
  • finish writing and editing several books, on climate change and a few other (surprising) topics
  • and write to all the school districts in North America, imploring them to teach their students the science of climate change and asking them to support (morally, at least, and perhaps financially) Our Children's Trust
There. You're my witness. With no deadlines (endless summer, remember?) but lots of dedication, I commit to achieving the above goals (including getting my loft organized!) for the sake of all the children, of all species, for all time.

p.s. If you've never spoken with a tree or asked the Universe for some advice, you've got a treat to look forward to!

25 June 2017

The Climate Change Emergency is a Crisis of Imagination

The gift I gave myself this year for my big birthday was a workshop called Intercultural Shamanism and Plant Spirit Medicine. The main purpose of this workshop is to deepen our connection with the rest of Nature. It's for people who "see plants, trees, and all of nature as sentient beings that live, breathe and communicate." (Yup, that's me!) It started yesterday and carries on today, with glorious weather, two wonderful teachers, and a lovely group of co-sojourners.

Two thoughts struck me yesterday as we hiked up through a forest to the spot where we would spend our afternoon together. One was a "message" from the dance of shadows along the path that the shade provided by trees is going to become more and more life-giving as the Earth heats up. (Note the record-breaking heat waves in the American southwest these days.) Residential tree cutting should now be considered — and treated as — a crime.

The other thought was a reminder that what has kept us on the business-as-usual track of rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations is a society-wide crisis of imagination, something I've written about before. Our leaders, Don and Sandy Ollsin, explain that oftentimes, when people are doing what's called attunement work with plants and other sentient beings, they worry that it's their imagination coming up with things.

That thought, that concern, shows exactly why we're in the midst of a crisis of imagination. That worry belies a belief that a thought, an idea, an impression or notion that comes from the imagination is somehow worse than something that comes from our logical, rational side of the brain. Of course, I realized! It's not just that we've lost the ability to think creatively and let creative thoughts come to us (from all sources). It's also that we've downgraded the value of imaginative and creative thought. Here's what Don and Sandy have to say:
In general, in Western culture, rationalism is up and imagination is down, according to authors / researchers Lakoff and Johnson in their book Metaphors We Live By. They point out that we are under the domination of an outdated scientific paradigm that is still deeply ingrained in our thinking, language and practice. This is where we need to change — it is time to wake up from Descarte's dream and Newton's sleep! The idea of reductionism is outdated. The visible world is not all that exists — the invisible realm is alive and well. Everything is interconnected, field energies are real and have an impact on us, and the observer affects the observed.
Don and Sandy also shared some quotes from Albert Einstein on the importance of the imagination:

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
"Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere."
I've often defined intelligence as the ability to make connections. I see now that it takes imagination to be able to see connections that don't exist until we make them. And if people don't trust or value their imagination, then they cannot develop their full intelligence. It's what leads to the black-or-white, either/or thinking that plagues us. 

As I've said before, people seem to think that either "life has to stay the way it is (comfortable and unsustainable), or it becomes sustainable and miserable." What about all the wonderful possibilities in between unsustainable and miserable? Surely, as I have wondered in the past, a generation raised on The Jetsons and Star Trek on TV can picture a different world, a different way of living, that works for the climate and the biosphere?

Maybe one vital solution is for all of us to simply stop and smell the roses ... and then listen carefully to what they have to say to us.