29 December 2013

2014 - A Year of Big Changes?

A year ago, I made a resolution to become an Earth Mama (you know, learning how to make soap and grow more food, stuff like that). I then sprained or broke my thumb (sure wish I'd had it x-rayed; it took seven or eight months to heal!) on the second day of the new year and promptly gave up on my resolution, with a newfound respect for thumbs.

Where I go to sit
This year, as I head into a six-month sabbatical to work on climate change education materials, a book or two on the climate change emergency, and GreenHeart Education projects around the world, I simply want to wish you a fruitful new year, filled with time for contem-plation and learning, and the joy of knowing you're doing something good for the Earth and its children. 

Because you are. Doing something good for the Earth and its children, that is. Right?
"... just the act of trying to make change, just the act of trying to do something, feels so much better than just sitting there feeling oppressed by the awareness that things are really corrupt and screwed up.... It doesn't have to be this way and it feels really good trying to make it better, as opposed to just feeling the weight of how bad it is." — Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation)

22 December 2013

Best Wishes for an Excesslessly Festive Season

The Brussel sprout Christmas tree
that becomes dinner
I have to admit, I enjoy the holiday season, and always have. Won't apologize for that. I think it's because I have a much younger sister and found myself enjoying keeping the Christmas spirit alive for her as she was growing up. 

We're still a fairly tightly-knit family, and it's still a special family time for us, though we've had our share of Hollywood-style Christmas dinner dramas, for sure. My heart definitely goes out to those who don't like this time of year due to family problems, loneliness, poverty or illness.

But when I read that the average North American (adult?) will spend $800 this holiday season, my first reaction was to almost throw up. My second reaction was to question the source. My third reaction was to laugh. 

That's because the joy in my gift-giving stems from spending next to nothing! I love finding things around my home or secondhand gifts at our local thrift shop (where all the proceeds go back into the community) that are perfect for each person on my list. Then I wrap them in newspaper, decorate the packages with drawings of holly leaves, and celebrate spending next to nothing. And this year, many of my loved ones have a donation to relief work in the Philippines in their name.

Thought experiment. When the climate change $#@! hits the fan and we have to go back (cuz we haven't moved forward) to a pre-consumeristic economy, and all the new "stuff" is no longer available, and most people are desperately trying to grow their own food (like in the olden days), what will gift giving look like then? How long could the circular economy (of regiving) survive? Just something to think about.

I hope the holiday season is lavishly kind to you in spirit this year — without material excess.

Blessed be.

The Rebel Jesus, by Jackson Browne

15 December 2013

A Round Up of Interesting People Proposing Interesting Solutions

Once again, it's time for a smorgasbord of solutions to what ails us globally. Three of these come from friends!


Let's start with my online friend, Sanford Hinden. I've never known anyone to try so hard to hit the right chord! This idea (or rather, amalgamation of ideas), I think, is resonating for people this time. It's the Commonwealth for Earth & Humanity. The Commonwealth for Earth and Humanity (CEH) Fund will invest in Earth, humanity and community.
Enlightened members of humanity are welcome to participate in the co-creation of the CEH. Qualifications for CEH Participants and Global Council Members:
1. See the vision of humanity as a whole.
2. Honor the Earth as sacred.
3. Remember the vastness of the universe and the preciousness of life.
4. Acknowledge that Earth as a planet with water and a climate that supports life is very special and rare in the universe.
5. Be devoted to creating sustainable families, sustainable communities and a sustainable planet.
6. Seek to promote new business models that honor the Earth and humanity.
7. Be patient, persistent, perseverant, co-empowering, collaborative and co-creative in creating the CEH. 
Sandy and his co-creators have all sorts of nifty plans. Check out the latest iteration here (which is a link that might change, so use the one above, if necessary). Maybe you'll want to hop on board one of their Development Teams: 

  • Whiz Kids Team
  • World Regions Network Connectors Team
  • Best Companies Research Team
  • Investment Regulation Team
  • CEH Celebrity Leaders Team 
  • Website Team
  • Young Investors Team
  • New Ideas Team
  • Global Meetings Team

If you would like to participate, people of all ages, from any nation, are welcome to contact Sandy (sanfordhindenATverizon.net).


Here's an interesting adaptive measure for floods and sea level rise. Now, I can't vouch for the seriousness of this venture (much of the publicity surrounding it seems to be a tad tongue-in-cheek), but they're raising funds on Indiegogo. And I figure anything that brings awareness to the climate change emergency is a good thing. 

I actually had to laugh at myself reading about this project. Depending on your age, this description either will make sense or just won't make any!
Asap ["as soon as possible"] island is the vision of an autarkic [fancy word for self-sufficient] sustainable floating island, made out of recycled and renewable materials. It is low-tech, low-budget and open source, to help the people in flood-affected areas worldwide to raise their climate change resilience. It also serves as a global floating makerspace for open maritime innovations and eventually a realworld multiplayer game. Got it? A little open island for a better world. 
Asap-island will be low-tech, low-budget and open source, to empower the people in flooded and endangered areas to fight the results of climate change on their own. 
Started by the German street artist Joy Lohmann in the year 2000, the vision has meanwhile developed into a global community of makers, an artventurous concept and a feasible plan for how to realize it  A.S.A.P. 
THE GOOD NEWS: the construction of the "as-soon-as-possible island" is to be started in early 2014 within a 6-week workcamp in Goa/India. The location and riverside is set from our Indian team, 4 workshops will be held by experts from 3 continents and I bet, the glocal participants will deeply enjoy to get it done.

Check out their website (in German) and their blog (in English). They seem to be holding workshops all over the world. I think I'm going to splurge and go for co-ownership of one of these little floating arks. p.s. They're currently seeking mermaids.


Our real-life friend Glenn MacIntosh in Toronto is still fighting the good fight. Through ecosanity.org, he puts out the most thorough compilations — probably in the world — on the global (lack of) response to the climate change emergency. Once you've spent some time going through an ecoS alert, you will understand the issue. Glenn's latest compilation, on the "betrayal of life" that was COP 19 in Warsaw, can be found here


Another wonderful real-life friend, Cory Morningstar, is an investigative writer who is helping us see the unending strings attached between the neo-liberal corporate world and what is passed off as grassroots green organizing. Isn't it amazing how poetry can cut right to the point?
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet every summer you replace your Home Depot (teak?) patio set.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet if I suggest a transition to a plant-based diet, anger fills the air.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet if I tell you that the cause is capitalism, you smirk and walk away.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet you acquiesce to the voice of the colonizer while you dismiss the Indigenous voice with an unspoken superiority.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet, you accept that the words and thoughts of Indigenous Peoples must be conveyed by way of white mouths.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
Yet I witness your acceptance of blatant, highly financed, white paternalism.
I hear you cry "Save the Amazon!!!"
And I know you are a liar.

08 December 2013

Who Should Be Apologizing?

There seems to be an upsurge in fault-finding and aspersion-casting these days. But the wrong people are taking the flak.

Why are the "green capitalists" (who at least are trying to raise awareness and create change, even if it's within a broken system) being excoriated by all parties while the vast majority of capitalists — the rape-and-pillage kind — pretty much escape censure and get to carry on, business as usual?

Why are outspoken climate scientists who mention nuclear as a partial solution to the climate change emergency being pilloried while the vast majority of climate scientists are not called out for their cowardice and their silence?

Why are people who care deeply about the future we're bequeathing our children getting blamed by friends and strangers alike for spreading doom and gloom (aka, the truth) while the vast majority of parents and grandparents (in my culture, at least) spend their spare time watching crap on the television? If you feel "blamed" then maybe you know deep inside that you bear some of the responsibility.

It's getting pretty tiring for anyone who's been trying to sound the climate crisis alarm to continually be called an alarmist. (What do you do for a living? Oh, I'm an alarmist. Full-time.) Why is it considered worse to be a scaremonger (when what's happening is seriously scary and we want people to wake up and be frightened!) than to be an ignorer, delayer, skeptic or downright denier?

And don't even get me started on what a vegan has to put up with these days. Apparently our lower-carbon dietary choice is a judgement, an imposition on people who want to torture and murder animals in the most inhumane ways possible in order to enjoy their hunk of flesh without guilt — at the expense of all future generations. Well, folks, if you're feeling guilty around a vegan, perhaps you should listen to that little niggle.

How can I apologize for caring? For passionately wanting to safeguard the future of life on this planet? Why should I have to? Why do I have to watch what I say at dinner parties and in cafés? Why aren't we all talking about all of this? All the time? With everyone we meet?

How will we ever transform political will if we can't muster some personal and social will just to discuss the emergency let alone face it and solve it?

Truthfully, who should be apologizing to whom?

01 December 2013

Has Peace Become Clichéd?

A simple float in a Santa Claus parade. People-powered. Colourful. Creative. Collaboratively designed. A globe with a dove sitting upon it. Peace on Earth. Literally and symbolically. Lovely, right? Nope.

Head honcho says: "Peace on Earth is trite."


I remember when Christmas was the most special day of the year! The week before Christmas was magical. Then I went off to school and Christmas began to take up the whole month of December, in the way that Earth Day has spread to Earth Week and now, in some places, Earth Month. 

That never bothered me. The days became more and more festive as the month went on. 

Nowadays, though, the Christmas season begins the morning after Halloween. (I suspect some window dressers are up all night changing the display!) And Black Friday? What's up with that? I think it must be called Black Friday to commemorate all the tramplings, including deaths, that occur the Friday after the American Thanksgiving. (See Greening the Holidays at School for more.) 

I know it's all about wringing more shopping out of shoppers. I understand the economics of it. I don't condone the economics, but I understand the feeling (and, I suppose, the reality) that Christmas buying will carry many retailers through the rest of the year. But sometimes, it just serves to make us all the more grinchy. 


Could that explain someone — a newbie environmentalist with a lot of chutzpah and influence — forbidding "Peace on Earth" on a Christmas float because it's "trite"?

This must be someone who doesn't know that the world's militaries (with the US military in the lead) are the leading burners of fossil fuels on the planet. This person must not understand how incredibly destructive wars and conflicts (and illegal invasions) are to the human victims, but also to other species, and the land, the water, the air and the climate.