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Archive for the ‘Sustainable Ecology Future Environmental Activism’ Category

You have a favorite piece of clothing.

One day, you notice that a button is loose and some of the fabric’s weave has unraveled, leaving some threads dangling.

If you really like this piece of clothing, you’ll probably try to fix these imperfections so they don’t get worse.

If however, you don’t care for it enough to expend the energy to fix it, you might tell yourself that it can be replaced—or that you can find something similar, or better. If you lived in Cuba or the DRC, replacing it wouldn’t actually be an option.

Another possibility is to do nothing. Just let it unravel, missing buttons and all, until it eventually becomes unwearable. Maybe use the remaining fabric for an art project.

Relative to your lifestyle, would you do what’s sensible? Or are you more inclined to do what’s easy?

What if this piece of clothing was a space suit or something you actually couldn’t survive without in a region like say, the Arctic tundra?

Keep Asking Lots of Questions

Does the average first-world person prefer to replace a worn garment with something new? Are there too few seamstresses and tailors in the western world? Why do people who can sew and repair garments primarily work for in third-world sweatshops or for the wealthy? Why is this skill-set so absent and relatively undervalued in America? There was a time—in Europe, in my parent’s generation—where sewing was on par with driving as a valuable skill.

Why does an internet search for “world’s poorest island communities” reveal absolutely nothing? Why does a search for “world’s poorest islands” reveal only a scant handful of bloggers, some of whom comment on the ‘obscene disparity’ between say, Haiti, and the tourists who pay to be disgorged there from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that sits quietly in the distance awaiting their suntanned return for unlimited food and booze?

Haitian disparity-on-the-beach

For that matter, why is there unlimited access to booze on a finite planet while 783 million people don’t have access to clean water? Are we not aware enough that the present ways of our culture are unsustainable?

 

 

Where am I going with all this, you may wonder…

Those of you who understand the art of the metaphor and the unmistakable theme of my work, know all too well where I am taking you.

The Biosphere (aka., Life on Earth)

Despite our (collective) limited understanding of what creates a healthy, sustainable world, we are nevertheless aware that all of life depends on the health and well-being of our planet.

Helen_Christiansonsaving ecosystems

We’re talking about an organic living system. The planet is an organic living system that our singular species (7 billion of us) share with 8.7 million OTHER species.

What we know with surprising certainty is that it is the web of life as a whole that has made it possible for our species to exist. Like your favorite piece of clothing.

As David Suzuki states, “To tear at the web in such a massive way with so little regard for our own future is a kind of collective insanity that is suicidal.”

Come on now, why would you tear up your favorite piece of clothing?

 

A Fertile Future

A fertile future rests on three things:

  1. Organic, thriving uncompromised ecosystems;
  2. Wise, compassionate stewardship of said ecosystems;
  3. The re-creation of human systems that unequivocally reveal the long-term value of the first two.

You can quote me on this.

Yes, your children are equally precious. So are mine. What kind of world do we want to see them grow up in? Being a parent opens our hearts to ongoing, unconditional love. What would it take for the planet that supports us unconditionally to experience that love too?

If this single statement of what I believe a fertile future rests upon contributed to the foundation of entirely new human systems and thus, ways of thinking that were based upon sustainable ethics, we would be able to turn things around. Maybe not in my lifetime, but maybe in our children’s lifetime.

Please don’t wait for another spark of inspiration. Join a group that’s actually doing something to make the planet healthier.

Share your and others’ ideas far and wide.  Talk with me on this blog.

Move out of your comfort zone and speak for that which does not have a human voice but needs yours to survive.

Every act and expression of thought has the power to change things.

Happy family

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As February emerges in the South Pacific right now, it seems like a good time to thank January for its many  gifts–particularly for the rain here in California.

Sharing Nature with kids-Devon-England 001

Ever since completing a 3-year Waldorf teacher training program to practice the art of integrative teaching, it has become a personal practice of mine to be particularly conscious about the daily rhythms and energies preceding Epiphany (January 6).

 

I experience a sense of timelessness, where my awareness flows fluidly with the natural shifts of light and dark. There is a more heightened awareness of the present moment, coupled with an expanded effortlessness to remain fully present. In this state of awareness, Life’s paradoxes reveal hidden purpose and meaning. A brilliant constellation of ideas–as few as two or three and as many as dozens I’ve attempted to document–that had previously not arisen in my mind in such an interconnected way.

 

What surprised me was the unexpected paradoxical nature of the ideas that came into view, which are shared verbatim below. If a big part of you revels in collaboration and togetherness, realize that the flipside is to revel in–and actually yearn to–experience quality alone time with yourself. It’s vital for self-balancing. So, here’s what came in:

yin yang earth“It is your lack of commonality that will free you. It is your commonality that binds you. It is your freedom of choice to connect or not–or to be bound or not.”

In other words, “the variables that make each of us utterly unique are also what frees us. You could also say that freedom is a vast commonality, depending on how you view it.”

 

Another way to look at this is that the world could be your oyster…or it could be your jail cell…depending on the broadness of your perspective.

12-12-12 image Vasumi

It was sort of thrilling to realize for the first time a new dimension to my career that hadn’t occurred to me of before: the idea that connecting cultural / linguistic anthropology with sovereign food system restoration of island communities would be an absolutely banging way to immerse my career into the realms I love most. Naturally, this is my own unique spin on life based on what truly rocks my world. Highly recommended…

 

Prior to the gnarly communication discord of this most recent week (17-24 January), the altitude of awareness has been at an all-time high—available for the reaching to anyone w ho reaches for what really matters.

 

cosmos_from_earth

Our cosmos as seen from earth

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Third in a series, this article may sound like a spin on the previous article: The Art of Allowing Space into Everyday Life. Savvy readers however, will catch the distinction right away–this article penetrates the taboo-trending topic of self-discipline.

nothing Binds u

Self-discipline is actually a form of freedom. Not just freedom from, but freedom to live into one’s own unique pursuit of authentic happiness. It sits quietly at the core of ANY relationship–beginning with the most basic one: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Our relationship to ourselves—and with the natural world around us—has everything to do with keeping ourselves whole.

Every millimeter and area of the natural world is an ecosystem. Every ecosystem lives in balance with what it needs to stay whole—doing so continually activates self-organizing principles that drive the living systems of our planet and solar system.

So, shifting gears from macrocosm to microcosm: when we need balance in our lives, where do we go?

How do we change our perspective in a relatively short period of time? How do we re-balance from a busy day or otherwise stressful situation?

It requires a form of self-discipline that could initially be described as a yearning, a desire for something different…an urge to ‘bust out’, get creative or just escape…it’s an undeniable need. It’s really about the self-discipline of wholeness, or holistic awareness.

hand-touch-surface

In this world of designed fragmentation, ignorance of self-discipline has profoundly disturbing consequences. Just look around the world at anything that seems out of control, terribly unhealthy, insane or just plain ludicrous. Running through the body of that event, person or situation is—simply put—a lack of awareness.

Kick-start your own awareness.  Look at our planet via Google Earth or as Edgar Mitchell, founder of IONS, might have seen it from space.  Such a difference in perspective changes everything.

Image converted using ifftoany

Earth from space

Our interconnectedness with life is crystal clear. Denial isn’t an option. We are an integral part of the earth’s living ecosystem–and the quality of our lives depend on it.

Your own ability to unplug has everything to do with your ability to transform negative, life-draining energies into constructive, positive ones. The quickest route to unplugging is to immerse yourself in nature on a regular basis.

Want more experience doing this with others? Check out what other awesome people are doing and dive in!

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Yes, that’s essentially what this amounts to.

No need to sit like a Yoga for years. No need to renounce the world, or read scriptures. Unless that is how you want to live your life.

The highest spiritual path is life itself. It’s not about your career, who you want to marry or whether you want to seek God. These are projected outcomes. They are manifestations.

Every manifest thing has a life cycle of newness, change and eventually decay. That new car, phone or piece of clothing you bought will eventually lose its appeal over time. You will eventually opt for something to replace it. Or not. This is simply the life cycle of something that exists in space-time as we know it.

In the end, you can throw out all the possible outcomes, because they are impermanent.

You actually only have one core, underlying decision in your life: “Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy?”

It’s really that simple. Once you make THAT choice, your path through life becomes completely clear.

Mot people don’t dare give themselves that choice because they believe it’s out of their control. One might say, “Well of course I want to be happy, but my car just broke down.” In other words, they want to be happy, but not if their car breaks down. But that wasn’t the question.

The question was, put quite simply, “Do you want to be happy or not?”

If you keep it simple, you will see that life is really about your own inherent power of choice. It’s just that you have a deep-seated set of preferences that get in the way. Learn to use them as guidelines rather than “must-haves.”

This is not about whether happiness is under your control. It is. And, the conditions you create and then impose upon yourself actually limit your happiness.

Life-situation-vs-life-in-u

The stock may crash, a loved one may die, your car might break down in the rain, the kind of house you dream of living in may never become affordable. This all may happen between now and the end of your life. You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them without totally burning yourself out. Billions of things could happen that you haven’t even thought of yet.

The truth is, events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They’re just events. You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.

Essentially, your answer to the question of being happy must be unconditional. That alone may take a bit of work. But, what are the other options? What is most important?

Anything circumstantial can be done with joy and ease IF you allow yourself to experience that.

If you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only become exponentially happy, you will actually become enlightened.

Unconditional happiness is the highest and simplest technique there is. This doesn’t mean that unpleasant events will never occur. It simply means that choosing inner happiness is where you choose to be with yourself no matter what is occurring around you.

Like a tree, you become an eternal witness to life and experience balance in return.

~ Part 1 of a series on Simply Living. Enjoy and discuss!

telling the truth

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divine-masculine-divine-feminineDuring these challenging times, we’re witnessing the end-game of a patriarchal value system that has gripped our collective consciousness for over 5,000 years. This phase of our species has been marked by domination, control, aggression, hierarchy and centralization. Its end-game reveals a greater movement towards feminine values.

It’s important to be aware that masculine and feminine values alike are guiding principles in their own right. Too much (a saturation) of one or the other (hyper-masculinity or hyper-femininity) creates a systemic imbalance which, over time, activates movement into the opposite direction as a natural inclination toward dynamic equilibrium. We can see this in a person who is scared about doing something, yet must do it anyway. They overcompensate with false confidence or exaggerate some bravado to mask their insecurity. It’s simply designed to maintain an inner equilibrium.

 

Active Receptivity

Listening to others or receiving from one another are often considered ‘passive’ characteristics, yet the key here is that they are apparently passive. In the act of receiving or listening, one responds silently or verbally—both internally and externally. In so doing, the receptive plays it’s own activating role in co-creating the future.

Women typically hear more than what is simply stated because they’re hard-wired to process complex information. In so doing, women are more likely to be attuned to larger dynamics that are in play.

 

Evolution and the Greater Good

The very essence of life is about growth and change. Women—at any stages of their lives—are literally hard-wired as evolutionary change agents in that they are designed to adapt, respond to alternating demands and nurture/support others. Men are typically taught to live up to the highest values in their societies—upholding and maintaining family and cultural status quos.

Three core qualities of a leader reveal someone who is dynamically adaptable, capable of holding and articulating a vision, and who can motivate others to not only share that vision, but find their own inner motivation within that vision to strengthen the vision and simultaneously build their own sense of identity and confidence. These are all inner activities that receptively respond to both inner and outer impulses such as dialogue, activities, results, symptoms, causes and naturally, new developments.

 

Constructive Co-Creation

The ability to respond thoughtfully and constructively to change is inherent in all living species. Some species take more time to adapt than others, depending on the cause agents of change. Depending on one’s species and on one’s survival perspectives, a cause agent is experienced on a tonic-to-toxic scale, principles that polyculture permies consciously embrace.  If, for example, each member of a colony of bees suddenly loses their ability to smell, navigate and communicate, a cause agent that is far more toxic than tonic is creating colony collapse.  Because 97% of our food sources require pollination by bees, such a loss has devastating results not only for the bee colony, but also nearby colonies and by extension, the food sources of our human species.

Taking this to a simple level, the flower is the receptor of the bee’s pollination, while the bee is the receptor of the flower’s pollen. Both hold a position in space (have a meaningful existence), and both receive from the other in different ways.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comThe ability to receive, to adapt, and to be an integral part of something larger (a greater dynamic at work) connects our species more meaningfully to one another through interdependence (have you ever doubted it?) and a mutual desire to thrive.

Next month: Thoughts on the Signature of All Things.

 

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The breeze at dawn 
has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep. 



You must askfor what you really want. 



Don’t go back to sleep. 



People are going back and forthbetween the door sill

where the two worlds touch. 



The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

 

 ~ Rumi

 ImageThis time is ripe to discover, be and continue to become yourself completely.

Yes, this is an inside job.

It has little to do with being the best or greatest at something based on another’s standards.  This is the work of unfurling—sometimes slowly, sometimes radically—the inspiration of your soul.  It begins with listening to your inner guidance—your own personal intuition.

The more we see life as a series of interactive experiences, the more these experiences will inform our sense of life and well-being.

If your sense of someone or something makes you feel wary, distant or withdrawn, realize that these feelings can be fear-based.  Realize also that there could simply be no energy in your world behind the interaction.  How to determine what’s true?

Be honest and kind with yourself.  Where IS the energy in this particular experience?  Is it coming from someone else?  Are you meeting that energy with your own?  Do you genuinely feel you were being yourself in the process?

Most importantly, what was your residual experience?  How often was your head, heart and whole self tuned in?

Did you feel: Inspired?  Curious?  Energized?  Flat?  Bored?  Concerned?   Dig deep to find out what veins of interest were indeed sparked.  What were you inspired about?  When did you feel energized?  If you felt nothing at all, then it’s probably time to practice more self-integration.

My past two year’s blogs—and no doubt a bounty of others, from Oprah and Dr. Phil to zen and the art of zoning—all present nuggets of wisdom to distill.

Now, when you let all these thoughts go…what do you know for sure?

Despite what we may think our lives are about; despite how selfless or self-absorbed we believe we need to be to survive, our lives are actually a journey of authenticity and self-care.  Net-net?  When our inner world connects meaningfully with our outer world, we experience life as being precious.

A change of heart is the best barometer of authenticity.  It informs the mind meaningfully and pervasively.  Only then can lasting, positive change occur.

What experiences have been most meaningful for you?

Drop me a line and let me hear from you…and enjoy this first day of the Year of the Horse!

Image

Mahalo Kalani!

 

 

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2 charis loopez island beach

Lopez Island

After almost three months to the day of a very special collaborative genesis, I’m back with Part 2 of the ‘Edge Effect,’ one of my favorite explorations of all time for a wide variety of reasons. Hang in there, this is going to be a bit more scientific than my typical blog.

Permaculture, TEK and Pattern Literacy

Permaculture design at its core is about creating right relationships amongst living things.  As humans, we do this by creating meaningful connections with the flora and fauna of our environment.  And, naturally, with one another.

TEK (traditional ecological knowledge) at its core, is about cultivating a deep connection with the land that supports us so as to carefully tend it for long-term fructification.  So where do the edges come into play?

When we observe patterns in the landscape, we can recognize that edge ecosystems (my favorite type of ecosystems) perform and demonstrate the same extraordinary functions as the ‘Four Bs’ of the earth’s flora fertility do—that is, birds, bats, butterflies and bees.  Like the Four Bs, edge ecosystems offer opportunities for cross-pollination so that plants have the resilience they need to weather change, and have the fertility they need to reproduce, grow and create food.  The end products of plants and animals are what we’re generally most familiar with, but don’t let that stop you from connecting these dots…

Here is a convergence of human intelligence with nature’s intelligence.  It is the ultimate expression of life.

Like fertile seeds, these connective patterns are absolutely key to creating a healthy future.

What comes alive in edge ecosystems is deep ecology in action.

Deep Ecology in Action

One of the greatest things about the natural world is that it is a reflection of our thinking.  Where healthy ecosystems exist, so do its caretakers.  Where it doesn’t there is unawareness of impact—and therefore room for personal and, by extension, planetary growth of a healthy sort.

For example for some, war is analogous with humanity.  For many of us, war is an anomaly—a reflection of our species’ inability to move beyond the limitations of our own thinking.  It’s where ‘taking the higher road’ means acting out of the recognition that “…the distinction between ‘life’ and ‘lifeless’ is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged.”                      (Joanna Macy, The Council of All Beings)

300px-Tropical_hardwood_hammock_on_Everglades_National_Park_Mahogany_Hammock_Trail

Hardwood hammocks, Everglades, Florida

Fructification and the Edge Effect

Diving back into the world of ecosystems, consider this fascinating example of edge ecosystem fructification: the coastal forest hammocks, like those that grow in the Everglades of Florida, a 2-hour drive from where I spent my childhood.

Shaped by the slow-moving brackish waters of the Everglades, these coastal hardwood forests exemplify a beautiful blend of stability and complexity found in these hammocks. Like most forests, coastal forests not only prevent erosion via the web of tree roots, but also by slowing wind speeds to reduce wind-caused erosion.

Each tree acts as a sediment collector, wind break, apartment house for birds, food source, and…my favorite…a nursery for literally hundreds of thousands of water-born creatures including amphibians and naturally, their predators, like raptors and virtually all reptilian descendants of oceans and rivers: birds, insects, alligators and a host of other water-loving flora and fauna.

Given these components—and we’re not even touching on the special and unique talents of the mangroves themselves; nor the bacteriological or atmospheric aspects—the fact that our species has sent people to the moon and back, put satellites into space and instantly communicate anywhere in the world—why is our human impact on the earth so ecologically destructive?

The Exquisite Beauty of Non-Linear Thinking

I believe it has to do with four aspects of the human mind:

  1. Our minds—both individually and collectively—must develop the ability to flex with complex, non-linear systems.
  2. From this, we must discover and acknowledge the intangible (as well as the tangible) aspects of how ecosystems assemble themselves.
  3. Through this, the qualitative aspects of life reveal their fragile value, leading us to…
  4. Engage our hearts so as to inform the head.

Of course, coming from your heart doesn’t need to go in this order!  This is simply a connective arrangement to illustrate the deeper aspects of nature we can find meaning within.

The beauty of engaging both heart and head in the direction of earth-centric healing is that the mere existence of complex, non-linear ecosystem functions requires mechanisms of stability.

We can become that mechanism.  We can change the way we think to support the health of our planet.  Just imagine the benefits….

Got some ideas?  Let me hear from you!

Want more inspiration?  Check out what my colleagues at Odyssey Earth are up to!

never let reality get in the way

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