Posts Tagged ‘Ecoliteracy’

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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We have a choice to use the gift of our lives to make the world a better place.      -Dr. Jane Goodall

DNA double helixAs we strive to communicate more and more in open and connective ways, we become more skilled at expressing the truth of what is before us…and what is within us.  In this way our communication becomes extraordinarily valuable to those who know us or hear us speak.

Extracting our inner truth, bringing it to light in dialogue and expressing it in a simple and honest way transforms our inner landscape—and that of the other person.  This seemingly simple process is actually a process of transformation.  Here are a few examples: saying something you’ve been wanting to say for a long time; doing something for the first time; expressing a core belief; informing others of a decision.

To illustrate, it would look like a double helix—what’s inner expresses itself into the outer, while the outer absorbs the expression to the inner plane.  The space in between is the edge.  This is where human transformation happens—where connections are made.  This can also be non-verbal.  It’s often what we refer to as growth.  The transformation that takes place on the inner plane is the edge effect.

As an environmental educator who’s raised a child, spent over a decade as a career advisor and strove to meet the challenges life has served up; blended with an intrinsic curiosity and desire to help others, a deep capacity has bloomed…to connect dots in ways most people don’t see…yet.  To impart information in a way that inspires people to think beyond the pre-defined and help the environment is my greatest joy.  You could say it’s what I live for…well, that and an occasional island trip and a meal of yellowtail sashimi…

Did you know the edge effect can be witnessed in nature too?  Just like us, nature is constantly growing.  Growth is what happens in that edge…the edge from inner to outer and back again.

In nature, where one ecosystem meets, intermingles and gives way to a different ecosystem, this overlap is called an ‘edge.’  It is in these edges that unique and emerging life forms can be found.  Where something ‘unlike all the rest’ exists in a fragile equilibrium.  Just like you.

The most apparent edge people often recognize are beaches, lakesides or steep mountains.  Yet the not-so-obvious ones are really fascinating.

orcas island edge

Orcas Island

To connect the dots, our most fruitful links are found in two places:  In permaculture and in the body of native ancestral wisdom and practices, more commonly known as TEK (traditional ecological knowledge).

Next month, I’ll share more about these connections and how they can help you make the world a better place for the future.  Hope you’ll stay tuned and share this blog with anyone who might be interested.

Can’t wait?  For an earlier exposeé on the value of edges, click here.

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Photosynthesis and the Art of Sound


Ask any physicist.  There is no ‘thing’ at the root of life and livingness.

The tiniest subatomic particles are described as ‘interference patterns of various sound frequencies’ otherwise known as ‘nodes of resonance.’  This got me thinking.

In many non-westernized cultures, a commonly held, tacit belief is that sound precedes manifestation of all forms and energy.

That sound plays a catalyzing role in creation—that sound itself is a continuum spanning the macrocosm through a hierarchy of iterations that range to the infinitesimal microcosm…

Creation is a beginning.  Something becomes where there was previously non-existence. How can such concepts be made evident in this culture?  There seems to live within me a deep purpose for connecting that which does not have an obvious connection.


What has the power to create has the power to heal.  And so I began some weeks of reflection on the relationship of photosynthesis to sound. 


It came to me one night around 3AM as a profound question for which I initially discovered there is little commonality other than this: sound and sunlight are both wavelengths that impact life on earth.  The next morning I realized, that’s a fairly good start.

As a naturalist, I couldn’t help but then wonder—what of nature’s plant, atmospheric and oceanic worlds that quietly regulate our daily lives?  All create sound.  All aspects impact life on earth—not just human life.

So at November’s annual Daily Acts’ fundraiser breakfast, I discussed the relationship of photosynthesis to sound with friend, wise teacher and dear colleague, James Stark.  He reflected on this for a few moments, and in his inimitably savvy way, pointed out that outside of photosynthesis, the dawn chorus was a living example of the relationship between light from the sun that activates photosynthesis and…the activation of dialogue…of meaningful connection…of life.  The dawn chorus is nature’s daily symphony of news–what an exuberant way to start the day!

DawnChorusAnd so at a macro fundamental level, light activates sound which catalyzes life.  I’d love to extrapolate beyond this with more living examples.  Got an example?  Know someone who does?  Reach out and connect—I’d love to hear from you.

What an awesome way to see the roots of a new earth…

ClarkLittle-golden-waveLooking forward,


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We have become global citizens.

Media has brought this to our attention, even while it bombards our senses with every form of negativity at its disposal.

Travel too, has experientially revealed the impact of our humanity on the wide world—from the truly icky to the spectacular and exalted—our species is mind-bogglingly creative.  In our individually unique way of seeing the world, each of us acts creatively countless times throughout our lives.

In fact, when you reflect on it, each one of us is actually a Cultural Creative.

It’s just a matter of method.

Is my impact in the world beneficial for all living creatures, or….not so much?  We’re each equipped with an inner guidance system—our inherent wisdom—that will tell us the truth.

Like other species that existed before we came along, humanity is chock full of amazing creativity.  My personal favorites are Sarah Bernhardt, Thomas Berry, Marie Curie, Leonardo da Vinci, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Amelia Earhart, Nina Simons  and Brian Swimme.

If you’ve read some of last month’s blog, you already know that we humans now find ourselves at a crossroads with all other living creatures and systems that have come before us here on earth.  We are at what Joanna Macy refers to as the Great Turning.

Intention Invites Inspiration

What is really our uber role as global citizen?  The truth is, a global citizen is inherently a steward of the earth.  Yet, to step into genuine stewardship requires conscious intention.  The kind of intention that—when we’re forced to face how to meet our needs without destroying the world—literally transforms our thinking, breaking old unworkable paradigms along with it.  You could call it conscious evolution, because as we deliberately intend to change unconscious habits and patterns, fresh, new awareness and ideas have space to move in and expand.  Conscious evolution takes place when we intend to grow in consciousness and use our increasing awareness to guide our actions and achieve a positive future.

Are we actually living dimensions of the earth itself?   Then we humans are capable of inviting creative processes into our lives that heal and nourish.  For instance, consider taking on the perspective of water.  Just as the waters of the earth must circulate throughout the planet to benefit all life-forms here, creative cross-pollinating of ideas is essential.  Developing this simple practice will open you to FLOW and bring you into harmonious alignment with what it means to be a genuine steward of the earth.

Stepping into genuine stewardship, an expansive sense of peace becomes palpably more present.  From small steps—like buying produce from your local CSA instead of the nearest mainstream supermarket—to planting trees that carbon sequester your upcoming trip to Europe and feed your family—to selling that large (‘what do we REALLY need?’) home and achieving what our avian species has known for millennia—the sweet taste of freedom while cross-pollinating future nourishment for other life forms.  Wow!  What an amazing living design!

Blue Bird of Paradise; Ecstasy in Motion

Changing the World–One Thought at a Time

Innovative ideas http://www.ideaconnection.com/   are just a click away.  Rock the scientific world with sustainable truths.  Invent jet packs powered by sunlight.  Lay on the earth to diffuse electromagnetic and cell phone build-up.  Design a permaculture paradise that feeds your community.  Cultivate a life of ease and joy.  Choose time banking.  Volunteer for a lake or coastal clean-up.  Leverage your strengths for good deeds.  Nourish your sense of well-being.

Want an Uber Challenge?

Consider this.  In our present situation, failure in creativity at this order of magnitude won’t be remedied later by a larger success.  An entirely new type of creativity is needed.   This creativity must have at its core extreme care of the earth in its functional integrity.  The well-being of the earth’s web-of-life integrity cross-pollinates the next core piece—care of human beings as integral members of the earth community.  This in turn cross-pollinates to the third component—care of the future.  To truly become an integral member of the earth community, we must heal our relationship with ourselves as we develop deeper more coherent relationships with one another.

What an amazing time to be alive!

Of nature’s inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.   

~ Leonardo da Vinci

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