What we choose to focus on

What we choose to focus on becomes our primary reality. If we choose to become emotionally attached to that which we are trying to move away from – for example, if we become attached on an emotional and intellectual level to “winning the fight” against pollution and climate change – we may unintentionally perpetuate the violence we are committed to transforming. From the standpoint of the Elders, violence involves any actions, thoughts, feelings, or words that consciously or unconsciously sets one person against another, regardless of how well intentioned we are. … We must take the same bold actions to protect that which we depend upon and love, but do so from a place of positive vision, intention and compassion. The Indigenous Elders say that nothing is created outside of ourselves until it is created inside ourselves first.

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What the IPCC report should have told us

The problem with the recent IPCC report is that it is still talking about ‘average’ changes over the earth, discussing what might happen decades from now as a result of increased rate of change. Even if the message is labeled “code red” or urgent, it is still understating what is already happening. We continue to flog a dead horse; the ‘dead horse’ being the fact that scientists are still trying to convince people that climate change is happening and our situation is getting worse.  People should already accept that this is true.  It isn’t the average changes that will happen over the rest of this century that are threatening us.  The earth’s climate has already destabilized to the point where abrupt, extreme weather events are already happening. It isn’t my poor diet that will kill me, it’s the heart attack. Continue reading “What the IPCC report should have told us”

Manifest destiny, restoration, and “the effort to speak honestly”

In speaking of lies, we come inevitably to the subject of truth. There is nothing simple or easy about this idea. There is no “the truth,” “a truth” – truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. The pattern of the carpet is a surface. When we look closely, or when we become weavers, we learn of the tiny multiple threads unseen in the overall pattern, the knots on the underside of the carpet.

This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler – for the liar – than it really is, or ought to be.

Adrienne Rich

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Social dreaming

Octopuses dream, and cuttlefish too. In sleep they scroll through the colour changes of the day, the equivalent of your dog’s twitching forepaw.

Trees communicate by neural networks in the soil, developing sophisticated relationships and nurturing allies.

Felt experience – consciousness – permeates the family of sentient life (by definition, really) and maybe even “brute matter itself”.

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It really does seem these days that Science, in its plodding, methodical way is unpicking civilization’s last great taboo – the myth of ‘nature’, the myth of something non-human and other-worldly that surrounds but does not include us.

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Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia

What makes for a healthy rural community? Is there even room for such a thought in this world where it sometimes seems that any truly rural community is by definition under-developed, deficient, abandoned, lacking in dynamism, behind the curve, back-ward, almost horrifying to the sensibilities of the global capitalist elite. Its inhabitants are the subject of barely concealed scorn, or perhaps ambiguously romanticized as throwbacks to a kinder, gentler, less complex time. Either way they are not seen as full citizens and actors in the present political and economic moment, and often rural communities are seen as white savior projects – they must be saved from their truculence by some kind of development or program.

Or, if a rural area is fully integrated into the global economy, this has occurred, all too often, at the cost of its habitability. Giant fields or greenhouses tended by immigrant workers or, increasingly, robotic machinery. No one lives there. Not even the managers of workers or machinery, who commute from a nearby city perhaps. Different kinds of dystopia. Continue reading “Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia”

Resilience Hub

Hi everybody! I’ve been silent for a while. I’m not sure exactly why. Part of it is that I’ve been absorbed in a few projects, one of which has been standing up a resilience hub in my little town.

What is a resilience hub? It’s a kind of commons or community space: a place for people to get some help and to give some help to others. We are open three afternoons a week. We provide a free meal for whoever wants one, as long as supplies last, as well as a food bag of locally grown produce once a week. We provide access to laptops, internet, and printers, both 2-D and 3-D. We are starting a community garden. We hold classes in 3-D printing, gardening,  saving/investing and calligraphy.  We help people to access resources on the internet.

The hub is funded by Vibrant Hawai’i, a local non-profit, and our local Buddhist temple was kind enough to let us use their hall to house the hub. All of it came together, somehow, in confusion, haste, optimism, and utter chaos in September as part of the response to Covid19. We struggled for the first few months. It’s hard to start an organization from scratch, even with the best intentions and a source of funding. Luckily I had terrific co-conspirators – most of them people that I had never met before but who made a perfect team. Slowly we’ve picked up support and engagement from the community. People come by and donate produce, groceries, funds, and their time almost every day. It’s becoming a bit of a hangout for teens and for old folks, and a place for bit of help for the folks struggling on the margins.

Restorative revolution

Our ancestors fought through genocide, they fought through that trauma. And not only did they survive this trauma they passed down knowledge that built the societies that we are built on today.

So this knowledge, that has been passed down for thousands of years, can be accessed and it can be applied to a daily life no matter where you are, no matter where you are from. Because industrial revolution is over now if we want to survive, if we want to carry on life on earth we need to be a part of the restorative revolution. And whatever that looks like for you – just make sure you get your hours in.

These words are spoken by Sammy Gensaw in the documentary film ‘Gather’, one of several individuals featured in the film who are, in their various ways, reclaiming food sovereignty – traditional food culture and life-support systems tied to the land – for native peoples of North America. He also says at one point, the apocalypse has already happened. He’s a young man, a sequoia sapling in the clear-cut devastation of an old-growth forest, and his words carry authority. As does his call to action.

The film gives us a glimpse of how Sammy and the others are carrying out restoration. It moves, inspires, and sometimes hurts to watch — and it asks: what does the restorative revolution look like to you? What will your work be? Continue reading “Restorative revolution”