Changing the flowers

We should be looking at the world as a temple and humans as its devotees, cleaning it, caring for it, changing the flowers. Every small gesture does something to contribute.  (Emily Young)

The COP 26 UN climate meeting in Glasgow starts in a couple of weeks, and it’s not being overly cynical to predict that the best that can come out of it will be a tightening of rich nations’ non-binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with targets declared at COP 21 in Paris, 2015. In other words, another extension of the race among the wealthy and industrialized to be the slowest to feel the fear, slash emissions, and stare down business-as-usual.

Continue reading “Changing the flowers”

Winter’s discontent

“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low’r’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
Shakespeare, Richard III

This may become the winter of our discontent as people around the world face a widening energy crisis, rationing because supplies are limited due to delivery shortages, production limits, cost, or by government mandate.  Continue reading “Winter’s discontent”

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.

Continue reading “What we choose to focus on”

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

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

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”.

*

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.

Continue reading “Social dreaming”

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.