Monthly Archives: May 2013

2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren

Here I am with three of my five grandchildren, the reason we (my husband and I) will be joining the 2013 Walk for Our Grandchildren this July and rallying with 350.org’s  Summer Heat campaign in front of The White House, July 27.  We mean to hold President Obama to his inaugural promise on the environment.

Me and the Brothers Cole

I’ll leave the arguments over whether global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) is caused by humans to those who believe there is value in assigning blame.  I believe it was settled by James Hansen decades ago.  We are taking responsibility for what happens next because it will affect the young people in this photograph and our other two grandchildren, and millions of children who did nothing to deserve the mess we are leaving them, and will have to deal with the consequences of our profligacy.

I don’t know if this walk on Washington will have the impact on the power base that other walks did, for civil rights, women’s rights, the end of the Vietnam War.  And it certainly won’t mean that I will stop shrinking my carbon footprint by all means possible: food choices, energy, transportation, consumption in general.  If Colin Beavan could go ‘no impact’ in Manhattan, the least I can do is go ‘low impact’ in Florida.

Walking the walk also doesn’t mean that I am giving up on the Transition movement (not when founder, Rob Hopkins, took his first flight since 2006 to make his case to American funders), although I am learning how challenging it can be to find common ground beyond personal agendas, my own included!   We all need to do more, much more, than recycle, reduce, reuse, and sooner rather than later, without any certainty that they will change the future.  As  Elizabeth Kolbert writes in The New Yorker, May 27, inaction is a “march to disaster.”

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Take a Stand for the Earth

Yoga in the West often looks like just another way to consume: books, DVDs and music, classes with celebrity yogis, trainings, cool clothing, accessories and adventure  travel to exotic locales. Magazines like Yoga Journal with their glossy covers and good-looking cover models often performing advanced poses perpetuate the idea that we are not good enough as we are, but this or that product or service will surely do the trick.

429021_10151271075540247_1797111207_nSo, it was refreshing to find another article by environmentalist, Bill McKibben, in the May edition of YJ, delivering to the yoga community the same message he is known for: that if we don’t change our consuming ways, and soon, “the thing we call ‘civilization’ will simply become a sputtering mechanism for responding to emergencies.” Not even Iron Man will be able to save us.  In other words, it is truly past time to get off our mats and start living our yogic principles where they matter the most: in the world.

Question.  Can yoga (meditation, veganism, the local food movement, Occupy, Transition, or _____ fill in the blank with your favorite cause) act as a catalyst for social change? In this article in Yoga Brains, three writers weigh in on the subject. Shannon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti (roughly translated, freedom in this lifetime) Yoga, is bang on that practiced as it was intended, yoga cannot and should not be separated from activism.

Keep doing yoga and read more:

Reality Sandwich
Yoga Brains
Elephant Journal

Survival Skills for the 21st Century

My mother was something of a hoarder, an echo of her refugee experiences during and after World War II no doubt. I used to tease her about the boxes of soap, matches, and candles she kept in her linen cupboard, along with extra sheets, towels and bedding, ‘just in case’. She knew a lot about preserving food and would turn a bumper crop of citrus growing around our shared condo in California that most residents ignored, into a marmalade to die for. She kept some of her wealth in gold, too, mostly 18K bangles and neck chains she wore until the day she died. My mother had seen things change quickly, where one moment you had a shelter, clothing and food, and the next moment, you were running for your life.

This is a scenario that the majority of people in the fortunate part of the world don’t have to face on a daily basis, but as we approach the 400 ppm tipping point, I find myself more interested articles like this one from the current edition of Orion Magazine, 10 Skills to Hone for a Post-Oil Future. In fact, I have added my own suggestion to the list of 10, and over the last hour find myself in an engaging conversation with others who presumably are not taking the status quo where you jump into your car for a quick ride to the supermarket for under ten items, for granted. (My mother would have so enjoyed hearing that hoarding, far from being a pathological behavior in need of remedy, happens to be one of the Ten Skills.)

By the way, post-oil doesn’t necessarily mean that we ‘run out of oil.’ Apparently, we still have plenty of fossil fuel we haven’t tapped, though accessing it means ‘game over’ for Planet Earth, as James Hansen has repeatedly warned. To me, post-oil means we have the wisdom to leave the stuff in the ground and find other, better, more sustainable ways to live without it. Actually, for all but the wealthiest who can insulate themselves against the impacts of global warming, there may not be a choice. We are going to have to wean ourselves from this addiction.

But back to survival skills. In my comment, I agreed with another poster about the shift to multi-generational living, a phenomenon that is already happening with in-law suites and ‘granny flats’ and is bound to accelerate as people realize how much we really need each other, and how much we now duplicate effort, skills and equipment/tools in the nuclear family format. I like my privacy as much as the next person, yet I’m willing to trade it for the security of community. I’m also excited about the idea of learning new things (well, new to ME), so I added foraging as an important survival skill. I’m ready to stalk the wild asparagus a la Euell Gibbons, or if that isn’t available then Spanish Needle, a delicious green widely available in my locale that my friend, Jean, once prepared for me. One person’s weeds is another’s healthy meal. See Eat The Weeds.