Tag Archive: brave


 

 

 

 

 

 

Reprinted from Grist in it’s entirety:

Hey, remember the woman threatened with 93 days in jail for growing a garden in her front yard? She could have a cellmate! Dirk Becker of Lantzville, British Columbia turned his scraped-dry gravel pit of a property into a thriving organic farm, so of course he’s facing six months of jail time. Why? Well, the thing is, this farm was full of DIRT. You can’t have dirt in a yard! It’s unsanitary.

The Beckers were cited under Lantzville’s “unsightly premises” bylaw, for having piles of dirt and manure on the property. As the Beckers wryly point out, the letter came on the same day that 8,000 compost bins were distributed to residents in their region. So, to recap: Gravel pit: not unsightly. Beautiful farm with dirt in it: unsightly. Fertilizer in bin in kitchen: civic responsibility. Fertilizer actually out fertilizing: filth!

As it turns out, Lantzville has a bylaw that residentially zoned plots can’t grow food at all — even the no-dirt kind! — whether or not they’re farming commercially. The Beckers’ 2.5-acre property is zoned as residential, so they essentially are not allowed to eat anything that comes out of their garden. Ah, local government, always improving lives.

There’s a particular ironic wrinkle in Becker’s case:

This issue impacts all of us on Vancouver Island. Many of you are aware that only 5% of our food supply is grown on Vancouver Island, thus 95% is imported. It may shock you to know that there is only two days fresh food supply on Vancouver Island. That means, any disruption in ferry service, trucking or problems at the US border (75% of BC’s food comes from California) would have a dramatic and immediate effect on our food supply.

In other words, these garden-hampering bylaws are a terrible idea for more than just the usual reasons. In the event of even a minor emergency, a law-abiding Lantzville could be starved out with a quickness.

This case has been dragging on since 2010.

Johnathan Franzen delivered the commencement address at Kenyon College this year. It was a profound meditation on our relationship to the technological world of our own invention. Almost a Dr. Frankenstein and his monster story, Franzen shines a light on our near-romantic levels of fixation on gadgets and internet alter-egos. The harshness of his condemnation is tempered considerably by the dispassionate accuracy of his assertions.

Somehow Franzen manages to blend spot on critique of the narcissistic nature of a lot of social media:

We click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery. And, since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.

With breathtakingly frank observations about fear, pain and love

When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived.

The speech is one of the most thought-provoking investigations into the ramifications of our techno-universe and beyond that I have personally encountered. Every word should be read, savored and possibly read again. As much as I’d like to insert the whole thing here, clinking a link hopefully won’t prove so great a hurdle that you’ll deprive yourself of his brilliance. Franzen adapted his speech into an essay published in the New york Times OpEd pages last month. Do yourself a favor and find a way to follow that link.

If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are.

 

 

 

That’ll be the Day

Who are you calling a dying city Newsweek?

Couldn’t be Grand Rapids Michigan! These guys were none too pleased to be included in a recent Newsweek piece on the bleakest cities in the land and decided to send a message to the media giant and their fellow Americans. Their medium of choice? A 9 minute, $40,000 music video set to “American Pie” featuring more than 5,000 of their citizens and a production that all but shut down downtown.

With almost 3,000,000 views on youtube as of this posting, it looks like they’re having no trouble showing the world how un-dead they really are. And really, it’s an important reminder that media outlets are in it to generate a profit like any other business. Bad news sells, even if it isn’t always the whole truth. Aren’t things tough enough without inventing more reasons to keep us up at night Newsweek?

Down but not Out! From Grand Rapids to America to the World!

Air Force veteran Tim Goodrich understands better than almost anyone else the perils of a policy of endless wars to secure precious resources. After his three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s come home to a new start and a new perspective on how to achieve the oft discussed “National Security”.

He loves his new Nissan Leaf, the latest electric vehicle to hit the consumer market and the first one to be widely available since the oil and auto makers vanquished the very promising EV1 back in the late ’90’s, not just because his days of $100 tanks of gas are over, but because electric vehicles and any other path toward decreasing our dependence on oil make us safer globally and environmentally.

Goodrich says the military is even looking into using electric vehicles in combat since they have lower heat signatures making them harder to track, and they are obviously not an explosion risk since there is no combustion taking place.

As for common complaints about the 100 mile range and availability of charging stations, Goodrich has an app for that.

Ninety percent of Americans drive less than 100 miles a day, and to me it just means doing a bit more planning before I set out. I was recently concerned about the amount of driving I had to do, so I consulted the map on my Leaf iPhone app and found a station right near the UCS campus. When I pulled up there, they were just dedicating the station, and I became the first customer.

From a soldier on the field of battle to a soldier for a sustainable future, it looks like Tim Goodrich won’t be giving up the fight any time soon.

A phoenix from the ashes.

These days there seems to be quite a lot to protest about, and quite a lot of people actually acting on their frustrations and taking to the streets. From the burgeoning civil war in Libya and the dramatic revolutions under way in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and on and on and on, to the labor struggles in America and the riots over economic injustice in England, there are clearly many different ways to redress grievances. A few decades ago in America, as people struggled for an end to the various social injustices plaguing their country, a debate also raged about the most effective approach to protest.

It boils down to “non-violent” or “violent”. That’s a major simplification but it speaks to the basics of the protest. I can understand how people can feel so hopeless and powerless that they see no choice but to resort to more extreme measures. While this may sometimes seem like the only option, in my opinion, it is rarely the best one or the most effective. Which is why I was so heartened to hear about the peaceful demonstrations underway in India. A week-long fast in protest against corruption in that country resulted in an amazing gathering of people from all walks.

My most recent personal experience in the protest department was last October when I traveled to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity. It’s a worthy goal to strive for in these frenzied times and I couldn’t wait to stand beside other sane people and show solidarity. I was so excited in fact, that my group and I tried to get as close as we could to the action, not really thinking through how difficult that would be in the confined space of the National Mall (who knew the mall could ever seem small!). The next thing we knew, we were completely surrounded, body to body with fellow rallyers. I can’t recall ever feeling more confined and helpless in a crowd as I did in that moment. We could see no clear space to walk toward. Everyone was trying to get somewhere or stay near someone. At any other rally it might have actually been a dangerous situation. The kind of thing where wild heads result in trampling, stampeding, and general mayhem with possible bodily harm. Fortunately this was the rally for sanity and it truly was the most respectful, mild-mannered mob you could ever hope to see. Everyone was sincerely polite, making every effort to accommodate each other, let groups stay in tact, keep voices at reasonable levels given the extreme proximity we were in. Initially I felt myself becoming slightly terrified as I noticed the crowd closing in around me, but the fear immediately gave way to wonder at the conduct I was witnessing around me.

Speaking out and standing up against tyranny wherever you find it is vital to a promising future for the human family. Don’t forget that the most important place to take a stand isn’t always somewhere distant, but right in your own home, in your own heart. Every decision, every day is a revolutionary act that creates the world you see around you. If you think something should be different, try changing yourself first. Then don’t be afraid to take it outside, stand up and be counted!

photo: human flower project

Severn Suzuki stunned the Climate Summit in Rio de Janeiro almost 20 years ago with her candor, her clarity and her determination to show the adults around her how to stand up for the future. Today, still an activist on behalf of the planet and the future, she marvels that this same speech could be spoken by any child today.

Here’s Severn today, hoping that people realize their own power for change before it’s too late.

photo: earthy finds - eco blog

Be Wrong

This is an incredibly undervalued act in our culture. For many reasons, we’re all programmed to avoid being wrong at all costs. Fear and Ego are two of the biggest players, but there’s infinite subtlety to our avoidance maneuvers when it comes to admitting (even to ourselves) that we are even capable of being wrong.

And yet, it’s by being able to be wrong about something gracefully that we learn, grow and evolve by leaps and bounds. Not only is there nothing bad about being wrong, it’s actually kind of great when you think about it. Not only that but it’s completely unavoidable if you’re a human.

So when you really think about it, being wrong, admitting to it and embracing it without fear is absolutely one of the most courageous and daring things anyone can do. It truly is the opposite of how we’ve all too often come to view it.

And if all that weren’t reason enough to put a smile on your face every time you discover you were actually mistaken about something, it also has the capacity to elevate you closer to the level of master communicator faster than almost any other practice.  Being wrong is never the problem, being unable to admit/ accept it is far more damaging to constructive communication and your progress as an individual on the road of life.

Be proud of yourself anytime you realize you’ve been wrong. Do your best to remember not to fight it. Practice viewing your acceptance of being wrong as an act of bravery, a sign of the strength of your character and a unique learning opportunity that just brought you closer to the people you care about and the person you truly are.

Photo from www.dphoto.us