Tennesseetransitions


Plant Seeds of Understanding

After a full day of hearing a sermon about social injustice, singing and hearing songs about it, and then watching a documentary about the problems immigrants to our country face, I felt compelled to ‘do something’, beyond writing my legislators- yet again. This post is the result of this emotional day.

It’s occurred to me that, like the Earth, the 2016 Presidential race is already heating up too. In anticipation of the differences of opinion I’m sure to encounter during the next 17 months, I have already set my intention to refrain from becoming crass or nasty with anyone, regardless of their political persuasion, during the upcoming election season. With the increased use of social media and internet availability, I suspect that my personal exposure to mud slinging could result in getting some mud in my own eyes. But ‘an eye for an eye’ won’t change anyone’s beliefs, so I’ve come up with a plan that I’d like to share with my readers. Feel free to use it in any way you like…

In order to stay true to my personal mission of spreading peace and (food) justice in the world by sharing gardening with anyone that wants to learn, (even Republicans haha!)  I’m making up some seed packets to share whenever tempers flare or voices rise. I’m calling them ‘Seeds of Understanding’ and I hope that the packets will serve to temper those differences with their gentle humor and a shared love of natural beauty. This isn’t an easy task for me because, as you probably already know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m opinionated at best, and  ‘right’ at my worst.

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The packets will be light enough to carry several in my purse or easily mailed for the price of a stamp. Heck, I’ll even give you one whether we disagree or not, as long as you’ll promise to plant your own ‘seeds of understanding’. May the best man, or woman, win.

“Every time I plant a seed, He say kill it before it grow, He say kill it before they grow”~ Bob Marley


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Every Day is Earth Day
April 22, 2015, 5:53 PM
Filed under: Earth Day | Tags: , , ,

Don’t get me wrong, April 22nd is special in its’ own right. But honestly folks, we can’t save Mother Earth from destruction by just thinking about it on this date. I know the title of this post is overused, but when my daughter’s best friend from high school posted it on her own Facebook page this morning, and my daughter then reminded her how I would ‘preach it’ every year on this date, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, it’s NOT overused. Maybe, just maybe, if we can influence our own, and other, generations to remember that innocuous but important little slogan, we’ll actually all to take it to heart. And I still don’t think it’s too late, just a bigger task now.

I recently completed a 6 week discussion course, along with 8 others, called “Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability”. It’s one of the few courses I’ve taken that has had a lasting impact on me. Two weeks after it’s finished, I find I actually miss our weekly discussions and brain storming sessions, the chapter readings and the ‘action items’ the course workbook inspired us to. If I had to recap it, these are the two thoughts the course left me with:

1. We simply cannot have peace, justice and sustainability on this earth and in our lives as long as our Earth is being raped and trashed every second of every day. We are interconnected with every single thing here on Earth and because of that interconnection, we’re ALL part of the problem as well as part of the solution. NOT just on April 22nd.

2. It’s way easier to talk the talk than to walk the talk. I’ve been talking the talk for 45 years. I have tried to walk it too, but somehow, life gets crazy, good intentions get pushed to the background, and suddenly I’m considering buying a Keurig ‘brewing system’! (not really folks, I’m just using that as what I consider one of the WORST current examples of consumerism and environmental pollution that’s on the market; it’s right up there with Hummers)

Those two lasting impressions have left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth and are pressing on me today especially, leaving me wondering where to go from here? I’m also wondering how does this blog fit in with Earth Day? I’m pretty sure most of my smart readers ‘get the connection’, but in case you haven’t yet, let me spell it out: If we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. It is (past) time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community. In the transition to that way of living, we’ll inadvertently clean up the earth too.

Since our Earth is a living thing, it has to be cared for like any other living thing. People, plants, mushrooms, rivers, animals, oceans, our beloved Appalachian mountains and even my nemesis, slugs- we’re all living things. If we suck all the life out of our earthly home, there won’t be enough left to support us, much less future generations of slugs or children. My granddaughter called me today to tell me she wants to join the Peace Corps. My heart literally SINGS at the thought of her humanitarianism, and yet breaks in anguish that people all over the world (still) don’t have the basics of food, clean water and safe shelter, much less Keurigs and Hummers. There’s no peace, justice or sustainability in that for millions of humans.

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P.S. Let’s stop being like the abusive partner that sends flowers. I am chairperson for my local Livable Communities group. I plan to propose to our group at our next meeting that we begin the process and work to have Styrofoam banned in our town. Is that possible? Didn’t we live well before the advent of this product that takes 1 million years to decompose, kills millions of birds, fish and mammals each year and is made from petroleum? Let the work begin!



I Swear It’s (still) Not Too Late!

I’ve been quite busy the last few weeks with garden chores, civic work, a wonderful once-a-week discussion group taking a course called “Peace, Justice and Sustainability” and all kinds of fun things! But I’m always thinking of this blog and how I might best use it to inspire you, my readers, to find ways to create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. Now is the time- I swear it’s not too late- to take stock and to begin re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being.

Since I started this blog almost three years ago, we’ve all witnessed what appears to be an increased rate of decline in the health of the Earth, as she reels from the affects of climate change and resource depletion. At first a gradual process, the changes are becoming increasingly faster as our Earth reels from humanity’s impacts on her. In these 3 years alone, we’ve seen everything from Sandy Superstorms to disappearing honeybees and monarchs, from California’s too-late-for-rationing drought to thousands of beached sea lions.

Along with the effects of climate change, perhaps you’ve also noticed the lack of good paying jobs, or the rising price of groceries and college degrees. Perhaps you’ve seen more potholes in your town, or fewer public works projects? Many of America’s towns and cities are experiencing gradual, but definite, declines in their abilities to replace and repair aging infrastructures, while large corporations often fail to provide living wages for their employees. Perhaps you know someone that is no longer able to afford tires for the family car, a new roof for their home, or even a needed prescription? Maybe that someone is you.

However, unless you’re directly affected, you might not take notice of the cumulative effects of these insidious problems. If that’s the case, lucky you! But I encourage you to not wait until the well runs dry to begin the work of adapting to these changes. There are things we can all do to transition to this new paradigm we’re all facing. I love this quote by a woman that overcame adversity like few of us have ever experienced…

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I keep practicing and preaching local food production, and am currently involved with a group of people working to bring a food cooperative to our town, serving as coordinator of a large community garden and have started spending Friday mornings teaching a group of young women going through rehab how to grow and preserve food. But that’s my thing. Perhaps you are more interested in renewable energy systems, or developing websites or practicing wholistic health care. My chemist friend Gerald has developed and is marketing a line of green cleaning products, and another good friend is developing a close knit community of folks learning to play music. Maybe you have a useful skill you could turn into a moneymaking business; I understand that chimney sweeps are in high demand because of the increased use of wood stoves for home heating use. Home-crafted beers have taken the place of moonshine, and it’s difficult to find good, reliable repairs for almost anything! I, for one, could use the expertise of an orchardist to help me learn to grow fruit and berries organically. We all have strengths and talents that can be shared with others, for either love or money or both. Those skills are going to be the backbone of tomorrow’s localized economies.

Maybe you feel very strongly about a change you’d like to see in the world. like the group of students at Harvard that is currently staging a sit in the office of their president. Why? The students are asking that Harvard University divest its endowment from fossil fuels.They say Harvard has a responsibility to address climate change. “The impacts of the fossil fuel industry are going to be harming our future way more than the need for money”, said their spokesperson. Civil wars are being fought all over the world, nuclear agreements are being drawn up, while peace and climate talks are ongoing. Humans everywhere are hungry for change, and many are even willing to be arrested or die for their beliefs. (Surely I can be responsible enough to recycle my plastic)

Which brings me back to that course I mentioned earlier…our group members are trying to be that change we wish to see, but in a nonviolent way; every week we each declare an intention of some action we’re willing to take, either at home or in our community, that might help us live in a more peaceful, just and sustainable way. We’re concerned about our own futures, as well as those of our children and grandchildren and are committing to changing it, instead of just talking about it. Actions as small as turning off the water when brushing our teeth or writing letters to our elected officials are declared, as well as much larger ones that will require a great deal of time and energy to accomplish have been declared by our members. We swear it’s not too late!

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Dear Santa:

Hi Santa, it’s me, Sam. You know, the one that asked for a pony for at least 10 years in a row when I was a kid. Since I never got that pony, I was hoping you’d be willing to make it up to me this year. I haven’t asked for anything from you for about 50 years now, so I figure I’m about due. No, I no longer want the pony, but I was wondering, if, in your travels next Wednesday night, you could bring peace to all of us. I mean, it’s the perfect opportunity since you’ll be flying around the world and all. It’s what we ALL want actually. If you bring world peace, you could probably retire after that. Just sayin’…

peaceAnother thing I’d like: a 2 month ‘license’ to study in Cuba. I heard on the radio today that President Obama  is going to lift the embargoes on Cuba, which means that I could then go there to see first-hand the unrivaled and sustainable food system that the citizens there created when those embargoes began (coincidentally about the same time I stopped asking for the pony). You could pick me up here on the roof in TN and just drop me off there if you like-it’s only 90 miles. I’ll figure out how to get home later. Then, I could return the favor by using the things I learn there to create a sustainable food system right here at home.

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Third Thing: Unconstrained laughter. It’s healthy, contagious, and can probably bring about world peace on its’ own (in the event you don’t have that peace in your bag this year). If you do manage to bring the peace in your bag though, the laughter will be provided by all the happy boys and girls, and  you could just skip this one.

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Fourth: Santa, I’m really on a roll now. Can you narrow the gap somehow between the rich and the poor? That gap is getting wider and wider and I’m afraid most of the folks I know are going to fall through the crack soon. Economic justice would go PERFECTLY with that world peace. Actually, I’m pretty sure you can’t have one without the other anyway. Think of the advantages Santa: If we had economic justice, I’m pretty confident that social and racial justice would be resolved on their own. All I can say to that is “Joy to the World!”

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Fifth: The reason I don’t want the pony any more is because now I’d really rather have a Prius. I feel certain that these low gas prices we’re seeing won’t last forever. I hear Toyota is making them float now, like the old VW Beetles used to. That will be real handy as the oceans rise due to climate change.

Sixth: Speaking of climate change Santa…Can you stop the XL pipeline? Driving my new Prius can help prevent adding more CO2 into the air but if that pipeline is built, my meager efforts to help mitigate the effects of climate change will be for naught. (remember Santa: ‘naught’ is the root of the word ‘naughty’ and I already KNOW how you feel about being naughty.) Stop that pipeline, ok?

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And finally: Can you bring me some solar panels for my house? I’ll install them myself, as soon as I get back from Cuba.

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See you next Wednesday night Santa. I’m so excited! I’ll bring cookies and milk for us to snack on.

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Your friend,

Sam



Making Choices
“When I was a little kid, growing up on Martin Drive, Dr. Spock’s book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, which had first been published in 1946, was making the rounds. It was being passed from mother to mother on Martin Drive and it came to our house and my  mother read it.Among other things, the book suggested giving your child choices so that your child would learn how to make decisions. So my mother read that and thought it made a certain kind of sense, so she started giving us choices. She would tell us what to do, then let us choose between doing it or getting swatted on the rear with Dr. Spock’s book.” ~ Philip Gulley, author of ‘Grace Talks’
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I have an internet radio in my kitchen, opening up the whole world to me while I chop, stir, cook and can.  Today I listened to news about civil rights and social activism in Missouri, elephant killings in Africa, war-making in the Middle East, and  came to the conclusion that ultimately, every choice we make affects others. Examples abound, but here are a few simple ones I came up with: if I buy a $5 tee shirt from Walmart, perhaps made in Bangladesh, I’m supporting sweat shops and factories without fire escapes. If I buy Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I’m supporting their use of GMO wheat in their pastas, while contributing to a culture of discontent amongst their employees. If I eat a Hershey’s candy bar, I’m condoning child slave labor on the cocoa plantations along the Ivory Coast. If I purchase anything made from ivory, it comes from a bull elephant. (not that I buy anything made from ivory but evidently it is a HUGE trend in Asia). On and on, ad nauseum. I get it. We vote with our dollars, so by making wise buying choices that will make things better? Maybe. Maybe not. Will my refusal to buy an occasional Hershey’s bar really stop the exploitation of children? It’s just not a simple ‘either/or ‘ choice like Mrs. Gulley made with her children in the opening paragraph, is it?
So tell me, how are we to live? How can we make the best choices that will benefit our lives without creating misery for someone else?And what does this have to do with transitioning to a way of living that’s significantly more connected,  vibrant and  fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today? This blog’s “ABOUT” statement has said since Day One: “Now is the time to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being.” Maybe I will reword that to add: “…while considering others everywhere.”
I sure don’t have the answers folks. I’m searching for them every day. Listening to the news from around the world on the internet radio has made me ever more aware that we’re all interconnected, we are all one, and that we all share this earth. But I have to keep in mind that I can’t change anyone or anything, but I can change me. I can make better consumer choices, better environmental choices and better health choices.
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I sometimes get lax and begin to slip back into patterns of consumption that I thought I’d left behind. I’m buying paper towels again for crap’s sake! I haven’t bought them for almost 14 years, and suddenly, I have a 3 pack under the sink. (It’s really Michael’s fault but I’ve cut him some slack while he’s been ill, but as of today, he’s declared cancer free so now he’s going to have to go back to a life without them 🙂 ) Pick your battles. I also realize that not buying paper towels or Roundup or styrofoam plates won’t change the world but those are things that I feel good about nevertheless. So what else can I do? Well, I can follow the lead of my church association and divest my savings investments of fossil fuel companies and Bank One holdings, and instead, invest more in renewable energies and local banks.  I can grow more, sew more, walk more, and give more. I can choose a life of simplicity. I can create peace in my personal life and my home, knowing  full well that peace in the world really does begin at home. I can even choose to turn off the radio.
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