Interview with Peter Kingsley: Remembering What We Have Forgotten

by Richard Whittaker, Works & Conversations, May 21, 2011

Peter Kinglsey: There are lots of people who use the word “challenge” to define what my work is putting on the table–spiritually and philosophically, culturally and historically. But to me it’s all very simple. Most of the problems we have in the West are not due to the fact that at the origins of Western civilization there’s something fundamentally wrong. On the contrary, there’s something infinitely precious at the origins of our civilization. The trouble is that it’s been lost because we started taking it for granted. We’ve gradually let it distort itself and so it keeps on falling down one octave, then another octave of understanding. I don’t really see how anybody on a philosophical, or spiritual, or any other kind of level could object to the challenge to wake up now and take responsibility for what we have been given.
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Sustaining the Human Spirit: Another Way of “Going Green”

by Parker J. Palmer, founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal

I’ve admired and applauded the sustainability movement from afar but—true confessions—I’ve not been a close student of it or an active participant in the organizations that represent it.

Because of my ignorance, I assumed that the movement was exclusively focused on things like clean air; an adequate and potable water supply; soil conservation; the fuels we use to transport ourselves and our “stuff”; the flora and fauna that inhabit the earth; the earth itself under the impact of rapid and devastating climate change and species extinction; and, of course, our ability to survive as a species on this resilient yet fragile orb. Continue reading

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Democracy Action Circles

Parker Palmer launched his new book into the world this fall titled Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. The Prelude can be downloaded HERE.

Starting in January, all kinds of people are gathering all over the country, once a month for a couple of hours, to explore the habits of the heart that Parker Palmer describes in his recently published book, Healing the Heart of Democracy. The Center for Courage and Renewal will provide a free guide to anyone who wants to participate, plus lots of inspiration along the way through Twitter, Facebook, and our blog. Continue reading

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Life Study: How nature nurtures students at an inner-city high school

by Marilyn Berlin Snell

At 16—too young to be so mean—Ashley frequently let her claws fly in class. Scowls appeared at random, over slights no one could recall delivering. Her general disposition often kept the desks around hers vacant while the rest filled with students.

It was January of her junior year at Balboa High School in San Francisco, and the principal had just taken Ashley out of the communication-arts program that would have united her and two disruptive friends in the same classroom until graduation. Only 13 percent of Balboa’s junior class that year scored at or above the national average on the standardized reading and math tests—results that the San Francisco Unified School District called “nothing less than a crisis.” Continue reading

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Creating New Pathways

by Ginny McGinn, Executive Director, Center for Whole Communities

One of the things that drew me to Center for Whole Communities almost two years ago was the organization’s mission to support individuals working for social and environmental change. My work with Bioneers, a nonprofit organization working to share inspiring stories of sustainability and social change, had changed me. I learned first-hand that there were elegant sustainable solutions for many of our social and environmental problems, and that social and environmental issues were interconnected. I also saw that what was often lacking in the effort to create real change on the ground was the ability for inspired leaders to enact change within their organizations – and ultimately help to change the communities they served. Continue reading

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Conversation: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Deep Water

by Richard Whittaker; June 13, 2011

Most of us in the west take clean water for granted. And generally we’re equally asleep to the profound role water plays in our lives. In an interview with Sam Bower of greenmuseum.org [issue #18] I brought up the question of water. He mused, “If you think of what we are, I mean we’re made up of cells and each little cell contains a drop of seawater. In some ways, all the little creatures that emerged from the seas found each other, bound together and found a way of collaborating and sharing the recipe over and over with helpful modifications, and here we are today! Every chance we get to replenish that connection to the seas is just a delight. In some way, it’s a reminder of home.” Sam pointed me to Betsy Damon [see issue#19] who has devoted her life to studying water, to creating systems for the restoration of degraded water and to raising consciousness about what she calls living water. “Basically, higher life-forms like water that has gone up and down the mountain ten thousand times,” she says, quoting an old Chinese proverb. Each of us, if we were to look carefully, would find that some of our deepest memories are intimately connected with water. We need to be reminded of this. Continue reading

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Keepers of the Seeds:

How Native farmers and gardeners are working to preserve their agricultural heritage.

by Winona LaDuke

For 14 years, Caroline Chartrand, a Metis woman who recently traveled from Winnipeg, Canada, to the 8th annual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference, has been looking for the heritage seeds of her people. It is believed that in the 1800s, the Metis grew some 120 distinct seed varieties in the Red River area of Canada. Of those, Caroline says, “We ended up finding about 20 so far.”

In Canada, three-quarters of all the crop varieties that existed before the 20th century are extinct. And, of the remaining quarter, only 10 percent are available commercially from Canadian seed companies (the remainder are held by gardeners and families). Over 64 percent of the commercially held seeds are offered by only one company; if those varieties are dropped, the seeds may be lost. Continue reading

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Irreparable Human Deficit Looms in Wake of Budget-Cutting Frenzy

by Riane Eisler, Rene Redwood – OP ED

A financial debt can be paid. But the debt we’ll owe our children if investments in health, nutrition and education are slashed is irreparable. Investment in human infrastructure is essential for success in the post-industrial economy, and this should be our policymakers’ guiding economic principle.

It’s up to us to ask the hard questions: Why are we being told we can’t raise taxes on the rich, but must cut wages for teachers, nurses, child-care workers and others on whom our future depends? There is no evidence that lower taxes on corporations and millionaires raise all boats, or that massive cuts in social services have ever helped people in developing nations rise from poverty. The opposite is true. It’s countries like Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland that have made commitments to caring for future generations that have risen from poverty to prosperity.

Why are we told that cutting social programs is the road to prosperity, when our past prosperity was the result of the very opposite?

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Karma Kitchen: Meals Paid for by Those Who Came Before You

by Toan Lam

Learn generosity at one very special restaurant run by volunteers in California.

What would you do if, after dining out, your server says, “There is no charge. Your meal was paid for by the person who came before you”? Yep, that’s right, there is nothing, zip, zilch — on your bill. You literally see “$0.00.”

In a world and society where we’re taught if it’s too good to be true, then it’s not, that’s hard to believe. In this case, you have to feel it, experience it — to believe it.

Every Sunday at The Taste of Himalayas restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., Karma Kitchen is cooking up kindness and generosity across the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a volunteer-run experiment in generosity that is growing. On your zero-dollar and zero-cent bill, there is a kind note that reads: “Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those who dine after you.” Patrons can choose to pay whatever they’re moved to offer.

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Another Aspect of Good Water

by Jennifer Greene, Water Research Institute of Blue Hill, ME

This summer Jennifer is hosting a conference at the Water Research Institute, “Steps Towards Discovering the Intrinsic Nature of Water” with Wolfram Schwenk and David Auerbach – July 31 – August 5, 2011, download the brochure HERE.

Preamble:

The following article presents an unusual perspective on water. This perspective is gaining interest from world water policymakers from UNESCO to the World Water Council. How we conceptualize water affects how we manage it. This is central to the industrial world/indigenous world conflicts and the issues around privatization/public water supplies.

Background:

In municipalities all over the US there are unsung heroes and heroines in the environmental movement. They are largely unknown to the populous, they do their work day in and day out, regardless of the season, holidays, weekends; they serve a constant flow that arises out of simply being citizens of life. They are often maligned, for their work is a ‘dirty job”. Their place of work is the last stop for an unending flow of water, where a necessary pause is the stopgap against environmental disaster that the earth and humanity experiences when this is not in place. Continue reading

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