July 30, 2012

Make The Most Monday

Things are looking increasingly unstable across the globe. It is important to be prepared for what the future brings, and it is important to begin now. We have to make the absolute most of this moment.

Although hard times are here for many, and on the way for the rest, it does not have to be a time of stress and chaos. Planning now can ensure a trouble-free transition from high consumption lifestyles to low footprint, sustainable ways of living. Not only is this possible, but it can also be immensely enjoyable.

In industrialized nations it is difficult for people to believe that living with less could possibly lead to a better, happier world. We are told by everyone that MORE is the way to happiness, not less. But we are beginning to see where MORE has led us, and it is not good.

Welcome to 'peak everything' - both human and natural resources have been exploited to exhaustion over the past 200 years of excess. The parasitic system is running on fumes, and the next gas station is nowhere to be seen.

Everything is rushing right toward an opportunity of historic proportions. Make the most of this moment - simplify now, and avoid the rush.

Make The Most - Simplify
  • get rid of debt - money is easy to borrow, and difficult to pay back
  • recognize and appreciate the good things in life (hint: they are free)
  • increase self-sufficiency by learning new skills such as: cooking, home repairs, gardening, carpentry, baking, haircutting, sewing, welding, etc.
  • reduce reliance on fossil fuels - installing even a small solar panel can save you money and provide an alternative to increasingly expensive grid power
  • move to a smaller house - people think small houses are cute for a reason - they are as right as puppies
  • slow down and enjoy life - "For fast-acting relief, try slowing down." - Lily Tomlin
  • get rid of stuff you don't need - it is just taking up space and increasing stress hormones
  • enjoy downsizing - it is a fun challenge to see how little you need to be content and happy
  • get to know your neighbours and community - develop relationships, they are worth more than money
  • quit expensive traditions you don't agree with - say NO to spending money on things you don't support - don't like gift exchanges and frantic busyness at Xmas? Quit.
  • feel good, do good - being healthy and in the service of others fulfills our higher purpose, and leads to contentment

July 27, 2012

Free Food Friday

Free food - organic bounty from our community garden's mid-summer harvest 

This is the first year Linda and I have had a raised bed plot at our community garden. It is transforming our gardening knowledge, and the way we eat. It is also increasing our opportunities to meet more of our neighbours, and share ideas while increasing our food security.

After a stretch of sunny, hot weather on the coast, summer vegetables are being harvested by the bagful. We are learning more about planting now for our 'winter garden'. That's right - winter garden. In Canada this is a rare and special thing. We have never experienced it before.

Southern Vancouver Island enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so gardeners can choose from vegetables that can handle a light frost. Brussel sprouts, chard, kale, beets, greens, cabbage, carrots, and leeks are all being planted now for winter harvest. No way! But wait, it gets better.

A winter garden is low maintenance - no watering, no weeds, no bugs. Also, growth slows down, so it is gardening in slow motion. Perfect for the dark days of semi-hibernation ahead.

After surviving decades of sub-zero temperatures on the prairies, where the soil, and everything else, freezes to a depth of several centimeters, continuing to grow food through the winter will be a new experience.

I have to give a shout out to the fine folks at Sooke CHI that organized and manage the best community garden we have ever seen. With their help we are increasing our food security, enjoying the therapeutic benefits of growing our own food, and having a lot of fun too.

Sooke Community Health Initiative Goals

  • To grow and provide food and food growing opportunities to support the hungry in the community by establishing, operating and maintaining community gardens and food recovery programs
  • To educate the community about the need for and importance of local food production through workshops, seminars, community consultation, training, collaboration and mentoring
  • To educate the public on agriculture and farming
How are you increasing your food security?

July 26, 2012

Quotes On My Fridge

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. They to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, are as good as dead: their eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein 

July 25, 2012

Cooperation In Nature: The Forest

And microscopic mushrooms help out.
 Image from Thin Air by Stuart McMillen
As one way to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives, I have been doing the odd post about cooperation in nature. As much as we like to glorify the hunt and 'survival of the fittest', when we look closer we can see that nature is largely dominated by communities of organisms helping each other out.

One such community is the forest.

While out walking in the woods we are only seeing a small part of the total. The trees may be visually dominant, but they are but part of the larger community, 2/3 of which is unseen underfoot. Also unseen is the incredible amount of cooperative interactions that takes place in this amazing ecosystem.

There are many mutually beneficial relationships between species in this leafy setting, creating a web of support that is sneeringly labeled 'socialist' when it happens among humans.

Everything has a role to play in building and maintaining the forest - everything is an active contributor. It is ultimately sustainable and would continue in perpetuity if it weren't for our intervention. A forest is the ultimate sustainable, cooperative community.

Instead of wiping trees and forests off the face of the planet, we should be studying them and learning their valuable lessons.

Lessons such as those that the lowly mushroom can teach us. They may grow on dead stuff in the dark, but they are also enlightened enablers of forest cooperation. The mushroom's fungal threads wrap around tree roots deep in the soil. The fungi brings more water and nutrients to the tree roots, and in turn receive sugars from the tree.

As the fungal threads weave through the soil they connect trees together turning individual trees into a larger network. There is not competition here - everything benefits from this mushroom/tree relationship.
Mushroom Cooperation
"In the early 1990s mycologist (the branch of botany that deals with fungi, or mushrooms) Suzanne Simard and her team at Oregon State University discovered that cobwebby networks of mycorrhiza (fungal threads) could connect not only many trees of the same species but also trees of different species.
They encountered birch connected to fir trees by up to ten different species of fungi. Moreover, birch trees growing in bright sunlight seemed to be subsidizing fir trees in the shade by sharing sugars via their mycorrhiza network."  - source: backyardnature

We are the human forest, and compassion is the fungal thread that weaves through our experience and joins us together. When we cooperate, we all benefit.

Note: To see more art, and stories about learning from nature, see Stuart McMillen's amazing work at http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comics/.

 If you like trees, you might also like to visit our other blog at http://vancouverislandbigtrees.blogspot.ca/.

July 23, 2012

A Better World Monday

I can't help but feel that things are improving, and a better world is on its way. Not just because coffee shops are close at hand, but because I can sense a critical mass of hope coalescing in a foam of discontent.

Last night I read about the injustice of the wealthiest of the wealthy stashing trillions of dollars in offshore private banks in order to avoid paying hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes. With this level of blatant greed and excess, the end of the status-quo has never seemed so real, or so close at hand.

Awareness is building, and many individuals are devoting energy toward making meaningful and satisfying personal changes. Such changes, collectively, are adding up to a cultural shift that is leaning toward justice and fair treatment of the human family, and the earth.

One era or paradigm ending means another begins. Our actions to restore balance are bringing about the end of the old ways. There has never been a better opportunity for change - we can see that a better world is needed, and is possible. But what will it look like?

In order to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to create a new world, we have to be prepared with a vision of what we want to replace outdated institutions and practices. We need to think big, and imagine exactly what our ideal world would look like.

My ideal world would:
  • have a 20 hour work week... or less.
  • make war and weapons obsolete.
  • have no use for advertising.
  • ensure all of humanity has all basic needs met.
  • replace competition with cooperation, and hate with love.
  • have a 10,000 year plan.
  • have garages so empty you could put an electric car in them, and still have room for a bicycle.
  • cherish children's well-being, so would make sure there were no impediments to full time parenting.
  • not have poverty or starvation.
  • value happiness and well-being over material things.
  • acknowledge that everyone has equal rights.
  • have no use for insane hoarding of wealth because sharing would be the norm.
  • be slower, more casual, and with a lot more laughing, creating, and relaxing together.
  • be simple and sustainable.
We have to know what we want to replace current ways of doing things, and be able to visualize everything clearly. Then can we take advantage of this moment in history, and make positive change happen.

What does your better world look like?

July 20, 2012

Not Buying The Rat Race

American garages have become oversized junk drawers -
only 25% have space for a car photo: J. Arnold/CELF

A growing legion of people are turning away from over-the-top consumer lifestyles and the perpetual busyness that one has to enter to support the pursuit of money and materialism. Fed up, stressed out, and in debt, they are raising the white flag and retiring from the rat race.

It is no wonder we feel burnt out on consumerism - it is an unbalanced way to live. It is uncomfortable, and our natural tendency is toward regaining balance. And we are very unbalanced in most industrialized nations.

A recent study by a group of social scientists looking at duel income American middle class families found that most are stressed out from managing overwhelming clutter, and frustrated by a lack of time. 

This hardly comes as a surprise for most families today, but in their book "Life At Home In The Twenty-first Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors", the scientists confirm our suspicions:

  • 3 out of 4 garages are so crammed with stuff that there is no room for a car.
  • people are too busy for family meals, even though they consider them important to family life.
  • adults AND children spent very little time outdoors, and felt too busy to go into their own backyards.
  • managing mountains of stuff increased stress hormones.
  • most families rely heavily on convenience foods, even though they actually save little time.
  • leisure time is spent in front of the TV or computer.
  • America has 3.1% of the world's kids, and 40% of its toys.

The study's lead author said she admired the way families coped with their busy lives, but described the general situation for most of them as "disheartening".

Occasionally we hear from NBA readers disheartened with keeping up with the Jones'.

Take for example the family of three from Santa Cruz, California that could have been part of the Life At Home study, which was conducted in Los Angeles. They emailed us to let us in on their not buying anything project that they started this summer.

"We started in part for the environment, in part to get out of debt, and in part because of feeling too busy with this thing called life."

They go on to describe a sensation that Linda and I have become familiar with over the years as we continue to simplify:

"I haven't felt this sure of things in a long time."

The rat race is optional after all, and many are not buying it in order to restore balance to their bank books, their lives, and the earth.

July 18, 2012

Love Your Locality

We love our locality on Vancouver Island, near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
One of the main considerations when Linda and I were downsizing in earnest ten years ago, was where to live. In the sustainable future we envisioned, travel would be less frequent, so we needed to find a locality we loved so much we would not want to leave.

The city we were living in at the time was ok, and we had good friends there, but we constantly had the urge to leave and head to the wilderness. Unfortunately, the nearest public land was at least a hundred kilometers away, and our favourite spots were even farther afield. Hardly sustainable.

We asked ourselves, "Where do we want to be when we run out of affordable energy, and can't travel any more?"

As usual when we ask ourselves such things, we encourage big thinking and going for our ideal dream situation. We both agreed that "within sight of the Pacific Ocean, in Canada" was the place. Ideally it would be waterfront, and an affordable rental, since we had no desire to engage in the real estate racket.

As usually happens once you envision a goal, the universe ends up getting behind it and lending a hand. Call it the law of attraction, or the secret, good planning, or whatever you want, but we found exactly what we saw in our dreams. An affordable, sunny, waterfront rental 10 metres (30 ft) from the Pacific Ocean.

Before we moved here we drove, like most car-loving N. Americans, about 32,000 km (20,000 miles) per year on average. Most people have been driving less since 2008, due to high gas prices. Our distance traveled fell due to those same gas prices, plus a desire to enjoy our locality, and lower our carbon footprint.

In the last year we drove a total of 3000 km (1900 miles). We live on an island, and have been off it only once in the past seven years.

We like where we live so much that often when we do go somewhere, we miss home. Vacations have become unnecessary. Our lives have become slow, simple, and gloriously local.

If you love where you live, why leave? Staying home and enjoying your locality is sustainable.

Think about it. Think big. Where do you want to be when the cheap oil runs out?

July 16, 2012

In The Moment Monday

I am not sure about A.A. Milne, but Winnie the Pooh is definitely one mellow dude. His hand may frequently get caught in the honey jar, but this is one wise little bear. So wise, in fact, that his ways were used to highlight Taoist principles in The Tao of Pooh, a delightful little book of the kind that makes you a better person.

Lao Tzu founded Taoism in 640 BCE, long before Pooh came around. The teachings of 'The Path' are consistent with sustainable living, and highlight the importance of living in harmony with reality, and the essence of the natural world.

The Path is also about living in harmony with yourself, as pointed out by the Tao of Pooh author, Benjamin Hoff:
“One of the basic principles of Taoism is the Uncarved Block. The essence of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed. 
Which brings us to Pooh, the very Epitome of the Uncarved Block. When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun."
Being simple, like Pooh, allows us to live in the moment, make today our favourite day, and have fun.

July 15, 2012

Amazing Feats of Simplicity: Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie remained a simple man despite his fame
 and offers of wealth, self portrait
Woody Guthrie, troubadour of the common people and writer of songs like This Land Is Your Land, came into the world 100 years ago yesterday. Although he was born to a wealthy family, by the time he was a teen the family fortunes had changed. By age 20 he was on his own and penniless, like a lot of people at the time.

The Depression (the one in the 1930s) and dust bowl years were harsh for regular people, and Woody began to transfer his observations of the poor and downtrodden to song. In doing so, he became the first modern protest singer. Eventually he was courted by powerful interests that offered Woody 'opportunities', but he was very wary of the materialistic view of life.

In his writings, Guthrie explains that his father's pursuit of money and social status were a cause of personal and family trauma.
"…oil slickers, oil fakers, oil stakers, and oil takers. Papa met them. He stood up and swapped and traded, bought and sold, got bigger spread out, and made more money… Almost every day when Papa rode home he showed signs and bruises of a new fist fight, and Mama seemed to get quieter than any of us had ever seen her. She laid in the bedroom and I watched her cry on her pillow.
And all of this had given us our nice seven-room house."
Perhaps because of his early experiences of the drawbacks of a materialistic lifestyle, Woody preferred to live simply. He traveled by foot or boxcar rather than by boffo limousine. His first biographer wrote that Woody didn't seem to care much about money, and was just as likely to give his cash away to someone living on the street than bring it home for himself.

Although he could have amassed great personal wealth, Woody Guthrie knew from an early age what sacrifices needed to be made to live the 'high life'. He wasn't willing to submit to them, and made a choice that not many have the strength and wisdom to make.

Faced with the potential wealth and luxury lifestyle that was within his grasp, that is an amazing feat of simplicity. 

July 13, 2012

Breaking Free

Breaking Free,  Zenos Frudakis
Someone asked me, upon hearing of my simple life, "What do you do all day?" I don't mind - I have been asked this question before. I guess it is fair because many folks can't imagine what they would do with themselves if they didn't have a full time paid job to organize their lives. They are genuinely curious about what it is like to break free.

So this is how I answered the most recent question:

What do I do all day?

Well, I call it early retirement. What does one do when retired? You live and enjoy life outside normal expectations, obligations, and stresses.

My situation is a bit different because Linda has multiple sclerosis and I am her full time caregiver. Also, we don't have kids. But our lives would have played out pretty much the same regardless, as we have always desired a simple, free life. 

When we need money we engage in temporary or contract paid employment, but by living simply money has become less and less important. We would rather have lots of time and little money, than little time and lots of money. Life is short, and the best time to live it is now.

Our time is filled with cooking everything from scratch, since we do not use processed foods. All our bread products are prepared at home, and we tend two small gardens. That alone takes up a surprising amount of time, but what enjoyable time it is.

As far as what we do for enjoyment, a major criteria is that it has to be inexpensive. Or better yet - free.

We like to engage in creative low-cost activities such as writing, playing guitar, singing, drawing, and painting. We do not have much of a need for recreation or entertainment, and see them mostly as expensive distractions.

Many social activities involve spending money, so we are more likely to meet friends and family at home rather than at a coffee shop or restaurant. Even better is meeting them on the beach, at a local river swimming hole, or on a hike through an old growth forest.

We prefer to be outside anyway, and spend as much time as we can in natural surroundings enjoying peace and quiet. 

After almost 10 years of this lifestyle we measure time more by the cycles of nature than the clock or calender. Changing bird life, tides, moon cycles, and seasons tell us everything we need to know about the passage of time. 

Sometimes we only eat 2 meals a day, and sometimes we take long afternoon naps. We eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired, and wake when we feel rested.

This is what we do.

A tendency toward freedom is inherent in all life. You can see it where delicate, green plants break through hard, black pavement. I have always been a green plant struggling against the asphalt of oppression that has threatened to smother my freedom. I gladly gave up a life of debt, and endless working and consuming, to be able to grow freely.

For me, and for Linda, it was better to break free and possibly have to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, than remain in chains and sleep in luxury.

We live the freedom of the simple life, and we heartily recommend breaking free to everyone.

July 11, 2012

Extreme Weather And Climate Change Solutions

Last year's weather wasn't that great either...

You really don't need the weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing these days - it's plain to see that it is blowing hot and dry. Just over 50% of the US has been experiencing extreme heat and drought conditions this summer.

ThinkProgress.com is reporting that the hot, dry conditions are dominating recent adverse weather events, and that this is due to climate change:
"Like a baseball player on steroids, our atmosphere has been "juiced" with human emissions of greenhouse gases, which means we are going to be breaking heat records at an "unnatural" pace for a long, long time."
170 US all-time high temperature records were broken or tied in the second half of June. More heat means more energy, which means more extreme weather. This will have far-reaching repercussions.

Drought conditions over much of the US will put crops and food security at risk, and could raise the price of staple commodities. Water resources will be stressed, and rationing will need to be implemented over large areas. Green lawns and private swimming pools will become a thing of the past.

Global conditions will mirror events occurring now in the US, so this is a problem we all need to be concerned about. But what can we do? Thankfully, there are many actions that we can take to contribute toward a more livable planet.

Climate Change Solutions

  1. Energy efficiency holds the greatest and most immediate benefits - conserve energy at home by using less of it in more efficient ways. Get rid of unnecessary appliances and electronics.
  2. Travel less. Use plug-in and electric cars when public transportation is not available. Better yet, ride a bike.
  3. Renewable energy - solar, wind, tidal, biofuel.
  4. Quit using carbon-intensive goods and services. Good-bye planes and plastic, hello trains and totally natural products.
  5. Offer tax cuts in the green economy.
  6. End fossil fuel subsidies.
  7. Eat a plant-based diet.
  8. Grow a garden and/or support local farmers. Reduce food miles.
  9. Stop wasteful, energy-intensive activities such as war, and recreational shopping.
  10. Tax carbon-based corporations.
Are you concerned about climate change? If so, what changes are you making to address your concerns?

July 9, 2012

Balance Monday

Balance = Survival
When Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls on a thin wire in June, his performance was all about one thing - balance. Here, as everywhere else, balance equals survival.

Often discussions regarding how to best progress along the wire that the globe is balanced on degrades into adversarial talk of right and wrong. But it isn't an issue of right and wrong.  

What our discourse should be about is that elusive state that Wallenda knows how to attain so well in his high wire act. 

He knows he needs both sides of that long pole to stay balanced. I doubt he calls one side 'right' and the other 'wrong'. 

So it is when we need to negotiate that thin line, that balance point, between the outer limits on each side of us. In this challenge, each side of the pole of truth is needed, and we need to find the fulcrum between them.

We should not let fear or anger prevent us from negotiating that balance and crossing the wire together. Not only does our survival depend on it, but it is work of the most important and exciting kind.

As Karl Wallenda, Nik's great-grandfather said, "Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting."

July 8, 2012

Thank You For Visiting

 Artist Toulouse-Lautrec conversing with friends
Today I would like to express the gratitude that Linda and I feel for all of you wonderful visitors to our growing blog. We are continually blown away by not only the numbers of visitors, but also the quality.

We are humbled that there are such amazing folks that visit here. Of special note are the really brave visitors that return, often repeatedly. We thank you all.

Whether you have joined NBA (on sidebar), or visit anonymously, we feel your presence in our little world. For us, this is where it all comes together. Our blog is our Salon, a meeting place meant "either to please, or to educate". It is our goal to consistently achieve both. 

Your comments in response to our posts definitely please and educate us. We appreciate those of you who take the time to leave comments, and believe that this participation makes our blog infinitely better for everyone. 

With your help this can be a place of 'ecological enlightenment'. We are stronger and smarter together, and when we cooperate we create a better world. 

Thank you for joining our Salon, and contributing toward our efforts to raise awareness, and lower ecological footprints. It is a privilege for us to be your hosts. 

Let's converse - you are among friends.

Requirements For Salon Participation
  • sincerity
  • civility
  • humour or wit (we can't take things too seriously)
  • an interest in expressing your views and insights
  • a willingness to be respectful and appreciative of the contributions of others

July 6, 2012

Off Grid

Are you ready for when the lights go out?
For two decades my sister has chosen to live off grid in a log cabin in the woods. Although her family has had the benefit of a gas-powered generator, in recent years their main source of power has been the sun.

Tucked into a forested hillside overlooking Kootenay Lake, they are little effected by extreme weather or other nasty events. They are self-sufficient, which isolates them from the vagaries of depending on the regular power grid and other utilities.

Most of us, however, are not as prepared for off-grid living. Around the world people are involuntarily getting a taste of what it is like as extreme weather becomes more commonplace. Recent violent storms in the US that knocked out the power to millions are just one example.

During the last week of June, there was torrential rain and flash floods in the UK, drought in Korea, and heavy rains and flooding in Nigeria. Climate change scientists are predicting increased levels of extreme weather around the world.

In the US, 82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or natural disaster in the past year. But how many have a plan for being off grid and sustaining themselves for a day or two... or more?

55% of Americans report that they have thought, some (38%) or a great deal (17%), about preparing for a natural disaster. However, only 36% have an emergency plan that all members of their family know about, and an emergency supply kit in their home (37%).

It doesn't matter where in the world one lives, preparing for off-grid living can only be of benefit.

First of all, having a plan in place means you are prepared for extreme weather events or natural disasters. You can weather the storm in relative comfort and without panic or fear.

Secondly, any preparation done for emergency self-sufficiency will also prepare us for a future where cheap energy is ancient history, and life has become much simpler and less power intensive.

We should be ready for life without television, toasters, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other energy drawing gadgets.

My sister has been living without these conveniences for two decades, and like her, we may find that we enjoy life more without them.

Preparing For Emergency Off Grid Living

Some basic things to consider in an emergency plan are: 
  • storage of 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per person per day minimum, and/or purchase water purification system, mechanical or chemical
  • a well stocked pantry (enough to keep your family fed for a minimum of 3 days - a week, but preferably longer)
  • wind up flashlights, lanterns, and radio
  • alternative cooking method
  • alternative heat source if in cold climate
  • first aid kit
  • a small, portable solar panel and power pack
  • a severed water connection means having to plan for human waste disposal 
  • candles (reading by candlelight can be quite enjoyable)

July 4, 2012

The 100th Monkey Effect And Social Change

The 100th Monkey: it could be you
Welcome! You could be the 100th monkey, and the things you learn here on NBA and elsewhere could change not only your life, but the whole world.

The 100th Monkey Effect has to do with the spontaneous transmission of an idea or ability once a critical mass of a population has heard the idea, or learned the ability. It is a phenomena first observed by Japanese researchers.
"Scientists were conducting a study of macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in 1952. These scientists purportedly observed that some of these monkeys learned to wash sweet potatoes, and gradually this new behavior spread through the younger generation of monkeys—in the usual fashion, through observation and repetition.
Watson then claimed that the researchers observed that once a critical number of monkeys was reached—the so-called hundredth monkey—this previously learned behavior instantly spread across the water to monkeys on nearby islands." - from Wikipedia
Although it was found that at least one eager monkey swam to a neighbouring island and spread the new knowledge, it remains unclear how new ideas and abilities can spontaneously spread to an entire area's population... of monkeys or humans.

Although skeptics claim to have discredited this theory outright, it has appealed to enough people to have had its own 100th monkey effect - it has become a popular and widely known concept.

The monkey effect concept is not alone. It is in good company, and therefore questions remain.

Is it similar to psychologist Carl Jung's collective consciousness? Is it a variation on convergent evolution, where different species develop similar traits independently? The wing is one such example, and was developed by insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals independent of each other.

The wing was just a good idea whose time had come - nature couldn't ignore it.

Whatever the monkeys are telling us, they could be pointing to a knowledge tipping point that leads to rapid, widespread changes once enough individuals are in on it.

Regardless, the potentials of triggering a mass awareness leading to wholesale changes in the way we think and do things is an intriguing one. People seem to be waiting for change, indeed, have been waiting for some time now.

But when do these much needed changes finally occur? What, and when, is the trigger? What is the critical mass we may need before the dominoes begin to fall?

When do we begin to create our ideal life, and our ideal world, in synchronous harmony?

Is it with the 100th monkey? And if so, are YOU that monkey?

July 2, 2012

Berry Rich

Freshly picked strawberries
I feel rich today. Berry, rich, that is, and I think that is the very best kind.

American first nations warned that, “only when the last tree has died, and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money".

Although we may have heard this Cree saying many times, we still worry more about the money supply than the food supply.

Our food supply chain is dependent on cheap fossil fuels, and stable, good weather. Both are looking like a thing of the past.

If something happened to disrupt this fragile arrangement, it wouldn't matter how much money you had - if the grocery store had no food, no amount of cash could change that.

Food security is one reason Linda and I joined our community garden. Our accessible, raised bed plot is small (4X4), but productive. We are growing chard, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, and strawberries. Lots of yummy, yummy (late) strawberries.

We have had a gloomy start to our summer on the west coast of Canada, so it wasn't until yesterday that I harvested our first crop of red, juicy-sweet berries.

While my fellow citizens were celebrating our national holiday, Linda and I were celebrating Strawberry Day. The fireworks were on our taste buds.

Better to have home grown, organic berries in the garden (or stomach) than money in the bank.

July 1, 2012

Grow Food, Not Lawns

A garden is pure, joyous, abundance

When I was a kid I lived in a neighbourhood dominated by, like most in N. America, manicured lawns. Although some homes had gardens in the backyard, all had expanses of green, weed-free grass up front for everyone to see and admire. Except one.

I never knew who lived in the house that was the one holdout in a sea of high maintenance living carpet. But I sure did admire the homeowner that dared to be different, and planted their entire front yard in potatoes every year.

I passed by the 'potato farm' on my way to elementary school, and it was my island of sanity on that walk. Something felt right about it.

It was probably what I perceived as a blend of practicality and defiance for the rules of a confused, and confusing, system.

As a kid, that made a lot of sense to me. It still does.

Update: Here is another front garden. You can't say it doesn't look 'neat', a common complaint of neighbours.