November 30, 2016

10,000 Year Plan

"Our long term plan is like our short term plan, only longer."

Humanity should think about developing a plan longer than the next election cycle. We don't need 5 year plans, we need 5,000 year plans. Preferably two of them.

A solid 10,000 year plan would go a long way toward figuring out where we want to go with this petri dish known as Earth. I love the idea of thinking ahead 7 generations, but how about extending that to 500? Supposedly we are the smartest creatures on Earth (and the known Universe according to some), so we should be able to get our big brains together and do this thing.

In order to reduce the chance of repeating the thousands of years of blind bumbling that we have been experiencing so far, we should come up with an overall plan for humans (and everything else) on our shared petri-planet home. Surely, considering the importance of my proposal, we can get some consensus towards a set of common goals and outcomes.

Like survival at first, looking at our increasingly grim short term prospects.

Then we can proceed from there and start planning for things like ridding the environment of human-created radiation produced during our misguided experiment with nuclear energy. That alone is a project that will take thousands of years. We should have one of those already, shouldn't we?

Next in The Big Plan we can look out over the next few hundred years. Where do we see ourselves as a species? What do we want to achieve in this time? I for one would like to see something more substantial than the planet's first trillionare.

A lot can happen in one year, let alone a hundred or a thousand. We should have a plan to help direct where we are going. Many of us can imagine a better world, and if we can imagine it, we can achieve it. We can put it in the plan.

As an ex-teacher I know the importance and the challenges of planning. It will take a different way of thinking to extend our imaginations past the next election, or our own brief existence. But we do care about our kids, don't we? And their kids? And theirs? And so on all the way up the line?

We have already had many thousands of years to get this thing right, and it feels like we aren't quite there yet. Let's get The Big Plan started.

How do you see humanity developing over 10,000 years? The glorious possibilities are endless.

November 28, 2016

Simplify The Holidays - Buy Nothing Xmas

Now that we have successfully simplified Black Friday with BND, it is time to do the same for the upcoming holiday season. The Centre For A New American Dream has something to offer in this regard.

The following is from their website:

"The holidays, meant to be a time of peace, reflection, and celebration, too often exhaust rather than uplift us. If you sometimes feel trapped by the shopping, spending, and frenzied preparations, you aren’t alone. 
Increasingly, Americans are tired of the commercialization of the season and want more of what matters… not just more stuff. This year, you don’t have to rack up credit card debt or get swept up in the season’s commercialism. Instead, consider creating holidays that instill more meaning into the season and encourage more sharing, laughter, creativity, and personal renewal."

There are many good suggestions for simplifying the holiday season. If you want less stress and more joy at this time of year check out .

Happy stressless, crapless and joy-filled holidays celebrating all that is good and free. The return of the sun, Winter Solstice, is almost upon us (in the northern hemisphere).

Love and light to all.

November 25, 2016

Buy Nothing Day: Nature vs Materialism

When was the last time you went a whole day without buying anything? It is harder than you think. But it is possible to go a for a day (or more) without shopping for things we don't really need.

In this day and age, it is very hard for the majority of us to not buy anything at all for a twenty four hour period. Supporters of ‘Buy Nothing Day’ in 65 nations across the globe want people to spend a moment thinking about that today.

A growing global community of simple living advocates think it is high time that we take a step back and look at ourselves, our behaviour, and contemplate the meaning of life in the consumer age. Take  a step back and contemplate what exactly is promoted on days like Black Friday... and the other 364 days of the year.

While there are things like rent, mortgage, food and utilities that most of us must purchase year round, there is still a lot of room to reduce the amount of extra shopping that we conduct. Today we can have some fun thinking about the consequences of all that commerce.

Ted Dave, who came up with the idea for Buy Nothing Day in 1992, states that the day “isn’t just about changing your habits for one day” but “about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”

It is about choosing sides.

On which side will you stand? That of materialism and over consumption, or the side of Nature? It is time to decide. Today we think about the importance of changing to gentler, simpler, and more authentic lower consumption lifestyles, and how all will benefit.

However, resistance, even at this late stage of the game, persists. Some claim this day is meaningless (and Black Friday is meaningful?), as observers simply buy more at other times.

Either way, there’s no doubt that trying to go without buying anything for an entire day is quite a challenge, and will hopefully serve to make everyone think about what life is really about, and what we really need.

November 23, 2016

Back To The Sail Age

The Pamir - Last Commercial Sailing Ship To Round Cape Horn.

Often people that are currently doubling down on business as usual say that us greenies want to take everything "back to the Stone Age". While that is an extreme and unrealistic view, we will be going back to something as the limits to growth usher in a new era of no-waste, no-growth, sustainable steady state economies.

In this pursuit, one area we will be returning to is the use of commercial sailing ships. How far back would that be? Not as far back as the Stone Age. Or the Bronze Age, or Iron Age. It turns out that we would not have to go far back at all. Just to the Sail Age.

The last commercial sailing ship to round Cape Horn was the Pamir, in 1949. Sailing vessels were plying international waters right up to the 1950s, mostly moving low value cargoes great distances, like wheat from Australia to Europe.

As things turn out, sailing ships like the Pamir, or ships similar to them, are predicted to return into service in the near future. This greenie for one, looks forward to the day that wind replaces fossil fuels on the high seas.

November 21, 2016

Huddle Close Together

"What is the meaning of this city?" 

When the stranger asks,

"What is the meaning of this city?

Do you huddle close together because you love each other?"

What will you answer?

"We all dwell together

To make money from each other?"  or

"This is a community?"

- T. S. Eliot

November 18, 2016

Buy Nothing?

In spite of the name of this blog, I have to ask, is it at all possible to buy nothing? Even for 24 hours, as many will be trying to do one week from today during Buy Nothing Day? Talk about a challenge.

Unless you are living in a totally self-sufficient setting (which is difficult, but possible), one pretty much is a slave to our "you-must-pay-for-everything" existence. They will find a way to monitize one of the last hold outs, the very air we breathe, one day.

I imagine in the near future a "Big Air" CEO will be stating publicly that he didn't think that breathing was a basic human right, and therefore the little people should be charged for consuming this valuable privately-owned resource.

In preparation for Buy Nothing Day, Linda and I were discussing if we could make it through that one 24 hour period without buying anything. It was a little frustrating.

In order to buy absolutely nothing on November 25 (shopping-oriented blogs call this day Black Friday) we could not buy any power from the utility. For us, like many people dependent on the grid, that would mean no electricity. That would also mean no heat, because our pellet stove requires electricity to work.

Then we thought about our vehicle, for which we pay insurance and registration. Each and every day of the year we are buying a few dollars of permission and protection for our van so we can drive it two or three times a month.

I would love to have a pure, unblemished by commerce Buy Nothing Life, but as we found out, that is difficult to achieve in the modern world, even for 24 hours. However, I can't think of a better goal to work toward, and that is what Buy Nothing Day reminds me of each year.

One more week and let's celebrate the non-commercial life, unbound and free, in any way we can. And no, I am not changing the name of this blog to "Not Buying Just About Anything That They Want Me To Buy", even though it may be more accurate.

Wishing you a simple weekend. Remember to breathe deep while it is still free.

November 16, 2016

Ever Think About That?

"What if the spider you just killed in your home had spent its entire life thinking that you were its room-mate? 
Ever think about that? 
No, you only think about yourself."

I read this recently, and laughed. Then I thought, and thought some more. It makes sense. I might think differently if I lived in Australia, but I hope not.

Since reading this I have seen it it in other places, unattributed to any author. To me it has the life-positive, anti-violent vibe of Buddhism, or Jainism. It has caused me to be even more aware of the preciousness of life, and how everything just wants to live.

This level of sensitivity to the needs of others can be applied to all situations.

How about,

"What if that computer you are typing on was made by child labour, or is toxic to workers, or destroys the habitat of wild creatures? 
Ever think about that? 
No, you only think about yourself."


"What if that flight you are taking increases your carbon footprint dramatically and adds to potentially catastrophic climate change? 
Ever think about that? 
No, you only think about yourself." 

What if our habits and desires are killing not only spiders, but the very Earth itself? Ever think about that?

"Rest easy spider

My broom

Does not sweep that far."

- Issa Kobayashi

November 14, 2016

Changing Food Miles To Food Feet

Apples from the back yard, low food miles, great taste, and free.

How far your food travels has serious consequences for your health and the climate. People are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. Better nutrition, less waste and a lower carbon footprint are the result.

At the grocery store I can buy apples from the far reaches of the world. Not only do they have outrageous food miles, but they are also very expensive. I don't want those apples.

I don't want apples from New Zealand (14,978 km/9306 miles)

I don't want apples from South Africa (12,142 km/7,545 miles).

I don't want apples from Chile (8957.64 km/5566.02 miles).

I don't want apples from British Columbia, Canada (4030.46 km/2504.41 miles).

I don't even want apples from the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia (58.72 km/36.49 miles).

No, all things considered, I want apples from my backyard.

Things taste better when you have harvested them with your own two hands.

This summer I found a beautifully laden apple tree a few minutes from my back door (about 500 m/1640 feet). Two days and two nice hikes later and I have a big sack of gleaned apples to store for the winter.

The only way it could be more local than that is if the apple tree was growing in the middle of my kitchen.

Since we started our garden this summer we have not bought kale, carrots, peas, beans, radishes, summer savoury, basil, or cilantro. Now I can add apples to my growing list of foods I have not had to buy from afar. We can get them from a-near instead.

Linda - queen of the apples that came all the way from a tree we can see from our window.

The next planned addition will be to plant some garlic this week so we can harvest our own next summer, and quit buying it from China... which is 10, 638 km/6610 miles away.

Our garlic will be growing 3 meters/15 feet from our front door.

We're changing food miles to food feet, which lowers our carbon footprint and adds nutrients and taste to our diet. It also feels extremely satisfying to break free of our reliance on Big Food, and grow and pick food with our own hands.

November 11, 2016

Love Is The Only Engine Of Survival

"Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in the midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free."

Multi-talented artist Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934, in Montreal, Canada.  As if this week hasn't been emotional enough, Canada's Dylan passed away Monday at the age of 82.

Prolific to the end of his life (his most recent album was released three weeks ago), the singer/songwriter learned to play the guitar as a teenager, and as a young student, also wrote poetry and novels. 

In describing Cohen's work, singer Jennifer Warnes said, "Leonard acknowledges that the whole act of living contains immense amounts of sorrow and hopelessness and despair; and also passion, high hopes, and deep and eternal love." All his life he was true to the creative calling.

"I've seen the future, brother: it is murder."

In 1960, Cohen purchased a home on the Greek island of Hydra, attracted to the simple way of life on this picturesque island in the Mediterranean. With no cars and limited electricity, here he lived a quasi-reclusive lifestyle and focused on his art and his family.

As an artist that had creativity oozing from every pore, Cohen also did visual art – in particular, sketching and drawing which he had been interested in since a boy. Living on Hydra with his young children, Cohen often made drawing an important family activity around the kitchen table. 

If you don't become the ocean, you'll become seasick every day"

Much later the drawing that was his life was tragically torn to shreds by a close friend that helped manage his business affairs. Cohen's savings, retirement account, and the rights to some of his music were all gone. He was left penniless at almost 70 years old, his entire career's earnings missing. 

Rather than be defeated and bitter, Cohen responded to his situation with grace and equanimity. No doubt his 5 years of seclusion at the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles helped him through his predicament successfully. 

"Take the only tree that's left and stuff it up the hole in your culture"

Throughout his life Cohen exuded a sense of calm and peace, even after being unable to recover any of the millions missing from his bank accounts. Unafraid of hard work, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got back to the business of creating beautiful things for the world.

His chosen name after being ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk means "silence", unusual for a guy whose words will continue to resonate far and loud into the future. Amidst his creative output there remained a rock-like steadfastness.

He triumphed, and before long had fully recovered financially. At the same time the singer was approaching 8 decades and he sensed that the end of his life was near. His lover from his time in Greece, and the mother of his children, died in July of this year, and he thought he might not be far behind.

Cohen's farewell letter to Marianne was read at her funeral, stating that "... our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine." 

Three months later they would be holding hands once again. Good bye Mr. Cohen.

"Love is the only engine of survival."

November 9, 2016

The Dissenters

"The dissenter is every human being at those moments of their life when they resign momentarily from the herd and thinks for themselves.”
- Archibald Macleish

Well, America, this should be interesting. Dissent is healthy in a democracy, so we will have to wait and see what happens. Best of luck.

Just in case you are wondering, your neighbours to the north have lots of room for polite political refugees, although you might want to wait before checking us out online. Our immigration website crashed last night.

You could always ask a Vietnam War conscientious objector that has been living here for the past few decades - it's really quite nice. My sister is married to one of these beautiful people. He wouldn't kill for the state, and we welcomed him with open arms. We will welcome you, too.

Or you could stay home, and help make America great again. Either way, it is going to be an interesting next four years.

November 7, 2016

I Wish I Spent More Time Shopping

No one on their death bed wishes that they had spent more time shopping on the internet, or anywhere else (except maybe the garden center). No one wishes they spent more time at work, so they could get more money, so they could spend more time shopping. When we stop to think about our brief time above ground here on this beautiful planet, shopping for entertainment loses its appeal.

At any stage of life there is precious little time for us to engage in the activities that truly matter to us. Such activities would be those that lead to us becoming better humans, and those pursuits which help to make the world a better place. 

I like to consider as much as I can when deciding whether I need to shop for something right now, at a later date, or at all. Will buying that thing, or doing that thing, make me a better person? Will it make the world a better place?

If not, why bother? Why waste the time, effort and money when there are so many more important things to be done? As King Canute said to his courtiers, "Time and tide wait for no one." Today he might say, "Let all people know how empty and worthless is the power of consumerism, for there is none worthy of the name, but Nature."

While no one about to die wishes they had bought more stuff to cram into that already stuffed garage, here are a few things that they do tend to think about as their life comes to an end.

On their deathbed people tend to:

  1. Wish they spent more time with family and friends.
  2. Wish they spent less time working.
  3. Wish they never started a bucket list.
  4. Wish they spoke more honestly about how they felt.
  5. Wish they chose to be happier and laughed more.
  6. Wish they never sold their soul, and entire lives, to the system.

The clock is ticking. How will we choose to spend what time remains to us?

November 4, 2016

Worshiping In The Woods

“I’ve decided I’m going to live this life for some time to come. The freedom and simple beauty is just too good to pass up.”
- Christopher Mccandless

I pulled a Henry David Thoreau this summer and spent most of my free time in the woods. During my break from writing I stepped into the forest and promptly forgot, for a time, all about the artificial, complicated world outside.

This life-long student of nature entered the wild to confront the essential facts of life. Each time I set out I wondered what I would learn from these woods, because I am enriched every time I visit.

When I approached nature with humility, the wildlife and I see each other. I explore and the crows and ravens keep me company. They remind me to always be aware of both the laws and magic of the natural world.

Spending time in wilderness, sometimes immersed for days at at time, is something I have always done. I continue that tradition here in the beauty of our new home in Nova Scotia.

Over the years the wild has taught me to live "so sturdily and Spartan-like" as to cut out much of the allure, and distraction, of mainstream life. What is left is the marrow, and it continually calls to me to come and worship and learn.

Like Henry, I can never have enough of nature. That, and kindness, is my religion.

"Open yourself to miracles. Use new eyes. Believe in magic. Embrace life’s wonders." 
- Jamie Sams and David Carson

November 2, 2016

Hello Good People Of Earth

Hello good people of Earth, still the nicest planet in the known universe. While my longest break from blogging since 2009 was very relaxing, I really missed writing here. I missed the interactions that we have while sharing thoughts and ideas.

Most of all, I missed sharing our deep desire to live differently upon this planet that we love so much.

Therapist William Glasser writes that humans' deepest desires are: 1) to love and be loved, and 2) to do something one believes is worthwhile.

For Linda and I, maintaining the Not Buying Anything blog fulfills both. Here we express our love for Earth, for nature, and for all of you who visit here. When we read comments together, we feel the love from readers. We like it a lot, and think it is a worthwhile effort.

But an occasional break is nice.

Since our summer sabbatical began there have been oil spills, impassioned pleas to check global climate change, the strangest US election I have ever witnessed, and an over-the-top militarized response to peaceful protesters with legitimate concerns.

But still only crickets from the MSM and most of the general public. Where is the outrage?

20 years ago we had a coffee mug that said, "If you aren't outraged you aren't paying attention."  Two decades have passed, during which time things have continued to deteriorate, and still no outrage.

Linda and I talked recently about updating the slogan for today's situation. We came up with:

"If you aren't outraged you may be a brain-dead zombie."

Except instead of stumbling around saying, "brains!", we say, "More shopping!" "More money!" "More stuff!" "More!"

What does it take to get the attention of consumers across the land blithely pretending that nothing is wrong with the state of the world, and that their actions aren't directly contributing to the whole mess?

Obviously this blog must go on. Thank you for all your encouragement.  It is good to be back.