Each day, like a newly planted seed, can blossom into all kinds of new life. Researching the history of our Santa Monica Community Gardens reminds me of all the vitality that grows because people, those we know and those we can learn of in unexpected ways, care. I recently discovered this little film on one of our three community gardens. Finding what’s in a community garden is quite refreshing.
Last week being with the Eco-Farm community at Asilomar, CA assured me that the organic growers—farmers, gardeners, and all who study, support, supply, partner or ally with them—feed more than populations. As they cultivate and care for the land, the crops or animals, helping the biodiversity of flora and fauna and watersheds to flourish, these organic growers participate in a growing organic grassroots that feed our national and international spirit and the health of our body politic.
Since J. I. Rodale founded in 1930 the Rodale business in farming and publishing to focus on healing and the synergy of healthy soil and healthy people, organic growing practices and understandings have boosted what it means to see that human beings are a dynamic part of Nature and to have thriving relationships with the natural world. More than 1600 people were a part of the 2014 Eco-Farm Conference initiated 34 years ago continuing the deepening of an ecological consciousness. Some of the elders in the organic growing community convened a week earlier to reflect on what has been learned and what needs to be done.
Certainly, what has been done has included helping to generate an environmental, a.k.a sustainability, movement and many policies and laws that affect the political economy, starting with limiting damage that can be done to the biosphere. Although there is much more to be done, the near-settled 2014 Farm Bill has provisions that assist organic farming and research. Yet, in the United States, environmental laws have generally been based on the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, which recognizes Nature as property, a thing to be consumed or used.
Thankfully, in places, like Santa Monica, CA, the 20 year-old, continually updated, City’s Sustainability Plan has led to shifting the paradigm to recognize the rights of Nature in a Sustainability Bill of Rights. Natural ecosystems, like a community, have fundamental inherent rights to thrive. Those rights supersede private corporate interests. Now, any Santa Monica citizen has standing to speak for the ecosystem and, if necessary, in a court of law to defend those rights of the Natural ecosystems, particularly the watershed, within the city. Here’s an example of a local community deciding for itself how to be healthy and truly sustainable.
At the 2014 Eco-Farm conference new seeds for opening minds and practicing humane habits were planted. Visiting nearby independent organic farms and a community cannery-kitchen commenced the lessons. Later, tucked in in Asilomar’s Monterey Pine forest across from sand dunes and ocean, it was enlightening to sit in gracious spaces—architectural weaves of wood, stone and light—to converse, question, or dine with a multigenerational gathering of farmers, gardeners, students, scientists, activists, educators, merchants, craftspeople, artists, poets, physicians, academics, leaders and neighbors. Keynote speaker Dr.Temple Grandin urged us to be better observers, attentive to the details that take into consideration an animal’s thinking-in-pictures. Closing presenter Maria Rodale reminded us, as her grandfather understood, organic growing heals—in short, to Ms. Rodale, “More love, less fear.” With such consciousness, the organic community is quite an animated organic grassroots that enliven the spirit and body politic.
Haunting the world on All Hallow’s Eve in 2013 is how humans, most terrifyingly in the United States, are exacerbating climate change, day after day, wearing masks of hollow bearing heralding by fossil-fueled deed, if not word, that as President George Bush declared at the Earth Summit in 1992, “The American way of life is not negotiable.” That way of life has been summed up as the American “empire of consumption.”
Saturday, September 21, in Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards Park, the Puget Sound poured into Elliot Bay and refreshed us at the shoreline. There, our determination and love of Mother Earth, our commitment to our fellow creatures, especially the young, meshed with the breezy sunshine to bathe us. Bill McKibben named it such a pretty “solar spill,” to me, our balm and nourishment.
We made our personal commitments in solidarity with the young boy who asked us to “save Mother Earth” and waved our red banners to “Draw the Line” against the Keystone XL pipeline and confront the climate crisis.
That excessive materialism and unconscious consumerism have largely generated climate change does not deter us from awakening to our finest consciousness and humane living in the Anthropocene Age.
The beauty of that realization rushed back to me later in the evening when I sat immersed in a local Seattle performance of Les Miserables and the “People’s Song”uplifted the voices in unison to assert the human power to live free, joyfully and lovingly.
Sixty-eight years ago, the precise, complex, severe—ironically, stimulating—work that scientists in the United States had secretly done to figure out how to start a nuclear chain reaction in an extraordinary weapon that could blast the Axis Powers exploded our sense of humanity in a Japanese city. The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m., Japan time.
In a moment’s flash, tens of thousands of civilians and wildlife—school children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, nurses, reverends, musicians, fishermen, doctors, shopkeepers, artists, poets meshed with birds and butterflies, so many of Earth’s creatures—were vaporized, melted, scorched beyond recognition. Dropping that first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and another, three days later, on Nagasaki, Japan, seared our national character as it shattered the Pacific theater in the war.
Yes, World War II had brutalized people, but, worse, people normalized brutality.
Today, the political cartoonist Paul Conrad’s Chain Reaction sculpture helps us remember. It stands tall in Santa Monica, for all of us in the world, to call to mind: “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.”
Yet, some city leaders think it should be demolished because it is not “safe.” What is not safe is forgetting. Save “Chain Reaction” because it is a way to save ourselves and our fellow creatures of the biosphere. The chain reaction we need is in us to believe in the beauty and goodness of life and what we can do to preserve it.
What does it take to heal ourselves and Mother Earth? Just our realization that getting to the roots of our problems or mistakes–being radical–enables our true sustaining abilities. That’s why we’re in the movement for environmental rights. We are far beyond and deeper than an environmental regulations campaign.
Listening to Dr. Mark Gold make the case at the Santa Monica College Earth week keynote address lifts the spirit and the radical momentum.
Today, Earth Day, is our deadline to speak out against the XL Keystone to the State Department. We have no human rights if we destroy our Mother Earth with more fossil fuel hot air. Don’t hold your breath–act!