Organic Growers Feed the Spirit and Body Politic

eco farm conf            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.

  asilomar_conference_grounds_beach_pacific_grove_california_unitedstatesAt 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.  asilomar_conference_grounds_pebble_beach_4Later, 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.

The People’s Song is to Save Mother Earth

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 1379835075-350org-draws-the-line-in-seattle_2754106pipeline 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.

The Rights of Nature in Santa Monica!

RaindropsLeaves

It’s time!  March 12, 2013, the Santa Monica Sustainability Bill of Rights is set to be considered by the Santa Monica City Council after two years of study and advocacy.  With imagination and deep understanding of the influence that Santa Monica can have to shift the legal paradigm for environmental and human sustainability, the Task Force on the Environment has recommended a new law that recognizes the rights of Nature and the community rights to supersede corporate interests.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

6:30 p.m.

Santa Monica City Council Meeting

Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street, 2nd Floor

Santa Monica, CA 90401

Agenda Item 7-C: Introduction and First Reading of an Ordinance Establishing Sustainable Rights for Santa Monica residents and the natural environment.

 STAFF REPORT and SBR Ordinance

Who Determines our Sustainable Future—Residents or Corporations?

We need a Santa Monica Sustainability Bill of Rights to protect our water, air, and land and to remedy climate change.

Write or telephone council members: council@smgov.net or (310) 458-8201.

            In 1994, Santa Monica established its first comprehensive City Sustainability Plan.  The city and community have worked hard to protect the natural ecosystems that make life possible.  Based on the recommendation of the Santa Monica’s Task Force on the Environment, Santa Monica will now move to recognize the rights of Nature with a new legal paradigm for sustainability to be a legal obligation and not just a voluntary intention.  Now, we need to ensure that the rights of the community and our natural ecosystems take precedence over corporate interests.

Why?  Big corporations are dominating people, Nature and our democracy.

The Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United ruling has given corporations freedom- of-speech rights that belong to “We, the People.”  Our environmental laws and regulations can thus be weakened by corporate campaign donations buying politicians’ loyalties that can lead to laws favoring corporate interests above everything else.

Santa Monica needs a Sustainability Bill of Rights as the law to protect our inalienable rights to a sustainable future.  We are a part of Nature, and our natural ecosystems are not solely property to manage and control. 

 A Santa Monica Sustainability Bill of Rights empowers the community to:

•  Have sustainable water, food, energy, air, soil, climate systems, waste treatment, etc.;

•  Set policies that advance self-sufficiency within the City to help achieve those goals;

•  Decide how to ensure the community’s health, safety and welfare; and

•  Put sustainable needs of people and natural ecosystems above corporate interests.

The Splendor of Being

“If you could see the Earth illuminated when you were in a place as dark as night, it would look to you more splendid than the moon.” –Galileo Galilei

To see our Mother Earth in her quintessence in the Milky Way reminds us that all living beings potentially bear her splendor.  Only as each of us, as human beings and fellow creatures of the biosphere, acting  compassionately, reflecting deep understanding and thought can our splendor really shine.

Travel through such beauty with NASA.

Bike it! Takes a Load of CO2 off and Wakes You Up!

by Charlotte . . .

As one of our principal goals, the SaMoHi Solar Alliance (SSA) works to reduce our school’s carbon footprint through encouraging positive green behavioral changes in the SaMoHi student body and community. Currently, our largest campaign is Bike Day – a day in which we encourage students to get to and from school using alternative forms of transportation– such as walking, bicycling, skate boarding, and using public transit.

Using a carbon calculator, we determined that Samohi could prevent approximately 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere if every student and administrator rode his or her bike once a week.

Since our initial event in October of 2007, we have seen a tremendous increase in not only the number of Bike Day participants, but also in the number of students biking and using other forms of alternative transportation on a daily basis. The numbers have increased from an average of twelve bikes in the school bike racks on any given day in 2007 to an average of about 30 at the start of 2009. On Bike Days the numbers swell to over 100 student bikers and participants.

To encourage students to take part in Bike Days, SSA has set up a system of initiatives – offering free popsicles to all participants and raffles for prizes that range from donated bike bells and helmets to actual bikes. The event has grown into our school’s culture as students begin to anticipate the next Bike Day events.

Working recently with Samohi PTSA, we drafted a Bike Day/Bike Safety Proposition for Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) that the school board recently passed – expanding bike safety, education, and access throughout the district. The proposition also called for a district-wide Bike.

At this point in time, Bike It! has experienced a transition to the district-wide Bike It! Walk It! Day.  The district’s sensation has been driven by students and PTSA members.  SSA students have given presentations at the middle schools in order to encourage students on the benefits of biking and alternative transportation.  In June 2011, the success of the two district wide Bike It! Days in 2010-2011 school year got SSA a school district commendation, Santa Monica City youth commendation, and a Presidential Environmental Youth Award presented from President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency.  With this publicity, Bike It! Day has grown as a well-known and well-appreciated SMMUSD event including all schools willing to participate.

As one young woman joyfully exclaims, “The best thing about riding a bike is waking up.”

Friends at Rio+20

When we breathe deeply on Mother Earth, it’s uplifting to have friends and feisty allies to protect her. Explore how Linda Sheehan and her team at Earth Law Center persevere.

Linda has been a fabulous inspiration to us in Santa Monica as one of the lead-lawyers working with us to make our Sustainability Bill of Rights real and replenishing.

Commencement: a Cultural Climate Change of Consciousness

Sheathed in coolness or sunshine, gowns flowing, caps bobbing, smiles glowing, June’s Commencement season blossoms with enthralling personalities and invigorating commitments as some of our brightest, most inspiring young environmental leaders are celebrating their graduation from Santa Monica High School or Santa Monica College.  Charlotte, Jenna, James, Luis, Joshua, like millions of students across the planet, are set to advance to the next level of their academic studies, but the truth is these young scholar-activists are already advanced, far advanced.  For they see beyond mainstream culture and are energized to help lead a cultural climate change of consciousness that we urgently need, starting with ending fossil fuels being our main means of powering our lives.  This is the gift of the class of 2012.

Cognizant that how we, as the human species, inhabit the biosphere impacts others and Nature’s communities and ecosystem, these young spirits take seriously the fact that their lives matter to the Seventh Generation, 140 to 175 years in the future.  They understand that posterity’s well-being and the quality of long-term life on Mother Earth depends on who we are now, who we are becoming and how we choose in our daily lives to provide for ourselves and our communities.  Sustainability is no slogan, no branding to these young leaders.  It is the commitment to press to make renewable energy generation a commonplace and to shift the impact of our lives and our economy to be primarily restorative and regenerative not singularly extractive or exploitative. This is the profound and powerful challenge for the class of 2012 in the Anthropocene Age.

As reported in May by the Christian Science Monitor, current CO2 levels at the Artic, a precursor for other regions, have been recorded to be at 400 pmm, accelerating climate change and further jeopardizing the conditions amenable to life and ironically, to the material conveniences and physical comforts that define progress in the industrial world.  Convenience and comfort are now costing us too much.  This obsolete version of progress is costing us too much of Nature and too much of our own human potential, especially in terms of a truly innovative economy that conserves as it produces.

Mother Earth is tipping into uninhabitable conditions.  Truly, the climate change that we need is a cultural one that values our humanity being a part of Nature and relishes in caring for our natural habitats and ecosystems, oceans, watersheds and forests, etc.

Listening and learning from the young and young-in-spirit leaders will help show us the way.  Three come to mind: Brittany Trilford from New Zealand, Severn Cullis-Suzuki from Canada, and Bill McKibben from the United States.

“Are You Here to Save Face — or Save Us?”: Brittany Trilford, 17, Addresses World Leaders at Rio+20”

“At Rio+20, Severn Cullis-Suzuki Revisits Historic ’92 Speech, Fights for Next Generation’s Survival”

“Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author. Co-founder of 350.org, an environmental group working to help solve the climate crisis.

Will we re-imagine our lives and meet the challenge that what we know requires us to power our lives on renewable energy?  School’s out.  Mother Earth and humanity are not—not yet.  As Mark Twain admonishes us, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

Thomas Linzey for We, the People, 2.0

Santa Monica welcomes Thomas Linzey, who will be giving an inspiring talk to be filmed for a new project called We, the People, 2.0.  To Linzey, “The environmental movement is a failure.  Whether it’s climate change or the health of our oceans, air, and soil, the planet is worse off now than it was 40 years ago, and rapidly declining. Yet, corporations have more rights than our communities or ecosystems and are doing just fine.  This is how we fix this situation.”

Thomas Linzey: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Fights for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature   

to be portrayed in a new film–We, the People, 2.0

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2 – 4:30 p.m.

Santa Monica Main Library, Martin Luther King Auditorium

601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

(This is a free event.)

Tree Media is filming WE THE PEOPLE 2.0The time is now for this film.

Leila Conners, who co-directed the critically acclaimed film, The Eleventh Hour, sets out to bring us the voice of Thomas Linzey, awakening us to the grandeur of what we can do to revitalize caring for our natural ecosystems and ourselves.  Leila lets us know how momentous it is to be making We, the People, 2.0.  She relates, “Having dealt with environmental issues now for over 15 years, I know that the work of Thomas Linzey is THE solution to endless environmental destruction.  I’ve often wondered, as I know many of you have, why, if we all want clean air, water and soil and a healthy planet for our children, why can’t we make this happen?  Why is it just getting worse?  Thomas has the answer and also the solution. It’s across the board, it answers the 99%.  That’s why we are making this film, because everyone needs to hear about this work.”

With our help through crowd-funding, the film can be made.  Check in with Tree Media to help out!

Paying for Our Carbon Footprint Saves Us

How much does our carbon footprint cost?   It is time for us to be honest and put a price on carbon, the use of which spews CO2 into the atmosphere.  Not paying attention to what that pollution costs our climate, natural ecosystems, public and personal health, and future generations causes huge problems and fosters a lie that the quality of life is currently improving.  

For real progress, a growing movement, including, Dr. Jim Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s leading climate scientist, is calling for a carbon tax.

What is a carbon tax?   According to the folks writing at carbontax.org, simply put it:

A carbon tax is a tax on the carbon content of fuels — effectively a tax on the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Thus, carbon tax is shorthand for carbon dioxide tax or CO2 tax.

Unlike what we might first think, it is actually more expensive for us not to pay for the CO2 our industry and lifestyles emit into the atmosphere.  Listening to Dr. Hansen relate the ingenious idea of a refundable tax that could reduce our fossil fuel use by 30% in ten years stimulates the possibility of being responsible for how we move in and impact the real world.

Paying for our carbon footprint saves us.