What Local's All About
2008-04-25 13:29:44 UTC
We had a wonderful Earth Day at Coldbrook School, and generated a great deal of interest in a community garden. We partnered with apple producers' co-operative Scotian Gold to offer kids who brought a litterless lunch a coupon for a litterless ice cream cone. Scotian Gold will give us garden space on their property so it can be tended regularly through the summer. It'll be organic, and produce will go to the cafeteria in the fall. In a skit, we got a class of Gr. 3 kids to dress up like C02 molecules - they brought black baseball caps to school for the carbon atom, and we pulled two red balloons through the holes for the oxygen atoms. Then they did the C02ie dance every time the evil Vol*de*mart got people to buy bottled water or apples from California. But Harry Walker, the boy who shopped, and recycled, the wizard with the Mobius loop scar, faced Vol*de*Mart down, and told him "cheap oil is running out, Vol*de*Mart, and when it does, we'll be ready." Then we showed the video at www.storyofstuff.com . We got coverage in the local and provincial newspaper. One of the reporters was playing devil's advocate and asked, "Why bother?" A very interesting article was forwarded to me the next day, which raisesd that question, and attempted to answer it. The answer is actually buried toward the bottom of the article, it takes him so long to vent. So I've excerpted it.
You can read the whole article at the link.
Why Bother? By MICHAEL POLLAN
Published: April 20, 2008 New York Times - United States
But the act I want to talk about is growing some - even just a little - of your own food. Rip out your lawn, if you have one, and if you don't - if you live in a high-rise, or have a yard shrouded in shade - look into getting a plot in a community garden. *Measured against the Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign, I know, but in fact it's one of the most powerful things an individual can do - to reduce your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind. A great many things happen when you plant a vegetable garden, some of them directly related to climate change, others indirect but related nevertheless. Growing food, we forget, comprises the original solar technology: calories produced by means of photosynthesis. Years ago the cheap-energy mind discovered that more food could be produced with less effort by replacing sunlight with fossil-fuel fertilizers and pesticides, with a result that the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce. It's estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible. Yet the sun still shines down on your yard, and photosynthesis still works so abundantly that in a thoughtfully organized vegetable garden (one planted from seed, nourished by compost from the kitchen and involving not too many drives to the garden center), you can grow the proverbial free lunch - CO2-free and dollar-free. This is the most-local food you can possibly eat (not to mention the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious), with a carbon footprint so faint that even the New Zealand lamb council dares not challenge it. And while we're counting carbon, consider too your compost pile, which shrinks the heap of garbage your household needs trucked away even as it feeds your vegetables and sequesters carbon in your soil. What else? Well, you will probably notice that you're getting a pretty good workout there in your garden, burning calories without having to get into the car to drive to the gym. (It is one of the absurdities of the modern division of labor that, having replaced physical labor with fossil fuel, we now have to burn even more fossil fuel to keep our unemployed bodies in shape.) Also, by engaging both body and mind, time spent in the garden is time (and energy) subtracted from electronic forms of entertainment. You begin to see that growing even a little of your own food is, as Wendell Berry pointed out 30 years ago, one of those solutions that, instead of begetting a new set of problems - the way "solutions" like ethanol or nuclear power inevitably do - actually beget other solutions, and not only of the kind that save carbon. Still more valuable are the habits of mind that growing a little of your own food can yield. You quickly learn that you need not be dependent on specialists to provide for yourself - that your body is still good for something and may actually be enlisted in its own support. If the experts are right, if both oil and time are running out, these are skills and habits of mind we're all very soon going to need. We may also need the food. Could gardens provide it? Well, during World War II, victory gardens supplied as much as 40 percent of the produce Americans ate. But there are sweeter reasons to plant that garden, to bother. At least in this one corner of your yard and life, you will have begun to heal the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen. Chances are, your garden will re-engage you with your neighbors, for you will have produce to give away and the need to borrow their tools. You will have reduced the power of the cheap-energy mind by personally overcoming its most debilitating weakness: its helplessness and the fact that it can't do much of anything that doesn't involve division or subtraction. The garden's season-long transit from seed to ripe fruit - will you get a load of that zucchini?! - suggests that the operations of addition and multiplication still obtain, that the abundance of nature is not exhausted. The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
*Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the magazine, is the author, most recently, of "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto."
2008-01-04 09:34:01 UTC
One acquaintence on another list suggests that there are at least eight shades of green ... (light green, business green, state green, concerned citizen green, radical citizen green, centre-left green, far left green and deep green ...) Although the following suggestion would amount to adding "virtual green" to this list of shades, the popularity of virtual worlds could become a very useful educational tool ... provided someone could come up with a sufficiently green Webkinz. Anybody out there with contacts in Ganz? That company could easily do an endangered species line or tie in sustainability skills games with their polar bears, seals ... Build-A-Bear Workshop has an endangered leopard cub that involves a WWF donation ... Although concern of this kind might more aptly fall into the "light green" category, it could be harnessed as a means for a deeper education. There is the chance that kids who learn to recycle in a virtual world might retain that skill for crossover to real life. There are enough gifted people out there who could build a truly beautiful virtual model ... to inspire even adults.
>Kiddie Virtual World Is Exploding
The New York Times
"Get ready for a total inundation" of kiddie-oriented virtual worlds, says eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. Webkinz, Club Penguin and the like have been a smashing success where adult-oriented counterparts Second Life and There.com have not. According to comScore, Disney-owned Club Penguin attracts seven times the traffic of Second Life. Webkinz, a site where children create and care for virtual stuffed animals, has seen its traffic soar 342 percent in the last year. In all, eMarketer estimates that 20 million children will be part of a virtual world by 2011, up from 8.2 million today. Disney, for example, plans to follow Club Penguin's success with virtual worlds for "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Cars."
2007-12-29 15:52:37 UTC
Dear Renee & Beth,
I don't know how helpful this idea is, but in some ways it's ironic that one Conservative supporter I know says we should boycott Chinese imports if we are concerned about emissions. From a practical standpoint, I'm sure this would be an extremely difficult thing to do, if even a sufficient number of people cared. But our consumption of those goods really is the heavy end of a stuck see-saw. I suppose most Conservatives would consider trade barriers too hard-line a position to advance in climate talks - but it's the corollary of their call for an "even playing field." Imagine if several countries advanced trade barriers in a green union. It would probably start a war ... and yet we have no qualms about fighting terror. Well, maybe 2008 will bring some fresh ideas.
Best wishes to all,
A.M. in N.S.
bible & environment
2007-11-08 12:28:06 UTC
Hey, thanks, Claire & Peter.
Just wanted to mention that the Adelaide College of Divinity in Australis was behind a five-Volume Earth Bible Project (Norman C. Habel, Series Editor, Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press) which discusses the scriptures from six eco-justice principles:
1. The principle of intrinsic worth: The universe, Earth and all its components have intrinsic worth/value.
2. The principle of interconnectedness: Earth is a community of interconnected living things that are mutually dependent on each other for life and survival.
3. The principles of voice: Earth is a subject capable of raising its voice in celebration and against injustice.
4. The principle of purpose: The universe, earth and all its components are opart of a dynamic cosmic desgin within which each piece has a place in the overall goal of that design.
5. The principle of mutual custodianship: Earth is a balanced and diverse domain in which responsible custodians can function as partners, rather than rules, to sustain a balanced and diverse earth community.
6. The principle of resistance: Earth and its components not only suffer from injustices at the hands of humans, but actively resist them in the struggle for justice.
I bought Volume 5: The Earth Story in the New Testament, and am reading it, and ordered Vol. 4: The Earth Story in the Psalms. I was introduced to this series at the Anglican Church's national eco-justice conference here in Canada, which I attended in British Columbia last May. It was a long way to fly from Nova Scotia, but an invaluable exchange of ideas that have continued to be very useful. As a result of the support I received from the local archdiocese, I am expected to be part of the planning of upcoming conference, one of which is planned for Halifax.
I agree, but would add something
2007-11-05 10:03:28 UTC
I am enjoying your posts. It's true - some folks are indoctrinated. But for all that, it's North America's population that is, in places, already in decline. Being a spiritual person who is involved in religion, I think religion could play a very important role in helping to change social behaviour. I think there is a huge sustainability message in the Bible. In places it is suppressed. But sustainability should be at the core of family values. We can't share it if we wreck it. Religion has missed the boat on this one more than once. But it has also been losing its hold on all of us. And so even in places where it has gone about things the right way, sadly, the effects are not optimal ... Ironically, there are so many people on birth control, it is affecting water quality and the health of fish. I have faith in the immanent, organizing, creative force in operation on this planet (call it what you will). The question is whether we work with it, before it decides to recycle us!
"Many religious peoples consider birth control an abomination, and the indoctrination they have received all their lives is devilishly difficult to break through. And I don't see celibacy catching on as a sustainable behavior. That is not considered natural, either. It may not even sink in to explain that refusing to control family size now will force their descendents to face brutal conditions, hunger, starvation and painful death in the future. How do you propose Education for Sustainability will change these minds?"
core vs. supplemental programs?
2007-10-29 08:35:45 UTC
Thank you Julie for the info on LSF. I'm part of one of the provincial working groups set up by the LSF. So far we have don't have a sustainability curriculum in Nova Scotia. No doubt there are lots of stalwart teachers out there who have gone the "supplementary route" when they have had time: i.e. a spring litter pick-up. This is nice, but to quote Steve Van Matre, it's like a neighbour passing you two cups of water when your house is on fire. There is no integrated, core program with an emphasis on lifestyles change here. I'd sure love to hear of one if there's such a thing in any other province. Sadly, I had never scrutinized the LSF website until I explored your link. Thank you very much. Something I noticed right away was the presence of oil and gas companies among the funders. It is good to see them taking some form of responsibility this way, but I wonder to what extent this beholds us to their version of sustainability, and although the website is beautiful and the writing lovely, I don't see "lifestyle change" spelled out as a priority anywhere (I see "skills acquisition"). Subtle difference there. I'll be sure to raise this question when we have our next N.S. working group meeting in November ... If there are folks with additional insights on this, please share.
Best to you & the planet,
Anna-Maria Galante in Coldbrook, N.S.
CO2 Man a Real Hoot
2007-10-12 08:12:50 UTC
Just thought I'd mention this "outfit" to the list: www.co2ies.ca
These folks paid us a visit when the Anglican Church held its eco-justice conference in Victoria, last May. They were so funny, and the costumes were so easy to put together. When I got home, I got the vice principal at one of the local schools to dress up as CO2 Man when I did an unofficial showing of the Gore movie. The kids ate it right up. Our VP looked more like a WWF wrestler than the original C02 man, but that made it even better.
A Social Marketing Journey - from Ribbons to Free Stuff
2007-09-27 09:41:09 UTC
Hello out there,
Sorry this is long - I'm new to this list, and am so thankful it's here. I'm a former newspaper reporter turned music teacher. Someone asked me if I missed being able to shape public opinion. I had to laugh. *It is now, as an ex-journalist, that I can express my opinion publicly* - something I've been doing often. I've been able to do more for the environment since quitting the paper in 2005, then I ever did as a managed employee. After the Al Gore movie, a lot of fruitless arguments I'd had with folks over the years evaporated into thick air. Kilotons of personal energy were freed up to actually do something. So I started printing off green ribbons to distribute in the repertory theatre lobby, and signing people onto a mailing list. Out of this came a group of 30 people willing to do a relay from the Annapolis Valley to the N.S. provincial legislature - walking, biking, and on the final leg, public transit - to get public witness in handing copies of the DVD (and green ribbons) to govt. We got a bit of print and radio publicity, and I've continued to parlay this into speaking opportunities.
One day last February the entire federal opposition wore green ribbons to the House of Commons - too bad they didn't keep it up. I had an e-newsletter going for a while, but it was a one-man band. So I can't say the green ribbons have taken off. There are too many others ribbons out there. (Although if there was a cause that deserved a ribbon, the environment would be it.) The magnetic bumper ribbons were printed with *the three easiest* *lifestyle changes*: buy local (food miles are a biggie), stop idling (it'll save you money), recycle more (and buy less) ... One town councillor announced we would become the first idle-free town in North America. I am not sure this has happened yet. But* the feds have free anti-idling signage and literature available (to order at the Natural Resources Canada website), *and* *I've been distributing it ...* * I would like to see more of the no-idling pressure stickers and literature being distributed by parking lot attendants - esp. at obvious govt. installations. Recently while waiting to take the ferry to St. John's, Nfld., I marvelled at the dozens of cars idling in the toll booth line. The toll officers should be distributing anti-idling brochures. At construction sites, what would it take for somebody who would otherwise be leaning on a shovel to walk down the line of cars with booklets, kindly requesting people turn the key? This is so easy, and such a no-brainer, and I'm often caught without a stack of the booklets .... As Edward Abbey wrote, you want to be careful not to burn out, because after all, you want to *outlive the bastards ... * And this is very well and fine until you realize that if you ever eat hot dogs or drive a car, then you're pretty much one of them. I know lifestyle change has to be bottom-up and top-down ... probably our best hope of fostering permanent lifestyle change is educating kids, and getting kids to educate their parents. *Beyond the political arena, we need ordinary volunteers to get into* *schools and Sunday Schools* (where there is at least some values-based education left - ask the kids - God and Mother Earth are in the same bathtub.) *The excellent programs at **www.eartheducation.org*