“I myself feel that I cannot get along with this society very well. There are so many things that make me want to withdraw, to go back to myself. But my practice helps me remain in society, because I am aware that if I leave society, I will not be able to help it change.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, from Being Peace
It was fifty five years ago today the Supreme Court of the United States of America upheld the decision of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Alabama “that Alabama’s racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional.” It was only just the beginning of the civil rights movement. Only the beginning. So “keep on keeping on” Occupy, we have only just begun!
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrated, he answered, “I am only boring under my own seat.”
“Yes,” said his companions, “but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you.”
Tim DeChristopher is the Utah activist who is going on trial today for derailing the illegal sale of public land to private oil and gas developers during the dying days of the Bush administration. Tim is facing ten years in prison on two felony charges, if convicted.
In a recent interview with Yes! Magazine, DeChristopher had this to say about the ongoing political upheaval in the Middle East and its relation to the climate movement:
Throughout the few weeks of the uprising in Egypt, there was never really any doubt that the protesters would eventually take out Mubarak. It was totally clear: They knew they had this level of power and were committed to exercising it. What we’re missing is that commitment to exercising the citizen power that we already have. In Egypt, once they made the decision that they were going to be a powerful force, there was no stopping them.
…We think we have no power when in fact we have more than enough power. Right now, we have a big enough movement to win this battle; we just need to start acting like it. That’s the message that the climate movement really needs to internalize. On an individual level, it means making the commitment that we’re going to be powerful and effective agents of change; on the movement level, it’s about making the decision that we’re really going to win this battle.
The following is an excerpt from a letter co-written by five leaders of social and environmental justice – Dr. James Hansen, Robert Redford, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibbon, and Terry Tempest Williams. All recognize the trial of Tim DeChristopher to be a turning point in the climate movement:
…Why is this trial so important to the fight against catastrophic climate change, even in light of recent ecological disasters like flooding in Pakistan and the BP oil spill? As we all know, this fight takes many forms: huge global days of action, giant international conferences like the one that failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.
But there are a few signal moments, and one will come February 28th, when the federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City. Tim—“Bidder 70”—pulled off one of the most creative protests against our runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus upending the auction. The government calls that “violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act” and thinks he should spend ten years in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on behalf of all of us and of the future. Click here to read more
Paul Hawken, author, entrepreneur, and environmentalist, has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. In the video below, he talks at the 2006 Bioneers conference about how the largest movement in the world has come into being, and why no one saw it coming. Like nature itself, Hawken says, this movement is organizing from the bottom up, in every city, town, and culture, and it might be our salvation:
It is my belief that we are part of a movement that is greater and deeper and broader than we ourselves know or can know…It is nonviolent. It is grassroots. It has no cluster bombs, no armies, and no helicopters. It has no central ideology. A male vertebrate is not in charge….This unnamed movement is the most diverse movement the world has ever seen…It is global, classless, unquenchable, and tireless. The shared understanding is arising spontaneously from different economic sectors, cultures, regions, and cohorts. It is growing and spreading world wide without no exception. It has many roots but primarily the origins are indigenous cultures, and environmental and social justice movements…This is no longer or simply about resources, or infractions, or injustice. This is a civil rights movement, a human rights movement, this is a democracy movement. It is the coming world…We do not know how big this movement is. It is marked by kinship, community, and symbiosis…There is no precedent for what we are doing…This is the first time on earth that a powerful, non-ideological movement has arisen..During the span of the 20th century big ideologies dominated… “Ideologies stalk the earth clad in armour”… We were told that salvation would be found in the domination of a single system. This is where salvation will be found. We know that as biologists. We know that as community organizers. We know that as ecologists. Salvation is found in diversity. This movement is humanity’s immune response to resist and heal political disease, economic infection, and ecological corruption caused by ideologies… It is about possibilities and solutions. Humankind knows what to do.
My family is in the middle of a graduation and a move, so my posts for the next week or two may be shorter than usual!
From the website of Four Years.Go, comes this inspiring message:
It’s time to make a choice. We can let present trends continue and risk almost certain breakdown and collapse.
Or… We can act and set humanity on a new course toward a just, thriving and sustainable world.
The choice is clear. We already possess the tools to shape our future. What’s missing is our collective will to act.
Four years is enough time to build that will, to change our direction, even to transform ourselves. And Go because we must start now.
There is still time to act, but no time to waste.
We are at the beginning of a great adventure, perhaps the greatest ever. Together, we can transform the story of civilization from impending disaster to a peaceful and sustainable world. The journey begins with each one of us taking a next step. What’s your next step—big or small?
You can subscribe to get updates from this campaign. Just click on “subscribe to our email list” button on the home page and fill out the information. The page states:
FOUR YEARS. GO. is just the beginning. We’re a rallying call for individuals and organizations to set humanity on the course to an environmentally sustainability, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling path by 2014. We will have developments, news, and opportunities to share as this journey moves forward. We encourage you to sign up to receive email updates about FOUR YEARS. GO. as a great way to stay connected.
I encourage you to spend some time exploring this website, and learning about what people are doing across the globe to make a sustainable, just future possible. For example, you can “share your next step” and let people know what actions you are taking. You can also explore a global map which provides a visual map of our collective journey to a sustainable, just, and fulfilling world. If you are on Facebook, you can also go to the FourYears.Go FB page and become a friend.
Have a great Thursday- don’t forget to take time to spend time outside enjoying your own part of the planet. I know I’m going to get re-acquainted with this beautiful corner of Canada’s boreal forest!
Thanks to Cathy Orlando, Climate Champion from Sudbury, Ontario, for sharing “FourYears.Go” with me.
Today is “Meatless Monday“, a campaign that encourages us all to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health by eating less meat. Today’s posting is a discussion about the “Eating Local” movement by my good friend, Vi Stoesz. She and her husband Barry participated in a “100 Mile Diet for 100 days” experiment several years ago, and Vi was recently invited to share their experience with an interested group of women in Altona, Manitoba. Vi was gracious enough to agree to my request to share her talk on this blog:
Thanks for inviting me to talk about my experience with the 100 Mile Diet.
In the spring of 2007, we had heard about the 100 Mile Diet and were inspired by the Vancouver couple who went on a local diet for one year, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. A couple from our church, Jennifer deGroot and Will Braun, had also been gardening in the city and been very committed to putting food up for the winter. Jennifer shared extensively about eating local with members of our church, Hope Mennonite. She and Will also worked on a farm as part of their journey towards eating locally.
Via the grapevine, we heard of the 100 Mile Diet challenge for interested people in Winnipeg. The challenge was to eat food grown in a 100 mile radius for 100 days and they were hoping that 100 people would sign up to participate. A website was formed, where people could register to be official participants. The challenge lasted from September 1 –December 9, 2007. The group that created the idea wanted the experience to be somewhat of a challenge so they started it in September rather than over the summer. This gave us time to prepare, learn to put food up if we needed to, research local sources of food, and network with others.
In the early spring of 2007, I really thought about it and wondered if we could do it. I love contests that have a competitive edge – especially if they include my husband. My children were 18, 22, and 24 at the time so I didn’t really have anything more to say to them in terms of advice – they knew all the answers! However, I still wanted to be an inspiration to them just as my parents have been to me in terms of service and life challenges. I also came to believe this experiment would be a direct act of faith, in keeping with God’s call to care for the environment. By eating locally, our food travels less which reduces green house gas emissions, it tastes better, and – most of the time -there is less packaging. The foods eaten are whole foods, with less processing. I would have to do the processing. My connection with the land that grows my food would be strengthened. I liked that. My demand for cheap exotic fruits like oranges, pineapple and bananas is also directly linked with the oppression of poor farmers who have to use their land to grow food for me instead of their families. Were my choices in food affecting someone else’s livelihood and contributing to their poverty? I needed to think about those connections, and I wanted to connect my actions with my beliefs. This would be a good opportunity to directly live out my faith and learn lots in the process.
I ran the idea past my husband Barry and he agreed to join me if he could still drink coffee and eat chocolate. We had been drinking fair trade coffee for about a year – would we have to give that up too? Would we really try to give up chocolate? We talked to others who were joining about their thoughts on coffee, chocolate and salt. Where would we get salt? It turns out the only source of salt we could find that was somewhat close was in Saskatchewan. Was this too far? It wasn’t 100 miles. If we couldn’t get it locally, what will our food taste like without salt? What about spices? Isn’t this something that the First Nations traded for furs? We were getting scared and very hesitant about this whole thing. We thought it was a bit crazy. Why put ourselves through this? Weren’t we already eating local chicken and going to farmer’s markets? We were concerned and spoke with others. They reassured us that if we joined, there would not be daily visits from “100 Mile” police to check up on us, or dire consequences for diving into a chocolate bar in the middle of the night. If some people wanted to join with a few exceptions, that would be acceptable, and they could still sign up. The point of the experiment was to be as open and transparent as possible. We were still scared but excited at the same time when we took the plunge and signed up.