Beginning of the Beginning

We are poised in our time between humanity’s proclivity for self-indulgence, arrogance and short-sighted self-destruction and a time of healing, cooperation and sustainable relationship with each other and the planet. Some of you understand. You feel revulsion and you feel the possibilities to do better–far better–for the sake of our children’s children, and because it is the RIGHT thing. The problems are many. So too may be the solutions.

“But what can one person do?” we hear so often, perhaps from our own lips or unspoken thoughts.

While working in the garden yesterday, mending the fences from last year’s deer damage, feeling more than a little discouraged about the state of the world, I listened to Paul Hawken describe our collective understanding about our place in the grand scheme of things, and encourage his listeners wisely in ways we CAN and ARE changing the way we do things to each other and the planet–perhaps, even in time to avoid paying the consequences of where our bigger-hammer approach to commerce and politics seems to be carrying us.

sustainability environment Hawken McKibben economics resources I encourage you to pull this thread. If you could use some encouragement, some hope, and a vision for a brighter future than the one we see at first glance in the media, take time to visit at least one of the links below.

Read the advance endorsements of Hawken’s Book, Blessed Unrest by Jane Goodall, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Terry Tempest Williams, David James Duncan, David Suzuki and others.

Watch the short video where Hawken speaks at the Bioneers conference describing this “movement without a name” that may already include more than a million like-minded organizations and 100 million people. If you think you’re alone and powerless, watch.

Buy the book. Give to your children.

And finally, visit Natural Capital, and read about WISER, the World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility. Let’s find out where we fit best, each one of us. We all have strengths, skills, gifts, experience that can be used toward the healing of injury–environmental, political, and economic. Maybe it’s NOT too late, after all. Perhaps we are at the beginning of the beginning, a time of blessed unrest–and not the beginning of the end.

Clean Coal: Count the Costs

Fight mountaintop removal coal extraction in the appalachian mountains
More than 470 mountains have been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining. Watch this video about mountaintop removal, including excerpts from the documentary Kilowatt Ours, featuring Woody Harrelson and a soundtrack featuring an original recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” sung by Willie Nelson. (08:23)

PLEASE do more than watch the video when you visit the link. Keep clicking on the page. Get an education. Then educate somebody else. Maybe even a politician.

You might also keep in mind this quote from a few days ago: “the Bush administration released a new energy plan in April 2001 that called for construction of 1,300 new power plants by 2020.” And understand that “clean coal” mined just as you see here will power those plants. Unless WE SPEAK OUT for our mountains, streams, freedoms and rights.

Waste Not, Want Not

Inefficiency: energy converted uselessly to heat of friction and incompletely burned energy residues: air and water pollutants.

The answer: Efficiency boosts–a much better solution to having more energy and less waste (including famously: greenhouse gases). Here’s a snippet from a piece by Lester Brown on

One crucial area of focus, a step we can take essentially immediately, is raising energy efficiency–especially in the United States.

When the Bush administration released a new energy plan in April 2001 that called for construction of 1,300 new power plants by 2020, Bill Prindle of the Washington-based Alliance to Save Energy responded by pointing out how the country could eliminate the need for those plants and save money in the process. He ticked off several steps that would reduce the demand for electricity:

* Improving efficiency standards for household appliances would eliminate the need for 127 power plants;

* More stringent residential air conditioner efficiency standards would eliminate 43 power plants;

* Raising commercial air conditioner standards would eliminate the need for 50 plants;

* Using tax credits and energy codes to improve the efficiency of new buildings would save another 170 plants;

* Similar steps to raise the energy efficiency of existing buildings would save 210 plants.

These five measures from the longer list suggested by Prindle would not only eliminate the need for 600 power plants, they would also save money. Although these calculations were made in 2001, they are still valid simply because there has been so little progress in raising U.S. energy efficiency since then.

Fred sez: When the time comes, I’ll vote against the BIGGER HAMMER approach. Sometimes LESS is MORE.

On Losing Our Rootedness in the Soil

Most people of my grandparents’ generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics: when various fruits and vegetables come into season, which ones keep through the winter, how to preserve the others. On what day autumn’s frost will likely fall on their county, and when to expect the last one in spring. Which crops can be planted before the last frost, and which must wait. What animals and vegetables thrive in one’s immediate region and how to live well on those, with little else thrown into the mix beyond a bag of flour, a pinch of salt, and a handful of coffee. Few people of my generation, and approximately none of our children, could answer any of those questions, let alone all of them. This knowledge has largely vanished from our culture.

by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

The WHEREs We’re From

Spring. A time of new beginnings. A time to take nourishment from our roots to our winter-resting branches and grow a little taller–no matter how old we are.

And for this purpose–to give you an idea of the soil you grow in–I’ve posted a link to the Where I’m From template permanently in the sidebar. This “meme” is still circulating to good effect out there in the online world. And closer to home, even wife Ann sat down and wrote her own version for her reunion. Here’s mine.

Let me emphasize that my only role in this is to make available two things I didn’t have any part of creating: 1) the original poem by George Ella Lyon (which you can find via a link on the template page) and 2) the poem template with blanks and prompts that guide you to create your own version of George Ella’s original. I am simply the messenger.

I will see George Ella again this summer at Hindman at the Writers Workshop, and tell her once more how popular and poignant her work has been.

If you haven’t sat still long enough to ponder what you’d put in the blanks of the template, what are you waiting for? Finished, it will be a gift to your family. And to yourself. Trust me, it’s worth the time.