a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for May, 2007

Goats, Lamas, a Peacock and Thou – wedded with nature

Monday, May 21st, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

One of the Changers, Sami, had a wedding celebration a few days ago. He and Jenni are tree huggers from different continents, and brought their love for each other and the earth together at Celebrity Dairy, a sustainable and local Goat Farm. This outdoor event blended simple traditions with nature and I’ve never enjoyed being at a wedding more. Here are some of the things that made their nuptials green:

They served outrageously delicious local and organic food on compostable eatware. They made decorations by hand, including wildflowers in glass jars. Guests carpooled and stayed at the bed and breakfast where the wedding was held. Many even camped on site for the entire weekend.

Sami is from England, where he hung out with a particularly committed set of green-minded folks, some who, among other things, had forsaken air travel as part of their eco-efforts. So, Sami set up a web-cam
at the wedding and his friends, in party mode themselves at home, were able to join the fun, but avoid the mega-emissions of flying overseas.

I loved being at this wedding, which included a whole lotta farm animals and a peacock who was the only one to show up the beauty of the bride!

Jerry Knows Change Like the Back of His Hands.

Friday, May 18th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC
Here’s how Jerry tells it. The TRUTH is your best tool. And it’s easy to come by. We (the big collect we, that is) already know everything we need to know in order to create a world where resources are abundant and people treat each other and nature with respect and compassion.

But even your best tool fails without the strength to use it. The truth is not enough. It’s actually the easy part. We need the will to do what we have to do. The will’s the hardest part. The Change exists to use truth to create will.

Have a nice day.

Slacklining – not for Slackers

Friday, May 18th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Do some yoga for a time, and you’ll start to bliss out on the connection between your mind and body. Lots of things can put you “in the zone” of flow (Vinyasa) – music, art, dance, sports – but the ultimate challenge of one-pointed focus could be the art of slacklining. Here’s the official definition from Slackline Express:

“Slacklining is the act of having an unbelievable amount of fun walking and doing tricks on a piece of webbing pulled tight between two points, also used as a form of meditation, physical and mental training.”

Slacklining originated in the sport of rock climbing but quickly made it’s way into the yoga world. One of my yoga friends, a graduate student, invited me to try slacklining in his backyard, where he and his roommates took breaks from studying. He said it helped him refocus and de-stress. I was immediately drawn to the meditative challenge and even though my first attempts were quite uneventful, the next thing I knew, I had one rigged up at home in our community shared space. I’ve yet to take even a few steps on my own, but I’m determined to keep at it.

I made a new slackline friend yesterday when I was bicycling downtown. Here’s Brian Taylor making this stuff look really easy (it’s not). But he did totally re-inspire my own efforts with some experiential tips. It seems that my 15 minute attempts to practice on my line were bound to be futile since he recommends sticking with it for up to one hour in each session. Brian also showed me how to get up on the line with a big hop rather than trying to step up slowly.

Why does this feel post-worthy to me? Because, like the steadily increasing interest in yoga and other meditative arts, it shows yet another cultural shift towards more authentic pleasures, those that help us remember the joy of a steady, quiet mind and a connection to the body – something in full contrast to the distraction of television, video games or Monster Truck Pull. And like all things that clear the mind rather than clutter it, allows space to study the self and grow.

Read ’em and Weep – bumper stickers don’t lie

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I admit it – I’m one of those people – I enjoy reading bumper stickers and I love wearing them, too. It’s a little like joining a club that affirms your view of the world or saying what you think without really having to say it. For better or for worse, my car and bicycle are, ahem, liberally covered. Speaking of liberal, I’ve noticed lately that most of the stickers out there lean heavily to the left and I find most of the messages a clever combination of shocking, enlightening, inspiring, and usually true. Oh, I’ve seen a rare few garden variety conservative stickers out there, none that evoke any similar response.

So, why has liberalism cornered the sticker market? Do liberal-leaners have a better sense of humor? Are they more outspoken? More likely to drive an old car? Did they invest? Or, are they simply more creative? Jonathan Larson said that “The opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation.” If this is the case, then we need all the creativity we can squeeze from all of us. So, I’m asking the conservatives out there to get to work- show me what you got in the way of creativity, truth and “stickiness”! For some ideas and inspiration, check out my favorite source for saying it with stickers at Tools For Change, a catalog distributed by Syracuse Cultural Workers.

Larry’s Beans Philosophy 101

Monday, May 14th, 2007

By The Change

Larry’s Beans, Coffee to change the world.

Free Your Mom, the rest will follow

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

by Jerry Stifelman, Carrboro, NC

“All those cliches about getting older and become less idealistic — I’m finding they’re all true.”

Someone said this to me today. I wholeheartedly disagree! My ideals are tougher, healthier and more prominent today than ever. Only now I’m smarter about how to make ’em happen.

Alas, I’m probably not the norm (I suck at being the norm). In my observations, the older people get, the more hardwired their habits to become. The whole notion of a planet that needs our help to survive is a tough one for most human beings to get a handle on. So on this Mother’s Day, it seems appropriate to give a blog call-out to my mom, Phyllis, who gets more open-minded and idealistic every damn day.

Instead of rolling her eyes at our eviro-vangelism, she has always been curious about what we believe and why. And as soon as she gets it, she does it. No hesitation. One of Tracey’s and my best gifts last year was this email:

“you will be proud of me, i now carry my grocery bag wherever I go, so there is no chance of forgetting. so I said no to bags at the drug store and no to bags at the video store. see i am going through a change. and some women the the change is only hot flashes and sweats, but you and I know older women can change.”

This isn’t all my mom does. She and I canvassed together in rural conservative North Carolina for the 2004 election. She regularly serves at Raleigh’s downtown homeless shelter. She’s also gone vegetarian. She’s deeply involved with Save Darfur. And I’m sure I’m leaving out a ton of stuff.

So here’s to my mom, Phyllis Diehl. Thanks for being my Change role model. Happy Mother’s Day.

To Buy or not to Buy

Friday, May 11th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I’ve heard of being addicted to shopping, but what happens when the tables turn? All the information now available about cheap goods manufactured in sweatshops, toxic chemicals in everything from shoelaces to clothing to packaging to anything plastic is enough turn off even the committed consumer. I heard about a Bay Area group last year on TreeHugger, called The Compact, which formed in 2006, pledging to buy nothing new for 365 days. The cooperative, grown to at least 1,800 members, has valued and enjoyed the experience so much that they have extended their pledge for another year. The compact makes of point of saying that they are not out to pass judgment on shoppers, but simply to “bring less stuff into their houses…[and] improve the quality of their lives.” The new things exempt from the pledge are “bare necessities for health and safety” – a concept that in itself asks for a healthy reorganization of perspective.

I didn’t formally take this pledge, but I have mostly avoided buying new for a few years. I admit that regularly haunting thrift stores for clothes has made this semi-fast easier, but I can honestly say I haven’t been to a mall in over 10 years. Oops, wait a minute, there was the Online shopping …the bamboo t-shirts, hemp skirt, hiking boots, two dog collars, a slackline, slippers and a few cds…. Ok, maybe I didn’t quite meet the pledge requirements this year, but I can say that I shopped consciously and with sustainability in mind.

Maybe there is a kind of sub-pledge we can all take more readily? A promise to not Re-Buy? After all, I think there is an accumulation period that helps this all make more sense. For instance, it was several years earlier that I collected the stuff I wanted/needed, like a good backpack, favorite books, blankets and sheets, a camera, a few rugs, good-fitting jeans and yoga pants, outdoor gear, etc.. But, over those years, I learned to want what I have and to resist the urge to “re-buy” the newest and latest to replace my “old” stuff. So, maybe buying new should be looked at as stocking up for the rest of life – something that could lead to a shift towards quality goods that are sustainable rather than cheap goods that are constantly replaced.

Here Today, Shower Tomorrow

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Water conservation runs deep for me – I come from the state of 10,000 lakes, so I’m particularly fond of the stuff. Aside from that, there’s no life without it and since there’s no ethanol or nuclear alternative to it, running out is not an option. I’m into all ways of conserving in our daily lives and Changer, Sami Grover’s post on TreeHugger washes them all away – please check this out!

As you may guess, Navy showers are old news for me. Get wet, turn water off, suds up, then rinse. A few minutes and a few gallons later, you’re done! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – you’ll save on soap, get cleaner faster and probably lower your water bill. By the way, any hair stylist will tell you that shampooing your hair everyday is old school and your locks will love you for washing them less.

I became even more intrigued by water-saving ideas while serving on my city’s Water Conservation Task Force a few years ago. Being privy to lots of facts and figures regarding residential, community and corporate water use, I was shocked by how much water is wasted regularly and knowingly by all 3 sectors. When we reached a stage of mandatory water restrictions, many people were fined for washing cars or watering lawns in hiding!

It seems we need a serious attitude adjustment when it comes to water use! Maybe it’s me, but I’d rather have clean water to drink than a green lawn (or any lawn, for that matter) or a clean car any day (my Prius Hybrid has never been washed). Of course, anything that is seemingly in endless supply becomes devalued. It’s time for a reality check – one that can bring a consciousness and appreciation of our natural resources into daily living.

There are at least 100 ways to conserve water in and outside your home or business. Water – Use it Wisely is a national campaign that gives you all the details. Take a look and then “pass the hat”!

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