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

Archive for July, 2008

Grid-Free and Off The Beaten Path

Monday, July 21st, 2008

by Jeannie Newell, Crested Butte, CO

Thumbs up for KBUT:

Pronounced k-butt, the local radio station in Crested Butte is really great.  All the radio shows vary.  It has hip-hop hour, classic rock, Democracy Now (some people call it the ‘torture report’) and other NPR shows, funk, punk, metal, jazz, all kinds of music, some I love and some I hate.  The point is:  Non-corporate radio is AWESOME.
I haven’t lived anywhere with truly independent radio in a really long time.  Although, the internet changes things, it’s so sad to me that radio today has tunnel vision that revolves around the bottom line.  This certainly isn’t news to anyone, but I felt so happy for myself and so sad for lots of other people who don’t know what they’re missing that I can only hear my favorite song once a week during hip hop hour on Thursday and probably not even then!  These days radio is a fun adventure.  If I don’t like it, I still have cd’s and ipod and one of my new favorites – quiet and the company of own mind.

Speaking of music – Michael Franti says “Is your love enough?  Can you love some more?”  Working with the public is easier to do here than most other places, because people are really nice.  It’s still working with the public.  There are still tourists and people who have had bad days and people who don’t really care about you because you’re just a robot? non-human? mirage? you fill in the blank.  Like my wise friend Kiki does, I try to make each interaction human.  Not some big bonding moment, but a little eye contact & a smile.  And when I face those people that seem kind of like jerks, and I can tell they’re not friendly people, and that they’ll leave me hanging on the smile and the thank you – well, I’m trying to work at reaching down a little deeper and digging out a little love.  Most often I’m right, and the people I think won’t be nice aren’t.  But then after a few of those somebody looks me in the eye and gives me a great big smile and tells me to have a good day – and they really mean it!  It feels wonderful, sort of like taking a long hot shower after four days of living in the woods and bathing in the bathroom sink at work 😉

I’m in such a hurry now that I can’t even type a quick note to Tracey, whom I love, because my sister and her boyfriend are visiting and waiting for me to get out to the car so we can drive out to camp and make some yummy food.  I have to scarf the yummy food and head out to Round Mountain Organics, my friend Nancy’s farm, because she invited me to a hike up the mountain with our dogs and dinner.  Why did she ask me to do this?  Because lots of people invite me out all the time.  When does that happen?  When you live in a place where the people are cool.  And Friendly.

Also:  Mary and I just finished hiking six miles straight up a mountain through fantastically beautiful wildflowers and aspen trees.  Life is good.

p.s.  Love you Tracey!

Terminator meets Billy Jack

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

According to an article in the NY Times, Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning on traveling the world to promote clean energy after his tenure as governor of California. The Republican has dutifully endorsed presidential candidate, John McCain, but when asked whether he would answer a call from Democratic candidate, Senator, Barack Obama, the well-known “Terminator” responded, “I’d take his call now and I’d take his call when he’s president – anytime.”

I can’t help it. I like Arnold, despite his fleet of Hummers (now all hydrogen-powered). I’m drawn to the superhero in him. Perhaps I’m especially moved because I recently watched another former film hero kicking butt for justice when I rented the re-release of the independent movies, Billy Jack and its two sequels, The Trial of Billy Jack and Billy Jack goes to Washington. The movies, originally released in 1971 – 1977, address many social issues of our time – then and now – including prejudice, education, child abuse, violence vs. pacifism and political corruption.

The title character is Billy Jack, a half-breed American Indian who, after dissenting from the Vietnam war, goes back to the reservation where he quietly but forcefully protects the wild Mustangs and the Freedom School, a creatively alternative school for troubled youth of all ages and races. Billy Jack is the imperfect hero, with a deep commitment to ethics and honor who struggles with the shadow of anger he feels towards injustice.

Tom Laughlin, raised the funds, wrote, directed, produced and starred in all three movies. His wife, Delores Taylor, co-produced and played the supporting role of Jean, who runs the Freedom School.

Known then and now as one of the most successful independent filmmakers ever, Laughlin is also an author, psychologist, social/political activist who ran for president as a Democrat in 1992 on a platform which included tax cuts, Universal Healthcare and alternative education. Despite his reputation as a political radical, he received 2% of the vote in the New Hampshire Primary. He ran again as a Republican in 2004 as an opponent of the Iraq was with a “realistic” exit strategy, one of the many topics you can read about on his website at

From movie review by top reviewer, Jan Peregrine, “My appreciation for a husband/wife team that goes to such lengths for us, the public, knows no bounds. Tom Laughlin was a pioneer in Independent filmmaking and a creative dynamo with the guts to say what he saw happening in the United States…we desperately need more people like the Laughlins in the world.”

This excellent review reveals more about the movie series plots, which actually began with the lesser known film, Born Losers, of 1967. Here, we are first introduced to the character of Billy Jack who confronts the abuses of a motorcycle gang.

I’ll be renting that this weekend.

I Heart Carrboro

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

From The Chapel Hill Herald:

“A Carrboro police officer saved a baby bird Monday that was stuck in the Carolina Fitness parking lot. A woman found the bird and decided to alert police. Officer Jim Walker responded to the call and made a nest in a nearby tree, where he placed the bird.”

Rental Cars and Happiness

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I’ve had to rent a car twice in the last year and was frustrated and disappointed that I could not find hybrid rentals. Although it feels somewhat “better late than never”, it appears the car rental industry is beginning to get it’s green act together, at least in the bigger cities.

An article from the LA Times filled me in and it’s sounding good. Enterprise, National, Alamo, Avis and Budget are all stocking their fleets with hybrid vehicles, starting with the large, highly traveled cities. Simply Hybrid, based in LA, rents only hybrids and offers free delivery and pickup in some LA locations with a 3-day minimum rental. Enterprise has also started WeCar, a car-sharing service in St. Louis, MO.

Even bigger news – because it can reach travelers in all 50 states – comes from Enterprise, National and Alamo, who are offering carbon emission offsets through Terrapass. (I’ve been using TerraPass for a couple years now – here’s my previous posts about it.) The offset project includes the purchase of clean energy from wind farms, farm animal waste; or capturing methane from landfills. Using one of these rental companies, you can offset your driving emissions during travel with only $1.25 per rental.

This is encouraging news in the world of driving, but keep in mind, we have to be willing to choose these alternatives being offered, whether it’s hybrid cars, organic food or low-flow toilets. In many cases, this will mean extra cost upfront. Still, I’m asking you – do it anyway – and then support a friend in the same choice. In doing so, you are supporting a larger community focused on helping each other – something proven to make us happier. Keeping perspective and looking long-term will quickly reveal what we eventually save and what we will gain. And it’s more then dollars.

Grid-Free and Off the Beaten Path

Monday, July 14th, 2008

by Jeannie Newell, Crested Butte, CO

A woman I know here in Crested Butte told me about a theory she calls the ‘4 Walls Theory.’  The premise is, the more time you spend surrounded by walls the more you create your own universe of energy.  The more time you spend outside, the more one is exposed to universal energy; hence, the more one is influenced by the greater wisdom of life and nature.  Just something I’ve been pondering lately.

Another thing I’ve been pondering:  I’ve been losing weight and feeling great because of exercise and sunshine. I’ve been having fun and getting to know this new town. I realized yesterday that I’ve been wrapped up in me, as it is so easy to become… and I’m pondering new ways to give back. I need to harness a way to pass on the blessings that have been sent my way. Those opportunities are not immediately obvious in this town, so I’m on the lookout.

Those are a couple of things on my mind lately.  On the logistical side of things, I have to move my camper every 14 days so that I am not ‘residing on the forest.’  Which means that 2 days ago I moved my camper maybe 50 feet to a neighboring campsite, heh.  My bike ride to town is still about 6 miles, and I have been doing more and more of that commute in the dark (big step for me.)  The solar panel has been providing more power than I think I could ever use, and the propane doesn’t show any signs of running out, even though I’ve used heat several nights all night long. Water is still the thing I tend to run out of, and most of what I use goes toward rinsing dishes.  Seriously. The other thing is… water in the fridge.  I freeze water in 1/2 gallon milk jugs to cool the fridge. That means I have to switch out with colder jugs semi-regularly.  Or regularly, really.  It’s one of those things.  At this juncture, I would say the hardest part of camping is remembering everything you need to take with you for a day, and everything you need to bring back from town.  It’s easier to forget the little things living like this.

I wish there were more exciting revelations to report this week. Just the same old living in absolute paradise, appreciating the small town scene where you can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Appreciating the lack of traffic – speed limit in town is 15 mph and there isn’t even a stoplight! Tomorrow night I go to free music in the park – bluegrass this Monday at Alpenglow – and after that there is a spiritual meeting I like to go to in the Chamber of Commerce Building. It’s sort of a church for non-churchgoers type meeting where we meditate and learn ways to become more positive and productive people.

Wishing you a great week!

Revolution * Evolution * Resolution

Friday, July 11th, 2008

“A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.”

—–Robert F. Kennedy

Where The Hell Is Matt – and Does He Offset?

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

A friend sent me a link to a video made by a guy named Matt who is traveling around the world (via a corporate sponsor) and taping himself doing a cute but goofy dance in all kinds of unusual public places. His website/videos are called, I was puzzled at first watching, but It becomes fun and even moving when random groups of people join him. The music is also nice and I admit, something about it got to me – that “oneness” thing, I suppose. Go ahead and take a look.

This is the second time he is traveling to dance and a third ’round the world trip is coming up, courtesy of Stride Gum (don’t ask me to explain that part, I’m as baffled as you are).  His site posts and answers many interesting and Frequently Asked Questions, but did not include the one foremost in my mind – what about the enormous carbon footprint of all those flights? Do you offset? I tried emailing Matt with this question but I can’t get my message out, so I’m hoping he will find me here. Besides convincing Matt to offset his flights, I have a really great idea to share with him.

Matt says that Americans should travel abroad more, though he doesn’t say why, leaving me to assume that, logically, he wants us all to experience other cultures. If so, he’s got a good point and it gave me a good idea towards that end. Here’s my letter to Matt, the guy who gets paid to travel around the world and dance a jig:

Hi Matt,
For some reason I can’t explain, your video gave me happy, teary goose-bumps, so I guess that means dancing for the sake of dancing and inviting the world to dance with you means something special and true. Namaste.

However, there is a big, itchy question nagging at me – what about all those carbon emissions spewed about flying all over the world? Do you offset your flights?

I agree that more Americans need to know and experience other cultures, but many of us are trying to cut back on travel to help the planet and/or can’t afford to do that kind of travel. So, here’s my fabulous idea –

Maybe your sponsor money could send a different person to each country to do your dance, therefore helping more people to be exposed to other cultures and spread the awareness and experience around in a bigger way. You could even have a fun contest asking people why they want to dance with the world.

Your email program doesn’t seem to be working, so I hope you find me here and send us your answer about offsetting and other thoughts and/or post my idea for discussion on your website.

Dancingly Yours, Tao

Rob Brezsny on Tao of Now

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Rob Brezsny, astrologer, poet, performance artist and author on an updated Tao:

“Tao with an attitude…Not the calm, abstract, passive, world-weary, everything-is-everything Tao of the ancient sage Lao-Tse, but the fragrant, shimmering, electrifying Tao of the outrageous now, where each discrete glint of individuated beauty is discernible amidst the mass of confusion, rousing us to revelry and activism.

“Not a Tao just sitting in cool unflappable contemplation of the ultimate unity of the wound and the cure, but rather a Tao that gets out there with an aggressive affirmative action program for artfully highlighting and rejoicing in the incongruous juxtapositions; a Tao that romances the contradictions with an exuberant experimentalism and whips up slathering throbs of ripe mojo.”

“The Oxymoronic Tao will be a Tao that doesn’t pacify and dial down our martial force. Rather, it will supercharge us, hooking us up to the elemental power that flows wherever opposites unite.

For more from Rob Brezsny on Tao, go here.

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