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

Archive for November, 2009

Monday, November 30th, 2009

by Tao

Now that the dust – both literal and metaphorical – of my recent relocating experience has begun to settle, I’ve felt a kind of clearing. It’s true, I suppose – Destruction before Creation. I definitely feel parts of me and my life “destroyed: and I can feel that there’s some new space in my body, mind and heart – unblocked some wasted stuff. Now what?

I’ve been asking myself that all week  – it’s an interesting thing to try that – visit wholeheartedly and without fear, your toughest personal questions – just ask and listen, over and over. At first the voice you hear responding will be faint and blurry, but if you pay attention diligently, you will eventually sift through to some valuable answers.

For me, I’m hearing a long-buried call towards renewing my Creative/artistic self and using it towards my growth and somehow link it to what’s out there, too…part of “being the change”. What form or muse it takes doesn’t really matter – I’ll have mine and you’ll have yours – but I do believe it’s a missing link in my activist goals.

As always, w/o coincidence, my friend forwarded this link to me this morning, from

Craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite.

Craftivism is the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes. By using their creative energy to help make the world a better place, craftivists help bring about positive change via personalized activism. Craftivism allows practitioners to customize their particular skills to address particular causes.

Craftivism is an idea whose time has come. Given the states of materialism and mass production, the rise of feminism, and the time spanned from the Industrial Revolution, the beginning of the 21st century was the right time for the evolution of such an idea. Instead of being a number in a march or mass protest, craftivists apply their creativity toward making a difference one person at a time.”

(there’s a lot more good stuff on this page – go here to read.)

Reading About Betsy Greer got me excited – art and activism are pieces of the same puzzle!!! And, the first blog post I found shared a really incredible story of a “badass knitter” who was beyond inspiring. I’m moved. I’m moving. Forward. Towards more life. Towards more change. I’m grateful for the inspiring people helping me on this journey.

Ask your questions. Grow. Go. Now is the time.

Fashion as Folly? Not so fast.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I’ve been following a few blogs of designers lately. My brain says to tune out the idea of fashion, but my instincts somehow draw me towards it. I think it has a heart in the art, after all. Here are some interesting quotes from Karl Lagerfeld on Twitter, who says,

Guilty feelings about clothes are totally unnecessary. A lot of people earn their living by making clothes, so you should never feel bad.”

He also says this:

“I’m open to everything. When you start to criticize the times you live in, your time is over.”

“The most important thing is to do things. Not to have done them.”

Thanksgiving and Beyond- Easy Eco-Cleaning for Pots and Pans – ultimately organic

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

Thanksgiving is approaching. I’m especially excited since our roommate will be moving in just days before and we’re all hosting our first communal “event” in our new place. Combining kitchen resources means we have lots of plates, pots and pans for a large group, but I can’t say the thought of the BIG clean up hasn’t already crossed my mind…

When I first saw the title of this article about easy green cleaning for dishes, I thought someone else had discovered my secret weapon – pre-washing by long, strong, canine tongues! I’ve used this dish/pot cleaning system for all my years of dog-ownership and it works great, whether you are pre-washing before using an auto-dishwasher or washing by hand. This is my friend’s really really large dog, Moose – the perfect pre-clean machine!

Helpful hints include making sure to monitor what is leftover – dogs shouldn’t eat onions, raisens, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and certainly not anything with artificial ingredients that would be considered junk food in the human world – because it’s just as junky for dogs. But, since we’re all consuming mostly whole, natural and organic foods these days, that shouldn’t be an issue, right? And don’t be tempted to give them plates full of food (compost or save those leftovers), just what is left after usual scraping, so their health will benefit without weight gain. Also keep in mind that dogs can’t handle large quantities of fat, so pour off any excess grease, and don’t give fat trimmings. (see the PS. below.)

If you don’t have a dog to help out after the big Thanksgiving meal coming up, don’t give in to paper plates, check in here with and find out how to use salt and/or baking soda and water for an almost self-clean solution. You’ll even get to leave the pots and pans sitting overnight, a guilt-free indulgence after a long day of cooking and eating.

As long as we’re on the subject, there’s a way to remove stains from clothing – so keep that cranberry sauce on next week’s menu – (also from, using only cold water and a couple towels. This was news to me~ and although the process requires some patience, it’s sounds satisfyingly yogic, too. After all, most commercial stain removers are petroleum-based and really yukky for our health and environment.

PS. IF you use the new alcohol sweetener, Xylitol – Don’t let you dogs have ANY amount of it in ANY leftover. It can cause liver failure. And, btw, if it does this to dogs, I’m certainly not interested in consuming it. Sugar alcohols are sold as “safe” alternative sweeteners, but they are isolates and not a health food.

Jackson Browne on plastic water bottles – more fun my way

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Jackson Browne doesn’t drink water out of plastic. He says this supposed convenience that we are overcharged for is actually inconvenient for everyone, considering what it is doing to our health and the planet. In fact, he has a lot to say regarding this issue when interviewed by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish following the recent screening of the documentary, Tapped (a documentary which trails the path of the unseen and unregulated world of the bottled water industry).

Jackson isn’t just playing around. He keeps his metal water bottle attached to his belt, takes it on airplanes, takes his own metal coolers for his band and crew on tour, and declines the flats of bottled water left for him in hotel rooms. In fact, to be certain to get his message across, he tells us his latest idea is to leave a note saying, “This water’s being declined by a member of the worldwide movement to protect the planet and our own health and to take back our right to a clean environment.”

And, he’s having fun, In fact, he says “fun” at least 3 times in the same interview:

“It’s more fun to do it my way. It’s strong, it’s healthy, it’s empowering. It’s more fun than taking that crap.”

I’ve always loved the music. Now I love the man.

There is more to the bottled water issue than meets the eye. There are major health risks posed from BPA – the chemical building block of clear, hard plastic  – which wreaks havoc on our entire hormonal system – and from much smaller amounts than previously considered (go to Plastic Pollution Coalition for more. Our oceans and rivers clogged with plastic, our landfills overflowing, and baby albatross are dying of starvation from a belly full of the stuff – a metaphor for our entire society, Browne points out. Watch the video and find out why.

(Photo from

We are Super Heroes

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Everything is an opportunity for growth and learning – absolutely everything. Sometimes it stares you in the face and other times you have to look a bit deeper for it, but it’s there. What did I learn last night as I climbed into my attic several times, after 24 hours of rain, to stuff towels around my leaking chimney – ?

That I could do it. That yoga has kept me agile and strong and balanced enough to crawl/walk/wiggle through rafters, under and over duct work. That I could keep perspective in the face of frustration and worry. That I am more capable than I think, and that friends and even strangers are willing to help you, even if it is the middle of the night.

I learned that it’s possible to summon our inner super-hero when we need it – and that people do talk out loud to themselves in challenging moments. l actually heard myself say, “I have to handle this. I have no choice.”

And, well, I did. It wasn’t exactly fun but it was engaging and absorbing when figuring out the problem and oddly satisfying once things were resolving.

This made me think of the “leaks” we are finding in our systems and habits and how much we resist summoning our super-hero powers, even when the long-term consequences are dire (a lot worse than a soggy ceiling). When confronted with the problems and presented with more sustainable, albeit less convenient, choices – some that may require some bending and twisting, I would love to hear all of us say…

“We have to handle this. We have no choice.”


Green America Today

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Jerry is in San Francisco again this year, speaking at Green America’s Green Business Conference:

The Truth is Your Best Tool

Photo of Jerry StifelmanJerry Stifelman, Founder and Creative Director, The Change

Discover why and how to leverage your brand assets in order to engage your customers and develop a loyal following.  Find out how to integrate your motivations for being in business, your passions and practices into a cohesive, distinctive brand persona.

Green America has an enduring story and they know how to get things done. If you don’t know much about them, now is the time to take a look. Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982 (they went by the name “Co-op America” until January 1, 2009) by just a few people who came together, convinced that we could create a U.S. Economy that works for people and the planet. Green America’s Green Business Networkâ„¢ (CABN) is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse network of screened socially and environmentally responsible businesses. They have since made a huge impact on both social and environmental issues, supporting and engaging people in their roles as business owners, consumers, investors, and leaders both in personal and collective action.

From their really rockin’ website:

  • We focus on economic strategies—economic action to solve social and environmental problems.
  • We mobilize people in their economic roles—as consumers, investors, workers and business leaders.
  • We empower people to take personal and collective action.
  • We work on issues of social justice and environmental responsibility.  We see these issues as completely linked in the quest for a sustainable world.  It’s what we mean when we say “green.”
  • We work to stop abusive practices and to create healthy, just and sustainable practices.

Gratitude to my online community

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

If you’ve been one of my devoted blog visitors, you know that the moving process has kept me more offline  than online lately. Although I acknowledge the necessity of stepping away from the computer screen on a regular and consistent basis–the truth is, too much time away has left me mostly feeling less connected to what I care about. I miss the daily gathering of information from sources outside my small world. I’m continually inspired by the sites taking action for social, political and environmental causes.

Of course,  I’ve also posted on my blog less – which made me feel a bit guilty – but more importantly, I had also stopped reading the other blogs I normally follow and that has left an even bigger void, though I’m not sure how I can explain that, except to say that it reminds me when I was a windsurfer, stuck on shore, watching the other riders catch waves…

If you’re not careful, the internet can suck your time dry, but if you exercise balance in it, you’ll find old friends, new friends and a way of community….and you’ll keep learning new things. Today, as I was finally catching up on posts of my beloved fellow green bloggers, I discovered that I even missed Blog Action Day on October 15th. Sad, since there’s nothing that revs me up more than being reminded and inspired of all of the things we can do in our daily lives to make ourselves and the planet healthier. I’ve listed a lot of them, but Alison over at DiamondCutLife gave me a new idea for winter warming, here – and i almost missed it! (Thanks for your recent comment on my blog, supporting my journey, Alison!)

Today I also took time to visit again with Beth over at FakePlasticFish. She shared thoughts about “wanting stuff” (something my Yoga Integration class talked about recently), citing another of my fave online reads, NoImpactMan , and although I use lots of baking soda for cleaning, I learned several new ideas on this topic from her post here.

My new home space is coming together slowly, but I’m ready for another type of homecoming tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day. And although I acknowledge that there is always the danger of too much of a good thing (computer screens, included), I value my online community and confirm the importance of learning and sharing the thoughts, encouragement and ideas that we need to ignite change.

Gratitude to everyone putting energy into being here!


The Test that is called Life

Friday, November 6th, 2009

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

It’s been a long 3 weeks since the move to the fixer-upper, soon to be communal studio/living space, house. This week has been especially challenging – floors being torn up, a hive of yellow jackets in the yard… Me and the dogs have to head out early each day before the work crews show up to get out of the way. Ayla and River have been darn tolerant of living in the car all day for all this time, but they also are feeling the tension. Don’t worry – they get a lot of walks in between my work hours!

So, my sporadic online presence has been due to my current gypsy-like lifestyle- suitcase, dog food, and other essentials packed in the car. Every day I seem to forget things I need, and I’ve lost a couple things in all the shuffling. I try hard to not complain, because we’re still all able come back and sleep in a comfortable bed in a warm room at night – cat included – and she has managed the renovation-ride better than all of us.

In fact, I’m coming clean to admit that I’m facing some demons in this process – like attachment to my stuff….I’m unreasonably obsessed with the things I can’t seem to find in all the boxes still piled up and I barely recognize my voice when I hear myself screech things like, “But I have to find THAT hat!!”….”Who has the nail clipper?!?!?!”…. or, “NO, I don’t want to borrow your helmet, I want my OWN bike helmet!”. And my attachment to comforts — “But I need to shower NOW!”

Yes, I’m at times behaving poorly in all this and I’m embarrassed at what it says about my state of mind. sigh. I’ve been ridiculously immature, spoiled, really. I’m owning up to all of it. Ugh. This isn’t the me I want to be —or, for that matter, the me who can help “change the world”. The truth is hard to face sometimes, but as Jerry always says, it’s also “your best tool”. I wish I could just take a pill to fix it all, but I think there is some purposeful work in all of this…

It’s obviously past time to enter more deeply into Svadhyaya – part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga – the Niyama that encourages self-study and self-reflection – a good, hard look in the mirror.

And remember, like so many things in life, this is a test. This is only a test. Just go back to studying for it.

THE TAO OF CHANGE [the way of a better world]

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