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

Archive for February, 2010

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Can you face the consequences of continued growth?

by Greg Gillette, Denver, CO

I friend of mine sent this quote to me the other day. At first I thought the quote to mean the continued economic growth and suburban sprawl that this country is famous for. NO, I screamed inside my head as this type of continued growth has got to stop. I cannot face the consequences of more pollution, more war and more corporate greed.

It then dawned on me, that the quote meant the consequences of MY growth: my emotional growth, my spiritual growth, my inner and outer growth of what it means to be living in love, truth, and awareness.

As I have grown over the years, my circle of friends and my ability to connect with people has gotten smaller. At times, I feel out of place with the regular American who blindly follows the other Americans in search of happiness through more material goods and who blindly supports the government, the media and the other out dated institutions in this country.

At times, I ponder if my life would be better if I had not changed and I was a typical American, just living and not questioning anything and enjoying all the things that the typical Americans enjoy: television, bars, shopping, pro sports, Hollywood movies, automobiles, lawn mowers, carpet, etc.

Of course, I only ponder because my blood runs so deep in becoming a better and more conscious person every day that I would die if I had to go back to where I came from.

I will continue to live with the consequences of being different and crazy to most Americans, for this is who I am and I know that other Americans are feeling the same way I did many years ago and they, too, will find the courage to face the consequence of their new growth and their continued growth into the future.

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Thursday, February 11th, 2010

by Tao

Back in the day, scientists noticed abruptly changing weather patterns over the planet. Since much of it had to do with warming temperatures, the phrase “global warming” was born. This was unfortunate because as time passed and studies continued, the trends began to look a lot more weird than warm. Cold when it was supposed to be warm, warm where it’s supposed to be cold. Extreme temperature shifts, droughts in wet areas, then flooding. We started referring to the problem mmore accurately as “global climate change”.

But out there in the mainstream, it didn’t fully stick. Many people, when asked about climate change issues think of warming. So, when many parts of the world experience below normal temps, above normal snowfall – as in the U.S. this year – there is a false sense of security – a hope that we were wrong, a unjustified sigh of relief. I know because I’m tempted to feel the same way.

After a several years of variations of drought and heat, we’ve been soaked with rain and freezing our butts off here in NC this Winter. I wish I could let myself believe we bought some time when it comes to the consequences we are facing, but I would be giving into our favorite human coping mechanism, denial. And denial is a powerful tool, as I pointed out here.

Johnathan Hiskes, on, asks us to consider the smart and scientific explanations on his post here.

Stay warm everyone. I hope it snows in Vancouver. Most of all, don’t get fearful. Get forceful. Make change happen.

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

I love my neighborhood – it is quiet, but close to the action and amenities of town. I grew up this way, and I’ve continued to be drawn to these familiar, convenient and vibrant areas. I live in an “inner-ring” suburb, also referred to as “first” suburbs, or “early” suburbs.

These are the first areas developed at the fringes of inner cities several decades ago. The inner suburbs were the quieter but connected neighborhoods of the working class – the places our newly wed parents and grandparents went to raise their children. These areas provided escape from the grime of the city, but proximity to jobs, schools, stores, entertainment, and, each other.

The evolution of these areas made a lot of sense – allowing public transportation to flourish, more parks and recreation, as well as a convenient pedestrian lifestyle – where more people were more fit (really – look at the old black ‘n whites in your grandmother’s attic).

But we somehow lost some of that common sense when we began to focus our time, energy, money and attention on these lavish developments in the outer suburbs fueled by economic interest of developers, highway builders, oil companies and the auto industry who all, of course, feed on a more car-dependent lifestyle. Unfortunately, despite what we’ve learned – or relearned – about the benefits of urban life, sprawl continues at an alarming rate.

As a result, the inner-suburbs are deteriorating both by age and neglect with outmoded housing and commercial buildings. As neighborhoods decay, pockets of poverty soon follow, marring the image and desirability of once thriving communities.

Some areas manage to adopt a “cool” factor, attracting a hip crowd of well-to-dos, but also bringing a gentrification which quickly eliminates both diversity and affordability. Many other inner-surburban areas suffer from lack of political support, considered to be in a policy blind spot as local governments compete for the spotlight.

Alex Steffen, futurist, founder and editor of, (interviewed by Johnathan Hiskes on says that this political conflict will define the next decade, becoming a critical factor in the future of urban life. He also regrets being at war with the ‘burbs: “But there are so many more winners than losers in this fight that it’s a smart fight to take on…When you add together cities and inner-ring suburbs and allied small towns, it’s a solid majority of Americans.”

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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

It would be so convenient – a real relief – if I were to simply tell myself that global climate change is not happening, or, at least, that humans are not the cause and we can’t do anything to change it. Then I’d be off the hook and worry a lot less. That would work for me. But, it wouldn’t be the truth.

This is all I can think of to say to the people who insist on denying what is happening to our environment and the role our industrialized lifestyles play in it (George Marshall explores that topic here.) Then again, I could always point out that even Osama Bin Laden believes in the impact of global warming. This from, via Agence France-Presse:

“All industrial nations, mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming, ” bin Laden said in the message attributed to him by the pan-Arab news channel based in Doha.

In an unusual message possibly timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, he warned of the impact of global warming by saying that “discussing climate change is not an intellectual luxury, but a reality.”

I know – the irony of it all. Especially considering bin Laden’s fortune comes from oil, and, well, terrorists are not usually members of GreenPeace. I’m not trying to bolster his image in any way, but, just sayin’…

It would be so simple to just decide that we don’t need to make changes – big ones. But, as it turns out, denial is built in to our human nature, as described, in part, below. Pay extra attention when you reach the last two lines…..

In 2001, George Marshall wrote a great story about this state of mind. Here’s an exerpt: In, States of Denial, Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, author Stanley Cohen argues that this capacity to deny a level of awareness is the normal state of affairs for people in an information-saturated society… According to Cohen’s definition, denial involves a fundamental paradox – that in order to deny something it is necessary at some level to recognise its existence and its moral implications. It is, he says, a state of simultaneous ‘knowing and not-knowing’.   Read more here.

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