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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

As the World Rocks, the Music Leads the Way. Shakori Festival, 2011

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Spring Shakori, 2011

It just keeps getting better. Music. Music Festivals. What This year’s Silk Hope, NC event at Shakori, screamed SPRING, as the rains have been coming, the grounds are more beautiful than ever. I didn’t hear any complaints about the muddy paths and many surrendered to bare feet and squished their way around all weekend. Yep. Shakori is a barefoot friendly festival – with composting, recycling and reusables encouraged in the most organized, accessible ways, it’s a clean gig.

Although there is no lack of appreciation for the diversity in style and genre, I’m noticing that the bands keep getting bigger, better – both in members and sound. The sound is hyper-skilled creative explosion of celebration, movement from the inside out. And it seems to be contagious.

A personal favorite is Penny Prophets, an electric supergroup from NC bringing back rock’s “rhythmic tightness combined with psychedelic freak-outs” who did a Thursday show (and then worked the parking lot on the off days – after all, We Are One…)

Holy Ghost Tent Revival mixes brass with banjo, guitar, bass, drums and keys (and the occasional saxaphone) and from my hiding spot behind the speakers with an up-close stage view, I was mesmerized. This 7 member group – with more than 10 instruments between them, are also locals, from Greensboro, NC. They defy all genre as they move from instrument to instrument, creating a celebration of talent, passion and life itself.

Scythian stole my heart and perhaps the entire 4 days of shows in my world. They played a Saturday evening show and I swear the ground moved under my muddy feet. Described as Celtic New World style, I found a bit of everything in a  thrashing gypsy punk sound that destroyed all logic but created something else much more magical. I found out later that 3 of 4 members are classically trained musicians, and a drummer with a masters in Jazz Study. That explains a lot because you couldn’t keep these guys  from jumping and bouncing all over the stage Irish jig-like, yet never missing a note or a beat, with bows flying at hyper-speed – all while wearing infectious smiles.  Lead fiddler, Alexander had one so big, beautiful and real, that it broke me in a million pieces, while I remembered that this is really truly why we are here on Earth.

Music. Celebration. Salvation. Redemption? I’m ready.

Agtivists Strike Again

Friday, January 21st, 2011

The Agtivists are changing the world. Or maybe it’s that change is creating agtivists?

And in one of those “wish I had thought of that” stories, Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez, both students at UC Berkeley found themselves doing a little of both. While nearing graduation, as well as big money job offers in banking investment, they each had an ah-ha moment during business ethics class and came together to pursue a entrepreneurial, good for the world opportunity as mushroom farmers.

It turns out, you can grow mushrooms abundantly in coffee grounds and what a better place to do that than in a caffeine-addicted society? Where they could “turn waste into something of value and have a huge impact” while encouraging people to grow their own food, even if it’s on their kitchen counters.

They did their homework and contacted the well-known mycologist, Paul Stamets for advice.
A lot of hard but passionate work later, their business, Back to the Roots, was up and running online and in Whole Foods Markets. They turn coffee grounds into food, first as mushrooms they sell wholesale and then as grow-your-own gourmet mushroom kits for any household.

“We want to show people in households across the country that it’s not hard to live sustainably, to think about waste and grow your own food at home,” says Arora. “You get great food out of it, yes, but it’s more about understanding tangibly what this whole sustainability buzzword means.”

This story isn’t completely new. Recall the Princeton students that started TerraCycle worm poop and more? And well, you don’t need the college degrees to get the work done. I think it’s passion and pluck that makes an entrepreneur tick.

See the whole cool story on Back to the Roots on Grist, here.

Back on the Horse…Bear…Bird…

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Well, I said to myself today, so, I’m back on the horse with this writing thing and then this whole idea of getting back on the horse makes me think of Band of Horses, and Sparklehorse, and all the other bands that are using animals in their names recently and how I read, and mostly believe, that the animals – yes the same ones we are ignoring,  abusing, and sometimes eating – will be part of the salvation of the human race. You know, if we’d only listen. “Animals can communicate quite well.  And they do.  And generally speaking, they are ignored.”  ~Alice Walker said that. It’s too bad because I think they have a lot to tell us.

But back to band names. So, think about it. There have always been animals in band names: The Birds, The Scorpions, The Animals, The Monkees…..but recently, it’s gone a bit crazy and I’m not the only one noticing though I may be one of the few who sees it as not so much annoying as a a welcome omen and not just a trend, or if it is a trend, than can we consider the reason trends happen in the first place? They happen because we, as a culture, are being drawn to something.  And it can show up in obvious or not so obvious way. This trend, well, I think it’s mostly obvious and that could be a good thing.

The mostly widely referenced animals in newer band names are Bears, Horses, and Birds. Here’s a pretty good long list. So, if you speak the language of animal medicine, you’ll find that among other things, bears symbolize the need for using “intuition, stillness, self-sufficiency and dreams”, birds tell us to pay attention to “beauty, love and the importance of unity and community” and horses are about “freedom, endurance, and cooperation in overcoming obstacles”.  All pretty general ideas, but if you look past the cliches, it is really part of what we need to pay attention to if we want to change the shit going on out there. Which makes me also consider the band names, Shit Horse, and Fucked Up.  But that’s a whole other story.

Many of these bands sing about images and ideas of nature and that makes me kind of happy, too. I like the fact that animals and nature are both getting more good press these days and that we – in many ways a “Fucked Up” culture – are being passed some subliminal messages that we can’t ignore or stop since they are subliminal.

Maybe we’ll start listening to the animals and see what they have to say about all the bad Shit and how to change it. That would be cool since sometimes, I just run out of ideas. Coincidentally, or not, when that happens, I just want to listen to music.

Something to think about…..


Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

“In summer we live out of doors, and have only impulses and feelings, which are all for action…”
Henry David Thoreau

Whew! So this explains my state of being over the past few weeks! My energy has seemed to be dispersed — like molecules of water that just keep separating and moving.

Enjoy. Indulge. Disperse.











Where Balloons Go To Die

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I run or hike on trails in the woods every morning with my dogs and I appreciate the fact that I’m out there on nature’s terms. It’s not exactly Wild Kingdom, but I’ve been up close and personal with snakes, turtles, raccoons, deer and was even followed by a coyote one day (ok, that one was not my favorite, but still, all part of the package). This morning, I came upon a very baby possum, living proof that all things in infant form are adorable.

So, it felt entirely out of context to come across these deflated party balloons in the woods yesterday. What’s up with balloons anyway? There’s a store down the street that sells nothing but balloons. Really? So much for form and function.

Ok, I really do have a life, but still, I had to look up a little balloon history:

The first balloons were invented/discovered in the 18th century in France and made from paper. By 1803, we made balloons in the first rubber factory, and now balloons are made from latex, which is rubber mixed with chemical additives. Some of these chemicals, of course, end up as waste in the manufacturing process – the others? Well, most end up as waste in their burst balloon state – like these in the forest, after just a few hours of use. Although rubber and latex will slowly degrade, the coagulant chemicals – or the ribbons tied onto the tails – will not.

Watching a helium-filled balloon float off “into space” is only a fantasy. Those balloons inevitably end up earthbound, tangled in tree limbs, on the ground, or in waterways, where they endanger wildlife and the environment.

Bountiful Backyards Shares “Beautility”

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

As enamored as I am with the entire idea of “food, not lawns”, I’m still intimidated at the idea of caring for a large garden of my own. I managed to get my tomato plants in the ground last week, along with a couple fig trees, but I’m hesitant to take on much more. Still, plenty of my neighbors have abundant “Victory Gardens” and don’t appear to spend hours working in the hot sun – one of my big garden fears. A Crop Mob may be able to give me a communal push if I had a plan, but what my household needs is information, ideas that will fit into our yard and the amount of time we want to commit to the whole process. Where else can I turn?

Enter Bountiful Backyards, a team of designers, landscapers, educators, artisans and motivators who can make any yard (or parking lot or street corner, for that matter) into an edible landscape.

Bountiful Backyards will consult and evaluate the potential of your yard and help you turn it into something that is both feasible for your space and your lifestyle. They will do as much or as little as you need in the areas of design, preparation, installation, education and guidance.They will design to help you grow and yield at your own pace.

By creating a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the environment, you can trade the time you spend at futile attempts to tame weeds and lawns into a way to feed your family fresher, healthier food for most of the year. You will also be improving soil and creating a much-needed friendly habitat for birds and beneficial insects, all while cultivating your own connection to what happens in those rare moments away from streets and sidewalks.

Bountiful Backyards believes in sharing “Beautility”. Besides their professional services, they offer donation-based workshops on things like backyard bee-keeping and outdoor worm composting.

MOON CYCLES and the Diva within me – better than tampons, period.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

yoga mudraHere it is again – information on the simple, convenient, healthy, money-saving, no-waste Diva Cup and The Keeper for women. If you haven’t made the switch, read on. If you have, send this to a friend. This is great news for women and for the planet! Tao

The environmental question lurking behind that time of the month. Throw away or wash/reuse? Traditional tampons and pads are made with bleach and other toxic chemicals. Friendlier feminine products are now available and although better for your health, they don’t solve the problem of using resources and creating waste.

All of you green goddesses will be thrilled to hear there is another option, good for both you and the planet. The Diva Cup http://and The Keeper http:// are reusable menstrual cups made from silicone or latex rubber, respectively. They are convenient to use,waste-free and super-economical since they will last up to 10 years. I love my Keeper! In fact, these woman-friendly products are so freeing and comfy, that I really hope the word gets out in a big way, so pass it on!

While we’re at it, why don’t we embrace the entire experience with awe instead of dread? As it turns out, in pagan times, when nature was revered and honored, the menstrual cycle was celebrated and acknowledged as a woman’s link to the cycles of the earth and the planets. Wow. It turns out that not only can I use this altered state to contact my inner goddess, but I can now buy and waste less in the process!

I’ve had more than a few students and friends try this. I always encourage them to not be intimidated by the insertion process the first few tries. Embrace the newness and it will soon become second nature! Namaste!

More info. on Yoga practice during Moon Time below.
Tradition:  Women don’t practice during their moon time (menstrual cycle) because their energy is better used for this cleansing process. Using the time for restorative postures and seated meditation is recommended. It is a wonderful way to check in with your emotions, thoughts and the other messages being sent by nature and your body.

Practical application: Once you are proficient/fluent at engaging bandhas, it becomes more logical from a physical perspective not to practice asana since these deep contractions can restrict the menstrual flow. Holding inverted postures can further upset the body’s natural inclination to flow with gravity.

Experience:  I have found through my own experience and that of former students, that the beginning stages of learning Ashtanga does not have a significant effect on the menstrual flow. I’m guessing that this may be because it takes a long while to learn to actively engage the lower bandhas and/or use a full Ujjayi breath. Also, in this first stage, we are not doing or holding inversions more than 5 breaths. So, during this period, I recommend taking off your home practice, but feeling free to participate in a class. if your flow is heavy, you may want to exclude all closing inversions.

If you are a more advanced student, I recommend avoiding asana practice at home and possibly avoiding class – depending on how far the instruction has moved into the series. If you are unsure, talk to your teacher.

Other no-practice days: Tradition dictates that there is no vigorous practice on Full or New Moon Days, due to the high “lunar” energy that may cause distraction. Many women flow with the dates of the Full or New Moon, so this works out nicely. If you do not yet do this, you may find you cycle slowly adjusting to this calendar – if you keep up a regular practice. Energetically, this is optimal, so look forward to it!  If you do not flow with the Moon phases, still skip practice on Full or New Moon Days. Restorative or seated meditation practice is a wonderful experience on those days.

To view full/new moon dates

Lawns – Less Than Heavenly

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The below (source unknown) still makes laugh – and sigh. And cry. After all, it was back in 1991 that Michael Pollen, author of Second Nature, declared that lawns are “a symbol of everything that is wrong with our relationship to the land.”

Since then, we’ve realized that back and front yard gardens of vegetables and wild flowers are more both more sustainable and more nourishing than green grass. We’v learned that pesticide companies re-named plants like clover, “weeds” to sell more product and that lawn grass in general is not natural or native in most places.

So, what is our lawn status today? Well, capitalism continues as more green landscape tools, watering systems and businesses emerge, which was a start, but the idea of the “lawn” is still too alive and too well in the U.S.. Despite the fact that we know we kill 7 million birds each year – along with earthworms and other beneficial pests – with pesticides applied to lawns. Despite the fact that as the demand for potable water continues to increase, yet we are using 30% of it to water lawns. Places like Dallas, TX, use 60% – !! And, as landfill space becomes scarce, we now know that 20 – 50 % of that space is filled with yard waste – in plastic bags.

Heard enough?

Enjoy the below and pass it around your neighborhood.


God: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff? I created a perfect no-maintenance garden plan – plants that grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply. The nectar from those long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and birds. All I see now are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It’s the “Suburbanite” tribes. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass that they go to great lengths to keep green. They begin each spring with fertilizing and poisoning the other plants that show up.

God: Grass? How boring. It’s not colorful, is sensitive to drought and temperatures. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds or bees. Well, the grass does grow fast, that must make these Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it – sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up, put it in bags and pay to have it taken away.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the Summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. At least that slows the growth and saves them all that work.

St. Francis: Actually, when it rains less, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water the grass so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: At least they kept some trees – which provide beauty and shade in Summer, and then provides a natural blanket of fallen leaves in the Fall to keep moisture in the soil and protect the roots. A stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves Fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away. Then they go out and buy something they called mulch, which they spread out in place of the leaves.

God: Where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up.

God: I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a story about…

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

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