the TAO of CHANGE

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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The National Marriage Boycott

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Let’s not get complacent. While our nation is making strides towards equality of race, gender and other social issues (Barack Obama anyone?), we still have a lot of work to do. And, as the wave of change continues to push policy and awareness, the shadow side of humanity darkens (got Arizona?). We need to keep the momentum.

Since 2004, marriage for gays and lesbians became legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and most recently New Hampshire. But the rest of the country is slow to follow and polls show that a surprising majority of Americans still oppose it. WTF?

And now, another political push with Congress’s DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which denies up to 1,000 rights associated with marriage to same-sex couples.

The answer seems pretty obvious to me. Like marriage? Then pass it on. If you don’t, then shut up and don’t get married. But why anyone would be against is beyond me and probably you too, since you’re reading this blog (it’s called “taoofchange” not “taoofstuckinthefingmud!”).

You can show your support for the LGBT population by joining the National Marriage Boycott. And you can get a really cool ring that says “Equality” so others know where you stand and that you’re not getting married until everyone can get married.

First Suburbs Come First

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 worldchanging.org, (interviewed by Johnathan Hiskes on Grist.org) 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.”

Listen to Woody – Don’t Be a Dickhead

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Speaking of Woody Harrelson…celebrity or not, this guy is green inside and out. He’s stepped back from his Hollywood career and life to find a more “right livelihood” and he’s not shy about spreading the news of what he’s learned and experienced. If you don’t yet know Woody, here’s a good place to start.

He lives in a sustainably-minded community on the island of Maui, where they get all of their energy from the sun and grow much of their own food. He believes in particpation in the global community. He co-founded a website with his wife (and involving 5 other committed people) called, “VOICE YOURSELF” where they hope to “promote and inspire individual action to create global momentum towards simple organic living and to restore balance and harmony to our planet.” For years, or perhaps decades, he has been involved in many green initiatives besides his recent venture with Alanis Morrisette.

In fact, I stumbled upon (as an ’employee pick’ at our local video store) this socio-political documentary, “GO FURTHER”, filmed by Ron Mann. Made in 2001, it is probably even more important to watch today, as Woody and a group of friends set out on a bicylce tour (deemed the SOL – Simple Organic Living – Tour) of the West Coast, followed by a bus fueled with hemp seed oil.Their mission? To raise awareness about sustainable living and a wide range of topics, such as organic food, alternative energy and political activism. The travelers included a yoga-teacher, a hemp-activist, a junk-food addict, a raw food chef and a college student who was persuaded to join them. A lot happens along the way – this film will draw you in both mentally and emotionally.

Woody believes we have time to clean up our lives and the planet if we can simply, “Stop Being Dickheads.” I’m willing if you are. Watch this film, visit the site. Be inspired.

Green Corps Jobs – and California Dreaming

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

No matter what you want to say about the Govenator, Arnold, I have a thing for the guy and his good green creds. Although Van Jones, author of “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems”, deserves the credit for the big idea, Arnold has put an initiative and program into motion which will begin to redefine the American workforce and revive the economy. The California Green Corps program will be “a statewide effort to train young adults between 16 and 24 years old to work in the state’s fledgling green-tech industry.”

Funded by both Federal money and the private sector, the 20-month pilot program will be in at least 10 locations throughout the state. The training will include certifications in solar installation and wind turbine manufacturing. Mr. Jones is right, this plan can be a viable solution to both rising energy costs, environmental pollution, and the declining job market. (Though what about a training program for all ages!?)

Are you salivating over a new green job but don’t live in CA, or happen to be over age 24? Get some green career coaching over at BrightGreenTalent.com. Here you can receive advice on what job is right for you, how to network, what’s available now, what training and education you may need and where to get it, and help with your resume. Phone sessions are 30 or 60 minutes at a reasonable cost of $57 or $97.

What are the Ten Best Jobs for the Next Decade? Fast Company gives you this list:

Farmer, Forester, Solar Power Installer, Energy Efficiency Builder (way beyond LEED), Wind Turbine Fabrication, Conservation Biologist, Green MBA/Entrepreneur, Recycler, Sustainability Systems Developer, and Urban Planner. Go here for more details.

[Photo by Hardy Wilson, The Chronicle]

How To Re-Imagine The World

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

This is the title of a book I’ve had for awhile. It was written by Anthony Weston, a Professor of Philosophy at Elon University, here in North Carolina. The moving images of the inauguration this week prompted me to start reading – something inside of me finally believes that anything and everything is possible. But I also know that President Obama needs our help on the local and community levels. The world has been in transformation even with everything working against it, so there’s no limit to what can happen now!

“This book How to Re-imagine the World a Pocket Guide for Practical Visionaries, outlines a way to step up to the challenge: the way of creativity.” You will find tools and techniques to re-invent the world and prepare for the future – specific, focused and shareable – and yes, CREATIVE and visionary.

An excerpt that speaks of what we just witnessed on Tuesday: “Deeply resistant in some directions, the system can also be surprisingly responsive in others. The world is a fluid, dynamic, intricately interconnected whole. Certain distinctive tipping points, vectors and dynamics emerge that make unexpected openings for creative change-making.”

Chapter titles like, “Seeds”, “Sparks”, “Stretches” and “Twists” and, yes, Chapter 21 is entitled, “Tao of Change” !! This one’s got the big and small pictures of a future that we can create together.

Election-Connection – ?!

Monday, November 17th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Are you feeling it? I’m calling it the Election-Connection – an inexplicable desire to reach out and connect with people – people you know, people you don’t know, people you used to know and on and on. For me, it started on Nov. 5th – I was slowly making my way uphill on a busy road. I heard someone call out to me, “Hello Beautiful!” – I looked back to see Veterinary Clinic employees, taking an outdoor break. I waved and the other said, That’s a beautiful dress!” This sounded so cheerful and sincere, I waved back and noticed the hill suddenly felt a bit less steep.

The next day, I was inching my way into a tight parking spot when a man in a truck, waiting a the adjacent light, rolled down his window, motioning me forward with a big smile, “You got it!” he yelled out encouragingly, waiting until I made the space, even as the light turned green.

I checked messages shortly afterwards, to hear the effusive voice of a friend I hadn’t heard from for 6 months….”OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO! We did it, Tao!!!!! Change is happening!” he yelled into my voicemail.

The next day, my neighbor, normally rather recluse, stopped me, smiling, to ask about yoga lessons, saying he suddenly felt “ready” to try it…

Even John Stewart brought up the anomoulos events, saying something was “different” – people in New York City were actually looking at each other…!!

The magic has endured in the days that have followed – more friends and acqaintenances showing up unexpectedly, and strangers looking up from computers and newspapers more frequently, sometimes with a nod and a smile.

We connected, we elected, we connected some more. I can’t wait for what’s next!

The Art of Obama and Heroism – Barcelona

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

By Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

From the looks of these images, much of the world loves Obama. It’s breathtakingly moving to see the joyous reaction of people from all over the planet. We are filled with more than admiration and hope. Many of us are filled with a need for heroes and a sense of “Expectation”, so confirms artist, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (as reported by Daniel E. Slotnik in the NY Times).

Last week, Mr. Rodriguez-Gerada, with the help of some 40 volunteers, completed artwork using hundreds of tons of gravel and sand and covering 2.5 acres of Barcelona beachfront – a portrait of Obama’s face. The Cuban-American from NYC, wanted to demonstrate not just support of the candidate (now Mr. President), but “to reflect on why the world needs heroes and show the nature of hope and heroism. You can see a rendition here on the artist’s site. The portrait will soon be visible on Google Earth.

If The World Could Vote

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

For the last seven days, people from all over the world have been casting an online vote for today’s election. Who does the world choose for the next president of the United States? So far, 87.2% of the voters from 212 countries, choose Barack Obama. Cast two votes today – one for your country and one for the world. iftheworldcouldvote.com.



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