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Archive for the ‘Water Wise’ Category

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…..

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.

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


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

by Tao, Carrboro

Just days after moving in to our 40+ yo house, Jerry and I shared a look – one that said, “This inefficient toilet is driving me crazy!”. Sure, it worked fine, and we had done the brick thing, and we were “letting it mellow”. Even so,  waiting for that tank to fill back up after flushing seemed endless and made me cringe every time. And, I literally lay awake at night, certain that it just had to also be leaking.

I started my research with Umbra on Grist (my fave eco-guru). First, I found out that toilets consume up to 30 percent of household use. And traditional toilets can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush – eek! Then I learned that the newer High Efficiency Toilets have kept improving – they work better and cost less. I searched the Watersense EPA site for a list of choices and found a supply store in my area.

I chose a low-end model that uses only 1.7 gal (they will go as low as 1.2) and has the newer powerful flushing mechanism needed for solid waste. I learned from the shop owner that the problem in the old version was not about amount of water, but about the flush action being insufficient. That has now changed – in fact, this new toilet “whooshes” like nobody’s business!

I spent $350 on my new toilet – an expense not factored into the reno budget, but as they say, the feel-good factor is “priceless”. We still mellow yellow and pee on the earth, but flushing when necessary is now something I can handle.

$350 is not exactly chump change, but worth cutting back somewhere to save enough to do it. In the meantime, check for leaks — you don’t always hear them (my old toilet did indeed leak), use a method of displacing. YOU are making a difference in water conservation. And you’ll enjoy it, I promise.

The Goat Patrol Cleans Up Carrboro Parks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro

Remember my post about The Goat Patrol – the greener weed eaters? Well, I had the chance to see them up close and personal this morning! They have been hired by the Carrboro Parks system to take care of the brush, weeds and vines invading some tree areas, and I stumbled upon them this morning during my morning dog walk.

I didn’t get a picture, but here’s one from the website. Just imagine a group of blissed-out, medium-sized, multi-colored goats reaching and chewing and reaching and chewing. They only paused from their mission to bleat loudly when their owner and guardian, Alex, would wander too far away – they obviously were happily attached to her.

Alex says that by the end of the day, their bellies are nice and round but they come back lean each morning. They are contained by simple movable fencing that changes location each day. She added that they seemed a bit sleepy yet this morning but would soon kick in to high gear.

Nice that Carrboro “gets it”. Every town needs a Goat Patrol – entrepreneurs, pay attention!

Launched and Landed in The Green Mountain State

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

From Tao, Brattleboro, VT

Sorry posts have gone AWOL this week. I launched from Carrboro on Monday with everyone and everything in tow and landed in Brattleboro VT on Tuesday night and have been settling in. I’m going to be online less this month, but plan to keep you posted (pun intended) on my green wanderings.

My off-grid plans turned into a house/cat-sitting gig that I can’t deny being thrilled about. It then became a family affair – with Jerry and Shay deciding to accompany me and the dogs for the next few weeks. We’re staying just a couple miles outside of the surprisingly urban town of Brattleboro. The house itself is surrounded by a lush green quiet, with a heron that lives in the pond down the hill. It kind of rambles in all directions and is colorful and full of creative energy coming from its owners. They live, work and play here – a home to lots of activities, practitioners, patients and friends, where not an ounce of space feels wasted.

Still, perhaps I’m not completely willing to give up the cabin-like experience I was craving previously, since I’ve found myself drawn to a little space between the garage and front door – about 8×10 feet, with a small bed and lots of windows. I’m hanging and sleeping out here with the dogs and it feels just right. Here’s a photo of my bunkmates.

The local co-op hosts a farmer’s market twice/week and they are selling local milk which is even tastier than what I was getting from the CSA at home. I’m certainly not suffering and I’m not even roughing it, as planned, but I am staying in my usual travel green zone and I offset the miles to get here. Remember green travel tips? Review here.

None of us, including the dogs, are too good at simply “vacate-tioning”, so besides a lot of moving about the great outdoors, we’ve got some community projects planned and are preparing to tromp around the urban areas, with a video camera in hand…but more on that later.

I’ll leave you with two quotes today – they have stuck in my mind since arriving. They come from a physician in India, Dr. Aggrawal, who tells all his patients:

“Learn something new every day and be wiser today than yesterday.” and, “Resting is Rusting.”

Sounds like sage advice to me. I’m going to try to make the most of it this month. Stay tuned.

Good Ideas can create good systems

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

We may not be able to get “big politics” to change policies overnight, but we can make change happen in our communities if we bring individuals and ideas together. Here are some recent examples:

The Belgian city of Ghent is declaring a veggie day every Thursday, when all civil servants and elected officials will vow to eat no meat, schools will serve vegetarian meals, and all restaurants will promote a vegetarian selection. Why? Because livestock production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (more than cars), and to help decrease obesity. How did they do it? City council members teamed up with Flanders’ Ethical Vegetarian Association and threw a party – with free vegetarian fare and recipes, along with a veggie street map, guiding enthusiastic participants to the town’s veggie restaurants.

And in the UK…In further recognition of the impact that livestock has on the environment, Wycliff College in Stonehouse has offered a 10% discount on tuition for vegetarian students. How? Founder, GW Sibly was a passionate vegetarian, establishing this policy himself.

Derek Beres writes about the science of creating systems that work with this example:

We can “create our own systems to accommodate the good of the many. One friend recently forwarded me a link to her doctor in Brooklyn, whose company works by each member paying a monthly fee, instead of the one-time whopping bill. The fees are manageable for most, and the doctors reply by text messaging and emails, and always — I repeat always — follow up within a day. Generic prescriptions are free, and from what I understand they are very popular. (Last week they had a flu shot party at the office with a live DJ!) So here you have on a small scale a system that has become so in demand that the four doctors have to open another location in Manhattan. They were fed up with the healthcare system, and so founded their own, to help others, and to improve their own careers. Everyone wins, and the science of medicine, not the economics of it, takes precedence.”

What do you want to see change in your community, school, workplace or world? Reach out. Stand up. Make it happen.

Bicycling – Fashion Friend or Foe?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Bicycle commuting is on the rise. Tough economic times may be a factor, though in anthropological terms, I have a feeling style and the times have a lot more to do with it.

And what about style and biking? Is it possible to combine the two? Not much hope if you’re an actual cyclist. They definitely deserve our awed admiration as they move along – 50 miles at a stretch – at speeds higher than my town’s speed limit. But in all their aerodynamic sleekness, I would not call them stylish (I know because I’ve been there and I felt a lot of things while breezing along those country roads, but stylish was not one of them.)

So what happens to those of us who happen not to be a “cyclists”, but a normal person who happens to ride a bike? As I’ve mentioned here, somewhere along the line – consciously or not – I made the shift from cycling to bicycling, finally pawning off my lycra shirts and shorts on Craig’s List. And it’s much more part of my identity than it was in my past life. As a result, I prefer not to look like a geek on my bike, but like, well, my Fashionable Self.

Take a look at this video of riders in Copenhagen, where “there is no bike culture – all culture includes the bike.” And it shows, not just by the fact that 36% of the population rides daily, but because they look damn normal to me – normal enough that I can see myself as one of them. If you think of this same scene in the U.S., it is most likely not as inviting to the average plumber (I mean, person).

Will gearing up for the ride become a thing of the past? Will enough of us ride through our fair cities that bike paths and shelters will pop up everywhere? Will we embrace a sort of slow bike movement that will allow us to be more safe as well as stylish? (Notice that the riders in Copenhagen don’t feel the need for helmets.) Writer, David Colman explores those possibilities in this article and finds out how we can solve the tricky questions faced by 2-wheeled city commuters who want to look like they still “mean business” in no-other than our own NYC. (Interesting article and photos introducing the latest NYC “It Object”, the Dutch bicycle.)

That helmet thing – ? I realize I’m playing with fire here, but it may be the clincher that shifts the mainstream consciousness into a whole new gear.

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