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

Posts Tagged ‘history’

Anti-Bacterial is Anti-Life – get fermented

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

We’ve long known, but as long forgotten, that raw and/or fermented foods are important factors in the holistic picture of diet and health. Fermentation was first used as a way to preserve perishables before refrigeration existed and the ancient philosophy of Macrobiotics includes fermented foods for their enhanced and abundant nutrients. I’ve included fermented/cultured foods like miso, tempe, apple cider vinegar and kefir in my diet for years. Why are these foods so important? Bacteria, baby!

Our culture has become exceedingly germ-phobic and obsessed with cleanliness. And in the midst of trying to eliminate disease-causing bacterias, we’ve created a overzealous fear of all things microbial. Industry enthusiastically fed this fear and soon the marketplace was swarming with anti-bacterial soaps and other cleaners. Are we less sick due to our efforts? Actually, no and then some.

There’s no sign that fewer people are succumbing to viruses and other illness, but there’s plenty of evidence that our immune systems are continually becoming weaker and that new and antibiotic-resistant bacterias are gaining ground in our environment and bodies. Microorganisms cover our bodies and the surfaces of our home in the form of friendly bacterias that protect us and help develop the immune system. “The cleaner we live…the more likely we’ll get asthma and allergies” states Dr. David Rosenstreich, director of Allergy and Immunology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine. In other words, Mr. Clean was wrong.

There are many facets to a whole and healthy life and discovering ways to work with the body’s diverse system, rather than against it, can be a worthwhile and fascinating journey. How to begin?

Step One: Don’t believe everything you’re told on television or radio – research, read and talk to others.

Step Two: Ditch the antibacterial soap and consider washing your hands, and other stuff at home less often. (Continue to wash hands when using public restrooms.)

Step Three: Play in the dirt.

Step Four: Eat fermented/raw/cultured foods. The process of fermentation makes food more digestible and nutritious, while live, unpasteurized fermented foods provide good bacteria in the gut. Fermentation creates new nutrients, removes toxins from foods and have been shown to function as antioxidants in the body. Think sauerkraut, cheese, miso, tempeh, kefir and yogurt. Home “brewing” isn’t as hard as you may think – Learn more from this book by Sandor Ellix Katz, Wild Fermentation, The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.

Full Moon Equinox – what’s going on up there

Friday, March 21st, 2008

By Phil Reckard, Chapel Hill, NC

A global meditation is being called by many different people and groups during the equinox of March 20 and the Full Moon of March 21. This two-day event is roughly the midpoint of two super-dynamic global energetics “caused” by Saturn in his oppositions to Neptune over the past few years, and Prometheus (Uranus) over the next few years.

The main feature at this upcoming equinox and Full Moon is a Grand Cross on Good Friday March 21, involving the Sun and Moon (opposed each other) at right angles to the separating Mars/Pluto opposition. Usually, a Grand Cross is a challenging configuration with at least four planets “at odds” with each other – a cross-current of competing energies loaded with potential conflicts. This Grand Cross even seems to conflict with the equinox of the day before, traditionally a time to celebrate new beginnings for those of us in the northern hemisphere, signaling the start of a new growing season.

The Full Moon is exact on Friday, March 21 at 2:40 PM (EDT), but any time Thursday or Friday would be when someone somewhere in the world will be joining in this meditation, either alone or in groups.

As with any ritualized meditation, clarity of intention is essential whether we want to send or receive love, send blessings for world peace, removing barriers, getting unstuck, working for self improvement, seeking an epiphany, wanting guidance for becoming an agent for positive change, all of the above, or whatever else is on our minds. A suspension of our belief systems might also be needed as you’ll see.

Peace, joy, and love to everyone. Let’s make something very wonderful happen!!!

(Artwork in photo by Michael May)

Hunting 101?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto

I’m still thinking about death. And life. And death.

Where do I stand on hunting? That’s a tough one. I don’t like the image of it. But when I see large numbers of deer roaming through neighborhoods and lying dead on highways, I find myself grateful for the hunters that help in controlling a population that, without natural predators, can no longer control itself. When my sister, who lives in Nevada, walked out her door last year to find a bear in search of the food, I feel conflicted. Afterall, bears can break down doors as easily as we open them.

Yet, I was the kid who never recovered from the movie, “Bambi”, and still can’t watch “Babe” without sobbing. More recently, while on an Autumn hike in the mountains , I witnessed a newly killed black bear being dragged down a trail by hunters. My entire body reacted so strongly to the scene, that I took off running downhill, falling over my feet and in tears.

IS hunting the necessary balance? If so, is it simply an attempt at balancing a system which our overzealous land-hogging has messed up in the first place? Or, is it ultimately part of our story as humans? If we are carnivores, are we even obligated to be witness and participant in the process of killing the food we choose to eat? I’ve conveniently avoided these questions most of my life, being vegetarian for half of it and wistfully dreaming about birth control programs for over-populating wildlife, while hesitantly grateful for those that can pull the trigger when necessary.

Most hunters sincerely claim environmentalist status. From Sierra Magazine, “According to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Alliance, most hunters and anglers have strong conservationist leanings. A study the organization completed in January 2000 found that 83 percent of hunters and 86 percent of anglers support keeping the remaining wild areas in national forests free of roads.” This sounds like a logical, even necessary part of today’s politics.

I do believe that we cannot have it both ways. Rather than kill the wolves that mildly threaten livestock, it may have to be a considered the compromise for displacing them from a natural habitat. We cannot kill simply to support a style of living before we determine if our desired lifestyles are necessary. We are responsible for creating and maintaining some kind of natural balance before we sublimely continue our world takeover.

I have a friend, David Knight, who was raised in a family of hunters. He also happens to work in environmental law for the Nature Conservancy. His gentle nature and sweet personality always made me curious about his love of the hunt. Then one day, he told me that after he kills a deer, he wears, for that day, a cross of its blood on his forehead. My first, and only, meal of venison was with him.

The Greek goddess, Artemis, is considered the goddess of the Hunt, yet she is also considered the goddess of Childbirth and protector of the young.

There’s a lot to think about.

(Artwork in photo by Michael May)

Despair is Lazy

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Rob Brezsny saved a part of my heart and soul through his brilliant prose, facts, figures, reminders and promises that spill forth in his book published in 2005,

PRONOIA Is The Antidote For Paranoia, How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Bessings.

Birthed in part during Burning Man that year, Brezsny believes in the power of truth and beauty – things that were slowing waning from my view of the world. I devoured this book – a journey of insights, realizations, exercises and experiments. I was so busy absorbing lightness and wisdom that I forgot to give up. In fact, I carry with me one of his most enlightening truths: “DESPAIR IS LAZY.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“At this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game, it ain’t easy to carry out our mission. We’ve got to be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life. We’ve got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by those among us who bravely volunteered to play the role of deceivers.

We have to learn how to stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the cockeyed mass hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as reality.

Maybe most importantly, we have to be ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free. We have to be both disciplined and rowdy.

That’s especially thorny because of the fact that a genocide of the imagination is raging world-wide. It threatens to render our imaginations numb and inert and passive and tame.”

Water Ways

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Although our ponds, creeks and trees have been helped by some showers this Winter, our reservoirs are still at extremely low levels. The recent hard rain is a blessing, but one that is only the bare beginning of drought recovery for NC.There has been hopeful movement towards change in our water consumption habits, but I’m afraid we have not completely changed our mindset and will become complacent once again. I’m afraid we have not learned what we need to know.

As we are reminded by history, there was once a time when we knew we were related to Water. There has always been drought, but there has never been excessive use by an unsustainable population as there is today. Rainfall or not, our days of abundant water supplies is gone.

We need to understand, without hesitation, that Water is sacred, the origin of life. Eliot Cowan, Shaman and author of Plant Spirit Medicine, hears it this way: “Look at the way people squander water. They don’t realize they are utterly dependent on rainfall, that water is the very blood in their veins.”

We need to mend our water ways and attitudes now and for the future. We cannot prevent drought but we can be better prepared for it when we honor nature and water day to day in a way that respects our dependence on it. It’s time to reestablish our connection to the source of life and give water the attention it deserves, both for our dwindling water supply and for our own wholeness.

Man Bites Bird

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Have you seen the photo moving around recently of the sea bird and it’s stomach contents?

It’s a shocking look at what was found inside a dead albatross from the Hawaiian Islands. This poor bird swallowed more than a half pound of plastic, including what appears to be several bottle caps and a cigarette lighter.

Sierra Magazine captions it with this quote from Art Buchwald,

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate and the disposable bottle, and this was good becaue man could then take his automobile and buy his food all in one place and he could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And pretty soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles, and there was nowhere left to sit down or to walk. And Man shook his head and cried, ‘Look at all this God-awful litter.’

P.S. This was written in 1970.

MLK and Liberation

Monday, January 21st, 2008

One of Jerry’s favorite inspirational quotes from The Reverend, Martin Luther King, Jr.

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as
Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare
wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and
earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

–The Reverend, Martin Luther King Jr.

Last night, we attended an event, Hoop Liberation Jam, falling on the eve of this day of remembrance of a great man who changed the course of history for all of us. His words illuminated so many aspects of our lives and values that they will serve us well into all eternity. If only we take time to listen.

We gathered in a circle to set and share intentions. We honored the symbol of the circle (hoop) as a symbol of our interconnectedness and Oneness. We wished for the liberation of all people to be free – to be free to be awake, alive and whole.

Then we danced inside of our hoops. The energy of it has lingered into today. I’m listening. Tao

Patriotic Duty – gone with the wind?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Along with several others, I have this sticker on my bicycle…I picked it up at my local cycle shop – I liked it since I had recently decided to drive a lot less and start getting to work and around town by bicycle and yes, I thought of it as a responsible action.

Yet, It wasn’t until the other day that I realized the history behind this specific design. Look again at the drawing – a hand on the heart – this is a “pledge of allegiance” to a nation – a direct reference to a time in our country when citizens were asked to give and make changes – to sacrifice convenience and luxury for patriotism and a common good. These days, with the exception of some displaced flag waving, does the average citizen really feel a sense of duty to home and country, let alone the planet?

I learned a lot more about this time in history when reading an issue of Sierra Magazine and came upon an interesting and moving article by Mike Davis, Home-Front Ecology, siting historical evidence from the 1940’s WWII era, that citizens can and did work together and make sacrifices in the name of duty and an “economy of conservation”.Gasoline rationing didn’t bring rioting, but voluntary car-sharing and less driving and a return to commuting and recreating by bicycle, celebrations and advertisement of the patriotic advantages of traveling on two wheels. It truly was “My duty to ride.” The auto, by comparison, lost it’s luster with slogans like, “When you ride ALONE, you ride with Hitler!” Nothing like the naked truth to get people moving.

During this time, at the government’s urging, children participated in urban gardens while parents borrowed their bicycles to get to work. These Victory Gardens produced 30 – 40% of the nation’s vegetables, while the farmers fed soldiers. The Office of Civilian Defense, sponsored the “rational consumption” movement, encouraging a new mindset by any standard, “buy only for need”. There were size limits on new home construction and existing large homes and mansions were even used for communal living. The message sound familiar, but the response, very different at this point.

Although campaigns are today being waged at a grassroots level, governing bodies are strangely mute and participation is nothing to write home about. All of these efforts would go a long way in protecting our country, helping to end the war and save planet. What has changed so drastically 50 or so years later? After all, our country is, once again, at war. There are huge deficits accumulating of money, resources – and of hope. Even mainstream media no longer keeps secrets in regards to our dying environment.

Where now is the sacrifice, the willingness to do the work? Where are the leaders who can assist us in mobilizing for a common good, patriotic or otherwise? When will government learn to actually govern with conviction and reason instead of catering to industry and money-driven prospects?

The time is ripe. Despite evidence to the contrary – I believe most Americans are ready and even waiting for a way to fill a void of meaning and purpose in our lives as well as a way to face our fears of the future head on – to answer a call to duty. While we can keep pushing the iceberg towards change with our individual efforts and commitments, it will take leadership to motivate the masses and conscious governing to turn back the wheels of industrial nihilism and unsustainable consumerism. Bring it on.

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