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To Have Hope

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...
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Climate change is happening. We can attempt to deny it. We can go along with the conflict among politicians and in the newspapers. We can close our eyes to it. We can say “weather is weather” when we look at a balmy January day when it should be 20 below. Climate change — global warming — is happening. No matter what we say to console ourselves doesn’t change the trend that 98% of the scientific community accepts as fact. Our world is warming and places are already being affected. Recently, the Oregonian published a map put out by the USDA. The USDA is redrawing their garden zoning maps to more accurately reflect current temperatures. The caption lightly explains warming, but also attributes the change to better mapping software! So, I put a flippant comment on my Facebook page that got its own attention from my friends. One didn’t realize I was being sarcastic. Another responded with his own, appropriately, flippant remark. Finally, a family member expressed her own frustration with how we glaze over this very serious problem. As a follow-up, I posted a link to a three-year old Scientific American article that showcased ten places that in 2008 that were clearly affected by climate change. Some of the listed places include:

Darfur

Until the rains failed in Darfur, the region’s pastoralists lived amicably with the settled farmers. The nomadic herders grazed their camels on the rocky hillsides between the fertile plots and fed their animals on the leavings from the harvest….[More]

The Gulf Coast

Climate scientists may still be debating to what extent climate change is going to translate into stronger and more frequent hurricanes, but insurance companies aren’t waiting for the final answer….[More]

Northern Europe

The warming of the globe has so far generally been good for the world’s wine. It has allowed the fruit to come off the vine richer and riper. A study led by Gregory Jones, a climatologist at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., and the son of a winegrower, tracked the impact of rising temperatures between 1950 and 1999, using as a measure of quality the values by the auction house Sotheby’s, which rates wines on a 100-point scale….[More]

Great Barrier Reef

Not all the carbon dioxide we emit contributes to atmospheric warming. More than a third of what we have produced since the industrial revolution has been absorbed by the oceans, where it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid….[More]

In recent years, no less than four Alaskan communities have been forced to relocate (Shishmaref, Kivalina, Shaktoolik and Newtok) due to climate change. Waters are rising. Temperatures are rising. Plants and animals are migrating, and now people are migrating too. These communities are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the ones screaming to the rest of the world, “LISTEN! Climate change is happening! It’s happening to us! Now!”

But now we’re not listening. Collectively. We are stuck in group think, not embracing our group wisdom. Collectively, what can we do? That was the question that was posed to me. So, here’s a short list.

  1. Don’t lose hope. But realize that people will only change when they want to. So, while not losing hope, stay the steady course.
  2. Lead by example. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Then do it all over again, and better.
  3. Be mindful of your own consumption and aware of how this culture of things is perpetuating the problem.
  4. Realize hope in that 60% or so of Americans do recognize that there is a problem, so while the media isn’t up on what Americans really are thinking, there is a paradigm shift around us.
  5. Educate yourself, and then, educate others. Do it with compassion, and when they stop listening do it with your actions. Show people how the local organic food you create with is better than the tasteless, flavorless, nutritionless food found in the average grocer.

To have hope can be hard, but I think it’s imperative we stay the steady course. We can find solace in the Romanesque period in history where buildings became strong again when the world didn’t end in 1000 AD. We can find solace in realizing we have found lost technologies, like concrete, to make our world more solid. We can find solace in remembering that no matter how stubborn, we are one of the most adaptable creatures, and adapt we will. We can find solace in our relationships that we forge, foster, and create. Because, then, we know that we will have a network to turn to who supports our ideals of local, homegrown, homefunded communities.

To have hope, in my mind, is the only way to live. And, to have hope, is the only bottom line that will drive us when madness surrounds.

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Consensus Validation

We're Makin' Bread!
We're Makin' Bread! Image by Michelle Lasley via flickr.

Today, we had our consensus training with Tree Bressen. Rather, it was a consensus workshop. Dynamic, fun, interactive, and incredibly informative – this was our day. From 10am – 5pm, hosted by Daybreak Co-Housing, we participated in exercises, asked questions, and learned about the consensus process. And, above everything – today was empowering in the decision we made to be in this process.

I think most people have an  idea of what consensus is, we learn about the concept when we learn about language. But, hearing it as a decision making tool didn’t happen for me until I started to learn more about coops. I started to learn more about coops when I wanted to learn more about food. There are a lot of things in life important to me, but the top three or four “passions” would be housing, food, and spirituality (no, friend, not religion).

Growing up, I happened to encounter a lot of people who wanted to tell me what to do and what was the best right way for me to live. True to my “know-it-all” nature (as dubbed by my sweet Sister), I found this contrary. If they are so smart, thought I, why do I feel differently about this decision? When I had the opportunity to Be the Boss at a  young age, telling others what to do never really felt right. They are capable, some much older than I, so why am I telling them what to do? It didn’t make sense, and I didn’t have the life experience or language skills to name the problem I was noticing.

Tom Atlee, however, has a name for it. He calls it “Co-Intelligence.” It figures that this vocabulary was gifted to me when I moved to the west coast. In fact, a fellow food clubber said the same thing tonight! (We both have family in the mid-west). This idea, this process, that we are all better together. But, more than that, when we let our ideas blend, when we have room for openness and change, we will participate in this thing called group wisdom. The whole is better than the sum of its parts.

A few times during our steering committee meetings, someone would ask after my post-giddiness, if it was some sort of “love fest.” No. It was just me, really enjoying this group wisdom. It’s such a joy to watch these changes. You come in with a stated problem or concern, maybe a few ideas of how it could look – then 13 (in our case women) people come together and say what about this and that and we can do it this other way. One of the participants in today’s training had a name for it: “both/and.” This idea that we don’t have to have one or the other, but we can do both and maybe more. In order to get there, though, you have to have an open heart. Open to change. Open to being changed.

I’m saddened I don’t have time to attend tomorrow’s workshop. Tree, however, will be doing a facilitator’s training in May. I’m very excited to be a part of that one.

 

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Consensus Training

Consensus plain 2
Image via Wikipedia

Our consensus training is finally upon us! I am very excited. Our group has been self-learning consensus for the past 10 months, and I think it will be good to have a seasoned user show us some things to do.

In May, it became clear that majority rule wasn’t a good fit for our group of bottom up thinkers. So, I suggested consensus, and we’ve been trying it on ever since. One of our members made a comment that she lived in community, with consensus, for almost three years. She didn’t feel she even began to understand how consensus works until she was at the end of her stay in community. This was a very telling comment to me, as we hadn’t lived in community, had been doing it for less than 7 months, and it has felt awkward to me. Her comment validated my concerns. For the third time, I was referred to Tree Bressen; so I called her.

I read the Tao of Democracy by Tom Atlee almost 6 years ago. What an eye opener! The belief that in empathic situations, people really are smarter together. Most of our food club meetings have shown this to be true. We state concerns, work through problems, and come up with a much more brilliant answer than any one of us could have come up with on our own. It’s a true consensus process, truly bottom up planning.

I am hoping that tomorrow’s training will kindly show us some tricks and traps and how to navigate through those traps. One of the handouts is “Nurturing Dissent.” I’m a terribly excited.

Stay tuned for more.

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How to get Free Mulch in the Portland Metro Area

Yesterday, I received an email from “Ben”.  Unfortunately, my reply bounced back.  Regardless, I said that when asked a question, I would post it here.  Ben was interested in more concrete places to get free mulch, and this is what I’ve set to tell him:

We got our free mulch from Asplundh, who I believe were contracted by P.G.E.  They trimmed our neighborhood’s trees when I wrote that post a few months ago.  They simply had a sign that read, “Free Wood Chips.”

I believe tree trimmers and arborists have to pay a fee to dump mulch, so they’d much rather give it away.  I’ve heard that some tree services have a long list of names, so it may just take some inquiring to find out.

As for a place to start…  I would contact these companies or agencies in addition to Asplundh:

  • International Society of Arborists, Pacific Northwest Chapter:  http://www.pnwisa.org/ – they may have further direction.
  • James Kinder, Green Options Tree Care, 5755 Willow Lane, Lake Oswego, OR 97035, Phone: 503-744-0914, Email: info@gotreecare.com, Website: www.GOTreeCare.com
    ** Update 16-Mar-2010: They take their tree removals and recycle them at the “goat farm”.  Sorry, no chips. Great eco-company regardless.
  • Mark Bourgeois, Arbor Pro Tree Experts, Phone:  503-473-TREE (8733), Website: www.arborpronw.com – this man specifically told me to call his company and they would maintain a list, and if in my neighborhood may be able to donate mulch.
    ** Update 17-Feb-2013: They no longer do free mulch. Friendly group, so give ’em a call if you need an arborist!

Lastly, I’d call the Oregon City Hall to find out if they use a specific tree service and get that company’s name to call directly.

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Mulch Mulch Mulch

Apparently people like mulch!  This blog has seen a steady increase in hits since I posted the ‘free mulch’ tidbits several weeks ago.  So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to preach to the choir about some mulch benefits:

  • Mulch keeps the soil warmer
  • Mulch retains more water
  • Enough mulch naturally squelches weeds
  • Mulch adds more nutrients to soil, especially compacted soil
  • By adding more nutrients, mulch helps attract beneficial creepy crawlies – like worms & bugs
  • Worms & bugs help aerate the soil, making it less compacted
  • Less compacted soil is better for growing things
  • When we have things growing in our yards, we attract beneficial insects
  • Bees are beneficial insects/pollinators
  • We would do well to attract bees
  • So mulch, mulch, mulch!

That’s all for now folks!