Stay Local, My Friends!

My tribe was on the march yesterday, some 400,000 of them in New York City, the biggest climate march in history. I have never been more proud of fellow UUs – 1,500 of them – for being in the forefront of a movement for climate justice. Saturday night, All Souls Unitarian in New York hosted an SRO panel of climate activists; click here for a video of the entire event.

Stay local 3So, I wasn’t physically in New York with Bill and Naomi and Vandana. Somehow burning fossil fuels to attend a climate march seemed, well, unseemly. In Florida, there were a number of marches in solidarity with the Big One. Transition Palm Beaches, and the emerging Transition Town Lake Worth, were well represented at the one in Delray Beach, joining Lake Worth Commissioner, Chris McVoy, the Raging Grannies, and The Sierra Club, among 50 others. We occupied the four corners at Swinton and Atlantic Avenues, held aloft a collection of hand-lettered signs (I wore mine on my back), and waved as supporters walked (mostly drove, sigh) by, horns honking, many showing thumbs up.   We chatted and compared notes on what we were doing, personally. Who came in an EV (we did)? Who is growing food (lots of us)? How to get best mileage from your hybrid? What will it take to get the Sunshine state to capitalize on its greatest energy asset (votes)? You get the picture.

M, MJ and Dean at Climate MarchSo, while it has been uplifting to see the crowd numbers come in today and look at all the photos of marchers (thank you, New York Times for covering the event), these conversations and the day-to-day work of learning how to thrive in community while powering down, continues apace. We meet, we plan. Today, I facilitated a loan of a seed ball-making machine from Northwood Greenlife community in West Palm Beach to the historic Osborne School in Lake Worth, where new-minted Garden Manager, Ken Horkavy, is going to plant four fallow acres starting Saturday, with a gala kickoff.   A year ago, I didn’t know a seed ball from a ball of wax, let alone that a machine could make them.

It must be in the water, but everywhere you turn, people are making moves to liberate ourselves from our long addiction to fossil fuels because we know we must. There are MeetUps about walkability forming. Urban alleys will be rehabbed as people-friendly spaces. Next weekend, at the Transition Monthly meeting, we’ll be showcasing how far the movement has come in the eight years since a mild-mannered permaculture teacher named Rob Hopkins decided to apply what he learned from the discipline to the challenges of climate change and resource overshoot.   Also in the works, an alternative gift salon, in time for a saner holiday season. Coming soon, to your neighborhood.

Signer 12,353 Reporting for Duty

You were the 12,353rd supporter to take action on ‘Stand Up to Koch Brother Obstruction’!  ~ Environmental Defense Fund

Every day, I get as many messages from environmental organizations I support (like the EDF) as from marketers or friends.  That’s a fact that worries me, although as a blogger, I am contributing to the ‘messaging’ without any real way to be sure that it leads to anything other than more of the same.  (I have the same concern about Facebook and other social media, and if someone wants to talk me out of that, I’m all ears.)

It isn’t that signing petitions and financial support, or even my 14-mile Walk for Our Grandchildren or the Climate Ride, aren’t important or effective ways to keep the focus (and heat) on the issues.  But we would be mistaken if we imagine these actions are sufficient given the acceleration of climate change and the big money obstructionism throughout all levels of government.  Not to mention that email blitzes about the environment are (mostly) preaching to the converted.  (Probably this one, too, but one can hope.)

Military metaphors are not my thing, but we ARE  in a fight to capture the attention (dare I say, imagination)  of a distracted, wired, over-worked population about the social and economic turbulence ahead wrought by climate change, if only to help them think clearly about its direct impacts on them and those they care about.

I believe all of us working on environmental issues could usefully study the Don’t Text and Drive PSA campaign now at your neighborhood theater.  Normally, I zone out while commercials run but these were impressively skillful: clever copy, great music, attractive young people (the obvious target, though by no means the only texting-addicted.)   See It Can Wait and others, readily available on You Tube.

Until recently (thank you, Bill McKibben et al for removing the gloves), U.S. environmentalism has been a “polite movement” (says journalist, Mark Dowie).  As Americans, we have been conditioned to prefer the simple and easy to swallow (however dire the reality), e.g.  Top 10 Ways to Save the Planet and its ilk.   We won’t ‘tweak’ our way out of this mess with ‘no interruption in service.’   Small steps matter as long as there are many of them, and of many different kinds, consistently applied (see the Transition movement).  As activists, we have to be as tough and relentless as the Brothers Koch, as savvy and creative as the best marketers, in making the facts known, our ideas heard, our actions powerful and enduring.

Take a Stand for the Earth

Yoga in the West often looks like just another way to consume: books, DVDs and music, classes with celebrity yogis, trainings, cool clothing, accessories and adventure  travel to exotic locales. Magazines like Yoga Journal with their glossy covers and good-looking cover models often performing advanced poses perpetuate the idea that we are not good enough as we are, but this or that product or service will surely do the trick.

429021_10151271075540247_1797111207_nSo, it was refreshing to find another article by environmentalist, Bill McKibben, in the May edition of YJ, delivering to the yoga community the same message he is known for: that if we don’t change our consuming ways, and soon, “the thing we call ‘civilization’ will simply become a sputtering mechanism for responding to emergencies.” Not even Iron Man will be able to save us.  In other words, it is truly past time to get off our mats and start living our yogic principles where they matter the most: in the world.

Question.  Can yoga (meditation, veganism, the local food movement, Occupy, Transition, or _____ fill in the blank with your favorite cause) act as a catalyst for social change? In this article in Yoga Brains, three writers weigh in on the subject. Shannon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti (roughly translated, freedom in this lifetime) Yoga, is bang on that practiced as it was intended, yoga cannot and should not be separated from activism.

Keep doing yoga and read more:

Reality Sandwich
Yoga Brains
Elephant Journal