Monday, September 26, 2005

Happy Bass Day to Me

It's my 32nd birthday today. I'm also leaving for Nashville in just a few hours. I'll stay there Monday night and then catch the shuttle in the morning to Victor Wooten's Bass/Nature Camp in a state park outside of Nashville.

I'll let you know how it goes. Aside from getting monster bass chops and having a really good time, I also plan to spread the message of environmentalism and see what happens. I'll take a copy of The Corporation and I plan to give it to someone, with the instruction that they watch it and give it to someone else.

Anyway, I'm packing and thinking and packing and thinking. I'm pretty sure I'm about to have a very unique experience. All I have to do for five days is play and learn music and study the natural environment.

See ya in a week.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Introducing Ethics to Action

I am leaving my corporate job and moving from Seattle to Ellensburg, WA. I no longer wish to support a system that does not reflect my values; in fact, a system that stands in antithesis to my values. I cannot express the depth of my relief at getting out of this job and company, however much I personally care about and appreciate some of the individuals with whom I work. Living in a small town will give me the peace of mind I have been craving for years, and while there are myriad personal reasons for my move, the main thing is that I need to create a lifestyle that is an outward expression of my deeply held values. I will be better equipped to live with a lighter footprint in a place like Ellensburg.

I realize not everyone can make a change like this ... but a couple of months ago I would have also included myself in this category. I thought I was stuck until the perfect circumstances would release me. In the throes of an epiphany I realized that the power to determine the course of my life resides in me, not in outside factors. And since that moment, everything has fallen into place. Whether you believe in God or destiny, or nothing but what you see with your own eyes, the fact is your beliefs and intentions are extraordinarily powerful and will shape your reality as surely as the weather or the material objects around you.

That's why it is so important to believe that our actions and intentions will save this planet and our future generations.

Do not underestimate your capacity for choice and change. The drive for a better and lasting world will sustain you even when you think you lack power, knowledge, or influence.

I recently sent out this email to friends and family:

"As I'm trying to be more mindful of preserving the environment and living with as little impact as possible, I respectfully ask that you not send gifts or cards for my birthday and Christmas. You are welcome of course to send e-cards and e-mail, that way I get to hear from you and not a single tree was touched!

I will not be giving material gifts or cards either ... but what I do look forward to is sharing time and experiences with you. Also, here are some charities whose causes are close to my heart, if you are interested in making a donation:

Rebuild Green - an organization dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans in an ecologically sustainable manner
Friends of the Earth - "Friends of the Earth champions a healthy planet and a just world."
Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation - helps provide musical instruments and supplies to underfunded music programs throughout the U.S.
Organic Consumers - "Campaigning for Food Safety, Organic Agriculture, Fair Trade & Sustainability."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

Thank you for your understanding and your involvement in creating a sustainable future for generations to come. "

In general, I've had very supportive responses. As the holidays are approaching, ask yourself how you define need and want. Ask yourself if social obligation justifies the purchase of products unnecessary to survival, which may sit in landfills without degrading for millenia to come. You know how your house suddenly seems too small for all your stuff and you have to purge? The Earth has nowhere to purge. This great big beautiful house is the only one on the block and there's no transfer station or thrift store to take our waste. Let's restore and preserve the bounty which existed before us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Earth's Loss, Their Gain

From the Democracy Now website:

ExxonMobil Sees Record $10B 2nd Quarter Profits
Oil giant ExxonMobil is expecting to report profits of over $10 billion over the past quarter -- making it the most profitable single quarter for any company ever. This means ExxonMobil averaged making over 4.5 million dollars every hour for the past three months. During that same period gas prices shot up to record highs. Meanwhile the Energy Department is warning consumers in the Northeast to expect their winter heating bills to jump over 30 percent.
(Sept. 9th 2005)

Firms Connected to Ex-FEMA Head Get Contracts
The Washington Post is reporting that a number of companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, former head of FEMA, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast. One is Shaw Group and the other is Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Bechtel has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. On Friday, Kellogg Brown & Root received $30 million in Pentagon contracts to begin rebuilding Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi.
(Sept. 12th 2005)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not for the Faint of Heart

I have recently read an article entitled "The Oil We Eat" from the July 23, 2004 issue of Harper's Magazine. It is by Richard Manning, an environmental journalist and author. The article traces the origins of our food staples (corn, wheat, rice), and assesses them in terms of the fossil fuels used in production and distribution. It is truly shocking. You will not find optimism in this article. The primary problem appears to be the use of these grains (namely corn and wheat) to feed livestock intended for consumption as meat. But Manning is condemning agriculture itself, asserting that farming originated as a means of accumulating wealth, not simply as a method of creating a surplus of food. I thought this premise bizarre - as farmers are not (and never have been) wealthy individuals - but he is addressing a larger issue. I suggest you read the article. I may at some point read his book on the subject as well, although I felt such despair after reading this article that's it's hard to sign up for more of the same. I'd like to hear your thoughts. The article is quite dense with information, though certainly blatant in tone. I found I had to go back and read certain passages over and over.

I have abstained from eating meat for the last few months, except for exceptions where I knew the animals were allowed free roam and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics. I'd prefer that they were also fed with organic grain. Consequently, I'm not eating much meat. I don't miss it at all. The more I read and learn, the more it sounds like meat consumption is not a healthy choice for an environmentalist.

In other news, here's a great environmental news organization for journalists ... I think it functions as kind of an Associated Press for issues related to the environment and public health. I discovered it searching for information on the Million Solar Roofs bill in California, which proposes to increase the market for solar energy by "facilitat[ing] the sale and installation of one million solar roofs by 2010." Naturally, we must ask what kind of environmental impact comes from the production and installation of these roofs ... but I would hope it's been weighed favorably against the fuel saved via electricity conservation. I can't seem to find whether this bill has officially passed its last hurdle, although someone on the craigslist ecology forum said it died in the last vote. I can't confirm it yet.

We must keep asking questions and hearing difficult answers. The situation is dire, and without these painful realizations there will be no progress. I'm not ready to throw up my hands and wait out the catastrophes. The planet has miraculous staying power considering what it has already suffered ... but this power is finite, and greed and ignorance comprise a formidable adversary. Learn and do what you can.