ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Time?

A memorable paving expert once said, "Blacktop lasts about twenty to thirty years, concrete is forever." Last weekend I was involved in a project in which the truth of this statement was brought home to me immediately and exquisitely. My brother has been working to restore an old Victorian home, adding modern amenities and fixing a series of stupid changes wrought by former owners. For his birthday, I volunteered a weekend to come down and help remove an old concrete stoop. First off, it was poured in place, right up against the wood of the house. At about half the size of a car, it created a dead space behind that had rotted away part of the building. It also made for a cold inaccessible area that could not be insulated, creating a very cold and drafty entrance area inside the back door.

What has this to do with ECO-Tours? Well, if we are to survive, we must finally turn the corner on old-way thinking. Old ways no longer work. The changing of the seasons brings us an annual chance to reassess, prioritize and reflect on what is working and what is not. Concrete seems a good place to start. Centuries have passed since we discovered that the baking of limestone would make it chemically reactive, capable of changing phase from liquid to solid. I'm not sure if it is still true today, but two decades ago, there were some developing countries who were spending over half of their energy budget annually on simply baking limestone.Making cement for concrete.

In the case of my brother's stoop, there was, or seemed to be no good use for the rubble. To remove this liability from along side his home, we spent more than three days, blasting it with both sledge and jack hammers, making chunks small enough to cart away. Their ultimate destination was a landfill and by my closest estimate, we produced several tons of waste destroying the edifice. Concrete may be forever, but only if it is in a place that makes sense and only if it is properly prepped, mixed and finished. (which the stoop was not) There are techniques that could have crushed the rubble to the size of useful aggregate that would reduce the need for hauling it away and reducing the materials that would need to be brought in if we were to pour new concrete, but alas, only large projects benefit from that sort of expensive equipment.

now, there will be a small pocket or layer of stone in the landfill, perhaps forever. The massive amount of energy burned half a century ago, perhaps even longer ago than that, will have been squandered for naught, and the three days of labor required to make things a step closer to right will be left out of history books. The joy that will blossom from the new deck and entryway that will be created in place of the giant concrete stairway will of course be enjoyed, but for generations hence, the effort that brought about that possibility will remain invisible. Rather than feeling ambivalent about this and instead of feeling sad about the waste of time that throwing our bodies and several kilowatts of energy at the monolithic stoop, I feel liberated. Almost like a force of nature, free to express myself through ages.

The ripples and waves that we sent, back into the history of his home, the community and that spot on the Earth will only be eclipsed by the ripples we sent forward into the future. The work we did will stop the back entry to his house from rotting away, perhaps saving tens of thousands of dollars for future residents. The benefit of having a warm entryway, rather than a cold one although subtle has nearly infinite value for those who have to put their shoes on out there in winter, perhaps for hundreds of years into the future. The love we expressed for one another in our cooperative effort has bound us together in ways that are hard to quantify and the joy of releasing the building from the ugly albatross around the back door is priceless.

The costs of expediency are often paid over the course of generations. Developing a time signature of life that honors both past and future may be the only way to preserve the human race from self-destruction. Please take time to think about this before making your New Year's Resolutions.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

PH ***ing the Man

I do not abide being called names, so there are few that I put on others. A comment or two have come about because I do not like to give up when faced with a ruling class of exploiters and oppressors, willing to extract all that is good from whatever "resource" they feel like exploiting that day. We must each attempt to delineate in our own way, how much we will be constrained by "the man". When I was a child, my Grandpa, who was a baker for a large corporate concern, was a staunch union man and worked hard to assure that workers there could make a respectable wage in relatively good/safe conditions. I found out that the workers had absolutely no say in the process that was used to make the bread. (bean counters did all of that.) I knew that we would never buy or eat that 'poor person's bread', as my family called it. According to Grandma, "The ingredients list alone proved that you shouldn't be eating it." Grandpa felt that getting as much as possible from those bastards was as good as you could "get". He probably didn't hear about the man until he was so indebted to corporate welfare whores to even know how or why.
This is what zero emission vehicles look like. When grid tied, they sport tiny emission footprints from faraway generating stations. Their massive efficiency coefficient reduces even faraway emissions massively relative to traditional fossil fuel powered vehicles.

This is the amount of solar panels required to fuel just one of the vehicles pictured above. Note that the hot water panels, not used for the car, are the four that are propped up and facing true South. Photovoltaic cells only need light.

Even as a child, I could see that there was a sense of resignation that the highest status he could achieve, would be to allow his labors to be capitalized upon by others, people so wealthy, to not have ever known want. Later in life, I began to understand that he was on the same rung of the economic ladder as the people George Bailey, from It's a Wonderful Life, was fighting for. Grandpa had fought hard and managed to get to the top side of his rung, perhaps, but certainly not one higher. I asked about his product one day, "Why are they allowed to call it Holsum, if it is actually bad for you?" His response has come back to me repeatedly over the years. He said, "Kid, watch you mouth, someday you're gonna' be trouble." He had drawn a line across his experience and underlined it, the worker's job was, is and will forever be, servitude. I'm sure that somewhere in his formative years he heard that the grass that stands the tallest gets cut down most, or something to that effect. blending in always made the best sense. In his time, it was admirable that he helped fight for reasonable subsistence wages. He waged another fight against the man in the marketplace.

Only in a lifetime have I come to know my own limits...where I am ready to accept complicity. I rationalize that by putting myself in servitude intermittently, thoughtfully and by choice, makes me less of a wage slave, less of a corporate tool, but to this day, if I look critically at the situation, I'm just a skilled caterer of sorts, serving up hollow distractions. The man is well served by providing bread and circuses. I am part of the machine that makes entertainment. To put book ends on what I learned from my grandpa, the last time I saw him alive, he said, "Always pay your dues to the stagehand union, I got paid better there than any other job. I do participate in the economy (have a vocation) to support my non-profit activities (avocation). It is a powerfully humbling experience to be the Director of an organization that has planted millions of tree seeds and many tens of thousands of actual tree seedlings. The few times that I get to be a stagehand with a powerful and culturally important show are few, yet more than 100 nights each year I am pumping out my own labor for others to achieve their dreams.

The reason I used the PH to start the dirty word, in the title is because it takes a certain amount of savvy, to begin to deconstruct "the man" of lore. I been down wit' all 'dat for decades...I'm not shittin' anyone when I say that we are all victims of a world-wide crime. Not just against humanity, but each and every critter on the face of Gaia, (Mother Earth, Starship Earth, or whatever you want to call this planet.) every resource is being squandered for the survival of corporate welfare whores who are considered too big to fail. Pay no attention that over 90 % of all bacteria, fungi and viruses found in healthy soil have been exterminated through the use of petro-chemically derived, toxic compounds. Ignore for a moment that water, worldwide has become undrinkable, vast aquifers and massive oil and gas fields have been depleted yet we sink wells deeper every day.And leave blank the image in your mind of the largest ocean on the planet,  radio-logically (illogically, if you ask me) contaminated.

There is a way to turn back the carbon clock. Sequestration. I live near the 45th paralell. Around here, wood is considered a renewable resource. There is an abundant supply and transport costs are relatively low. Through gassification, about half of the fuel value of the wood is driven off as carbon-less energy. This process, called gassification, yields what has been come to be known as "syn-gas". (synthetic, carbon neutral natural gas.) Burning the wood without air also yields char, a powerful source of pure carbon in the micro-structural shape of literally billions of tubules, perfect for biological activity. In our own gardens, we have increased yields using char by over 60%. Side by side tests that we have been doing for the last few years are so amazing that I see no reason to deprive any soil this kickstarter for life! In addition to helping to rebuild living soil, the char helps with water holding capacity as well. Carbon sequestration and biological rehabilitation combined? Yes! The most mind boggling fact about char is that in one handful, there are over fourteen acres of surface area. Most of us will never own that much territory, but we can enrich many times that much land by adding char to our magic bags of tricks. We need every oar in the water, get busy transforming the planet people.

Pass this information far and wide. If you would like more information on char, please request an ECO-Tour on just that subject. We would be happy to introduce you to a better understanding of how to make, inoculate and integrate this priceless black gold into your gardens, lawn or fields. This is all part of the change that is going to have to happen, nearly overnight, if we are to leave a liveable planet for future generations. The writing is on the wall. Understanding the man is easier today than at any time in human history. Whom do you serve takes on meaning when you see that the military industrial complex has subsumed healthcare, insurance and banking to such a large extent that we are often serving multiple heads of the same great beast. Feeding the beast, even the tiniest morsel requires some soul sacrifice. Had I understood this fully, I'm sure that I would have never signed my first mortgage papers. My ecology is deep, some call it deep green, but it is vibrant as all colors under the Sun. The deep and abiding love that I have for the planet is reflected in all of my activities. The man has placed himself at odds with the health of the planet and it is my right to depose him from power. My choices make the fight possible and envisioning a victory makes hope possible.

It may sound strange, but at least in my country today, we all seem to be delusional enough to think that we can fight the man into parity, while still shackled to the great behemoth. In fact, the great and powerful beast that has sterilized the soils, tainted the air and turned rivers to sewers seeks to put a good face on it. We have seen in recent history several billion dollar ad campaigns telling us that BP is "Beyond Petroleum" and how they have made the Gulf of Mexico better than it had been before their disaster. Having had one bite too many of contaminated Gulf shrimp, I'm thinking not. We keep seeing amazing things about how technology can be brought to bear in reducing storm damage from super hurricanes. It is not said aloud, but the implication is that there is little we can do to stop hurling past any reasonable limits. Technology and science are not the same thing, they bounce back and forth as if they are two spastic inmates shackled by long tethers. They always have and will always dance this chaotic way. We learn, often too late that what we were able to do should not have been done, what seemed reasonable at the time was for the worst. Often the greatest new technologies are proven later by science to be the worst possible thing we could have pursued. Thinking that new technology could hope to save us from the current dominion of the oligarchy, or the effects of climate change is naive.

I am far too sick to my stomach over Fukushima to say "We told you so", but we did. It could have mattered twenty, nay, thirty years ago. Today, we are looking at our own, and very real, radioactive nightmare, as if it is still in black and white, or worse, just a news story about somewhere far away. Nothing on this planet is very far away when you are radioactive fallout, are we completely fooled? Trying to fight the man, without understanding that the current system can no longer support itself seems daunting. The corporate welfare state needs our blood, our treasure, our complicity, otherwise it is on the wrong end of the gangplank and we are in full mutiny. It is hard to prod the beast off that gangplank if we nail our tongue to the gunnels. Worse still, would be to shackle ourselves to the dying corpse of "the man" as he goes to the depths. We hear snippets about divestment, but some are all in with the man.

Don't think for a second that the billionaires playing the markets will ever share a penny of their wealth with you.That just isn't happening. Let me go back to that bit about Grandpa and the marketplace. He always was a chiseler. He worked hard for every dollar and was hard put to spend even a dime recklessly. He knew that once spent, dollars tended to flow away from his town and into the hands of ever bigger guys. Yesterday, I did Grandpa proud. I went to a local lumber yard, paid a little extra, but saved more than a gallon of gas, plus having to drive to two different places for the best price. We must slash at the belly of the great beast that has us in its maw. Only when the entrails flow free will we see the value of what the man has taken as his share all of these years. Abundance is available, but it begins from the grass roots, or the interactions of the soil organisms that make them possible, all the way, up.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

End O' Year Fundraising 2013

This past year, 2012, our budget constraints were greater than ever before. The few tools that we sought funding for last Spring have had to be forgone for another growing season. Just a few hundred dollars would allow us to procure these items. Our work continues in spite of these constraints. We planted more seeds than ever and a few large trees were moved to their final destinations with the help of several great volunteers. Major changes have come to pass on our properties that both reduced the time we were able to spend seeking out new planting sites, but the streamlining and re-organization of the land we do have available for our use will allow us to grow more seedlings right here, saving us money, time and allowing us to get efficiencies of scale in our seedling production once again. Doing more with less seems to be our watchword the last few years, but this only means that we will be that much more efficient with the donations we receive in the future.

We have a veritable maple grove coming up that will need to be dug and potted in the Spring, but other than that we are down to a couple dozen potted trees for early spring planting. A long-term donor has found a home for them, but we were much too busy this fall to get them in the ground.

We have created a development plan that includes both a large scale reforestation effort in highlands near Lake Superior and a resort along the shore. Funds we raise now will help us continue to plant trees and leverage our good works into more exciting ventures in the future. The program for our school of sustainability is under development as well and when we open the facility it will be a living laboratory and example of how to operate sustainably. Our learning by doing model has served us well and a co-operative school that exists within a sustainable system is the best way to teach the elements and principles of deep ecology, green renewal and train the next generations of water bearers.

Several great friends and supporters of ECO-Tours have passed the veil this year and we are both missing them and memorializing their lives by recommitting to our mission. Some of the most important changes that we have seen locally have come out of expressions of their love, honor and respect for the future generations that will follow us. The trees we plant today have the power to outlive us and the relationships we forge with those who help accomplish our mission will, in turn, nurture other relationships that have the power to transform not only the landscape, but the lives of others, for generations. Although they may not walk the fields with us any more, their hearts and spirits are alive in the trees they planted, the memories they left us and the direction that their loving hands pointed us toward.

We ask those who have heard about our tree planting efforts to get on board, helping to fund it. If travel to Northeast Wisconsin is out of the question, contribute what you can to help us in our work. Donations are never squandered. Over 90 % of every dollar we receive is spent on trees, tree seedlings or tools needed to get them safely in the ground and through their first few years. Fields, forests and glens have been transformed through our efforts as well as the lives of those who have come on our plant-ins. One of the most hopeful acts we can participate in is the planting of a tree and in these times of rampant dislocation, instability and seemingly pathological destruction of nature, touching the Earth in this special way has amazing healing powers for not only the landscape, folks planting trees, our donors and the trees themselves, but for whole communities that depend on the structure, shade, water holding capacity and climate stabilization that trees provide.

If you would like to book an  ECO-Tour, or donate, please contact us. We accept checks at our home office as well if you are interested in sending money through snail mail. Post it to: ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. 1445 Porlier street Green Bay, Wisconsin. You can also donate through Paypal by clicking the link at the top left of our header.

To get an idea of how far your donations go, the average cost of planting a tree and getting it safely through the first three years is over ten dollars. Creating a copse of transforming a small glen could cost several hundred dollars and to recreate a full acre (.4ha) (about 150 by 300 feet) (46X92m) costs about three thousand dollars. Similarly, a single shovel might cost 10-20 dollars, but a subsoiler might cost from 200-300 dollars. Removing invasive species as a first step toward replanting native trees could cost thousands. For donors with deeper pockets, our dream facility is coming in at about six million dollars and if you are interested in funding at that level, we would like to send an executive summary of our business plan.

Blessed Be! In the coming year, may you find all the joys to which you are entitled and may the remainder of this one be good to you as well. Thank-you in advance for your support! Tony C. Saladino-Director

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gritty Gal From Wisconsin

A fellow blogger from Wisconsin writes about her trips to the arctic.I found quite a lot to like about this young lady's writing. Thinking through the experiences of another often sparks growth in our selves and the succinct dispatches from near the top of the planet have helped me to see my own place in the abundant temperate zone a little more clearly. I give thanks daily for my many blessings, but these posts just add a more profound appreciation for my nearby garden, the variety of foods that I can grow outside my back door and the nearness of loved ones that I can share the abundance with.

As winter is clamping down on the Great Lakes Region, our friends further north have been experiencing this for many weeks or moons already. Getting back to the land means many different things to many different people, but in the end, it is something we all must do if we are to become agents of change for peace and goodwill around the planet. I share many of my beliefs and attitudes here as an emissary for wildlife, for the water and for the trees, but my friend Aiden Campbell speaks on her own terms about her growing awareness of life in the remote and wild place that is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Blessings to her and may her path be beset with wondrous beauty, meaningful lessons and deep insight.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Diversity

There has been an interesting proliferation of the use of this word, especially in HR ("Human Resources") circles. The very nature of their use characteristic threatens to remove the soul from the word, but in truth, diversity is of primary importance to the understanding of our environment and how we might make peace with it rather than waging war against it. It is slowly becoming part of our collective consciousness, for example, that 85% of all bacteria are either completely innocuous to humans, or in fact beneficial. The billions of organisms who exist on the microscopic level in our air, on our food and on our very skin are part of an intact system we refer to as the environment. Even though most of us will never see them, they are as real and as integrated into our world as we are. The war that many fight routinely against them has had unintended consequences. In their attempt to eliminate all of these microbes, most of the beneficial and innocuous organisms in the kill zone have been attacked and eliminated as well.

This is tantamount to killing off the population of an entire country in a desperate attempt to eliminate a single family on each block.

Treating all "dirt" or any potential source of "contamination" as if it had the power to sicken us or kill us is leading to more and more resistant strains of bacteria. Keep in mind, the evolution that takes place in our species once per generation (about twenty years) is going on in bacteria in time spans so short as to boggle our limited minds. Perhaps as little as a few days. Tens of thousands of generations come and go in a relative blink of a human eye. In fact, there is a specialized bacteria that can only exist at the boundary between aluminum and jet fuel. This specific organism did not exist on planet Earth before the advent of air travel. Now, it has found a home in virtually every tank of aviation fuel on the planet.

The concept of diversity recognizes that we are interdependent on a very broad base of ecological fabric. Rather than strands in a vast tapestry, perhaps we humans are but a single fiber within a strand. When we are faced with only one of anything, the food web, or food pyramid gets turned upside down. I heard of folks who ate only grayling for an entire summer. It was the only fish that lived in the river that flowed past their encampment. They had no other food to eat and within just a few moons, they became depraved, seeking any other food as aggressively as a wild predator peruses a mouse, when big game has been eradicated. I love to eat pomegranate, but if that is all I had to consume I would tire of it quickly. Similarly, we must look to diversity as a cure for our desolation of spirit.

The biomass of bacteria, even though we humans are massive organisms, is many billions of times as great as that of our species. These organisms re the base of the food pyramid. They grow into colonies, fly on the wind, get carried by water and take up residence wherever the conditions are favorable. They help to break down waste, live in our bodies and upon them, assist in helping us to wrest nutrition from our food and yes, a few of them can kill. The diversity that helps to keep soils moist, allows tree roots to get their nutrient needs filled and provides for the higher levels of organisms to find their way in the world all rely on this world that lies hidden from our eyes. That certainly cannot mean that they are any less important.

As a first step, we need to understand the importance of this rich and diverse form of life. As we need to attempt to cultivate an appreciation of all other organisms. Once we do that, we can begin to honor and respect other creatures as belonging to other important parts within the tapestry of life surrounding us. Instead of a buzz word of exploitative forces, diversity is a reality that we must make a new kind of peace with, one that honors and respects all beings, form the microscopic up through the food web to top level predators. Just because there are bacteria that can feed on oil certainly is no reason to flood our wetlands or backyards with oil, nor is it a reason to hold out hope that after the destructive process of fracking, or wresting the last few drops from oil sands that the land will heal itself. The destructive forces that we continually unleash upon our fellow creatures need to be seen as the war against diversity that they truly are. Healing only begins when the fundamental right to exist is honored and respected. The more we learn about others, the more we will ultimately come to understand ourselves.

when we embark on an ECO-Tour, we always start with a spiritual opening and at the close we respectfully close the door to this magical time, so that we can begin again along our own path, respecting the brief opening of a window into greater realms than we may ever be able to fathom. Our ECO-Tours always touch the planet in a way that will live on after our organism has gone back to the Earth. Honoring the diversity of life that we have the power to feed is an essential quality of our tours. Great power resides in making this an integral part of all of our lives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flourishing

Ah, what a wonderful, oft overlooked quality and yet one that holds so much [promise for the future of humankind. So many conditions can hem in this state of natural abundance, we forget that it is achievable, sustainable and that exponential growth and abundance are actually a rule in natural systems, rather than an exception. Imagine, if you will, a forest. To make it a bit easier to fathom, try imagining a single acre (.6ha). In my part of the world, the temperate region, a common estimate for trees per acre is between three hundred and three hundred and fifty mature trees in a climax forest. To the average casual observer, it would appear to be in a relatively steady state. However, if each tree is growing a ring of new tissue each year, the number of board feet of wood in that acre would be increasing perhaps only by what seems like a small percentage, but multiplied by several hundred trees, it is quite a large amount.
Healthy ecosystems always have a certain rate of death and destruction as well, but in each and every case, the death of one organism provides habitat for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of other organisms. There is no trash in the woods, unless humans put it there. Each bit of living tissue becomes food or shelter for other living creatures upon death, sometimes in epiphytic relationships, the habitat that is provided by living organisms is mutually beneficial, or at least the death of the host organism is not necessary. There are thousands of mutually beneficial associations in nature and both creatures can flourish in the presence of one another. Forests are again a ready example of how this can work. billions of spores waft on the wind, in search of just the right moisture, temperature and conditions to make their life process possible. A single spore can ultimately become a non-plant, non-animal organism that stretches miles, if given optimal conditions. Fungi produce food for creatures, are primary decomposers and are often completely forgotten by casual observers because they spend the majority of their life cycle hidden amongst leaf litter and forest soils. the actual fruiting body is just a temporary phenomenon, peculiar in that it only lasts for time periods on the order of days, whilst the mycelium that the fruiting body (the part we see) grows from can live hundreds of years.
I know that many of us are anthropocentric, so finding ways to help our children flourish, as well as ourselves is perhaps slightly more important to most people than helping the creatures who also live in our environment to do well. One of my recent lessons came from an educational researcher who reminded me of the need to switch up a bit in child rearing. for decades, people have taught their children that they are smart, often repeating that mantra tens of thousands of times over the child's lifetime. This can actually handicap the child later in life because when they run up against challenges that do not fit into their skill set, they wonder why, if they are so smart, they are haviung a hard time solving the problem. Instead, we should take the time to use phrases like, "I like the way you approached the problem in a creative way." or "I think it was good to ask for help before you got frustrated.", phrases that instill a sense of curiosity in the face of adversity, adaptability over mastery. I used to tell my children frequently that they had good ideas, but that often the best ideas come from just taking a break, doing something different and coming back later so that they would have a fresh eyes to view the problem at hand.
Part of flourishing is to adapt, change and grow into new situations and that is something that natural systems excel at. Some things that we can all do to enhance the ability of one another to flourish is to stop consuming rampantly, step back from all that is sold to us, on every level. The only thing that flourishes under the current power and control structures are the wealth of the ruling class. We can see this at work in virtually every aspect of our "modern" life. NASCAR for instance encourages us to put the pedal to the metal when what is needed is a featherweight foot on the accelerator. millions are spent telling our daughters that they are overweight and unattractive when what they desperately need is self confidence. Politicians tell us that there is a one size fits all educational scheme that can be imposed on our children when individualized instruction has been proven to be superior on every level, save cost. There are even those (and you know who they are in your area) telling the fiction that government needs to be run like a business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Flourishing requires access to healthy food, water and shelter. Beyond these things, our species, as well as many others, require love and affection, the understanding and meaningful communication of other beings.
I have often said that I speak for the trees, but they are dependent on pure, clean water so I find myself speaking for the water as well. As we adapt and change in ways that help us in a single area, we find proficiencies in other areas as well, as long as we continue to pay attention and integrate new knowledge. Human beings are meaning making machines and we can do nothing else. If we accept what we are told, it will lead to the demise of not only our own selves, but the entire species. Well-funded interests are fighting to stay in charge, wrest the last of everything out of the Earth to make a profit for themselves. nothing will flourish under these conditions but the proliferation of lies that they will concoct to keep us out of their hair while the dirty work is done.
The Earth is in the balance and if we are to flourish as a species we must make peace with the natural systems upon which we depend.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thirty Years Hence



I was barely twenty years old when the term "deep ecology" was being coined. Many of us had been on the same page about ecology and human interaction with the natural world, but some, in intellectual circles wanted a codified system of thinking about these issues that would fly in the face of the uberwealthy oligarchs who had run our planet under the wheels of "progress" for far too long. Although the reality that informed our perception exists worldwide, our thoughts about it seemed like isolated calls for change. What many felt would be needed is an over-arching platform on which to build social and political movements for change. The horrific dislocation of populations, the extinction of species and squandering of shared resources such as the food web, the air, fresh water, oceans and the soil  led many ecologists and environmentalists to seek a concise and precise way of elucidating basic principles for positive change. Out of this desire came, 
The Deep Ecology Platform.

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)

The intervening years have seen more demonization, more vehement rhetoric, more finger pointing and more obfuscation of these ideas than we could have ever expected at the time. The monied interests found it easy to find examples of overzealous tree-huggers, eco-terrorists and anarchists who they used to paint the entire movement with. Dangerous as we were perceived to be for their bottom line, many of the ideas we brought to the table have yielded even more profit for their coffers. The scary, loose cannon, threatening hippies were few and far between, but the brush they used to paint us with was wide enough to gloss over any good ideas that sounded like they were in league with the "opposition". From the early days, there were those of us who came to the table saying, "We are not against anything!", "I refuse to take an 'anti'-anything status." or "Tell me what you are for." I am, and have always been, protesting for a desired future world that honors the planet Earth, her people, the creatures who attempt to survive here and the harmony that can be struck between the living creatures who reside upon or within the land, air and water as well as the inanimate objects that are often exploited for our (human) purposes. This distinction is often lost or obscured when powerful agents guide the discussion.

I would like to delve into each of these principles more deeply, but the mind-blowing fact is that once integrated into a coherent lifestyle, compartmentalizing becomes more difficult. It may take some time, but in the coming moons I will attempt to do just that, reflect and enhance the meanings that I have found from my association with the deep ecology movement. Millions of tree seeds have been planted with these hands. now, with the technology of keyboard and worldwide web, I will attempt to plant millions more ideas in the hearts and minds of humankind. Keeping in mind that humanity is rarely civil, frequently delusional and malleable, perhaps I can find the right words to resonate within the hearts of humankind. Lord and Lady know the future depends on finding a new way forward.  


Friday, October 25, 2013

Festival of the Dead

Many cultures honor their dead upon the moon of last harvest, the reaper is ever-present, but the influence of death subsumes the whole environment at this time (in the Northern Hemisphere) please pardon my out of step calendar to anyone living below the equator, likewise for readers in the tropics. Near the halfway point between the tropics and the arctic, my experience of days is noticeably shorter now than just a few weeks ago, hours have been lost in both the early hours and the late afternoons in ways that affect the rest of the day profoundly.

In preparing for the coming winter, there have been many more tasks to do in ever-dwindling amounts of time. This evolutionary as well as ecological experiences lead humans to consider our own mortality and that of our progenitors that date back across ages. The current boom in genealogy has reintroduced the family tree to many families that had all but forgotten their ancestry, at least for my family, anything back before great grandmothers and great grand fathers, had become a bit sketchy. Before coming to America. Those parts of our family were nearly reduced to a flag that currently flies over that country. Even the lifestyle and livelihood of great-grandparents was glossed over for the young. I hope that more of us have deeper understanding of our ancestry than that in the future, I think that part of the desperation and isolation that many feel are based on the fact that their continuity of the ages is not part of the awareness of many people. When we begin to honor the eternal calendar, we can do the same processes and participate in the same activities as the vast majority of the Earth's population have done since the beginning of time.

If we are lucky enough to be granted life, how we use that life can honor their efforts by adopting some of the ancient tools and techniques, the ones that worked for them that are still important today as well as discovering some of the ingenious processes that allowed them to give us life, we can work to change many of the things that have not worked so well in the very recent past. Being out of touch with the ancestors, or any of our loved ones that have passed the veil can be scary, but when we learn to take a our place in the chain of ancestry, we can rediscover a sublime power that is absent in many of our lives. The relations in my own family tree go back to India, Western Europe and Scandinavia (as far as I know). Each of these cultural groups have native populations that were subdued by forces unleashed upon them from afar. Their very existence threatened by raiders, missionaries, kings and marauders. Ironically, they all eventually landed in The USA, where the native people experienced the same things at their hands.

When we learn to respect the sacrifices and commitments that were made on out behalf, it can help teach us valuable lessons. Not only can we see through the current haze of what seem to be a million pressing issues into the very roots of our species survival. Gatherings at this time can serve to reconnect us with who we really are by investigating a bit about where we come from and honor the fact that each of us are presented an open page upon which to write our own stories. Many of the pagans I know observe this as the New Year celebration, entering into new commitments for the good of our community, pledging to re-open our hearts to the needs and desires of others and the eternal urge to leave something for those who we will eventually leave behind. With luck, we can also let things pass that refuse to serve, kill off that part of ourselves that is not contributing to our own good and plant seeds of hope under the dark earth.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Difference Between Map And Territory

For centuries military leaders have known the important difference between map and territory. During the ages of far flung exploits, it was said that he who held the best maps would win the war. As each of our ECO-Tours unfolds, we urge our guests to traverse on or many of tens of thousands of "backwater", dead ends, rooms at the back of the hall, or whatever form of "territory" we happen to come upon. Some forget that our own neural network holds billions of synapses, each devoted to, determined by and reveling in either abundance or lack of specific necessities of life within their very specific ecotones, ready and willing, perhaps uniquely able, to support a particular form of life, or not inside our organism. The electrical storm that constitutes our awareness is necessarily limited because our mapping techniques will always misrepresent the reality of the territory. The end game of ecological awareness is not so much to win a war, or exploit the territory in a traditional sense, it is to evolve our species into a more benign presence on the planet, to become facile and adept at providing the "best" life, for the most organisms, at the least cost.

Each place I lived, in one way or another, was at the back of a dead end road, The places that were the center of my world, inhabited by billions of external as well as internal wonders, abundant and lush, were pretty much at the least noticeable places on the map. In fact, even when I lived along major thoroughfares, my "place" blended so seamlessly with the landscape as to become invisible. Those who know me are aware that I like to be noticed, but not in the way many do. If I can help someone to step out of the mundane, get caught perhaps a little off balance, I feel that my work is done. I do not stick up like a trip hazard as some lazy buffoons might, but rather, I like to intellectually rise up out of the ordinary to say something worth considering, twisting a phrase so vigorously as to wring deeper meaning from it. "My way", is to describe territory that may, as yet, have remained unexplored. I explore beyond my own maps and encourage others to do the same.

Plunging into territory, especially the unexplored kind) requires a deep and abiding knowledge that you bring, in your bag of tricks, a creative approach to problem solving. Neighbors have affectionately referred to me as Macgyver, after the guy who jury rigs a girl's doll baby into an IED in one episode. When there is a conundrum they cannot imagine solving, they give me a call ant usually, through a series of levers and fulcrums, we get it done. Exploring physical "reality" is only one sort of region to explore, we are embedded in a matrix of territories so vast that to hold onto or describe only one tricks us into thinking that we are paying attention. No. To pay attention to any one thing, we must ignore all else. We have spiritual, mental and emotional realities that each constitute infinitely vast territory. Millions of us study discreet aspects of one, or a few of these regions, but the maps they are able to bring us are limited by their own unique experiences and vocabulary. Whether we acknowledge it or not, the more fully we define our specific "spot", the further we must push it from all else that exists.

When we wish to share our territory, rather than just maps, we face a very simple, yet unanswerable question, is the "other" seeing what we are seeing, or more importantly, are they experiencing the same experience? In most cases we must avail ourselves with the uncomfortable knowledge that they, in fact, are not. Perhaps it is the relationship that I have had to develop with the autist in me, that leads me to want to keep a hammer, roofing nails and a sign in my car that says FOUND CAT, so that I might post the next flattened mass of fur that I see along my ever changing route. By adding a specific texture to experience, we might hope that others will not necessarily become aware of our existence, but to question their own place and if they truly know where they are coming from. Virtually everyone you ever meet will have mapped out their understandings and relationships with everything from the word fish, to a pitcher, to just about every complex concept with which they have become aware. Only a handful have jumped headlong into the territory to see what else lies behind the mere perception, gone to the furthest back recesses of hidden wonder, examined what could be found, out of reach of even the most detailed maps, to come to realize that none of it can be seen by another.

My sister is one of these explorers. As a pathologist, she peers more deeply into the wonder of cellular structures than all but a handful of people worldwide. What she could describe would fill an encyclopedia, if only with microscopic awarenesses. The territory of fecundity, the infinitely abundant nature of the universe cannot be harnessed by language, but it exists. Through a series of intellectual forays, conundrums, interactions and re-births, I have come to "know" in ways that are hard to define, that the territory must always take precedence over the maps we draw of "her". What we plant, even to the extent of ideas will only grow in a nurturing environment that can provide the resources necessary for that "seed" to bear fruit. This is why we always begin ECO-Tours with a ritual and put them to bed with one as well. Transformation can only occur when we sanctify the territory and look past all of our maps.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

March Against Monsanto? What?

I have had a terrible time amongst my friends who are within a movement, or sub-culture, of the ecologically aware. I don't want to participate in a group called S.T.O.P. (the Stop Toxics Organizing Project) I would rather participate in S.T.A.R.T. (Stop Toxics, Organize Recycling Today!) Even that falls a little flat because one of the terms is still pretty "anti". We have a real problem, that is for sure, but relinquishing our impetus to do good to an oppositional stance that comes with being against anything, is squandering too precious and important a feeling to angst and dissolution. The last thing we need is a war against any other damned thing and that is how virtually every not-for-profit organization, every non- governmental organization (non-GMO) every do-gooder affiliation on the planet takes on the "problems" that they perceive worth of their effort.

Imagine a world where we could say, instead of marching in the streets against something, say what we are for. I'm all about participating in a rally, For a sustainable ecosystem, to empower citizens to know how to eat good food, I would march for miles carrying a banner for respecting Mother Earth, for treating my neighbors with dignity and respect, or for a more humane food system. Launching into a fight against anything strikes me as being counter productive. All wars have the unfortunate effect of making the lives of vast numbers of people extremely miserable. Perhaps we should consider well the collateral damage when we begin to feel justified in our warlike behavior.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Resource Management

As much as I hate the term "human resources", it is well to remember that the folks winning the current class war regard us all as such. Just as the marauding "pioneers" swept over the "new world", they are in search of gold and have found virtually everything on the planet to be available to them. In days of old, wealth was measured in tillable acres, or numbers of ships, the number of slaves at ones disposal or the most able to give, as evidenced by the potlach ceremony of many tribal cultures. Perhaps nothing has changed but the scale.
I was raised understanding that managing resources was a matter of course. In our household of three, the resources available to us was limited. With $82.50 each month coming in from "child support", my value as well as that of my sister were set, by the court. $41.25 each, to be exact. In 1968 dollars, it may have been a fair amount, but I remember rent being one hundred and usually the phone bill was another hundred, so the way I looked at it, the house we lived in and the communications device hanging on the wall were both "valued" twice as much as I was. Trying to assign value to resources when your life is worth less than a telephone can be tough, but for me it was enlightening.
It is our use characteristic that determines true worth and value, not anything intrinsic in what we use. For example, If I had a years supply of gasoline, stored in my garage, I might not think twice about driving more, because I would be insulated from the price shock of having to buy more, at least for a while. This is similar to the way that industrialists discount the value of clean air and water when they choose to pollute. If they can be assured that someone else will pay, they can dump whatever they want wherever they want. If they were to be threatened by the stench or effluent, they can afford to move further away, where it is still nice. Many who live on the lower end of the income spectrum know the real truth behind the concept of robbing Peter to pay Paul, because we live with a complex of competing needs and have little wealth (resources) to throw at them. In this respect, my poverty stricken youth taught me very well how to conserve resources.
To this day, I feel wealthy when I have a new shirt or a new pair of shoes, even if they come from the second-hand shop. I know the difference between an investment and frivolity.
My work through ECO-Tours has cost but several thousand dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of labor have also flowed through our organization, but each one of them was given freely by people who wished to make the world around them a little better. There are those who seek to put a price on carbon sequestration, flood control, climate stabilization or aesthetic values. Those who donate both cash and hours to our cause care little about the "value" of these things in dollars, they only know that the world is better off when we contribute to it, rather than stripping the landscape and Mother Earth of her trees, or turn babbling brooks to ditches.
The time has come to ask "What can I do to sustain life into the future?" Managing our own resources as if the Earth and her people mattered. We have certainly lost the class war, do we really need to be reminded of where the oligarchs are headed? Following their schemes has only one result, more pollution, poverty, pain, dislocation and sickness. When we realize that their game will forever leave us with less, we can finally get down to the business of taking back what rightfully belongs to us. Perhaps first and foremost of the resources they like to capitalize upon is our time. Spending that single resource carefully has the power to transform society, the economy, the planet itself and to make the future liveable.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Art and Science of Change

Changing the course of history sounds difficult and a bit scary. Not only does it sound like a mamouth task, but with the level of powerlessness that many of us live with day in and day out, it can sound naive and if we ponder it, even for a moment, it seems like far too much work. Many of us seem to be on the same page about a range of issues. From the science of global climate change and ways to mitigate the process, to the hazards of nuclear power generation; from the woefully expensive costs of insurance/lawyer driven health care and the dangers of profiteering from the sickness and pain of others to the failures of our educational system and the long term impact this will have on our children and theirs, for generations, many "issues" need immediate attention. In the current climate of budget cutting and corporate welfare, nonsense is pedaled like a designer drug and ignorance is often held up as the golden fleece of righteousness. It is my opinion that all of these are really one issue and that taking care of our fellow beings on planet Earth is really about one and only one issue. Love. Now, before you let your ire grow or your ridicule flow, don't get me wrong. Don't lump me in with the cadre of folks who you have discounted for generations. It is my firm belief that the hippies were really on to something. Not the tie-dyed hordes who were all about The "freedom", the quick bucks, uncommitted sex or the drug induced reverie, but those who educated themselves about the hows and whys of the military industrial complex, those who stood for ultimate freedom based on a firm foundation of responsibility and the ones who ushered the unwise or unwitting through the portals needed to see the light in spite of the very dark times that engulfed our nation, indeed the world.

We need those shamen and sha-women again, to take a firm hold of our youth and grasp the fact that many coming up today are handicapped in many overt and subtle ways. Many young people are coming out of an age in which they were pretty much left alone to "develop" until adulthood and were only expected to become line workers in the machinery dictated by the uber-wealthy. The conspiracy theorists have pushed through the veil of reason on so many confounding issues, that do not deserve a moment of attention, that often, even experienced elders have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction. young people today need a clear-eyed respect for reality that exists beyond the LED screen. I will not begin to enumerate the conspiracy theories here, but frankly, whatever your favorite conspiracy theory is, ask "Who benefits?" Chances are, it is always the same group. Those who desire our population to be ruled by fear and hate have spent decades researching what motivates us and how to tailor our fear to keep us from rebellion.

Not unlike the un-televised revolution of forty years ago, today, very little is making it past the censors. The tiny hints that we get about teach-ins, sit-ins, #occupy events, protests and the uprisings within native populations worldwide are contaminated with vile prejudice and pejorative points of view because the media outlets are owned by the very people who oppress and abuse our current system for financial gain and political power. Rest assured there are ways of hearing the truth, but most of the folks doing the real work of protesting the way we treat one another and the planet are too busy fighting what used to be called the good fight, to continuously update the rest of us through their social media accounts and other regular posts. The difficulty of changing the world is that not one of us has the power to do it all, but a billion tiny steps in the right direction can surely make all the difference in the world. Each of us only has to do one tiny thing, but multiplied by billions it can have a dramatic effect.

My own work has often been either ignored completely by the media or twisted in such a way as to make me out to be something I am definitely not. Even my many letters to the editor are often rife with misspellings and grammatical errors that skew the reader to a perspective that is completely unwarranted. It may be hard to understand how, or why a person could or would want to plant millions of tree seeds, tens of thousands of seedlings or hundreds of larger ones, but that is what we have done through a local group of committed friends who care, about everyone. The not-for-profit group that a group of us in Green Bay, Wisconsin started, ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. was denied Federal NPO status because we had no paid staff, no major donors and virtually nothing of value to "shelter" from taxation. Funny, but sad, how wanting to make a difference badly enough puts you at odds with the govie. Because our funds are limited and our work is important, one would think that finding donors would be easy, but when no one has heard of your group and all of your effort is spent planting trees in denuded areas, usually far from the public eye, there are few who notice. I do not mention this to advertise. I do not mention it to command respect. It is just the way that I found that the media ignores as much good news as possible in favor of scaring and instilling fear, hate and frustration amidst the populace. Additionally, if they do need a cute "human-interest" filler, there are plenty of folks doing frivolous things that keep the citizenry from confronting head on the process of enriching the well-to-do at the expense of the rest of us. I pay over twelve hundred dollars each year for flood insurance and about the same amount on trees to plant in the headwaters above my home. These two costs alone are over 10% of my annual income, but if it benefits a single organism, I feel that it is worth it. I love lying in the shade of trees that I planted just a few years ago, watching birds perch upon the branches of trees that we planted moments earlier and knowing that long after I am dead, the love with which I planted those trees will be alive somewhere on the face of the Earth.

With regard to the rape of mother earth, the exploitation of her people for the profit of a select few and the complicity of our governing bodies, we can expect more of the same as long as we all keep struggling to make ends meet. Working at jobs that we hate, filling in time for the corporate elites and waiting for crumbs to fall from their opulently appointed tables just keeps spinning the same web of lies, deceit and abuse. Breaking the chain of events that our forefathers established for us will require some serious work on all of our parts. First, we will need to break the shackles of fear and hate, the best way to do this is to kill your television. Recognize that whatever you are told through that device is fiction, especially when the purveyors swear that it is "true", "fair", or a "balanced perspective". Secondly, we need to reach out to our neighbors, find out what they need and want. Let them know what gets your juices flowing or what struggles you are dealing with daily. Talking over the back fence with my neighbor has led him to start a garden and from time to time we share produce that the other has not put in that particular year. We often share tools anbd techniques that make both of our gardens more productive. All of us need to recognize that we are at least as important as those who profit from our poisoning, our pain and our suffering. We also need to train ourselves and help educate one another in how to secure the things that we truly need at a more reasonable cost, to the environment, to our lifestyles and to put a more reasonable price on our labors. All of our activities need to consider three important and equal facts. We must act as if the planet, her people and our profit matter. Defining those relationships may take a lifetime, but the rewards for our species are incalculable. Enriching all three is the primary goal of permaculture, the art and science of living lightly on the Earth, sometimes called sustainability.

Many people over the years questioned why I, and the group of "do-gooders" that do the work at our plant-ins, wanted to plant trees for them at no cost. "Because it is the right thing to do." didn't seem to make sense to them. "We all live downstream." seemed to be too abstract, although it was true. "We like planting trees." just didn't say what we meant fully or deeply enough. Now that we have seen some of the rampaging floods, the mass inundation of whole communities and the smashing of shorelines in epic proportion, record setting dust storms and the worst fire season on record, some of those people are learning to ask a different question. "Why didn't we ask you to plant more trees?" I don't care what your thing is, but the time has come to pursue it. Justifying inaction by telling people "I'm just too tired after a full day of work" is the best way to assure that the corporate elite will continue to play us for fools. Telling the corporate welfare recipients that we will no longer be played like a fiddle begins by setting our own limits, acting according to our inner truth and taking back control of our own lives. This summer, we (my wife Nancy and I) produced hundreds of pounds of food for a few dollars worth of seeds and have been able to share our harvest with dozens of family, neighbors, friends and acquaintances. Healthy organic food is not only our right, but our duty. When the abundance of nature is supported, encouraged and respected, one quickly finds that equitable distribution of the abundance is a far greater problem than words can say. Supplant your feelings of never having enough, or being afraid that someone will try to steal whatever you have by giving it all away, then you open up chanels that allow more to come to you than you might possibly imagine. Love, in action looks quite different and the more you practice, the more finely tuned your perceptual apparatus will become. If, after trying to do things differently, you do not feel better, look better, and think more clearly about the issues that we all confront daily, you can always go back to chasing money at the exclusion of all else, but I am sure that once you start to taste the freedom that comes from taking responsibility, you may never wish to go back.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Self-destruction and the Biosphere

Many times, we find that there are those who love themselves less than others love them. When people are comfortable in a healthy and relatively happy place, they often try to reach out to others, accommodating them, helping to enrich their lives and easing the pain that seems to be inevitable in the process of living. Those who have a relationship with pure abundance often exude a level of compassion that the self-destructive cannot fathom. Such is the way of the world, is seems, and no matter what we might wish to do to solve difficulties created by those with unhealthy relationships with themselves, with others and with society, there seems to be little we can do for them if they do not realize that they need help.

In the news this week, we heard of a person or persons who lopped off over six thousand cherry trees recently planted in a local orchard. anyone who has used a lopper knows that although the tool is relatively silent and unobtrusive, cutting your way through thousands of broomstick sized tree trunks is no easy task. Cultivating enough hatred to sustain such a destructive act must require a substantial amount of self-loathing.

What many do not understand is that the way we treat one another is often a direct result of how we are treating the planet. The rapist mentality that allows us to take whatever we want, no matter the cost easily translates to abusing the planet, but her creatures and people. As long as we buy into the concept of abuse being acceptable, any action can be defended. Here at our office, we have planted over a dozen trees. If one were to include the property across the street that is a living Permaculture demonstration facility, perhaps a dozen or more trees have been planted to demonstrate long-term management goals as well as our commitment to sustainability. Several of these trees have been attacked over the years. It is completely senseless and wasteful, but those who perpetrate violence against, of all things, trees are exhibiting a certain kind of loathing, one that makes no sense and leaves everyone a little worse off.

Unlike the psychopath(s), who destroyed thousands of trees that would eventually bear fruit, the trees that came under attack on our property were simply meant to provide shelter, food and nesting areas for our native neighbors. In addition, they screened our yard from passing pedestrians, kept the noise down a bit and allowed us to define the "edge" of our facility. The latest tree to come under attack was a serviceberry. It is no more or less important than any of the other trees that we have planted over the years, but this one in a million was put in just such a place as to screen the view of our back porch, creating a fragrant perfume in the spring as well as providing highly nutrient dense berries in the fall. After ten years, it was coming into it's own and was a wonderfully shaped specimen capable of providing fruits and viable seed for decades. Now, it is only good for kindling wood.

Perhaps we cannot stop the hurt from happening, but if we are to change our almost certain course toward self-destruction, what we need to do is find out why so many are bent on bringing their anger to bear on innocent life. When we hear of millions of acres being lost to climate change, perhaps a single tree seems not to matter, but I am here to tell you that each of us and every tree have the power to make a difference, not just in one life but in the entire biosphere. Before we utilize the hatchet, fire or the loppers, perhaps we should ask our selves, "Are we just trying to mask our own pain?" Taking our self-loathing out on others is never a good idea and just because the trees cannot scream out in a language that most of us understand, should not mean that we are deaf to their plight. Nor should we turn our backs on those who are hurting around us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Do We Create Our Desired Future?

The short answer is by living it today. The real and complex tasks associated with that short answer deserve a bit of elaboration, exploration, refinement and concerted effort to achieve. I do not know what part of your journey each of my readers are on, but by setting some realistic ground rules and accepting certain things to be self-evident, I would hope that we could develop a level of affinity and relationship that the basic boring bullshit can be dispensed with forthwith. First, we must all recognize that in the natural world, the insects have a great deal to teach us. The butterfly never regrets having gone through the chrysalis form, the frog never longs to be a tadpole. Even the giant oak tree wastes no time pining for the days when it was just a whip. I am sure that some of my readers have noticed that I do speak about the past quite a bit, but it is not to waste time, wish to rewrite the past, or to give voice to regrets and pain that cripples me, or us today, but rather, to bring into perspective some of the conditions that exist today, how they came about and give some light to the question of what we can do about it, both collectively and as individuals.

The first ECO-Tour we need to take then is into our own psyche, our own sense of self and the metrics that we use to define who we are. I understands that we do not have an accurately calibrated device to prove that we have a soul, or that we are more than a collection of atoms and compounds that constitute our living tissue, but anyone who has taken life knows that there is a being that comes and goes from the flesh as surely as we are living, the soul is alive within us as well. The tragedy is that we forget that the things about our souls that matter most do not have words to describe them. Misuse of language, or assuming that whatever tongue we speakt has words to deal with matters of the spirit can be as dangerous to our development of a relationship with our soul as trying to go fishing but using a boot as our bait. We each have a soul family, a group of relations that will guide and nourish that part of us that cannot be seen. Not because it does not exist, but because we will forever be unable to create a device or measuring stick to gauge it against. The agape love, that we feel for our brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers, as well as our grands and great grands, within the soul family is almost always recognized in an instant whether we like it or not, whether we have heard of soul family or not, whether they are with us for only minutes of our lifetimes or are there for the whole of them. how we get on with these timeless relations is up to us, not the result of chance, luck or karma.

Taking the tour of our own psychic state of affairs can be scary, yes, but the rewards, as I have written before, are immeasurable. Again, realize that the stages that we go through as humans are not unlike the stages of a bee, wasp or cicada, we just don't change physically as much as a larva or grub that sprouts wings and flies off. That is not to say that we cannot change greatly, or live through other forms, but the sense we have of our "selves" is indeed limited by our perceptions as much as our physical form. Lest you are still tempted to live the life dictated by the child, or adolescent within you, let me say straight away that we are each expressions of infinite love of creator for all of creation. If you refuse to acknowledge that or do not want to let the reality of that in, it is your choice, but the rest of the tour will seem awkward without first taking the step intro ultimate responsibility ans ultimate freedom that comes with this understanding.

Some sculptors refer to the fact that the piece of art is within the stone, or wood even before they begin to carve. Their job is to take away only what does not represent the art. Others, who work through additive process allow the empty spaces between pieces and parts to speak to them, informing the creator as to where they "want" to be. These processes may seem at first to be at odds with one another, but in reality they are one. The desired future state exists before any work is done, therefore it existed all along, with or without the acts that bring them into view for others. In essence, I am trying to make the point that we already have the desired future within us, we just have not yet done the work to let the art out of the stone, or let the materials speak to us deeply enough to know how to organize the parts and pieces yet.

We are not who we think we are. Our sensual apparatus is incapable of perceiving the true nature of what and who we are. In fact, if we let our eyes, ears, noses, mouths and skin define us, we will always miss the most important point. We are far more than any of these senses, nor even the combination of all of them can help us to understand. we must first get in touch with our spirit so that it can begin to lead us forward. Inform us about the true reality in which we make our way and allow us to make at first tentative steps and eventually to run, open armed into the future. Like learning to make sweet love to another, we may start out a little clumsy or ill-informed, that is only natural. Getting hung up on process, however, is not. Same here, in the creation of a new world, a new perspective and a new way of valuing our efforts to create a more sound and sustainable approach to life.

Our home is turned upside down right now. It seems topsy-turvey and things are out of place because the harvest is coming in and we are using many tools and techniques that, by November will be put away and forgotten for another year. The tomatoes and sunflowers, the apples and grapes are all calling in their own way to be brought in, prepared, dried, stored or frozen lest they go to "waste" in the yard. This is the nature of living by the seasons. I, personally, would not have it any other way. Once I visited a friend during acorn season and he had built little bumpers around every flat surface of his house, even using box tops and old cardboard to make a trail of bare floor for walking around his apartment, so that every flat surface could be covered with a single layer of acorns while he let them dry for winter use. The house smelled so beautiful that after getting the smell in my nose, I wanted fall to come again and again. I still have not put that level of energy into my own acorn collecting, but I have to sat that one day, I will take the time and put in the effort to do it myself. with all of the acorns I have planted over the years, I'm sure that the trees I planted would be willing to share them.

Oddly enough, although I have said this in future tense, I am going to stop writing now, so I can go collect some acorns.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nearly One Thousand Views

This month we should break through our first thousand views. This means that we will have finally had more online guests than people on the ground planting trees. The "seeds" of ideas that we pass along have the power to grow, just as surely as the tree seeds and seedlings that we continue to plant. Instead of sequestering carbon and offsetting the fluctuations of our changing climate, the ideas we plant have at least as much power to change the future as the trees do.

As much as we all hate to be hustled, or hounded for cash, ECO-Tours is not unlike any other organization. What we can do is constrained only by the amount of time we are able to spend doing it and the cash flow to buy more trees, take more days off from our regular work to do the all important job of planting trees, training our guests to live a higher quality of life for less money and resource use. We assist in creating the future leaders of our world with insight and sensitivity toward the natural world and the ecological relationships between the Earth and her people.

If you think I am anthropomorphizing, you have not taken enough tours with us. The planet really is alive and human beings seem to be the only species that can dissociate from the planet. What we enjoy most about providing ECO-Tours and our unique guide service, is the one-on-one interaction between forces of nature and our ability to nurture a more harmonious way forward. Instead of focusing on the gloom and doom, we hold out very real solutions to issues that confront the world, and her people today, in real time. We share real tips for reigning in our energy use, not as an end in itself but as a stepping stone or helping stone to get us one step closer to renewable energy sources. When we learn about, or begin to feel the ebb and flow of the seasons, live closer to our foodshed and integrate natural processes into our lives, many collateral issues take care of themselves.

When we post something that helps you, inspires you or entices you to think a little more carefully about things you had previously considered foregone conclusions, please, open up your heart and wallet to the idea of giving what you can to keep our organization growing. It has been a few years since we have had a major donor, but that has not stopped the tree planting, the ECO-Tours or the educational components of our work. We have just had to get more lean, put our backs into the work a little harder and explore ways to have even greater impact with the smaller contributions that keep coming in. Your help, even if it is only what you can make in an hour or two will help us to continue reclaiming areas that have been denuded and which are necessary to control floods, generate oxygen, fix carbon and ameliorate climate change. Stay tuned to this site and continue to use the ideas that we share, but please give back in the way that you can.

If you cannot afford to donate financially, consider sharing our site with those you think might be interested. The next thousand views will take far less time to occur. Since we started to write this blog in January last year (2012), we have built a following of concerned and committed individuals and your ideas and responses are always welcome, but to thrive in any environment it takes a bit of creative energy and consistent work to make a go of it. We have passed the two million tree seed goal and are hoping that 2014 will be the first time ever that we will plant over four million tree seeds in a single year! Additionally, we are working on a plan to create a wild area/labyrinth in the City of Green Bay that will at once be a refuge and meditative space for connecting to nature 66,000 square feet (6131.6 square meters) on a site that was sacred to the ancestors. Donations to that fund should be earmarked for sacred space.

All other donations go to purchase tree seedlings or soil to plant them in.
Send money via snail mail to ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. 1445 Porlier street Green Bay, WI 54301 USA or use our link to Paypal an the account number tnsaladino42@hotrmail.com.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Talk vs. Action

I used to wonder why so many people treated one another with contempt. As I have written before, when I was young I imagined that when I became old enough to vote, people would finally take me seriously, or at least listen to what I had to say. Later, when I realized that this was not going to happen, I thought, maybe when I go to college, have children, own property, turn forty. Each time I upped the ante I was disappointed. What I failed to understand is that ideas hold virtually no water amongst those who have got us by the balls. Change does not serve their interests, so whatever good ideas come along are simply quashed through painting the do-gooders with the broad strokes of "Communists", Socialists", "Queer" or whatever the fashionable term for those we do not want to listen to is at the moment. Failing that, the buy out, stealing of patents and/or police or military "crack-down" can be used to shut down any opposition to business as usual.

There have been sentient beings for centuries that could see through the sham perpetrated by our leaders. There have been teachers, artists, scholars and philosophers that have had great ideas and valid ideas about how to improve the lives of the most people at relatively low cost and over long periods of time. It is not a true reckoning of the value of these ideas that has led us to turn our heads away or to demean the idea generators, call them idealistic or dismiss the solutions as impractical or unworkable. Talk is cheap. The powerful elites can tolerate us talking about what needs to be done. Talk never changed a flat tire, nor has it ever collected fire wood, created anything useful, nor has it carried any weight with those who decide what is good by how much they can make off the backs of the rest of us.

This sort of talk sounds radical until you start to look critically at history, economics and social conditions worldwide over the span of time. Talk is cheap and because of this, the ideas behind the talk are considered even cheaper. This is why there is more impact when a Hippie places a flower in the muzzle of a gun than there is when the same Hippie holds a sign that reads CORPORATE WELFARE IS CLASS WARFARE. It matters little how well an idea is expressed. It matters not at all that it may be the best course of action. Even the most important ideas of our time can be smashed to smithereens by a few well chosen words from our overseers, or a single lash of their whip. We have all seen the course of good ideas, many have just not paid very much attention. The radical part of my statements is that they hint at actions that have been taking place for at least one lifetime, my own. I am sure that millions of others are motivated by the same good ideas that I have had, the same love for humanity, the same selfless concern that we leave the planet a little better than we have found it. Action speaks far louder than words and since childhood I have been an activist.

The pace of change has seemed infernally slow, things we protested for and against are still haunting us if we wanted them to stop and still elusive if we wanted to create them. We were able to stop the war in Indo-china, but war continues. We were able to secure better education for millions, but that has been under assault ever since. We called for the clean-up of the environment, but more people die each year from environmental catastrophes, some which date back to before the first Earth Day. The idea generators are necessary and the teach-in can be a great way of getting large numbers of people on the same page, or the right track so to speak, but if we do not move forward, we will still be steamrolled by the social and political inertia which is dead set on keeping things exactly the same as they are now.

I have planted many thousands of trees, enough to reforest a couple dozen acres (9ha), but the multiplication of my own efforts through direct action has caused millions of trees to be planted and these rapidly growing forests are reclaiming larger acreage than I could ever hope to plant alone. Many of us learn by doing, not just talking about things. When we act, we create muscle memory, we experience a dance of doing, not just an electrical storm in our heads by thinking. Our ECO-Tours are designed to talk a little and act a lot. When we started planting trees thirty years ago, we would shape balls of clay into delivery packets for tree seeds and either drop them in denuded areas or shoot them in with sling shots. Remarkably, the hours we put in to make this happen was always a time to laugh, talk and enjoy one another in a relaxed environment. Sometimes hours of effort would get distributed across the landscape in just a few minutes, but it was good to know that we were accomplishing things in spite of the constant din of the media telling us gloom and doom stories about how bad things were getting. Even when you take action, there will be detractors and naysayers who seek to negate you or try to steal the wind from your sails, but just knowing that you are part of a solution to our environmental crisis can overcome any and all assaults.

The rich and powerful may question our sanity. They may fear our ideas and they may strive to vanquish any power that our words may hold, but they cannot change our deeds. Take action today and tomorrow will never be the same. Just make sure that your actions reflect the deepest beliefs, the most sacred commitments and the deepest feelings that you wish to express. If we do not take a stand for what is important in our lives, no one will do it for us.