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

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.

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