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.

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