Posts Tagged ‘YES! magazine’
Every week I will post a short biography on one woman who has made considerable contributions to the environment. This week features Michelle Long from Bellingham, Washington:
Michelle Long hails from Beillingham, Washington, a town that leads the way for America in green power. Long played an integral role in the town’s transformation as co-founder of the non-profit company Sustainable Connections. Now she wants to spread the word and use what she’s learned to transform North America also. Yes Magazine interviewed her recently and here is an excerpt. To read the whole thing, click here.
Brooke: What is a local living economy?
Michelle: A local living economy is one where local business owners make up the majority of the local economy, where today’s innovations in sustainable agriculture, in green building, in renewable energy and energy efficiency, in community capital, in green jobs, in local manufacturing are all tied together within the context of a place, so that you have an economy that is community-based, green, and fair.
Brooke: And how does BALLE help create that?
Michelle: BALLE is the fastest growing membership organization of socially responsible businesses in North America. We have 79 community networks, but they have members that now represent 21,000 independent businesses. What BALLE does is catalyze the creation of new networks of businesses in different communities—we connect them to each other so they can share best practices, and we strengthen them with new tools and resources.
Usually when I write about technology it’s in a negative light, causing climate change, destroying indigenous ways of farming, etc. But one woman from a tribe in Idaho brought her computer skills back to her tribe and this is a case in which technology helped preserve, not destroy, a cultures history.
From YES magazine:
After a stint in the Army and a corporate career in computers, Valerie Fast Horse returned to her Northern Idaho Indian reservation nine years ago and brought her knowledge home to her people.
Fast Horse and her staff built a $3.5 million broadband network from scratch, aiming to preserve Coeur d’Alene tribal history, language, and culture.
Internet technology, Fast Horse believes, can give voice to Native people and dismantle stereotypes. Rezkast.com, a website developed by Fast Horse and her staff, provides a space for Native people to express themselves while sharing ideas, language, and culture with others.
A former member of the Coeur d’Alene tribal council, Fast Horse now wants to improve democracy on the 2,000-member reservation by broadcasting council meetings online.
Fast Horse hopes to inspire a new generation: “I refuse to hear the word ‘no’; instead, I hear ‘not yet.’?”
During dinner with week, my friends and I have been talking about the different customs that take place during the meal. My perspective as an American is that dinner time is the place where everyone gets to talk about their day, however as I have learned it is customary in India to give respect to the food and not talk at all during the meal. Going with that theme, I wanted to post a few of the different kinds of way people say grace, found on Yes Magazine as part of their Food For Everyone series. These are just the few that I liked, but feel free to check out the whole series along with beautiful drawings by Nikki McClure.
|LATIN AMERICAN To those who have hunger
And to those who have bread
Give the hunger for justice.
This food is the gift
|ASHANTI, GHANAEarth, when I am about to die
I lean upon you.
Earth, while I am alive
I depend upon you.
|SIOUX, NATIVE AMERICAN I’m an Indian.
I think about the common things like this pot.
The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud.
It represents the sky.
The fire comes from the sun,
Which warms us all, men, animals, trees.
The meat stands for the four-legged creatures,
Our animal brothers,
Who gave themselves so that we should live.
The steam is living breath.
It was water, now it goes up to the sky,
Becomes a cloud again.
These things are sacred.
Looking at that pot full of good soup,
I am thinking how, in this simple manner,
The Great Spirit takes care of me.
Sarah van Gelder, executive editor of YES! Magazine interviewed Rebecca Adamson about how to fix our nation’s little economy screw-up. She had some pretty profound things to say, I highlighted a few here for you, but I seriously recommend reading the whole interview.
Adamson is a Cherokee, and founder of First Nations Development Institute and First Peoples Worldwide. She also works with grassroots and tribal communities, sits on the boards of the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the Calvert School Investment Fund, and is an adviser to the United Nations on rural development.
Sarah: When you look ahead at the coming months, perhaps years, of economic downturn, what do you see coming, and what does indigenous experience teach us about what we should be doing?
President Obama assumes that through more spending we can stimulate the financial sector. But why would we want to save something that had no productivity for human life? Until we move away from that paradigm, I don’t hold out too much optimism for the next months, or the next years, or even the next seven generations.
Sarah: So what is an economy for?
Rebecca: The economy used to be about livelihoods and the provision of a household, but we’ve lost that purpose. We have created an economic system with a goal of material wealth, rather than human development.
Sarah: Sharing is hard when people fear that there isn’t enough to go around.
Rebecca: It is an obligation to share. So you design the economic system with an emphasis on sharing.
In modern U.S. society, individual property rights are treated as exclusive. If I own something, man, you can’t even put your foot on it. This ownership paradigm is about excluding people from resources because you’re afraid you’re going to run out.
Sarah: People are fearful because the things that they thought they could count on—retirement, or a job, or the value of their house—turn out to be unreliable. How can we move away from a fear-based system at a time when people have the most reasons to be fearful?
Rebecca: This is where I think indigenous people really hold a key: In their economies, there is a general safety net for all. There is no homelessness or grinding poverty. There is a band of general affluence and well-being which no one falls below.
We keep going into this paradigm of scarcity because fear is good for the capitalistic system. If you want to drive consumption, you’ve got to be fear based.
But God is in the space and silence. That is where it’s sacred. You look up on a starry night, and you feel yourself unfold, and that silence is where God is.
When people are consumed with filling all their space with stuff, and all silence with noise, you lose that sacredness. And then they are driven with consumption, consumption, consumption. The shopping mall becomes the cathedral. There you have capitalism. Even though it might be really good for the bottom line, it’s not good for a society.
We have to go back to the understanding that some things are sacred and cannot be profitized. No one owns Mother Earth. And living, breathing creations cannot be thrown away, or “externalized.” We have to be willing to pay the full cost for everything we use.
She ends with this…
What makes scarcity self-fulfilling? Fear. The more you’re fearful, the more you go out and buy. And pretty soon you run out of money and go into debt, and pretty soon the planet runs out of natural resources and places to put all the garbage.
Maintain the stance of abundance through tough times and through good times by having a spiritual base and good values—by caring about something other than yourself. That’s how you maintain abundance.
Abundance comes not from stuff. In fact, stuff is an indication of non-abundance. Abundance is in the sacred; it’s in the connection of love. We will find abundance through hard times when we find each other.