The Story of Stuff

Yesterday I finally got around to watching “The Story of Stuff.” Even at its totally ADHD-digestible 20 minutes, I hadn’t made it a priority because some part of me kept thinking, “I already know that.” But Annie Leonard’s disarmingly simple presentation hits home the message that our linear, unsustainable relationship with Stuff is coming apart, for better and for worse, and that we have a fundamental opportunity right now to redefine that relationship, close loops, create sustainable cycles, and change the way we do business. If we don’t, the results will cause (and to some extent already are causing) cultural indigestion and crises of gargantuan proportions in the health of human society. Alarmist? It only sounds alarmist to anyone who’s addicted to the functioning of the linear model of Stuff and who, like an ostrich, pretends not to see what comes out the back end.

Click here to watch The Story of Stuff, and please leave a comment with your thoughts and impressions.

Comments (1) »

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”

So that this blog doesn’t fall off the end of the earth, I wanted to rekindle it with a long-time favorite quote from Marianne Williamson that came across my desk again today:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”    – Marianne Williamson

She’ll be speaking in San Francisco tonight, Tuesday, September 22nd, at EcoTuesday (http://www.ecotuesday.com), on the connection between sustainability and spirituality.

Comments (1) »

Urban gardeners take heed: your organic veggies may contain Lead

vegetables
Summertime’s a coming, and so many folks in my neighborhood are busily putting in plant starts, harvesting beautiful flowers, and laying down mulch and fertilizer to bolster the bounty to come. But what nutrients are those delightful bumper crops of spinach and kale pulling up into their leaves besides nitrogen and potassium? You might be shocked to learn how much lead – that blue-gray metal that causes all kinds of neurological and other health problems – exists in urban soil, thanks to an era of lead-based paints, gasoline, and pesticides that dropped out of sight – and into the ground – to become the problem of a future generation: ours.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Plastic Not-So-Fantastic

plastic_productsIf you think you consume and throw away a lot of plastic at your home, you probably do. Many people frankly don’t even get that far (i.e. thinking about it). But the business park you casually drove or biked by yesterday probably generates more in a day than you toss in a year. It’s amazing how much plastic is produced, consumed, and discarded in our “economy.” It’s petroleum, persistent, and in some cases, quite pernicious. The $1M question – can it be recycled?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1) »

Somebody’s morning espresso is now in my garden

This afternoon I unloaded a bag of coffee grounds into my garden and put the remainder in my compost pile. There were dozens of espresso pucks, which made me itch for a mocha. I thought to myself, “that was someone’s morning espresso yesterday, and now it’s feeding my vegetable starts.” Okay, the knowledgable gardeners might be thinking I’m acidifying my soil, but it wasn’t a ton of grounds. Just enough spread over a fairly wide area.

The unlikely gardening tip: Starbucks. Some locations in the Portland area are now bagging their grounds in the vacuum bags they receive the coffee beans in, putting a cute and instructional label on them to seal the bag, and placing them by the door for people to take home for their gardens. And yes, free; selling them would be ridiculous. I went back yesterday afternoon to collect another bag, and was told I had competition; someone typically grabs them regularly at that location almost before they’re even bagged.

And I thought competition was fierce for used vegetable oil at Asian restaurants. Now we’re competing for soil amendments? Wow. I guess the local gardening movement is really taking off. Get your starts and seeds planted now!

Comments (1) »

Accelerating Sustainable Communities

Lately I’ve been calling my project an “accelerator for sustainable communities.” And I’m realizing this term “accelerator” applies to so many facets of community building and what I call “writing the new story” of our culture. I liken the concept to that of a technology or business incubator, where new ideas are given enough support (financial, expertise, development assistance) to survive, develop and mature, launch, and hopefully thrive on their own. Applying this to sustainable community building means that community projects (and even whole communities) are afforded the support they need to bear fruit and thrive.
Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Moving the Ball Forward Along Multiple, Parallel Tracks

The inspired thought over sushi today was the title of this posting. I was feeling overwhelmed by all the “stuff” of life: the to-do list, the overlapping activities, the many-places-at-once phenomenon. Rather than conceptualizing it as conflict, operating at cross purposes, I saw it all as perfect unison. The juggling act, rather than being chaos, is like “moving the ball forward” in many venues, in many projects, with many people – all within a meaningful context. In today’s case, that context was building sustainable communities. (Fancy that, the name of my organization and my blog, eh?)

Perhaps parallel isn’t the right word for where these tracks are running, because of the intersections and even synergies enabled along these tracks. But I saw all these activities of my outer life demands running together, in harmony. What a rare moment! To see life as harmony rather than how the mind often paints it: as chaos. In essential form, whatever we choose and do in the moment, is just perfect.

What does this mean for you today?

Comments (1) »