All Posts Tagged With: "environment"

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #17

photo by: Joe Stewart
Week 17

It is only when we find peace within that we will be able to live in peace with our environment. ~ Dalai Lama

Teachers of all sorts remind us that our drive to change the world (and other people) can unintentionally create great suffering. The world around us is a reflection of our inner world. To reject an experience, condition, or person is to reject ourselves. This week, can you find peace within by turning toward what you want, rather than pushing away that which you don’t want?

More: Read the Dalai Lama’s essay, “A Human Approach to World Peace.”

Read the Weekly Green from Week 16 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

Make Your Own, Custom 10-Things List

This is the first in a series of posts that will preview some aspect of my upcoming FR*EE teleclass  ”How to Overcome Green Overload in Your Small Business: 5 Steps for Cutting Through the Clutter.” At the end of this post, there is a bit more detail about the class.

The other day I had a conversation with a client who was rationally trying to decide where to go next in greening her household, which she rightly thinks of as a small business. Having effectively reduced her family’s energy use, she now wants to turn to their diet. She’s weighing all the options, to decide what actions might be feasible, based on their preferences, schedules, and budget.

She got on the subject of industrial agriculture and its terribly negative impacts on the Chesapeake Bay. For example, in the past, farmers were pressured by the chicken industry to produce vast quantities of chicken as cheaply as possibly, despite pollution and health risks. We can easily become paralyzed by worry and overwhelm from the messages we get in the media about how bad things are and especially our role in the destruction.

These messages speak to our inner sense of shame, turmoil, guilt, and anxiety. And it’s paralyzing because we don’t like feeling that way, so we tend to push away and avoid the subject. And rightly so – these dark feelings are a survival technique, part of how we are designed and wired. The problem is, we cannot act effectively from a place of negativity and avoidance.

During the call, I advised her to focus on things she really likes doing. Pass up the actions that blow her schedule, require her to drive a lot, or completely overhaul her family’s eating habits. Even if she did implement some dramatic changes, they would be at great cost and so would be only short-term fixes without lasting power in their lives. They would eventually drop them, because they are just too hard to maintain over the long haul.

A lot of messages about going green are genuinely helpful lists of things you should be doing – emphasis on the word, “should.” Rather than trying to conform to somebody else’s list of “shoulds,” it’s a much more fruitful and enjoyable exercise to notice, in looking at one of those lists, what things pop out, which appeal to you and which are simply irrelevant.

Start with the things that appeal to you, and start small. Small changes can ripple through with big effects. For instance, if you are thinking about not eating meat altogether, for health, environmental, or even spiritual reasons, the best way to start could be to cut out meat one meal a week or one day a week. (This site, Meatless Monday, is a great resource.) That gives you the experience of planning, preparing, and eating a meatless meal. It allows you to test-drive that change, rather than making it wholesale across the entire week.

This way of customizing green actions from a place of desire, rather than obligation, is one aspect of my upcoming FR*EE teleclass, “How to Overcome Green Overload in Your Small Business: 5 Steps for Cutting Through the Clutter.” This call is on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 4:00 p.m. EST. I’ll show you how to:

• Bring your desire to go green into alignment with your need to grow your business;
• Create new opportunities for your business by going green; and
• Find reliable yet innovative eco-friendly resources

There’s just so much information out there, and I will teach how to put on a pair of green-colored glasses. How to see through all the clutter to the strategies, goals, and vision that really fit you, that are uniquely tailored to your needs, your business, your life.

Are You Aware of the Plastic in Your Life?

photo by: Julie Gabrielli

My husband, the Eagle Scout, came home from Target recently with literally a bucketful of plastic. The bucket ITSELF was plastic! It looked like he had won some kind of shopping spree contest. Everything you can fit into a laundry basket in five minutes. In addition to what you see here, there was also contact lens solution, which comes in a cardboard box, but the solution itself is in a plastic bottle that has a little plastic safety seal on it.

What made me really take notice of this is – I had just been teaching a 4-week course called "Your EcoBlueprint ." In the third week, we played with the Plastic Tracker, which is an audit worksheet to build awareness of the amount and kinds of plastic that comes into our lives. Where they come from, what their purpose is, and what we do with them after we’ve used them. Read through this post to find out how you can win a copy of the Plastic Tracker to try for yourself.

In the fourth class, we talked a bit about the experience of using the plastic tracker. How surprised we were to learn just how much of this stuff is in our lives. For those of us who think of ourselves as fairly environmentally aware, this can be a real revelation. Continued

We’re Going to Blogging School

photo by Julie: Lucky's Warehouse by Furbish Co.
Recently, we started in earnest to learn all we can about the blogging world, including how to increase our site traffic so we can continue to offer GOforChange to our community and the wider world. Naturally, we enrolled in Upstart Blogger’s 30-Day Blogging Course . We are known mostly within our own networks, where we reliably preach to the converted. But what about people who are just waking up to environmental and economic challenges? With our expertise, wealth of information, online forums, calendar, and marketplace, we are determined to reach a wider audience.

We started GOforChange in early 2008 to help spread the word about the growing sustainability , local food , social justice, and greening movement in the Baltimore area. A blog was the right format to share information about upcoming events, volunteers opportunities, advice, and all the organizations and businesses in our area that are working for a better world. We are always learning about new things — community gardens, energy auditors, local artisans, schools — and the list of topics keeps growing. We continue to believe that reliable information about local resources is valuable to people who want to know how they can make a difference in their daily lives and communities.

As of Day 5 of the course, we have already learned much about social networks, Technorati rankings , Google Analytics, and reaching out to like-minded blogs. We are shifting our posts to offer more advice, musings, and stories from Julie’s work as a green architect and sustainability consultant, and Alyssa’s hands-on artistry in urban gardening, composting, and other DIY projects. Interspersed with posts about Baltimore-area topics, these will have a broad appeal beyond our geographic region. The Upstart Blogger course is something we probably should have taken six months ago, but back then we just didn’t realize how much we don’t know! Stay tuned for updates on our progress.

Wake Up, Freak Out, Get a Grip


Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo .

Two friends told me about this last Friday, so I had to check it out. It’s an excellent tour of the "tipping point" effects of climate destabilization — something even the IPCC predictions don’t account for. Leo Murray’s animation and narration makes the very complex science of climate feedback easy to understand and visualize in stark terms. While it does give a glimpse into probable scenarios of species extinction, climate refugees, and other human misery, Murray also tells us it’s not inevitable. This is not the time to panic, he says — this is the time to ACT!

On a related note, David Orr came to Baltimore on October 1 to give a talk about climate change policy. He and a group of experts have been briefing the two presidential campaigns as part of the Presidential Climate Action Project . On their website, you can view and download policy papers on what the next Transition Team has to do in order to hit the ground running in the first 100 days in office. Look through their "Climate Action Briefs" on topics such as the role of small business in addressing climate change, national security in a changing environment, the moral case for energy efficiency, and the great potentials of a new "green" economy.

While it’s very good news that the best minds in the U.S. are coming together on this, Leo Murray’s video is a timely reminder that we have spent the last 20 years waiting for government and industry to fix this problem. The message is loud and clear: it is up to US to act, and we must act NOW.

All Our Relations: Sacred Gardening

photo by: Getty Images

My good friend, Mare Cromwell , has been a professional gardener for many years. She also has a Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan and has worked in the environmental field for 27 years both internationally and locally in the Baltimore-Washington region. She is offering a workshop on Sunday, October 12 (see our News & Events link to the calendar for more information.) This workshop comes out of her apprenticeship for the past twelve years with a Cherokee Medicine Woman. In these changing times, Mare tells me that Earth Mother is calling us to heal ourselves and our relationship to nature. Our gardens are where we can intimately rekindle a deeper relationship and reverence for the life around us to promote healing. This workshop gives people the opportunity to learn Native American practices and worldviews that will encourage deeper gardening practices honoring nature energies, garden health and planetary healing.

Mare’s gardening informs her other work, which is writing and occasionally speaking on ecophilosophy and eco-spirituality topics such as Environmental Hope, Living Simplicity, Deep Ecology and "Right Relationship". The workshop on October 12 will cover:
- How to bless your garden when you open it up in the spring and put it to bed in the fall;
- Claiming your relationship with the Creator and Earth Mother to honor your sacred place in the world and garden;
- Your garden as an altar;
- Intuitive gardening;
- Deepening your relationship and awareness of life around you;
- Nature as teacher and healer.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland to Receive the T.J. Medal

Dr. Brundtland and the Thomas Jefferson Medal

When I first got interested in sustainability, one of the simplest and most empowering definitions I ran across was from the Brundtland Commission Report, “Our Common Future,” published in 1987. The full report is available on-line. The definition reads:”Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Found in Chapter 2 of the report.)

I am thrilled to see that my alma mater, University of Virginia School of Architecture, is bestowing the University’s highest honor on the commission’s chairwoman, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. As part of the award ceremonies for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, she will speak on the campus on Friday, April 11, at 3:00p.m.

Her bio is impressive. She has long been a world leader in sustainable development and health, and was the youngest and first woman prime minister of Norway. The University of Virginia’s press release has a good overview.

It is striking that the ideas and recommendations contained in “Our Common Future” are just as relevant today as they were – twenty! – years ago. They were truly ahead of their time, although leading scientists and experts knew then what the rest of us are only now waking up to. Rather than fret about “it’s too late,” we should all re-read this powerful document and renew our commitment to doing what we can.

It’s full of thoughts like these (remember – written twenty years ago!): Continued