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Archive for December, 2009

Present mind, open mind, wild mind: The  story of NGP

by Jen Jackson

We, the Next Generation, know that the environment is not a special interest. We know it as a universal imperative, the basis of our very being. It is something for which the collective should collaborate rather than wage selective wars.

However, due to the urgency of environmental issues – and their dwindling resonance among a populace more concerned with immediate economic impacts on life and livelihood – the conservation model has become increasingly antagonistic and polarized: us-versus-them, now-or-never, all-or-nothing. Such is the mentality of war…one we cannot afford to lose.

But what would happen if we didn’t look at conservation as a conflict? What if we approached it as an opportunity – for communication, community, communion? What if we recognized that there are myriad paths to healing the planet, and that understanding the worth of each is crucial?

As Rumi wrote, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Why should we fight over where and how we express this reverence? (more…)

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Recently Bill McKibben’s name appeared in an New York Times Op-Ed piece by Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalogue fame and more recently author of a book, The Clock of the Long Now,  about the Copenhagen Climate conference.  In Brand’s essay, “There are four sides to every story”, he suggests that in addition to the denialists who refuse to believe that humans play a role in current climate disruptions, and the warners who use their scientific knowledge and the current trends to predict a future planetary disaster,  the skeptics and the calamatists also have roles in this debate. The skeptics, most of them with some science background, insist that scientific consensus is impossible and that there are too many unknown factors at work to suggest that the trouble we are in is as serious as we are being told it is. The calamatists, according to Brand, are “environmentalists who believe that industrial civilization has committed crimes against nature, and retribution is coming.”

Brand, who has helped build a clock which is designed to measure time for the next 10,000 years to make the point that if we were to consider a long future, we might act differently today, sides with the “warners”, not wanting to be grouped with the calamatists, who he downplays as ideologues.

I can see his point. But I bristle a bit when he names Bill McKibben as one of the  leaders of the calamatists. I know Bill, and I know that he has not given up. He’s been writing and talking about climate change for twenty years and since he teamed up with a group of young Middlebury College grads to start 350.org, (more…)

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A friend sent me this article from Scientific American called the Moral Call of the Wild. The author, Wesley Schultz, refers to a study by researchers at the University of Rochester that shows that our time spent in the wilds has effects beyond the increase in our “physical and psychological well-being”. In fact,  according to the study experience in nature makes us care less about “extrinsic life aspirations”–being rich, famous, powerful– and more about “intrinsic life aspirations”–deep relationships and making the world a better place. Simply put, exposure to the natural world can shift our focus from ‘self’ to ‘other’.

Participants were asked about their aspirations after an ‘experience’ consisting of an 8 minute slide show of either human-made or natural environments. Similar results came from other studies, one involving the “true nature” experience of being in a small room with plants.

Imagine how hard wired we are for what is natural if we respond so predictably to such limited experience. (more…)

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The State Street Mural Project is a community arts program with the goal of increasing the vitality, aesthetics and kid-friendliness of Salt Lake’s original neighborhoods. The first location for the mural project is Baxter’s Cafe (1615 S. State SLC UT USA). There are other walls and locations available for the next round of artists who want to get involved and collaborate with kids. (contact great west for info)

The State Street Mural Project

The second phase of the Baxter’s mural has nearly been completed by Tony Poulsen. Tony’s customized penguin originated as a drawing of a Dilworth Elementary kindergartner. The Radioactive Duk thinking monkey noises that is facing off with the penguin was painted by Chris Peterson.

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for a downloadable pdf of this page, click here

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