Back From Canada

And wondering where to get personal involvement (not just charitable) with nature causes on Hawaii Island. Like planting trees? Call me.

We returned after a long summer in Canada and Cascades. At least this year, the whole place was not burning down.

Now back to work.

I want your stories of where you stand on climate. Think it’s crucial to address? Think that it is a leftist hoax? Think capitalism is to blame? Or kleptocracy and corruption?

A tipping point has been reached, it seems, with Greta and Extinction Rebellion and at last a focus on some kind (almost any kind) of Green New Deal.

Oh, and they are impeaching the president who found a way to make something else more important than the fate of our planet. Corruption. Kurds. Complacency. It’s all tied together, isn’t it?

A Man on the Moon, A Girl in the White House?

Ad Astra, You GO girl! Christyl Rivers

We celebrate fifty years of space exploration on July 20, 2019. On that day in 1969, man first walked on the moon, taking “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for all mankind.”

Another giant leap, arguably a bigger one, should also be celebrated. On July 20, 1848, the first convention for women’s rights convened to pass a resolution requesting that women have the right to vote. There were other proposals, but it is women’s suffrage, arguing that females should be included in the constitutional phrase: “That all men—and women—are created equal.”

This was well before the civil war, and it would be decades before people of color, and women, finally won the right to have more say in their lives.

July 20. 2019 marks 171 years since women, notably Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, first had the temerity to ask that women be included in a democracy. Other nations, and a few states, would grant women’s voices before the 20th century dawned and passed suffrage in 1920.

Is getting the vote as important as stepping off our planet? Yes. Before that time, women were not allowed to own property. They were not allowed to keep their own wages—if they had any. They were sometimes denied visitation of their own children. They could not establish credit, or have any recourse to marital rape, incest, violence, or abuse.

The entire world is better off, men included, when women have a say, and therefore more respect and autonomy under the law. Men bear less burden of responsibility. They endure less resentment. More technology and innovation flourish. Children enjoy more nurturing, as does the planet. Human beings are happier.

Men went to the moon. Women worked for NASA, wives, mothers, daughters and countless other females, all contributed to the space race. But in the final analysis, it was men who were chosen to represent Earth, “To come in peace for all MAN kind.”

It’s true that the word “man” is supposed to include woman-kind too, but decades of psychological tests have demonstrated that no one thinks of a female upon hearing any phrase using the word man, such as: “We put a man in space!”

The first mammal to orbit Earth was a bitch. Yes. Laika, the stray, Soviet  dog, who was sacrificed for science, was a female. She’s still up there.

Females, as the Kimmy Schmidt song says, “are strong as hell.” We absolutely have to be. Putting up with thousands of years of people like Predator Trump and Jeffrey Epstein have made us that way. Having to endure millions of slights and injustices, taking on the burden of most unpaid work, bearing babies, providing care giving, and so much more, made us this way.

For most of history, it is women who suffered more, under patriarchy and rape culture. Women hauled and harvested. They cooked the food. Cleaned the house. Wiped the babys’ butts. Cared for the sick.

Not all women supported women’s suffrage. Many women who believed it was women’s role to be subservient according to misinterpreted scripture, and “tradition.” They held out to do what they believed was right. Why would they do that?

It’s because females are strong as hell.

Nevertheless, it was men who loved women who withheld human rights the longest. Some of the most powerful men laughed, scoffed, ridiculed, tormented, and even abused women who dared to step off the world as it was.

But it was also men, strong and just men, who saw that women too, should be allowed basic human rights, representation, and autonomy. Together, the new world was reached.

Many people think that the time is past due to put a “girl” in the Whitehouse. “Girls” is what women used to be called. They were also called wives, while a man was still called a “man.” Ever hear this? “I now pronounce you MAN and Wife,” Not man and woman.

This is just one reason people want a qualified woman president. Trump would prefer to defeat someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because he knows his racism and sexism is rocket fuel for fanning the flames of hate that make up some of his base.

Those people who imagine a world that never existed are fueled to fight equality among the people of Earth. They don’t see the gain. They are blinded by toxic fumes.

Trump is not so keen on being beat by a woman of his own generation, who ‘runs like a girl,’ such as Elizabeth Warren. Suffragettes, if you are out there, let me hear from you, please. I know you waited nearly a century to see a woman in office, only to be given Trump in 2016. My heart, and your heart, as well as the heart of the country need to see a qualified woman who will work hard for unity, over divisiveness.

It’s time to take that giant leap for all humankind.

We are now in a crisis of climate and threatened democracy. But it would do us well to remember the right stuff that we are made of, both men and women.

An Earth shot, an honoring and celebration of all things primarily female, the Earth and moon, is justified right now. And, a celebration too, of all things primarily male: solar power, muscular strength, providing and protecting, and more. Magnificent masculinity and fantastic femininity are both necessary.

There is plenty of overlap in the spheres of womanhood and manhood. That is a good thing. Our shared strengths will help us find the world we need. It is our differences, not just men and women, but whole cultures, and honored diversity, among-and even beyond- the human race that matters. We are all part of nature; we share DNA with a whole world.

With a relentless effort toward equality for all people, we can achieve progress as never before. We can learn that cooperation is far more valuable than conquest. We can begin by loving one another and then take that giant leap that allows us to include the whole planet of forests, mountains, oceans, meadows, and supportive biosphere.

As Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote, “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.” Let’s take that thought one step beyond, the hands that together rock the cradle can not only discover whole new realms, we can also recreate beautiful worlds right here on Earth.

Nature’s Heart Of Gold: How To Thrive With Ecopsychology

Even When Your Planet Is Threatened

Nature’s heart of gold is a priceless gift . Photo by Christyl Rivers

We hear so much bad news. We hear the about corruption in business and governments. We hear about religion tearing the world apart with extremism. We hear about war and the effects of climate change ravaging whole nations with droughts, famines, fires, floods, refugees and epidemics. We hear horrific cases of murder, injustice, racism, sexism, — Every “Ism.” Things fall apart.

You just want to make a fair living, put food in front of your family. Save enough money to live as resources cost more each day. You want to know there is hope for the very planet we live with. Well, don’t despair. Act. One way to act is to get to know the truth about human standing in nature. That science is called Ecopsychology and it offers more than one path toward more harmonious living. There are thousands upon thousands of solutions to our problems, and each of them is predicated with the same question:

What can I choose today that is a better choice for life tomorrow?

It could be the choice of reusable bag you take to the store. It could be a choice to buy clothes or house-wares second-hand, and thereby reduce cost, waste, energy consumption and packaging. It could be a choice to take a shorter shower, to bike instead of drive, to eat healthy once in a while rather than eat what is processed and convenient. The common thread of all your choices is that you remain conscious that you have the power to designate the kind of difference you choose to make.

All of us can and do have an impact, in big ways, by say limiting family size, and in small ways, by producing less trash or using fewer toxins in housework or yard care.

We owe everything to nature, or to God, as some call the creator and creation. Let’s live lives that are abundant and celebratory. Research has shown that appreciation is one of the most easily achieved states of consciousness that makes an enormous difference in people’s daily lives. A person who daily lists and contemplates gratitude is healthier, happier and more pleasant to be around than someone who nitpicks at every negative annoyance.

Nature rewards those that take the time to see wonders and strength, resilience and power. People who spend time out of doors are the most likely to find nature’s allures and be grateful for them. The workings, wonder and beauty we see in nature attract us universally. In the field of Ecopsychology, or our belonging to a biosphere, these attractions are defined as life-lines, web strings, living threads or in this case: Selene allures.

Nature is resilient and forgiving. This is not because nature cares. It is because the truth tells us nature treats all life as equal. Nature does not play favorites. Nature is reliable, unbiased. True. Pure. Heart of gold true.

Religion often puts one side against another, in the worst-case scenario, it tells people outright to discriminate; to favor the believers only. It is not just monotheism that does this. All religions include the failure of human interference. Nor is godless ideology necessarily better. Any belief system that favors any part of the whole over the whole itself is questionable.

Some of us prefer science to religion, but that does not mean we should give up on spirituality. A quick perusal of the most influential atheists on Earth will show that wonder, awe, and a spiritual sense of connection remains vital to human well-being. No less than Dr. Richard Dawkins called his book The Magic Of Reality.

You can take heart in this. Take the Robert Frost view, that “Nothing gold can stay.*” This truth (Dawkins would likely point out it is a poetic truth) tells us that change is constant, beauty is ephemeral, and we need to tap into that beauty if we are to cope with the churning turmoil of an uncertain world.

The leaf I photographed above is dead and brown now. It had already begun to decay the moment I brought it home. But, it’s a pure golden heart that caught my eye. A Selene allure is the name I give to those attractions or web-strings that draw us in and provide us with perspective, insight, healing, and beauty. Selene is one of the many names given to the personification of the moon. And, the moon, aka Diana, (Wonder Woman for a movie and comic fans, if you prefer) pulls the tides, and menses of all life-giving organisms. The moon is also a softer reflection of the life-giving sun. Without sun or moon, of course, our planet would be devoid of life.

Selene Allures, then, are those shimmering threads that tug at your attention when you glance out the window, or walk in the park, or laugh with your dog or cat. They are our life-lines, literally, that Ralph Waldo Emerson would invite you to wrap around your hopes and dreams to “hitch your wagon to a star.” He meant it literally, too, explaining in 1862 that we can borrow the might of the elements; the pulling systems of magnetism, gravity, wind, light, and fire. These natural miracles weave all life into an immense, glimmering tapestry.

And today, these things are more important than ever before. We have learned that the light of the sun — in addition to pulling a billion seeds to become carbon sinks in forest and phytoplankton — the sun is a tremendous source of limitless power which allows us to go green with solar and wind. Although the international cooperation emphasis is meaningful, we may not need to be in the Paris Climate Accord to be empowered. We just need every man, woman, and child to see the golden glow of clean energy that nature offers us to escape our fossil fuel addiction. Being grateful for the warmth that aids photosynthesis is no small thing, and neither is our poetic privilege to enjoy the vista of a sun-kissed sea.

Nature allows us to participate in creation, and we can often find healing and resilience in this if we just turn off all the devices that distract us for a few moments. As social animals, we evolved to interact most effectively in person and in contact with all the living beings that sustain and enrich life.

This is demonstrated, ironically enough in all advertising. Images of the great outdoors are used to sell everything from candy to cars. What you will never see in an advertisement is the linking of over-consumption to garbage. Garbage is something that human beings created and nature quietly tries to flush out of the system. But our persistence and insistence that we come first results in an ugliness and destructive force that hurts the natural world and ourselves.

However, since people have become aware of how the lethal strangle of a plastic fishing line hurts the very beauty and creatures we admire, efforts are being made to reverse the trend. Countless measures, and profitable ones, are being taken to change us from a polluting species to a compassionate and loving race. Your attraction to this trend — to being part of the solutions — is also a Selene allure.

Many a very wise person has advised us to get in touch with nature. Einstein said we can understand everything better when we explore nature more deeply. John Muir preached the gospel of wilderness. Walt Whitman and W.B. Yeats also discovered nature in wildness but suggested we can find nature accessible in our own backyards, even in our own bodies. Later converts include people as diverse as Rachel Carson, EO Wilson, Carl Sagan, and Jane Goodall.

In reality, however, even as small children we can open our eyes and ears to see and hear the splendid songs of nature for ourselves. And, when we listen, we learn how to be better children of the Earth.

Create Your Community Garden of Eatin’

In my neighborhood, we don’t share the garden space, we share the harvests.

We may never as a species return to the Garden of Eden. However, as many food fanatics and gardeners are learning, there are many good reasons to return to the healthier choice of homegrown food and community gardening.

According to Jill Litt, from the Colorado School of Public Health, the connections and health benefits of shared gardening provides a model of overall “healthy living.”

The food is better, fresher, more nutritious and almost always has less herbicides and pesticides. It may not look as perfectly ‘standardized’ as most supermarket fruits and vegetables, but the yields from home and community gardens are a better choice.

One reason is because so much of the food we get at supermarkets is processed food. Processed food, in packages, plastic, cans, or even glass is just not going to provide the consumer with the fiber, purity, organic benefits or upfront facts of origin that your local neighbor or public market can provide.

My husband and I were wary at first, organic markets cost more, but as we began to infiltrate them, we met others. We joined a bartering network. One shopper volunteered to have our Cacao considered by a local health food store. If they accept it, our cacao will earn money for the first time, and it will be straight from a non-pesticide, non middle-man, source.

Even when we intend to eat healthier foods, and avoid processed foods, the marketing, advertising, slick presentation and convenience of processed food leaves us susceptible to buying such products.

And, of course, all processed food is stuffed with plenty of artificial chemicals, additives, colors, and artificial flavors. Not everyone is conflicted about genetically modified foods, (GMO) but most people do realize that gen-mod foods offer less variety, flavor and joy.

But it is not any of these drawbacks that make mass consumed foods so deleterious to our health. It is how we obtain them.

When we participate in supporting a neighborhood garden, or community exchange system, we network with others. This has been studied by many researchers, like Litt, for decades.

The results consistently show that the interaction with others, the interest, and the extra effort provides immeasurable results of connection.

In the field of ecopsychology, it is well researched that connections are a very human way for social beings to find belonging. The relief from stress, the relief from feeling guilty and/or manipulated by huge corporate conglomerates is also satisfying to most people.

It also builds community security, in the sense that ‘we are all in this together.’ This is something of great value that cannot be found in the supermarket aisles of any large store.

Finally, digging in the natural earth leads to a sense of doing that cannot be obtained by mere consuming. We evolved with nature to forage food from the earth, and as of about ten thousand years ago, to share the benefits of farming food from the earth in shared, social enterprises.

Being outdoors, breathing fresh air, taking in the many sensations of beauty, variety, sights, sounds, scents and so much more reconnect us to the nature that is creation.

We belong to nature, and in these uncertain times of climate change, fossil fuel addiction, weather disasters, political turmoil and mistrust, gardening is a wonderful pastime to connect you with like-minded people. The stress of uncertain food security, and the hopeful promise that a Garden of Eating supplies is the closest we may get to an Eden style paradise.