I am grateful for moments when it all comes into line!

“Do we have any cold water bottles?” – The sing song voice of my sister’s question hit me sideways, as the idea of single use plastics makes me cringe.  Then I heard the answer, “No”.  While I’d like to say that my heart was flipping cartwheels, I really was to busy trying to get everything ready to go to the pool to realize the enormity of the situation.   I don’t remember who was speaking at this point, but I do remember the idea behind the words – all my preaching was working it’s way into the practices and habits of my family!

Yes, I’m one of those people who does more than recycle plastic, I refuse it every possible chance!  What does that mean?  It’s simple, I tell people, vendors and corporations that I don’t want their plastic. I do what it takes to avoid new single use plastic in my life, I recycle everything that should be recycled, regardless of what the recycling company requests I limit my items to (in order to assist with their profit model).  I may be considered a radical by many, including my own family, but that’s just how I roll – revolutions don’t occur quietly and change doesn’t happen effectively without leaders giving the example.

By the way, this task isn’t for the meek in heart or spirit.  I mean consider any given day in your world – unless you are out somewhere in the part of the world that resembles the planet pre 1850’s, you have used plastic that has been viewed as ‘Single Use Plastic’.  This could have been in the form of a portable beverage container, drinking straw, a sandwich bag, a plastic grocery sack, and the packaging your food came in – it’s all considered single use plastic by the manufacturer.

Single use – it’s interesting to think about how many things in the world are intended to be single use.  Besides toilet paper and tampons there aren’t many things that I can truly justify as single use, other than Gasoline and other burned fuel sources.  I’m sure the reasons why items aren’t make for single use are obvious, but today I want to focus on just one of them.

We have a limited amount of natural resources.  Yes I said limited.  For every manufactured item, there were a series of process that had to be used to extract and refine the natural elements from our planet.  For every step of that process cost time, energy and financial expense.  This is true for both natural as well as man made products.  A great example of the realities of limited and finite resources can be found in the work of John Muir and Stephen Mather who proved to America’s west that responsible use and conservation efforts are necessary to provide resources and stability for generations to live off the land and enjoy it’s beauty.  These efforts from 100 years ago are what have allowed our great nation to preserve the natural beauty we have today, while having provisioned to provide income not only for past generations, but for those of the foreseeable future as well.

While these examples of conservation show that American’s have the potential to protect and preserve the resources we have, no effort has ever been successful without a battle of some sort.  I have a feeling that these battles will wear many of you down.  I know they do me.  Which is why it’s important to stand back and appreciate every once in a while.  It becomes apparent that while progress may be slow, it happens.    This is the reason I have to step back for a moment and acknowledge this win publicly.   So the next time your friends do something simple like rinsing out a plastic container and putting it the recycling bin, or requesting that no straws be brought to the dinner table when going out to eat, or when family members start bringing grocery bags and stop buying plastic water bottles – remember that these are huge wins in the fight against plastic.

Because we were to tired to go – my thoughts about the Aurora Theater Shootings

It’s been a year now, and lots of things have happened since I first moved to Aurora, Colorado.  The one thing that didn’t happen, we didn’t go to watch the premier of Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises, a movie that I still have yet to see.  I had just moved to Colorado exactly 2 weeks prior and was full of energy and excitement about life.  I had tried to convince my brother-in-law to come out with me, to watch the movie on it’s premier night while my sister stayed home with their son.  What strikes me in looking back was how much naivety I had about children back then.  A two year old takes a lot of energy, energy that diminishes after a long day of work a normal job.  Add  to it the need to keep up with chores, the non stop work of maintaining a living area where a random guest would not believe that toys and laundry are the primary modes of decoration and viola it becomes apparent that the work of parenting in a quality way can really be taxing.  Even with my wild eyed and bounding energy having waited 10 years to get to Colorado, the night had been a rough one and the little guy didn’t go down easy.  By the time it was time to go, we had decided that it had been a long night and there wasn’t value in rushing to get to a movie as we were not only tired but also running behind schedule if we wanted to see all the previews.  We decided to hang out at home, playing a card game in the basement or something of the likes.  The details of the specific range of activities, how we learned of the shooting; well they are part of the haze that happens as people focus on the details of improving the life around them instead of the things that might have been.

We didn’t make it to the movie, and therefore our lives were not catastrophically impacted with the trauma of ‘having been there’.  However, it was a pretty shocking thing, to not go somewhere where there was an effort to massacre a large number of people for reasons not yet understood.  In some ways I miss living in a smaller community where the shootings happen one at a time and usually drugs are involved.  And I’ve been to an event where there was a peaceful gathering and someone was shot. Honestly, these things have helped to strengthen my resolve in continuing down the pathway of my own personal development and resolve to receive and own the vision of potential within myself.

Before the shooting, I was focused on the idea that helping others in a social work method – one or two at a time, or in small community groups – and I’m sure I would have been happy for a while.  But while this would have passed some time, I was still fighting some internal battles if this was the right thing for me to do.  For me, the ‘what could have been’ was an awakening in my mind.  Fortunately I came to Colorado with some tools in my kit that I continue to use.  Prayer and meditation have led me to understand the real calling I have in life, that if we focus on solutions for the greater good for all, a greater impact could be had for the benefit of providing a place for future generations to have a chance to live in health and happiness on Planet A.

So, I wasn’t there.  I have had known a person or two that was, the church that I have attended most since I moved actually had a large group of people in the theater at that time ( almost 50) ; and they also seem to have something extra about them – a drive to be aware about the value of life.  For me, not that far from 40, this is the impact the shootings had most on me.  It not that I  have a new dream, it’s that I have reminders why the focus is so important, sights on goals that may not be achieved until I’m 80 and I have resolve to realize that it’s necessary to keep moving forward.  Hopefully along the way I’ll continue to be  privileged by  motivating others.  I hope to continue to have chances to encourage others along the way; to dig deep inside and, without having to know that they could have been a victim, find the drive to make some change for the better.

You don’t have to be there, or a could have been there, to have the same appreciation for life.  Being involved in healthy activities that bring passion for life, and sharing those passions with others in a positive way should be part of the goals of each of us, regardless of our walk in life.  Being aware of injustice, compassionate towards change and willing to be a catalyst doesn’t require a near death experience – it shouldn’t require one.  Tragic events can do many things, I hope that for anyone else reading this – the idea of being and growing stronger are the things it does within you.

Civil Non-violent Disobedience

This past weekend I spent time in training to recruit and lead Civil Non-violent Disobedience in the State of Colorado.  I am really excited for the opportunity to be part of a large group of American’s who are standing up to protect the future of our planet.  This type of activity, while not something new to the American scene; is something I have not participated in before.   For me, it’s a bit overwhelming to think that I will be joining the ranks of American Citizens who, because of conscience, chose to take a stand in a nonviolent fashion to stand up for injustices actively occurring on American soil.   Most Americans know the story of Rosa Parks, a woman of African descent, who sat on a bus in a seat in 1955 that she  wasn’t authorized to sit on because of the color of her skin.  Her story is part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a time period in American history where many took to the streets to participate in making a statement.  The focus was to bring focus to unjust laws in a way that was considered dignified, and worthy of media attention.

Fast forward 50 years.  The same media that represented the values of America as wholesome and pure, has changed the focal point  to one where active discussion of violence has become a part of daily life.  Instead of positive news stories about the good things people are doing in their lives – stories about the worst of humanity’s behaviors unto one another take precedence.  These stories are distractions which often do not include the ways in which private corporations, focusing on profit margins, continue to promote or participate in devastating actions upon our planet.   These actions range from maintaining unhealthy manufacturing processes that have increased our atmospheric CO2 levels to dangerous planetary levels,  to encouraging consumption patterns that are killing our oceans with plastic pollution.  Environmentally, humanity has been extremely careless about our methods of progress and have, in many ways, developed methods of extracting and utilizing natural resources that are permanently scarring our planet.

I mourn frequently for this one Earth that I get to live on.  I feel like people look at me like a lunatic as I take oil created plastic and move it from garbage cans to recycling bins.  People are often offended as I communicate with them their thoughtless methods of consumption, feeling no need to take ownership of the state of Planetary Affairs they are actively contributing to the destruction of.  This is why I took the Pledge of Resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline is designed to take some of the dirtiest sand on our planet, know as Tar Sand, and convert it into a fluid product to be pumped across our nation as an international export.  The goal is to access this product in Canada, ship it across the United States, then refine it in Texas and export it to Asia – that is they want to export the excess product.  Truth is that Tar Sand gasoline is already being consumed in states like Colorado without much knowledge by the average consumer.
And this is why I went to the Action Leader training for these upcoming nonviolent resistance.   I am grateful these organizations: The other 98%, Rainforest Action Network, and Credo Action Network  banded together to provide a wide variety of training exercises to help prepare me to lead active resistance against the KXL Pipeline.  Please take some time to learn more about this important topic, sign the Pledge of Resistance and become one of the many that will tell President Obama that this isn’t the type of change we signed up for!