June 2009 Archives

Climate Change, Agriculture and Alternative Energy

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Organic Apples.jpgMy day job at the Institute for Washington's Future (IWF) includes writing about issues such as Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Policy, and Alternative Energy.  There is an underlying focus on revitalizing our rural economies, understanding the impact of the large Latino population in our rural areas, and discussing how we might prevent nasty climate dislocations.  I talk about state and national policies and issues and how they impact what we are doing in these areas. 

It can be a scary job sometimes.  I learn more about how little room for continuing to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere we have than I would like to know.  I learn about the incredible differences between food that is grown organically and that which is produced by industrial farming methods.  The good news is that I also learn about how much people are doing to shift to green building methods and renewable fuels and sustainable farming.  I will occasionally send you over to that site rather than reproduce the pieces here. 

Here are three recent posts:

The Low-Down on the Climate Bill

This is the basics of last Friday's climate bill that was passed in the House and that will now go to the Senate.   It's possible although unlikely that it will be improved either in the Senate or in the subsequent conference, which is too bad because this bill was way watered down from what Obama originally asked for in order to get the 219-212 passage. 

Why it Matters that WA Has No Congressfolk  on the Ag Committees

I noticed a while ago that none of our U.S. Senators or Representatives from Washington State are on any of the Agricultural. Committees.  I've been told that both Senators Murray and Cantwell make sure that Washington's interests are taken into account for specific projects.  It's not enough.  Not having a consistent voice for the unique agricultural landscape we have here has implications.

Making Woody Biomass Work

Wouldn't it be great if the stimulus money really worked on all cylinders for us?  The harvesting and utilization of woody biomass, the forest waste products that contribute to forest fires when left laying about, is an example of how to provide jobs, help prevent forest fires, allow for more rural business growth and provide a source of renewable energy for rural schools, prisons and homes. 

Brave Young Woman Fights Back and Wins

This morning the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the strip search of 13-year-old Savana Redding was unconstitutional.   School officials at her school in Safford, AZ, suspecting her of hiding prescription-strength Advil and Aleve and forced her to expose her breasts and pelvic area to school officials by asking her to take off her outer clothes and then having her pull her underclothes away from her body.  The Court said that was an unreasonable violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.

Here's a video-clip of a very articulate Savana and her mother, along with one of her ACLU lawyers discussing what happened.

For more, check out the ACLU facts and arguments on this case.

Some Questions to Guide Us Here

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Rainbow Lodge Bell.jpgWhat is going on where you are?  How is the shift that is going on in the world affecting what is going on around us?  What are you doing as part of that?  What help do you need and from whom?   

(Photo at left by Sarah Murphy-Kangas)

A Women's Retreat

These were the interrelated questions asked at the last session of a three-day women's retreat I just returned from.  There were 35 other wonderful women spanning ages from their early eighties to the mid-thirties.  We bring a lot of different experiences to share and learn from.  

The women in their seventies and early eighties now went back to school or moved into the work world after being in more personal worlds - having and raising children, or perhaps teaching or nursing.  They raised their children or taught or cared for other people's children.  To over-generalize, they did a powerful job but they knew they could do more and, when the opportunity came, they did.  They really pioneered out in the world.

There were several groups of women now from their late fifties to sixties, women who started to go into business as well as move upward in teaching and nursing.  Many, which was also true in the oldest cohort above, worked as facilitators and trainers in those corporations or non-profits, a position that takes you deep into the belly of the beast.  The kicker for this generation of which I am one: we succeeded in a world that none of us grew up expecting to be a part of.   We pretty much had to pivot from expecting to grow up and get married and raise children or teach or nurse to having to find a job in a world of cubicles and labor unions and non-profits and government and school and hospital systems and more. This world had norms and customs we were not familiar with.  But we did it and we changed the world and it left a few scars, some barely remembered now.   

This group has a deficit of women now in their forties and early fifties.  The couple we have didn't happen to be there this year.  

Then we had four women in their mid-thirties, four of the six who had come in last year as a cohort, a way to bring a group of younger women in so that they would have people their age to share the experience with, just as the first of the women in this group had over twenty years ago when they began this annual retreat thing.

These young women are a joy to behold.  It is just lovely to see women who are mostly confident about being in the world in whichever way suits them best at the time -being a full-time Mom at home or starting a small business or working and then coming home to be a Mom.  They are creating their own world and they are at ease in every corner of it.  All of us take some credit for creating a world that allowed this to happen.  We all said it could.  It is!  It worked!  These women are kicking ass in their workplaces and meditating or creating community or raising children in their spare time.  Not that it's easy.  But they bring both a playfulness or ease and purposeful intention that is a delight.  

Gathering Altar.jpgSo back to those questions . . . .

Toward the end we were talking about what we were seeing in the world, what we are doing to engage in the communities we are in.  It was a joyful, uplifting experience to hear the answers to the questions above.  This is a group of women who know they are privileged, not particularly rich but comfortable with the education and experience to have some impact in the world.  We remind ourselves and each other of this privilege at times.  We are grappling with what that means, each in our own way.  How can we use our skills to contribute right now?

It was while listening to these women answer the above questions that I realized that I had the finishing focus for this website/blog.  This is a blog that hopes to give people a place to share the answers to those questions.  And more, certainly.  But that is the core of what this site is about. 

Here are but a few of the things that one or another of these women were saying about what they have seen out there and what they themselves are doing:

  • "Last year, after the election, I saw a women waiting in a doctor's lounge, crocheting a shawl and asked her whom it was for. She said, "Obama said for us to help other people.  This is what I'm doing.  Someone will need it"."
  • "I think I'll start planning issue forums for the older folks' institute I work with.  I'm going to ask you and you and you, pointing at different ones of us, to come and talk about these things you know and do.
  • "I'm gardening and loving it.  I'm the president of my 70 women Gardening Club, most of whom have been doing this awhile and we are talking about amazing things - climate change and preserving soil and our children and grand-children.  I learn so much from them."
  • "Our group goes to Kenya two-three times a year and we reconnect to our ancestry and we work with these wonderful women and men from there - building schools and libraries and providing small business opportunities and working with the children on the street."
  • "I work with a large group of Catholic women in Western Washington who share a joyous spirit of service.  I'm going to talk with them about these issues that I care about deeply and together we will find the next steps."
  • "I wrote a book on healing, you know about that, another woman reminded us.  In the last year, I have been traveling and talking, demonstrating to people how meditation and compassion can create a state where energy gets transmitted and can heal other people."
  • "I want to use some of the monthly young mother's get-together time to talk about real issues like food safety and buying local and climate change."

And, I swear that this is but a fraction of what these 36 women talked about doing now or preparing to do.  I will write about much else of what they are doing or they will tell their own stories as well.  There is a lot of energy being unleashed in the world.

As the lines from the song written by local Catholic theologian Denise Pyles played and sung at our retreat and displayed at the top of the site says, "We are growing a new story.  Living with radical hope." 

I bet you've got a story as well.  Tell us your story, please.  

"Imagine" - A Puff of Hope from an Earlier Era

John Lennon speaks to us about hope from a time that seems achingly long ago:


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This page is an archive of entries from June 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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