Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

I’m working on it…

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I’m working on a couple of blog posts (replete with pictures) about my experience with the kayak rangers in September.

Meanwhile…

I’m back in Juneau. Working on The Blue Bear.

This article about Voices Of the Wilderness came out today. There’s a section about me:

http://juneauempire.com/stories/121610/art_757473449.shtml

Yeee haaaa…

Stay cozy everyone!

Help Haiti

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I don’t have any personal knowledge specific to Haiti, but I do know this: These kinds of things are MUCH more urgent and extreme than they seem through the media filter. As hyperbolic as some of the coverage has been, I think it’s safe to assume that it isn’t capturing the scale and precariousness of what is going on.

If you didn’t hear Jason Beaubien’s on-air moment and the reaction to it on NPR, check out this story.

Partially because this blog started in response to the Katrina-Rita thing in the Gulf, I feel moved to use it to join the chorus of voices asking for help in Haiti.

We need to take these moments to not only reflect upon how fragile the systems that ensure our own physical security are, but to recognize that as people who CAN help, we MUST help.

I’m struck by the stymying of certain relief efforts by the destruction of critical infrastructure. All the high-tech aircraft in the world can’t help when the airports been destroyed. But at our end, far from the scene, technology actually helps us help. It makes sharing our own resources easier and (hopefully) more transparent.

There are tons of things you can do but the no-brainer, why-haven’t-you-already-done-it thing, if you have a cell phone in the US is to text “Haiti” to 90999. This donates $10 to the Red Cross, and as far as I can tell, this is on the up and up.

There are other ways to help. I won’t go on and on.

I’ve been appreciating the coverage on the Huffington Post.

The situation seems to be critical, dangerous and if not helped, headed towards something from Kormak McCarthy.

A meerkat on the eve of election

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I’m back in Boulder Co. One thing I’ve learned about coming up to this altitude is that physical exertion (and daily Emergen-C) is the best way to acclimatize. To me, the most attractive physical exertion available round these parts, is hiking in the front range of the Rocky Mountains. So I’ve been going out almost every day for extended sojourns into the almost stereotypically beautiful woods.

There is an astounding degree of horticultural and geological variation in the few square miles of public lands just outside of Boulder, and the well groomed and well used trail system is a testament to a community that knows what’s it got here and doesn’t take it for granted. Aside from serving as a large scale dog-run and non-threatening casual date spot for the E-conscious CU gang, it is also a training ground for a wide variety of athletes. There’s a good number of olympians and other serious performance junkies who live up here specifically to train at this altitude, and there’s nothing in the world like the feeling when you’re picking your way up a steep rocky trail in all your hiking gear, and a guy in shorts tee-shirt and running shoes (no water) bounds past you up the slope faster than you can run on a flat surface at sea level.

Near the end of the time that I was here in March I hiked to the summit of Green Mountain (8144’). This suddenly connected the hiking that I was doing here to the “mountain climbing” that I used to do in Japan as a teenager. The difference here was that I was doing it alone, whereas in Japan I always went with other people. Now that I’m back here I find that I’m drawn to summits. I’ve already been up on Bear Peak (8461’), and South Boulder Peak (8549’). Although these are far from serious mountains on the scale of mountains in the world, these climbs are significantly more strenuous than the flatter trails people are walking their dogs on. They require a modicum of planning and preparation, and I find that, at my current level, I need recuperation after them.

So I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that I’m so drawn to these peaks. Getting to the top of a mountain is a singular thing. Tibetan monks prescribe it as a cure for depression. It is literally elevating and suspiciously spiritual. But in my experience a sense of conquest is not a part of it. I’m acutely aware that I’m not climbing these things cause I’m a boy. Part of how I know this is that back in the day in Japan, the sense of conquering the mountain was more a part of it. Now it’s coming from something else.

I think it’s the meerkat in me. Walking around in the woods, I want to get up above the trees to look around. Not to command. To locate. I want to know where I am. To experience where I am. Turn my head and see Denver, a mile high below me. Turn my head and see the Nazca lines of Aspen, telling the space aliens where we ski.

Green Mountain is very present when you’re in Boulder it looms above the Flatirons like a theatrical backdrop. But when you actually walk to it, it’s much further back in the range than it seems. The Front Range is actually deeper than it is high, which is hard to feel in the foreshortened perspective from the Whole Foods parking lot. Maps hint at this, but a map is not the territory. I “know” that I’m on the surface of a sphere, but when I look across the sweep of the Rockies at peaks I know are higher than the mountain I’m standing on, and they’re “below” me, I’m actually experiencing the curvature of the earth with my senses.

The map is not the territory and a picture is not the scenery. There is no way to climb a mountain except by climbing it. Putting one foot in front of the next. One at a time. This is catnip to my current philosophical obsession with the idea that the really important truths about reality are not only obvious, but self evident and right in front of our noses. We have used our massive cerebral cortex to invent confusion and ignorance.

But the reason the meerkat stands up is because it’s scared. And it’s scared because there are things threatening it’s survival which seek to exploit limitations in it’s sphere of awareness. If it ignores a slice of it’s sensory pie, thats the angle the predator will use to come in.

It’s possible to see the woods as a Disneyscape of benign peace. But it’s also a corpse strewn deathscape filled with nervous animals desperately scratching out their survival between the crush of last winter and the next, amongst the cadavers of trees, shattered and rotting. The other day, there was a fly buzzing around me and I thought to it “What are you doing?” And it answered, “Checking to see if you’re dead so I can lay my eggs in you. What are YOU doing?” “Touche!”

It has been found that if you were to translate into human emotional terms, the experience of being almost any animal on the planet, the default state is one of fear, bordering on terror. Yet, when I look at the birds, squirrels and deer along the trails, I see them not as scared, but alert. It is clear that this fear they live in is not a negative thing. It is an essential component of their vitality. When they lose it (in a zoo for example) they are in a way similar to many humans; dead.

There is something deeply compelling about walking into a place where a misstep could result in serious injury, and a mountain lion or bear, could in an instant remind me where I actually am on the food chain. And as beautiful as it is, when I’m out there, part of the experience is that I’m afraid. I think that’s normal. I think that’s healthy.

I’m going to go to the top of the mountain and look around. See what’s coming to get me.

Fear

Friday, September 19th, 2008

It would seem that the folks who have hi-jacked the GOP and turned it into a heartless power-mongering machine, have managed to steer this election back towards the territory of the oft commented upon “Culture War” in the United States.

At the end of the DNC, I had hope that we were not going to go down this road…

I don’t want to name the individual who’s selection to run with McCain has been the most polarizing move in this game. I will not use the name because I don’t want to add to the number of times that name is out there. However I will say this:

It is profoundly confusing to me and many of my friends, to find ourselves in a country that has a significant number of people who will enthusiastically get behind this person. Some are reacting by blaming the media, saying that there really aren’t that many people behind her. I think this is wishful thinking. Others are just throwing mud and saying that people are just stupid. I think this is unfair. I think there are a lot of things going on but one of the big things that is going on is that people are scared.

It is hard to argue against the idea that Barack Obama represents change. He is, I think, appealing to the better angels of our nature. For many of us, this is exciting, and downright necessary. I happen to think our lives depend on it. But I also think that we need to come to terms with the extent to which this is scary for a lot of people.

We are in the midst of environmental and economic catastrophe. We are also at war. This is scary.

On top of this I think that many people look at Obama and feel fundamentally uncomfortable. It could be because he’s black, or because he’s educated, or because he’s new. In any case this feeling of ill-ease is scary.

So. I think people are looking for a reason to not support Barack Obama. They NEED a reason to not support him. For example: Many people in the United States have been culturally trained to not express racist sentiment. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have racist sentiments. It just means that those sentiments don’t get aired and don’t sit easily in them. So they will grasp for any other excuse to run from Obama so that they don’t have to say “I don’t like him cause he’s black.”

People who have two or three SUVs in their driveways, are afraid to change things that they see as fundamental to their lifestyle. So they chant “Drill, Baby, Drill!” It’s reassuring.

I don’t think these people are stupid. I think they’re scared. They feel trapped, and they’re looking for a way out.

They’re grasping for this new VP candidate because she seems to offer that way out. On a completely superficial, cultural level, she seems to offer comfort. We need to understand this. To ignore why this is happening is to be out of touch with our fellow citizens. To write it off is bigotry.

We don’t help them by telling them how irrational they’re being. We don’t help them by telling them they’re greedy, racist, idiots. I think we help them by helping them chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

On the other side, there is so much fear in how we are reacting to this new member of the McCain ticket. Hatred and fear. I don’t disagree with the reasons for these feelings, but I do disagree with the response. Chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

The result may be the same, but let it come from the better angels of our nature. Not the devils of fear that these power-mongers need to conjure in us all.

That’s what I think today…

WorldChanging.com

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I am a big fan of TED. If you don’t know what TED is I’ll blog about it sometime soon. One of the things I like about TED is that I find a lot of cool stuff through TED. Recently a TED talk led me to WorldChanging.com. I would like to suggest it to all readers of this Blog. I cross-post here their Manifesto. I think it says it pretty clearly. I don’t work for them of derive any benefit except in as much as I have a vested interest in the world getting better. If you read nothing else of it, check out the last line… The rest of this post is cut and paste from WorldChanging.com

WorldChanging.com works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it’s here. We only need to put the pieces together.

Informed by that premise, we do our best to bring you links to (and analysis of) those tools, models and ideas in a timely and concise manner. We don’t do negative reviews – why waste your time with what doesn’t work? We don’t offer critiques or exposes, except to the extent that such information may be necessary for the general reader to apprehend the usefulness of a particular tool or resource. We don’t generally offer links to resources which are about problems and not solutions, unless the resource is so insightful that its very existence is a step towards a solution. We pay special attention to tools, ideas and models that may have been overlooked in the mass media. We make a point of showing ways in which seemingly unconnected resources link together to form a toolkit for changing the world.

Every link we post is informed by technology, but the new possibilities we cover aren’t just high-tech. Sure, we all need to understand the uses (and dangers) of advances like biotechnology, the Internet, ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligences, “open source” software and nano-materials. But we also need to know how best to collaborate, how to build coalitions and movements, how to grow communities, how to make our businesses live up to their highest potential and how to make the promise of democracy into a reality. We need to understand techniques as well as technologies, ideas as well as innovations. How we work together is as important as the tools we use.

This is a conversation, not a sermon. We encourage not just feedback, but active participation, and, yes, challenge. Got a great idea for a resource we’ve missed? Let us know – better yet, write your own recommendation and send it to us. Think we’re off-base with a recommendation we’ve made? Let us know that, too, and what resource you think we should have covered instead. Changing the world is a team sport.