Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Living in gratitude

No Impact Man has tagged gratitude as needed for living more thoughtfully on the earth. He writes:
This could be totally wrong, but I’m guessing that the decline of religious life in our culture has brought with it a decline in gratitude. Not that I am laying some sort of a religious trip on everyone—I am the first to cop to not maintaining an attitude of thankfulness.

But I do feel as though we (and I include me) have come to worship desire. Here in the United States, I sometimes despair that our state religion is consumption and our main prayer is for more.

I’m not even religious, but I sense from people I’ve known who take the spiritual aspects of their religions to heart an emphasis on being grateful for what God or the Universe or the Oneness has given them rather than on what they don’t have. I admire that. I’d like to have more of that in myself, because I, too, often find that my prayer, if I’m not careful, is for more.

Here is what I think: that being grateful for what I have makes me want less. Wanting less makes me consume less. Consuming less makes me treat the planet more kindly. The equation goes, therefore, gratitude equals kindness.

Read more here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Running the Numbers

Chris Jordan depicts statistics in graphic style. As he says at his site, Running the Numbers:
An American Self-Portrait

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 410,000 paper cups used every fifteen minutes. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007

See images here

More on Chris Jordan's work here

Monday, April 14, 2008

Schools eating green

Episcopal Life Online reports on how Episcopal schools are linking their lunches with the garden and creating awareness about maintaining a healthy planet.
The link between the health of our planet and of ourselves comes into focus when we consider our food system. School lunches, school gardens and even school composting play an important part in that system for children at Episcopal schools.
When parent Rob Gaon approached the Rev. Jesse Vaughan, headmaster at St. Michael's Episcopal Day School in Carmichael, California, in the fall of 2005 with his dream of a school garden, he wasn't sure what the response would be. Gaon had started gardening when he moved to the Sacramento area a few years earlier and had fallen in love with the practice.

In the spring of 2006, Vaughan walked Gaon out to the space where he thought the garden should be, and the dream began to be realized.

"The amazing thing is how the whole school community has embraced the garden," says Gaon.

That summer, a group of parents put the garden together.

Now there is a garden parent for each classroom, and grandparents' club members support the garden with their labor and fund raisers.

"The teachers have received it with open arms," says Gaon. The lower grades have been most active, but even the seventh- and eighth-grade classes are involved, planting a Shakespeare garden to complement their English studies.

The children are excited to pick and eat snap peas or strawberries, and the harvest is included on the school cafeteria salad bar and vegetarian soups. "We have an amazing woman in our cafeteria," says Gaon. Signs are posted identifying produce from the school garden when it is a featured part of any menu.

Read about it here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spiritual Leaders

Joel Connelly, columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer writes about the spiritual leadership of the Dalai Lama and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. He asks how their vision might stem the tide of consumerism, violence, and global warming in our day:
The Dalai Lama will find himself lionized, praised, honored and listened to with reverence during his upcoming visit to the Emerald City.

The man's message, however, is likely to be ignored.

"Cultural genocide" in Tibet, as the Dalai Lama aptly describes it, hasn't caused a moment's pause in the courtship of China by our business and political leaders. A lust for commerce trumps the evils of Communism.

The upcoming comings and goings of religious leaders -- Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori hits Seattle on Wednesday, and Pope Benedict XVI visits the East Coast next week -- underscores how hard it is to find a role for global ethics in this era of "globalism."

We start with a consumer society, fed by a ruthless new global economy that lays waste to land and people and fuels consumption and lavish temples to wealth.

He writes of the upcoming Healing our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope conference in the Seattle area:
Schori is, in a sense, returning home with her Seattle trip. She was raised in Lake City, converted from Catholicism to the Episcopal Church with her family and was an oceanographer before receiving a call to the priesthood. She has climbed 9,415-foot Mount Stuart.

She is here for the kind of event that represents renewal to many in her flock, while others see invasive secular issues capturing the church.

It's a national conference titled "Healing Our Planet Earth: Singing a New Song of Hope."

Schori is not hesitant to embrace science, even linking it to revelation.

"As an oceanographer, I practiced a discipline that understands that no life form can be studied in isolation from its surroundings: As a Christian, I continue to practice a discipline that understands that God created all beings to live in relationship with each other and the rest of creation," she said in a written statement.

"Science has revealed to us unequivocally that climate change and global warming are real, and caused in significant party by human activity.

"These changes are a threat not only to the goodness of God's creation but to all of humanity."

The conference will hear from the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, a seminary dean and former Alaska bishop who heralds "The Genesis Covenant."

The covenant is an interfaith effort that calls on religious communities to make a "public commitment" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50 percent in the next 10 years.

Not even our solemn, secular greens -- the Sightline Institute and Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club -- dare talk of such an ambitious goal.

Read more here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Give it 4 Good

Soon you will be receiving a check for you to spend to stimulate the economy - here is a suggestion for using it for the global good.

For more information click here.