Category Archives: Earth

Bio-diversity, conservation, stewardship and Croatia’s future

I love a good cry; a cry that comes from being inspired, a cry that comes from witnessing selflessness. I especially love a cry that comes from doing the right thing for our planet and taking only as much as we truly ‘need’.  At present I am sitting in a sunbeam – literally, not figuratively – high up in a valley nestled within the Velebit Mountains and 1/2 million UNSECO protected acres of pristine wilderness at The Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch. I am sitting at big square table in a snug wooden chalet that has sheep’s wool for insulation and tongue and grove knotty pine paneling on half of the flat surfaces surrounding me. Incredibly, I am ‘conventionally’ using geo-stationary satellite WiFi despite being an easy 35 kilometers from the nearest good sized town.

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Medo in ‘fields of gold’

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Tetrao urogallus, Western Capercaillie, Wood Grouse

It’s mid-morning but I have been awake since 3:30AM because Medo (honey bear in Croatian) was warning off something he felt threatened his property – and by extension me. Ordinary, hyper-busy, overly caffeinated people might have taken exception to have their sleep disturbed with such empathic bellowing but I got up, threw a couple logs into the woodstove, turned the lights on the front stoop and the side porch and asked Medo what was wrong instead. The lights seemed to be enough to send whatever nature was stalking its rightful land away and Medo calmed down immediately.  Harmony for the two of us even at the expense of the nocturnal wanderings of the local fauna – bobcat, two kinds of deer, privacy seeking wolves and bear, higher up Big Horn sheep, Golden eagles, owls, and hundreds of kinds of birds including Capercaillie.  So you see my day started in harmony with nature – sort of.

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View from the side door of Dancing Moon Chalet, Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch

The mountaintops got a confectioners’ sugar dusting of snow last night because it was just cold enough – and I gather an asteroid was passing very close to the Earth, and thus, a contributing factor to the cold. The eaves are melting of their tiny icicles in the sunlight, sending sparkling droplets onto the gravel surrounding the chalet. The moment is as far away from stress and damaging our planet as can be imagined and yet, what ‘message’ I got this morning was about reinforcing the efforts of conservation and supporting a dynamic and thriving eco-system. As every effort is local – let me start here at Linden Tree. I think Bozidar Bruce Yerkovich (PhD) had a vision of containment – not his word – of creating something sublime, sustainable and self-sufficient (to the extent possible).  He took three years to find this 50 acre parcel of undulating meadows, crystal clear spring fed streams, mountains covered with hard and soft woods and over the next two years he reclaimed or rebuilt on hundred year old foundations – the Buffalo Lodge (the main building) evidently had a good sized walnut tree growing up through the space that once was a bedroom and its roof in what is now the dining room (yes re-roofed). There is more bio-diversity here (three separate micro-climates) than what can be found across all of the geo-political boundaries of Belgium. While Linden Tree has horses to ride I am content to feed them treats on occasion and have picked up their combs and brushes and lent a hand to their grooming, subsequently being rewarded with soft nuzzles and horse breath on my shoulders. I write here more than anything else but I am cooking and baking too. I am, again as I concluded my first book, in the place which William Henry Channing wrote of:

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, to all bravely await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

It is with great respect that I am here, nestled in this sanctuary of natural beauty in the wilds of Croatia while avarice and willful destruction tears asunder our planet.

Croatia has always had extraordinary minds (perhaps even dis-proportionately so against its teslatotal population) influencing the world at large, the most readily identifiable is the original “open source” proponent Nikola Tesla (born 20 kilometers from where I sit).  Like everywhere else in the world right now (and perhaps it has always been so) there are those who tend and those who destroy. But I prefer to resonate at a higher frequency of possibilities – based upon mutual benefit and respect, and those ideas of such lofty aspirations generated by individuals who, like Tesla, continue to believe in the value of sharing, and of altruism.

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Gyps fulvus, Griffon vulture, in flight.

Incredibly there are those threatened by bio-diversity, by conservation, by those, who in giving so freely of themselves set an example to emulate.  The extraordinary breadth of nature to be found here should serve as a model for the rest of the world but those others wish to destroy – short sighted financial gains at the peril of this beautiful country.  I recently was introduced to the nearly singular, internationally acclaimed efforts of Dr. Goran Sušić to protect the last known population of Griffon vultures in Croatia (on the Adriatic sea-side of the Velebits). And I would like to I invite you to read (and share) this fabulous piece written by Marija Tegovska for Green Fudge on the native wolf population.  Both could use financial support, and volunteers so I am providing links to both should be so inclined.

We are perilously close to the point of no return. According to the Center for Biological Diversity 99 percent of all species threatened in this sixth cycle of mass extinctions will be as a result of human activities.  In this tiny corner of the world for the span of time against all of history equal being equal to a single grain of sand in an hourglass falling I am awed by the commitment offered by Bruce, his wife Megi and all the volunteers and staff who give so much of themselves to help the rest of us appreciate what is truly important.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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To tend.

tend “to incline, to move in a certain direction,” c.1350, from O.Fr. tendre “stretch, hold forth, offer” (11c.), from L. tendere “to aim, stretch, extend”

tend “attend to,” early 14c., aphetic of M.E. atenden (see attend).

I am a gardener.  I am this moniker perhaps before I am anything else, before I am a woman. Before I am an aunt.  Before I am a friend.  For those who are not gardeners ‘tend’ will mean something slightly different (or altogether different).  For gardeners the contemporary French (transitive) verb attendre is perhaps more fitting – To wait for, to await. To expect.

The Man Who Planted Trees, Montreal Botanical Garden

The Man Who Planted Trees, Montreal Botanical Garden

Familiar with The Man Who Planted Trees – written 100 years ago – as well as The Secret Garden (originally published in serial format in 1910)?, I hope so.

A gardener understands possibilities, embracing patience and possessing both a strategic vision as well as the tactical wherewithal to execute and to be undaunted by the scope of making something real out of nothing.  For a gardener all things are also impermanent, the vagaries of weather, soil, sun – finicky plants, and hardly ones all may thrive or die without reason, explanation or intent. The larger world, I think, is harder on gardeners because we do not take, nor can we comprehend the ‘need’ of others to do so, and this causes us enormous pain.

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SE to NW, 7 August 2014

This is my love’s labor (soon to be lost with uprooting myself).  Five and half years of effort; of buying dirt, humus, peat moss, collecting coffee grounds and manure, sifting debris out of a back-filled, disused, courtyard, causing myself physical pain over and over and over again to nurture, to love the Earth and to tend my own soul, all of these in combination to create this.  The mindset of a gardener is to give and our fleeting reward is found in butterflies and bees demanding more, of birdsong and the beauty found in a friends’ smile at gifting the bounty from our attentions and labor.

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My girlfriend Amy with a bouquet from my garden.

Our skills are honed in solitude – there is no world stage to command, no film crew, no paparazzi, no reporters with probing questions or talking heads spewing hate. A gardener only understands unconditional love and finding a path to integration and tolerance and, even as we attend, in the end, we know we control absolutely nothing.

I think about the disastrous records and current actions of global leaders played out as the rest of humanity waits to exhale; so clear to so many of us that the machinations of a handful will bring forth doom upon the rest of humankind. Where, beyond a healthy ego is narcissism and sociopathic behaviours that destroy because of indifference and avarice.  Where even the nearly 2000-year-old words attributed to the Caledonian Calgacus, and recorded by Tacitus in his Agricola, cannot adequately express the destruction we now bear witness to – largely because there is no peace, anywhere.

“Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans Gazawere resisted, still left in us a last hope of succor, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvelous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.”

Regardless of its intimacy, all things are not perfect in my garden – but it is free of warfare.  I refuse to use the arsenal available which would root out the evil of garden slugs and grubs alike (much as I loathe them).  And that is the difference between a gardener and men such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Bashar Hafez al-Assad, of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, of the militants (or CIA and Mossad as some believe) of ISIS (or ISI, as they are taking to now, call themselves) and Vladimir Putin, and, disappointingly as I actually voted for him twice, Barack Obama with his double set of standards over offering airstrikes to protect the Yazidi while the instruments of diplomacy, equanimity and aid are denied Palestinians because of an omnipotent Jewish lobby. The tacit denial of war crimes being committed because it impacts trade relations and now further lobbying with the United States Congress to keep the ICC from pressing charges (I know, I want to be sick too).

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‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by artist Paul Cummins, 888,246 ceramic poppies each representing an allied victim of the First World War, in the moat of the Tower of London. http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/

We have just marked the 100th anniversary of the commencement of World War I; we’ve learned absolutely nothing. Blood still soaks the streets and fields as it did in Flanders it is not soldiers as cannon fodder this time (not yet) but innocent children and women living in the wrong place.

With an online search of the French transitive verb Attendre the use in a sentence sums up – perfectly.  On attendait mieux de toi. We expected more from you. Perhaps being a gardener should be a prerequisite for all world leaders.

 

If you enjoy my blog please share consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Expand my territories

This morning’s tears were based in humility of bearing witness, they came as my girlfriend and neighbor Kanika stood in the garden of my creation a little before 10AM – a silly thing to be moved to gulping tears about, really.

“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 

1 Chronicles 4:10

I was already in a place of gratitude because Kanika, an accomplished actress in India prior to DSCN0146marrying and moving to the United States, has exquisitely beautiful hands and she hates having them in dirt, touching worms and insects yet she had just powered through two hours of helping me to finish clearing a new bed. Together we broke up the sod, dug down 10 inches, shoveled the dirt into a 2×4 frame with ¼” wire and then sifted and culled the debris and rocks, over and over and over again. Then we filled feedbags from my girlfriend Amy’s horses with this dirt and hauled these through our lobby and into “the secret garden” I have created over the last six growing seasons. I was already in a state of awareness having found a scant 8 worms in this soil and moving them to the reclaimed dirt now with gallons and gallons of worm food to which peat moss had been added at a 50/50 ratio, and soon they would have more organic nutrients and plants and the tiny eco-system of the garden bed would be even ‘happier’.

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Shite Muslims during Ashura, 2002 by Steve McCurry

My garden, I suppose like every gardeners’, is part ashram, gymnasium, temple and, I admit, largely an activity I throw myself into to the point of physical anguish to connect with the Divine, to find answers in the accompanying pain, to work through complexity in the simplicity much as religious zealots have been flagellates for thousands of years – in truth it is hard to ask for help when I need it, and often the path to realization must be solitary. I ached the good ache from working with my hands and body to create, in tandem with intellect, determination and patience, a place of refuge and beauty that brings pleasure.

I was already in a place of gratitude for the blessing of the first of my Oriental red poppies opening from the DSCN0137bud it was yesterday into the exquisite crimson silk fluttering bloom in the morning air discovered at 7:10 AM, the combination of the lush purple-ness of the two different Columbine, the Flag Iris and the German Iris and the heady scent of lavender and Russian sage in combination was equal to being in bathed in the light streaming through a cathedral’s stained glass windows and the intoxication to be found in the swinging of a censer burning incense of a high service.

The air tends to lift before dawn, so I had been awake since 4AM and as it caresses my face like a lover’s kiss I can’t help but wish to respond fully – awake and alive, bristling with the anticipation of creating something from the blessing of a new day even before most people consider it ‘day’.

I had felt all the sunshine pouring into me with the taste of the sour and the sweet of lemonade I had peeled zest from and squeezed out of lemons the night before.

And so, to the tears.

Last year I captured a picture of a robin frolicking in the birdbath that I was given by the executor of a estate sale I had attended.  She was back this year with her offspring and over the course of the last four weeks she has used my little garden as ‘easy pickings’ for teaching her babies how to gather worms.

This morning one of her babies who has been keeping me company in my state of quietude the last few weeks joined Kanika and I as we contemplated the next efforts. The baby robin, no longer shy birdbathat my presence or voice, felt sufficiently safe to do as his/her mom had last summer and bathe with our standing in proximity. And as the water drops picked up the sunlight and the feathers ruffled in and out of the water and Kanika and I stood there and took joy from ‘being present’ I welled up and cried.

A sanctuary of safety in which to be fully alive.  To be part of the infinite and endless, to exist in harmony and to be aware of the scope of the blessing to have been able to create with your own hands and every fiber of one’s being. The mandate of leaving one tiny piece of the world a little more beautiful so complete in this effort, in “fullness of being” and with the sure knowledge that I possess “all that I need”. To know such grace is beyond humbling – there is no word adequate to describe what I felt watching a second generation of common robin feel at home.

Oh such tears as these I welcome as frequently as my heart has the capacity to shed. Namaste.

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How Joe the Juicer and gardening WILL get me ready for Croatia!

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The Riva in Split Croatia – in winter

Let me express OUT LOUD (can you hear that?) I don’t do deprivation well!  As a mindful sensualist (my term) everything exists in the mere possibility of providing or deriving pleasure from; e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Prompted by plans (firming up) to arrive in Croatia that I had to really-better-do-something about being able to sport a bathing suit (okay anyone can wear one, but if you think my butt looks like the one at right you are suffering from sunstroke) without embarrassment. And let us not even get into (out of?) a Croatian bikini discussion right now!

I have been making myself kale smoothies for about a year (honest you can’t taste the kale in its uncooked state) but I have decided that since eating veggies and fruits has never been an issue for me the next (logical) step – to embrace the awesome example (and astonishing achievement realised) of Joe (Cross) the Juicer in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – make no mistake this is hard! I am someone who bites into life – as well as ice cubes, hard candy, and Granny Smith apples – with almost reckless abandon – so the mere idea of sipping, frankly, sucks!  Starting my day, and working through it, with 2 quarts of kale leaves, a large peeled cucumber, a piece of ginger, dark chia seeds, unsweetened (even by a nominal amount of honey) herbal tea, a banana and add various frozen fruit only makes my mouth happy in the sense of tasting like a Warhead in its tartness; whereas I am sure my insides are eternally grateful.

worm foodI am not one to waste anything, so the second benefit of all of this smoothie juice making going into me are the trimmings going into my garden – and this is important – because any kind of renewal and growth requires nourishment.  After my 2 quarts is made in the morning – a day’s worth of “sipping” – I put a quart of water in the blender and add the cucumber peels, the kale stems, the ginger peelings, the banana peels, pineapple rind, mango peels (et al), and the tea bags (organic, no tags, strings or staples) for worm food.

The space that is now “my garden” was, for nearly 90 years, an ugly backfilled, bone dry, not-even-a-grub-let-alone-an-earthworm-inhabited dirt the texture of concrete mix (and just about the same colour), riddled with old crockery, shards of glass, rusty metal bits, roof slates, bricks (mostly broken) and rocks of various sizes with a skim coat of long depleted topsoil. It was a weed choked, un-loved, disused, centre courtyard of my apartment building in the autumn of 2008 when I started – my landlord said “nothing will grow there” (well, I said, it will when I am done with it).

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Dormant season – first bed, centre square bed

I started with a square, centred in the space so that if you were on the roof deck looking down it would be like a floral postage stamp.   I dug down 22” below the grade, 18 feet square by hand – more than 95% of the work on my own – (every subsequent bed has had the same treatment). Every shovel-full of dirt was sifted through a frame of 2x4s and ½” stainless wire (at least twice) into more 5 gallon buckets and my arms and back gained definition (and aches) as I worked in compost and coffee grounds and manure and (lots of) bags of peat moss.  I culled seeds, traded plant stock, begged plants from complete strangers, spent money I didn’t have and that wasn’t reimbursed (the garden might be enjoyed by many and enhance the property overall but my landlord could care less about it) and baked for my nurseryman and his wife in exchange for plants.

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My version of trench warfare!

The various local Starbucks got sick of seeing me drop off my five gallon orange buckets to be filled with spent coffee grounds (which worms LOVE).  My girlfriend Amy probably felt the same way each time I asked if I could come out to her farm about her horse poo (deeply composted) rich with super fat earthworms (which would now be happily processing the coffee grounds, egg shells and the rest of my organic kitchen matter as worked into various beds). The nurturance I offered this tiny plot of land brought with it a kind of lush beauty which can only be realised with patience and love.

my gardenI stand in wonder some days after raking and plucking weeds, or after splitting plants and transplanting – oh, what we are capable of when we give of ourselves (and what we get in return).  Which brings me back to loving – ourselves.

Spring is all about rebirth and growth.  The discovery of self can happen in an instant, quite unexpectedly, and it’s often because someone else thrusts upon us a truth that is undeniable. My friend Mladen and I were on Skype last night and he was telling me about a writer (ancient historian) who lived in Croatia and then, the unexpected segue of – you are a writer, people have been chronicling human history here forever, you will have no problem finding work and earning money here because we value such observations.  When taken with my new friend Deborah’s words of:

“Just finished your book. You have an amazingly distinct and memorable voice. Full of so much exuberance, wisdom, storytelling and warmth. Thank you so much for gifting us with a copy. You are a singular woman my friend.”

Suddenly, inexplicably, I am no longer someone who uses words and writes for herself (after 40 years of doing so) but DSCN9868someone who gives expression to emotions, and the human condition AS A WRITER (I am now, officially, unapologetically, and long overdue, “owning that”). If I can patiently reclaim a bit of earth and create a garden then I can embrace the deprivation of juicing, and get back into my 36C bras. In the meantime I will load up on emotions and superlatives, remain a keen observer and a sensualist and (hopefully) become the writer I am meant to be.

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Greenwashing does not make your company a pillar of #CSR or sustainability! – Guest Blog for Ethical Value

ev logo Guest post for Ethical Value, co-published simultaneously

The Coca-Cola Co. ‏@CocaColaCo  “We believe investing in women is the absolute key to economic growth.” Charlotte Oades @USCCFBiz4Good #5by20. #Inspire2Act #IWD2014

cry TweetShortly thereafter came this retweet ‘love’ from a very smart man that I respect (who will remain nameless):

RT @CocaColaCo Fm producers #suppliers #distributors #retailers & recyclers we aim to empower 5M women http://CokeURL.com/l2me8  #Inspire2Act

I saw these Tweets and my stomach convulsed.  Not that empowering women is a bad thing, no, THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING, but, as Collective Evolution (and many other sources) so aptly points out:

“Coke uses “public relations propaganda” to convince consumers and entire nations that it is an “environmental company” when really it is linked to pollution, water shortages, and disease.”

‘The smart man’ I mention, in RTing this particular Tweet, seems to have bought into the green-washing of Coca-Cola courtesy of their marketing team (as do hundreds of millions of people on a global basis), and this not only stuns me because it is so contrary to “his brand” but also makes me sad and angry.  But it is this sentence, from Coca-Cola’s own website, that pushed me over the edge:

“As we move toward our 2020 Vision of doubling our business by 2020, enabling the economic empowerment of women will undoubtedly be an important contributor to our success.”

Let’s be clear, Coca-Cola’s #5X20 initiative isn’t REALLY, altruistically, about lifting women out of poverty it’s about market share, doubling their business, and in doing so, contributing to the health decline of 80% of the worlds’ populations whose average household income is less than $10 (USD) a day! Think about that for a second when the vending machine at your office is likely asking $2 for a single 20 ounce bottle of Coke! So I Tweeted:

#CSR? @CocaColaCo’s #5X20 is actually #causerelatedmarketing NOT #empowerment for #women! #LiesToldOnTwitter

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Artwork by Miranda Coss

Just so we are clear this isn’t a prejudice based in a Coke versus Pepsi (or any of their respective other beverage brands) preference; I am not and have never been a big cola drinker, while I do enjoy the occasional Dr. Brown’s, Izze or Orangina I would be willing to bet that my consumption of these amounts to less than a total of ten 16 ounce servings in any given YEAR. I think you should read this about what drinking Coke and Pepsi actually do to the body, and I can only hope you start to view your habit with a little more caution toward your health (or that of your kids and grandkids.

But I digress; this post is not primarily concerned with our beverage choices but the use of public relations to obfuscate the reality of Coca-Cola (and other multinational corporations) when it comes to legitimate social responsibility practices.  By leveraging social media, optimization of search engine results with technical acumen, strategic thought  and proactive and diligent management Coca-Cola is, to a large degree, successfully controlling its message.  To underscore my point, I just did a Imagesearch on Google “Coca-Cola environmental impact” of the 3.3 million results, (Google is the most popular SE in terms of use – see graph) on the first page of results ‘above the page break’ Coca-Cola has ensured their placement in three of the top five results – Wikipedia comes in at the #2 spot and at #5 is KillerCoke.org. (According to MarketShareHitsLink.com, October 2010, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, which is why having a strategic communications plan that includes Web 2.0 for brand enrichment is so critical in our hyper-connected world.)

So what results are you, the consumer or a journalist doing research, going to get when a desire suddenly seizes you to learn more? Unless you are willing to dig deep – you would never discover that despite their “plant based” bottle PR campaigns that the resulting Imagebottles which both Pepsi and Coke are hyping as being eco-friendly are STILL chemically the same, absolutely identical to the polyethylene terepthalate, or PET, and high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, that regular plastic bottles are made of: these carry the same negative human health and environmental impacts as plastic made from fossil fuels. And yet the messaging makes those of you drinking the 14 (yes, fourteen different) billion (USD) brands from Pepsi   or the 108 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT!) beverage brands from Coca-Cola with all those plastic bottles going into the environment, all those trillions of empty calories being consumed, all the resources used and subsequent negative impact on the planet – in particular water use feel a bit righteous in your consumer choice – my darlings you have absolutely no reason to!

“Drinking” water in Ghana

I am not anti-Capitalism, but I have never, ethically, been able to use my skills and passion to promote an employer or a client whose business I did not fully respect (ie, prostitute myself for a paycheck).  I recently had a conversation with the CEO and founder of a technology firm whose platform is designed to help (genuinely) lift the bottom 3 billion of humankind out of poverty – the same number who also do not have access to clean drinking water or basic sanitation, the identical target market for doubling Coca-Cola’s business by 2020 for whom it will actually be cheaper to drink a cola beverage than to drink clean water! It’s fine to make money, it’s fine to make money in emerging markets, it’s a noble and wonderful thing to give a hand-up (rather than a hand-out), but in my mind’s eye it’s NOT FINE to sugar-coat actual objectives to make them more palatable to your consuming public and distort reality.  If Coca-Cola and Pepsi and the rest of their beverage industry brethren REALLY WANT to help empower women then I suggest taking 8% of their annual profits and fund opportunities for education previously unknown to all but a few of the bottom 3 billion of our neighbours or the various efforts to provide clean water around the world, their philanthropic and CSR departments can one stop shop for worthy projects at Charity Water, Water or in this blog post from Huffington .

Corporate Social Responsibility and the companion sustainability protocols are not ’cause related marketing’ (which is what Coca-Cola’s #5X20 actually is), what CSR ‘should be’ truly is the heart and soul, conscience and character of doing the right thing within a corporate environment.

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Behind the picture postcard – barbarity.

It is the perfect illusion of a highly civilized society.

The wabi-sabi of imperfect, impermanent perfection found everywhere from paving stones and the patina on temple bells to the way that water is directed to rain chains and stepping-stones-japanese-gardenthrough bamboo drains. Vistas as shadowed places that stun us visually the way hundreds of thousands of plants of exactly the same botanical genus cascade across a tiered parkscape, and tiny smooth stones of all the same colour are found underfoot.  The rice powders used for paper to protect skin from the sunlight in a parasol, to write upon, for brightening complexions, and for nourishing her people (and so many of the rest of us as well).

Elaborate tea ceremonies, the confetti of pale pink cherry blossoms, exquisitely adorned Geisha and Zen gardens.  Yes, Japan.  Its Imagemodernity and reverence for ancient customs, and programmes designed to honor and preserve its most precious national treasures set an example that mayhap be too late for far too many cultures to embrace. Japan, in so many ways, leaves the rest of the world breathless and stunned.

So in this land of perfect facades of ritual and decorum it should come as no surprise that an America has stunned the Japanese ~ US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has done the unthinkable in diplomatic circles, she has challenged the status quo of the local culture.

Her words of 17 January,  found on Twitter and across the faster-than-the-speed-of-sound media globe, carry the resonance of an ancient gong being sounded and have brought credence to the outrage of eco-warriors, animal rights activists and ordinary citizens alike.  The killing cove of Taiji, the massacre of the sentient beings so close to our humanity in its highest form of love talking to babies in utero – the dolphin.  When I saw the first pictures my stomach lurched into my throat, my heart clenched, the pain seized me as a cellular level and my words got stuck.

Yes, I Tweeted, yes I signed petitions (here’s a list to provide vent to your outrage).  It’s taken a week for me to be able to process and frame the barbarity of this annual event – barbarity that can be found in every society, not just Japan’s (before any of you reading this get all righteous and smug). Senseless slaughter that even as I write these words, type in search terms and select images and hyperlinks, have bile rising into my throat and tears streaming down my face – these are not tears of gratitude, nor humbled tears, these are tears of anger and outrage and disgust.

Taiji Dr Reese Halter

Taiji – Dr Reese Halter published in Huffington Post

WE ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS … ) please consider watching the 2010 Oscar-winning feature film documentary The Cove.)

 

Man’s inhumanity. DEAR GOD WHEN WILL WE STOP?

Not just to each other but all other sentient beings. 

In the midst of this bloody carnage of waste, panic and horror  a pure albino dolphin calf emerged ~ named Angel.

And being white, and as a rarity in nature revered by the spiritual community for conveying innocence, purity, something Divinely ordained, Angel gives us hope against the unspeakable.  AngelWhiteDolphinTaiji_640

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is primarily responsible for the cultivation of this massacre – in fact each and everyone of us that has ever gone into an aquarium to marvel at the antics and charm of a bottlenose dolphin “show” owns a piece of the responsibility. And finally, the Indian government has said ENOUGH!  “Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose,” the Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country.

Though I have never swum with them, I have stood on the decks of sailboats accompanied by pods of dolphins, growing up with Flipper made the magic of my personal encounters that much ‘more’.  The Japanese are indignant over the growing global outrage – I am only sick.

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Dirty Dancing, Venn Diagrams, Epigenetics and (surprise) Davos

The cherished 1987 film Dirty Dancing comes to mind with its most memorable line uttered by protagonist Johnny Castle (as played by Patrick Swayze who evidently initially hated the line) at the end of the film:

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner”

I can remember thinking at the time, and every single time I hear one of the songs from the film, we all need to be seen for whom we really are and valued for the traits that make us unique and amazing, to not pass judgment or to stereotype based upon appearances or circumstances. ImageAnd yes, sometimes that means to stand out in public and do something unexpected, loud and wonderful to own our potential greatness.  I don’t mean to make it sound simplistic, I know it isn’t.  Like many of you reading this I have experienced exclusion.  In the grand scheme of things these are trivialities, less than the weight of a single snowflake but with each subsequent incident I am reminded of feeling like I was not good enough. Oh, but the snowflake created in a state of optimal frequency is a truly beautiful thing – the others, not so much.

Right now a triviality that six months or a year from now will be (I hope) forgotten, pains me.  I have puzzled about my reaction for 24 hours, had a disturbed sleep as a result (writing most of this subconsciously and during REM sleep), and I am still not sure if it hurts because it was shared on social media in the first place or because my primary role in this event was kept anonymous even as my company was promoted. I wasn’t seeking a shout-out, still wouldn’t be comfortable with this gesture as this was after all a rather private expression from my heart; but  if I am to be completely honest the public sharing of my gesture (sans moi) feels as if to know me is some source of embarrassment to this person rather than the bragging right of my own perception of a friendship rich with shared intimacies.  In reacting both viscerally and intellectually I started thinking first about my personal history of being excluded and then about the concept and acts of inclusion and exclusion in our greater society and the impact of such on our world.

I mention this out of confusion mostly, because I try to make my life function like a Venn Diagram – everyone’s individual circle finding something in common with at least some of those other circles, and then in the middle something (or someone) which connects it all.  ImageMy mother once said “your Christmas parties are like Chamber of Commerce mixers” – (ouch?)  But shouldn’t life kind of be like that? Throwing a vast mix of people together who touch our lives, physical and virtual, all different, all with the potential of complementary, contrasting and overlapping interests, all of whom, because the centre circle of a Venn Diagram – that is to say you (or me), find some path to synergy that might not otherwise be discovered?  I have found that with three amazing, yet very different, individuals – my new business partners in Croatia, as a result of tossing them into a virtual room together.

OH YES, I do recognise that just because we, at the centre, would like everyone to see what we see in the others languishing or dynamically participating fostering change, that collaboration and cooperation isn’t always possible (though another well-meaning friend raps me verbally on the fingers for my absolute unwillingness to deal with disruptive people who don’t also possess a degree of integrity and a positive attitude).  I maintain that learning to listen to that little bird in our gut and cut our losses, no matter how uncomfortable dealing with a situation might be, will only serve to foster greater productivity and harmony on a global basis.

Under the study of epigenetics all of our experiences embed their coding (positive or negative) into our cellular memory and create Imageresonance that multiplies; with each subsequent painful exclusion our being is diminished of its ability to function at its optimal frequency.  The dis-ease which so many chafe against is the direct result of cellular dissonance rather than harmonic resonance.  It’s why the discussions taking place in Davos, Switzerland this week are so important. With a mere 85 people on a global basis have assets equal to the world’s 3.5 billion poorest there is something very wrong and the genetic code of suffering is passed to future generations like a predisposition to diabetes or cancer.

Davos (though I have not been invited and doubtful would “fit in”) is kind of like the fictional resort in the Catskills of Dirty Dancing, powerful people talking about, mixing with the “underclasses” (at least hypothetically) and messing with ordinary lives struggling to survive or simply to live with what happiness and joy is allotted to the masses while they arrive in private jets, sip Champagne and sleep on high thread count sheets. I am not denying the Swiss the financial windfall – though it seems to me that for what is spent on meeting and talking about solving the worlds’ problems could find greater value in actually solving some of the worlds’ problems.

Let’s go back to the the snowflake because – surely someplace such as Davos, Switzerland has Imagemillions of beautiful ones – the six ancient Solfeggio frequencies used in the composition of Gregorian chant

UT – 396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear

RE – 417 Hz – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change

MI – 528 Hz – Transformation and Miracles (DNA Repair)

FA – 639 Hz – Connecting/Relationships

SOL – 741 Hz – Awakening Intuition

LA – 852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order

created the snowflakes at right.  Let’s stop excluding people, let’s create resonance and inclusion and beauty. Any bright mathematicians and bio-researchers out there care to apply their talents to fine tune humanity using these frequencies and lifting people up out of poverty and healing our planet in the process

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