• Category Archives Sierra Club
  • A Bold Return to Giving a Damn

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Tara. Her new puppy. Cold. Snow. Sleep. Gabriella. A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm. Amazon. New Phone. Wallet. 2024 on the way. Poetry. Road Less Taken. Lines Written at Tintern Abbey. Kubla Kahn. Notes on a Supreme Fiction. Circles. Leaves of Grass. Ozymandias. The Raven. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The Wasteland. Song of Myself. The Second Coming. And so much else.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Poetry

    One brief shining: The end of another year approaches, our penchant for deciding calendar dates as the always orbiting Earth’s journey around Great Sol continues, brings us to Pope Gregory XIII who chose in October of 1582 in his well known Papal bull: Inter gravissimas to change the rules for leap years to prevent the Julian calendar’s drift away from the solar holidays, oh you didn’t know, well neither did I but Wikipedia did.



    Gabriella. My adopted Axolotl. She’s swimming in the chinampas canals along with other wild Axolotls who will repopulate the ancient waterways of Xochimilco. I get excited about this project because it’s both the reintroduction of a wild species into its former habitat (see the five Timber Wolves released a week ago in western Colorado) and a project that supports indigenous farming methods healthy for the chinampas themselves. This kind of work will enable our grandchildren to have their best chance to adapt to a warming World.

    A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: One Farm, Six Generations, and the Future of Food relates the story of Will Harris and his disillusionment with Big Ag 30 years ago. The successful transition of his family’s farm to regenerative farming makes compelling reading if you care about the source of your food. This farm is in southwestern Georgia, but it’s an example, not singular.

    The USA Regenerative Agriculture Allliance, Inc trains farmers in regenerative practices. Yes, it’s about good food, food raised without pesticides, fertilizers and other “inputs” that defy the natural cycle and deplete the soil. But, it’s also about how to live in a warming World. Someday regenerative agriculture will use the perennial grains and other crops under development at the Land Institute.

    Want to volunteer in the work of Ecosystem restoration? Look at the Ecosystems Restoration Communities website. They do restoration projects all over the world. The expertise and practical knowledge developed as these organization go about their own individual missions will become the Seedstock for a World that can no longer afford any depletion of natural capital.

    What’s natural capital? An accounting method. That’s right. Accounting. The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University develops accounting methods that define the value of Ecosystems, Oceans, the Water cycle, Forests. Why is this important? Regenerative agriculture is a good example. Corporate farming, by far the dominant model in the U.S. and in most of the World, treats Soil, Crops, and Animals as so many widgets to be manipulated for increased profits. Their accounting methods do not have to take into account the value of the Soil, the Rain, the need for dna diversity in both food Crops and Animals. They don’t have to reckon with the future costs of ruined Soil, the dangers of monocultures in such critical crops as Corn, Wheat, Rice. Maybe they’re not as profitable as they think.

    OK. I’ll stop. For now. But I will return to these adaptive approaches that will help Ruth and Gabe survive in a much changed world.


  • Entheos

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Curiosity. The Ancient Brothers. Mark and Dennis. Coming May 23rd. Yet more Rain. Even more swollen Streams. Ancientrails as a life project. Tom and his time with Charlie H. Bill and his time with Bella. Mark and his time at the gym. Anytime Fitness. My treadmill. Marilyn. Ginnie. Josh. Jane. Kat. A banker. Vulcan Centaur.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rocket Scientists

    One brief shining: A beautiful woman with a long braid dangling over her t-shirt down to her space themed spandex had, on the back of the blue t-shirt an outline of the Vulcan Centaur rocket, on the front ULA and I asked, I’m too ignorant to know but is that a real rocket ship?


    Yes. She answered. And I was working on it until I quit my job a year and a half ago. What was your area of expertise? Vibration and acoustics. Oh. I see. Not sure why I keep running into engineers. But I do.

    CBE is amazing. All these smart people. This was at the Dismantling Racism class yesterday afternoon. Looked up the Vulcan Centaur and it’s been under development since 2014. Supposed to fly for the first time in July. Had a setback a month ago though with a second stage explosion during preparation for a launch.

    The class has gotten better. Taking a mussar approach to the work. I like it for the inner work though I chose an opponent for my practice this week. Four areas of possible practice each week: with HaShem (God), with Self, with a fellow, especially a victim of anti-black racism, or with an opponent.

    My practice involved an e-mail to a person with whom I’ve had long standing differences. Sent it last night and got a reply this morning. A sweet one. Maybe there’s something to this approach. The middah this week is kavod, or honor. Honoring self and other. The theological idea is the all made in God’s image trope. Said another way, we’re all human, all riding this blue spaceship our only home together with all the other critters and plants. Honor it all.


    During the Ancient Brothers session on curiosity I identified curiosity as my defining characteristic. And naming what I call the valedictory lifestyle. As a valedictorian myself I’ve occasionally become curious (see!) about what happens to others who graduate first in their class academically. Turns out usually nothing spectacular. Sure a lot go into academics. Some have successful careers in business or the sciences.

    But usually no stars. No one off achievements. No amazing inventions. Why? Because we’re generalists. We easily get sidetracked by something new and shiny. If purity of heart is to will one thing, we’re not at all pure.

    I call them enthusiasms. My enthusiasms can last a long time. Religion has turned out to be the longest lasting, but inside that broad category I’ve been all over the place. From existentialist atheist to Christian to Unitarian-Universalist to Pagan and wanderer with the tribe. There’s a piece of each of these, often substantial pieces that remain intact within me. All somehow glued together with Taoism.

    There’ve been many others. Art, my twelve years at the MIA. Politics, lasting almost as long as religion, but again all over the place in terms of action. Islam which I studied after 9/11. Horticulture. Cooking. Heating with wood. Beekeeping. Dogs. World travel. F1. Science. Tarot and Astrology. Cinema. Acting. Writing. Getting degrees. Tea. Korean and now Spanish. Oh, and one that actually has been lifelong, reading. Not sure when I learned but I’ve never ever stopped. Buying books, too. To feed the habit. I’ve dabbled in painting and sum-e.

    Enthusiasms in my life are more than dabbling but less than enough to gain full mastery. But I must admit it’s been, is being, a hell of lot of fun.





  • Radical, man

    Samain and the Holiseason Moon

    Black Mountain

    Monday gratefuls: Rigel. Her head on my pillow most of the night. Kep, so happy to get up. Orion of the morning. Skeletal Aspens. Lodgepoles waiting with spring loaded Branches. For Snow. Shadow Mountain. Solid Rock beneath my house, my feet. Black Mountain. Which tucks in the Sun.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Mitzvah

    Tarot: See notes from my hexagram spread next post


    Holiseason. A primer. I discovered holimonth 15 years ago. That was December with its abundance of holidays. Then I extended the idea to holiseason. (discovered later that this was a word anyhow. But, hey.) Holiseason by my reckoning runs from Samain on October 31st to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. [A Kate aside here. She left Sunday School for good when one of her teachers, 4th or 5th grade, kept pronouncing the holiday epi-fanny.]

    Holiseason contains multiple holidays, many of the holidays of light like Divali, Christmas, Hannukah. Thanksgiving. Posada. Advent. Kwanza. Winter Solstice. Gregorian New Year. Dia de los muertos. All Saints. And, of course, Samain. It’s my favorite time of the year. Lots to celebrate.

    Reflecting on my radical career. One thing in particular. A long time ago, either 1975 or 1980, I attended a conference. Liberation Theology in the Americas. There were two and I can’t recall which one I attended. Cornel West. Harvey Cox. Lettie Russel. My roommate was a priest from Guatemala. Lots of impassioned speeches. Marxist analysis. Great meal conversations. Bus tours by a Detroit Socialist party that had made some political progress.

    At the time I thought the conference was important for the clergy and theologians. Only later did I realize that the most radical moment came from a member of the Iroquois Confederacy, a medicine man in a 700 year lineage of medicine men.

    At the end of the conference he performed a ritual typical of the Confederacy, planting a pine tree as a sign of peace. In the original rituals tomahawks and bows and arrows and knives would have been placed into the hole, covered in soil, the tree planted on top of them.

    Afterward, and this part of the story I’ve told many times, he gave a long prayer. I listened carefully. You can read it below.*

    When he finished, I went up to him and asked, “I noticed you didn’t mention the two-leggeds.” Oh, he said. Yes. The people are the most fragile of all. We need all the other spiritual forces healthy if we are to survive. So we pray for them. If they are well, so are we.

    That was the radical moment at this most radical of all theological gatherings. I see it now. I carried on with work for economic justice: affordable housing, supporting unions, worker owned cooperative businesses like food co-ops and grocery stores and drug stores. Restaurants. Direct financial aid to the unemployed seeking work. Until.

    Kate and I attended a Physicians for Social Responsibility conference in Iowa City. On climate change. This was in the mid-1990’s. A national conference they had now well-known figures in the climate change movement presenting. Each day we would go back to our hotel and express wonder that this science was not public. And, it wasn’t then. At least not enough for anyone to notice.

    No habitable planet. No need for justice. I decided then that the remainder of my political work would be on climate change. And so it was. But, I could have made the same realization back in 1975 or 1980. Had I listened to the Iroquois medicine man.





    •   Reimagining Faith: Tree of Peace

    Spring                                                              Bee Hiving Moon

    The essence of the Peacemaker legend follows as told by Mohawk chief Jake Swamp at the planting of a Tree of Peace in Philadelphia in 1986. “In the beginning, when our Creator made humans, everything needed to survive was provided. Our Creator asked only one thing: Never forget to appreciate the gifts of Mother Earth. Our people were instructed how to be grateful and how to survive. But during a dark age in our history 1000 years ago, humans no longer listened to the original instructions. Our Creator became sad, because there was so much crime, dishonesty, injustice and war. So Creator sent a Peacemaker with a message to be righteous and just, and make a good future for our children seven generations to come. He called all warring people together and told them as long as there was killing there would be no peace of mind. There must be a concerted effort by humans for peace to prevail. Through logic, reasoning and spiritual means, he inspired the warriors to bury their weapons and planted atop a sacred Tree of Peace”

    It is said that the Tree of Peace given by the Peacemaker symbolizes the Great Law of Peace. The symbol is a great white pine, and it is said to shelter all nations who commit themselves to Peace. Beneath the tree are buried the weapons of war of the original five nations. Above the tree is an eagle that sees far. Also, four long roots stretch out in the four sacred directions, and they are called the white roots of peace. The Peacemaker invited any man or nation desiring to commit to the Great Law of Peace to trace the roots to their source, and take refuge beneath the Tree of Peace. The Peacemaker’s teachings stressed the power of reason to assure righteousness, justice and health. Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, an Onondaga, states that the Great Law of Peace includes freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right of women to participate in government.

    The seed-idea underlying all Iroquois philosophy is that peace is the will of the Creator, and it is the ultimate spiritual goal and natural order of things. The prayer below comes from the people of the Iroquois Confederacy. The prayer is based on the tradition of interconnectedness that the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee possess. This prayer is said to be the backbone of the Iroquois culture. The prayer expresses the belief that rather than take the world for granted, it must be respected, and that we must thank all living things in order to align our minds with creation and the Creator. Usually, a faithkeeper is selected to share the prayer of thanksgiving at the opening and closing of social, government, and ceremonial events. The prayer is comprised of three levels:


    Spiritual Forces on the Earth, Spiritual Forces in the Sky, Spiritual Forces beyond the Sky

    The Spiritual Forces on the Earth are:
    the People, our Mother Earth, the Waters, the Fish, the Grasses, the Plants,
    our Sustenance, the Animals, the Trees, and the Birds.
    Throughout the year we bring our minds together as one
    We give thanks to one another
    All year long she gives us all that we need

    We give thanks to our Mother Earth
    Everyday it quenches our thirst
    We give thanks to the waters In winter it replenishes the lakes.
    We give thanks to the waters

    During the year they purify the lakes
    We give thanks to the fish
    When the wind turns warm a green blanket appears
    We give thanks to the grasses
    In early summer the flowers turn sweet
    We give thanks to the medicinal plants
    In early summer they help us survive
    We give thanks to the food plants
    In midsummer we dance for the green corn
    We give thanks to our sustenance
    In midsummer we dance for the red beans
    We give thanks to our sustenance
    During the winter their pelts warm the soul
    We give thanks to the animal creatures
    Since early times they have been our companions
    We give thanks to the animal creatures
    In early spring we are glad they reappear
    We give thanks to the animal creatures
    At one point in time it became a symbol of peace
    We give thanks to the trees
    At the end of spring the sap will flow
    We give thanks to the trees
    In early morning they carry messages
    We give thanks to the birds
    In times of danger he warns the people
    We give thanks to the birds
    In the summer they sing sweet songs

    We give thanks to the birds Spiritual Forces in the Sky are:
    the Four Winds, our Grandfather Thunder, our Elder Brother Sun, our Grandmother Moon, and the Stars
    Throughout the seasons they refresh the air
    We give thanks to the Four Winds
    In early summer they bring the falling drops
    We give thanks to our Grandfather Thunder
    Every morning he brings light and warmth
    We give thanks to our Elder Brother Sun
    Every night she watches over the arrival of children
    We give thanks to our Grandmother Moon
    In the night their sparkle guides us home
    We give thanks to the stars
    The Highest Spiritual Forces beyond the Sky are: our Protectors, Handsome Lake, and the Creator
    All the time they remind us how to live
    We give thanks to our protectors
    At one point in time he brought back the words of the Creator
    We give thanks to Handsome Lake
    Everyday we will share with one another all of these good things
    We give thanks to the Creator.
    – Prayer of Thanksgiving, Iroquois Confederacy

  • A Druid. A Priest.

    Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

    Friday gratefuls: Beau Jo’s pizza. A rain cloud creeping down Black Mountain. What’s your fire? Ode’s question for Sunday. Mussar folk. Silence. Clean speech. Jews. CBE. Alan on zoom yesterday. The Denver Post. The Washington Post. The New York Times.

    Charlie. You’re a druid! That was the Reverend Doctor Ackerman, my spiritual director. He was on staff at Westminster Presbyterian, the big downtown church in Minneapolis. He was my second spiritual director, the first being a nun in St. Paul.

    The nun, whose name I don’t recall, had me write a gratitude journal. She told me that gratitude was the root of all spirituality. I’ve heard similar things many times since, but she was the first one to open my eyes to that important link between spirit and gratitude.

    Ackerman was a psychologist as well as clergy. By the time I got to him I’d had many years of Jungian analysis with John Desteian, a rich and transformative experience. Jung understood better than any other psychotherapist/psychotheoretician the link between the religious journey and individuation. Going into the ministry and marrying Raeone (in the Westminster chapel) had evoked deep fissures in my psyche, places where my old, wounded self pulled apart.

    The deepest rift lay between my 17th year, when mom died, and the adult persona I had crafted. I did not face her loss. I ran into the black abyss of her absence and hid there, afraid to venture out, fearful something new and awful might happen. Over that abyss I built bridges to the adult world.

    The most obvious one and the easiest for me was academics. I plunged into philosophy, anthropology, geography, theater history, and later the vast intellectual world of Christianity. When I was in a library, with books on the shelf of a carrel, head down, pen in hand for notes, the anxiety disappeared. The world of ideas both excited and distracted me. This bridge still stands, the sturdiest and least pathological.

    The most unconscious bridge construction came in my freshman year at Wabash College. Mom had just died. I was in a school where many of the 200 other freshmen were also valedictorians, leaders in their high schools. I was, for the first time in life, among intellectual peers. Wabash was tough.

    We had to pledge a fraternity. Upper classmen got first choice on dorm rooms, filling them. Freshmen had to live on campus. So. I became a Phi Kappa Psi. Drinking, smoking. That’s what I got from being a Phi Psi. They slipped into my life, those two, and I would spend my twenties captive to both. I also picked up philosophy there, a companion for my life pilgrimage.

    The addiction bridge, a destructive way to navigate the fissure, both helped to assuage the anxiety and to increase it. That bridge began to break down in my late twenties, but not before I’d decided to finish seminary and, later, marry Raeone. Both were mistakes.

    Ackerman caught me as the Christian bridge, a potholed one from the beginning, had begun to crumble. About three-quarters through the Doctor of Ministry program out of McCormick Seminary in Chicago I had discovered fiction writing. I already knew then that I had to get out of the ministry.

    The last bridge to adulthood I had built was marrying Raeone. Not her fault my construction project wasn’t about her, but about a need to have someone in my life, someone close. When I got sober, both the Christian and Raeone spans began to have structural problems.

    To feed my growing interest in writing fantasy novels I decided to look to my past, my family. Richard Ellis had come to this country in 1707, his father a Welsh captain in William and Mary’s occupation of Ireland. The Correll’s were famine Irish. Celtic. It was the Celts who changed my life forever.

    Celtic Christianity, a branch of Christianity that preceded the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, welcomed the folk religion of the Celts, incorporated it. An odd thing happened when I met, through the Celtic Christians, this ancient Celtic faith. I switched sides. It took a while, but the concept of the Great Wheel of the Seasons came to make more sense to me than any redemption or resurrection narrative. Discussing these realizations with Ackerman lead to his, You’re a Druid!

    Later, after divorcing Raeone and leaving the ministry, detonating those bridge behind me, Kate and I began to build adult lives that did not need the bridges over our pain. I was sober when I met her. My mistake with Raeone had been acknowledged. With Kate I began to write, to garden, to keep bees, live with many dogs, cook, be a better father; and, much later, to wend my way with her into the large world of Jewish civilization.

    That’s my adult life, this last paragraph. The only bridge remaining from the frenetic years after my mother’s death is academics. I still love it, still read, think, write. Judaism honors the academic, the intellectual. The members of CBE have gathered both of us in and hold us close.

    Here’s the punchline. Following my academic inclinations, I’ve been studying Kabbalah with our very bright rabbi, Jamie Arnold. He knows me now after several years of collaboration and classes. In class on Wednesday he referred to the four covenants: the Noachic, the Abrahamic, the Mosaic, and the Davidic. These identify different aspects of Israel’s relationship with the One: between Humanity and the One, between the seeker and father of faith and his descendants, between Israel and the law, between Israel and the monarchy, the nation. We need a fifth now, Jamie said, one between us and the earth. This is the endpoint of Art Green’s argument in Radical Judaism.

    “I’ll join up with that one,” I said. “Oh,” Jamie said, “I think you’re already a priest of that one.” Still buzzing in my head. More on this in another post.

  • Blue

    Fall                                                                                Healing Moon

    ballot-e1476388826824Kate and I got coffee, sat down at our beetle-kill pine dining table, cracked open the mailers from the state of Colorado, and voted. Not a complicated ballot in terms of candidates, though the retention questions for judges left us both scratching our heads. Guess which way we voted? Blue wave, blue wave, blue wave. At least two water particles added.

    On the other hand there were several referendums on the ballot. Some obscure, like changing the way judicial candidates are presented on future ballots to a measure eliminating slavery and involuntary servitude. Some not so obscure but frustratingly necessary because of Colorado’s TABOR, a long ago referendum which passed requiring all tax increases to be voted on by the general public. These referendums are attempts to squeeze out more funding for education and transportation, both victims of TABOR’s constrictive grip on Colorado’s public economy.

    taborThen there were two that make creating both federal and state legislative districts non-partisan. Like campaign funding gerrymandering is currently a cancer in our democracy, both in their own way as serious as the orange tumor in our body politic. Voting yes.

    A controversial measure this year involves setbacks for drilling pads as frackers go after natural gas and oil often inconveniently located. One of the biggest oil and natural gas deposits lies in Weld County, part of the Denver-Aurora Metro. Prop. 112 would increase the setback from dwellings and businesses to “a 2,500 foot buffer zone between new oil and gas development and occupied buildings like homes and schools, as well as water sources, playgrounds and other vulnerable areas.” prop 112 website We voted for the setback.

    libertarianColorado continues to be a strange political environment to this native Midwesterner. The libertarian streak in all American politics colors issues with a let me alone and don’t make me pay swoosh, here it’s a swoosh often as big as the entire running shoe. That can drive electoral decisions. There’s also the even more dramatic than in most states divide between the liberal Front Range and the remainder of Colorado. Rural and mountain Coloradans often complain that their views are ignored. True, too, to some extent. The rural vote is often reflexively against candidates and ballot measures that seem to reflect Front Range values.

    We’ll see how much in-migration has altered the politics here on November 6th.


  • The Heat

    Fall                                                                               Healing Moon

    climate change vollmanThough I haven’t begun to read them yet, William Vollman’s two volume work: No Immediate Danger and No Good Alternative, the Carbon Ideologies paints a bleak picture. So does the IPCC‘s latest report. I also reported here, quite a while back, about a new movement called dark ecology that, like these three works, takes a dim view of our (that is, the world’s) willingness to execute the necessary carbon emissions restrictions.

    Much as I hate to admit it, I believe these darker, more hopeless perspectives about the struggle against climate change might be right. If they are, we may be walking down a path that leads to an HG Wellian Time Machine world with the poor morlocks wandering the face of the earth (think the 99%) and the eloi burrowed into her mantle, using their great wealth and power to survive the heat and climatic chaos.

    climate change eloi and morlocksIf we cannot slow down the rate of climate change (which is the most we can do, since so much climate change is already baked in), then we move to mitigation and adaptation. Geoengineering will become a buzz word as various strategies are tried. Climate refugees will become more and more disruptive across the world, especially those moving from coastal areas into interiors and onto higher ground. The already underway shifts in plant and animal eco-systems, climate refugees all, will bring them with different disease vectors, disruption to agriculture and sea life.

    dark ecologyWe will not be known for Vietnam, civil rights, feminism, ruining health care, electing fascists to high office, but as the generation that allowed an earth compatible with human populations to slip away. Hard as it is to imagine the results of this inaction will be far, far more damaging than all the wars, holocausts and pogroms. How will we explain this to our grandchildren, to Ruth and Gabe in our instance? I understand the political and economic forces that have gotten us here, but explaining them will not alter the misery.




  • A Lunar Month of Significance

    Summer                                                                     Woolly Mammoth Moon

    Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.
    Rustic Ranch, Bailey, breakfast on the Durango Trip. Sweet cream pancakes.

    As the Woolly Mammoth Moon phases away toward a new moon, its month, the same lunar month we always have, yet also a different lunar month from any we’ve ever had, all spiraling through space as we follow the sun while orbiting it, I just wanna say thanks for what happened under its gentle influence.

    It rose as a new moon, invisible but watching us, on June 13th, the day Mark, Paul, Tom and I headed out to Durango and the 416 fire. It was a trip both across southwestern Colorado and back into 30 years of friendship. Not to mention back to the days of the Pueblo dwellers of Mesa Verde. It was, in a sense, a way to say to each other that, yes, these friendships are for a lifetime. That this lifetime, whatever it may mean individually includes each other–and Bill. When you think about it, affirming the power of our past and honoring the reality of our future, is pretty damned cool.

    Ode lays out the trip
    Ode lays out the trip

    It was also on this same trip that I read the essays about ground projects by Bernard Williams and about setting a rejection goal. The first one affirmed my existential sense that life gets meaning from our intentions and our labor to fulfill them; the second has transformed my writing life. A big, huge, amazing, wonderful thing.

    Also under the Woolly Mammoth Moon, Alan Rubin and I began digging in to developing a curriculum for 6th and 7th graders in the Religious School at CBE. This work has affirmed the depth of my immersion into the Jewish world of CBE and reconstructionist thought. It also underscores my continuing fascination, see posts below, with the supernatural, or at least the fruits of humanity’s speculation about the supernatural.

    Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, ballet at CBE

    Also under the WMM, I’ve been putting together the Jewish Studies Sunday Sampler series for the 2018/2019 adult education year. This will feature both courses from the Great Courses company and courses from the MOOC aggregator, Coursera plus the odd film or two.

    I also met Harv Teitelbaum. He’s the Sierra Club’s lead for their anti-fracking initiative, a big deal here in Colorado. I believe he and I share a similar attitude toward our current political reality and a similar focus on local races while maintaining an emphasis on the Great Work.

    My flaxen haired Nordic goddess
    My flaxen haired Nordic goddess

    It’s been a big, big month for me and I want to say out loud how grateful I am to all of you who’ve made it possible. Yes, Kate, especially you. It’s been a very difficult month for you nausea wise, I know, but you picked up a board membership at CBE and guided the food committee for the Patchworkers. All the time you’ve been supportive, though understandably surprised, at my new commitment to finally, finally, finally submitting my work. You’re the gyroscope in all this, keeping us stable and focused. Thanks, Kate.

  • Baked In

    Lughnasa                                                                      Kate’s Moon

    earth first“Earth rapidly is approaching the point where the amount of warming locked in by human pollution exceeds the limits nations set last year at the international climate meeting in Paris, according to government-backed research unveiled Monday.

    The planet faces “committed warming” by 2.7 degrees before 2100 if fossil fuels are burned at current rates for another 15 years, the scientists based in Colorado and Germany determined.”   Denver Post 7/31/2017

    When I took a serious Climate Change MOOC three years ago, the scientists who taught in the course referred to this committed warming as baked in. It was clear three years ago that the attempt to limit warming to 2 degrees would fail for two reasons. One, that amount is baked in by the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere. Second, the rate of emissions continues to grow overall, not stabilize or decline.*

    dark ecologySo there is not only the Donald to wreak havoc with the future, but the already emitted carbon dioxide and other gases like methane.

    Yes, we need to make clear to any who will listen that these are the facts, not the fake news of our current government or self-interested fossil fuel barons. And, yes, we need to work toward as much mitigation of emissions and their effects as we can. But. We also need to face the coming changes as they will be and, even, as they probably will be, worse than we imagine.

    This means taking a doubled view into the world with us. The first view sees what we can do now as necessary, as critical, yet realizes the messiness of global politics is not going to push over the line to sensible policy. The second view absorbs the first and sees the future clearly rather than through solar powered/wind energized eyes. It’s going to be bad, probably not too bad for those of us with less than thirty years to go in our remaining lifespan, but for our children and their children? Bad, trending to worse.

    beltane2017gorbachevHow can we work now to help them be resilient, proactive in their adaptive strategies? How can we work now to help them develop psychological/spiritual tools for coping with the cultural stresses that are inevitable? We cannot brush away the bad effects by magical thinking. Oh, the world will catch on and act in time. No, it won’t and it hasn’t. We need sober work on how to live with changed weather, increased heat, moving targets for animals and crops in terms of altered seasons, the disruptions of sea level rise, spread of insect borne diseases and the like.

    This doubled view, pragmatic when looking at the long run, yet hopeful enough to maintain action in the short term, is critical so that we do what we can now, yet plan realistically for our next generation’s life.

    *“The annual growth rate has increased since record keeping began in 1960 from just under 1 ppm in the 1960s to more than 2.4 ppm through the first half of the 2010s. The past two years have set a record for the fastest annual growth rate on record.”  Climate Central.org

  • Base Instincts

    Beltane                                                                          Moon of the Summer Solstice

    2000_Year_Temperature_ComparisonI wish I thought it was cynicism, the gratuitous act of a calculating politician, this latest, perhaps species’ ending decision. “I’m deciding for the citizens of Pittsburgh, not the citizens of Paris.” I wish I didn’t think it was a faulty mind at work, but I do. By faulty in this case I mean stupid. Trump may not be I.Q. stupid, though I don’t imagine he’s top of the class, but he’s unlearned, uninquisitive and lacks critical thinking skills. This is the functional equivalent of stupidity.

    He seems to have base instincts (a political pun, intended) which he marries to advice from people who have ideological blinders he doesn’t understand. He clearly loves being the decider so he takes in certain streams of information, then chooses what he believes will Make America Great. What will put America First. In this case, as in so many others, he doesn’t seem to understand that the U.S.A. is no longer, if it ever was, separate from the world as a whole.

    GOP-Oil-Above-AllClimate change does not care about boundaries. It does not care if you’re a resident of Paris, Pittsburgh, Timbuktu or Katmandu. The rain, as the proverb goes, falls on the just and the unjust. So with a ratcheting up of the earth’s temperature. Trump thinks he’s putting Pittsburgh ahead of Paris when what he’s really doing is pitting this generation against the next, saying that this one deserves more attention than the next. There is no hint, none at all, of seven generations thinking in his choices. Today is all that matters. Right here in the U.S.A. is all that matters. Right here in the U.S.A. all that matters is the effect on my base. (which he badly misreads, by the way)

    He sees the fate of the white working class and the fate of America’s energy corporations tied together, a grim marriage and one doomed to fail and in its failure to scour humanity from the planet. So much for a sustainable future.

  • Outer, Inner

    Beltane                                                                      Rushing Waters Moon

    rumiOur next Sierra Club meeting will be on June 19th, one day before the summer solstice. Sierra Club work is paganism stripped bare of its mythic content. There is passion for sure, but not the poetry, no ritual, no inner work. It’s all outer work: hike, lobby, analyze, network, persuade. We may, for example, show the next Al Gore movie, Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. See trailer below.*

    The work is good, necessary. It is even, as Thomas Berry said, the great work of our generation, but it often feels mechanical to me. Pull this lever. Have this meeting. Create this sign. Monitor Polymet. Call the governor. Write your Senator. Hike this trail. In its mechanistic form this does not feel like my love for our home, this earth, this planet, third rock from the sun.

    tree_of_lifeSomehow I need to find a way for my inner work to imbue my outer work. Todd, a long-time member of the Mt. Evan’s local group to which I belong, talked about a hike he took yesterday in Reynold’s Park. He named a particular orchid that he found and his face lit up. “A bullsnake, too.” It may be that these folks, tied to the very local region encompassed by our borders, find their inner work in being on the trail, hiking Mt. Bierstadt, taking the Mt. Evan’s road, helping clear trail.

    The hike I took at Flying J Ranch (see posts below) was shinrin-yoku, forest bathing. Perhaps that’s a way to combine the inner work with the outer work. Or, perhaps I could follow the mussar notion of outer work affecting the inner work. Not sure. But, there is a need for me to more closely match my spiritual journey with this work. Maybe the mountain art notion will fit here, too. More to come.