The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Legal Blackmail

Okay, I had logged off of everything, ready to call it a day, but Yahoo conveniently shows me top news stories when I sign out from my inbox….

How Race to the Top is re-writing US Education caught my eye.

Scanned the article.   Seems some kind of legislation allowed schools around the country to compete in a ‘contest-like-arena’ for funds.   Okay…I’m okay with tax dollars supporting free public education (even though just registering my son for school this coming week is going to cost me a minimum of $150 even before he signs up for extracurricular activities….)

But the following quote by Representative George Miller , D- Calif. , chairman of the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, set my teeth on edge:

“These are my best hopes,” he said in May. “You see people doing things that a year ago they said they would never, ever agree to.”

States starved for funds and unable to have control over their local economies are prime targets for legal blackmail, also known as ‘federal funding requirements’.

If you don’t believe me, revisit the legislation passed in 1984 concerning legal drinking ages and being able to receive highway infrastructure funds.  My memory is that Montana and Wyoming held out…at least for awhile.  Wikipedia informs me South Dakota tried (unsuccessfully) suing under the spirit of the 10th Amendment.

My thoughts at the time were, “Okay, we’re old enough and responsible enough to vote, join the army, drive or fly billion dollar military equipment and die for our country, but not old enough to have a beer?”

My thoughts on the matter have not changed much.

**********

I, for one, am investigating and supporting activities that inform and educate folks on the topics of local resilience, community exchange systems and individual rights and free markets.

Cuz when we don’t need your greenbacks, we regain our freedom of choice.

The New Robin Hood

Okay, brace yourself.   The following information will contain contradictions galore.   It is not going to be an answer or solution for anything, but will raise a lot of questions…

You’re still reading?   Okay, but never say I didn’t warn you.

Fresh off the presses some days back (I have a bookmark file labeled “To Blog About”) was the following story: Credit Card Fees transfer Wealth from the Poor to the Rich.

Not any shocker there.   Any thinking person realizes that merchants must raise their prices in order to sustain profit margins in the face of per-swipe and transaction fees.   Credit card companies with the best ‘customer rewards’ also charge merchants the highest fees – c’mon, those ‘free’ plane tickets have to come from somewhere and you can bet your boots it’s not from the credit card company’s profits.

The not-so-well-qualified buyers pay the same price or more for something than the well-qualified buyers.

Because of my first hand knowledge of the exorbitant merchant fees by Discover and American Express and the lower (yet still costly) fees by other brands, I have tried very hard to limit my use of debit/credit cards.   Cash is how I like to deal and have done so for years.

This does, of course, cut off my nose to spite my face – not using credit means your score becomes the subterranean level of the whole building.   On the plus side, you’re naturally safe from identity theft without paying $39.95 per month for protection.

On the other hand, I have a sneaking feeling that if everyone did this, the banks would have the same problem they encountered in 1929 and other well-known years.   We’ve been lured into the ‘electronic, paperless’ banking system for so long, I really wonder if there is enough printed money for everyone to function off cash alone.

***********

Which brings me to my next thought.   IF we all went to paying cash for expenditures, would there be a rash of DEA seizures and arrests?    ‘Cuz, ya know, one of the first alarm bells for those folks regarding where to search for large scale happy plant growing is when a local corn farmer pays cash for a new John Deere tractor with all the bells and whistles….

***********

And ultimately, my brain winds it way back to what ‘cash’ really represents.

It represents the ingenuity and labor of workers who take raw materials and turn them into something life sustaining, useful, beautiful or entertaining.

Which leads me to thinking, if unemployment is so high, and people aren’t working, then the symbols that represent that work should be in short supply too.

And if fewer people are working, there should, by mathematics, be less to oversee, manage, regulate and invest in, meaning government, CEO’s and stockbrokers as well as gamblers (I mean ‘investors’) should be hunkering down with everyone else.

I don’t observe  this to be happening.  It seems government, regulations and the financial services markets are expanding.

**********

I see too, that I’m a day late/dollar short on starting a local community exchange currency system.   Apparently, California is starting to issue voucher money.   (translation, their own currency)  If they have followed in the footsteps of South American communities who did the same in the ’80s and ’90s, and have done their homework, I suspect they will realize success.

Other states will follow – soon communities everywhere will have wrested back the control of their economy via their own efforts, instead of waiting for Washington to decide if they are worthy of the fruits of their own labor or not.

**********

I still question how much the Free Market movement will save us, given the basic fact that for Capitalism to work, it must gain 3% growth each and every year, which means, it’s a system that cannot function within limits.  As much as sustainability efforts try for a goal of 100%, it’s a goal that is, to our current way of viewing the world, unattainable.

On the flip side, the metaphysical groups will cite “Energy can neither be destroyed nor created, only transformed” and that we need only function within the laws of the universe in order to realize untold abundance. (aka, “No Limit Living”)

**********

My friend Tish, owner of The Good American Post and That’s Natural, has been quietly encouraging me to get off my duff and get started with the Create A Community Exchange system.   I

‘m hesitating.   Primarily because I’m focusing on getting well so I have enough energy to pull off this endeavor.   I hate starting something and petering out before it’s realized. (Which I’ve done many times in the past years – remember my tendency for my mind to write checks my body can’t cash?)

I’ve also hesitated because initial conversations with local merchants didn’t show much interest.   Can’t figure out if I didn’t communicate properly, if it really sounds to good to be true, or if in this day and age, anything suggesting that you really can be the master of your own domain is so unbelievable that I just sound like a charlatan.

Also, for those who are busy actually running a business or working for a living, there isn’t a lot of free time to do all the researching and reading I do.   And the concept of having your own local currency and how to make it work is not something I’ve figured out how to succinctly explain in 500 words or less.  (I am working on it – 2 drafts sit in my “in progress” folder as you read this…)

So in the end, I decided to start writing short little ditties with links to the full story.   I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my job is not to realize anything, only raise the interest and point people in the direction of further information.

If it is, then I’m up to the challenge, right now.

The Slow Money Campaign

Transitioning towards a local and sustainable lifestyle.

Thanks to Tisha Casida, editor and publisher of  The Good American Post, I was made aware of the Slow Money campaign.

Aligned with the ideals of Slow Food, this movement is dedicated to recapturing of our freedom and quality of life through rebuilding our local communities and health person by person, one step at a time.

YES!

Change does not have to be drastic, painful or sacrificial.  It can be as easy as choosing to combine your resources with one or more neighbors and purchasing a whole beef from a neighbor who ranches – and having it butchered/processed by a local locker plant.

It means meeting your buddy at the Farmer’s Market for coffee and a chat, instead of the national chain restaurant. (and perhaps walking to the market, instead of driving?)

It can also take the form of investing in the expansion, new equipment or facilities of local businesses, rather than buying gold from a broker 3,000 miles away.

Or finding a neighbor who has an herb garden and supplementing their income in exchange for fresh cut herbs for your favorite recipe.

Or trading your fresh baked bread and some $’s with a neighbor who knows how to fix that leaky shower head, rather than hiring a repairman that is routed by the 1-800 dispatcher from a town 2 1/2 hours drive from you.  (just think of the savings you gain by not paying the ‘trip charge’!)

I look at my own life and know I’m a far cry from being a totally organic eating, locavore.   I buy my wheat, beef and pork direct from the rancher/farmer, but they are about 84 miles from me.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

I also usually purchase more than my family can eat in a year, so my freezer/garage storage area becomes a grocery store for older friends who have small households and no room to store a full beef or pig or 5-gallon buckets of wheat.    They get great food at the same price I paid (no mark-ups) and it allows me to bolster my bank account when there is more month than money – exchanging what I do have of value for that which I may be running short on!  :>)

I’ve traded or lowered my fees for database and website design in exchange for mentoring, the sharing of a booth at a conference, etc.  I provide sprouted whole wheat bread for 6 families (doable in my ‘bachelor sized kitchen’ – not doable on a commercial sized scale!)

While I still dream of living in solar/wind powered home, with garden space, a chicken coop and a milk barn, where all I need for the health and security of my family is available in walking distance, I’ve finally realized I don’t need to do it all, Today! (unless, of course, I do finally hit Powerball – bonus to the local contractor who can get me installed in my dream home in 3 months or less………..LOL)

********************

Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities and founder of Totally Unique Thoughts (TUT), organized the charity of his devotees into a doable practice – $1, each month, and the proceeds go to different works.

(And I highly recommend signing up for his daily “Notes from the Universe” – there are days when these uplifting messages have been my saving grace………………)

How many people live in your community?  If everyone contributed $1, per family member, each month, how fast would that youth center get put up?   How quickly would the space for a weekly mutual trade exchange fair be realized?

********************

My recent foray into the world of political campaigning, via donation of my time/expertise to support a local candidate for the Office of Sheriff, has once again proven to me how effective grass roots movements are.

There’s a reason why.

My favorite metaphor for explaining why grass roots efforts are so effective is the Pyramid Story.

Think of the Great Pyramid in its’ heyday.  Beautifully encased in white limestone, with a gold capstone – archeologists surmise it could be seen from miles away.

But without the thousands of tons of plain, perhaps even dull, base stones, the blood sweat and tears of visionaries, engineers and laborers, that casing and gold capstone could not have been displayed to such great advantage.

Our individual freedom and creativity, the health and quality of life experienced by ourselves and our families, the resiliency and strength of our local communities – Those are the base stones that make the shiny casing and capstone called America.

Here’s to the Foundation that supports it all…………..

You and me.