To Find Balance

Last night I watched a documentary that spoke to me in too many ways to count. No Impact Man follows a family of three in New York City, as they venture out to consume less, and produce ideally no waste- for a year. Not only was it moving in the environmentalism aspect, but what stood out to me was the message about Community, Family and having a relationship with the Earth beneath our feet.

When Colin Beavan spoke about community, he stressed the importance of it. The lack of community our society has developed is truly linked to sickness, pollution, poor diet, disease and an overall disconnect. It seems that we are farthest away from the things closest to our being- to our very physical location. If you can tell me you know and could rely on your neighbors for anything, I’d say good for you; you’re probably above average. If you can tell me you take part in community events, community gatherings, efforts and projects, I’d say good for you; you’re working towards the heart of the issue.

Criticism hit hard as Beavan’s family began this journey, with many critics saying things like “The Year of no Toilet Paper, but Plenty of Ass.” His response; why does it have to be critical- how about this?

“The year I lost 20lbs. without going to the gym once. Or the year we didn’t watch TV and became much better parents as a result. Or the year we ate locally and seasonally and it ended up reversing my wife’s prediabetic condition.”

Forget analyzing why someone is doing something, accept that they’re doing it and learn to be humbled by their eagerness to grow with an open mind- maybe even grow to take on that way of thinking yourself.

I think within our communities we have become so disconnected from one another that, like Beavan says, we have no one to hold us accountable for our actions. We think I’ll recycle, I’ll eat more veggies, I’ll walk instead of the bus. These things aren’t enough- it needs to start as a front, a front beginning with an entire community. Though focused on diet, Gene Stone in Forks over Knives says,

“Consider this: If the entire U.S. population were to adopt a plant-based diet for just one day, the nation would conserve the following resources*: • 100 billion gallons of drinking water, enough for every person in every home in New England for nearly four months • 1.5 billion pounds of crops, enough to feed the population of New Mexico for over a year • 70 million gallons of gasoline, enough to fuel every car in Canada and Mexico • 33 tons of antibiotics.”

Now this is just to highlight the importance of what Beavan had done. The documentary hardly touches on the fact that with his ‘environmentally conscious’ meals & product consumption, they were able to reverse his wife’s pre-diabetic condition; on diet and consumption alone. How do these things not register with people?! They are stone. cold. facts.

“Unfortunately, the link between diet and health is still not well understood by many doctors, who are not required to take courses on nutrition in school, and who therefore rely on pills and procedures to treat patients.” -Gene Stone; Forks Over Knives

These things motivate me. They make me want to bring the message into the lives of others. I’m only one person, I have only but two hands- but the changes I wish to bring with them, that’s on me. Beavan speaks about the relationship he was able to cultivate with the Earth through this year of sustainability. He said it took that year of “going without” to create an environment for him to foster a relationship between himself and the very dirt he walks on. Though every square inch may be covered with sidewalks and buildings, he fosters this relationship through work in a community garden. Something I will be blessed to work among this coming Summer.

Fostering a relationship with the Earth is a healing journey. Touch the dirt, understand the potentials it holds. Fathom the power of elements and what the could provide for humankind, should we turn our ignorant minds to the possibilities. Now think, with this dirt alone I can foster nourishment for myself and my family, with this dirt, sunlight and water; I can be humbled. 

I have struggled to find humbling thoughts while stuck at this job, in this cubicle, in this ghetto town so full of everything but community. I have struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see my path clear or to understand how I truly will accomplish my goals. I fight every day to push through- despite weary hearts from Family Members, despite “knowing better,” I have to find the balance between reality and the fast-track to my dreams. When I do find this, it is my hope that I will be humbled by my progress and continue to move forward in a way that will put pride on the faces of my Family Members, and calm worries they might have had about my decisions. I want 100% support, but perhaps by not having it; this will propel me forward that much faster to success- that is the hope.

Ask yourself, is it possible to have a good life, without wasting so much?

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To Feel Delight in the Dirt on my Feet!

Earth plasters, Adobe, Dirt cement blocks. Just a few of the things I contemplate my house will be constructed of… (scratching my head as I try to convince future me that it will be a piece of cake!) I’ll live in a hut one day, I will. I don’t need four drywalls to make my home. All I’ll need is protection from the elements. Safe from wind, rain and animal. (And of course all the other terrifyingly awesome things Michigan’s  weather system can throw us). My inspiration to this post? Mother Earth News. If you have never had the delight of reading their articles… I suggest you start now.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/earthen-homes-zm0z12aszmat.aspx?page=2

Building Earthen Homes

An entire DIY collection of Earthy materials to build your home from, or how to conjure them up. I’ve been motivated by my stay in a simple shack of a “cabin.” Though small, drab and full of the sometimes unwelcome beetle, spider and fly, it became home. It became a retreat, some place that I truly hold dear to my heart. It was full of things I wish to bring to my small & drab life back home. I shall create for myself an oasis made of earth- even if it is within four rented walls. I will do this until I have the freedom to create on my own a beautiful retreat built ground up from earth. As if the dirt itself stood up to provide me with protection, as it already does in so many ways.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

“The Earth provides for our every need for free, so why do we work for others to earn an illusory unit of value to buy what is freely available?” -AboveTopSecrets.com
“Our primeval Mother Earth is an organism that no science in the world can rationalise. Everything on her that crawls and flies is dependent upon Her and all must hopelessly perish if that Earth dies that feeds us.” -Victor Schauburger
“If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.” -Joseph Wood Krutch
“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” –Thomas Jefferson

There is pleasure in the pathless woods

There is rapture in the lonely shore

There is society where none intrudes

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not man the less, but nature more

-Lord Byron

I must live among the natural. These dry-walls, keeping me warm with chemically formed fur and a shelter from above made from tar and steel. These things are not real, nor natural or seemingly healthy the plentiful ground we walk on. “The Earth delights to feel your bare feet!!!” Isn’t it the truth, but I think I’m given the gift when my toes hit the dust. What sense would it make to protect my life, my family and being with for manufactured walls, when earth could make for me the most beautiful, protective structure that could live. The best part? When my time on earth has come and gone, my structure with stand or crumble. And if it should crumble I will rest easy knowing it has humbly returned to it’s rightful owner, to be used again by another.

One of the most inspiring men I have studied: Michael Reynolds, an eco architect. His homes create that oasis that my future-self longs for. Check his stuff out… http://www.garbagewarrior.com/

His documentary is also available on http://www.topdocumentaryfilms.com

He creations are beautiful, honor the earth and were constructed with community in mind.

If you’d ever believe it, they rely only on earth’s power to provide for them the means to live. Why do we tend to act as if no one had done it before us? No one could have survived with out these technologies. Well believe, because it’s possible. And truth is, it holds such an immense amount of beauty, no man could ever recreate what the earth provides. No scientist, medicine man or architect will ever create what is provided for us in dirt. Culture the earth quickly before our culture spreads.