A friend of mine recently told me about the Real Organic Project (ROP). I finally had some time to look at what they are doing. It turns out that what they are doing is nothing short of epic and heroic. I have added them to this site’s Resources page, and want to introduce you to them as well.
In their “About Us” pages, ROP explains how and when the US government led organic label came to be compromised. It also outlines their own response to this crisis. ROP are an important part of the movement to uphold real and true organic standards, practices, and labels. This includes the welfare and treatment of animals, soil, and also, identifying the inappropriate fit of the organic label for hydroponics issues and standards.
Their website includes all of their standards, who they are, Real Organic Project certified farms, and more. There are no fees to become certified by ROP, and they welcome donations. This is definitely an organization to support. Check it out!
I started my first ever blog in November of 2007 here on WordPress. It was called “Moonseeds”. The very first title and tagline went as follows: “Moonseed’s Weblog: Soul Songs, Hope, Love, and Art”. By 2009, it changed to: “MoonSeeds: Cosmic awareness, compassionate action, creative healing.” If you look at my website, WildClover.org, you will see that the main vibe of all of that remains true. But, wow, what a blast from the past, as they say!
In visiting the Wayback Machine this week, I found the many passionate posts I wrote as a new blogger. It has been interesting to review. There are many things I wrote about then that I had forgotten. Not to mention, the person I was twelve years ago is, in some pivotal ways, a completely different person than who I am now. I am no longer: a young and new mother, Catholic, or religious. Not only did I lose my religion and gain my own unbound, authentic spiritual center of being, I lost and gained many other things — some of which can be quantified and named, and others that cannot be.
Twelve years ago, I was at the beginning of my 30’s and had been married for about 8 years. Now, I am middle-aged and our 20th wedding anniversary is next month. Even with those numerical facts, there were things I didn’t know about myself (with accuracy and clarity) until the last few years — big revelations that have helped to reframe my life in healthy and true ways…but, alas, that is not what I will be telling you about today.
At the same time, some really big things about me and my writing have not changed at all. What I found and saw in my first blog remains to this day and has expanded. I was writing passionately about Green living and sustainability issues like plastic pollution back then, as I do now. I was writing about dreams and social justice issues, as I do now. I had an unwavering passion to grow, learn, and share goodness along with spiritual/mystical awareness and inspiration. I still do.
What I do want to share with you today is a resurrection of sorts. I find that an apt and somewhat humorous expression for what I am posting here today. My former self, Moonseeds — new blogger, was passionately religious. While I respect and appreciate my past, I just don’t vibe with the fervor that was always under the thumb of Patriarchal, colonized, systemically discriminatory systems/organizations — no matter how mystical the fringes are, or how good some of the people in community are. Direct connection to what is sacred, mysticism, autonomy with inclusivity, Buddhist and Indigenous values as guideposts, and compassionate action remain.
Anyway, this post from my first blog was posted on my daughter’s sixth birthday, and it is a post that still speaks pretty well to issues we face today. In addition, for those of you who have read Recipe For A Green Life, you will see some of the seeds I planted, unknowingly at that time, that led to me writing and publishing such a book.
The following is an edited version of a post that was originally posted on my first blog, “Moonseeds”, on December 11, 2007:
A good friend of mine was embarrassed to tell me that she uses a plastic baggie to pick up her dog’s poop on walks. Embarrassed, because she assumed that I would judge her, and that my own practices in relationship to plastic are pristine — maybe because I bring up the problem so much. I was surprised, and added sadly, that I too use plastic baggies, and am trying to get hold of some biodegradable ones…but they are only available online and in smaller quantities for more money. I remain, like all of us, human, and lacking in various ways…yet still aiming for, with commitment, life-affirming choices.
It is like when I was asked if I eat meat. I explained that I don’t eat farm animals or birds. They responded sharply, ” Do you wear leather shoes?” As if from my one sentence I had asserted that I was pure and separate from the rest of humanity because of my choice to be compassionate. People want things to be cut and dried, black and white, pure or deficient so that they don’t have to suffer through ambiguities — the contradictions of being, and the discomfort of imperfect striving — a part of the complicated living we all do. It isn’t fun to fail, or not live up to ideals, or to disappoint people who want to look up to us.
I look at the packaging of my bread, chips, toothpaste, apples, vegetables…and two of my reusable shopping bags are made with fossil fuels — just as the baggies for the dog walks are. I realize this.
The truth of the situation is that if I were to live separate from plastic, I would not be living in this society. There is no purity or perfection in this human world. Our connections are linked and threaded through so deeply, there is no extrication of anything from anything else — at least not as things are now. This doesn’t mean that all is futile. Action still has great impact, and discernment still has enormous value! Sometimes it has to be “little by little” as Dorothy Day would say.
I cannot look at the daily defeats of plastic in my life and be defeated. This is an issue of great urgency. We need to persist, despite the thorough penetration of plastic excess, waste and pollution in our lives. What a strange problem we have!
Plastic is, as all things are, from the Earth somehow, though manipulated and forced into being. Yet, plastic is not natural, is it? It isn’t even able to fully biodegrade, and instead becomes smaller…microscopic pollution.
Our mistakes, failures, and defeats do not have to be definitive of our identity and value. They can be par for this rocky course. We have power. We can choose how to respond, and maybe, on our better and best days, we do reach our ideals and still fail in yet other ways — maybe in relationships, or in personal or spiritual ways.
There are always ways in which to change and grow…hopefully we believe and know this. Perhaps we will not see the benefits of our positive and rooted actions in this lifetime, maybe we will. We may have to wonder and not know. I want to say for sure, all of this isn’t either/or, it is most often both/and.
I fail all the time. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Yet, I learn and realize perfection is not what is best to aim for, as it is not the point of life. With appreciation, with gratitude, I find and realize beauty and grace-filled moments. Recognition of what awakens this awareness is important.
Compassion literally means “to suffer with”. It is the ability to empathize and provide a safe space of healthy concern and support with others. No matter how much pollution and irresponsible management of resources and consumption our home and lives are involved with, when we stay in a place of gratitude and compassion, when we take time to meditate and reflect — we are able to remain in touch with what matters, with what is most important in life. From there, we can find the strength in each moment to do the best that we can, embarrassments, or not. (End.)
Back to 2019: it is interesting to note, that this was me just beginning my holistic sustainable living journey. I have solved some of the problems that I faced then, but not all of them. I did request that our local co-op carry the biodegradable dog walk bags, and they did (and do). Being a recovering perfectionist myself, I have always been able to hone in on that issue as a roadblock to long-term progress. Ten years later, I knew how to troubleshoot it, and put all that experience and problem-solving to good use in Recipe For A Green Life.
We all have made some great progress in the movement for green living, sustainability, climate action, etc. However, our current administration in power, and similar ones around the world threaten all the progress we have made. Despite this, we have a lot of positive progress that is ongoing in the face of all the opposition. There is still much to hope and to take action for, and the sentiment and need to act (from nearly 12 years ago) remains.
As for me, I have been dealing with a bit of burnout when it comes to facing our environmental and climate emergency. The amount of loss and destruction involved is hard to deal with day in and day out. I have been turning to and leaning on my creativity and spirituality especially at this time, while processing grief and pain associated with our current crisis and reality, which includes a terrible increase in suffering of various life forms, including, but not only, humans. Taking a break from this platform and focus on sustainable living (and all the systemic, connected issues) from time to time is essential for me. At the same time, I am still here and keeping on.
In the past month I have been feeling a new grief. In the past month, I have only seen three bees. Where there would normally be plenty of bees upon flowers, there have been none. About ten years ago, I had noticed a decline in area bees pollinating flowers. Yet, in that time, there have still been bees. This year, they are absent. I am open to this changing for the better. Still, I know that the prolonged and severe winter we experienced caused a lot of hardship. Perhaps the area bees were hit hard. The winter before this last one, it was a very dry winter and cold, then ended with very late snow. That Spring many robins were dying en masse due to the snow and lack of food at a critical time. That summer revealed that many plants and trees were beyond stressed by that winter. My lavender, plum tree, and most of the cherry tree died.
After this last winter, we have had plenty of rain and moisture through the winter. Plants are thriving. And bees are sorely missing. There is a certain heartache to realizing loss and suffering on the grand scale on our planet. This is a part of it.
Meanwhile, I came across an article today that I think can be extremely helpful at this time. The article is: “12 excuses for climate inaction and how to refute them. Using moral clarity to counter defeatism around climate crisis,” by Eliza Barclay and Jag Bhalla (Vox.com, May 24, 2019). I am going to summarize the main points in the form of shorthand notes from the article here, in order to highlight the core thoughts, and to add my thoughts to some of it. In the article, the twelve excuses are something like this:
Talk of human extinction is alarmist
It is too late to prevent a catastrophe
The situation is extremely depressing
It is impossible to escape fossil fuels
One person’s choices probably don’t matter
I have a right to enjoy meat and air travel
Rich and powerful people are at fault, not me
I want one easy thing to do
Our political system is broken and bought out by special interests
Change is too expensive and will harm the economy
“Zero sum” mistakes
Inventions and technological advancements will rescue us
My holistic approach to sustainable living in Recipe For A Green Life addresses every one of these excuses in many different ways: activism, spiritual and emotional self-care, logic, facts, troubleshooting, pep talks, needed perspective, recipes, stories, etc. In my book, some of these are addressed as emotional challenges, some as common pitfalls, and others as realities that block us, which we can find our way around (in some way or another) in order to keep cultivating a sustainable lifestyle on all fronts, and for the long haul. Nevertheless, I appreciate the responses provided in the article, and also, how Greta Thunberg’s work and pivotal quotes were used to highlight and support the direction for “moral clarity.”
The answers to these excuses, from the article’s authors, go something like this:
The consequences we face are real and scientifically verified.
While the consequences we face are real, we can act now to mitigate and prevent ever-increasing levels of disaster. It is not too late to act.
We have a duty and moral impetus to face the pain and loss and disasters, and to act. We can minimize damage and suffering through our commitment to act.
Much like the Civil War and the battle to eradicate slavery, we face a challenge to overcome the immorality of oil companies and special interests that promote destruction and harm.
We all play a part and have impact. Demand for things impacts everyone. Altering our choices can alter the future, with a tipping point of collective actions for the better.
Exploitation and over-consumption is “collective suicide and ecocide”. Many times in the past, ancestors and other benefactors deprived themselves for the betterment of their progeny, and out of respect for the sacredness of life and nature.
This is true. And, those of us living an average modern life do consume too much, especially fossil fuel derived single-use items. In addition, many individuals have power and privilege that needs to be utilized, in order to help change things for the better.
That is the kind of thinking that perpetuates our systemic problems and crisis. It isn’t easy. It is not a one action cure.
This is true, but we must work to change our politics “or face catastrophe”.
The article provides this quote by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt: “it’s cheaper, and will do less damage to the economy, to let the Nazis win.” It is a good quote. Numbers used by economists are inaccurate and will be “meaningless in a climate-crashed world.”
Economists use abstractions and do not work around a model of true sustainability, or with the mindset that understands that resources are finite. Excess consumption degrades and reduces resources. “”Win-win” growth often hides a very dark logic.” For example, “it means that poverty can only be reduced if the rich make money from it.”
Invention that solves the entire emergency before us is unlikely, and a dangerous gamble to depend on. We have to change our pattern of consumption.
The biggest part for me right now is feeling the need to grieve, and connect to issues from a more spiritual dimension, utilizing my creative abilities over at WildClover.org. Good news is, while I grieve and take time out, I am still acting daily, and mindful of my daily choices and habits. I still make time for political action. Taking action, many kinds (creative, practical, spiritual and political) actually helps to alleviate grief, and gives practical expression to the need to make a difference.
What I really like about the Vox article’s responses is the perspective. It is true that we are in battle. It is true that it is as dire as fighting Nazis in WWII was, and as fighting to end slavery during the Civil War was. In addition, we don’t let ourselves or anyone else off the hook because: there is still time to improve the situation, each person plays a part and can make a difference, and we aren’t going to believe the lies of economists and fossil fuel moguls.
In addition to all of this, there is a need to make space in life to breathe, to dream, and to connect with nature, not just to ground and center ourselves, but to reach out to nature and the beings there, to see how we can be of help and comfort to it and them. Moreover, we need to understand that all that we may have depended on as “normal” and “stable” is no longer a wise or moral pathway for the future.
Lastly, the charge that we must change our politics is a big one, and it is already happening in many ways, but it is a knock down, drag out, dirty fight for this particular shift. Still, it can happen. Everyone has to get on board. The other half is activism through daily habits, choices, networking, and movements on all levels: personal, local, regional, national and global.