When we look at the healthiest, happiest countries of the world, such as Scandinavia and Costa Rica, an essential quality their citizens share is a need to see that everyone in their country gets a fair shake, enough to eat, decent living and work opportunities. The high priority is on Keeping Each Other Well.
Post election, no matter how we voted, we are all responsible to address the problems that stand in the way of present and future health in the U.S.
In the early morning of November 9, I was shocked when this thought went through my mind: I wondered what would happen if we collectively made a goal to enable Donald Trump to be the best president of all time. President-elect Trump said he wanted to be president for All Americans. We all have absolutely nothing to lose by projecting kindness to the extent that President-elect Trump himself begins to emit kindness to all citizens.
Too many people in the United States feel hungry, sick, and hopeless. Too many people are unjustly detained in our prisons, depriving family networks of support systems, depriving us all of a clear conscience. No president can clean up this mess on his own. We lead the world in the percent of our population we imprison.
What would happen if we made it our goal to become the happiest country in the world, when happiness includes and is measured by all our citizens? Will we have the courage to insure that we have open spaces and forests accessible for everyone to tune in to the natural world? Will we save our farmland, our food supply, from final chemical destruction? Will we protect our aquifers and rivers? Will we invest in clean energy that respects First Nations and the natural environment? Will we stimulate ingenious answers to our problems by providing everyone with an exemplary education?
Big job. And it is all possible. People have already begun to organize. Instead of protesting, can we begin to promote, protect, provide, praise, plant, prove, and play?
Will Thanksgiving become a true celebration for all our citizens? Will we be able to give thanks for living in a country that values everyone’s health?
Will we be able to allow ourselves the freedom to make such a Thanksgiving celebration possible?
I caught the virile virus that recently cut in on us. The virus’ own dance took my breath away doing the Choke. This variation on the theme of strange viruses was relieved only by a fast drink of warm water. Others reported a similar effect.
Change of seasons sets us up for these exchanges when days can’t decide whether to be warm or cold and wind pops up to complicate things. All of a sudden, a migrating bluejay seems to be settling in from the north; the driveway hosts a flock of juncos pecking their hearts away at gravel treasures; and fall’s first pregnant mouse met its demise in the attic trap’s peanut butter lure.
Climate change, international travel, and tensions over possible election results, leave us vulnerable to increasing variations of viruses and flu.
Here are a few things we can do to protect each other from change of season ailments: Avoid getting chilled. Be prepared for sudden changes in wind and weather by keeping a hat and sweater/fleece and gloves in the car when setting out, even on warm days. Keep everything that still moves moving with regular exercise- walking, doing stairs, lifting weights or whatever exercises we can dream up. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables to keep everything moving through our digestive tracts.
If we start to feel the signs that we are coming down with something, it is even more important to keep everything moving, in this case moving on out! Our bodies need easy food to digest, plenty of soups, cooked fruits, hot lemon water, herbal Echinacea teas, and whatever else has worked in the past. We can respect others by not singing, cheering or otherwise forcefully exhaling disease on unsuspecting folks until we know we are fully recovered.
We have had a spectacular fall- a full three weeks of vibrant color that had us all driving more slowly just to take it in. Here’s to a healthy November that inspires us with the true spirit of Thanksgiving for life that we share.
Mycology, the language of mushrooms, may well be the language that saves us from ourselves. We have managed to deplete our soils and bring on burgeoning health problems. The threat of more carnage continues.
Macrobiotic folks introduced us to healing mushrooms like Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms. Right now, most of us have no confidence in identifying/selecting the safe mushrooms that abound in our forests. We may think we know Chicken of the Woods, that bright orange-rimmed mushroom growing on trees, but what if we get it home, cook it up and it doesn’t taste like chicken? Oops!
Paul Stamets has a new book out, “Mycelium Running: How mushrooms can help save the world.” The book is an amazing tome, a tribute to mycelium, “the neurological network of nature.” The mycelium is a fungal network of threadlike cells whose fruiting bodies are mushrooms. Fungi create “ever-thickening layers of soil which allow future plant and animal generations to flourish.”
We learn that some forms of oyster mushroom can neutralize soils made toxic with Roundup and other poisonous pesticides that have leached through our soil to infect plants they are designed to protect. When we eat the plants or medications made with plant extracts, we are in fact consuming poisons that make us susceptible to disease.
When friends and I hiked up the Edmands Path to Mt. Eisenhower recently, we moved in wonder at the magic carpet of sphagnum moss (peat) that carpeted much of the forest the higher we hiked. How much easier it was to breath in the dense moisture the mosses held! We could only imagine the massive network of mycelium that made this growth possible. In order to have healthy soil, we need soil that welcomes mycelium, the fungal network that generates robust health in whatever grows above ground.
We need to learn the language of the forest, observe how lightly animals move through. We are not just protecting plants but the extensive mycelium networks that breathe life to the forest and us.
We are called to protect the Earth as never before. The Earth gives us our water, our food, our homes, our recreation, our music, our art, the sciences we study, and the very air we breathe.
Time to think about protecting and restoring soils that nourish all life on Earth.
Despite growing research linking the effects of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide/pesticide in the world, to our health problems, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has still not acted to take it off the market.
We know that Roundup depletes soils of rich microorganisms and plant diversity by gradually destroying soil nutrients. Proponents claim that Roundup will provide more food to feed the world. However, the world has survived to date through diversity. The reason we plant different varieties of vegetables is to ensure that most of them will survive to reproduce and feed us.
NH Biochemist Anthony Samsel and MIT Senior Research Scientist, Stephanie Seneff pioneer research on the effects of glyphosate on our health. Samsel found glyphosate in the vaccines promoted by multiple labs like Merk and Galaxo Smith Cline. The list included MMR, Proquad MMR, DPT, Hep B, PneumoVax 23, Chickenpox, Shingles, and Influenza.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Chickenpox—these are the vaccines given to our children. Shingles and Flu vaccines are targeted for adults.
Seneff researches the effects of glyphosate on our health. Seneff found that Monsanto, producer of glyphosate, initially did comprehensive studies and found that long term exposure to glyphosate caused cancer, endocrine disruptions, bone marrow disruption, and damage to lungs resulting in COPD and Asthma. Monsanto then got the EPA to agree to accept 3 month studies which of course show no problems.
It is the long term effects of Roundup that count. Glyphosate also binds with nitrates in the gut that lead to dementia.
Seneff’s research shows that by 2032, half of the boys born will have autism due to glyphosate, which triggers a manganese deficiency.
Unfortunately, there is much more to the glyphosate story. Depleted soils, destruction of worms and beneficial soil organisms, and more. We now have a derivative of Agent Orange being used to kill the weeds that have become immune to Roundup.
What can we do? For starters, we can go organic as much as possible, check our farm stands to be sure they do not use Roundup, check providers of prepared foods, rethink compulsory vaccines for school children and our use of adult flu vaccines. For more information, visit Seneff’s website: people.csail.mit.edu/seneff.
We are definitely in the midst of what Joanna Macy calls The Great Turning. We are smack between the Industrial Revolution and a Life Sustaining Civilization, according to her 2012 book, coauthored with Chris Johnstone, “Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy.”
Four years later, we seem to be right on schedule with the three dimensions of The Great Turning. Predicted first are Holding Actions: blockades, boycotts and civil disobedience to buy time and save some lives, some ecosystems, some species and cultures. The opposition to the Northern Pass and the Tar Sands Pipeline are but two examples of buying time to protect our health.
This week Kris Pastoriza of Easton became the first Northern Pass civil disobedience arrest stemming from NP bore-hole drilling near waterways in Easton. Pastoriza sat on a bore-hole site near the Ham Branch River, preventing the drilling rig from being unloaded there. After her arrest, NP bored in a location that the Easton Select Board had requested not be bored. The contaminated mess NP left behind is still being investigated.
Macy’s second step, Structural Change, brings in new economies and new ways of being together. Local Food Movements, the spread of Permaculture farming practices, Food Labeling activists, Transition towns like Florida’s Babcock Ranch (new), and Rutland, Vermont (now on solar), demonstrate these changes.
Finally, we experience a Shift in Consciousness. New forms of thought are happening. There is a profound shift in our perception of reality, what we must do if we want our offspring to get along with the rest of the world, thrive and survive. All of which leads to a spiritual awakening to the importance of all life forms and a new means of communication.
Other life forms are attuned to each other and jockey around us to survive. Tiny bacteria might be more powerful than all our human intuition and learning. We need to become fluent in other species languages to be able to work together so that life on Earth may continue for us all.
Challenges continue. In our area, the Northern Pass has dragged on for six years, despite massive opposition. This week, we learned that Massachusetts enacted a new utilities law that essentially sells that state’s rights to centralized corporate energy. Utilities there can now legally collect up to 2.75 percent from ratepayers to offset the costs of long-term contracts for hydro-power or offshore wind. This is a step back to 20th century technology, definitely not a form of future cheap energy. This smacks of a similar ripoff deal HydroQuebec managed almost 40 years ago with Newfoundland over Churchill Falls energy. That whole sad story is available on the internet.
As water scarcity accelerates, we also need to keep alert to protect our water supply, to save our trees that store water for us, and release it to the atmosphere for our benefit as well. Visitors from the West and South and abroad marvel at the luxury of breathing deep in our forests, and how good it is to be able to smell the vegetation!
It is up to each of us to do our part in this shift to a Life Sustaining Civilization. We can join community efforts that support our Forest Society, Permaculture gardeners, Farmers Markets, and new forms of energy. We can write to Governor Hassan and our legislators. All that we each do counts.
Northern Pass Project spokesman, Martin Murry, says NP cannot afford more burial and explains how “dependent its now uneconomic project has become.” Don’t believe it!
All those properties NP has purchased in the NH forest will be worked into their “plans for many more projects” the Eversource spokesman expects to promote. His vision seems to include a massive cobweb of towers and lines all over New Hampshire. NP is just one line through the tip of the iceberg.
Murray claims that NP reduces 3 to 4 million tons of carbon tons per year. NP seems to be ignoring the loss of carbon sequestering trees that NP will eliminate with their 500 miles of access roads and widened existing paths to support the NP high frequency power line. How many carbon sequestering root systems and mycelium will be decimated for their 35 foot pilings along with drilling through our granite? (And the polluting machinery needed to drill, transport, and bury tons of concrete, etc.) Where are the figures for the pollutants emitted to put in the line?
Today, we know that an expansive connective system exists below ground that far exceeds what we see above ground in our forest. For more graphic views of these systems, see How Trees Talk To Each Other with Susan Simard, Forestry Professor at UBC, on Youtube.
What can our forests teach us about how to get along with different people in the rest of the world we share? Look at how tremendous varieties of trees and plants all share space? Now, we know that trees and plants actually communicate with each other and help each other through this vast network below ground.
Currently, Maine (85.8%) and NH (78.4%) lead our nation’s states in percentage of timberland. If you would like a preview of what NH will look like if the NP and Eversource’s “many other projects” bulldoze through NH, just drive Interstate 80 West and see what the land looks like when power lines replace trees. You will see ‘big sky’ because there are few trees to block your view. And you will see why water is scarce, land is drying up, and drinking water continually threatens people’s health in our midwest.
One thing Martin Murray has right is that now is the biggest opportunity of a lifetime here in NH. However, the opportunity is not Murray’s plan to attack our forests; the opportunity is to save our forests and save our health.
Let us choose to honor and save our forests and our health.
This week’s news that Switzerland’s Bertrand Piccard flew a solar powered plane around the world without a drop of fuel sends our hopes soaring. We could not receive a stronger signal that help is on the way for alternatives that meet our energy needs.
Solar is but one of the new technologies in need of our attention and support if we want to make the shift to 21st Century technology. As far back as 2013, The World Energy Council recommended that utilities markets move toward decentralization. This would give customers more control over their power usage in their homes or businesses.
In January this year, HydroQuebec (HQ) announced that the Northern Pass Project (NPP) would cost $2.8 billion but HQ would only pay $607 million. New England would pay the rest. That does not sound like energy savings for NH or control over power usage. And there is no guarantee that a power failure further north would not generate a massive outage to the south. NPP is a grand example of stifling 20th century technology.
Long-term contracts for large scale hydropower from Quebec will not bring cheap or lower consumer electric rates, as HQ has already demonstrated with their Newfoundland Churchill Falls 40 year contract.
What might NH develop if so many citizens did not have to throw so much time and energy into stopping the NPP from destroying NH land and diversity, pitting families against each other, and threatening our future water supply by degrading our water-sequestering forests? People come from the world over to savor our lush forests, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife. All are threatened by this and the many other NH projects Eversource plans to pursue.
Solar and other yet-to-be-developed energy sources clearly demonstrate the power of decentralized energy to avoid large up-front capital investments and encourage pay-as- you-grow systems.
Time to embrace 21st Century technology, reclaim our right to safeguard our forests, diversify our energy technologies, say NO to centralized utilities, and enjoy the health and well being that comes with care-full actions.
We feel challenged by earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, strong winds and usually reach out to those around us to pool our resources and support each other. Great kindnesses are reported. We reach to save the world and all therein.
The spin side of this is that when we are not threatened by such events, we tend to indulge ourselves with less concern about saving the world. Healthwise, the Earth is in crisis. Take your pick: threatened water, not only in limited supply, but by contaminants; weakened soils; lack of sustaining work for many people; weak infrastructures, such as old dams and bridges in need of repair or removal; increasing senior population in need of health care; dwindling sea foods from contaminated oceans; increased transport of viruses and insects no longer contained locally due to travel ease; questions about our chemtrail footprint and more, threaten our health.
In the last century, Tielhard de Chardin wrote about the Divine Milieu and Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave us A Testament to Freedom. Both document how crucial to our health is our ability to be kind to people everywhere, not only in the US. Today, writer Rebecca Solnit, in A Paradise Built in Hell, documents the “Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster.” Solnit researched five US catastrophes: hurricanes, earthquakes, and 9-11. She found that most people are altruistic in such situations.
Yet we need to continually remind ourselves to figure out how we can best share and care for each other and the Earth. Lists rating the top ten healthiest/happiest countries in the world vary depending on the bias and due diligence of each researcher but some countries crop up on everybody’s list. US is on nobody’s top ten list. Okinawa in Japan gets top billing for health. Several people on Okinawa live 110 yrs. with a big plus for quality of life.
We could learn from common habits found in top ten picks. They have strong, inclusive social networks and feelings of social responsibility that permeate the culture. This includes acceptance of a higher tax base that funds health care and education. Fewer people work long hours; they enjoy gender equality, have low crime rates, less corruption, and more jobs. Top tens also tend to have transparent governments, safe water quality and more public trust.
Top tens value plenty of exercise. They walk, use public transport or bikes, daily practice Tai chi or some form of movement that keeps everything moveable tuned up. Okinawans favor plant based diet as their foundation, eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, and seaweed; small amounts of protein (fish/meat/eggs/nuts/seeds), fat, and alcohol.
Health and happiness depend less on how much we have and more on how much we share and care for each other all over the world every day. Time to reorient selfies with others.
Interspecies Communication – what a mouthful! Leadership for Sustainability- another mouthful! Yet, we will be hearing more about both, and they represent seeds of hope for an exciting healthier future for all of us Earthlings.
We treasure awesome moments when we connect with an animal, bird, or plant or when we sit in absolute stillness. Since 1900, many Eastern forms of meditation: Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Zazen, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Vipassana, Metta, and more have helped us here in the US to still our hyperactive minds.
Perhaps we need to look to Interspecies Communications (IC) for leaders who can help us communicate positively with each other and the rest of life on Earth. Science warns us that if we want to enjoy good health, we need to maintain safe water and food supplies, save our remaining forests, stop polluting the oceans, figure out how to speak to each other with respect and maintain the diversity needed to survive and thrive.
An IC Google search brings up several researchers with compelling stories of their work interviewing animals. Universities are developing Masters programs in IC and Leadership for Sustainability.
This week I read “The Last Wild”, a junior children’s book by Piers Torday. Written as fiction, The Last Wild is about finding a cure for the strange fatal disease called Red Eye in an overdeveloped corporate world of Facto. The book reads like a cross between Orwell’s “1984” and Anna Breytenbach’s work relaying messages from animals in her native S. Africa.
Jon Young’s, “What The Robin Knows: How birds reveal the secrets of the natural world” is even more encouraging! Young studies birds and deciphers the signals a robin, one of the most expressive birds, uses to send out warnings that are different for a hawk or a cat and more. Other birds and animals understand robin language. Each animal and bird species has a language other species understand.
We do respond to many of the sounds birds make to warn us of storms or when a nest is being raided. We have been expanding our ability to speak other people languages. Bacteria and viruses are certainly teaching us that we are not the grandest tigers in the jungle. What might we learn from other species that will help us all to move toward healthy lives?
What if we never built a road or building without first tuning in to what would be most beneficial to all species? It is no longer far-fetched to think Interspecies Communication is possible on a much larger scale than ever. We have an urgent call. Time to tune in.
“Listening Is an Act of Love” proclaims the title of David Isay’s book about his founding of StoryCorps, popular radio and Youtube broadcasts. His book contains 49 of the 45,000 interviews taken since 2003 when StoryCorps was launched in an NYC Grand Central Station booth.
The theory is, “if we listen, we’ll find wisdom, wonder and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us.” The question is, are we listening? How much does our health depend on our ability to listen to the people around us?
The beauty of Isay’s book lies in the diversity of people interviewed: people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. Isay’s book is a nugget that can help us figure out how to get along with the rest of our world family with a respect that keeps us all healthy.
Especially at this point in history when many of us actively look for answers for ourselves, our families and the future of our state and planet, we need wisdom that gives us healthy perspectives on possibilities for the future.
Studs Terkel called StoryCorps “celebrating the lives of the uncelebrated!” Each story represents an act of love and respect. People talk about happiest moments, favorite moments, their regrets, something they have never told but want to tell now, the kindest person in their life, their hurdles, and more.
The stories are not all pretty; many are poignant, some are hilarious, yet they all demonstrate the strength of human ingenuity, resilience, and respect for others as they are shared.
Given our world conflicts, climate change, political campaigning, food, water, and energy concerns, we would all do well to strengthen our listening skills. The wide array of protests in the US alone attests to human needs to be heard, understood, and respected.
One clear sign of positive listening in NH was the NHSEC ( Site Evaluation Committee) May 19 decision to extend the Northern Pass final decision date for 21 months (September, 2017) so that the SEC has ample time to consider the exhaustive data to date (which includes many of our stories).
Our NH stories are as unique and important as the corporate stories bombarding us. Our health depends on our ability to continually come together as we share those stories.