Life Sustaining Health

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.

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