Summer Solstice: Optimism Fledges

By RM Allen, author of “NH Goddess Chronicles” series. http://www.NHgoddess.com

phoebe nest under my porch summer solstice 2016

This summer solstice weekend we had guests and they brought their two active dogs. This is nothing new, every one brings their dogs when they come to visit us at our summer farmhouse. As the car pulled into our driveway and the family all spilled out, suddenly a red flag went up: protect the nest!

For the past few weeks we had been keeping an eye on a small mud and moss nest a pair of Phoebes had built under the back porch. I quietly excused myself and went around the back of the house. The pile of eyes in the nest looked on in silent alarm as a poster-sized chunk of chicken wire was slowly and strategically secured to obstruct possible sniffing canine snouts. I had not been so close to the nest before, and now I noticed those babies were just about big enough to leave the nest. I hoped the chicken wire would hold through the weekend so the babies could begin their flying lessons in a few days. I would remove the chicken wire as soon as the visitors left.

However, the next day while washing the dishes, I looked out the window at some kind of fluttering and chirping sky-ruckus near the nest. Darn it – the dogs! As I ran out the door, my dripping hands grabbed a dish towel to shoo the dogs away from the nest. Only when I got outside, no dogs were in sight. I peeked under the porch. The nest was empty. I looked on the ground fearing the worst. No dead birds. I looked around in the nearby peach tree: no nervous parents, in fact no birds at all. All was quiet in the dappled sunshine. My pessimism turned to optimism. Every bird had successfully fledged and I had seen it through the window! Although I didn’t know it at the time……

This is also what I think about the Paris Climate Summit. We witnessed history, but don’t really know it at this time (as a people).

This climate tipping point had been coming on for years through the work of global-warming harbingers like Bill McKibben. And then one year ago (at summer solstice as I recall) Pope Francis issued his climate change encyclical, which set the stage for global cooperation at a two-week conference scheduled for December 2015 in Paris, France. The 2015 Paris conference coordinator, Christiana Figueres, worked tirelessly (for years) and succeeded in getting 195 countries to show up and submit their plan of action. The “Paris Agreement” was signed by all at the end of the two weeks. This was pretty much a shocker after the failed Copenhagen Climate Summit. It has taken a while to settle in, but I keep reading news articles about smart new initiatives world leaders are embracing as they enact their plans of action. It is exciting.

In her recent TED Talk, Ms. Figueres tells the inside story of the Paris Agreement.  She speaks on injecting “relentless optimism” into the system. Her slides show exactly how optimism spread in advance of and then at the conference, and how that optimism was transformational. I submit to you, on this shimmering summer solstice day 2016, that on a global scale this optimism has fledged just like my little Phoebes. We (as a people) may not be expert flyers yet, but at least we have finally left the nest – and just in time.

Whether we were once ignorant of climate change, or understood and felt hopeless despair, or even were once a climate-denier, I propose that optimism has carried the day. I don’t say this naively: there is still much work to do and things will never quite be the same. But the bottom line is this: climate optimism has fledged.

Watch Christiana Figueres here and get inspired!

 

Mother Earth as Suffragette?

by: RM Allen, author of NH Goddess Chronicles series

April 2016

Did you ever give thought to what you would do if you lived in the days of the Suffragettes or Abolishionists? You don’t have to ponder anymore, because we are in the midst of the social struggle of our time, and it is called Climate Change.

As I see it, the seeds of the great social justice movement of “our times” have sprouted in the incubators of places like 350.org, and this Earth Day will see those seedlings being set outside to harden off and set deep roots.

The moral issue here is one of asking ourselves that, despite what is legal or not legal at this time, can we as a people go on with business as usual knowing that many daily actions we take for granted are condemning other peoples, as well as our children and grandchildren, to lives of lack?

Wen Stephenson, in his new book “What We’re Fighting for Now is Each Other,” traces the beginnings of the climate movement up through today. Then he talks about tomorrow; humanity’s moral compass finds True North and civil disobedience is enacted on a larger scale. Training is underway all over the globe, and it is trickling into the coffee shops in my town. Two ladies I know are training with a local chapter of the Climate Disobedience Center so that they may intelligently participate in peaceful “direct actions” coordinated by 350.org and others on May 14th, 2016.  That day may or may not result in their police arrest.

What is direct action for climate? It is when you chain yourself to a strip-mining tractor, or take your boat out in front of a coal ship, or bid on oil/ gas land leases that you cannot afford. In short, it is disruption – disrupting something that is currently legal but should not be, things like denying opportunity and voting rights to women and before that, freedom to blacks. This time it is Mother Nature that is being disrespected and oppressed. She is far from being powerless though, she has the power to turn tables and condemn us all to a “life of lack.”

The good news is that many are waking up to this fact. The “dark money” supported climate-denier era is over. Direct action is afoot. Perhaps this Earth Day you may want to seek out Gandhi-like training from the Climate Disobedience Center. I thought long and hard about getting arrested on May 14th, but found I would rather not …at this time. I advance the struggle in small ways by slashing my own carbon footprint, as well as creating a ripple effect in others. I continue to strive.

Wen Stephenson will speak in Exeter, NH on May 17th at 7pm at Christ Episcopal Church (43 Pine Street) as part of the We The People Lecture Series (WTPexeter.weebly.com). His talk will take place three days after the global day of direct action. Please come hear what he has to say.

 

Cowspiracy: Methane-Hoofprint and Personal Choice

Cowspiracy: Methane-Hoofprint and Personal Choice

by RM Allen, author of NH Goddess Chronicles series

I watched Cowspiracy the other day and was disturbed on many levels. But not in the way you may think. Cowspiracy is a documentary about how the current methods of producing meat and dairy for the world are unsustainable, not to mention the very poor treatment of the animals. These things I knew. What I did not know was the extent to which it is an unfair use of resources, especially regarding water and land, and the tremendous impact of methane. The film gives many excellent statistics and easy to understand graphics.

Too many! They came at me like hard spray from a garden hose, I could not keep up. I had to watch the movie again another day, and still came away with the same overwhelmed-by-stats feeling. This was disturbing to me, as a woman who likes to think she is fairly knowledgeable about global warming. (The stats are on their website www.cowspiracy.com/facts  Whew! Glad for that!)

What was most disturbing to me was the conspiracy part of the movie. As Kip, the co-producer/star (environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is executive producer), tries to do good for the earth by informing the public about the many adverse impacts of the meat industry (too many to list here) he keeps drilling away on Green Peace, Sierra Club, 350.org and the like for ignoring this subject. As a supporter of these hard-working non-profits I take exception to that. I find that almost as divisive and offensive as the incendiary Trump presidential campaign. The drama is not needed, we are intelligent people capable of collaboration. It may be, though, that those environmental groups are reluctant to tackle the methane issue for fear of being accused of dictating our personal food choices.

Overall it is a great film and very informative, please watch it on Netflix at your next chance. Kip really put the Methane-Hoofprint on my radar. I was astonished that I did not understand how powerful a greenhouse gas methane is. Unlike the film, I do not blame anyone for my lack of knowledge on this matter. I thank Kip for having the courage to buck the cattle lobby and spread the word about a topic that is still taboo, but rapidly losing that status. Surely methane needs to be addressed as a major contributor to reducing global warming. I am all for that.

The second time I watched the film I had my chemist husband watch with me to explain. In a nutshell: methane is significantly more powerful in trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Wow! The good news is that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for generations, methane dissipates comparatively quickly and flies off into outer space. So, actions to reduce atmospheric methane will have a relatively rapid impact on global warming. However we need to be aware that any attempt to diminish the meat industry must take into account the inter-relationship of population, water supplies, energy needs and emerging economies. Not to mention that family size and food choices are extremely personal decisions.

All that being said, Kip has convinced me that the Methane-Hoofprint is just as important as the Carbon-Footprint when it comes to environments and eco-systems. Will I become a vegetarian? No. Will I reduce my already low-ish meat consumption by 50% or more? You bet. Thomas Jefferson used meat as a condiment, and that sounds about right to me. In addition to being kinder to Mother Earth, I can save money at the market… and fit back in to my high school jeans.

every day is earth day goddess

Goddess in Bowie’s Blackstar

Goddess in Bowie’s Blackstar,  by RM Allen,  2016,  NHgoddess.com

bowie blackstarThe sudden news of Bowie’s death made me grateful for the many contributions of the chameleon Bowie that have been woven into the fabric of society since the 1970’s. He was a Brit, but he did not arrive with the British Invasion. He came from the stars. He was our “star-man” and he blew our minds. He put out fire with gasoline. He put on his red shoes and danced the blues.

They called him androgynous back then, a pioneer in living on what we now call the “non-binary spectrum.” Similarly, his forty years of music cannot be categorized, it also lives on a non-binary spectrum.

As a person, he was very well read and spoken and as a result his lyrics were always intellectually provocative. He was a humanitarian and a creative visionary. (He was an Aquarius with a moon in Leo.) As an artist, he was a rebellious game changer and he changed that game many times. He was so ahead of his time that we still can’t even keep up. To wit: now he gives us Blackstar, a modern masterpiece on death, which has some folks very confused regarding the lyrics and imagery.

From a goddess perspective it is clear: it is the ritual and process of the star-man dying and going home. There are two deaths going on here; the icon and the human.  The music video shows the final minutes of the David Jones’ dying process; his clothes no longer fit, his body/temple/house is in decay, he lives solely in his attic/mind only accompanied by quivering death throes.

Far away his giant candle is all but burned out. Kali, the goddess of death and rebirth sends one of her avatars for David Bowie, star-man, whose body lies under an eclipsed orb. Same orb painted on his forehead back in his glam-rock days. The glittery glam-rock skull is brought as relic, to the temple on the hill in the villa of (w)omen. The women gather in sacred circle and perform ceremony as the skeleton rises to the cosmos.

Meanwhile, David Jones holds the Blackstar book of his life, given to him at birth, up to the heavens as signal that he has filled all the pages it is now time to return. (He does not know why he got issued the special Blackstar book, but he can tell you how he wrote in it.)  A light from above finally lands on the book, then his face. He is relieved to see that his signal has been received, his prayer answered. He is ready. Back in the attic, for the final time he recites the list of what he is and is not. He is only a fallen angel who spoke the truth to the world. A young girl passes by the door, she will be the new Blackstar. David’s rock, what he clings to now, (as does any dying person) are the eyes of the person closest to him. The beloved eyes at the bedside (his wife).

In the villa, the goddess and attendants get to work and create a devouring chaos reeking of cancerous tumors, which approaches three gyrating Jesus-like scarecrows in a dusky field. Body and spirit tussle in the elemental chaos. The relic skull is finally placed/seated on the back of a woman (this is how the Angolan Queen Nzinga found herself a seat when none was offered to her by a patriarchal society that sought to make her inferior). In the attic, David Jones crumples and falls to the ground.

Farewell David, society owes you a debt of gratitude for your tremendous musical and humanitarian contributions. Your black-star shone very brightly while you were here, opening our eyes to new things. Western society tends to focus on youth and shut death out, but you looked compassionately at death and gifted us with Blackstar. Thank you for this gift of art and death and love. Namaste

This is my humble interpretation. Watch it, and see what you see. The music is a new style called Jazz-Fusion or Jazztronic. The lyrics are as follows.

“Blackstar” David Bowie, 2015

In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen

Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah

In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all

Your eyes

On the day of execution, on the day of execution

Only women kneel and smile, ah-ah, ah-ah

At the centre of it all, at the centre of it all

Your eyes, your eyes

Ah-ah-ah

Ah-ah-ah

In the villa of Ormen, in the villa of Ormen

Stands a solitary candle, ah-ah, ah-ah

In the centre of it all, in the centre of it all

Your eyes

Ah-ah-ah

Something happened on the day he died

Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside

Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

How many times does an angel fall?

How many people lie instead of talking tall?

He trod on sacred ground, he cried loud into the crowd

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangster)

I can’t answer why (I’m a blackstar)

Just go with me (I’m not a filmstar)

I’m-a take you home (I’m a blackstar)

Take your passport and shoes (I’m not a popstar)

And your sedatives, boo (I’m a blackstar)

You’re a flash in the pan (I’m not a marvel star)

I’m the great I am (I’m a blackstar)

I’m a blackstar, way up, oh honey, I’ve got game

I see right so white, so open-heart it’s pain

I want eagles in my daydreams, diamonds in my eyes

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

Something happened on the day he died

Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside

Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried

(I’m a blackstar, I’m a star star, I’m a blackstar)

I can’t answer why (I’m not a gangster)

But I can tell you how (I’m not a flam star)

We were born upside-down (I’m a star star)

Born the wrong way ‘round (I’m not a white star)

(I’m a blackstar, I’m not a gangster

I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar

I’m not a pornstar, I’m not a wandering star

I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

In the villa of Ormen stands a solitary candle

Ah-ah, ah-ah

At the centre of it all, your eyes

On the day of execution, only women kneel and smile

Ah-ah, ah-ah

At the centre of it all, your eyes, your eyes

Ah-ah-ah

Goddess Hot Chocolate

It’s winter, it’s cold. Snowstorm coming tomorrow! Dang!!

By popular demand I am posting my Goddess Hot Chocolate recipe. As you know, I always include one fun recipe in each of my books, and this is the one that will be in the new book this spring 2016: “NH Goddess Chronicles, vol.3: Meditation Matters.”

Blend yourself up some of this brew and pamper your inner goddess.

Stay healthy, my friends.

NH goddess chronicles Goddess Hot Chocolate recipe

Red Tent Temple | What Was Given

Red Tent Temple Goddess Inspirations

The Red Tent Temple | What Was Given

Nov. 2015 by RM Allen, NHgoddess.com

Shortly after Halloween is national Red Tent Temple Day, so said a random post on Facebook. I had been away at the farm all summer and was missing my girlfriends badly. I needed to go to the well with my tribe. So I decided to host a Red Tent at my house in the village. What is Red Tent you ask? Red Tent Temples honor women’s blood cycles and women’s journeys and are held in a space that has been decorated to look like the inside of a red tent, as in ancient times. A room as safe and soft and red as the inside of a womb is created in which women can tell their stories, while other women bear witness. Once you leave the chaotic and creative hours in the Red Tent it is as if you are birthed once again.

I had been to two different Red Tent Temples before. My friend Melissa had invited me to my first Red Tent at the very beginning of my spiritual journey. She hosted them every once in a while, and since she is into the goddess, her home is awash in beautiful and sacred items which lent a sanctified air to the event. During the gathering time before the temple hour, the dining table was set with interesting introspective workstations featuring all kinds of nature and art to set the contemplative mood. In the living room area, she had creatively hung the red tent in a large and comfy room with prayer flags and comfy pillows, and a round altar with a candle in the center. Very comfy and serene and orgasmagical.

Much later, I visited another style of red Tent Temple at Rosemary Gladstar’s annual women’s herbal conference. Her conference is held at a lakeside summer camp and one of the cabins, always open to attendees, was set as a stunning Red Tent Temple. Between herbal workshops I slipped inside a few times that weekend to silently meditate. But now it was my turn to create a sacred space all my own. What fun! I crafted an invitation and emailed it out. Here it is…

*********

RED TENT TEMPLE

  • Doors open at 6:15 pm
  • Temple 7-8 pm
  • Workstations 8-9 pm

My dear sister goddesses – it has been a long time since we have been to the well together. Our separate journeys over the past three years have had dramatic effect. We are all more complete versions of our selves. It has been both exhilarating and exhausting! On national Red Tent Temple day I now call us back for a sacred meditative women’s circle. Red Tents honor women’s blood cycles and life stages. I will create a red tent in my home in a small room that seats eight in the style suggested by RedTentTempleMovement.com. The format for the night is as follows:

Arrive between 6:15 and 7pm, I will smudge you at the door. Please leave shoes and coats in the hallway (BYO slippers if you want to stay cozy.) Please enter silently. The temple is held in silence until 8 pm. The kitchen will be set with intuitive workstations featuring several decks of oracle cards and vision-board making items. Please feel free to have tea and work silently at a free station, or you may enter the temple with your tea and settle in and silently meditate.

At 7 pm we will enter the temple and open the circle with breath and prayer, and then we will pass the talking stone. Please begin by introducing yourself by honoring your own matriarchal lineage. Therefore, I will introduce myself as “Marie; my mother is Florence and my grandmother was Claudia.” You may only speak when you are holding the stone. You may speak on any subject. You may elect to not speak at all and just pass the stone on. I am suggesting a theme of “Incubation”, as I find many of us are contemplating the next big thing to manifest in our lives. ***Please respect that what is said the circle, stays in the circle***

At 8pm or thereabouts we will close the circle. You may then stay in the temple, or go to the kitchen for tea, soup, and more workstations. The silence is over, and this is now our time to chat!

Namaste`

RSVP Please

***

Red Tent Temple from that very night
Red Tent Temple from that very night

The invitations were all RSVP’d and the day dawned. I gathered all the bits of red, pink, and purple fabric from around the house in the form of blankets, sheets, tablecloths, and scarves and hung them against the walls in a small room. Many comfy chairs were gathered into a circle and draped with more blankets and throws to make it even more comfy, like a sleepover. A small glass table in the center of the circle was draped with a translucent white fabric with soft pink flocked butterflies and glowed from within by small white lights. When the lights were dimmed, this was the focal point of the room. Atop the altar were candles and various bits of nature. All of this sat warmly upon a beautiful red oriental rug.

The sun had just set and the women began arriving. As I brushed them at the front door with smoke from the sage-wand, I paid special attention to their feet. The feet that carry them through their workdays in sensible shoes, the feet they slip under the covers beside their lovers, the feet that are placed in the stirrups at the doctor’s office, the feet that brought them to my door that warm evening. The feet that carry them through their womanly journey on Walt Whitman’s long, brown path of life…leading wherever they choose.

Both their feet and mine join together tonight on the path that ancestral women-folk have walked before us for millennia. There is nothing new under the sun; birth and death, nurture and love, work and health -and all the ensuing dramas and joys and fears. The woman with the talking stick or stone is the only one allowed to speak, others simply witness in sacred silence until all have spoken their truth.

In the telling of our bad stories in such a safe space, feelings of inadequacy or failure (in its various guises) are assuaged by the circle-sisters. A silent power is given.

In the telling of our good stories in such a sacred space, buds begin to blossom and women are inspired by the circle-sisters. A silent gift is given.

What is said in the Red Tent, stays in the Red Tent, so I have no stories to relate to you from that particular delicious evening with my tribe at the well. But know this, they are your stories too, they are the stories of all women – past, present and future. The Red Tent Temple is transformational: the simple act of gathering in sacred space and speaking your truth out loud allows for transformation to begin.

Very orgasmagical indeed!

Goddess feet on her journey... leading wherever she chooses....she herself is good fortune!
Goddess feet on her journey… leading wherever she chooses…she herself is good fortune!

A Goddess in the Rainforest

A Green Goddess in the Rainforest

by RM Allen, author of the NH Goddess Chronicles series, 2015

Costa Rican waterfall jump
I jumped into this Costa Rican rainforest waterfall from the ledge…my braids are flying in mid-air!!

If you are a very green-minded person like me then perhaps you have spent some time thinking about the lungs of our planet, the rainforest. Recently I had an opportunity to visit Costa Rica and see the rainforest up close. It teems with life, which sometimes gets so close that you get the heebie-geebies! Is that giant grasshopper/frog/iguana real… or a statue? Yikes – it just moved.

Some family members were going to spend the summer there and invited us to visit. What luck! We had a fantastic time checking out the local flora and fauna and swimming in the 85 degree Pacific Ocean waters. 85!!!! I never considered that ocean water could be so warm. Those huge warm waves crashed over me again and again and thawed my chilly New Hampshire bones.

Costa Rica borders Panama and is only the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, but amazingly accounts for 5% of the ecological diversity on the planet!  Interestingly, they have no military (abolished in 1949) but over 20% of their land is protected via national parks and protected areas. They have 26 national parks which are grouped by habitat; like cloud forest, dry forest, rainforest, and let’s not forget the volcanoes! We stayed on the fringe of the rainforest, on the outskirts of a tiny beach town located on the Nicoya Peninsula. Montezuma is a hippy and surfer paradise if there ever was one. It took us four hours to drive our rental SUV there from the airport, the last hour being on bumpy dirt roads. Thank goddess for the GPS.

Now you may be thinking – if she thinks she is so dang green then why is she burning so much fossil fuel on a vacation? Well yes, that is a quandary. But in the end this is why after all my conservation efforts at home, this fossil splurge works: I fly to places on vacations that increase my global understanding and compassion and then try to translate that vibe into some positive action upon my return. Also, tourist dollars spent on an eco-vacation support the conservation efforts of that country and rewards their citizens for doing the right thing. It is working for Costa Rica. It is not a poverty-stricken, unsafe country – their economy is based not only on eco-tourism but also on technology and agriculture (great coffee!). They enjoy one of the highest happiness indexes of any Latin country which seems to be reflected in their common greeting, response, and general attitude: “Pura Vida” -which translates loosely to Pure Life. Isn’t that great!? I salute Costa Ricans for role-modeling sustainable, simple, happy and healthy lifestyles. Namaste.

Two goddesses “striking a pose” in front of the yoga room at Ylang Ylang Beach Resort.

The best place to get your goddess groove on is at Ylang Ylang Beach & Yoga Resort, which is reasonably priced, safe, very clean and includes two meals per day. The yoga classes I took always included a little something special for the mind like Kundalini Breath of Fire, guided meditation Shavasana, or crystal bowl sound meditations. The yoga room is under a huge tiki roof and is practically on the beach; during class you focus on waves crashing on black lava rocks and white sands, while the warm breeze blows all around you and tickles the palm trees too. There is no road to get to the resort, you have to walk ten minutes up the beach from the center of town. This is the real “off the beaten path” place. The English- speaking concierge was very informative and helpful. The food was fantastic. The massage rooms are up in the jungle and mischievous white-faced capuchin monkeys were having a jolly old time throwing papaya pits at the roof during the end of my massage. Browse www.ylangylangbeachresort.com and you will be transported. I can’t think of the right word to describe this place….oh wait, yes I can….orgasmagical!

One bit of oddity – even though the beaches are remote and spectacular, surprisingly they are not pristine. The amount of plastic bits at the tidal line is dismaying. I am pretty sure it is not the fault of the Costa Ricans, who live a very simple lifestyle. I read there is an annual national beach cleanup day but it seems more could be done. It would be wonderful if more receptacles were onsite so tourists would help clean the beach while they are sitting there for hours under a palm tree. If I had known I would have put a box of Hefty trash bags in my suitcase.

Listen my friends, having been to Costa Rica once this is how I would do it again (in a more green and relaxed manner). Get Costa Rican money at my local bank, have international cell phone plan, skip very expensive rental SUV and take private transfer van directly to Ylang Ylang, stay in “glamping”-style accommodations, take yoga twice a day, meditate, read, swim, clean the beach, do some short eco-tours (which leave from center of town), and hardly ever wear shoes.

Sitting upon a lava rock at dusk with my feet in the warm Pacific waters of Costa Rica, 2015 Namaste!
Namaste! Sitting upon a lava rock with my feet in the warm Pacific waters of Costa Rica, 2015.

The Pope Loves Mother Earth!!

The Pope Loves Mother Earth!

by RM Allen from NHgoddess.com

Who would ever think that a pope would be the savior of Mother Earth?  After all the centuries of the church trying to squelch the earth-based religions which hold nature at their core, it is hard to fathom. Personally I am thrilled that spirituality, religion, and science seem to be tentatively rejoining on this summer solstice 2015.  Have you read Pope Francis’ newly released encyclical #PraisedBe ? It is the document of the decade and I suggest you do a search and download the 182 pages. (Don’t worry, the font and margins are huge.)

Pope Francis draws a line between world poverty and irresponsible progress, he says we need to “redefine our notion of progress”. He reasons that “business is a noble venture” but what is currently missing is giving both Mother Nature and the dignity of the local folks an automatic seat at the table when drawing up business plans. This he basically says to powerful one-percenters, bankers, multinational corporations and wealthy countries who degrade others for profit. This he says repeatedly, as he makes the case for environmental problems being the complex outcome of a humanity lacking in both ethics and spirituality, driven only by money. He claims there should be an “inseparable bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, and commitment to society” and believes that these values will lead to restoring dignity to all, thus inner peace, thus world peace. Go Pope Francis!

Pope Francis views the globe as the home of one big family, just like his namesake St. Francis of Assisi.  He has decided to unequivocally call out the rich and greedy who are wrecking the health of our planet and earth-family. This family is me, you, Eskimos, Ethiopians, polar bears, honey bees, coral reefs, rain-forests and more.  He says we need to find the “the honesty needed to question certain models of development, production and consumption. It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected.”  For the past twenty years he has witnessed a “weak international response” and what he deems the “failure of global summits”.  The politicians have not managed to say no to the power brokers causing devastation and pollution (and denying it). So he has courageously decided to call it out. Loudly and honestly he is essentially saying: the emperor hasn’t any clothes on!

Exeter NH Transition Town 2015 like usAlong with calling out the environmental offenders in his big papal voice, he also thanks and encourages those who have been trying to say the same thing, but their voices have gone unheard or even mocked. The pope urges everyone to act now, saying “…while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren. … Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediate groups, must put pressure on governments to develop more rigorous regulations, procedures and controls.”

If you are already doing your bit, I thank you deeply. Namaste. If you have been considering going a bit more green but don’t know where to start, I suggest you read his paper and get inspired to find where your talents lie in regard to any one of these topics he mentions: small farms, alternative energy, efficiency, pollution, recycling, clean water, genetics, rising sea-level, local banks and business. (Note: there are chapters and statements that are very Catholic and with which I disagree, but he is the pope after all.) So to all my goddess sisters, may you be inspired by the pope this summer solstice.

Earth Day 2015: Bag Free, That’s How a Goddess Rolls

RM Allen, Author of New Hampshire Goddess Chronicles series

 

What a winter, even by New England standards! Relief melts into me, like Chapstick on dry and burning lips, now that the spring equinox has finally arrived. Yay! And that means that now the fun of April’s Earth Day is just around the corner!

So this Earth Day let’s talk about the filmy plastic bag that is everywhere like so many toilet paper shreds on the floor in a public restroom stall. What is a goddess who loves Mother Earth to do about this? Imagine Mother Earth comes out of the ladies room with toilet paper stuck to her strappy sandals. Awkward. Do you say something? Of course you do! Just like you can say “no thanks” to the drug store cashier who drops your single tube of toothpaste purchase into the bottom of a too-big-bag. Instead, you put the lonely toothpaste in your purse or pocket after you pay for it. (Tip: Clean out some junk from your purse and use the extra space to tote small goods from the cash register to your home.)  REDUCE: Bag-free, that’s how a goddess rolls….

So say despite your best efforts you still have filmy bags lurking about your house, flitting and flying everywhere like the spooks in the Haunted Mansion. You forgot your cloth bags (dang!) and you lug home a week’s worth of groceries – which could fit in five bags but the baggers loosely packed them into about fifty. The static of fifty freshly unpacked bags on a kitchen floor creates a virtual haunting. Cats love it! Grab one of those ghouls and stuff the other forty-nine inside and bring the whole gaggle over to your neighborhood non-profit pantry or thrift shop to get a second and third chance at a useful life. (Tip: A plastic bag has a life span of hundreds of years, try to see that it is used many times before it goes to its final resting place in the landfill.) REUSE: Bags for non-profits, that’s how a goddess rolls….

Did you know….

search you tube for videos on how to make them!
Plastic bag flowers, a new and pretty use for bags.
  • You can drive your car one mile on the energy it costs to make fourteen plastic bags from petroleum? What a waste of a fossil fuel.
  • Recycling plants do not accept plastic bags: the $4K to recycle 1 ton of bags is not cost-effective (and they clog the machinery and have to be frequently cut off the jammed tires/gears). EPA states only 5% of bags get recycled. Recycling is basically a non-option.
  • Plastic bags do not decompose for hundreds of years. All oceans now have trash gyres. Sunlight causes plastic to break into ever-smaller bits and get in digestive tracts of land and sea animals, which humans may then eat. That is food for thought! Watch the movie “Bag It” for details.
  • Plastic bags were introduced in US by Mobil Oil in 1976. Banned in: Nantucket 1990, San Francisco 2007, California 2015. US ban totals: 132 cities and towns in 18 States. Pending legislation in many more. Banned in many places in EU/UK. The writing is on the wall.

So this Earth Day and beyond, I propose that all goddess-types shine a light on filmy one-time use plastic bags.

RETHINK: Tell the cashier/bagger… “Bag-free, that’s how I roll.”

I Want My Maple Syrup! A Story from the People’s Climate March, NYC 2014

I Want My Maple Syrup! A Story from the People’s Climate March, NYC 2014

By RM Allen, author of New Hampshire Goddess Chronicles series

on the busAlthough I am not a fan of the ridiculously early rise, I found myself safely on one of two 5:30 am buses out Portsmouth, NH, chartered by the Sierra Club of Maine. Anyone could go to join what I heard was to be about 50 thousand people who wanted to march in a peaceful protest in Manhattan with the aim of influencing an upcoming climate conference at the UN. The organizers, Bill McKibben’s 350.org, said it was to be a family-friendly day with at least ten marching bands and plenty of creativity.

Somewhere around Connecticut, a microphone was handed around the bus so all could introduce themselves and say why they were there. Riding the bus with me were the very fun Leftist Marching Band, a marine scientist, a guy building a passive solar house in Newbury and his high school daughters, a woman who rehabs turtles, a NH state rep, a 350NH coordinator and her family, and clusters of folks from the UU churches of Exeter and Portsmouth, the Sierra club and the Appalachian Mountain Club and random others. I had my “Exeter NH Transition Town” sign with me on the bus: ready to represent Exeter townsfolk who are trying big and small ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Why were so many diverse folks there? The common theme I heard was they were doing it for their children, grandchildren, and the earth and its animals and plants.

An hour later our bus was greeted by event volunteers and we quickly disembarked and the bus pulled away. Over 5RM Allen, center, at people's climate march 201400 buses were incoming and it was astonishingly well organized. We all headed to different part of the event staging area: people standing shoulder to shoulder on 8th Avenue along the west side of Central Park from 86th Street down to Columbus Circle. The procession was organized in a two mile line that told a climate story: at the front in section one stood famous people and those impacted most by climate change (environmental justice groups, indigenous, Sandy survivors, etc.,) Section two was “We Can Build the Future” (students, elder, families, labor). Three: “We Have the Solutions” (transition groups, renewables, food & water justice, environmental groups). Four: “We Know Who is Responsible” (anti-corporate campaigns, peace & justice, pipelines & fossils). Five: “The Debate is Over” (Scientists, Interfaith, and more). Six: “To Change Everything, We Need Everybody” (LBGTQ, community groups, cities, states, countries, and more). You can only imagine the slice of American pie that was there.

2014 climate march totalsOh and did I mention that instead of 50 thousand people, about 300 thousand came! Everyone from hippies blowing conk shells to suits with ponytails, from Hare Krishnas to Friar monks, from babies dressed like bees to oldsters in wheelchairs, from fusion scientists with graphs to Native American Elders in ceremonial dress. Most had very clever signs, props or costumes. No issue that climate has a finger into was left behind; even the Lorax and his Thneeds were represented. I very slowly wound my way through the shoulder to shoulder crowd, past the vegan contingent, the musicians singing and dancing, other groups chanting “this is what democracy looks like,” and many folks just standing and endlessly scrolling on their cell phones. Finally I stopped with my Exeter NH Transition Town sign at the front of section three “We Have the Solutions,” and waited to begin marching. And waited. Waited over an hour in fact because the line was so long that it took an hour for the motion to get up to where I was standing (at the halfway point) before my crowd even began to move. Oh it was hot and humid and close, down in that valley between the skyscraper on one side and the tall trees that line Central Park on the other, but it was very happy and hopeful and very, very well organized.

We had been pre-instructed to do two ritualistic things: one at the beginning and another at the end of the march. At a certain time at the beginning, all would receive a text to begin a moment of silence to remember all the victims of climate changes and to pray/hope for the future. This was a very digital event. Live stream on Twitter of #peoplesclimate was uploading like mad as well as other sites. People were glued to their phones, especially the younger set. What an advantage over the past. I think of protest via digital means a “civil roar” (play on “civil war”), as it seems to me that today’s social media is a very important factor in peaceful political change. I checked mine only sparingly, preferring to observe first-hand. (Leo DiCatribal elder and rapperprio and Mark Ruffalo were there?  Where??) As I am middle-aged, I typically use my cell phone mostly to snap pictures.

A commotion behind me turned out to be a tribal elder in ceremonial dress being ushered through the throng towards the front of the parade by a very fun and boisterous contingent of African American boys.  The boys had bull horns and were singing climate raps in a conga line of banners and affirming bodacious women that could have been in the choir at a Baptist church. Just then the moment-of-silence text came. An instant hush fell over the crowd and we all raised our arms to the sky and closed our eyes. At that spiritual moment, I felt all the hair on my arms raise as I listened only to the wind blow through the trees of Central Park with over a quarter of a million other people turned out to protect Mother Earth… you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

This silence was to be followed by a raucous cheer… and it was bedlam. What fun! Finally we were off and marched five miles; past Radio City Music Hall, through Time Square, and ending at 34th and 11th street, quite close to the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. The procession was quite slow and took about three hours, but was very, very well organized. There must have been about ten thousand volunteers to pull off this event, from volunteers on the ground to the people who got the permits and politicians and police. Yes, tons and tons of New York’s finest lined the barricades, keeping the march route and crosswalks clear and letting the tourists cross the road in Times Square every so often. TV crews and professional photographers were everywhere, interviewing everybody. At the very front of the parade had been the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, Bill McKibben, mayors, senators, and many others. (Leo & Mark? Where??)

times square climate march I found this press coverage very heartening to see as I wearily marched along through Times Square, although notably absent were NBC, ABC, and CNN. It is quite extraordinary when 300 thousand people come to town and it doesn’t get shown on the nightly news. You have to ask yourself why.  I remember when Bill McKibben spoke in Exeter at a the We the People Lecture Series at the beginning of his fossil fuel divestment campaign and I was trying to arrange a small room for him to meet the press in before his speech  – and he told me not to worry about it because the press wouldn’t  cover him anyway. (He was right, no press requested to interview him that night even though 400 citizens packed the church to capacity to hear him.)  I remember later on there was still negligible press when he got thousands to form a human ring around the White House, any many high profile folks to be arrested at a sit-in there. I could only watch it live via Twitter.

fossil divestment at the trump plazaBut now I think the famous “tipping point” has been reached. Why do I say this? Because the very same day of the People’s Climate March the Rockefeller family has announced that it will divest all fossil fuel stocks from their Rockefeller Brothers Fund.  Don’cha know that fossils are the very same thing that made them rich back in the day? According to Reuters on Monday, September 22 between the Rockefellers and other high wealth folks and institutions, 50 billion dollars has been pledged to be divested from fossils over the next five years. Perhaps it is the dawn of a new day.

At the end of the march there was a big party with music, food, water and, thankfully, port-o-potties. I helped a unicorn holding a tambourine get a cup of water at the giant water-monster. I was an early user of the port-o-potties (still ok) and then got in line at a food truck. We in the long food line were heckled by some young vegans who asked us how we could call ourselves environmentalists and still eat meat as it is such a huge contributor to greenhouse gas.  Dang!  What a thing to say to us fellow marchers with our tired feet. In my opinion it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mind-set. It really doesn’t. Everyone has trade-offs: I still enjoy a burger but I have a very large veggie garden now; I drive a car but it is an economical model and I divested fossils from my portfolio two years ago.  My list goes on and I am sure yours does too. We all do the best we can, and then sometimes we try a little harder and make still more incremental gains. Like today’s march in NYC or like what ordinary folks in Exeter are doing every day.  I think it is great fun to write about what big and small steps people in Exeter are taking and post it to the Exeter NH Transition Town facebook page. (Please like me on Facebook, thanks)

maple syrup climate ribbonAt the end of parade party section near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel was the second ritual in which we were asked to participate.  Every marcher was asked to write on a ribbon their name, age, state, and finish this sentence “I don’t want to lose…” and tie it to an art installation that looked like a big banyan tree. The ribbons would form the leaves and roots. After you tied your ribbon you were to then pick off one someone else’s ribbon and take it home. In this way cross-country bonds are formed between marchers. To me it seemed like a virtual “hand binding” ceremony seen at weddings but on a much grander and ethereal scale. The large installation fluttered vibrantly in the fall air, with people milling all around and inside it. If you chose you could come to the microphone in the center and read aloud the ribbon you would take home, then all were to reply “we are with you.” One woman walked to the mike and read her ribbon, written by a woman from New England, which said   “I don’t want to lose… Maple syrup.” The crowd replied…  “we are with you.”