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Thinking Outside the Tube

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Author: the Inkslinger

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” --Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

When it comes to the big global environment problems like the climate crisis, I’m pretty much in the camp that believes we can think our way out of it. That human ingenuity is going to beat the problem. Certainly some personal changes are required, some level of action, and a good amount of making do with less is going to be a part of the solution, but I think that the collective hive mind is going to figure out a way for us to do that without really noticing much that we are.

It’s sort of like the front loading washing machines my wife and I have been looking at. They use a whole lot less water and energy, but you don’t really notice they do. Your clothes are apparently just as clean. The only difference that’s felt is in your utility bills and your carbon footprint.

So it’s not like we can’t have appliances doing the dirty work for us. We just have to invent really smart ones so that we can enjoy these and other things without generating any negative environmental impacts in the process, and then we have to share these efficiencies with the rest of the world so that the have-nots can enjoy the good life, too. We don’t have to all go off and live in caves to beat climate disruption. We don’t have stop driving cars. We don’t have forgo mangos at the supermarket in January. We just have to get super smart about how we do all these things and figure out how to live well while also living intelligently and regeneratively.

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Inspired Consumerism

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Author: the Inkslinger

Let the Friday feast of words continue with this guest post from Sarah Schultz-Nielsen. Sarah is a public librarian and enjoys simple things, like spending time with her husband and dogs, growing raspberries in their yard and watching The Closer on DVD. She was raised on a dairy farm in Maine, which now grows organic vegetables and grass-fed beef.

I became inspired to do my part after I was at a meeting and heard a financial advisor recommend Ellis Jones' The Better World Shopping Guide. I was impressed that someone who had both money and the ability to manage it (which equals power to me) introduced such a gem. I don't have lots of money and often feel powerless, which really is a bad excuse for apathy. This book gives me no excuses. The book is physically small but the information inside is big, if not enormous. Everything from airlines to vitamins are rated based on issues including employee treatment to community involvement. I've been using it to make changes in my household that make me feel that my husband and I are helping the world to be better. Or our world, at least.

I have been buying a lot of the products I've learned about in the book at my local health food store, called Harvest Time. It is woman-owned and operated and small in comparison to some of the large, whole food markets but they have a great selection and actually use the products they sell. I buy my paper products, laundry detergent, dish liquid and bath products there. I also buy my husband's Grandy Oats cereal, and my favorite, Little Lad's Bakery Herbal Popcorn. If stranded on a desert island, I'd want my library, this popcorn and potable water. It's divine. The products made by Little Lad's are all vegan. Although they don't have a website, they do have a Cafe in Portland, ME with a $3.99 lunch buffet.

Awareness of what I buy, wear and consume just makes me a responsible human being. Buying, wearing and consuming things often gives people a lot of pleasure, albeit empty. I find composting, wearing thrift store clothes and using non-petroleum based dish liquid just plain sexy.

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The Power of Choice

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a guest post to start our collective Friday from Inspired Protagonista Jack Clifford.

I am convinced that one's life is basically built around choices. I am a retired person and work part time in a bookstore and particularly in their coffee shop making coffee drinks. Like Sally Field I think they like me - they really do even though I am the oldest person working there. My point is that everyone with whom I work is in their early to mid twenties and I am very saddened by the pacifist attitude of most of my co-workers. They sincerely feel there is nothing they can do to change their circumstances. I am also sadden by an attitude that for the most part they are only interested in doing the minimum amount of work and absolutely nothing extra.

This is why I consciously choose to buy, use and do my best to convince as many folks as I can to start using environmentally safe products like Seventh Generation. We can all choose to a part of the solution and not part of the problem. As I said it is a matter of choice and attitude.

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Swimming With the Black Swan

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"My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the guts to sometimes say: I don’t know.... (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race)." ?Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Every once in a while a book comes along that jolts you awake like a swift slap in the face over a strong cup of coffee,a book that makes you rethink your thinking and realize that if you want to think well, you will need be a little more (actually a lot more!) careful and intentional. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is such a book.

I’m not done. I’m only on page 81, but so far this has been a pretty amazing read filled with insights.

”You know what is wrong with a lot more confidence than what is right.”

”How can we figure out the properties of the (infinite) unknown based on the (finite) known?”

This is a book that in many respects is impossible to describe with out reproducing large portions of it. The Guardian newspaper review notes:

“Why are we so bad at acknowledging life's unpredictability? Things happen, and surprise us. Afterwards, we act as if they were explicable all along. Then we use those explanations to pretend we can control the future: act boldly, and you'll become rich; keep an eye on loners, and you'll prevent massacres. "There's just much, much more luck than we think," Taleb says, rocking excitably on his chair in a London cafe.”

If you want to get lucky with your summer reading, read this one.

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Can This Man Save The World?

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Several weeks ago, my wife was emptying out her family’s home in Providence, Rhode Island, and she found this picture among the things her father had saved. On August 10, 1989, it appeared on the cover of the second section of New York Newsday, a daily newspaper in New York City. I hadn’t looked at it for many years.

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Thursday Thought

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Author: the Inkslinger

Chrystie, our Goddess of Public Relations, sent me this bit of philosophical gossamer that I thought said a very great deal in a very small space. Certainly it is a point worth pondering and so I offer it as a thought for a Thursday.


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In Tofino

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From the balcony of the room, one could be atop a giant schooner challenging the 20 – 30 mile an hour winds that fill the ocean with endless whitecaps. This jagged shoreline is relentlessly wild. Rocky points hide coves within coves. The rock is sharp and granular, the beaches packed hard with fine damp sand that never dries. The tides rush in over hundreds of yards of almost flat beach, beaches nearly devoid of shells other then the mussels that have been pried loose from the nests where multitudes grow, more than one could ever harvest or eat. There are carcasses of halibut or salmon cast overboard by fisherman who must only fish with actual fishing lines. And a peculiar type of seaweed that starts with a large, hard, air-filled head, followed by a thick rope-like arm that gradually thins as it extends 10 or 15 feet.

You can run, bicycle, even push a stroller on the hard sand. The water, at less than 50 degrees would seem a deterrent to water sports. Yet Tofino is a surfer’s paradise. You can rent a board and a wetsuit, complete with boots, gloves and a hood at anyone of 20 places. There are almost always waves. Sandy beaches extend for miles. You can always find a spot to your self. I must pass as my arm tries to heal from what is either too much paddling on my last surf trip or to much surfing on the Internet.

I take a long time to slow down. And the empty space of unstructured days reveals a deep well of exhaustion. Exhaustion layered upon itself. Exhaustion that rests deep down upon my soul. Exhaustion left unrecognized. It is easier for me to push a little harder than to slow down. It is a habitual pattern, learned from my father and then re-patterned by me into my very own obsession.

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On Working Well

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Author: the Inkslinger

It’s with pleasure that we introduce today’s inspiring guest blogger, Alyssa Kobriger from True Botanica.

When I was in young, I went to a very unique summer camp in central Wisconsin which focused on peace making and global citizenry with an occasional opportunity to swim and make a dream catcher. The experiences I had there had a profound effect on many of my life choices that I have made, and still do. In addition to learning about different cultures, religions, and strategies for non-violence, we talked a lot about the wide ranging impact of our choices and efforts to make a difference in the world – the power of one.

One of the concepts we were presented with was Right Livelihood - doing work that promotes the ideals that you value, respects the earth and the people who live on it rather then sacrificing it for higher profits. In meeting Gregor from Seventh Generation, I felt a connection with him in that we both work for companies which uphold that concept.

I work for True Botanica, a young nutritional supplement company in Wisconsin which has established a reputation in some unique directions:

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In the Aftermath of Oprah and Vanity Fair

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April 21, 2007, New York, NY? Success breeds uncertainty. One might think of success as a confirmation of the path one has chosen to travel down. A sign of well made choices or an affirmation that one is headed in the right direction. Yet, there is no right direction, only the making of the direction you have chosen or have happened upon at that particular moment in time. This is something I am prone to forget.

Spring has been subsumed by the beginning of summer. Spring barely had a chance to slowly warm the frozen ground and ease tulip bulbs up through the melting snow and the remnants of fall’s leaves. Just as it began to awaken, spring was overtaken by summer. I’m not quite ready for summer. After winter lingered late into what would have been spring, with snowflakes and endless dark and cloudy days, it was, as it is today, already hot.

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Thanksgiving Reflections

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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Aside from the fact that no gifts are required, at its essence it's a day that encourages us all to stop and give thanks for all of whatever we have. Most of us (at least those that are likely to be reading this) have more than we need, if not more than we know what to do with. I certainly do.

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