Makin' Home Sweet.
I've been in our new place for one week, and am getting used to the difference between urban and suburban life. One of the most noticeable changes I've enjoyed is waking up to the song of birds, instead of trucks and bucket-drums :-) As I get more settled, and as Spring emerges, I'm excited to share more earth-loving tips + inspiration with you. While I finish unpacking, though, this episode is based on an article I wrote that was originally published in the now gone, but not forgotten, Mindful Metropolis magazine:
Black + Green.
There's a perception that black people are outside the environmental movement. Black Americans—together with Native Americans—were, in fact, the original environmentalists in North America. Long before there were threats of climate change, we were recycling food, foil and fabrics. Reusing scraps, containers and paper.
We grew what we ate, and we made what we wore. Reducing waste was easy, because there was no excess to waste. We practiced renewable and sustainable living not as an opt-in luxury, but as a very real necessity. We were as green as the string beans we snapped... ’til we went and got too fancy to enjoy being outdoors, and we seem to have forgotten about our practical closeness with Earth.
A voice helps us remember that closeness.
Jamal Ali's book, Black and Green: Black Insights for the Green Movement, helps us appreciate the resourceful and innovative ways our parents and grandparents walked lightly. It's a strong and steady message that demystifies "going green," and shows that this is our movement, too. And, it needs our bold and broad reclamation of it. Consider how our immediate needs are all wrapped up in environmental issues, including:
» Our most pressing health concerns—heart disease, obesity, diabetes and asthma—are directly related to environmental and food disparities. According to Ali, “When we see our bodies as temples, we will show far greater concern for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.”
» The crime concentrated in black communities, which is directly related to how we perceive our surroundings. Our surroundings are an extension of our very selves. What does that say about the excessive violence, dumpsites and vacant lots common in many of our neighborhoods?
» The unemployment concentrated in black communities, which can be dramatically alleviated by the growing renewable energy and energy efficiency industries that need workers and leaders now.
The green movement is most certainly a part of the black experience. It's up to us to make sure our experience is rightly reflected in the movement.
Oh, mercy mercy me. Oh, things ain’t what they used to be. No, no.
Ali remembers growing up with the epic Marvin Gaye song “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” as well as regular reminders from his father to not light the entire house, while being in one room at a time. Those messages took root. Paying it forward, Ali and his wife Rosalind are raising their two children with keen environmental awareness and the clarity that they are more than consumers. The family composts, drives a hybrid, has a tankless water heater, installed CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) throughout their house, washes their clothes in cold water in a high-efficiency washing machine and cuts T-shirts to replace lunchbox napkins and paper towels, among other eco-friendly lifestyle habits.
Ali believes being a consistent, unwavering example is the best way to share green practices. He doesn't limit his influence to home, or his kids' schools, where he often speaks. He is currently in dialogue (emphasizing the reduction of operating costs) with the office manager at the ad agency where he works as an account director to have air dryers installed in the bathroom.
Adding vitality and beauty to our environment makes it less hospitable to violence and waste. Ali is also a community revitalizer, and he credits his biggest inspiration in that work to Elijah Muhammad. Ali says, "Muhammad brought a message to a people who had been discarded and taught they were worthless, but he refused to settle for this position, and found a reuse for them teaching their very own kinship to God."
Get Jamal Ali's book here.
Questions About Introversion + Inner Life?
With the move behind me, my creative focus is now on finishing "It's Beautiful Inside: An Introvert's Right to BE." This aspect of personality has gotten a lot of press in recent years, and I have no intention of repeating what's already been said.
Interiority and the (un)cultivated inner life has direct impact on our economic, ecological + emotional well-being. So these points will be looked at as the interconnected whole that they are, as well as the criminalized relationship between psychoactive plants (entheogens) and people, the effects of socialized superficiality, what it takes to live and work as Your True Self in a world that still loves masks + conformity, and other topics related to inwardness that are ready for mature exploration. Do you have any questions or comments you'd like addressed? Please let me know in the comments, as I'd love to include your views + voice.
Know Your Nucleus.
Right after receiving my certification in permaculture 4 months ago, I felt myself synchronize with the cold winter season. I withdrew socially, and was more dormant on the outside, while Life was seeding wonderful things on the inside.
Some are starting to bloom... like the increased clarity about my life's motto and business tagline, which is: "Bridging the sacred + the solid." My diverse trainings + passions, finally distilled into a few words I intend to live out through writing and design.
I call this distillation -- this understanding your heart's core so well, that you can feel your own completion -- I call that "knowing your nucleus." I have lots of useful tips to share about this in my nearly done essay, "It's Beautiful Inside: An Introvert's Right to BE." Stay tuned for that!
Change of address
Chicago is America's 3rd most populous city. After more than 20 years of living all over it (South Shore, Rogers Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Hyde Park, Bronzeville and Englewood), I'm moving to a suburb for the first time in my life! Well, technically, it's a village -- which is bigger than a hamlet, but smaller than a town. The parking is easy, the square footage is double, and wild deer are near. The contrast is so startling, I wanted to show you some comparison video footage of the difference between the two front doors:
Chicago population = 2.7 million. Crete population = 8,200.
Flexin' Mind Muscles.
I chose to rest my grumpy attitude about being an over-stimulated sensitive empath in an urban environment that was too loud, too crowded, too industrial for my full flourishing. "No more pouting about that," I decided. I finally understood that my complaints actually fed and sustained the uncomfortable situation.
So I really made peace with where I was -- in a small-ish apartment on a busy street of a large city. And in about a month or so, my residential reality completely changed to include so many of the things I had been wanting more of: wildlife, privacy, square footage, quiet, greenery, and beautiful nooks + spaces in which to create, practice regenerative design and holistic living, and share with you!
While packing, I've been feeling nostalgic. I love my city's diversity, creativity, excitement, lakefront beauty, awesome public transit... oh, speaking of transit, here is an entertaining subway story, where I interrupted a nasty conversation about getting gang-banged: How I turned two frogs into princes. (And no, I didn't kiss them.)
Yeah, good times on the Red Line.
A bit of randomness: In Chicago, we lived a few minutes away from President Obama's former home, and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's current one. What a coincidence that his son -- Mustapha Farrakhan, who is the Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam -- also lives in Crete. I have no ties with NOI, but am just noticing how permaculture has me spotting patterns in surprising ways :-)
Questions for You.
Are you a high perceiver (a sensitive sort) living in a big city? If so, how do your surroundings feel to you? Do you know what your ideal environment is? Are you moving closer to it... consistently thinking about its appeal? Can you imagine living in a way -- and in a space -- that supports your temperament + sensibilities? Have you already made a move to better suit who you are? Let's hear your voice in the comments.
PechaKucha is a concise presentation format made simply of 20 images held for 20 seconds. It started in 2003 among architects in Tokyo, but has grown beyond its original host industry + city.
Last month I presented at Chicago's Vol. 32 at Martyr's. (Big thanks, again, to Cousin Carolyn, Peter, Sharon + Thorsten). Speakers are encouraged to talk about what they're currently working on, or something they care passionately about. I tried to do both, with a bit of backstory...
PLEASE ALSO SEE:
* Vote Hemp
* Moseley Putney's excellent PechaKucha talk on industrial hemp
12TH PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLE: Creatively uSE + respond to change.
Complacency is second only to gravity for effectiveness in holding things down. It may be our survival instinct to be so fixated on feeling anchored and secure. Rooted and safe.
As exciting as change can be, it interrupts stability. So we tend to resist and avoid things that knock us off our center... unfamiliar things that make us feel vulnerable, ill-prepared or out of control.
"The only people who like change, are wet babies!" they say.
Life gives -- and sometimes forces -- lots of change into our days. Which requires a response from us... we have something new to figure out... to possibly fail at, or look foolish trying.
But this 12th, and final, permaculture principle tells us to accept the inevitability of change, and creatively use it. Don't be such a control-freak. Be agile, like a cat. Be so fully present in every moment, that you exist your way into a needed solution or upgraded circumstance.
A lot of people underestimate themselves, and were it not for change -- even dreaded ones like divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, illness, etc. -- they may have never accessed certain strengths or abilities within themselves that had been their all along. Dormant. Until change came and shook them awake.
That concludes the 12-part series of the Permaculture Principles, but permaculture as a methodology -- as a way of viewing + doing things -- will always be a core part of my posts and purpose.
My Wish. My Work.
When our inner world is strong in love, truth, joy and wholeness, our relationships + actions reflect those qualities, too. And beauty and harmony show up more and more in our outer reality. To support that vision, I write and publish the things I do to enrich our inner world and, ultimately, inspire more heartful living on Earth:
Trust Love's duty to make you whole + complete. Trust Love's ability to touch you where warm assurance arises. Let your shoulders drop, as they are kissed by Plenty + Peace. Now, from this solid place of trust, you are calm enough to detect YOUR best next steps to heal or have exactly what you need for your particular journey... in which, you must BE YOU. All the way. Find your truth. Give it your voice. Then give it your life. Be valiant on your own behalf. In all your dealings, be your real self, and allow others the space to be their real self, too. No judging. No meanness. To yourself or others. Trust love. Be you.
Song Credit: "Pas de Deux" by Bird Creek.