Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sustainability on Maui

One of the most intriguing "take-aways" from the recent Sustainable Maui Expo was a presentation by Craig Elevitch, Project Coordinator for Permanent Agriculture Resources [] on the Big Island.

He showed a map (below, left) of North America with the Hawaiian Island chain way down in the bottom left corner. The message was that we base how we live in Hawai`i as if we are a part of North America. In reality, our only relationship to North America is ideological.

The next slide (above, right) places Hawaii in the upper right corner with the south sea island nations in the bottom left. From a sustainability perspective, we have much more in common with these ancient island communities which have been self sufficient for hundreds of years.

Unless you just woke up from an 8 year coma, you know that humanity is experiencing a profound shift of awareness. Maui residents are beginning to awaken to the profound irony that we are the most vulnerable Americans when it comes to food and energy safety.

The number of attendees to the August Sustainable Maui Expo represented a significant boost over previous initiatives. No doubt, October’s economic forecasts have people thinking much more about food and energy security. The cost of shipping food to Hawai`i, to both the environment and in real dollars, is finally acknowledged as pure folly in light of our amazing year round growing conditions.

What other ideologies do we cling to as Americans that keep us imprisoned by a simple story we tell ourselves repeatedly? Is it time to outgrow a monetary system that is designed to further the divide between the 5% who "own" and control 98% of the world's resources and the rest of us who are rich-in-spirit and cultural relevancy?

More importantly, what are we doing on Maui to return to the self sufficiency enjoyed by previous generations of Hawaiians just 40 years ago? Have you ever spent a day thinking about where every thing you consume comes from? Could you make it yourself? Your clothes? Your tooth brush? A simple candle? Toilet paper?!!! How will you live if no barges come to Maui?

Pot luck gatherings are a popular way to celebrate together on Maui and throughout Hawai`i. I’d like to propose a new twist to the local pot luck tradition; that we all make an effort to prepare dishes that we’ve grown ourselves. At first your dish might be guacamole, if you’re lucky enough to have avocado trees. Or, you add homegrown herbs to store bought ingredients. That’s a start. Over time, the goal is to create dishes from all local, organically grown ingredients, and to become a localvore.

For your health and our collective food safety, the time to start is now. Grow something for yourself. Expect mistakes and to learn from them. My personal attempts to grow cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant were less than satisfactory, but our beets, lettuce’s, kale, basil and parsley are winners.

Talk to your neighbors and encourage them. Integrate your plans so that your choices of crops are more complimentary than redundant. Share in each other’s bounty. We live in a South Pacific paradise that is artificially propped up by external inputs while dangerously compromising our capacity to be self sufficient by allowing poorly supervised open field genetic experiments. As Al Gore would say; "everything about that picture is wrong."

Let's make things pono (right) on Maui.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dear Republican Parents, I'm Voting For Obama!

Video: "We Are The Ones - Obama Speech Remix"

Music: Bentley Kalaway Production: Keith Ranney

Dear Mom & Dad,

This November 4th we’ll be making a choice regarding the future of America. Once again we have an opportunity to redefine the leadership role America plays in the world. The challenges we face as a nation, in a world of diverse peoples, demands that we celebrate our diversity and harness the abundant energy that is released when we work together toward the common good.

This is a mission I’ve been well trained for. As parents, you taught me to see the best in people, to wish for their highest good, to respect my elders, to be chivalrous and kind, to say “yes sir” and “thank you”.

My most vivid memory of a lesson in compassion was when dad saw an elderly man who had slipped on an icy sidewalk and fallen. We were driving in a bitterly cold Ohio snow storm so he could have easily thought “this isn’t my responsibility” and enjoyed the dryness and comfort of our heated car. Instead, after we slid to a stop and he put the car in park, he leapt out and ran to a complete stranger’s aid. When the man was upright and steady, he stayed with him until the old man indicated he was OK before jumping back in the car, covered with ice and snow.

Dad didn’t say anything while we continued our journey. He didn’t have to say, “That’s what compassion is” because the lesson was in his choice to put someone else’s comfort and safety ahead of his own. That was the day I learned about true heroism.

At the time I thought, “Wow, that’s my dad!” but the thought-form that crystallized deep in my psyche plays a key role in who I am today – someone who always tries to be aware of other’s in need and to lend a hand.

When we moved to a new neighborhood in Cleveland and all our neighbors had strange last names, I learned the lessons of inclusion. You never said, “don’t play with THOSE people, they believe in a different God”. Rather, you taught “there is no spot where God is not.”

Those were simpler times, when “Father Knows Best” (a “classic” ‘50’s/60’s TV show - for you youngsters) symbolized my privileged life as a middle class white kid growing up in a post Ike Eisenhower American mid-west. I also remember the words that triggered my political awakening, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. In 1960, at age 5, I broke the family party line and proudly sported a Kennedy/Johnson button. Then, on Nov. 22, 1963, my worldly innocence was shattered by a mysterious physics defying bullet that silenced MY first president.

You also taught me that if I was wrong, the higher road was to admit it. You would have never tolerated my bullying or blaming someone else to get my way. You taught “I am my brother’s/sister’s keeper”.

I sometimes think that your loyalty to the Republican Party follows the tradition of sports fans and their unwavering faith and projection of hope for the home team. But we’re not talking about a football game. Our collective choices carry life and death consequences. Those who have usurped the socially responsible principals of our fore fathers define themselves in their words and actions; in their glib and insidious disregard for basic human consideration, in their constant rattling of the swords of aggression and focus on the “evil out there” as a distraction from the corruption right here, and here, and here, and here. And did I mention here?

The Republican Party has sold out to an unholy military-industrial alliance placing BigOil, BigPharma and Big Agro-Chemical consistently ahead of our health and well being; all this to protect an economy that’s perceived to be in competition with the natural world – a world of cooperative balance that is key to our very survival. Or as Al Gore reminds us, “We borrow money from China to buy oil in the Persian Golf to burn it in ways that are harmful to the planet.” He is so right in saying “Everything about that must change.”

And yet, because this urgent warning comes from the “other team” (the enemy of corporate greed and US hegemony), it is ignored, scoffed at, attacked, criticized and/or Fox’d – leading us merrily down a dead end – a hopeless future for my nieces and nephews, your grandkids.

In other words, the actions of the Republican Party, circa 2008, go against the values you instilled in me. The majority of the Republican National Convention was focused on Barack Obama (because he threatens their power). In contrast, Obama’s message was that his campaign isn’t about him, it’s about “you” (us - the people).

The tangible sensation of hope I feel when I listen to Barack Obama takes me right back to my youth; to the pride and hope I felt as a young American growing up in a great family, with my whole life ahead of me…

The Obama presidential candidacy represents a necessary shift from top down control and imposition over our freedoms to grass-roots, bottoms up, honoring of our constitutional rights, and of our right to self determination. The republicans have clearly demonstrated that they have no remorse for the direction they have taken the country (and the world) and care only for the continuation of power and control, further widening the divide between the haves and have-nots - further degrading our former standing amongst fellow nations.

I could also share a laundry list of politically driven “sell outs” and disappointments I have with the Democrats. So I don’t need to defend a competing ideology that is also focused on control. Perhaps with Barack’s leadership the Dems will actually carry out the will of the people, the 71% of us that don’t agree with the Republicans in power.

What excites me is an individual, Barack Obama, who exactly matches the poignant lessons of my youth. When asked to comment on Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin’s, personal life, Barack’s response was “We don’t go there”.

That’s what I want for a president. That’s the heroism I saw in Dad and the heroic leadership I want representing me on the world stage – someone who is intelligent, articulate, and who is in touch with his humanity - not another bully who thinks only in militaristic terms (“fight for me”) and who carelessly chooses a Vice Presidential running mate; a person who is a heart beat away from Commander and Chief, purely for political leverage – a woman who would strip “control of their own bodies” away from woman and who would drill the life blood out of mother earth, despite the fact that everything about a fossil fuel based economy must change.

The grand old party has become a ruthless thug supporting unconscionable practices that consistently suppress any act of human decency that gets in the way of corporate greed. These are not the family values you instilled in me and which I try to live through community service.

48 years after JFK’s message of national stewardship, four decades after MLK’s dream was martyred, just 7 years after the even more mysterious events of 9/11, our country and our family is divided. My beloved and I are answering JFK’s, MLK’s and Obama’s challenge, using our combined resources in music and media to help us all remember the essential human factors that the weapons of mass distraction (corporate owned media) attempt to drown out 24/7/365.

We support the fundamentals of a “Change you can believe in” which is a fitting motto for an individual with real character, and a campaign run with integrity, funded by the people and consistently focused on the will of the majority and fairness for all.

The delivery of our message will bypass the mainsteam media and reach everyday people through social networks and word of mouth. It’s not too late to support a leader that puts people first and ideologies second, that has the decency to “not go there” when it comes to attacking American’s private lives, whether they are politicians or just hard working folk.

Whether our message of hope goes viral and contributes to a tipping point or get’s marginalized by the “forces that control” we want to offer you another chance to reflect on the lessons you believed enough to teach and chose an individual who’s in touch with and lives those values.

I love you,

Your son,

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hostage Crisis of Global Proportions!

During this time of accelerated global communications we have the added advantage of witnessing our own folly; on our TV’s, our computers, and increasingly; on the tiny 3rd screen of our iPods, PDAs and/or 3G cell phones. The messages are everywhere, bombarding us with the illusion that our external reality cannot be peaceful unless we kill the enemy, put a Jurassic Park electric fence around our homes and pull the comforter over our heads.

But who (or what?) is the enemy really? What is it about humanity that separates itself from its birthright of inner peace and prevents us from claiming, owning and living in peace and harmony, in collaboration and fellowship, in ease and grace?

The answer might surprise you, because it’s as close as our next judgmental thought. We see it’s reflection in the mirror. We project it on our relationships (especially our family). The enemy that holds us hostage, gripped in its self preservation defenses, is the ego, and peace is not its friend. In fact, it’s a threat to its existence. From ego’s perspective, peace IS the enemy. The ego maintains its hold on humanity through drama, fault finding, and blaming. It's the perfect victim in a world of cause and effect.

And there’s the rub. The world “out there” is the world of duality. It can’t be anything other than that as long as we view it with our dualistic stereo vision. It is only when we shift our view, allowing our two eyes to become one that we begin to see through the illusion of separation. From a perception of unity, the journey into the world becomes an opportunity to see every person and every experience as an out picturing of where we are denying (or acknowledging) our essential nature, where we are held hostage by ego.

And what is that essential nature? Ironically, to call it one thing will cause some people to recoil or contract, and to call it another thing will raise the ire of another. So we attempt to take the “churchianity” out of it and call it the Higher Self. (Although, perhaps we can agree that Christ or Buddha are excellent role models and that to willingly entrain to Christ Consciousness wouldn’t be such a bad thing.)

In my work as a Somatic Educator, the cause of chronic pain that is seeking resolve is Sensory-Motor-Amnesia. People spend much of their lives seeking outside intervention to resolve habituation. They have “forgotten” to self sense, to use their body in both natural and novel ways in order to maintain a healthy balance.

In my personal challenges and journey to wholeness, I have discovered that, collectively, humanity suffers a kind of Christ at-one-ment Amnesia. We have chosen to forget that we are one with the Creator Spirit in order to play the game of separation on earth. If you’ve had enough of the world of duality, of judgment, fault finding, competition, scarcity, evil doers and aggressors, perhaps this would be a good time to ask yourself, “Am I being held hostage by ego, or am I host to the Creator Spirit?”

I make no claims of having transcended my ego. However, by accepting that I have been attached to my egoic identity and by allowing myself to feel the pain of separation, I am navigating through the grieving process. The ego truly perceives that it will die when we choose to perceive ourselves as host and temple to the indwelling spirit of peace.

All outgoing paths ultimately lead to the realization that the going outward “on a path” leads us back to our Selves, which is naturally a state of peace. It’s as predicable as bubbles released underwater and rising to the surface.

For your strengthening and encouragement toward reclaiming yourselves as Host to your magnificence, I offer the acronym, F-T-O-C, which I’ve borrowed from my dear friend Brian Longhurst (Thanks Brian!). My interpretation: Have Faith that the universe is bringing you the perfect reflection of your inner state of being. Trust your essential Self to lead, one step at a time, to experiences that are custom made for your growth, understanding and “going forward”. Become Obedient to your inner guidance and practice Commitment to living your dreams from this Holy state of being.

Creating Your Own Reason for Being “Most Excellent”

Regardless of whether you are doing your life's work in the perfect job, or sweeping floors until you get your inheritance; work, like life, is still “earth school”.

The cast of characters you interact with; customers, co-workers, supervisors (bosses), viewed symbolically (impersonally), can provide a rich environment for self discovery. Taken personally, the workplace can become a melodramatic and sticky mess.

Like Bob Dylan sings, “you're gonna have to serve somebody”, so we might as well adopt a service attitude and use the opportunity to earn AND learn.

In the conventional workplace setting, if management follows wisdom, they have created a “bottoms up” info/organizational structure that encourages a frictionless interchange of ideas from those who interact with the public.

However, an idea box that doesn’t also act on the suggestions will quickly be seen as empty political posturing, which will backfire. It’s important to follow up by effectively enabling the change and then rewarding the idea’s creator. The atmosphere created in such a workspace entrains a sense of trust and gratitude.

The companies that will thrive into the 21st century must focus on price, quality, flexibility, innovation and sustainable development. They must see their human talent as business capital.

Making widgets for the sake of adding to the amount of consumable landfill stuff can be a soul shriveling prospect. There’s simply got to be a better reason to be your best. It starts by creating your own reason for being excellent.

Every person has an intangible balance sheet. An honest inventory can reveal your true assets and liabilities – which can be extremely helpful in determining where you can be of service and where you need some personal development.

The most valuable asset to cultivate in your personal balance sheet is integrity. It is simply the greatest gift we can give ourselves and the companies we work with.

In the book, The Corporate Mystic, by Gay Hendricks, PhD., & Kate Ludeman, PhD., it is noted that any “problem” that shows up in the workplace can ALWAYS be traced to a breach of integrity.

So how does one be a credit to their ancestors (be true to themselves) while being of service? How does one value one’s time, talent and accountability while they are carrying out the instructions of a supervisor who may or may not be interested in their point of view?

If we get caught in ours and other’s personal wounds, the workplace can be a regular soap opera of intrigue, deception, gossip and betrayal – a place for shadow boxing and diminished productivity.

If you find yourself wrapped up in low vibe drama at work, you can be sure that there has been a breach of integrity. The questions you must answer honestly are: Am I being authentic with myself? Am I being authentic with the people I work with or serve? Am I doing each and everything I say I’m going to do?

If you feel sure you are not the breach of integrity, ask someone else their opinion and be open to learning (rather than trying to save face). So now what? You’ve cleared your conscience, but that boss or co-worker is still ruining your life.

If you’re always in integrity, if your co-workers and supervisors know that you are always authentic, then you have nothing to worry about by drawing attention to issues that directly affect your ability to serve, not as blame, but out of an effort to improve the organizations ability to serve and be efficient. If you feel you can’t be authentic at work, perhaps wisdom would say that there is another company more suited to your personal values.

Without wisdom at the helm honoring wisdom at the front lines, there is an atmosphere of tension, distrust and feeling devalued, leading to “internal shrinkage” (theft) which is a common employee response to feeling unseen or under appreciated in some way.

Be the change you want to see in the workplace and constantly monitor your own integrity. The workplace may never become idyllic, but at least your part in it can be most excellent.

Volunteering: It's About Service

As the volunteer coordinator for the Maui film Festival, each year (since 2001) I’ve had the unique privilege to study how 250-300 volunteers respond to the opportunity to put their passion for service to work on behalf of the whole community. Even though volunteers have access to generous perks, the majority put their time into assuring the festival’s success, even over their own preferences, comfort and movie watching experience.

One of the central themes of the 2006 festival opener, Peaceful Warrior (based on Dan Millman’s bestseller, Way of the Peaceful Warrior) is that service is the highest path. We all strive to discover our talents, both obvious and hidden, and to bring them to the workplace for recognition and remuneration. When we finally arrive at that place of knowing that it’s really all about being of selfless service, it completely changes the quality and quantity of passion we apply to everything.

My ha nai daughter used to work for a local Maui company that sets up events. She was often sorting equipment in a warehouse when she wasn’t driving a truck or setting up or tearing down events. She was complaining one day about a veteran co-worker who said “it isn’t our job to make it easier for the warehouse people to do their job”. This “unenlightened” co-worker didn’t realize that she was talking to someone who also works in the warehouse…

Being of service is being present to the entire chain of events that results in a positive customer experience. It’s recognizing that we’ve moved beyond a commodity economy to an experience economy. Your customer is everyone from the person buying from you to the people who work with you or supervise you.

Your gifts are unique to you. Nurtured and cultivated, they will find their place in the world. Your commitment to being of selfless service is your gift to humanity. The person who’s job it is to empty the trash is the person who encounters the full trash can.

Just the other day I was filling out an information form that requested my occupation. I can never quite fit “somatic awareness trainer, media producer, volunteer coordinator, writer, musician” in the space provided. After seeing that one scene in Peaceful Warrior, I simply wrote: “service”.

The next time you’re struggling with your identity around “right livelihood”, take a new look around you with a service attitude and experience how good it feels to simply be of service. It’s OK to make the warehouse job easier. In fact, in doing so, your co-worker may bend over backward to make your job easier too. Then everybody wins.

Social Architecture & the Art of Volunteering

Social Architecture is a field which looks at how best to engineer social systems. What constitutes a desired outcome varies considerably among social architects based on underlying values, attitudes and goals.

At this stage of our collective evolutionary leaping, we are witnessing the last throes of a dying system and the emergence of something far more sustainable. The old system that imposes control for the personal gain of a few is predictably in resistance to the re-emergence of a social ideal that upholds fairness, equality and justice for all as it’s sacred tenants.

The principal symbols that maintain the continuity of the old “dying” system are money and the special resources (commodities) that come from afar that we’ve been conditioned to believe we must have to feel safe, secure, important and perhaps even superior to the “have-nots”. However, the economic system that pits the interests of the few against the well being of the many, while blatantly threatening the viability of life on planet earth, is a projection of the fear based ego-mind.

In contrast, there is a shift to a kind of human that doesn't seek dominance over others. Using the language of "soul", he/she seeks to uplift that which it is one with; its source and all “other” souls (holographic versions of source). This soulful being is content with what is immediately here and now in the environing moment. A social architect from the old school would naturally view the individuals within a social system as separate self serving entities that need to be controlled to comply within certain norms and keep them dependent on outside resources – continually feeding a system that is blindly addicted to consumption, with the sacrifice of peace as fait accompli.

What would a social system look like that was a projection of the soul, or a more socially engaged individual? Since the soul is complete and has none of the needs of the ego-mind projected world, it doesn’t need an outside symbol of value as motivation. In fact, there is compelling evidence that the soul has only one agenda – a return to source and the conscious reunification of all souls.

So how can we demonstrate to ourselves that we are moving beyond the old system and actively engaging in and furthering the cause of a social system that delights our souls through the experience of this more soulful system?

Many people who have organized their lives so that they have “the basics” covered, find such an outlet through volunteering their time and talent to causes; to non-profit entities that provide much needed services to the community, to festivals that celebrate the arts, life, the planet, and many other events or associations that bring people together in fellowship.

By removing the standard reward system volunteers have the opportunity to experience how authentically their selfless service intentions play out. When the ego-mind is dishing out its usual banter; “my back hurts”, “this is boring”, “I’m better than this assignment”, etc… and the “I’ll do it for the money” reasoning no longer applies, they get to experience how rooted they are in the ego-mind dominance that overrides Soulful service.

As an experiment in social architecture, see how much of your Self you can bring to a cause or event as a volunteer. Dedicate your efforts to enhancing the positive experience of everyone you come in contact with (share your aloha) and then listen carefully to your soul. You might actually hear singing.