Wednesday, January 26, 2011

rise 34

“When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.” ~ Dom Helder Camara

Have you ever wondered how our current society interacts with politics, business, the defense department (i.e. the attack department) and sustainability? For an amazing perspective, read Endgame by Derrick Jensen, but be prepared to view society in a different light.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

“The Amish have thought long and hard about tractors and decided that tractors would erode their community. They think tractors would lead to larger and larger farms: farms that would eventually need trucks. And as horses became less useful, members would face an even greater temptation to buy cars. Cars aren't evil - the Amish will travel in someone else's, if need be - but they help break down the fabric of social and economic life: suddenly people are living farther apart, and they have a big new expense to meet. Meanwhile, horses are cheaper, they create their own replacements, and they don't force you into dependence on oil supplies, or spare parts, or mechanics. And horses have some intangible value, too. … instead of the ear splitting diesel roar there was quiet enough to talk.” - Bill McKibben in Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

For those looking to save a few (thousand) bucks and reduce your environmental impact, consider that the average car owner in the US spends roughly $9,500 per year to purchase, register, fuel, maintain, & insure their vehicle. Compare that to the cost of owning & maintaining a bicycle and get ready for early retirement (or at least earlier). And for those who don’t want to worry about purchasing & maintaining a bicycle, there are now bike sharing programs in many major cities, including B-Cycle for my Denver brethren (

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Likely you’ve heard of “blood diamonds”, but have you ever thought about “blood electronics”? Check out the below link to see if the companies you buy from are striving to end violence in the Congo by cleaning up their mining & supply chains. If you’re up for taking the next step, go ahead and call the companies to ask for a change.

Smile, think, laugh & love!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

rise 33

“Every man is a creature of the age in which he lives, and few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the time.” ~ Voltaire

Exercise part 1: Please take 5 – 10 minutes now (before reading the rest of the Rise) to consider the following questions:
  • Have you ever attempted to think beyond our current civilization?
  • If you could recreate our world, what changes would you make?
  • In comparison to our civilization would people cherish money / family / friends / knowledge / technology more or less?
  • How would the content of school textbooks be different?

Exercise part 2: Read the rest of the Rise, check out the links and then spend another 5 – 10 minutes to reconsider the above questions and take note of how your answers may have changed:

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product...if we should judge American by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." ~ Bobby Kennedy, March 18, 1968

Were you aware that the nation of Bhutan measures its progress not by how much they produce & consume, but instead by their happiness?
Happy Planet Index

What if this was how every nation measured progress? We’d potentially be less technologically advanced and would definitely own less, but I doubt that I’m the only one who would definitely trade that for more happiness, which my guess would likely mean ridding us of being overworked and would lead to better health, and more community. For one possible civilization advancement, check out
21 Hour Work Week

Movie recommendation: Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics, while this can be difficult to find, this is a must see!!!

Book recommendation: Switch – How to change things when change is hard

Now that you’ve thought about how you’d like the world to be, consider how you’ll help be part of the change.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” ~ Robert Byrne

Laugh, learn & live!

Monday, September 13, 2010

rise 32

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.” - Michael Pollan

Green tip: To keep your lawn healthy & happy, mow your lawn to 3 inches or higher, which promotes deep roots and helps shade the soil, thereby reducing moisture loss. Also, leave the grass clippings on the lawn to return nutrients and carbon to the soil (this works for small quantities of dead leaves too), which will also decrease the need for fertilizer.

“When voting with your dollar, vote with your values” - Ross Kelman

What to buy: Looking for soaps & shampoos made sustainably, check out

What NOT to buy: 10 items to never buy again

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." ~ George Bernard Shaw

Microlending/Microfinance: Did you know that one of the best ways to lift someone out of poverty is to give them the opportunity to work their way out? This is the theory behind microlending, where small loans (e.g. $25 – 500) with low interest rates are made to an individual or group who then puts the money towards a business venture and eventually repays the loan in full. This economic approach was developed by the Grameen Bank which has helped millions of families in Bangladesh earn their way out of poverty by giving them a chance to borrow money without exorbitant interest rates.

If you want to be part of it, please visit I’m now lending money to women in Cambodia, Uganda, Vietnam, Senegal, Mali, Mongolia, Kenya, Togo, and the Philippines.

Laugh, learn & live!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

rise 31

Hello fellow Risers!

Want to eat organic, locally-produced food inexpensively? Yes, I know you do. Me too, and that’s why I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA’s are based on a farmer or group of farmers pre-selling their crops before they harvest and oftentimes before they even plant. Most CSA’s provide weekly or bi-weekly baskets of food to the share hold
ers based on what is in season and how much of each crop was harvested. In this manner you’re getting delicious, healthy, fresh, local food while supporting local farmers. If you have some land or time to donate, you may even be able to get your share for free or at least at a discount. This year, I’m donating my garden (about 550 sq. ft.) to a CSA; they’ll farm it (we’ll have potatoes), combine my crop with dozens of other fruit & vegetable crops from other gardens all over the city and then I’ll get a free share each week. I call this a win-win-win-win (good for the wallet, good for the environment, good for the health, and helping to build a stronger local community & economy). For more information or to find a CSA in your area, check out

Who here has ever seen the TV show ‘Flipper’ or gone to SeaWorld or swam with dolphins in a tropical resort? Ever wondered where those dolphins come from? If yo
u’re interested in the truth about those dolphins and dolphin meat, you need to see the documentary The Cove.

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color. ~ Maya Angelou

Consider that we refer to TVs, cars, IPods and sofas as ‘manufactured GOODS’. Do you feel that they bring good to your life or do they just occupy it? How about instead of ‘manufactured’ good, you instead bring authentic good into your life. Remember that just as much as you own your possessions, your possessions also own you (time & money spent purchasing & maintaining your items and worrying about whether they’ll get ruined or stolen). What if instead of working to make money to purchase manufactured goods, we instead spent more of our time with family, friends and making our lives more full?

“driving with electricity is far cheaper than driving with gasoline or natural gas. The average new U.S. car can travel roughly 30 miles on a gallon of gasoline, which cost $3.91 in July 2008 (the latest date for which comparable price data for natural gas is available). Traveling the same distance with natural gas cost around $2.51, while with electricity, using the existing electrical generation mix, it cost around 73¢.” ~ from Plan B by Lester Brown

Be happy! Be healthy! Be!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

rise # 30

Can we transition from a world of environmental, moral and community degradation to one of health, happiness and respect for all peoples and the planet?

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

Consider that one of the best ways to reduce poverty is by providing a community with ample, inexpensive electricity. This allows people to have more time to be productive, since they need to spend less time doing things manually or creating energy by harvesting & burning resources (normally wood, which also means chopping down trees, which brings with it many other negative effects). A possible glimpse of the future could include the Bloom Box which has the ability to bring inexpensive energy to everyone world wide
Bloom Box.

Another item for consideration is the cost of your food. When you spend money in a grocery store or restaurant, what are you actually paying for? Realize that there is no cheap food, either you pay the full cost of the food up front in order to get meats and vegetables that will be good for your body and were sustainably grown or you purchase inexpensive food which takes a toll on your health, the health of the farmers who are producing your food and the health of the planet.

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." ~ Michael Pollan

If you are making changes to lead a more sustainable, conscious life, you may not realize it, but at least indirectly you are involved with the Transition movement, which works to create healthier, more vibrant, more sustainable communities and lives:
Transition and Transition Towns

I personally am involved with Transition Denver and likely there is a Transition group in your town or city as well. If you are interested in meeting like-minded folks and learning how to make more positive contributions to the world, you might want to go to a meeting or two.

Here’s another kind of transition which may bring many positive effects to our society:
21 Hour Work Week

Finally consider one last type of transition that many people in our society go through, that being the shift from wanting what society tells them to want, to actually living for what their life purpose is. If this sounds interesting, then The Shift with Dr. Wayne Dyer is a must see!

“This is a giant block of whatever is most difficult for you to carry & trust me on this, you’ll carry it more times than you can count until you decide that’s exactly what you want to do most & then it won’t weigh a thing anymore.” – Traveling Light

Revitalize & Rejoice!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

rise 29

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~ Buddha

Sharing Idea # 1: Have your neighbors and friends over for dinner. By cooking a large meal for many people, you can buy in bulk (thereby spending less money per meal) and cook it all at once (thereby saving time in cooking vs. cooking individual meals). Not only does it save time & money, but you get laughs, learning and community out of it for free.

Wondering what rebates are out there for making upgrades to your home? For some of the best and easiest, check out rebate money

Health tip: Want healthier gums & whiter teeth for a few pennies a day? Daily mix a dime-sized portion of baking soda with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide and apply to teeth (do not scrub with toothbrush as baking soda is very abrasive and can cause damage to your enamel), let it sit on your teeth for a couple minutes then rinse your mouth with water.

When you hear the word ‘sustainability’ what comes to mind? Trees? Flowers? The world with a big smile? Sustainability isn’t just about the environment, for anything to exist for a long time, it needs to be sustainable. Ask yourself a few questions: Is your life sustainable? Your health? Your finances and purchasing habits? Your spirit? Consider if your life stays on the current course, whether you’ll be able to look back in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years and be glad of the choices you made. Consider what you’d like your life to look like and what would be needed to live that life. Read up on a sustainable life here.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Consider what changes you want to make and what might be holding you back. For most people the only thing holding them back is fear, not so much fear that it won’t succeed, but really just fear of the unknown.

“The key to change... is to let go of fear.” – Rosanne Cash

Sharing Idea # 2: Use the library – here in Denver I get all of my books, DVD’s & CD’s from the library for free. Save money while saving resources (fewer books, DVD’s, CD’s created & shipped). And who really needs to own a book or DVD after they’ve read or watched it. Instead, pass it on for others to experience.

“Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Norman MacEwan

Revitalize & Rejoice!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

rise 28

In this issue we’ll look at an amazing glimpse of the future to start us off: Sixth Sense

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~ Herman Melville

Consider your connections with the people & world around you. When times are difficult (e.g. after natural disasters, illness, etc.) people come together to help one another and bring goodness back to life. Why should this only be during difficult times? Why not pull together all the time? Building community, sharing expenses (e.g. why does every house need a lawnmower or a vacuum) and getting more human interaction all lead to more laughs, more smiles, more love and a higher quality of life. Additionally, people with many positive relationships tend to be healthier & live longer. Viva la Vida!

Want a daily update of environmental news in less than 2 minutes, check out
Environmental News

I have 2 mothers; one lives outside Philadelphia and is an intelligent, caring, generous woman; the other is Mother Earth, a generous & caring planet. The former gives me love & support, the latter gives me food for health & energy, air to breathe, clothes & a home to keep me warm & safe, not to mention that every atom in my body and the bodies of my loved ones have come from her. I love both of my mothers and try my best to always respect them. Thank you moms!

“The test of a democracy is not the magnificence of buildings or the speed of automobiles or the efficiency of air transportation, but rather the care given to the welfare of all the people." - Helen Keller

3 simple steps to help preserve the rainforest:
Preserve the Rainforest

Get Dirty!!! Have you ever been working in a garden or planting a tree and just felt wonderful? It turns out that your physiology is behind it. There is a common bacterium (m. vaccae) in dirt which when you touch it, it boosts serotonin in your body, in turn boosting your mood. Additionally there’s the beauty & wonder of nature and if you’re creating something, quite the sense of accomplishment.

“Of course, I want to save the world, she said, but I was hoping to do it from the comfort of my regular life.” – Traveling Light

Want a good one-stop shop for green products, check out
World of Good

Reduce, Reuse, Respect.