Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Risk Doing Something


I hope this note finds you well.

My husband and I were talking this morning ... about some online criticism Prime Minister Trudeau has gotten for "selfies".  Quite a few of the comments don't seem to realize that Trudeau is not the one taking the selfies; rather, others want him in their selfies.

Selfies are not the point tho'.  More to the point is that use of media is an essential tool in how politicians work these days.  As my husband said, [former prime minister] "Harper had a travelling hairdresser. If that doesn't tell you something about attention to image, nothing can!"

And if activists on fronts of environment, poverty, food security or anything else are going to get their messages out and - more important perhaps - if  they, if we are going to communicate with others, engage, others ... well, I guess we have to learn how to use media in ways that keep us ahead of the politicians and lobbyists on whatever the "other side" is in our cause.

 I suppose I'll come kicking and screaming to more media.  I hate having to learn new technologies and their individual quirks and ways of screwing up.  And I'll always say that getting people knitting together in a room is a great way to ensure that things get talked about and to make sure everyone knows what she (or he) is going to do once out of that room.

Underlying whatever methods are used to get people in touch and doing, is the simple fact that there are a lot of things to be done!  And, to quote further from something my husband wrote down:

"Tough times are not the times you want to go into a shell. This is the time to be optimistic, daring, out there, step up, stand out, say good things and be present. Turtles aren't going to bring Canada anything new... and foreign bigness is just going to rob us of what's left of our vision. If we want our economy to be our economy, we may well have to reboot it all from the ground up. That means that everyone who has a sense of industry and commerce needs to be industrious and commercial and risk doing something

That's as far as I've gotten today with this train of thought. 

Hope your own day goes well.  Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Guelph Organics Conference a good place for conversation about why GMO has got to go!


Happy New Year!  I hope that 2016 will be a healthy, happy, interesting time for you.

Barbara Kingsolver points out in her book Small Wonder that "a sound-bite culture can't discuss science very well". To talk about genetic engineering requires conversations about biodiversity, land rights, toxins and health, and respect for a "commons" of life.  It requires respect for farmers, researchers and all observers of the complexities of growth and selection.  The 35th Guelph Organics Conference will be held January 29 - 31 ( and is a wonderful place to have conversations.   

I mention the conference because there's been a series of articles in our local London Free Press newspaper (one of the Sun Media papers).  

Recently, a LFPress editorial advocated insecticides that threaten food security. LFPress also praised research into an alfalfa splice and speculated it could be a magic bullet for drought resistance, without mentioning existing drought-resistant seed and farmers who know how to hybridize.  Then, LFPress gave space to advocacy of rice genetically modified to provide Vitamin A, without mention that more Vitamin A can come into the diet from leafy vegetables. 

The same pro-genetic modification of seed article also quoted people who commented that the "louder", activists are "winning" the public relations battle to turn the public against genetic modification of seed. It's a funny praise, in a way, for low budget organizations in their opposition to world-market-dominating, billion dollar, agri-chemical companies!

Who's put the pressure on our local newspaper?  Are the same articles published all across the Sun Media "family" of newspapers? 

I'll leave you with a bit more from Barbara Kingsolver.  Every essay in her book Small Wonder is worth reading and pondering.  The essay quoted below - A Fist in the Eye of God - is a an education and a philosophy in itself, well worth reading and talking about.

Kind regards,

Why's Woman

[when someone asks] "In two hundred words or less, can you explain to me why I should be nervous about genetic engineering?" I tell them, "Sit down, I'll make you a cup of tea, and then get ready for more than two hundred words."

A sound-bite culture can't discuss science very well. Exactly what we're losing when we reduce biodiversity, the causes and consequences of global warming - these traumas can't be adequately summarized in an evening news wrap-up. Arguments in favor of genetically engineered food, in contrast, are dangerously simple: A magazine ad for an agribusiness touts its benevolent plan to "feed the world's hungry with our vitamin-engineered rice!" To which I could add in reply my own snappy motto: "If you thought that first free hit of heroin was a good idea..." But before you can really decide whether or not you agree, you may need the five hundred words above and a few thousand more. If so, then sit down, have a cup of tea, and bear with me. This is important.
               Barbara Kingsolver, in essay A Fist in the Eye of God, in Small Wonder,

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Quotations through the year ... perhaps they'll touch you too?

 Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well, as we head toward the end of 2015.  Not overburdened with Christmas or other celebration dinner plans, and certainly not having to do more shopping! 

I've just taken a browse through my 2015 Inner Reflections calendar, where I put quotations from whatever I happen to be reading, as the thought touches me, through the year.  This past year I've not filled in nearly as many days as usual; this is a pure reflection of being too busy with other things that aren't as important as taking the time to reflect  each day on someone else' thought, idea or belief.  Next year I'm going to try to get back to keeping the notes.

Below are some of the thoughts that I did record.  Individually or together, they have meaning ... and not always do they reconcile.  That's people and ideas!  That's one's own mind, over time and situations.

I hope some of the the quotations below have meaning for you, or spark your own train of thought and perhaps writing or action.

Best regards, as always,

Why's Woman

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them. Ray Bradbury

Don't ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  Howard Thurman

The strength of collective silence is probably one of the most powerful spiritual forces.  Ursula Franklin

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  Leonard Nimoy

I ask only one thing of you: give me your hand.  I will not let go.  We are on a mission to help nature, our world, and our only home.  Together, we will succeed.  Diana Beresford-Kroeger, from The Sweetness of a Simple Life

I rage at the imminent loss of my friend. And I think, 'What would Terry [Pratchett] do with this anger?' Then I pick up my pen and I start to write.  Neil Gaimon

Granny Weatherwax' definition of sin: "When you treat people as things."

A good garden's built on basics.  The first is soil fertile enough to grow crops well and the second is the knowledge of how to make the soil fertile if it isn't.  Harry Dodson, from Harry Dodson's Practical Kitchen Garden, 1992, BBC Books

In nature's economy, the currency is not money - it is life.  Vandana Shiva

All it takes is one good person to restore hope.  Pope Francis

We need to discern who we are and expand on our humanness and sacredness.  That's how we change the world, which happens because WE will be the change.  Grace Lee Boggs

I veer between optimism and realism.  As ever, I like optimism better.  Elizabeth May, from COPS21, Dec. 7/15 report

The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.  Pete Seeger

Things are impossible only until someone decides they're not.  Let's imagine a better future and work together to create a safer, cleaner and more just world.  David Suzuki

Prepare for the victory party.  Elizabeth May

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Final Agreement Reached at UN Climate Negotiations

Final Agreement Reached at UN Climate Negotiations
December 13, 2015          The following was posted by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. She has been at the COP21 climate talks in Paris ... where she's gotten the energy to make regular postings I don't know, but she has ... and hurray for her!

               The morning after 13 days - 3 all nighters…And the Paris Agreement is accepted. The COP21 decision is agreed. What does it all mean?
               I have been working on climate for the last 29 years. In that time I have seen lip service from most politicians, courage from a few politicians, venality from some corporations (Exxon come to mind), leadership from others. I have witnessed opportunity after opportunity squandered for political expediency.                Agreements signed and then ignored. Overall we have procrastinated and lost decades when we could have averted the climate crisis nearly entirely.
               Now we are in it. With loss of life and devastating droughts and heat waves, extreme weather events, sea level rise and loss of Arctic ice and permafrost. No longer are we arguing about a future problem. We have already changed the climate, so the debate of 2015 is “can we avoid the very worst of the climate crisis? Can we ensure the survival of human civilization? Can we save millions of species?” To do so requires transitioning off fossil fuels.
               You will undoubtedly hear some denounce the Paris Agreement for what it does not do. It does not respond with sufficient urgency. It does not use the levers available to governments to craft a treaty that is enforceable with trade sanctions to add some teeth. Those criticisms are fair. As trade lawyer Steven Shrybman said more than a decade ago “If governments cared as much about climate as they do about protecting intellectual property rights, we would have laws that require carbon reduction in every country on earth.”
               Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement is an historic and potentially life-saving agreement. It does more than many of us expected when the conference opened on November 30. It will be legally binding. It sets a long term temperature goal of no more than 1.5 degrees as far safer than the (also hard to achieve) goal of no more than 2 degrees. In doing so, it may save the lives of millions. It may lead to the survival of many small nations close to sea level. It may give our grandchildren a far more stable climate and thus a more prosperous and healthy society. It clearly means the world has accepted that most known reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground.
               It is absolutely true that Canada announcing support for 1.5 degrees mid-way through the conference made a huge difference in keeping that target in the treaty. I heard that from friends and contacts around the world.
               To avoid 1.5 requires immediate action. Unfortunately, the treaty is only to take effect in 2020 (after it is ratified by 55 countries, collectively representing 55% of world GHG emissions). We have built into the treaty mandatory global 5 year reviews – what is called the “ratcheting up mechanism.”
               The mechanism to force all governments to assess the adequacy of their own plans only kicks in in 2023. That gap from 2015 to 2023 could well foreclose any option to hold temperature to less than 1.5 or even 2 degrees.
               So in addition to the Paris Agreement we also passed the Decision of COP21. It includes some actions before 2020. The language there is far from perfect but gives us a chance to increase targets before 2020. In 2018, there will be a “facilitative dialogue” within the UN to assess the adequacy of targets and to prepare for new ones for 2020. The decision document is actually longer than the treaty itself and includes many actions to be undertaken within the ongoing UNFCCC COP process. Among them, the IPCC is requested to produce a report to COP spelling out what level of GHG emissions will lead us to holding global average temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees C above those before the Industrial Revolution.
               Canadians can be rightly proud of what our government did in Paris. While I did not support our position on every single issue, I cannot be more proud of what we did on most issues, nor can I thank our newly minted (and now totally exhausted) Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, enough for her work.
               What matters now is what we do next. Canada’s climate target remains the one left behind by the previous government. We have no time to waste in re-vamping and improving our target. We should be prepared to improve it again in 2020. But let’s ensure we get started. The Liberal platform committed to, within 90 days of COP21, consultations with all provincial and territorial governments. In his speech at COP21, Trudeau expanded that to engaging with municipal governments and First Nations as well. That is all excellent. Ideally this sets in motion a quick-start to identifying a more ambitious target with actions spelled out in the spring 2016 budget.
               Earth Day 2016 has been chosen in the decision document as the day for formal signatures to the Paris Agreement. Ban Ki-moon has been requested to organize a signing ceremony in New York at UN headquarters. Let’s all take a moment to send a thank you note to Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and urge that Canada’s new target be ready to be tabled at the UN on April 22, 2016 when Canada shows up to encourage all other countries to improve their own targets.
               Paris threw us a lifeline. Don’t let it slip between our fingers.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

100 Canadian Communities endorse environmental rights

Good morning everyone,

Just received an email from the David Suzuki Foundation.

Toronto, Ontario has became the 100th community to pass a Blue Dot municipal environmental rights declaration — a significant step towards ensuring that all levels of government recognize your right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water, eat safe food and have a say in the decisions that affect your health and well-being.

This means that, so far, 8,000,000 Canadians live in cities that have said formally that citizens have a right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air, eat safe food and have a say in health and well-being decisions.

This is pretty great.  The initiative was launched in September 2014 by the David Suzuki Foundation, and there's more information about it here

I'm going to do some checking at London, Ontario City Hall to find out how it is that London isn't on the list!

Best regards,

Why's Woman

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It is said that the heart has to break to hold more

Good morning everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.

Some days are more full than others.

Wednesday through Friday I and a friend spent many, many hours travelling by car between London and Ottawa for a conference: Food Security in a Changing Climate. It was organized by the Canadian Climate Forum* - itself begun by scientists from a disbanded Canadian federal government department, along with other climate scientists and people in other professions and avocations.  The conference was more than worth the travel time, and rain on the scary 401 highway at night!

To be in a room with activists, politicians, scientists from many realms - all people who care and think and act - is amazing.  Mind and heart filling, physically felt ... amazing.  Tho' there were ideas I'd have liked to have heard brought forward at the sessions, given the format and the 1 1/2 days of meetings, nothing else could have been squeezed in.  And we've got time to go forward and bring in more people and ideas and actions ... especially actions.  Dr. Richard Hebda** helped sum up our time and was emphatic that we have to keep in touch.  I'll be mailing him a real card soon, thanking him for two kinds of bean seeds.  His research and that of other presenters was as sophisticated and done-by-protocol as anyone's ... that he is at heart a gardener touches me and confirms that that sort of connection keeps us all stronger.  I got to have a chat with Elizabeth May, head of the Green Party of Canada, and an ongoing inspiration for all the environment-related work I do!

In the way of our contrary universe, I returned home to a plumbing problem (at least we now know where the smell was coming from and can begin to fix much).

In the way of the universe that smacks us upside the head to put things in perspective, I returned home to hear about the shootings in Paris. They had been happening just at the time our conference had been wrapping up. 

At the food security and climate change forum we'd heard about a six year drought in Syria that had begun well before the current military horrors ... and that, very likely, the disruptions caused by 80% reductions in crops (climate change related!) are as strongly related to what's going on there as any political infighting.

What grief were the organizers going through as they had to clear up after the conference, a time when they should have been excited and planning forward?  The French ambassador to Canada had been guest speaker at a Thursday evening dinner, speaking about the upcoming climate change conference of parties.  What shift in heart and mind has he felt in the last two days?  

The above is such a short note to cover 5 days of life!

How is it that an "empty" feeling can be heavy and physical at the same time? 

Twenty years ago I trained as a yoga teacher at the Kripalu Center, and over the years did much reading.  Many times I've come across the idea that a heart can be so full of emotion that it breaks, so that it can heal and be able to hold more and help a person give more.  I explain that badly, no doubt.  And no doubt the psychologists have a different take on things.  I do know that the emotion of deep grief "bursts" and moves to a fatigue and other feelings and can, with thought and time and compassion from onself, lead to greater strength.  I've certainly had my most recent break in these last few days ... and I'm glad to know that I've experienced that regrouping before and will again.

Namaste dear people,

Why's Woman

* Canadian Climate Forum:
** Dr. Richard Hebda's short biography:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Something to say again as Canada changes government


I hope this note finds you well.  There's been a lot happening in the last while.

People who know me would not believe that I can be lost for words.  I'm usually writing a letter to the editor or to city council, researching something, or posting on a sister site Community Gardens London.  For a long while now, posts here have been infrequent.  I'm hoping that will change.

On the CBC news and vaulting through Facebook is a post by journalist Jody Paterson, beginning with some thoughts from her scientist son and continuing with her own relief at being rid of Canada's just past prime minister.  (Paterson's blog: here )

Paterson's son wrote about the un-gagging of Canadian government scientists: "It is official. At an all staff meeting today with some of the best scientists in the world, certainly the ones who know our coast better than anyone (and I am lucky enough to work for some of them), we were told that it's ok to talk to the media or anyone about what we do without permission. That's how surreal it was. That's how things changed over night."

Journalist Paterson followed with: "What I have come to see through the popularity of that post is just how oppressed, bitter and sorrowful Canadians had become under the Harper government, and how hungry they were for optimism and hope again. I wonder if we even knew how dejected we felt until the day of the election, when even apolitical types like me felt our hearts lift at the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the Dark Lord had been vanquished and hope was possible again."

On the morning of October 20 - the "morning after" Canada's federal election.  I scanned news sites to double-check results.  And somewhere along the way my shoulders relaxed.  Something inside got quiet in a way it had not for a while, in a way that's different from meditation. 

Over the last couple of weeks I've identified the feeling as feeling hopeful about an array of things, including: that Canada just may be able to contribute something useful to the upcoming climate talks in France; that perhaps Canada may be able to get itself out of a trade agreement that gives 12 more countries the right to sue us when they cannot take over our economy.

I've been fighting with myself to not smile when I hear our new prime minister Trudeau make a speech.  That fight comes from the years long habit of worry and fear for our country.  As "a Taurus" astrologically (even tho' I profess to not put any credence in the characteristics given) I am slow to change.  My head also realizes that fear is pervasive and moving from fear is not an overnight trip.

I've also spoken with acquaintances who are members of the NDP and Green Party who question what is going to happen next ... and then - to a one - make a positive comment about Mr. Trudeau along with their "we'll see" comment.  From these people, this is high praise.

So, I'm taking a breath, smiling a bit as I write, and expecting that I'll be writing more. 

Very best regards,

Why's Woman