Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Life’s Persistent Questions (Part two) 

By Kathy Landis

I then ask myself, “What is it that I love most?” What is at the core of what guides me? Is there a way to apply value distilling questions to this quandary as well? A Newton friend once said, “One’s passion lies in what makes them cry.” Certainly, the struggles and joys of the people I love bring me to tears. I think, however, this is a universal human response of compassion and connection, not an indication of my deepest passion. The tear-filled moments that I note are those that catch me off-guard. It is when the deep-within bursts forth, overcomes, and settles me into full-body awe. Those moments often come when I am paying attention to matter, be it a handful of richKansas soil, the light on a birch tree in the wee hours of the morning, or the glory of a creature fully alive. But more than land-related matter, I love water. I loved water before I came to the land of 10,000 lakes. I love its simplicity. How three basic molecules become one and take on the form of many diverse things. I love how it reveals itself in many different forms: fog, rain, clouds, ice, snow in all its diversity. I love how it stimulates all of our senses:

            –  I love how it plays and feels on my skin.

            –  I love the varying sounds it makes as rain falls on water.

            –  I love the way it rocks a canoe or kayak and lulls me into oneness.

            –  I love that you can smell if it is going to rain or snow.

            –  And though tasting it is more obscure, I appreciate that our mouth clearly communicates  when our bodies need more of it.

I also am quite addicted to drinking it. My Little Sister, who is all of eleven exclaimed, “You sure drink a lot!” And why not be addicted to something that is necessary for every ecosystem and life?

 I realize that might sound a bit too emotive for some, so I offer a few “hard” thoughts on the importance of water. The U.S. Institute of Medicine determined that the daily human water consumption from food and beverages is 3-4 liters. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that a supply of clean water is the right of each world citizen. Water is used as a political tool in international affairs. Not having clear drinking water is the fifth highest cause of death world wide. Emotions aside, it would seem water has great importance and power in our lives. Simply put, water is an absolute – it is an undeniable necessity.

 Water and human relationships are both undeniable necessities. So I come back to, “how do I put my love of both water and connection with people into a value distilling question? Even though we now acknowledge that all things are connected creating this question seems more challenging.

 It turns out, however, that my pursuit of staying connected with people I love and my love of water are connected.  With over 2.5 million acres of lakes, and 69,000 miles of rivers and streams, Minnesotans understand the importance of clean water. Yet even here where waters flow north to Canada, east to the Atlantic, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, mining companies are strategizing to get mining rights next to the Boundary Waters watershed. Though the merits of mining and its drawbacks have been argued for decades, this mining is a bit different. While iron ore mining’s aftermath is rust, this mining’s aftermath produces sulfuric acid. And what are we mining for? Nickel and copper, platinum, palladium. These metals are used for making many things including cell phones. Many questions come to mind: “Are these metals in short supply? If recycling systems aren’t in place to resource the phone I have, do I really need a new one? And what about supporting an industry (metal mining) that was responsible for over 40% of all toxins released into the environment in 2010?

 If my having a smart phone means watersheds of northern MN become polluted or more clearly put, that sulfuric acid leaches into the waters of the Boundary Waters (which seems inevitable given that controlling or containing water is an oxymoron), I end up on the side of no phone. I realize that may seem drastic and you may be thinking 1) One more phone is not going to make any difference to the mining companies or the world’s ecological issues etc. and 2) Surely you, Kathy are using other items made of these metal! These are good points.

Each day provides opportunities to choose. One may say or think that one person’s decision about one phone makes no difference. The problem is that in my last two jobs (founding and owning a natural foods store, and being WW’s executive director), I have clearly seen how one person’s choices have a significant and positive impact on the health and future of an organization. If one person can impact a company positively, it would seem that the inverse is true as well. I may not be able to SEE that my choice shakes a mega mining company, but I know it will affect them. Secondly, I am not a purist. I have a laptop, and a car, and stainless steel pots to name a few. All contain metals that came from mining Earth at some point. Though some of these items were purchased at thrift stores, those bought new are well used and by current “standards” are outdated. Additionally, when I bought them, I wasn’t conscious about the impact of mining and what was required in order for my chili to be cooked in my then pot of choice. Besides all of this, I question, “Is the entity that is driving the “constant need to upgrade” caring for the ramifications of that upgrade.” Henry David Thoreau said, “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

 I was reading an interview with Julia Butterfly Hill which was published in The Sun. Ms. Hill is the woman who sat in a redwood tree for two years in the late 90’s to keep it from being logged. She said, “It’s the large systems that have to change, but I feel I have no right to demand that change if I’m not constantly looking to see how I can lighten my own footprint. It’s not about judgment or moralism or perfection. It’s about integrity.”

 It seems to me that the human community has significant, hard and life-altering decisions to make.  There are many choices and many paths before us. Perhaps we need to make our own values distilling questions about our short and long-term needs in order to discern what is of greatest importance to us? As I listen to the rain on the yurt roof, and ponder my current decision between short and long-term needs, it seems the answer to another one of life’s persistent questions has come.

 P.S. For more information about mining in Minnesota, please check out www.miningtruth.org

Read Full Post »

Life’s Persistent Questions (Part two) 

By Kathy Landis

I then ask myself, “What is it that I love most?” What is at the core of what guides me? Is there a way to apply value distilling questions to this quandary as well? A Newton friend once said, “One’s passion lies in what makes them cry.” Certainly, the struggles and joys of the people I love bring me to tears. I think, however, this is a universal human response of compassion and connection, not an indication of my deepest passion. The tear-filled moments that I note are those that catch me off-guard. It is when the deep-within bursts forth, overcomes, and settles me into full-body awe. Those moments often come when I am paying attention to matter, be it a handful of richKansas soil, the light on a birch tree in the wee hours of the morning, or the glory of a creature fully alive. But more than land-related matter, I love water. I loved water before I came to the land of 10,000 lakes. I love its simplicity. How three basic molecules become one and take on the form of many diverse things. I love how it reveals itself in many different forms: fog, rain, clouds, ice, snow in all its diversity. I love how it stimulates all of our senses:

            –  I love how it plays and feels on my skin.

            –  I love the varying sounds it makes as rain falls on water.

            –  I love the way it rocks a canoe or kayak and lulls me into oneness.

            –  I love that you can smell if it is going to rain or snow.

            –  And though tasting it is more obscure, I appreciate that our mouth clearly communicates  when our bodies need more of it.

I also am quite addicted to drinking it. My Little Sister, who is all of eleven exclaimed, “You sure drink a lot!” And why not be addicted to something that is necessary for every ecosystem and life?

 I realize that might sound a bit too emotive for some, so I offer a few “hard” thoughts on the importance of water. The U.S. Institute of Medicine determined that the daily human water consumption from food and beverages is 3-4 liters. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that a supply of clean water is the right of each world citizen. Water is used as a political tool in international affairs. Not having clear drinking water is the fifth highest cause of death world wide. Emotions aside, it would seem water has great importance and power in our lives. Simply put, water is an absolute – it is an undeniable necessity.

 Water and human relationships are both undeniable necessities. So I come back to, “how do I put my love of both water and connection with people into a value distilling question? Even though we now acknowledge that all things are connected creating this question seems more challenging.

 It turns out, however, that my pursuit of staying connected with people I love and my love of water are connected.  With over 2.5 million acres of lakes, and 69,000 miles of rivers and streams, Minnesotans understand the importance of clean water. Yet even here where waters flow north to Canada, east to the Atlantic, and south to the Gulf of Mexico, mining companies are strategizing to get mining rights next to the Boundary Waters watershed. Though the merits of mining and its drawbacks have been argued for decades, this mining is a bit different. While iron ore mining’s aftermath is rust, this mining’s aftermath produces sulfuric acid. And what are we mining for? Nickel and copper, platinum, palladium. These metals are used for making many things including cell phones. Many questions come to mind: “Are these metals in short supply? If recycling systems aren’t in place to resource the phone I have, do I really need a new one? And what about supporting an industry (metal mining) that was responsible for over 40% of all toxins released into the environment in 2010?

 If my having a smart phone means watersheds of northern MN become polluted or more clearly put, that sulfuric acid leaches into the waters of the Boundary Waters (which seems inevitable given that controlling or containing water is an oxymoron), I end up on the side of no phone. I realize that may seem drastic and you may be thinking 1) One more phone is not going to make any difference to the mining companies or the world’s ecological issues etc. and 2) Surely you, Kathy are using other items made of these metal! These are good points.

Each day provides opportunities to choose. One may say or think that one person’s decision about one phone makes no difference. The problem is that in my last two jobs (founding and owning a natural foods store, and being WW’s executive director), I have clearly seen how one person’s choices have a significant and positive impact on the health and future of an organization. If one person can impact a company positively, it would seem that the inverse is true as well. I may not be able to SEE that my choice shakes a mega mining company, but I know it will affect them. Secondly, I am not a purist. I have a laptop, and a car, and stainless steel pots to name a few. All contain metals that came from mining Earth at some point. Though some of these items were purchased at thrift stores, those bought new are well used and by current “standards” are outdated. Additionally, when I bought them, I wasn’t conscious about the impact of mining and what was required in order for my chili to be cooked in my then pot of choice. Besides all of this, I question, “Is the entity that is driving the “constant need to upgrade” caring for the ramifications of that upgrade.” Henry David Thoreau said, “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

 I was reading an interview with Julia Butterfly Hill which was published in The Sun. Ms. Hill is the woman who sat in a redwood tree for two years in the late 90’s to keep it from being logged. She said, “It’s the large systems that have to change, but I feel I have no right to demand that change if I’m not constantly looking to see how I can lighten my own footprint. It’s not about judgment or moralism or perfection. It’s about integrity.”

 It seems to me that the human community has significant, hard and life-altering decisions to make.  There are many choices and many paths before us. Perhaps we need to make our own values distilling questions about our short and long-term needs in order to discern what is of greatest importance to us? As I listen to the rain on the yurt roof, and ponder my current decision between short and long-term needs, it seems the answer to another one of life’s persistent questions has come.

 P.S. For more information about mining in Minnesota, please check out www.miningtruth.org

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: