the worse company…

Of all the ‘evil corps’ out there, whose the worse?

… and the winner is

For the last decade my list of bad actors in the corporate world usually put Coca-Cola on top of the list with Monsanto and others way down.  Coke has the audacity in its long-term strategic mission to envision replacing water in 3rd world countries – not that they’ll ever admit to that. But the anecdotal evidence supports this: witness their exclusive FIFA (global soccer federation) youth league contracts in Africa and Asia where they supply free Coke samples to young kids that can barely get clean water in their villages.  And you thought Monsanto was the bad boy with their ‘let’s own all the seeds of the world’… well, water is WAY more critical than seeds… and Coke takes the Darwin award on that.

But stay tuned – there are a couple new bad actors out there that put Coke’s world domination of water supply to shame:  Nestle and Unilever. Both of these global behemoths control a massive network of smaller regional food companies. I am familiar with Nestle from a more local perspective with their water games in California and Oregon. If ever there was a poster child for underhanded and deceptive corporate shenanigans in trying to privatize and control mountain spring water that’s in the public domain – it’s Nestle.

Here’s what the junk food transition looks like in Brazil. There are now more obese than underweight adults in the world. Sales of ultra-processed foods have more than doubled over the last decade — even spreading into developing countries.

Nestle’s logo http://www.nestle.com says: ‘Good food, good life’ Yikes! If there’s anything that Nestle does NOT do – is sell good food.   Nestle and Unilever are doing what is common for large profit-obsessed corporations: increase profits by increasing market share. USA, Europe and China have wised up to the bad effects of junk food. So the only place to easily grow market share is in 3rd world countries: Africa, Asia, South America. And are they every successful in that effort!

A recent NYT article about obesity in Brazil highlights Nestle’s new approach to hooking people to their junk food for a lifetime of addiction, obesity and diabetes.

Food vendors have become the local mom and pop of the neighborhood. This is the new preferred way for the large corporations to infiltrate local hoods and hook people on their junk.  No need to have a store front. Like Avon and Tupperware parties, just get locals to sell the junk food under the guise of providing local jobs.

this kind of corporate double-speak makes me want to throw up. How can a new generation of executives (millenials?) come up with this?

Nestlé markets across Africa are today showing their commitment to young people with numerous programmes and initiatives in celebration of Africa Youth Day. Nestlé’s activities on the continent form part of the company’s global youth initiative, Nestlé needs YOUth, with an ambition to help 10 million young people get access to economic opportunities by 2030.”

This is nothing more than being a glorified drug dealer. Get a free sample, buy low-cost food right in front of your house, enjoy the sugar/fats/oil flavorings, get addicted to it… eat more… gain weight slowly, decrease exercise slowly… and before you know it you’re on the treadmill to diabetes, insulin, gangarhea and an early death. But not before becoming a burden on the health care system, on your family, and on society in general: so starts an epidemic.

going locavore… really local

Try eating local for a day or a week:  only food grown/raised within a 50 mile radius of your home.   Yeah, eating local – really local – is hard to do.  The first thing you’ll probably have to do is get away from processed foods –  – unless you’re close to an industrial park loaded with food factories.

I was always proud of my consumption habits,  especially with food — until now (see article below).   I don’t think I could ever eat 100% local… heck probably not 50%!   I’d have to give up sushi, most pizzas, bananas, coffee, tea, beer (hops), most fish… yikes!

Let’s start with most people’s first morning routine: coffee/tea. How can that get local?  The closest coffee/tea growers are somewhere down south… last I heard there was a small coffee plantation around Santa Barbara.  Teas – I have no clue… guess I could make my own. But, how can most consumers in 1st world countries get coffee beans that are GROWN locally?

I am lucky to live in California. Within 100 miles are hundreds of hectares of rice, vegies, fruit, organic chicken, seafood, beer, wine… I can easily get local if only… if only I wasn’t so spoiled.

timing is everything…

The seasonality of local food presents a BIG problem for eating local in cold climates.  We are presented with any fruit/vegie 365 days a year.   One solution is to food in root cellars, do some canning, fermentation or dehydration etc.  But that only goes so far.  Again, I am spoiled in California. The Salinas valley on the coast has year-round moderate temperatures and hectares of greenhouses. Can we extend the 50 mile radius to 120 miles?  please?  🙂

Solutions for everyone…

I think greenhouses, vertical and urban farming have tremendous bright futures as fresh, local food becomes more important to every human. But are these ‘greenhouses’ really local?  The current battle being fought with the FDA over aquaculture and greenhouses being able to use the ‘organic’ certified label is being contested.

The label ‘local’ and ‘regional’ are not regulated. A supposedly local farmers market can include devious industrial farmers from over 500 miles away. Transportation complexities can mix up local and far-away produce, so no one can differentiate.

The best bet is your local CSA and farmers. Find them, visit them, buy directly from them, trade your skills for their products… most local farmers discard so much that is not ‘perfect for the market’ … that you can get a bounty of lo-cost produce…

Here’s a great article that got me started on this whole thing…

German DW article

http://www.dw.com/en/would-you-eat-local-for-a-week-i-tried-and-discovered-what-eating-green-really-means/a-36751273

solitude

We tend to associate solitude with either and essential element of life, or as someone who is an outcast.  Solitude is an essential ingredient for human well-being.  Some people associate ‘Walden’ with an idealistic view of solitude.  But Henry Thoreau was anything but solitary: he was a fully engaged & passionate activist his entire life. Our romantic stereotype of him living a luxurious life of solitude in a cabin in the woods next to a pond is in-escapble. I was drawn to the deep forest by this view. A new book ‘ ‘ does a wonderful job of reviewing…… (see NYTimes Book Review Link: www.nytimes.com/ )

* NOTE: It’s taken me over two months to put this blog together. The words solitude and loneliness are generally taboo in our western culture. They tend to have negative connotations of isolation and being an outcast or just plain weird. There’s either sympathy or irreverence for people who are either. How sad. No wonder so many people SILENTLY feel depressed, outcasts, or worse.

my experience
For the past 12 years I’ve gone into purposeful exile from the ‘dreadmill’ (modern slavery in urban jungles), to solitude and isolation at WinSol. From running three Aptek offices, having a dozen employees, a handful of big clients, and jetting around the world – it all came crashing down at meeting in El Segundo with Northrup Gruman and a fire that destroyed WinSol2 – both in 2002. Luckily I came to WinSol full-time around 2006 and mostly avoided the crash of 2008. (and I am ready for an even bigger crash soon). WinSol is surrounded on three sides by NFS (National Forest) and one side leads to unlimited trails and abandonded logging roads.

Fast forward ten years: In the last five years I’ve had many wonderful helpers and friends spend time at WinSol. I’ve learned how to avoid letting my peers’ & society’s judgment and social pressures affect my chosen lifestyle. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve found new appreciation and purpose in living alone at WinSol. The continual peer pressure from society and my ego to ‘rejoin the treadmill’ and many friends’ view that WinSol is too far out there, have contributed to this difficulty. I am more steadfast now that my initial sojourn to WinSol almost 20 years ago, was well-founded. But lately I’ve evolved to seek a more mainstream balance and to re-enter the dreadmill again – albeit with a more centered ‘self’. Turn that around and it again becomes taboo: being self-centered. And that’s good.  One can dance with the devil if one knows and loves them-self.

I take solace in the concept that we must re-invigorate what solitude really means in our modern, technological, world wide web, social media based life:  the constant peer pressure, the steady stream of enticements from emails, facebook, linked-in, etc.The general view of the internet and our on-line ‘presence’ is like a   black plague that we have yet to experience in it’s full demise.  As the philosopher Heidegger once said:  ‘… technology will enable us to fill ALL our desires…’ for good and bad.  There’s nothing ‘good’ about treating people like lab rats and commodities to increase ‘unique web hits’.

A meditation and local Buddhist sangha has helped me. There’s a wonderful book by Sarvananda: ‘Solitude and Loneliness: A Buddhist View’,

In his new book,‘Solitude and Loneliness: A Buddhist View’ Sarvananda explores the themes of solitude and loneliness and how a Buddhist might deal with these emotions. He suggests that, despite the statistics, we still ‘very skillfully, and often unconsciously, organize our lives in such a way as to avoid loneliness.’ Although increasing numbers of us live alone, we are also continuously coming up with new strategies to distract ourselves from our solitude.

Human societies throughout history and all over the world have organized Themselves around living with others. Yet in the last 15 years, there has been an 80% global increase in people living alone. We’re wealthier than our ancestors and the cultures we live in value individualism and independence – we have the freedom to house ourselves in smaller family units or without a family at all. 34% of UK households now have just one person living in them. So is the modern individual more familiar with solitude than ever before?

Yet Sarvananda suggests that facing up to our essential aloneness is ‘where the spiritual life begins.’ ‘Buddhism challenges us to train ourselves to be more and more at ease in our own company,’ he writes, ‘to try and be with ourselves without distraction.’ This means confronting our habitual and repetitive responses to solitude which rely on the approval and reassurance of others. ‘Distrusting our capacity to alone, we too quickly look to others to save us, often from ourselves,’ Sarvananda argues. ‘We become addicted to other people.’

 

I can truly say that I am at ease and very comfortable in my own skin: alone. I am not addicted to other people – although occasionally I do crave for a seat at any Panera or (yikes!) Starbucks – but I get over that pretty quickly. I do have many distractions at WinSol.   I find them more fulfilling than an urban kaleidoscope would be. Gardening tasks, earthen/forest construction projects, learning center improvements, staying 100% off grid, 100% rainwater, <1%waste, etc. But the BIG one that solitude brings is keen observation of nature’s rhythms. The pesky squirells and lizards eating in my gardens, the vagaries of weather extremes, staying within an off-grid ‘budget’ without ‘powering up’… etc.

deepening desire for a certain kind of self-sufficiency.’

Paradoxically, however, it is in facing up to our aloneness that we come to recognize how essentially connected to others we truly are. ‘Although we are essentially alone, we are also essentially related,’ Sarvananda explains. ‘As Buddhists, we are practising in a context: with others and for others. The way out of loneliness or isolation, then, is to love more deeply. It is in going beyond the ego that we also go beyond loneliness and isolation.’

Although our modern societies may value solitude as a living arrangement, it therefore seems that a deeper kind of solitude – a still silence and spaciousness – is still undervalued. In Sarvananda’s words, ‘Solitude needs more championing.’

’The technological advances of modern society allow us to communicate with others even when we’re physically isolated from them – I may be sitting on my own in my flat, but thanks to instant messaging and social networking sites I can still feel connected with my friends and family (and perhaps also a large number of people that I have never met). Our hundreds of facebook friends and Twitter followers ensure that we’re never lonely, even if we’re alone.

 

drawdown

Project Drawdown is a solutions based project that facilitates a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years.

The book,Drawdown,reports on this research to map, measure, model, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. Iis the first detailed plan to reverse global warming

Drawdown hit #9 on the NYT bestseller in its first week, stayed on the best seller list for four weeks, and is in its 4th printing. It was the first book on the environment or climate to attain that ranking in over 25 years.

For each solution, Drawdown describes its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world.

DAPL protest

It’s the water.  We need it to live.  We really shouldn’t be mixing it with oil or natural gas or methane.  Ultimately the upstream solution is to totally disconnect ourselves from fossil fuels which are the real ‘alternative energies’.  el Sol is the only true energy source for Gaia.

So I went to a protest in dowimg_20161115_082203ntown SF… the second one in 5 years (occupy was earlier).  There were 2,000+ there – and mostly young-uns!  wow – that is so cool. I do hope this stuff about skipping generations is true, cuz the GenXers sure never woke up to protest our endless wars in the Middle East.

This protest ‘theme’ has my full attention and passion.  Not only is it VERY specific (about water)  and proposes specific solutions (no pipelines close to rivers & aquifers, but it is ALSO about not infringing on the sovereign rights of indigenous people – the ones we did a genocide on which we still have not dealt with!  So Standing Rock and all it’s supporters around the world … ROCK ON.  (note:  this is only the second of many, many pipeline protests to come… the first big-un was the Keystone Excel, this is gettin’ legs, babeee!)

So here I is….

dapl-protest

 

 

img_20161115_075048

 

DAPL = Dakota Access PipeLine

 

Lukewarming

Ok, I admit it:  I’m not really a climate change group thinker or believer anymore , BUT neither am I a  skeptic or climate denier – perhaps I am a lukewarmer,  What the heck is that, you ask???

When it comes to climate change – aka global weirding – I am classifying myself now as a lukewarmer. 

I’m a bit tired of the pop media and group think around climate change – it’s a bit too much – it’s like the environmentalism of the  80’s & 90’s:  let’s do less bad… and if you are not with us you’re against us. We’re about to battle this in Congress when climate science gets in front of Trump’s climate deniers. Oh such entertainment!

Climate change pundits and most scientists focus 100% on emissions.  This is wrong.   Climate change is redundant – it always changes.  And yes, humans are a major contributor – but I sure wish people would stop making us feel guilty about it.   Instead of doing less bad things,  how about we start doing some GOOD things:  like putting biochar back into the soil.  All climate changers keep doing is pounding us with having less CO2 emissions,  having a smaller carbon footprint: stop buying this, start eating that.

Like Dr. Braungart once told me:  if zero emissions are our goal, we should all be DOA (dead).  Humans are part of nature – we’re organic aren’t we?  So it’s quite natural for us to have ’emissions’.  His co-author in ‘Cradle to Cradle’     and partner Bill McDonough just published a paper on a new language for carbon — if we can change our carbon language to do more good, rather than less bad – perhaps we can design a world that will reduce carbon emissions as a by-product rather than declaring a WAR again…

Bill talks about living, durable and future carbon, rather than zero emission.   Here’s a synopsis: “The world’s current carbon strategy aims to promote a goal of zero. Predominant language currently includes words such as “low carbon,” “zero carbon,” “negative carbon,” and even a “war on carbon.” To show progress, according to McDonough, the design world needs values-based language that reflects a safe, healthy and just world. In this new paradigm, by building urban food systems and cultivating closed-loop flows of carbon nutrients, carbon can be recognized as an asset rather than a toxin, and the life-giving carbon cycle can become a model for human designs.”  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/william-mcdonough-offers-language-carbon-160000133.html Continue reading Lukewarming

GMO – here we go again…

…with another consumer scam sponsored by ‘Profits-R-Us’ corporate food greedies. BUT this time it’s a bit different: WE  HAVE A CHOICE.  Please pass this on to your friends…

IGNORE ‘non-GMO’ food labels.  Please, it’s good for you.

the story behind the story…

Consumers are starting to focus on buying non-GMO labeled products. This trend may decimate the organic industry.  Consumers unwittingly think that ‘non GMO’ is also organic. It is not. The dirty secret is non-GMO certified products have nothing to do with organic, and can freely use all industrial farming and heavy pesticide practices among other things.

Consumers are ‘eating up’ (pun intended) the non-GMO label more than the ‘organic’ label and are unwittingly increasing sales of industrial food conglomerates that use pesticides, …. other non-organic practices here….

It gets crazier: non-GMO labels are appearing on dairy and meat products. This is meaningless!

There have been several peer-reviewed scientific studies done debunking the notion that animals being fed GMO feed ‘transmit’ that GMO into their blood stream and into milk, eggs, and meat. There is NO DIFFERENCE between non-GMO labeled dairy and meat products and those that don’t have that label – except price (sometimes 2-3X higher). GMO grain fed cows, pigs, chickens do not produce GMO milk, beef, pork, eggs.

The new label of ‘Non GMO certified’ is a Trojan horse if there ever was one. It basically means it could or could not be organic (most aren’t) and everything else (besides the non-GMO) is industrial farm grade: pesticides, harmful practices, round-up, dirty water, etc.

Your better buy is to look for both labels, side by side (but they ARE duplicative since USDA organic already omits GMO):

Here’s details from an SF Chronicle article:

…organic farmers who objected to the label feel that the non-GMO designation takes away from organic certification, which already requires that farmers avoid using genetically engineered seed and animal feed. Meanwhile, some conventional dairy farmers said the term “non-GMO milk” makes their perfectly safe product sound scary…..

….. Eenennaam’s research has concluded that DNA from genetically engineered feed is not passed to milk or meat. Her 2014 scientific review of 30 years of livestock studies showed no difference in the health of animals given genetically engineered feed and those consuming unmodified feed, or a difference in the nutritional makeup of their meat or milk.

“We are really talking marketing here — developing a product line to differentiate it from a product that already does not contain GMOs,” she said. “As a company they of course can develop whatever products they want and if they see a profitable market — then it is a good business decision.”

It just doesn’t stop! Why do corporations continue to confuse, deceive and mislead consumers in the name of profit? Why is the media not more omnipresent and on top of these things?

On another note, the name ‘Monsanto’ is soon to disappear into ‘Bayer’ and everyone things that Bayer is an aspirin company. Bayer is almost worse than Monsanto when one looks at the ‘sudden bee collapse’ that Bayer’s nicotine based pesticides are mostly responsible.  More info here… link.

LeLc earthen floor

After nearly three months of hard work and one major physical injury (leg in root cellar manhole!) , the first layer of earthen plaster flooring is done in the Living Energy Learning Center (LeLc).  This is a major milestone.

Dome cupola
Dome cupola

There were four phases to the LeLc Dome:  Foundation and Floor, engineering design & dome frame, Skinning the Dome, and interior paint & earthen floor.

It’s quite exhilarating & calming to look at the emerging floor and its ceramic tile mandala, and the amazing ‘space’ as it evolves into something magical…

Pictures (click to enlarge):

1st layer
1st layer
work in progress
work in progress
root cellar hole
root cellar hole

 

 

 

dif wet vs. dried
dif wet vs. dried

 

 

 

 

as

 

with the LeLc Dome… this post is also under construction… stay tuned…

systems thinking & LeLc learning programs

Everything is interconnected.  Yes – and it’s complicated and simple at the same time.  I’ve been there.

With the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center at WinSol) I’m going to be exploring the simpler side of this interconnectedness.

I spent five years on the complicated side:  (2001-2006) with some of the leading brains in the world from Peter Senge (MiT)and his SoL org and their first Congress in Vienna,  then with Dr. Andrew Ford at Eastern Washington U and his ‘environmental modeling’ work, and Dr. Braungart in Hamburg with his EPEA Cradle-to-Cradle.  I have fond memories of speaking at a Systems Design conference in Bergen, Norway and a ‘moose safari’ in the fjords with a executive friend from Det Norske Veritas in Oslo.

I worked with Peregrine Systems, PowerSim software, and Cisco Systems on developing some pretty advanced complex SD (System Dynamic) models for lease holdings and workplace productivity.  And the result?  Once again (sigh), I was too far ahead of the curve and couldn’t squeeze a profit to keep the business operations going.

But, man did I learn a lot!  Things are complicated and counter-intuitive, and they sure are interconnect
ed!  And it sure was fun teaching it at CSUS’s GBO program on sustainable business practices… carbon bathtub and all.

Fast forward a decade, and now I find myself deeply engaged with Joanna Macy’s WTR work – and trying to figure out how to leverage that for some good.  And by good, I mean RESULTS.  I learned as an auditor for the Senate Baldridge Quality Award, that results are what matters – the rest is mostly marketing (aka window dressing).

So the challenge with the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center)  will be how to incorporate all of this SD modeling, educational intents, inspiration, ancients’ wisdom, Gaia’s pleadings: calling us to PLEASE STOP this destructive onslaught… into real RESULTS for LeLc attendees that effect real change.

Fast forward to experiental learning.  i think that’s the sweet spot.  All the lecturting, field trips, powerpoint & prezi shows are fine, but figuring out processes and exercises and DEMONSTRATING things in a lab type setting so that people can PLAY with things – that’s my new passion, and that’s where the LeLc (Living Energy Learning Center) is headed.

I ran across this interesting business playwheel (aka mandala? 🙂 about STEM and learning – what do you think?  is it worthwhile  pursuing?  stay tuned…

 

 

…  my opinion:   I think it’s a lot better than Bloom’s taxonomy – but that also has its purpose.  Sometimes I wish permaculture PDC and other programs would have some discipline in putting their learning programs together, rather than just follow some book or concept or brainstorming… but focus on REAL learning methods: like a taxonomy of learning?

stay tuned… now that the LeLc construction is winding down… the REAL thing begins… wheeeeeeeee……