food for your thoughts

woman in thoughts

Climate change is a very talked about subject. What can we do? What should we stop doing? Many people have all kinds of lists as an answer to “stop” or rather slow down the process. But almost everyone thinks that humans can and have to do this alone, because we’re the most intelligent (and maybe also because we caused most of it). I want to share two videos that show in a simple way, that the intelligence of the brain might not be relevant in helping the cause, that it might even be counterproductive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M18HxXve3CM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

It might not be about what humans should invent or introduce to help the problem, but rather what they should stop doing so that animals and plants can do the job of restoring the balance…

The Great Turning

The Great Turning

A few weeks ago I travelled to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. where I happened upon a community fair by students of Antioch University Seattle. It was the final project of their class that is called The Great Turning, based on topics covered in a book by Joanna Macy called Coming Back to Life. I had heard of the fair only a week before, after talking to Michael Withey from Micro Community Concepts in Portland, Oregon. Eventhough I didn’t know it before, this place was right where I needed to be.

The building of Antioch University Seattle doesn’t look very special from the outside, but when I went in, I was in for a treat. It seems to be a gem for ecology and sustainable living that is well known to people in that region that think a little different than the rest of our consumerist western society. The fact that such a place exists, and all the people I spoke to and that held a talk at the community fair gave me new hope and motivation to continue what I’m doing and to take the next step – whatever it will be.

The idea of The Great Turning is, that all those challenges we (humankind) are faced with, all those changes, instabilities and crises are one of the greatest opportunities we’ve had in human history. I definitely like that viewpoint. Makes my view of the world not so bleak. To sum up the theory, it comprises three dimensions of change:

  1. Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings
  2. Analysis of structural causes and the creation of structural alternatives
  3. Shift in Consciousness

More details can be found here: https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/great-turning

The talks at the fair covered projects for all three dimensions. One of them would have been Michael Withey from Micro Community Concepts  in Portland, Oregon. Since he got sick, I really want to mention his non-profit organization here. I met up with Michael Withey while I was in Portland and was really impressed and inspired by the idea. He wants to support people with low income that can’t afford the skyrocketing rents, by finding land to build small Tiny House communities, and even – with enough monetary support – buy appartement buildings to offer affordable living. The world needs people like him and his team that really try to change the world by supporting others and building more sustainable community living.

Another great organization I heard about at the fair is called Rite of Passage Journeys. They offer Rite of Passage events (one week or more) to teenagers on the verge of becoming adults, which is something that is sorely lacking in our society nowadays.

Thanks to all the amazing people I met at the community fair. You’re an inspiration to others! I’ll touch on some more information about what I learned on my trip about Tiny Houses in the U.S. compared to Europe in my next post.

It’s party time!

Kerzen

As I mentioned in my last entry , I finished my tiny house mostly because I set myself a deadline. Aside from the final result, this really shows how good I work with a deadline and a little pressure ;-). And it wasn’t just a random deadline.. It was the date of my (tiny) house warming party!

Over the years I spent some time with project lifecycles and especially systems like the one in Dragon Dreaming and the natural cycles of the medicine wheel resonated with me. Within Dragon Dreaming, there are four recurring phases in the cycle:

  1. Dreaming
  2. Planning
  3. Doing
  4. Celebrating

The last one – Celebrating – is looking back on what you have accomplished, reviewing your actions, maybe naming all the things that you could have done and will do better next time, and especially celebrating. This is a vital part of finishing a project that is overlooked a lot of times in our society.

I almost forgot about that important last step (of the first cycle) of my project, but since I had told so many people who were interested about my home that there will be a party, I felt the need to actually do it, not being aware of how important it would be for me. It was a great party and with it I was able to really enjoy, celebrate and be proud of what I had created. Only during the celebration did I realize how important celebrating and really appreciating your accomplishment is.

connecting the dots

girl

A while ago a friend of mine told me about an interesting method of raising children that was developed by the Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler. One of the main principles is to not “help” the child to get into positions or places that it couldn’t reach on its own. So for example if you put a baby in a sitting position before it can get there on its own, it will feel insecure and won’t know how to get out of that position and probably experience stress. But if you find the patience to wait until it gets there on its own, it will be much more stable and also feel pride to have accepted the challenge and succeeded.

This information got me thinking about our society today and the experiences we make, that are ripped apart from its natural cycles. If you believe different reports and that general feeling, more and more people develop all kinds of distresses like the ominous ADHD, but also clinical depression and who knows what other psychological “problems”. Could it be because we don’t really know how to reach goals in a stressless way after having accepted a challenge and therefore being stripped (at least partly) of that feeling of pride when having accomplished it?

Also not many people in western society learn and experience in a profound way where our food comes from. We see pictures and movies, maybe have some herbs on the window sill or even tomatoes. But we’re missing so many steps inbetween of what it takes to have that food on our tables. That relationship is probably especially disconnected when it comes to meat, but I won’t go into that now. The way I see it, this could be at least one of the reasons for our behaviour towards food.

The same is true for traveling distances. Most of us don’t have a real understanding of distances, because we (probably) never walked the way to work that takes the subway/train only 20 minutes, but would actually take a few hours to walk. I don’t even want to imagine the distances we overcome when travelling by plane. Because of this, not many people have a real understanding of how much energy is needed to be taken from somewhere else to actually make it happen for us to use public transport, cars, planes – you name it.

So is it really a surprise then, that we consume so much more than we could afford, considering people and nature in other parts of the world or our next generations? The way I see it, it’s a problem of us not being able to connect the dots because we never learned to…

Winter is coming…

Winter

or is it?

I do like the motto of the Stark family in the Game of Thrones books, and I do like winter, but the season have been in transformation for some time now. This year, winter seems to be especially undecided. At christmas it had +15°C, only a few days later it was below 0 and looked like this:

winter

Only a week after that, it was sunny and warm again.

winter-sun

I read a while back in a book called “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” (by James Lovelock) that the climate change will result in extremes. I guess that means that not only are spring and fall cut short, but also during the seasons the temperature changes rapidly and unpredictably in any direction. No adaptation periods. I can only guess, but this can’t be good for neither plants, animals or any other living creature. Well, we’ll see what’s to come when it’s here… What did you notice about the weather and climate in your area?

Going away…

nature

What I realized in the last few months: Going away for some time – however short or long it might be – holds the potential for a diverse set of lifechanging experiences.

Looking at a “usual” (defined as usual by our current western society) holiday, it’s generally seen as a few days or weeks away from the routine of everyday life and chores, maybe even seeing some other country or at least different landscapes. Pretty, but mostly pretty ordinary after a few days. Not really having much impact on your life’s path…

Even looking closely on trips that involved going to museums, looking at all those old or not so old buildings, reading up on the history of the place, I can’t honestly say that any of it really stuck, or changed the way I look on my life any differently. After doing that for a while, every city, every region somehow looks the same. There is always a spot offering a wonderful view, some building with a lot of historical facts that you read or listen to, just like a school lecture. And just like a school lecture, it goes in one ear, and out the other.

Only on my last trip a few weeks ago, I fully grasped the notion of this, and why – for some time now – I had gradually changed the way I approach visiting new places. Focusing on getting to know a place through getting to know the people and trying to really understand their culture, history and language. By doing so, I didn’t just learn about other people and other ways of doing things, it also offered a clearer picture of myself and how I do things and see the world. Things I never questioned and that seemed as if “that’s the way it is for everyone”, I can now see in a new light. This allows me the deliberate choice of either changing my way of looking at something or keeping my viewpoint, but being aware that others might see it differently.

This is why for me, going somewhere different every now and again holds an amazingly precious gift that I wouldn’t want to live without.

Swimming against the tide

I recently listened to a song by Milow that is called “Against the tide” and had an interesting revelation. To swim against the tide as used in the english language means “to do something that is in opposition to the general movement of things” or “to not follow what everyone else is doing“. But the way I see it now – viewing the tide as a river – there are not two but at least three different ways of doing something or living your life in general.

The first one obviously is to swim with the tide, to follow the majority and do what everyone else does, the way everyone else does it, mostly to not even think about why you do it. That option seemingly needs the least energy, because you get pushed in the general direction anyway. But there is no real choice.

The second one is to swim against the tide. To try to fight the things the majority does. Always struggling, always fighting, without really getting anywhere. The way I see it, this option takes the most energy and reapes the least rewards, because you’re so busy fighting, that you can’t go your own way.

So finally, the third option would be to just find or create your own small rivulet to swim in. You follow your own direction, maybe sometimes with some twists and turns, some hurdles. This could also be very energy-consuming, as long as you’re not used to that way, because you always have to find the path yourself, not being pushed any certain direction by others. But after getting used to it, learning to be more aware of your surroundings, there is no pushing, no forcing, it just all flows naturally. When you get to that point, this way of doing things will definitely need the least amount of energy, while offering the most benefits.

But that’s just my way of looking at life. What do you think?

letting go

This concept of letting go is a really fascinating one. It is said that by letting go and not holding on to something or someone, you gain much more than you had before. This requires a certain amount of trust in something outside yourself – depending on the situation, that trust is easier or harder to accept. But as long as the whole thing stays a concept – just a theory, attaining that trust is really hard. Even if you experienced it a few times – and were positively suprised that it actually worked – that trust doesn’t come naturally. Is that something that we never had or has our current way of living and the way we and our parents and grandparents trained each new generation to see the world forced us to unlearn that trust?

An interesting question, but for most of us still irrelevant, because it doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have it now. Letting go can be done on very different levels. On the physical level, it might be easier to part with things and people that do no longer enrich one’s life. It’s also most of the time the first step of letting go. The harder part is letting go on a deeper, psychological level. In my opinion, this can be done by actively making yourself aware of your feelings and what is, and the rest happens magically on its own most of the time, as long as you have the patience.

for me, letting go is still a battle most of the time – and I know that that is an oxymoron to some degree. I’m still taking just small steps, forcing myself on the physical level to let go, and gradually I see that time takes care of the rest. So I’m slowly – veeeery slowly – building up that trust in life again. There is a saying that if you let someone go and *he comes back, *he is forever yours, but if *he doesn’t, *he never belonged to you in the first place. There are many layers to that, and I’m discovering more and more of it as I go…