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Archive for the ‘community’ Category

In a funny, thought provoking, (sometimes scary) and inspiring TED talk of less than 20 minutes, Roger Doiron (one of Maine’s own) shares how growing our own gardens can improve our health and well-being, increase our wealth, power and freedom, and help save the world. Here are just three of the many facts that Doiron shares during his talk:

Around the world both Hunger AND obesity is on the rise

To keep up with our expanding population, more food will need to be grown over the next fifty years than has been produced thus far during the past 10,000 years COMBINED and we will need to produce this food with LESS – less oil, water, soil, climate stability and time.

Our yards need not simply be yards, they can truly be full service green grocers!

You might want to visit Doiron’s wonderful site, Kitchen Gardners International: A Global Community Cultivating Change where you’ll find information, community, recipes, resources and more.

Here’s just a very small taste of what this website can offer you:

How to plant a garden in the snow
How to give Eco-friendly and budget-friendly gifts
How to connect with and learn from other gardners in your community and around the world
How new low tech technology can assist in growing food in arid environments

Disclaimer: I do not personally know or have ever had contact with Roger Doiron. I simply believe in his work and want to promote it. I firmly believe in the healing power of both nature and community, healthy eating, and living sustainably, consciously, and responsibly.

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I’m a major fan of Yes! Magazine , of Margaret Mead, and of the power of music to both inspire and instruct. Whle purusing Yes!’s archives, I came across a wonderful music video by Kathryn Mostow inspired by Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I invite you to watch the video, and allow yourself to fully absorb the beauty and the hope…

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I just learned that Theodore Roszack died this past July in his California home at the age of 77 from liver cancer.

I’ll miss him. I’ll miss his wisdom, his perspective, his call to therapists everywhere to respond to the “madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment…” He urged us to join those ecologists and environmentalists who warn that we’re on a path of self-destruction. He implored us not to remain so focused on our clients’ individual issues that we failed to confront the wounds inflicted by a “deeply toxic” culture. In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on Thinking Allowed, he encouraged us to find out why ordinary people are engaging in behaviors that are so destructive. To ask, “how did we lose our intimate connection to the natural world?” And “what drives us so fiercely towards material gain at the expense of community, spirituality, health, morality, and so very much more?” And he adviced us to listen very carefully to the answers as closely and as genuinely as we listen to the stories of our clients.

He pointed out that while our mental health system was focused on trauma, pathology and illness for so long, there have always been those who’ve maintained that, “the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative.” He asked us, as mental health professionals, to lead the way in helping people move away from the burdens of shame and guilt and original sin and towards what psychoanalyst Eric Fromme called, biophilia — the love of humanity and life. If we were to fall in love with the beauty that’s contained both within the natural world and within ourselves, we’d be far more proactive in caring for ourselves, our planet, and one another.

In an interview on PBS which focused on ideas from his first book, an examination of the revolutionary youth movement of the sixties entitled, “The Making of a Counter Culture,” Roszac suggested that if the ethos of the sixties had prevailed today, “it would be a world, where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community. Community was one of the great words of this period, getting together with other people, solving problems, enjoying one another’s company, sharing ideas, values, insights. And if that’s not what life is all about, if that’s not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path.”

He called on therapists such as myself in his book, “The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology,” and he called on boomers such as myself in his last book, “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation,” to relaim the spirit that was very much alive in the sixties, the one that “questioned rather deeply the cultural standards of the time. He asked us now that we are becoming elders to revive the energy and commitment we had back when we were young to work to birth a better and more just world.

I will miss you Theodore. I took you for granted. I was too self absobed to fully hear your message. And now, as is all too often the case with we humans, you got my full attention only when I found out that you had left me. I’m listening now with both a sad and grateful heart….

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People feel more isolated than they used to, they also feel more threatened. The need for small communities that offer both significance and support to its members is increasing on a daily basis.

One hopeful response to this need has been the creation of common security clubs. In short, common security clubs offer members opportunities to explore how they can increase their personal/economic security through shared action and mutual aid, and at the same time develop friendships, have fun, and be inspired.

Chuck Collins, Director of the program Inequality and the Common Good wrote, “This epoch we are living in should be called ‘The Borrowed Times.’ We have been borrowing from the future to consume today. We have been borrowing from the prosperity and ecological stability of our children. We are eating their seed corn. Together, we must face these realities. Our economy will be very different. We can go two ways: We can retreat into fear, isolation, and scapegoating. Or, we can move toward shared abundance, strengthening what we hold together, collective action.”

I vote we move towards shared abundance and collective action, and forming a common security club here in Lewiston/Auburn seems like a very firm step in this direction.

To Learn More about Common Security Clubs you can read:

Common Security Clubs: Working Together to Face Hard times

We’re in This Together

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In an article entitled, “Only in America Could Misery be Turned into a Commodity”, author, Joe Bageant (in spite of his obscenities) makes some very thought provoking points (although I certainly don’t agree with all of them) including:

That America has become a “Darwinian workhouse”

That our current mental health system “refuses to acknowledge that our aggregate society holds any responsibility for the conditions it produces in our fellow individual members.” (ouch…)

That Psychological Institutions and practices perpetuate the alienation so many of us feel by responding to us as if our lives were lived in a vacuum, and that “our loneliness and despair are entirely our own, as if there were no such thing as context, much less American society’s corrosive and toxic environment in which so many of us live out our lives.” (Hmmm…)

As a mental health professional I have been repeatedly frustrated with the tendency of my profession to pathologize the legitimate pain of those sensitive enough or aware enough or brave enough to confront what so many choose not to fully acknowledge — the destruction of our natural world, the tragic cost to individuals, families, and entire communities of our consumer society, the perpetuation of greed, emptiness, and meaninglessness, and the all too prevalent devaluation in our culture of commitment and service and even love.

My frustration with the mental health system ultimately led me to leave it and much later to begin making plans to open Sageplace. I believe that mental health professionals can offer so much more through facilitating and supporting the creation of healthy communities where pain and hope and truth can be shared and transformed vs. working with and diagnosing individuals.

In the above mentioned article Bageant asks, “Might not America’s psychological malaise be the result of knowing deep inside that life can hold more meaning — be more joyful? More emotionally rewarding and fulfilling? In a word, healthier?” My own response to this question is that yes, I believe that our malaise is in many cases linked to what we know deep down inside about our lives, about our country, and about our world; truths that so many of us bare alone instead of share.

Note: The address to Bageant’s article is: http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/126345/

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