Standing Rock One Year Later, Victory for the People

“It is easy to be grateful when things are going our way, but to be thankful in the hardest of times is a true sign of strength, nobility, and grace.” -Chief Phil Lane

Background: Few recognize just how successful the youth-led indigenous movement to protect sacred water continues to be despite some painful defeats. Last fall was a powerful time for all of us with a heated election season along with the clash between Water Protectors and law enforcement at Standing Rock. The new year came with a dramatic low for people everywhere who care about our waters, our planet, and the climate, that´s the brand new Air Source Heat Pumps are being used now to help the environment. It grabs the water that´s in the air and turns it into drinking water. As we come into the one year anniversary of Standing Rock Youth running 2,000 miles to bring their message of Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) to Washington DC, we have some good news and a special opportunity for you to participate in keeping the prayer alive.

In March of 2016, Inspired by Waniya Locke along with the Keystone XL Fighters, and spiritually guided by Wakpala Elders Vernon and Theo Iron Cloud, Bobbi Jean Three Legs and other youth in Wakpala organized a run for the water and people. After first running through communities in Standing Rock they ran 11 miles from Wakpala to Mobridge to bring awareness of the dangers of DAPL to their neighbors outside of Standing Rock. The run included children as young as 5 years old, teenagers, elders, and youth in their early 20’s. One runner, Elder Kevin Locke, was in his 60’s. Parents drove behind them while backing them up with prayers and water. The first run from Wakpala inspired the Oceti Sakowin Runners from across the Sioux Nation to bring the No DAPL message to the Corp of Engineers Headquarters in Omaha. From there they brought their message, Mni Wiconi, which means “Water is Life”, to Washington, DC. and the world!

Led by Bobbi Jean, these youth ran 2,000 miles arriving in Washington DC one year ago this week (wow, time flies). They brought with them a petition signed by 157,000 people which was started by Bobbi Jean, and Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer in hopes to stop construction on an oil pipeline that threatened the water supply in her community along the Missouri River. Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Shailene Woodley (see her tweet below from 2016), Jane Fonda, Mark Ruffalo, and Jason Momoa got behind the campaign and what followed is one of the most historic and timely movements in modern history.

The policy of an incoming president to turn his back on the youth, the water that sustains life, and our future underscores decades of failures in the US and abroad to address important environmental issues. The youth were heartbroken but remained undeterred in this battle for our collective future. The embers of this fire continued to glow. The roots of this global movement run deep and we are just now seeing the resilience of this community that continues forward, together with hope, determination, and love in our hearts. Still it was a long, hard winter for all of us, especially the people of Standing Rock and Wakpala.

“All the communities of Standing Rock stood strong against DAPL. We gave our time, volunteer work and whatever financial support we could. Millions of dollars were raised and spent in the name of Standing Rock, but when it was all over our children and young people of Wakpala were left with nothing, not even a decent basketball court or a playground where our many children and young people can play. Because of the loss of resources from our Casino due to blocked highways and other stuff, our elders and children have less than before, This is very tough on our families and children, especially when 86 % of our Standing Rock community members have no jobs and most are forced to live on welfare.” -Wakpala Elder Who Wished to Remain Unnamed

Collective Strength: What keeps us strong in hard times is a spiritual resilience that is shared across generations, it is ancestral, it is universal in every culture, and it is contained in the people’s stories. After the agonizing defeats in late 2016, with the direction of Chief Phil Lane, Unify compiled a free e-book called Pray with Standing Rock, Birth of a Global Movement which you can download here. Unify is an international community that supported Standing Rock on the ground, as well as through their vast social media network online by curating and producing live broadcasts, videos, and curating content from others to share through their large network. You can learn more about Unify’s role in supporting Standing Rock by reading their Executive Summary here.

Moving Forward: Chief Phil Lane and Four Worlds International Institute, again in collaboration with Unify, have decided to launch a small campaign to honor the community of Wakpala where the whole movement began. As we look and move forward we must always remember to honor the roots. The thought of children in Wakpala without even a decent, safe playground is unconscionable. So together we are going to do something about it. We are calling on you to join us as we raise funds to build a playground to honor the youth of Wakpala who brought this important message about water to the world. Please visit here to help us say “Thank You” to Wakpala!

As children we all probably heard the saying, “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you played the game.” This wisdom may not have soothed us in the moments of sorrow directly following a painful defeat but sometimes the difficult moments shape our character better than anything else. In the face of defeat, we emerge stronger than before, strengthened by the love and support of our global community to address the pressing issues of our day. It starts with creating safe places for children to play while knowing that they are loved and supported!

Summer of Love Turns 50 With a Global Call to Action

Martin Luther King stated that “hatred can not drive out hatred, only love can do that”, but what does that love look like when it is put into action? The Summer of Love in 1967 gave us a template for a great awakening of consciousness, love, and social action. 50 years later we see a global movement that is not content to overindulge nostalgic sentimentality, yet we must remember the roots to this dream of peace, love, and understanding. Something new is blossoming from the seeds that were planted in those turbulent times. Today we address the challenges of this time with a renewed sense of purpose, and urgency using creativity, technology, and a fearless love for the immense blessing of life.
First Global Broadcast June 25, 1967 on the BBC’s Our World with the Beatles’ All You Need is Love

Media Can Bring Division or Unity, a Matter of Priorities

Bringing division has become a trend lately which can be seen by anyone sifting through their Facebook Feed, or turning on the television (Fox for the right, MSNBC for the left in America). However, things didn’t start out this way and the pendulum is starting to shift as we begin to recognize how futile the mud-slinging and division is for our well-being and for the planet. Bob Dylan’s wisdom was as true then as it is today, the times they are a changing!
The very first ever global broadcast happened on this day in 1967. It was a BBC program called Our World. The Beatles were commissioned to write and perform a piece of music that 400 million people would be simultaneously watching around the world. What was the song and the message? All You Need is Love…
Photo Credit: JOSHUA BROTT, OBSCURA DIGITAL Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Kicks off at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park with a light-show, June 21

The Evolution of a Movement

The generation following the Baby Boomers saw the rise of global networks and explosion of independent media via the internet. Using the same inspiration of the very first television broadcast and message of love, Unify was born. Organizing globally synchronized, meditations, ceremonies, actions, and events via their popular Facebook Page, the group now boasts a network of close to 10,000 local organizers across the planet, a weekly social media reach ranging from 5-15 million, an email list of almost a half million, and a Facebook following of 1.6 million. Unify specializes in collaborating with other popular Facebook Pages like Collective Evolution, UPLIFT, Phenomenalisms, the Mind Unleashed, Cooperatist Movement, and Sustainable Human along with many more organizations and nonprofits. This grass-roots participatory movement is infusing the planet with hope, solutions, practical actions, and a shared vision of one unified, healthy, thriving planet. This summer promises to be their most impactful season yet!
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream you share together is reality.” -John Lennon & Yoko Ono
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The 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love kicked off on June 21 with synchronized events for World Yoga Day; an interactive map honoring sacred sites in conjunction with Chief Arvol Looking Horse’s vision for World Peace and Prayer Day; and a live-feed from the Points of Light Conference in Seattle. San Francisco. Conservatory of Flowers in collaboration with Obscura Digital, Illuminate, and Golden Gate Park commemorated the launch with a beautiful light show and installation that will run until October 21. The summer will be filled with coordinated events across the planet that culminate on the International Day of Peace as recognized by the United Nations on September 21. This Summer of Love isn’t only in San Francisco, it has gone global. How will your city or community get involved?
World Peace and Prayer Day map of sacred sites. Honoring sacred sites and restoring our sacred connection with the land and each other is central to creating peace and a healthy planet for future generations.

Boundless Solutions

Focusing on climate issues has become fear-inducing and can leave us wondering if there’s anything we can do to bring solutions. Few people recognize that many leading experts believe firmly that we can reverse this trend. Restoring balance to our climate is possible if citizens are prepared to take action together in a unified expression of love for our planet. Sustainability has become a buzzword that is often used to set a divide between left and right political ideologies but it will not get us where we need to go. We now need to look at regenerative solutions that create a healthy climate for our future. Why sustain unhealthy systems? We are not here to merely survive, we are here to thrive and together we will do just that when we decide to cast our fear to the wind and work towards solutions.
When government policies fail it is local leaders who step up and individuals who initiate to become the change we wish to see in the world. There are technologies in the works to take CO2 out of the atmosphere but more research-funding is needed. How do we accomplish this?
Since this has become a political hot-potato religious and spiritual leaders are stepping up along with concerned citizens to remind us that this is a moral obligation for future generations. Public support and awareness can help elevate the idea to get research endorsements for climate restoration efforts from the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and possibly even a Congressional Resolution. Once research is funded and we have conclusions to present, the gates will open up for business leaders, investors, and academics to come together and create magic. The current atmosphere of political division is bankrupt and that’s why the Summer of Love will provide an inspired lead-up to the UN Climate Summit, COP23 in Bonn this coming November.
“Let us not talk falsely now the hour is getting late…” -Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower

Simple Actions, Profound Results

Love is more than a feeling, it can be an action. Environmental issues are not the only hurdle we face, we are currently looking at wars and humanitarian crises across the planet. Since human beings are social creatures that need successful models to emulate. In partnership with the Great Silence and the Light House Foundation, and other exceptional partners including the United Religions Initiative, Unify is presenting the Rise for Syria Campaign.
By staying out of the political divisiveness surrounding the Syrian conflict, this campaign is focusing on real human beings caught in the cross-fire and simple ways that we can reduce suffering. Support for infants and mothers in refugee camps, building underground hospitals to assist the wounded, and live broadcasts from refugee camps each month will humanize what is happening on the ground while empowering people to make a positive change. If this model becomes successful, then it can be applied to humanitarian issues around the world.
“It’s not just the television, it’s not just the radio, it’s not just the billboards, it’s not just the multi-national corporations… It’s STILL the people’s story.” –A Box of Secrets, Welcome to the Age of Living Folklore

Then and Now

50 years later we are faced with a simple choice between choosing love, compassion and unity, or fear, division and war. Our media and technology has provided a perfect reflection and science has shown beyond a doubt why the Beatles were right. Simply stated, during times of stress and fear our brains do not function at their highest potential because the circuitry shuts off access to higher thinking centers in the neocortex condemning us to the lower animalistic responses of fight or flight.
We live in terrifying times but being terrified will not help us through it, love, compassion, and creativity will. Evolutionary biologist, Bruce Lipton speaks to this in a short web-film produced by UPLIFT while visiting the Maharishi Ashram in Rishikesh, India where the Beatles spent much time writing and sharing their spiritual message of love through music. Watch All You Need is Love here.

This is a Global Invitation for Universal Participation!

They say that when the people lead, the leaders will follow. We saw this during the Summer of Love in 1967, and we are prepared to make this true again in 2017 and beyond. We are calling forth all digital warriors, light-workers, artists, musicians, community leaders, entrepreneurs, youth, and elders to make this dream a reality.
Compassion Games is coordinating with Unify, International Day of Peace and the ongoing Summer of Love events
Upcoming events include Ringo Stars Birthday Party on July 7, that will be hosting a global moment to blast thoughts for peace and love over the world inviting people to chime in at 12 noon in their/your local timezone. This will create a wave of joy around the planet and you can look for local events (or create your own) at Ringo’s Page, or the Beatles Facebook Page. There will also be a synchronized moment on August 21 at 10:19 am for the eclipse which will coincide with a massive gathering in Oregon produced by Symbiosis during that weekend. September 9-24 are the Compassion Games which challenges individuals and communities to participate in coordinated acts of compassion.  There will be a globally synchronized meditation and prayer for peace on September 21 for the International Day of Peace, and you can add your local event to the event map here.
I will continue to blog about these and other related events throughout the summer on various platforms. The best way to stay connected is through my Facebook Author Page for blogs, and at Unify for social media campaigns, related articles, and memes. Also look for #summeroflove hashtag on Instagram, and Twitter to see what others are posting. This summer promises to deliver an antidote to the divisiveness and fear that has crippled our global community and you are empowered to become part of the solution . A better world is possible and together we will make it happen. Let LOVE lead!

Let’s Distinguish Trump Supporters from Racists

I stand with minorities and was terrified to see election results but I never bought the notion that Trump supporters are all racists. This is not a denial of the very real racism in America today or historically. This is not an apology for Trump or any racially-motivated behavior. This is an introspection into how we might heal an unfortunate situation. Fear is something we instinctually run from but it only resolves when we face it. Here’s a perspective that I hope will help all of us feel empowered and fearless as we greet an uncertain future.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King Jr.”

Fight or Flight is Wired into our Biology

Humans have been wired since the beginning of time to respond first and foremost to fear. In the wild this strategy was a matter of life or death, and so our brains developed accordingly. There is a part in our brain called the amygdala, which is literally a switch that shuts off all of our higher reasoning in moments of terror and focuses all our conscious attention on the fight/flight reactionary response. This is why fear is such a great motivator. It is also why advertisers and politicians employ fear to make us buy their product or vote for them.

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Unfortunately it works pretty often and the longer we are caught in this place of fear, the less we are able to access our higher thinking capacities. Though we no longer live in the wild we are still bombarded with fearful messaging and this is causing us to not think straight. The results of living this way perpetuates a terrifying world and I think we can all agree that this is what we have created for ourselves.

The Ruling Class will do Whatever it Takes to Keep the People Divided

Election 2016 was probably one of the most divisive chapters in recent American history. We also know that when we are divided as a people we become easy prey for financial and political predators. Regardless of whether there is truth to Hillary’s corruption or Trumps racism there is financial incentive for media-spin and can be used by political campaigns to exploit these stories in order to scare people into voting. This is nothing new in America.

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Some of us projected our fear onto one candidate while denying any information that would make our preferred candidate seem fearful (confirmation bias). This is the demon/hero story. For good reason many Americans felt terrified by both Trump and Clinton and just reluctantly opted to vote the less of two evils. This is true for Trump voters as well as Clinton voters, and each equally had a hard time understanding how the other could possibly vote for the enemy candidate.

We can identify with political leaders but over identifying with them or over identifying their followers is problematic. Since Trump won and the great fear around him are issues of misogyny and racism, it is easy to equate everyone who voted for him as misogynists or racists. The media has spent months convincing you that they are, but they certainly are not. Yes, some of them are jerks and they were jerks before Trump came around and now they have a platform thanks to him and the media.

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Heroes need Villains

Heroes and villains need each other just like dark and light. Humans often elevate themselves by pushing others down. Trump and Hillary, each with considerable baggage, needed to vilify the other in order to elevate themselves. The leaked Podesta emails showed that the Democrats political strategy included elevating Trump (along with his fearful misogyny and racism) as a “Pied Piper” to create controlled opposition to make Hillary look more presentable and win. Trump vilified Hillary but he also took it further and vilified immigrants to make him look like a protector of Americans who are struggling financially from trade deals that have shipped their jobs to Mexico or overseas. These are advertising techniques and theatrical stunts with real-life repercussions.

These are the same techniques used to justify endless bombings by both Democrats and Republicans to increase profits for weapons industries, one of our largest exports. If we are willing to believe that Trump supporters are all racists, that is just as bad as believing that Muslims are all terrorists. It is like saying that all Hillary supporters celebrate the selling of weapons to oppressive and barbaric regimes like Saudi Arabia (which later end up in the hands of ISIS).

Social, racial, immigration tensions are the root of, and are perpetuated by war. This can be an internal war with our fellow citizens or a full-blown military offensive. These tensions are born of economic inequality, which also breeds fear and division. We are all products of a failing economic system and the sooner we recognize this, the quicker we can change it. It is my opinion that neither candidate presented a solution in this regard and hence the endless mud-slinging.

Generalizations rarely work, nor does identifying with personalities and political parties instead of focusing on actual policies. We have allowed ourselves to be duped into forgetting our own humanity and the humanity of those that are different than us. These are fear tactics used to manipulate the masses but they will stop working when we decide that we will no longer buy these stories.

This is where the political revolution moves from the ballot box to ourselves as individuals. Are we willing to look at our fear, and the hatred it produces? Do we have the courage to face ourselves with love and compassion? This is how love drives out hatred, the way light drives out darkness. What is your greatest fear? It is probably born of something that you love. It may be your family, your life, your environment, justice, your country, your dignity, your racial heritage, your planet, your gender. The fear can become fierceness in your desire to protect these things and that is a beautiful thing when channeled compassionately.

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Take Time to reflect, Sink into your Own Heart or Nature

Those who sit on the other side of the political divide have the same fears and loves. The only way you may understand what motivates them is to stop and listen, to see the humanity within them. This is not just about our fellow Americans but our fellow humans around the world. The signs are everywhere. Hatred, fear, and division will never help us address the issues we all commonly face on the planet. War and environmental collapse are terrifying because they threaten all life on the planet but we will only resolve this fear by facing it together.

Inner peace, mental clarity, and compassion are what is needed. Nobody can give it to you, you can’t buy it at the store, there is no instant download, it is a daily practice. I spend countless hours researching and writing about how art, science, and spirituality can be utilized to elevate us without putting others down. I am guilty of the divisive mindset like all of us, so I take walks in nature, meditate, and eat healthy food so that I can be mentally clear. Only from this place can any of us hope to create the better world that we all know is possible.

We need to rage against the economic system that divides us and desecrates our planet, we don’t need to rage against each other. Take some time to listen to your enemy instead of shouting at them, and you may find that their loves and fears are not too different from yours. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that we live in volatile times that are also potent for unprecedented transformation and growth. We have the technology to destroy ourselves or create a better world, what we get will be a reflection of who we have become. Let’s become love and cast our fear to the wind.

What You May Have Missed About Trumpageddon

Here many of you stand, aghast and unable to choose between expressions of shock and outright anger at the crushing reality of the impending President Elect Donald Trump.

To People of Color and undocumented Americans who are concerned for the future I am deeply sorry. To all those who Democrats looking for someone to blame, such as third party voters or those who criticized the democratic candidate, consider this:

You don’t run the epitome of the corrupt establishment in a populist race… We are not surprised at these election results. Now is the time to bridge the divides!

We tried to warn you. We really tried. Over and over again.

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It’s About Love

We tried to presence you to the fact that Bernie would have beaten Trump in a walk and we would have fun doing it. We tried to warn you that fear of Trump would not be enough to get millennials, independents, and liberals out of bed on Nov 8th. Why wouldn’t Hillary take a stand on DAPL and other issues people care about? How can you expect to win when you alienate the most energetic and committed voters in your base? At the end of the day we must begin the healing now as it is going to take all of us working together to meet the great challenges before us.

Before You Start Pointing Fingers

If you are amongst the many Democrats who are outraged now, blaming third party voters and Hillary critics, before sharing your indignation, please ask yourself:

1. Do I live in a solid blue state?
2. Did I canvass or phone bank in the swing states that determined the election?
3. Did I get involved in the primary to elect the better candidate or vote at all?
4. Did I spend more time spreading fear and shaming others into supporting Hillary whilst whitewashing her innumerous transgressions (such as selling fracking around the world, brokering arms deals to brutal dictatorships, being a lead agent of regime change in Libya and Syria, etc)
, than I did challenging her to be a better candidate and support the issues people care about and will inspire them to get out of bed to vote?

5. Did the sum of my involvement in the 2016 election amount mostly to commenting on social media to more other friends that also live mostly in solid blue states?
6. Have I been suffering the delusion that democracy means we simply show up to vote every four years to make sure a democrat is in office whilst overlooking their destructive corporate military agendas?
7. Has my primary source of information been establishment hack blogs outlets, mainstream media, John Oliver, and whatever the opinions of other friends that live in the same echo chamber?

Background

In Orlando at the Democratic Platform Committee, I was sitting with Bernie’s foreign policy advisor Bill French, when we were joined by one of Hillary’s lead counsels. In the previous two days I personally saw from the inside of the Democratic Platform Committee, how Clinton’s folks voted in blocks, lead by her whip Carol Browner against real action on climate change and fracking, voted against single payer, voted against Wall Street reform, voted against blocking the TPP, voted against an inflation adjustment for people starving and living on social security, and a host of other policy interests that look out for the 1% over the people.

I pointed at him feverishly and told him they were losing the election at that very moment by fighting Bernie’s committee members on every point of his peoples’ agenda so they could do the bidding of their corporate masters. He glibly responded that they were confident in their data that they would have enough votes.

I told him that his data was wrong and that they would not see the real numbers until late September, early october and what those numbers would reveal was that Washington is completely out of touch with how poor, angry, scared, and desperate average Americans are. I told him that the all the experts were so sure that England would not leave the EU, but woke up in the morning to #Brexit.

He was so snide and overconfident I thought he must know something we didn’t and they had definitely the general rigged somehow. It turns out it was only blind hubris. Many will recall that I said over and over again that this whole election was about the angry white guys in FLA , NC and the Rust Belt that got screwed by NAFTA. People who despised Obama’s pushing an even worse TPP.

Change Comes from the Grassroots

Progressives who worked harder to elect Bernie than they ever worked for anything in their lives only to have it stolen from them were forced to suffer gas-lighting, insults along with the complete white washing of Hillary’s history. Not to mention the suffering she has caused around the world to achieve her political ends. We had to suffer through leak after leak which revealed direct emails how the DNC and corporate media lied and colluded to fix the primary. Emails even expose that  Trump was elevated as a “pied piper” candidate to create a “controlled-opposition” that her strategists felt would bury her unfavorables with worse unfavorables.

Please Earn Our Votes

Throughout the general election, not once did Hillary extend a hand to ask for our votes or to take a stand on important issues like the Dakota Access Pipeline, corruption, renewable energy. They demanded the rest of the country fall in line and kiss the ring or end up with Trump as some sort of ultimatum. We tried over and over again to say that it wouldn’t work. DNC had the opportunity to unite us at the convention or with their vice presidential pick. Instead they demanded obedience and kicked out our democratically elected delegates replacing them with paid seat fillers to mindlessly cheer for their propaganda.

Waking Up Ain’t Easy

At the end of the day, the time of living with the delusion that democracy simply means showing up at the polls once every four years to make sure a democrat is in office is over. For those who are doing well enough to not want to rock the boat, to those who simply pass each day without getting involved beyond their commentary on social media please up your game or get out of the way. This is our country if we want to step up and take it back from the oligarchs.

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My hope is that this is the wake up call America has desperately needed. People have slept through previous calls, with blinders on political agendas that are no longer valid in the age of transparency and information. This will be like recovering alcholics who have hit rock bottom, the moment of clarity for the faux-left, moderate, corporate-Democrats to wake from this neoliberal nightmare; a nightmare that is contributing to waging wars, corporate greed, corruption, and the environmental destruction of our planet.

My hope is that now the Democrats will join the grassroots now that they have lost their power base and no longer hold respect for standing with the people and the planet. It is about time they realize that their old ways of cronyism and machine politics are over. My hope is that you stop apologizing for war mongerers and Wall St. hacks. Emails revealed that Obama let Fromman and Citibank pick his cabinet and influence TPP behind closed doors right after the 2008 collapse! We live in a new age of transparency. There is no longer anywhere to hide the trespasses, and collusion.

I know I offer little sugar with my pronouncements, but the sooner we reconcile these facts and get honest with ourselves, the sooner we can get back to the real work of coming together to overcome the great challenges that face us.

Please take these points into consideration and ponder them especially before pointing fingers at people in solid blue states that voted their conscience and have been working hard to commit their time and energy to grassroots social change. Now is the time to leave all this behind and create a unified movement across political lines to stop this corporate take-over that has corrupted our democracy. Not just at the polls, we need to let them know we aren’t going away. We need to stand as allies to our fellow citizens who are minorities, and protect our sacred waterways and land from these heartless profiteers.

Blame is Useless Now, Acceptance is Necessary

They will try to tell you that it was the third party’s fault, but in the end they have nobody to blame but themselves. My fear now is that instead setting about the work of healing and rebuilding for the future that Obama and the democrats will double down on passing the TPP against the people’s will before January 20th. If he was smart, his first act now that they don’t need Terry O’Sullivan and the AFL-CIO will be to call for an Environmental Impact Statement and stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I highly suggest you join us in demanding this of the administration, of the banks through our #BankExit initiative that we launched with Susan Sarandon last week. Make phone calls 202-224-3121 tell them no to TPP and no to Dakota Access, let them know that we will not be going back to sleep… Go to Standing Rock and support them in their fight to protect the water.

There is much to do but we can surely overcome the great challenges facing us together. The Political Revolution is real. This election brought together the most extraordinary leaders and activists in modern history. This election activated a whole generation of millennials who know stand for progress. I hope now you move past petty blaming and ridicule and join us. We are the future, we create hope, the sleeping giant has awakened.

Jay Ponti is an organizer, strategist and activist for peace and sustainability. He is the founder of Peacelink and Bernie’s Avengers, a super team of Bernie surrogates and movement leaders. He is also U.N. NGO committee member. He recently produced the Climate Revolution rallies in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and was the organizers of #ClooneyCounterParty and Bernie’s Diner.

Indigenous Led New Orleans Group Travels to Standing Rock

Press Release, New Orleans, LA, October 4, 2016

Cultural convergence protecting the sacred continues as New Orleans group travels to Standing Rock to oppose pipeline. Indigenous led group joins Shining Light Kitchen to bring food, medicine, tribal support and solidarity to North Dakota protest camp.

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NOLA Supports Standing Rock and Shining Light Kitchen will caravan on October 9-16, 2016 to bring organic New Orleans cuisine, all natural herbal remedies, local tribal support and South Louisiana solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is leading the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline project. Opposition to the controversial pipeline project has garnered international outcry with both President Obama, the United Nations and over 280 Indigenous nations, cities and organizations from around the globe joining the tribe’s call to stop the construction of the prophesied “Black Snake”. This pipeline threatens the tribe’s sole source of drinking water, construction has already destroyed sacred sites and burial grounds, while causing serious violations to peaceful protesters civil rights. Fears that a major spill upriver from New Orleans will potentially affect the water of some 20 million people downstream have spurred the groups intentions to mobilize in support of the protection of the water for future generations.

“New Orleans has many reasons to stand in solidarity with the Lakota and over 280 tribes protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, ND. First, is the watershed above New Orleans that feeds into the Mississippi. Pipelines break all the time, in case you haven’t noticed, and oil companies have a horrible track record of taking responsibility for the destruction of peoples’ water. We are all downstream. Think Gulf Oil Spill. Think Kalamazoo River. Do we need any more of this? Not at all. Now with the recent news of the EPA allowing an unregulated amount of fracking wastewater and chemicals to be dumped in the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans and Louisiana are taking a direct hit,” says Heather Coleman, Pottawattamie Tribal Member, and member of NOLA Supports Standing Rock. “So solidarity with the Lakota is a must for the sake of our commonly shared water, and the moral imperative to protect what is sacred to us and all of life, water.”

South Louisiana wetlands are disappearing at the alarming rate of 25-35 square miles per year. This loss represents 80% of the coastal wetlands loss in the entire U.S. By 2050, coastal LA will lose more than 630,000 acres of coastal marshes, swamps and islands.

“As climate change takes a crash landing from the future to the now, the people of Louisiana are getting the brunt of climate change, with the oceans warming and becoming ever increasingly acidic, there will be more rain than we can handle. This year has marked the warmest months, July and August, on record. 31” of rain fell in 2 days in August 2016, resulting in mass flooding in the greater Baton Rouge area, that destroyed thousands of homes, and took lives,” continues Miss Coleman.

The Shining Light Kitchen just wrapped up 6 weeks of disaster relief efforts in Baton Rouge, providing an organic kitchen and meals to those displaced by the recent flooding. The Kitchen will provide a 40-foot tipi that houses the fully equipped kitchen, along with a water purification system.

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Culturally, New Orleans celebrates indigenous culture through the esteemed Mardi Gras Indians (AKA Black Indians). Lakota Chief, Arvol Lookinghorse visited New Orleans in the wake of a vision by Tootie Montana, and David Carson in 1995 which coincided the birth of a White Buffalo in Janesville Wisconsin. The city welcomed him as a keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Prophecy in proclamations (see proclamations at  www.whitebuffaloday.com).

This coming together was significant in light of the long history of African Americans and Native Americans kinship during times of slavery. New Orleans has played a significant role in the preservation and evolution of these cultures mixing which has influenced carnival, our musical heritage and other creative innovations. Our shared values as diverse people implies that we stand together when facing a common threat. A threat to our water is not an existential threat, it is a major concern for the health of our families and children.

New Orleans is revered around the world as a cultural hub for the Arts, from its famous Jazz and Theater, astounding colonial French and Spanish architecture to most importantly its cuisine – born of French, African, Native American and Créole influences – that have graced this city for nearly three centuries. Despite this wonderful identity, what many people don’t know about New Orleans is that it has a very rich Native American history as well that is still prevalent today and is even memorialized in our street names and Mardi Gras krewes.

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Above: school bus, kitchen and tipi being brought to Standing Rock

For example, the N.O. areas known as Tchoupitoulas Street and Chef Menteur Highway is named for the Hạcha-pit-itula people who lived there while the highway is named for the Choctaw chief who was banished with his family and cohorts to that region. Furthermore, the carnival Krewes of Tchefunte and Chahta are named for the Hachofakti (a much older tribe) and Choctaw peoples respectively who inhabited the surrounding areas of New Orleans, thriving through established trade routes along the Tchefuncte River through Lake Pontchartrain with their northern cousins, the Bayou Lacombe Choctaws in St. Tammany Parish to the Houmas in the south among other tribal bands.

Even after European arrival, the tribes co-existed with many of the French and Africans selling goods such as filé, baskets and herbs in the French Market and even intermarrying with them. The Mardi Gras Indians are proof of such unions as they are the descendants of escaped slaves and Native Americans who established Maroon communities on the outskirts of New Orleans (black and red makes maroon hence the name) and today continue to carry on their legacy by annually masking to honor their unique heritage of both black and Native ancestry.

“We say this to clarify that Native history has always been a part of New Orleans history and continues to be today, and that we are here standing with all those not only in this country, but around the globe who stand in solidarity with the brave souls on the front lines in Standing Rock, ND who fight for our “unalienable rights” for Life,” says Sierra Lyn, member of the Bayou Lacombe Band of Choctaw.

“With a record of broken treaties, another broken treaty is something that we cannot ignore. We owe it to our relatives at Standing Rock to stand with them as they protect their land and our shared water. We may not be able to erase the injustices of the past, but together we can say no to injustices today. This is how we build a better world for future generations, this is what our great city committed to when Chief Arvol Lookinghorse visited us. This is our legacy, our responsibility, this is how we create change and birth hope across cultural divides.” Statement from NOLA Supports Standing Rock.

Nola Supports Standing Rock is a group founded to gather local information and resources to Stand in Solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The caravan will bring food for hundreds of people and supplies to make fresh honey based cough syrup. Winter is setting in and it is going to be a long haul for everyone who is at camp. We are going to be making gumbo,and  Etouffee, to keep them warm while we are there.

If you would like to support this historic offering, please visit here.

*Featured Image of Bigchief Kyoung Chahta by Steve Archbold*

Cooperation 2.0 for Global Solutions

Political and social upheaval across the globe signify that a major paradigm shift is under way. It has become very clear that we are living in accelerated times! Democracy is not without flaw, it is a process that must continue to evolve and adapt in order to address the needs of the day. At the heart of democratic principles is a sense of mutual respect and a desire to cooperate in a way that is best for all. Is the world finally ready to embrace this perennial wisdom?

We are not going to be able to address major issues on the planet divided

Our current system where 51% (the amount needed to win elections) are winners and 49% are losers leaves almost half the population feeling that their voice is not represented. Meanwhile the winning side feels a public mandate to assert their agenda without regard to the losing side. Some people call this style of governing the tyranny of the majority. The “winner takes all” mentality is fine for a sporting event, but it is not an appropriate way to govern. We have a responsibility and the ability to make sure that all voices are heard, while collectively caring for each other, our natural resources, and the planet at large. It is not a game…

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Addressing climate change, nuclear contamination, polluted oceans, proliferation of war and more will not be solved so long as a significant amount of people (49%) oppose it strongly. We are being called to engage in a dialogue that invokes mutual respect for the needs of all parties. Non-Violent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication is a great tool for achieving this expression of cooperation.

All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions. — Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd

There’s Another Way

The world is not black and white, so we should not govern it that way. Recent social rumblings in the European Union, starting with Greece and including the recent Brexit referendum are complex. The movement towards globalization that favors the freedom of capital over the needs of people has caused many voices to be muffled. When policies are made by individuals who are disconnected from the people and places they are governing, there will always be social upheaval. We see the two-party system failing in many other parts of the world as well including the United States and Australia.  What if your views and needs are not represented by either party but instead fall somewhere in the middle?

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Our binary approach of winner/loser is childish and ineffective at meeting the needs of our increasingly technological global society. Our indigenous forbearers who influenced Ben Franklin and America’s Founding Fathers, the Haudenosaunee, understood the importance of a council which allowed diverse perspectives to be heard and incorporated into a shared vision of moving forward as a society. You can learn more about The Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee here.

If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. -Desmond Tutu

Can Haters Become Lovers?

Hate is an unpleasant human expression that can be suppressed or expressed, but with the proper tools it can be transmuted and evolved into shared understanding. We see so many news outlets that are ready to simplify social upheaval as racism without doing proper analyses and looking at the bigger picture. Very often hatred is the result of a need that isn’t being met, born of fear, or a deep wound, but it is also an expression of passion even though it is destructive. In America we are seeing a great example of this playing out with the candidacy of Donald Trump. In Europe we see it with immigration and the recent vote for Brexit from EU.

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What fear, deep wound, and passion is being expressed in these popular xenophobic movements? What needs are not being met? What economic or environmental conditions are fueling the social instability? Diversity is usually celebrated when everyone has food, shelter, abundance and basic needs taken care of. Racism usually flourishes when scarcity, economic inequality and fear are prevalent. The news media, feeding on the black/white, binary, good/bad oversimplification perpetuates the divide, the ignorance, and the fear.

There is passion underneath hatred, even if it is self-preservation, ignorance, and that passion can erupt in very destructive ways. How do we diffuse this? By listening, and educating each other, by becoming compassionate to our own needs as well as the needs of others. We are all connected by deep emotional experiences that often have no voice in this world. There is always common ground if we choose to meet there. This is called cooperation…

Social Harmony is Impossible When Individuals are Internally Conflicted

We used to use the description multiple personalities until we recognized that all of us have many voices (perspectives) trying to express themselves within us depending on mood, or situation. Today we understand illness as dissociative personality disorder. In other words, when we repress aspects of ourselves, our desires, needs, fears etc. without acknowledging them that is considered a form of mental illness. We are seeing this expressed externally in the world around us and politics is a great reflection of our internal conflict. What does it take to be present, listen, and acknowledge the perspective of those who we disagree with?

 

As with most things in the world, we are blinded by the cultural lens through which we see things. Once again we are called to start from within and disassemble our inner conflicts. We can change our world view from a debate-oriented competition where a winner takes all into a council which allows for all voices to be heard and respected.

The act of witnessing opposing perspectives within ourselves and within community allows us to see deeper into the emotional needs these feelings/beliefs represent. Making a genuine connection from the heart is one of the most essential and powerful ways to diffuse conflict. This is where spirituality, and self-awareness meets the political process.

The Evolution of Cooperation

Cooperation is a fundamental law of biological evolution. We are a species that has developed through biological evolution, and the result of billions of cells cooperating to optimize life. We are in a process biologically, socially, and politically of evolving towards optimizing life for all. Let us not lose hope!

 

Though competition has hogged up the spotlight due to the scientific misconceptions inherent in Darwinism, it pales in comparison to cooperation. Dr. Bruce Lipton speaks of this extensively in his work as it is apparent in biological evolution from the smallest organisms all the way up to the most complex. Compassion is an emotional connection whereas cooperation is the ability to work together towards a common goal and create mutually beneficial results. It is possible to set up scenarios that allow for win/win situations, sadly most of our political structures are not set up to accommodate this.

Dictatorship/Monarchy/Oligarchy (1% rule the 99%)
Democracy (51% rule the 49%)
Consensus (100% we cooperate to create a future that is mutually beneficial for all of life)
-The Cooperatist Movement

Cooperatist Movement

The Law of Cooperation as coined by Scott Malis is quite simple and states that “What cooperates the most thrives the most.” The exploration into cooperation as a topic of study is fascinating. War and slavery are considered the lowest forms of cooperation because they forced cooperation, yet there is no refuting the potentially creative (or destructive) power of large groups of people working towards a common purpose. The Cooperatist Movement seeks to develop a community of people promoting consensual cooperation towards goals that benefit all involved parties. It is possible to own less and share more to increase personal wealth and well-being!

The Cooperatist Movement’s mission is to create a movement of consensual cooperation for the betterment of mankind and the Earth. To provide structure, a forum and resources to aid in our conscious evolution using the Law of Cooperation as our directing principle.”

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Cooperation is an antidote to corporatist ideology which works toward private gain often at the expense of the general public or the environment. It is also valuable to individual and public health as depression and addiction are often rooted in a sense of isolation and disconnection. The values of cooperation can be applied internally to become less conflicted, externally with your family or community, and also beyond that to include cooperation with our environment.

This expression of living harmoniously is potentially the most beautiful thing that humans can strive towards. We have done a pretty good job at showing ugliness over the centuries with sparks of creative genus from individual artists. Now we are seeing that genius manifest collectively and in time we may understand our whole existence as a conscious act of creative beauty!

Back in the cave man days as humans were just forming, we were in very small clan type groups. Life was a struggle to survive, yet we did have a means of cooperating well together. Over time we formed bigger and bigger clans, tribes, and village communities. Alone we were weak, but as a hunting party we could take out the biggest of animals and we began to dominate. As we formed and cooperated more and more we began to civilize into larger societies, and things like agriculture began and soon after forms of industrial revolution. As millions of us began to cooperate we became cities or countries as vast societies and became a super species. The next step is a cooperative global society that considers the needs of all species and acts as a steward of this precious planet. -Scott Malis

Let’s make something extraordinary with our short time in this world. Perhaps if enough of us begin to embrace  the principles of cooperation while developing the capacity to communicate and listen compassionately we could unlock a potential collectively that will transform and heal our broken world. It may seem like an impossible dream or a John Lennon song, but we have unprecedented tools to make this real and we don’t need to imagine anymore. It is time to, as Gandhi stated, be the change we want to see in the world.

**This article was expanded upon in a reflection on Brexit at Uplift that is worth considering in relationship to current political affairs**

Galactic Ambassadors Full of Festival Fashion

We are floating through an endless sea of stars on a big blue globe in endless galaxy of possibilities and sometimes blending in is just not an option. We are clothed in stories, from the genetics inherited through generations that make our very flesh to the threads we adorn these bodies with. It could be funky, sexy, classy, or retro style, a costume or genuine fashion statement, but sometimes we all need to unleash a whole new expression of the unique individual we are becoming. Music festivals are a place where talented designers, crafters, and artists sell their wears to an audience that loves to push the boundaries of their own imagination. This is the unfolding world of Visionary Art and Culture!

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The clothes you wear, your hair-style, the types of music you like, and the ways you choose to express yourself all tell a story about who you are to the rest of the world. Even your body shape/size/color was inherited through a long lineage of people from different parts of the world. Your ancestors diet, belief systems, and environment helped to shape the way you look and perceive the world today. Each of us embody many stories whether we are aware of what these stories are or not. -Everyone is Clothed in Stories

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Just as you may see an unknown independent artist on the stage blow your mind, you are likely to come across all sorts of other gifted cultural creatives. This includes jewelry-makers, fashion designers, live-painters and more. Slowly these styles make their way into mainstream society. Festival culture, the cross pollination, the open and supportive environment is a force of nature that shapes the world around us with inspiration and hope.

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Maybe it’s a new pair of faerie wings, a steam-punk leather top-hat, or a hot pink marabou feather boa, dressing up is primal and freeing to the spirit. In New Orleans they spend hundreds of hours making appliqué beadwork for Mardi Gras Day. In Indian Country the grandmothers sew elaborate and colorful clothes for pow-wow. The tradition takes endless form but the common thread is the beautification and adornment of the body for celebration and honoring of this magical life that we all share.

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Textile printing has become so advanced that it is now possible to wear Visionary Art. This is beyond a t-shirt with a fancy print, the artwork is printed over every inch of the garment so that you can literally be covered from head to toe. Imagine making your favorite piece of art come to life by wearing it and becoming the vision. It’s like a colorful full-body tattoo that you can take off when you are ready to blend in again after a weekend of being a super hero. This second-skin clothing inspires movement as it stretches and hugs your body while dancing, doing yoga, or exercising.

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Amanda Sage is a Visionary Artist who has been central to the live-painting scene at music festivals around the world. It is no surprise that her designs would find their way into a clothing line that suits the emerging lifestyle of health conscious, celebratory culture. The Galactic Ambassador Collection is now her fourth line of wearable visionary art. In true visionary style, this clothing is eco-friendly with biodegradable packaging. Features include:

  • Original fine art paintings that transcend the canvas.
  • Black light reactive fabric.
  • Each size individually engineered so the design is consistent.
  • Gusset provides flexibility and comfort.
  • Four-way stretch fabric is antibacterial and chafe resistant.
  • Eco friendly fabric made from 79% recycled plastic bottles and 21% spandex.
  • All materials used for printing are recycled post production.
  • Care labels are made of organic cotton.
  • Tag is made from recycled materials and hang from European grown organic hemp twine.
  • Packaging is biodegradable and made from plants.
  • Shipping materials are made from recycled materials.
  • Hand crafted with Love in Los Angeles.

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Planet Earth is an island of life in an endless sea of stars and sometimes ya just need to represent. You don’t need to wait until the next festival to get your regalia, you can now order online. This way you can surprise your friends by suiting up and then putting another outfit over top and stripping down to your super-self when they are least expecting it. Everyone has a Galactic Ambassador inside themselves just waiting to emerge!

 

Creating Culture: A Village Way of Life

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

― R. Buckminster Fuller ―

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Spring is here, and with it comes plans for summer adventures that are truly transformational! The alternative festival scene often attracts those who resonate with counterculture ways of thinking and being. Yet it is this subversive hotbed that takes the status quo, transmutes it underground, and sets the new trends for its re-emergence in mainstream popular culture. Isis Indriya and Eve Bradford have been vanguards of this movement for over ten years. Both have been guided by personal and community spiritual practice for many years and in every sense these two live what they teach. Their brainchild Living Village Culture aims to influence society through bringing culture back into the heart of community. This project is experimental in nature through seeing what emerges when we create a village way of life in modern, western contexts such as festivals and symposiums.

Their next offering is The Village Symposium, which will be held over five days (April 20th-24th) in Nevada City, California. A journey into community building, education, ritual and social change, this will be a conference exploring the place where science and mysticism meet. It will explore how we as humans can reinstate ourselves back into a harmonious and symbiotic relationship with the web of life. The Village Symposium is a taster of what can be expected from The Village at Lightning in a Bottle festival later this spring (May 25th – 29th).

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Community Creates Culture – The New University

Our generation is one in which individuals have been separated from their lineages and from a community-based way of living. Our interconnectedness with one other and the planet has been denied through linear time systems, hierarchical social structures, centralized politics, capitalistic economies and the false separation of mind, body and spirit. Western education and its institutions propagate these systems, leaving a stark gap between what we are taught and reality.

Conscious gatherings such as festivals are increasingly putting energy and resources into bridging this gap through formalizing the ‘school of life’. No longer just places to listen to music and party, gatherings have become a place where we can learn from each other and professionals at the top of their game through workshops, talks, film screenings, ceremony, symposiums, debates and exhibitions.

Combined with the advance of technology that facilitates mass communication, this new culture has helped forge ‘communities in the sky’ that go beyond borders and do not need permission from any institution to exist – the ultimate E-democracy. We now have the power not just to envision a new world, but to co-create and actually realise it coming into being. This is not about predicting the future, this is about inventing it.

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The Living Village Culture family sits at the core of these changes, through actively seeking to provide an authentic community experience at festivals and gatherings. The curation of their event narratives is based on cultivating skills and practices focused on earth-based wisdom and mystical traditions. Spaces are created that bring the sacred into a contemporary context through an honouring of our ancestors and the spirits of the land in ceremony. This experience fosters collaboration and creativity and makes space for the coming into being of a new culture where knowledge is crowd sourced.

It is through experiences such as these that we can collectively remember who we really are.

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Gardening the Spirit: A tale of plants, people & saving the world.

imageToday I met a man who made me miss the island of Kauai even more than the growing well of ache I began to feel as soon as I lost sight of her.

Being in Bali, though a similar tropical volcanic paradise, has drawn from my innards a distinctive proclamation of from where I come. No longer do I reach for Chicago as my place. These Midwestern origins seem shrouded by years and years of geographical separation and layers of self, shed and transformed. Nowadays, I’ve grown to see the root of myself as living in Hawaii. Currently I am away from my home in Orange County, but thanks to Medicare Supplemental, traveling in Asia for two whole months gives me no worries.

It is a strange sensation to be homesick for a land that is still foreign, still in the adoption process, that may take years, even decades, to fully complete. When one has no bloodline or family history to source from as a regional transplant, and yet an intangible umbilical cord pumps sweet proprioceptive nourishment, a gentle reminder of home’s nest brings peace to a weary traveler.

As I journey forth and simultaneously remember my direction home, my heartstrings are fully plucked. Orchestrating soul music, reigniting a lost tune, an ancient melody I had once known re-emerges… gracing my ears to be heard anew. This is a song of land, culture, earth reverence and prayer. Underscored by people caring, less driven by profit and greed, more motivated to participate in the creation of a greater good; to appease the ancestors and regenerate a garden paradise for the generations to come. This is the song of Kauai I hum to myself when I yearn for the familiar.

The man who made me miss home has a name I’d never heard before.  In addition to his black leather widebrim, he wears an eclectic variety of hats: fanatic gardener, passionate village guardian, shrewd entrepreneur, social commentator and, of course, incognito wizard. His name, Hubertus Hendro is as foreign to me as Bali which is deceptively similar to my home on Kauai.

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Hubertus, like me, is a stranger in a strange land he has come to passionately love. While he knows he will never fully be accepted into the Balinese culture as a simple result of his ancestry, his heart pumps in sole dedication to honoring this sacred island along with her abundance of nature, spirit, and beauty. A Javanese born Christian, he came to Bali 30 years ago to work in the booming tourism industry.

While dedicating himself to a mainstream career on the island, he systematically began collecting rare and useful plants. In his spare time, Hubertus began attending workshops, creating small, diverse gardens for his community and plotting an island-wide permaculture revolution. Unlike most of his cohorts who now bow equally to God and the holy Rupiah, his most valued currency became seeds and cuttings.

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Soon his knowledge and reputation grew beyond the local village and he began driving his motorbike all over the island since he had a cheap motorbike insurance 125cc, and consulting interested Balinese on how to turn the family plot into a garden pumping with food for eating and for selling at local markets. His island tours were an act of service. He was completely self-funded by a somewhat crazed passion to fulfill his personal life mission, to steward this island in a good way. In a way that protects what is most sacred, the mother of all, our bountiful Earth.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 8.41.10 PMRather than just applying the principles he so eloquently and simply lived himself, he took the last bit of his savings and started a nursery to invest his passion into something regenerative. This nursery established just three years ago, has already cultivated over a million trees, a figure that illustrates only a fraction of this one man’s dedication to earth stewardship and critical thinking.

Herbertus moved full time into his current life’s work when, after waiting through a year of negotiations with the local village, they permitted him to build the impressively magical Bali Spirit Garden. This permaculture landscape houses hundreds of species of medicinal and ceremonial plants. There are 260 types of plants used in Balinese temple ceremonies. Bali Spirit Garden is home to representative individuals of these sacred herbs, along with all manner of fruit, spice, root, flower and leaf. His place is magnificently worked throughout the temple complex and remains open for visitors, villagers as well as anyone wanting to bask in the glory of the plant kingdom.

Perhaps even more inspiring than his project is Herbertus himself who single-handedly created most of the garden and its infrastructure. Layer upon layer of rare and exotic species co exist in harmony, showcasing hundreds of important species, protected in a habitat that both educates and nourishes all who enter the gardens gates. Through beauty, wit and medicine, Herbertus’s gardening is contagious. He makes you want one of your own. In true savant form, he somehow makes it look like it’s going to be easy.

His unique understanding of the cultural predicament Bali (and, in truth, the whole world) is in right now, ignites a contagious passion for action and clarity of intention when it comes to the issue of saving the world. He poses three questions, point blank, to anyone who claims to care about the planet and our inevitably apocalyptic and dire situation:

“Number one. Do you know what’s really going on? Number two. Do you know what to do about it? And number three. What are you doing?”

Deceptively simple fodder for reflection in an age where overwhelm and overdrive seem to be within closest reach in responding to the uncomfortable status of the quo. Derek Jensen, author of “A Language Older Than Words” and one of my ecological heroes, writes about our very human plight, amidst the widespread issues of global demise. He suggests that although humans appear cold and unfeeling in the face of planetary destruction, the immensity of our pain is actually too much for most humans to process and truly acknowledge feeling. Thus we shut down and imbibe in a cultural numbness, inevitably becoming powerless in the gravity of our world’s suffering. Because, as we have witnessed in the parallel suppression of feminine energies in the modern industrial complex, unbridled feeling is pure power. This climate of numbness perpetuates apathy and, in turn, a mass cultural malaise that stands by, watching from empty eyes.

In Bali, as a result of the impact of millions of tourists upon the tiny island every year, the water table is predicted by some to be dry in just six years from now, with salt water intrusion already occurring. Luxury hotels and the presence of an exponentially growing tourist and local population consume precious water at an irreplaceable rate. What are we as global citizens doing about this?

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 8.46.51 PMJust as important is, “how are we feeling?” Mass deforestation and orangutan slaughter throughout areas of their natural habitat in Indonesia is a byproduct of the palm oil industry and mining for rare earth minerals. To fuel our hunger for technology and fast, cheap food we permit the extinction of a population of gentle souls, and sacred forest. I recall seeing snippets of information about the corruption of the palm oil industry.

Again, Hubertus prompts us, what are we doing about this? Food security is another essential piece to the fragmented puzzle of crisis our world is currently experiencing. In Indonesia, as well as globally and in my home Island of Kauai, we are threatened by the growing presence of Genetically Modified Organisms and their consumers, aka supporters, aka you. As consumers we have a responsibility to avoid GMO products that destroy our soil, bees, and water.

We stand by, hoping to be entertained and distracted from the suffering our distinctly human hearts feel. And yet, as Jensen proposes, the suffering is too great to comprehend with our delicate, finely attuned nervous systems. To truly integrate the grave facts of today’s earth would be to consent to a massive wailing, a perpetual grieving ceremony, an infinite vigil, mourning the loss of nature, culture and exquisite beauty.

I wonder if any of us are up for that responsibility as we ride the tail end of this exponential wave of consumerism and all-encompassing instant gratification. Yet, as we dwindle our finite resources, the vast, infinite resource that is “feeling” remains yet untapped, inextricably linked to the pure primal power that is innate within our humanity to love, to take action, to transmute, to make whole yet again.

Hubertus, the gardener, is one of those rare humans who knows he is here to feel it, heal it, and let it go. He’s here to help others remember this gift of humanity and the responsibility of power. To release these complicated burdens to the will of God and the greater human story. The one we are waking up from unconsciously writing now as the time draws near.

Sitting in Hubertus’ garden listening to his coffee fueled sermon, I remember; You can will all you want, grind your hope for a better future into an ill prepared ground and force your creations to root and become naturalized. Eventually, there must be a surrender to the vast ocean of feeling, for this plight is bigger than any one garden, any one heart, any one “save the world” type cause. Wake up and remember your very own unique, self directed mission to heal the world.

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Hold clear vision of where you have come from and the seriousness of where we, as a collective, are headed. With a stable mind and a profound will, garden your way through the woes of the world. However that garden may look. Cultivate medicine, art, love, freedom, food, culture and be sure your creations will be watered when you go. If you can do something, anything, to regenerate the beauty of our mother, our home, do it now. Make something real and protect the innocence that still lives and breathes, maintain hope and seek to find truth as it lives, undisturbed within us all.

I can remember all this. I can feel the importance of this time for humanity and the immensity of what we face. I can see the words written on the page and I can read other people’s words with thoughtfulness and critique. I can listen to Hubertus and become inspired by his garden. I can talk about these issues with friends over tea. But what am I doing about it?

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 8.48.44 PMI leave this story in an uncomfortable place because, in truth I am uncomfortable on the planet right now. Incomplete, in progress, in decay, in reconciliation, in explosive flux. We have not concluded or decided or become clear and unified in the most appropriate course of actions for these times. We shop at the farmers market and proclaim our diets to be reflective of environmentalism, yet jump in the car on a whim because we need to take a drive to clear our heads. We watch documentaries about child slavery over popcorn in our air conditioned apartments, shop at the thrift store, and wield our Costco cards. We wipe our bottoms with the carcasses of trees and eat enough quinoa that the staple grain is now economically unavailable to her native consumers.

Let’s be honest: we are addicted to sugar, to entertainment, put our faith in politics and pray to God somehow the world’s going to change if we share a post on Facebook. We meditate, do yoga, donate to the Red Cross and have secret porn addictions. We shop at Walmart completely informed. We drink out of plastic bottles and know too about the islands of trash drifting in the ocean. We eat meat while dolphins die. We know full well of the murders inspired by diamonds, and that blood graces our hands too. And we stifle our tears because it’s too heavy to open this box we’ve stuffed it all in.

The emotional drought has dried our inner reserves of purposeful action, leaving a standstill and a tornado of questions to become centered within. As these questions multiply in velocity, I find solace in an inner vow to honor their magnitude. To listen to their wisdom. To invite myself to enter their labyrinth time and time again and become enraptured with the feelings they provoke. I think a garden is a damn near perfect place to do all this. Watering the fertile ground with tears, acknowledgement of the incredible paradox we live in. With dedication to peace, to plants, to feeling and healing our Mother Earth and most urgently, ourselves I invite you to join me on this journey.

Street Art that Changes the way we see the World

From cave drawings to urban graffiti, images and words shape the way we perceive the world. It is adequately established that our environment effects us in fundamental ways, and that visual art literally changes our consciousness when we look at it. If you wander through any city street, or drive on the highway you will see advertising everywhere. Billboards and posters cluttering our visual landscape with messages to buy this or that.

What if public space was used to convey a shared idea from within the community instead of a brand that is privately owned by people living outside of the community? People everywhere are reclaiming public space to change dominant corporate, consumer narratives using beautiful and thought-provoking art.

If an egg is broken by outside force, life ends. If broken by inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from inside. – Jim Kwik

Using Art to Shift the Global Narrative

The current global narrative is one steeped in the wounds and trauma of history. Many humans see themselves in an endless struggle to pay bills, pitted against each other in a competition for scarce resources. The resources, which come from the earth, are extracted without reverence or respect for the natural systems of life that they support. This is rooted in an outdated belief system that is described in more detail here, which has humans at war with their own environment instead of collaborating with it harmoniously. A powerful way to shift these beliefs is through images that model a different story

Melting Point Mural by Mural Mice, Arizona
Melting Point Mural by Mural Mice, Arizona

What if advertising was used to inspire thought and connection instead of encourage mindless consumption and competition?

Creatively Breaking the Rules

We see it online, with individuals creating their own memes (images partnered with inspiring quotes) and sharing them through social networks. This ground-swell of creativity has now started to spill onto the streets of everyday life and it is taking many forms. Public murals, mosaics, sculptures are socially accepted yet graffiti, wheat-pasting and others are more activism-oriented while making a statement by breaking rules.

Sidewalk Chalk Art
Sidewalk Chalk Art

Creative Activism on the Streets of Paris

During the recent Paris Climate Talks, activists replaced over 600 banner advertisements around the city with messages about our shared responsibility to take care of the environment. This included over 80 artists from 19 different countries who made artworks to challenge the corporate takeover of COP21. This stunt helped to reveal the connections between advertising, the promotion of consumerism and climate change.

With large corporations sponsoring the climate talks they are able to appear that they are part of the solution while actually being part of the problem. This term is commonly called “green-washing”, and cultural creatives have found a humorous way to make a parody of the kind of influence these corporations have over our public policy.

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We start from the democratic conviction that the street is a site of communication, which belongs to the citizens and communities who live there.  Our interventions are a rebellion against the visual assault of media giants and advertising moguls who have a stranglehold over messages and meaning in our public spaces, through which they force-feed us with images and messages to keep us insecure, unhappy, and shopping. – Brandalism Website

Many of the artists who participated in Paris are inspired by the famed street-art outlaw, Banksy. “Exit Through The Gift Shop“, is a film that chronicles the lifestyle and attitudes of street artists. Street Art News is a great place to learn about this growing movement. Yet you don’t always have to break the rules to make a statement.

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Street Art that Inspires Community and Kindness

Jeff Daverman, of Root Concepts has found a way to influence peoples ideas spiritually and politically through sticker lines like Non-Violent Revolutionaries that depict heroes of peace. Muralists like the Mural Mice, gather input from the local community to inform their giant public installments and then invite everyone to help them paint it on a wall.

Individual artists like Xavi and Chris Dyer have placed their visionary art in prominent public places giving an expression of transcendence to an otherwise mundane locale. Essencia Art Collective works with youth using powerful themes like the importance of water to create urban masterpieces.

Jeannette Maré lost her 3-year old son, Bert to croup and created a public art campaign around inspiring kindness as a vehicle to heal her grief. Berts Bells in Tucson, Arizona creates colorful bells and places them around the city in trees with a note saying “take one and pass it along with kindness”. They also invite the community to make porcelain tiles that are used for creating mosaics on walls and park benches to convey messages of kindness.

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What stories do you want to see flourishing in the world around you?

Though each of us may have different talents, we all have a gift to be creative. We may practice developing our creative gifts, or let them atrophy but they are there regardless. We each also have a desire to see a better world, not just for ourselves but for our relatives, and future generations.

It is not enough anymore to hope and expect that anyone else will create this for us, we must step up and add our piece to the puzzle. This may require you to collaborate with friends who have talents that you don’t possess but collectively we have the capacity for great change.

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Free Yourself and Inspire the World Around You

In Chip Richards’ recent article Moving from Stress to Creative Power he shares a powerful story of how we can transmute “stuck” energies through creativity and action in the world. In the process of freeing ourselves, we can provide inspiration for others.

Art is therapeutic to create and to observe, by empowering ourselves to participate in creating the visual landscape that surrounds us we can literally change the world for the better. The possibilities are endless!

Article originally appeared at UPLIFT