I am curious about people who wanted to have a child or children but decided to have none or fewer because of concerns over population growth. I'm *not* interested in hearing from people who condemn the choice to have chidren but rather from people actually feel and understand the tug towards parenthood but have chosen not to.
Have you had feelings of loss? What ways have you found to satisfy the tug without actually having children?
I'm asking because there obviously needs to be a real cultural conversation about population growth and how many kids we should all have. But I don't think that a conversation about how much damage more children would cause is the answer. I don't think guilting and shaming each other helps.
For one, I personally find it a downer. And for two, I don't think it helps people who are struggling with the choice.
What would help people who are struggling with the choice is stories of others who have struggled with it before them. Aspirational stories of struggling with the choice and finding ways of resolving the struggle happily. Perhaps in creative ways that made your life or the life of someone else better.
If you have a story like that, perhaps you'd be willing to share it with us in the comments?
I will hope you will join me on September 24 in the No Impact Project's mini-march from the George Washington Statue in New York City's Union Square up Broadway and then across town the Dag Hhammarskjold Plaza for a rally in front of the United Nations.
This is part of 350.orgs Moving Planet event which is taking place in over 168 countries. All across the planet citizens will move by foot, bike, skateboard or scooter to demonstrate to world leaders that citizens demand a solution to the world Climate Crisis.
And if you can't join me, look for your local Moving Planet action here.
But if you can join me, come to
Where: The George Washington Statue, south side of Union Square, NYC
When: 11:30 AM
Bring: A garbage bag because we'll be collecting street litter along the way
I spent much of this morning on the phone with a friend who is one of the top leaders in corporate sustainability. He wanted to know my thoughts on "innovation" and "progress."
Did I think they were good or bad? Did I think the drive for both helped or hindered the quest for a life that is both happier for the people and happier for the planet?
After a long long conversation, I realized that the whole thing could be summed up so simply. I wrote:
You know, ultimately my perspective comes from this place:
What are we for? Why are we alive?
It's not that there is conceptual answer to this, but most of us, when we're quiet, have a sense of whether the next step takes us towards that purpose or away from it.
And most of us, too, can be tempted away from our True Direction (whatever it is).
Do products and services--innovative or not--attempt to bring people towards that True Direction or do they tempt them away from it by amplifying fear or anger or ignorance?
Chance are, if it does the former then that product or service will regenerate both the habitat and the human spirit. If it does the later, it will degrade both.
So the question, really, is not whether it is innovative, simple or techno.
The question is over the use of the innovative, simple or techno. Does that use cause aspiration (the filling up with spirit--see etymology) or desperation (the emptying out of spirit).
No matter where you stand on the sustainability scale, by the measure I've just described, where does a brand fit that attempts to frighten a women into believing she is not a good mother if her child's shirt is not as white as the next child's?
Some of you will have seen this before, but it's Spring and a lot of people have been asking me about worm composting. So here, for your delectation, via the Lower East Side Ecology Center (LESEC), are directions for keeping your own worm bin. If you live in New York, you can get worms from LESEC. If not, you can get them here.
Why Compost With Worms Indoors? Worm composting is a method for recycling food waste into rich compost right in your apartment, basement or garage. In a nutshell, worm compost is made in a container filled with moistened bedding and red worms. You will need one pound of red wiggler worms to handle up to 3 pounds of kitchen scraps per week in a bin that should be at least 16” (wide) x 19” (long) x 12”(deep).
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also make your own bin! Some basic instructions for building a worm bin can be found at the end of this text.
Choose a bin Build a bin out of wood or use a plastic storage container and adopt it for composting. The bin should be at least 12” deep, around 16” wide and 19” long, have a tight lid and holes on the bottom and sides for drainage and ventilation.
Pick a Place Locate your bin where it will not freeze or overheat, temperature range should be between 40∞F to 85∞F. A good place could be a pantry, kitchen corner, garage or basement. Do not place the worm-bin next to a radiator. The worm-bin can be kept in a shady place outdoors from May through October, but needs to be inside for the winter.
Bedding Down the Worms Worms like to live under lots of moist paper or leaves, which helps them stay cool and moist, giving them fiber to eat. Use regular newsprint black or color ink paper, but no glossy inserts, and shred to make 1 inch-wide strips. To moisten the paper, soak it in a bucket filled with water. Squeeze out paper so it is not dripping wet, and fluff to fill the bin 3/4 of the way – that is 9” of fluffy, moist newspaper. Now, you can add your red wiggler worms. Put them on top of the bedding and watch them disappear, as they will naturally disperse into their new home.
Maintaining Your Worm Bin Feed worms by always burying the kitchen-scraps underneath the newspaper. Add moist newspaper as needed to keep a 4” to 6” layer of bedding over the food.
DO Feed Your Worms:
All fruit and vegetable trimmings including citrus
Coffee grounds and filters
Crushed egg shells
Used paper towels
Soft green plant trimmings
DON'T Feed Your Worms:
Meat, bones and fish
Dairy products and grease
Dog, cat or bird feces
Non-biodegradeable items such as plastic
All organic matter is broken down initially by naturally occurring microorganisms. To speed up this process kitchen scraps should be cut into small one-inch pieces. This initial ‘rotting’ process allows the worms to digest the organic materials.
Keep Bedding Moist, but avoid wet conditions. If your bin has too much moisture, add dry bedding, such as paper-towels, to absorb excess moisture and/or keep lid ajar. If bedding dries out on edges, spray to remoisten it.
If more and more worms are in your box, you might want to remove some. Red wigglers make great gifts and can be put in outdoor compost piles. If no worms are removed, the population will self-regulate.
Harvesting and Using Worm Castings Congratulations! You have produced your own natural fertilizer to top-dress your houseplants or to line planting holes in you garden. Street tree pits will also benefit from the vermin-compost. Worm-castings are full of beneficial microbes and nutrients to power new plant growth instead of wasting away in a landfill. Harvest worm castings every two to three months to keep the worm population healthy, since castings become toxic to the worms over time. Start the harvesting process by not feeding your worms for two weeks. Then pile all the crumbly, dark worm-castings in one half of your bin, and place fresh bedding together with undigested paper, etc. in the other half. Resume feeding your worms, but add all food to the fresh bedding. Within two weeks worms will migrate to the new food and finished castings can be removed almost worm-free!!
... the places that are feeling water stress now are going to feel more in the future because snow will melt faster, bringing a decline in summertime stream flows. And as Mr. Salazar observed on Monday, this reordering of natural water supplies “will mean significant potential dislocations to the economy and the environment.”
Furthermore, federal officials, in releasing the report, hoped:
to create or bolster a sense of urgency among Western water managers who are planning for the future.
Now to the point of this post. The cause of this coming shortage of water, according to the federal report, is climate change.
In other words, if you don't believe in climate change, then you wouldn't believe the conclusions of this report. You wouldn't believe that it would be necessary to prepare for water shortage in your region, if you're from the southwest.
So my honest question for you is this:
Are you prepared to put your money where your mouth is and not prepare for the water shortage--since you don't believe in climate change? Are you prepared to risk your crops, livestock, economy and drinking water?
Here is a note I just sent out to friends and since you are my friend, too:
Sorry for group email. I'm just writing to a group of friends who have, at one time or another, expressed interest in my Zen school.
This Friday, April 15, we have a very unusual event happening. Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Bobby Rhodes), who is the guiding teacher of the entire Kwan Um School of Zen, will be visiting and giving a dharma talk along side our resident NYC Zen Master Wu Kwang (Richard Shrobe).
Bobby has a charismatic every day feel and Richard is very deeply steeped in Buddhist history and tradition (he has authored several compelling books on Zen). The combination of the two of them will be amazing (their bios are below the sign off).
[UPDATE: It turns out that ZM Soeng Hyang has been detained by the untimely death of a dharma brother and so won't be there. But the inimitable ZM Wu Kwang will be. So come just the same!]
I certainly will be there and I hope you can come too. The talk starts at 7:45 PM on Friday and is at 400 E 14th St, Apt 2D/E (just east of 1st Ave). Don't be confused: the building offers no outward appearance that there is a Zen center inside, but there is!
Hope to see you there!
All the best,
Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes) is the School Zen Master and Guiding Dharma Teacher of the Kwan Um School of Zen. She received dharma transmission from Zen Master Seung Sahn on October 10, 1992. She was one of Zen Master Seung Sahn's first American students and studied with him since 1972. She was given inka in 1977. A registered nurse since 1969, she works for Hospice Care of Rhode Island. She helped found Providence Zen Center, and lived there for seventeen years, serving in a number of administrative capacities. Zen Master Soeng Hyang has a daughter and lives with her partner, Mary, in Massachusetts.
Zen Master Wu Kwang, (Richard Shrobe) is guiding teacher of the Chogye International Zen Center of New York and lives in New York with his family. Before he began practicing Zen he studied intensively with Swami Satchidananda, living with his wife and children for four years at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York. He has a Master’s degree in Social Work and did six years of postgraduate study in Gestalt, including training with Laura Perls. He has been director of a drug program, and has served as an instructor in psychiatry and Gestalt therapy. He started practicing with Zen Master Seung Sahn in 1975 and was given inka in 1984. He received dharma transmission on August 1, 1993. A former professional musician, his undergraduate training was in music theory, and he also studied with jazz pianist, Barry Harris. Currently he has a private practice in psychotherapy specializing in the Gestalt approach. He has written three books: Open Mouth Already a Mistake, Don’t Know Mind: The Spirit of Korean Zen, and Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans, all available from from Amazon.com.
Click here Two years ago we launched the No Impact Project, a charitable effort to get new citizens engaged in the quest for a way of life that is both good for our habitat and for people. As a result, people around the world are getting involved and making an effort. Please click on the link to find out more and to financially support our efforts.