Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ordinary love and Proposition 8

You may have noticed that Rose, the journalist telling the story of the Village of Ordinary, lives and loves with her lifelong partner, Cheyenne.

Ordinary is an inclusive community. Because children are born to families who want them; because as the title of the book says, the people understand "It Takes a Village to raise a child; and because people are raised to fulfill their individual potential in a comforting setting of community and love; prejudice, fear and hatred simply do not exist. (For precedence, see Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh.)

Yet hate, fear and prejudice continue, sometimes for the color of our skin, sometimes for the faith we practice, sometimes for the people we love and who love us. So it is with astonished gratitude that I watched this video of a mainstream newscaster, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, giving a bold, impassioned plea to the people of California who voted away, last month, the rights of gays and lesbians, under their constitution, to marry the loves of their lives.

Listen to Mr. Olbermann's comments regarding California's Proposition 8 and tell me what you think.

Now that is someone helping to make the vision of Ordinary real. Thank you, Mr. Olbermann.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

USDA trying to shut down family-owned organic milk farms?

Clover organic milk carton
Do you eat organic? If you do, very likely you've made a conscious choice to pay a little more for foods stamped "USDA Organic."

Cutaway--USDA Organic seal on milk cartonCongress has charged the US Department of Agriculture with assuring we get what we pay for when we see this seal. You may know that they don't always.

The last eight years have seen USDA interpretations that many feel belie the term organic. Get the lowdown on that, and keep informed on all things organic, through the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

For now, there's a really important USDA proposed rule that could do a whole lot more harm than good where organic milk is concerned. This rule is about to go into effect unless enough of us convince the Feds to give us a little more time to read it and respond. Here's the skinny.

What: USDA proposed rule supposed to "clamp down on giant factory dairy farms ... that violate the spirit and letter of federal organic law by primarily confining their cattle to feedlots," according to organics watchdog The Cornucopia Institute.

Issue: The proposed rule might clamp down on giant factory farms, depending on how allowed exceptions are interpreted, but it is likely it will also close most family-owned operations as well, according to Cornucopia. Additionally, the USDA gave all of us only sixty days to read, review and comment on the proposed rule before making it final. Day sixty is December 23, just nine days from today.

Action Step: Buy us all more time to read and understand this 26-page document of fine-print government doublespeak--Sign the petition requesting 30 days additional review time.

Believe me, we need it. I tried to read the document this evening and got only so far as page seven before my eyes crossed. I'm still not sure what I was reading. On first glance, it seems the government is doing what it says it intends: closing loopholes so mega-farms can't call milk organic that comes from conventional cattle hackle-deep in their own muck and filth in feedlots. Where's the pasture? (Don't be fooled by the bucolic rolling hills on the milk carton.)

On second glance, try to wrap your eyes and brain around all the clauses, references to exceptions in section this and paragraph that of non-linked external documents, and you begin to think you need an attorney to tell you what they really mean by it all.

The OCA and Cornucopia think we all need time to look this thing over. Do a very Ordinary thing just now: read the petition and if you think it has merit, sign it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Playing for change

We interrupt our regularly scheduled post to bring you this treat from Playing for Change: Peace through Music.

Music is a dominant feature in the Village of Ordinary, as important as food and friendship. Mark Johnson, Jonathon Walls and the people of Playing for Change believe music can help the people of the world make peace. They circle the globe, videotaping ordinary street musicians playing the same song, just as you see in the vid above.

That isn't all they do. Go to their website and learn more. Be amazed.

Everywhere I turn, people are building Ordinary, one idea, one video, one committed step at a time. Who do you know who is building a piece of Ordinary? Share the vision. Tell us about it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why are there no corporations in Ordinary?

Did you watch Annie Leonard's vid, The Story of Stuff? If you did, you understand why there are no corporations in the land of Ordinary.

Because the people of Ordinary and her world support themselves and each other fully on the land ...

Because they use only what they need and never more than the land can provide ...

Because each individual is encouraged to find and develop her/his unique talents and abilities and to share those with society ...

Because every individual contributes to the day-to-day upkeep of common buildings and spaces and to growing and gathering food ...

And because the people are indeed their brother's and sister's keepers ...

There is no place for greedy corporations in the land of Ordinary.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. Humankind has yet to evolve to live peacefully without coveting power, things and above-all currency. Yes? No. Remember the Ladakh! In my lifetime, before westerners so corrupted the Ladakhi society, her people lived just so. We humans can do it again.

On Sunday in Should you pay a little more for hormone-free milk?, I showed you a chapter from the three-hour documentary, The Corporation. Think of Leonard's vid as the outline and The Corporation as the full story.

For a motivating shot, watch the movie trailer right now.

I hope it will impel you to take time to watch the entire film. When you realize how deeply the multinational corporations manipulate us, despite our best efforts to resist, you may feel anger as I did, perhaps rage, but also an overwhelming sadness. As the film so poignantly shows again and again, the CEOs themselves do not want to live in the over-crowded, polluted, unhealthy world they are creating in their pursuit of short-term, rapid-gain profits.

On the other hand, there's the Wall Street guy who could think of only one thing on 9-11: "What is this doing to the price of gold?" He saw the tragedy and disaster of 9-11 as an opportunity to make money--a lot of money. Indeed, if news reports were correct, Osama Bin Laden himself planned to make a killing on Wall Street when United Airlines stock plummeted following the strikes.

Watch the film free in 23 segments on YouTube or purchase it from the or rent it on NetFlix iTunes.

I give gratitude for author Joel Bakan, who wrote the book of the same name, filmakers Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott and all the people who shared their vision, talent, time, skill and energy in bringing these messages to us. They show us where we went wrong, at least in part. We can change. On the way to building Ordinary, we've much to do.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Watch and be amazed: The Story of Stuff

In a comment on What if we stopped pouring our cash into the giant pool of money, blogger Carrie Wilson Link reminds us of the Story of Stuff video.

Here's a teaser. After you watch it, follow the link above to view the whole thing. It's twenty minutes and well worth your time.

In ecovillages like Ordinary, conspicuous, frequent consumption is extraordinary. Stewards of the land, villagers tend it carefully. They understand Nature's cycles and consider themselves a part of Nature and her patterns.

This is nothing new. Humankind lived in harmony with Nature for millenia. The question is: How do we return to a less extractive, less consumptive, more healing lifestyle? What would we have to give up? What would we gain? Imagine a world without malls, without endless ribbons of freeway traffic. Imagine a world so quiet you can hear crickets and peepers at night, so dark the stars pop from the velvet sky almost into your hand.

Imagine a world with no mega corporations, no corporate greed, a world where individuals' natural tendency to compassion for one another and care of the earth who feeds us is second nature. Imagine a world like Ordinary. Can you?