World Citizens are Greening Our Cities

DairyCowsNZ.jpg

One of the disadvantages of living in New Zealand, I have decided, is that our abundance of space shields us from the environmental problems of large populations. Yet if we are to shield ourselves from the effects of global warming, we must take immediate steps towards a cleaner, chemical-reduced, sustainable lifestyle.

I often check out the websites Thrive.com and WakeUpWorld.com for the innovative news I hear about what others are already doing towards sustainable lifestyles. These are people who have a passion. But they also have something even rarer – they have chosen to step outside their comfort zones, act on their ideas and tell their story to the world – one ear at a time.

If you ever find yourself thinking: “I can’t do anything about global warming and the coming world calamities” then open up and watch/read the links I have added below.

Part 1

How 1 MILLION Pounds Of Organic Food Can Be Produced On 3 Acres

Part 2

How 1 MILLION Pounds Of Organic Food Can Be Produced On # Acres

To show you an example of what these urban dwelling eco-warriors are doing, I have embedded a video:

State of the Re:Union – A Food Revolution in Milwaukee

Here waste spaces are turned into green oases in the middle of a major city. The ideas are equally transferrable to your home town or your backyard shared with a neighbour.

Buying the Advertising Dream

The concept of individualism, that has dominated the last half of last century, and still does in the first decades of this century, works insidiously against the potential of what we can do together. By keeping us focused on doing things alone, advertising is able to drive wedges where they should never be. It’s the old message of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ only the Jones family is struggling to afford things just as much as we are.

Each night we are fed ‘dissatisfaction’.

We learn we do NOT have:

  • A properly shaped body
  • The perfect face
  • The dream car(s), boats, holiday houses, camper vans
  • The correctly labelled clothes
  • The aesthetically decorated large houses
  • The right technological devices or appliances
  • The medications that will prolong our lives
  • The mind-blowing entertainment

The advertising promise, no matter how subtle, is to convince us we are failures for our LACK, and that by buying the advertised goods our lives will be WHOLE again. So we spend our money on trying to fill that deep well of LACK and get ourselves further into debt.

We Cannot Turn Back the Clock …

                         … but we can remember the best of the past

What is wrong with turning off the television (the pipe of propaganda) and:

  • Joining a group (or many groups) and sharing experiences
  • Committing ourselves to a cause
  • Inviting the neighbours to shared meals
  • Pledging the money we save by not buying the newest gadget to support other people in our community
  • Sharing our musical talents by singing or playing together
  • Giving our time and energy to support school education for our children

By joining forces with others we can make magical things happen. Imagine if you and a few mates could get together in your neighbourhood and buy a plastic recycling plant and produce fuel to share? You think it’s not possible? Then watch this video.

Plastic to Oil Fantastic Recycling Machine

This machine is so small it can be set up and operated in villages in Africa–so why not in so-called developed nations?

 

What holds us back?

Is it that we have helped to create, and demanded of our governments, so many rules we’ve ‘ruled’ ourselves into a state of atrophy?

Are we just plain scared of getting to know people in our community?

Regardless of how we got here, what the world needs now is innovators and those who are prepared to get onto the court to make a difference. In other words: World Citizens.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

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Low Impact Developments – Defining a Vision

Home buyers, and some real estate developers, are realising the impact of subdivisions on the environment and are looking at ways of minimising the environmental harm from building new. The movement to protect the environment (global and local) is also being led by enlightened local bodies which enact bylaws to meet Low Impact standards.

In Great Britain is this Stoneham Green affordable housing development near Southampton which, Green Building Press reports, is one of the UK’s first to achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 because of its utilisation of Biomass digesters amongst other energy-saving techniques. The focus here is on energy conservation. Other developments stress different benefits of sustainability.

What makes a dwelling Low Impact?

Before we can establish laws for sustainable, low impact housing we really need to understand and define what we are talking about. ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Low Impact’ are such easy words to throw around, especially when they refer to houses or buildings, but it is vital that the same definitions are held in everyone’s head.

A survey of definitions throws up a range of yardsticks used to measure Low Impact Dwellings, both in how they physically affect their surroundings to how they affect the people who live in them,

Simon Fairlie definition

Low impact dwellings (LID), in the UK sense of the term, was described by Simon Fairlie, a former editor of The Ecologist magazine (*1), in 1996 as: “development that through its low impact either enhances or does not significantly diminish environmental quality.” (*2)

For Simon Fairlie: living the good life gave him a clearer perspective of what is meant by ‘Low Impact Development (LID)

Fairlie later went on to study the ‘green’ assumptions of diet when he wrote a book ‘Meat: a Benign Extravagance’, in which he challenges conventional thinking about the sustainability of the vegan and vegetarian diets. He claims we ignore the high impact on resources necessary (and travel distances required) to gather vegan/vegetarian food and that feeding animals on waste food production could have less impact on the environment.

During his time with The Ecologist, Fairlie wrote: “Neither the term (Low Impact Dwelling) nor the concept was new. People have been living low impact lifestyles in low impact buildings for centuries; indeed until very recently the majority of people in the world lived that way.” (*3 ) In 2009 Fairlie revised his definition of a LID as: “development which, by virtue of its low or benign environmental impact, may be allowed in locations where conventional development is not permitted.” (*4)

Does low impact require fewer restrictions?

He explained: “I prefer this revised definition because wrapped up in it is the main argument; that low impact buildings need not be bound by the restrictions necessary to protect the countryside from ‘conventional’ high impact development ­ a.k.a. suburban sprawl. There are two other principle arguments in favour of LID:

  • (i) that some form of exception policy is necessary because conventional housing in a countryside protected from sprawl becomes too expensive for the people who work there; and
  • (ii) soon we will all have to live more sustainable low impact lifestyles, so pioneers should be encouraged.” (*5)

The LID connection with land

Others have expanded on the definition. A study by the University of West England (*6) acknowledged that: “LID is usually integrally connected with land management and as much as describing physical development, LID also describes a form of livelihood.” (*7) However, it also states that as LID is a “multi featured and intrinsically integrated form of development,” a simple definition cannot capture the meaning of LID and goes on to develop “a detailed themed definition with detailed criteria.”

No simple definition of Low Impact

In 2013, Dr Larch Maxey (*8) held the main features of LID to be:

  • locally adapted, diverse and unique
  • based on renewable resources
  • of an appropriate scale
  • visually unobtrusive
  • enhances biodiversity
  • increases public access to open space
  • generates little traffic
  • linked to sustainable livelihoods
  • co-ordinated by a management plan

Government commitment to Low Impact Dwellings

Already European countries, perhaps faced more obviously by the results of decades of disregard for the environment, are looking at options for low impact development. For example: all new homes in the UK are to be carbon-neutral by 2016

Low Impact must reach beyond buildings

In New Zealand, Claire Mortimer, Landcare Research November 12, 2010, posed the question: “Can we design cities to cleanse urban waterways and increase NZ’s biodiversity? Low Impact Urban Design and Development (LIUDD) is an approach which works with nature, using design features such as rain gardens and green roofs to reduce pollutants entering urban streams and harbours, while creating green spaces for NZ plants and animals to live in and green spaces for people to enjoy.”

This concept acknowledges the role many plants play in neutralising or filtering excess pollutants from waste water. While green roofs are catching on in other parts of the world (e.g. France where laws insist new houses must have either solar or rooftop gardens), in areas where water is captured for household use in holding tanks a green roof is not practical. We also have to decide if the green roof is sustainable – will people maintain the roof garden without coercion?

Sustainable water systems

With environmental warming extreme weather patterns are hitting every country. Even in our area in Golden Bay we experienced such an event. Water is very powerful and can cause unimaginable damage – and this is an area where roof water is captured in household tanks.

Rain runoff must be part of the consideration for low impact development

Can you imagine how much worse the damage would have been without tanks to reduce the runoff?

The household water tank is a relatively cheap way of reducing immediate run-off in extreme weather events. However, systems for later disposal of used (grey) water are not so cheap, especially if the water is intended only for watering a vegetable garden. Roof captured water has fallen out of favour, in that we have come to believe it is full of impurities that must be removed. Just how much of that belief is related to location and how much to superstition is unclear. The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand focus only on public supply and so strive for optimum absence of any level of pollutants.

So what are the differences in impact (health, environment and cost) between a water system that reduces or eliminates storm water run-off through tanks and water treatment on site, and one that simply removes the runoff from the house site and at the same time delivers treated water via another public pipeline?

And this is where we come up against the differences in definition – in Canada and the US the definition used to describe low-impact development is based in a planning and engineering design approach to managing storm water runoff, while in Britain the definition is used for developments which provide little or no environmental impact, such as the housing estate pictured above.

According to the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities blog: “The fundamental principle of low-impact development is that it’s better – both for people’s pocketbooks and for streams – to prevent storm runoff than it is to treat it (the water). That means building green roofs and rain gardens, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and using porous concrete and pavers.”

To balance a healthy water supply with sustainability is a challenge. Mains supply requires regular maintenance and repair of many kilometres of pipes from a treatment source. Using individual collection puts the onus of treating and maintenance on that individual. An interesting table (though totally without data) is published on the Government Health Education website. The message seems to be for a sustainable individual water supply all you need is household bleach regularly administered.

New versus old

While our focus is on changing bylaws to allow new low impact sustainable developments, we cannot turn our back on helping owners of low value housing stock to lower their environmental impact. For many, the cost required to upgrade is beyond them for the very reason that they live in low value housing.

We cannot advocate for new development as a panacea for fixing the problems of sustainability. As a Landcare Research initiative discovered, “Retrofitting an existing old building is always a challenge. We worked with the family … to build their awareness and ability to manage the ongoing operational decisions involved with balancing energy and water cost savings with comfort and health improvements.” Nor can we ensure that new low impact designs will always house people who understand their responsibility in the process.

Affordability

New Zealand construction and housing companies are catching on to the idea of ‘sustainability’, but it is hard to marry that with the cost of such a home.

Here are some New Zealand examples:

  • Ekohome offers a range of affordable eco houses that have been specifically designed “to be flexible, sustainable and within the price reach of ordinary New Zealanders at just 5%-10% above the cost of a standard NZ home”;
  • ebode “provides architecturally designed passive solar homes for New Zealanders”;
  • The Zero Energy House company incorporates passive and solar energy, rain water collection and grey water disposal systems to reach its claim to zero energy.

However, if you look at their house designs, extravagance of space is an obvious issue. When these low impact houses must compete for buyers with extravagant house plans, as seen in some recent developments around Christchurch, genuine low impact houses such a Little Greenie will wilt in comparison. We have been sold the House Beautiful concept for too long. We actually need to question why we need so much space to live in – ourselves included!

Issues to be addressed

Any move toward sustainable housing development has to address:

  • Education – landlords, renters, owners, local government and even MPs to make them aware of the economic and social benefits of low impact development
  • Affordable access – are new low impact homes only for the middle-class?
  • Building materials – why are the costs so high in New Zealand and should we import cheaper housing materials despite the social implications?
  • Economic system – will the economic system of loans coming only from Banks at relatively high interest continue to put low impact development out of the reach of most New Zealanders?
  • Maori (first people’s) values – has low impact development been ‘captured’ by European values / are Maori values being overlooked?

These questions are not posed for YES/NO answers; they are asked to generate discussion and to trigger some innovative thinking.

Further Learning

PDF academic research document on Providing Incentives for Low-Impact Development

Booklet on Low Impact Development from British perspective

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ecologist

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-5

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-Pic kerill-6

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-Pic kerill-6

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-Pic kerill-6

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_West_England

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-West_England-7

8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-impact_development_%28UK%29#cite_note-8

By Heather Sylvawood

When PayPal founder Eion Musk creates batteries for solar energy collection …

… you know that you need to take notice

For years I’ve been plagued by emails about Tesla power. First about a perpetual energy generator that you could build yourself, and not being remotely skilled in engineering I kept deleting them or sending them to spam. But now I have to take them seriously.

It’s all the news on solar energy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, has been using his fortune to create an electric car and now a battery that can charge it.

The battery sits on a wall (pictured here in a garage) and currently can produced 7-10kWh of power. That’s equivalent to a household using 5000kWh power per month.

“Musk said that the batteries will have thermal management systems to allow them to power houses in hot and cold climates, too—the batteries have an operating temperature range of -20C (-4F) to 43C (110F).” according to a report in ARS Technica.

Working with major solar energy company

The press release says that in the US Tesla will be working with international company Solar City to develop a total package of installation (you still need to install enough panels to charge the battery).

And here is the man himself enthusing over the potential benefits of the new Powerwall battery system:

Eion Musk announces a major step forward in solar energy batteries

The video announcement: Tesla Powerwall Keynote by Elon Musk “The Missing Piece” – was published on May 1, 2015 – so it’s very recent news. It’s also news you need to take notice of, news you need to follow and perhaps put pressure on your solar installers to make sure you’re first in line when they hit your shores.

Heather Sylvawood, @eBrainz, Amazon Author

Why does aluminium feature in vaccines?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Got to Additional Comment at the bottom if you have already seen this blog post.

I started researching the information available on the internet about the amount of metals administered in vaccines after reading this article about the Gardasil Vaccine and how countries are taking legal action against the manufacturers of the vaccine which was supposedly developed to protect young woman from becoming victims of cervical cancer.

In one family’s personal search for a cure for their daughter’s auto-immune reaction to the series of three injections I read two stand-out facts:

  • The world (of young women) did not need a new (inadequately tested) vaccine as there was already a centuries old method of protection – condoms. Not only do condoms protect from the sexually transmitted diseases they protect from other nasty’s.
  • The active ingredient of the Gardasil vaccine was held in a solution containing a large amount of metals – namely aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate.

I started doing some more research and the following quotes have come from people who have been badly affected by the vaccine that was supposed to protect them from cervical cancer.

Personal experiences

Audrey Kitching in her June 2009 blog reported her illness after having only two of the series of three injections:

“I saw every specialist and doctor in the area. No one could figure out what was wrong with me. They kept finding large amounts of chemicals and metals in my body. Doctors thought it may be my dental fillings. I got two surgery’s to remove all the metal with oxygen tanks. I started a metal detox program and was put on an all organic no wheat, no gluten, no dairy, no sugar and no soy diet. I was taking 76 supplements a day just to function since January, now I am only taking about 20 a day.”

This is common theme in the experiences I read about.

According to Kristine Clulow from Australia, quoted on the Sanevax website (where you will discover hundreds of other affect young women):

“Approximately two months ago (mid-2014), I had a hair mineral analysis test conducted. This required taking a small portion of untreated hair out and sending it to a lab for testing. This test showed up that my body was high in Aluminum (a major ingredient in Gardasil), and that my body was not absorbing the nutrients from food. As such, I have booked in to see a dietician to resolve this issue.”

Symptoms

The girls who were struck down were usually healthy, active young women who suddenly became lethargic and complained of pains. Many girls reported symptoms of constant (excruciating) headache, sore throats, swollen glands, chest pains, dizziness with black outs, weakness, abdominal pain, muscle and back pain, brain fog, trouble concentrating and short term memory and gastro-intestinal problems.  They were often open to virus and infections and took many weeks to throw off the infection.

These symptoms are all possible indicators of metal poisoning.

TeaTree, Lavender,OliveOil and other essential oils and herbs help to detox a chemical=laden body.

As each family failed to get help from conventional specialists they would look at alternative therapies. One family said: “Neuro training, brain training, osteopathy, detoxing, a strict diet, supplements and more alternative treatments all helped to improve her health.”

Diet has proved important for many and the process of detoxing.

What do Vaccines contain?

The University of Oxford has this to say about the make-up of vaccines:

“The key ingredient in all vaccines is the active ingredient. This is the part that challenges the immune system so that it makes antibodies that can fight the disease. Apart from this, the main ingredient in vaccines is water. Most injected vaccines contain 0.5 millilitres of liquid, in other words a few drops. All other ingredients weigh a few milligrams (thousandths of a gram) or even less.

“Vaccine ingredients can look unfamiliar. However, it is important to remember that many of the substances used in vaccines are found naturally in the body. For example, many vaccines contain salts based on sodium and potassium, which are essential for life. People may think of formaldehyde as a man-made chemical, but in small quantities it is also found naturally in the bloodstream.”

Unfortunately these few milligrams of chemicals, salts and metals react with some people and cause immeasurable damage.

Says Audrey Kitching: “Gardasil contains 225 cmg of aluminum in each shot. There are 3 injections in each vaccine that is 675cmg of aluminum. Do you understand how toxic that is alone without all the other ingredients.”

Chemical cocktails with lethal hangover

Despite the University of Oxford’s assurances above here are the ingredients that I found in 2 (TWO) vaccines:

  • Aluminum phosphate,
  • Formaldehyde,
  • Glutaraldehyde,
  • 2-phenoxyethanol,
  • Aluminum hydroxide,
  • Aluminum phosphate,
  • Calf serum,
  • Lactalbumin hydrolysate,
  • Glutaraldhyde,
  • Neomycin sulfate,
  • Sodium chloride,
  • Polymyxin B,
  • Polysorbate 80,
  • Yeast protein

The potential side effects from these vaccines included: Vomiting, redness or swelling, fever, tiredness or poor appetite, seizures, serious allergic reaction, brain damage (very rare), drowsiness, fainting, irritability, joint pain, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea,  upper respiratory tract infection, shock, brachial neuritis.

You can read about more of them at Generation Rescue’s website.

Yellow Fever vaccine

Gardasil is not the only modern medication (vaccine to have caused violent reactions in some people. Yellow fever vaccine has also affected hundreds. Following her husband’s horrific brain injury after receiving an injection against Yellow Fever, Trine Villemann decided to do some investigations of her own.

“Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of the yellow fever vaccine, denies any link between the vaccine and my husband’s illness. However in May 2013 the vaccine-maker for the first time admitted that my husband is not the only one who has been sent mad by the yellow fever vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur admitted to ‘fewer than 10 reports of mental disorders related to the vaccine, including Mr Brabant’s’, but I have investigated this and found hundreds more.

“At the WHO Monitoring Centre in Uppsala they have gathered at least 400 reports of yellow fever vaccine-related adverse events involving mental disorders over the past ten years.”

People are not lab rats

These people are not lab rats that pharmaceutical companies might see as expendable casualties in a mass vaccination program – they are people whose lives have been ruined and some cases killed by the vaccine that was supposed to cure them. We should expect more of the health industry.

Additional comment:

Since writing this I have become aware that respected doctors are also concerned about the use of metals in vaccines, including the ‘flu vaccine:

http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/dr-oz-warns-about-mercury-in-flu-shots/

Please view this video if you have similar concerns to me.

Cool fun in the solar system

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Go searching around the internet and you discover all these amazing people sharing equally amazing information.

Today, investigating solar energy I came across this website and Blog: https://www.mysolarquotes.co.nz/blog/. I recommend you take a read if you are remotely interested in installing solar on your roof top. The founder, Kristy Hoare, has an Honours degree in Marketing and has worked in the solar power industry for over five years. The service offered by the website is finding you the best quotes for installation in your area.

Kirsty also gathers together news, views and experiments in solar energy use such as these: Cool sun glasses that also keep you in touch with your friends by re-charging your cell phone.

>>>

Stay charged on holiday

Another trend I have been watching for is a New Zealand company in Christchurch which has developed an easily transportable solar battery pack. The company says the flexible panel can charge anything up to a laptop or tablet – simply place the panel on a sunny surface and have the device in a cooler, shady spot, link them through the extension socket and away you go – perfect for summer camping or a break on your tramping holiday.

Transportable, light-weight and energy efficient solar panel

At under $500 (inc GST) this product is a gift – unfortunately currently out of stock. I’ve been waiting for the price to come down so that I could justify the purchase and keep my writing going over our summer camping weeks. Now I’ll have to keep checking back to when they have them in stock again.

However, another option I could use is their Power Bank 60 Battery Pack that has a high power USB port to power all your smart phones, laptops and tablets. The great thing is that you can use one of their range of single solar panels to charge the battery pack. How neat is that?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Don’t be overwhelmed by environmental issues

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Just had an email from a good friend who said: “There are no end of things we have to fight against and for these days”. And it does feel overwhelming if you’ve subscribed to receive newsletters and email announcement from various social campaign groups. More and more issues are emerging because social media is connecting us.

World environmental problems overwhelm us

How easy would it be to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s problems? How easy it would be to feel we have to fight every unethical company in the world? We assume it would be near impossible for one individual to make a difference – but is the answer to sink into lethargy?

Taking ethical action

The reality is that individuals are taking ethical action. They’re not taking on the world or ALL the big corporations who act unethically, without regard to the citizens of the world. They’re taking on one issue and acting on that.

Let’s look at some of the groups I personally know about which stand for a more ethical future :

Project Jonah – Whale rescue teams training others to act quickly whenever there is a whale stranding. They also speak out about issues that are becoming apparent for these amazing sea-going mammals.

The Sum Of Us –  a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.

Upworthy – a social media site with a focus on entertaining and enlightening. For those enrolled to receive notifications expect a steady stream of links that could shock or enlighten.  Because it’s shareable, ethical and enlightening stuff Upworthy is enabling us to  spread the word.

Greenpeace – The environmental movement that has been actively defying nations in its determination to stop environmental degradation of ecologically vulnerable areas, wildlife and peoples. Although there was no one founder (five people are given credit on the web page) the over-arching philosophy is: ‘Greenpeace exists because this fragile Earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action!’ The group has received varying reviews because of its members’ determination to be heard and its startling tactics.

Causes – This is the place to discover, support and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around the issues that impact you and your community. From fundraising for individuals who need support for life-saving operations to petitions about child-abuse or to stop GMO production, the topics are diverse but always about an ethical issue facing the world populations.

Revealing ethical or environmental stories

Each of the above groups were started by friends/acquaintances with the similar views – individuals who recognised that alone they could do little to cause change, but together they could use social media/the Internet to educate and join forces with millions.

They were activists. They had the courage to step outside of their comfort zones and be counted. They stopped fearing that they would be ridiculed for having an absurd idea. They stopped listening to the naysayers and the disbelievers. They felt the fear and did it anyway.

Safeguards against suppressing information

The Internet, in fact, was the key to getting the ‘other story’ out to the millions who had always believed the ‘official version’.  Why do you think that totalitarian states want to shutdown or censor internet access to their populations? Why do governments (even so-called democracies) try to counteract breaking stories about unethical activity by putting a new ‘spin’ on the stories?

Note: The word ‘spin doctor’ is only a recent addition to our language – it wasn’t in my Pocket Oxford of 1975 or even in my Collins Concise in 1995.

No group of worthy causes would be complete with out mention of Wikimedia which was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means. Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia on January 15, 2001. Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, has become one of the most visited sites for verification of information. Because of its policy that information can be edited and updated by anyone, the chances that information can be suppressed is greatly reduced.

Changing the standards you live by

Many people have felt the fear and taken a step into the unknown with an ethical idea. Here are a couple:

Snap Judgement – jointly founded by Glynn Washington – Host & Executive Producer and Mark Ristich – Executive Producer, Snap Judgement aims to bring ‘community’ back into community radio at a time when most home-grown shows are struggling to survive. According to the show’s website: before creating the Snap Judgment radio show, ‘Glynn worked as an educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper’. Boy, does the World need plenty of those!

The Secret – Many of you will know about Australian Rhonda Byrne and her life-changing film The Secret. Not only did Rhonda turn her whole life around, she and her writing have brought a new positive outlook to many. Critics claim that the people she has influenced are being deluded. According to the website: Skeptoid “The “secret” turns out to be nothing more than the old motivational speaker’s standby, that positive thinking leads to positive results.” However, if millions of people are feeling happier through applying her ‘discoveries’ won’t that lift the collective energy and inspire more of us to step outside our comfort zones and help others?

Taking personal ethical action

When an email arrives in our inbox urging us to act on behalf of some cause, what happens to us:

  • We feel concerned/annoyed/uncomfortable
  • We might feel embarrassed by what our friends will think of us if we take action or pass on the information
  • We pick and choose who we’ll share it with
  • We wonder if our account is being monitored by the Secret Service and whether we’re risking promotion/economic survival if we speak out

That’s pretty much where I was a few months ago. But recently I’ve decided: “What the heck. These issues are too important to be ignored.” I’m also heartened at the number of people who ‘Like’ what I stand for and are brave enough to ‘Share’. That says to me there is a ground swell of concerned citizens of the World who are based in love and want to protect what is precious no matter what the cost.

An example of personal action

I’m going to end this post with a lovely example of two men who are taking personal action. It is a story that shows you don’t have to reach the world to take environmental action, but you can make a profound difference.

The story from China comes via another social sharing site: Bored Panda. Disabled pair plant 10,000 trees in China.

So whatever you do, whether its visit a sick neighbour, singing in church, writing a book or starting a world movement, YOU are contributing to a better world.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The Moment Me Becomes You

… or when understanding strikes

I have had a few moments of intense understanding (you might call them epiphanies) when the way I operate in the world shifts forever onto a new axis. I had one today and it reminded me of a previous one which both seem to be interrelated. It seems churlish not to share them, though for YOU they may not hold the same impact.

The first moment was during a second Landmark Forum. My view of Landmark had been clouded by rumours that it was a cult, demanding greater and greater commitment (and course fees) from participants as they progressed through brain-washing courses. I wasn’t going to be taken in, I assured myself. And I wasn’t! The gift of insight I was given, however, has lasted the rest of my life and will continue to do so.

One Way Stream of Insight

I’d gone along to the first and second forums because I felt that some of the insights they offered made sense and could be applied to my life. I looked at the organisation as a group offering something to ME. I would take from it what I wanted and leave the rest.

My moment of insight came when we were confronted with a diagram of where we fit in the World – our world view. It looked something like this:

Landmark1

We were, the Landmark leader assured us, one and the same as our involvement in those links/groups we identified with. I did NOT merely see myself as a single entity – I saw myself as ‘part of’. Each ‘part of’ we identified ourselves with brought us closer to being world citizens. In other words, the World would not exist unless we all saw ourselves as ‘part of’ a larger whole, and just by seeing ourselves like that we were the whole.

It was one of those hair on the back of your neck experiences. I suddenly realised:

  • I was responsible for YOU and ME
  • I was responsible for the health of the world
  • What I did mattered – for good or mediocre – doing nothing has never been an option

Every cell in my body reverberated with the enormity of what I had just realised. I was excited and stunned by this new filter through which I viewed the world and everyone I met.

When selecting ‘best’ excludes the rest

That was the first moment when ME became YOU. The second moment happened this morning.

I was sharing a reading of Rhonda Byrne’s book “The Power” with my partner Tre, when we came to a quotation of Gautama Buddha (563 – 483 BC):

“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”

It’s not a unique quotation; many religions have similar rules, quotations from prophets or religious texts. What struck me was my thoughts on hearing this quote.

“Buddha’s wisdom and the wisdom of those who represent him on Earth is full of peace and kindness. Perhaps I should become a Buddhist?”

Then I thought: “If I became a Buddhist I wouldn’t be able to follow the teachings of other great prophets and thinkers.”

“By choosing the best I would exclude the rest.”

And back came my learning from that Landmark Forum. Only this time it looked like this:

Landmark2

That central ME part, given that is also a part of my community, organisations I support, my country and the world, is also filled with the other YOU’s of the world – the people like Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and YOU who are reading this blog. We are all putting into the world and we are all receiving back from the world; and what we receive back is equivalent to what we send out. So if we judge, or gossip “pain follows him” but if we think or speak with kind thoughts “happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him”.

I do not have to choose who to follow: great teachers and wise people are standing on the same footprint as I am. That’s the moment when ME becomes YOU.

Heather Sylvawood, 2015

How Can You Hate ‘Hate’?

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The news from Pakistan is horrifying – 140 plus dead, many more injured, and most of them school children. All killed in the name of ‘honour’ or ‘religion’.

Like many of you, my heart was overcome with sorrow and my mind by disbelief. I felt angry that ‘someone’ wasn’t able to stop them. What was the Pakistan Government doing about the Taliban? Why don’t the World Forces track them down and kill them?

That’s when I realised how I was being swept up in the wave of grief and anger that always arises when senseless killings are carried out. I realised I was contributing to the hatred that spawns groups like the Taliban and allows them to recruit zealous supporters.

How Intolerance Breeds Extremists

The Taliban can only exist in a climate of ‘difference’ or intolerance – of ‘have and have not’ or ‘you’ve got what belongs to me’. When extreme organisations attract people prepared to give their lives in support of their cause the organisation cannot control the lengths to which these men are prepared to go in cruelty.

The activists of the Taliban were someone’s precious baby boy, someone’s adored toddler … then the hatred seeped in. Somewhere in their family of birth those Taliban men (and women) learned to hate. They learned to hate because they saw injustice and became tired of trying peaceful means to be heard. They wanted to belong to something strong and effective and brutal in order to ‘pay back’ the people they saw as not listening/taking away their power.

I can’t stop the Taliban; I doubt even the Pakistan Army will be able to wipe them out. And I suspect, just as all wars end in negotiations around a table, somewhere someone will grow weary of the conflict, will rein in the extremist factions of the organisation and start talking.

So why does my anger contribute to the hate?

How does personal anger keep the conflict going?

Unless I quiet my heart and mind and think of others with love, unless I act in a way that does not tolerate hatred or anger, I am no different.

Unless I stop myself from looking at other people’s DIFFERENCES and judging them, I am no better. Okay, I am highly unlikely to take up a gun and kill someone randomly, but then I do not feel deprived or unheard. I simply live in a different part of the world with a different history.

All of us have been affected by a war, whichever side our ancestors fought on. Every side believed they had ‘right on their side’ when they went into the conflict – the other side was to be despised or hated because they didn’t believe in our version of the TRUTH.

I will try not to let their actions breed violence in my heart

I believe, as the quantum physicists are discovering, that the energy I give out affects people around me – you may not. I believe that attitudes of intolerance, superiority and hatred worn like a mantle to protect me do nothing of the sort – they put me at risk. Instead, I am trying (as are many others) to find a way of looking at all people with love and compassion. That doesn’t mean I condone what these members of the Taliban, or any other warring faction, has done; it does mean I will try not to let their actions breed violence in my heart.

If we look at the differences between us they can engender fear. If we look at our mutual needs they are all the same:

  1. Shelter
  2. Food
  3. Caring family relationships
  4. Love

And education about our similarities so that the next generation of children do not feel disaffected enough to join a militant group.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author