Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Two videos have crossed my path which combine a dire warning with a hopeful possibility. I recently saw a video on Link-TV’s weekly show, Global Spirit. The documentary (and companion book) is called “From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers’ Warning.” ( The Kogi people are one of three tribal cultures of the secluded Tairona civilization located in the Sierra Nevada de Marta of Colombia, South America. They are called a civilization because of the level of culture and intellect they have achieved. The shaman elders of the Kogi speak a cogent warning to their “younger brothers” of the modern world: honor the planet, the Mother, before it’s too late. The Kogi call themselves the Elder Brothers who serve as the guardians of life, responsible for holding the world in balance, which they have done continuously for many hundreds of years.

The warning the Kogi make in this film comes from their sense of responsibility as the Elder Brothers, and it is so significant to them that they are temporarily coming out of seclusion just to deliver this message and to protect their sacred sites. The story they tell us is about how the Younger Brothers were asked to leave the Tairona homeland and live in the lands across the sea because of their disobedience to the Elder Brothers and disrespect to the Mother. Many centuries later, the Younger Brothers returned to slaughter, steal from, and subjugate the Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere. To escape the genocide, the Kogi retreated higher into the mountains where they remain to this day.

The Kogi shamans, called Mamas, see these mountains as directly linked to the life-support systems of the planet. The glaciers have retreated from their sacred grounds in the mountain peaks, the green grasses have turned brown, and native species are disappearing rapidly. The Mamas interpret these signs as evidence that too many minerals have been taken from the ground and too many forests have been destroyed. The Mamas can no longer protect the world alone.

The Kogi’s prophetic warning to the Younger Brothers is just this: the bond between humanity and the natural world must be respected or the whole planet will die. To reconnect with the world, the Younger Brothers need to understand that the Mountains are conscious and alive and cannot be walked on without consequences. “The Mountains are dying,” the Mamas said to BBC filmmaker Alan Ereira, “because you have sold the clouds.” (To find out more about the Tairona cause, go to the website

The second film that I’ve come across recently is still in the making, funded by hundreds of ordinary people who will be named in the credits. However, the spokespeople in the film are well-known leaders who represent a wide range of interests in social change and consciousness transformation (e.g., Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, Deepak Chopra, Dennis Kucinich, Fatima Gailani, Melodie Chevalier, Marianne Williamson, May Lee, Lynne Twist, Jason Crowe, and Derrick Ashong).

The trailer for the movie ( has this to say:

“Think of humanity and the planet as one organism. . . . We have arrived at a moment in our evolution where we have to make a choice. From time to time, evolutionary leaps occur and it seems like this may be the moment. The Shift – it’s happening.”

The visuals pan the world with rapid clips of mass demonstrations, activist leaders, humanitarian and environmental organizations, celebrity benefit events, social entrepreneurs, and youth actions. The feeling evoked is a cohesive sense of a global movement that combines the diversity of specific issues (such as peace, climate change, and social equality) into a single groundswell of consciousness at the level of humanity itself. The release date is projected for some time in 2010. “Help finish the movie . . . the first film ever by the collective, for the collective.”

Together, both movies help me to see, as a whole, Gaia’s call for change through those close to her, the Kogi People, and the opportunity for global transformation. With the help of a media feedback loop, we can see the rise of compassion in the consciousness of humanity all over the globe. Perhaps this represents a rise in the awareness of the Planet-as-a-Whole.

Together, these videos give me a sense of a Great Movement of change that is happening on all levels, all at once. Whether or not the destruction continues, change will happen, either toward deadening or creating a new way of being human.

The Kogi still live in the Garden of Eden, while I am cast into a maelstrom of domination and destruction, reaching for the peace of living in my full-circle socio-ecological niche. Maybe my lifeboat through all these changes is less about material self-sufficiency and more about being willing and trained to change myself, like who I think I am.

I am a part of something greater than myself. I am but an atom of this Cosmic Being, just one drop in the churning Sea of Change. I can only do my part and try my best for the good of all. I’d rather light a candle than curse the darkness. I am a Prodigal Child coming back to my Mother, my Source, my Life. I have a long way to go, and the path goes through great grief as well as great joy. Sharing these two eye-opening films with you is my next step on the Way.

Susan Adair
22 February 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


by Hank Stone
February 15, 2010

We Americans know it is unrealistic and foolish to expect a future that works for our children. World peace is Utopian dream. A safe and healthy,sustainable environment is something we can “make progress toward,” but not achieve. Why not?

According to one story, we can’t have Utopia because people are sinful. It’s our human nature. We can make technological progress, but because we can’t rein in our greed and dishonesty and blood lust, we will always muck it up before reaching the Utopian ideal. We must come to Jesus to be saved.

That’s one story we tell ourselves. Here’s another story.

For all of our lifetimes, we have been experiencing progress. That is, each generation has had more opportunities and a higher standard of living than the last. We have been living in the story of progress since the discovery of the New World, which had vast resources and hardly any people. The enterprising “rugged individual,” with freedom and hard work and ingenuity, could prosper. And our prosperity continued to grow for all of living memory.

Progress means we go forward from where we are. That is, we make incremental changes to the status quo, which is pretty good, to get us to an improved future situation.

But we need a growing population to supply new customers, and to support people of retirement age. We need an increasingly large supply of resources to feed the increasing population. And if we stop improving our productivity, our society will be collapse.

Our country’s prosperity also relies on resources from all over the world. To assure access to these resources, we sometimes need to apply military pressure in other countries. That is, we wage wars.

Once entrenched, the war system generates so much money that we now can’t stop it. The war system has become “too big to fail,” and does what it must to keep a flow of new enemies, new fears, new weapons, and new money.

In this second story, we are speeding into the future on a train called Progress. We can’t stop this speeding train, because our population and economic growth cannot exist in a sustainable, steady state. So the train we’re on won’t get us to Utopia.

Why do we need Utopia, since we have ridden the train of Progress so successfully for so long?

The world population today, after doubling twice in the last hundred years, is 6.8 billion human beings.

Meanwhile, scientists warn that world oil production has peaked (or soon will), and will decline. Oil is central to the production of food. Tractor fuel, pesticides, transportation, processing, and retailing all require oil.

Water tables on five continents are dropping, mostly because of irrigation, which accounts for 70% of fresh water use.

Food production increases that have allowed the world to feed its growing population have been largely due to the unsustainable use of oil and irrigation.

So even without economic crises, climate change, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, the train ride will end soon.

The train of Progress cannot slow down without awful human costs. Picture our train speeding across a chasm on a railroad trestle. But the workmen are building the trestle just in front of the train. When they can’t find timbers (oil, fresh water, food) enough to support the train—

To abandon the train of Progress, we would have to do several difficult things.

First, we would have to admit that the story of Progress is unsustainable, and that we need a plan for the future different from continuing past trends. That’s scary and embarrassing.

Second, we would need a new plan for the way forward. This is made difficult by the fact that our cultural stories tell us not just that progress is good, but that only incremental change is possible. Big changes are hard, so VERY big change must be impossible.

Third, the rich and powerful decision-makers of our society like things the way they are. Governments, corporations and the media do the business of the rich, and don’t tell us ordinary people that change is necessary.

Fourth, we would need a world-size get-well plan. The problems we’re talking about are interconnected, and affect the peoples of the world. Furthermore, there is no hope of rescuing our country while the rest of humanity falls into the abyss. We can’t do what needs to be done without the participation of the great majority of ordinary people, worldwide.

Why do I imagine that humankind is up to the challenge?

First, I have a religious belief: The Creation is abundantly good. Life can be difficult, but God has been generous with us. The human future is not assured, but we have been given everything we need to survive and prosper.

Second, the world is so interconnected that great numbers of people hear about large-scale events as they occur. When the train of Progress begins to fall, people will know about it and their attention will quickly be concentrated on the need for transformation.

Third, the idea that big changes are hard, so that VERY big changes must be impossible—is false. That is because we are talking about changing the STORY itself. The story of Progress includes the notion that we make incremental changes to improve our situation. But the limitation of incremental improvement is part of that obsolete story.

Changing the story will release us immediately from the story of Progress—like aking up from a bad dream.

Of course, physical constraints will remain. And the question of what to do will remain. But one way or another we will be free of the Progress story.

If we are prepared to give up Progress, we will discover resources we forgot we had. We will discover $2 trillion per year that we no longer need to fund militarism. We will rediscover common sense, and good will in ourselves and in ordinary people around the world.

Then, what sort of future might we build?

Why not Utopia?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The New Psychophysical Complex by Harry Schwarzlander

Now that we have a New Environment blog I thought I should explain what, in the New Environment Association, we mean by “New Environment.”
I introduced that term in my manuscript, “Toward a New Environment,” as simplified wording for “New Psychophysical Complex.” That means I’ll have to explain what’s meant by “Psychophysical Complex.” My essay on the Psychophysical Complex contains a detailed introduction. Here I can only provide a sketchy outline.

1. Motivation. When trying to address an enormously complicated matter such as changing the dominant cultural patterns in a fundamental way in order to achieve a sustainable society, we need some new thinking tools. Our ways of thinking and talking about things are rooted in ancient times when everything encountered in daily life could be considered separately -- as a thing upon itself. An important feature of today’s world is that everything strongly interconnected. We need to be able to look at, and talk about, the totality -- without loss of meaning and clarity.
2. Every person’s immediate experience occurs in the mind, or consciousness. This includes thoughts, memories, knowledge, beliefs and insights, as mediated by language, feelings, hopes, wishes, desires, fears, anger, bodily sensations, subconscious promptings, etc., as well as meditative experiences, and so on. I call this the person’s "mental world." We each live in our individual mental world.
3. Beyond one’s mental world is the physical world, beginning with one’s own body. Through our senses and bodily motions, we are able to perceive and interact with the external physical world -- that part of the physical world that extends beyond our own body -- including other human beings. However, the physical world also includes many features that we do not perceive. Some of these have become known through scientific exploration.
4. Through interaction with another person (speech, observation, joint activities and so on) we are able to find out a little bit about that other person’s mental world.
5. The totality of the physical world, along with the mental worlds of all living human beings, constitutes the "psychophysical complex." Of course, the psychophysical complex is constantly changing and evolving -- as a result of changes in the physical world and changes in people’s mental worlds, and as a result of some people dying and others being born. It is a process.
6. It appears that the direction in which the existing psychophysical complex is evolving (we call it The Old Environment) is leading to very unpleasant conditions on the planet, and possibly a collapse of human societies.
7. The direction in which the psychophysical complex is evolving cannot be changed significantly by admonitions, good deeds, laws and regulations, and so on. Why not? Human beings and their activities have by now to a significant extent become structured into vast “feedback loops” (sequences of cause-effect relationships that close back upon themselves) that have become “rampant phenomena.” By this I mean arrangements that were initially created because they were seen as beneficial (or came about by chance), but by now we have become locked into them even though their detrimental effects greatly outweigh their benefits. Furthermore, these feedback loops weave in and out of people’s mental worlds. There are many "rampant technologies," and "rampant organizational structures," as well as "rampant phenomena of the mind" (ideologies and belief systems). Furthermore, because of the vastness of these feedback loops, we tend not to be aware of the extent to which we do their bidding.

Now, if we look at the world in this way, a vast new imperative emerges that is entirely different from all the ongoing chit-chat and hullabaloo about sustainability. If the existing psychophysical complex is a sinking ship, so to speak, and we can’t repair it, shouldn’t all hands on deck start getting busy with the life boats? What that means in practical terms is that the beginnings of a new and different psychophysical complex -- a "New Environment" -- need to get created while that is still possible. And so the New Environment Association was born in 1974.
The idea was that people need to come together in small and gradually expanding groups, not governed by existing affiliations, to develop trust and caring, and work together cooperatively with mutual support, sharing and creativity in order to evolve -- or re-invent -- a way of life that is satisfying and enjoyable, spiritually uplifting, peaceful, human scale, in harmony with natural systems, and with vastly reduced use of non-renewable resources: the New Environment. This involves, first of all, changes in people’s mental worlds. That in itself is very challenging, but can be worked on through group activities and small group interaction in a supportive setting, as well as two-way sharing and listening. However, it is through a new kind of schooling for the children that a more solid basis for the New Environment can be created. The young people emerging from such schooling can then more effectively carry forward the expansion the New Environment.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Schools for Ecological Education

Please take note of the links to the right under "Groups" for two sites I found that relate to Bob Newman's reminders to us of the need to educate our children in cooperative values for ecological living and creativity.

The Center for Ecoliteracy has many programs for educating children, including "Schooling for Sustainability" and a discussion guide for the movie "Food, Inc."

Eco-Schools are educational programs where the children help to create, administer, and evaluate the content and progress of the environmental program.

Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) has adult-oriented thematic group-study courses in the areas of food, healthy children, voluntary simplicity, sustainable living, climate change, and more. The New Environment Association has facilitated the Voluntary Simplicity course and will use the NWEI model in a book study on David Gershon's "Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World."

Please add other web sites to our lists by contacting Susan Adair, You may also request to be an author for this blog and post information and opinions that you'd like to share. Namaste

Sunday, January 24, 2010


It seems to me that a lot of progressive rhetoric about environmental-climate crises is framed in terms of human beings destroying the planet, as well as the people, with a lot of suffering in between. But my insight is that the Earth will not die, at least not for a few more million years. In fact, such a view is audacious and full of hubris, carried over from the medieval Roman Catholic Church and the Enlightenment. This view still, to this day, sees human beings (specifically, homo sapiens) as the center of the Universe, the purpose of Creation, and the species with the power to destroy Life on Earth. “Man” has “dominion” over the Earth. At least that’s what Western mythology imagines.

No, this Planet is much bigger than all the human beings put together, no matter how prolific. In fact, we ARE the Planet! From where else have we come? Is the tomato something other than the whole plant expressing itself in reproductive form? Perhaps, as David Bohm suggests, lifeforms are the unfoldment of an energetic pattern in the quantum field. The seed does not mysteriously multiply into a huge oak tree, manifesting substance out of nothing. Rather, the seed is a portal of seepage, an aperture through which a tree gradually emerges. In any case, there is not separation, even if we believe there is. Don’t believe everything you think!

The Planet births us daily – and the Planet absorbs the decay – and regenerates in a cycle that will last until the sun goes nova. And Earth has TIME! What is another 500,000 years or a million years to the Earth? In fact, one million years for a species to survive is not so bad for a constantly evolving Life system! So we’ve served our time on Earth. Maybe it is time for us to die off, like everything else must do, sooner or later. That’s the way Life goes . . .

So maybe our* struggles to save the Planet, and to save our children’s children from the deteriorating standard of living in a declining empire stopped by the Limits to Growth, is really about Western culture’s denial of death in an insane quest for the Fountain of Youth and technological immortality.

And what a glorious thing to see in my lifetime!

Life and Death in the same frame!

Savor the moment.

It will change.


* My next essay will unpack this “we” we keep talking about. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Value of Nothing

Raj Patel took the title of his new book from an Oscar Wilde quote:

"Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

Wilde said that in 1891. Funny how while everything changes, somehow nothing changes...

Anyway, here's Patel talking about his book.

I haven't had the opportunity to read this yet (the local library doesn't yet have a copy, and I've been spending way too much money on books lately to buy a copy right now), but all the reviews I've heard and read have been positive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



Hank Stone October 25, 2009

The sustainability of our civilization is in question. If humankind is to have a successful future, unsustainable behaviors must cease. Everything unsustainable about our way of life WILL change.

What can we do to help bring about a successful human future? We were brought up to believe in “projects.” If something is broken, we do fix-up projects, like reattaching a loose rain gutter. We know about dividing big jobs into small ones, and delegating the parts to different people. Our problem we is that projects we have done in the past are what have brought us to our unsustainable present. New methods are required.

We got here by DOING, and now look for better things to DO. And there is work to do, but it is not mainly scientific discovery, individual virtue, or political activism. It is neither hard work nor heroic.

We are now called on not so much to DO, as to BE, to BELIEVE, and to ENVISION.

Consider these Ten Principles:

BEING: Two Personal Principles

Principle 1: Be at peace. Fear, anger, distress and blame can distract from work on the human future. This isn’t escape through denial or addictive behaviors. It’s important to be in touch with our emotions, which can damage us if suppressed, and harm others if acted out inappropriately. Religious belief, meditation, gratitude, contemplating nature and helping others can be ways to inner peace.

Principle 2: Be kind and good. Trustworthy and considerate behaviors make us peaceful and enable large-scale cooperation. Attending to our own virtue is important precisely because all of us humans are flawed and make mistakes.

BELIEVING: Four Belief Principles

Principle 3: It Ain’t Necessarily So. Communication with people in other societies shows us that things we were all brought up to believe, our cultural stories, may not be true. While societies were relatively isolated, cultural stories about outsiders being enemies enhanced security. But this is a time of transition, and our security requires us to reexamine our most basic beliefs.

Principle 4: It Ain’t Necessarily False. Human societies have discovered amazing information, capabilities, and resources. The idea is to create a sustainable human future that respects the past. Like a multi-stage rocket, we accept the need to jettison the used booster stages.

Principle 5: Thoughts attract. Reality itself tends to mold itself to the thoughts we think, and (at least potentially) we get to choose what to think and believe. Therefore, getting the story right in our own heads is not denial or wishful thinking, but real work that the world requires.

Principle 6: Change cultural stories. The only way to change the institutions and behaviors of society is to change the cultural stories on which they rely. The stories we tell ourselves are interconnected, and stabilized by the many benefits they give both to decision-makers and ordinary people. We must create an interconnected set of NEW stories in which to live.

ENVISIONING: Four World Principles

Principle 7: Oneness of humanity. Getting the future right can only be done cooperatively. Prejudice of all sorts will have to go: racism, extreme patriotism, intolerance of gays, gender discrimination—all of it. We must guarantee basic human rights for everyone on earth.

Principle 8: Protect the planet. Population must be brought into balance with available energy, fresh water and food. This must be done using non-coercive incentives and disincentives, so that people are encouraged to act in the interest of the human future. If we’re not living sustainably, human numbers will crash.

Principle 9: World peace system. Military competition among sovereign states has become too dangerous in the nuclear age. The world needs ways to guarantee the safety of people in every country, something the war system of dispute settlement can no longer do. A world peace system will not change human nature and will not eliminate all violence, but will require nonviolent conflict resolution and will hold every person, including state leaders, liable for criminal behavior.

Principle 10: Human success. The world’s population and lifestyle have become unsustainable, so things WILL change. But if we’re not preparing to live “happily ever after,” our work is not finished. In religious terms, we have no reasonable alternative to trying to bring about “the kingdom of heaven on earth.”