May 4, 2009

Beautiful

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

from here.

Evidently Playing for Change has been around for four years or so, but I've just discovered it. Enjoy.

April 10, 2009

A sign of Hope _ of course

I wasn't going to continue with the sign of hope idea, it could quite easily get cheesy, but what do you know, this fell into my lap without me even trying.

This issue has always struck me as one of the stupidest things that people should be upset about. This is a no brainer to me. I guess one could ask "What does she know?" I'd rebut with "Well I think quite a lot actually." This man seems to know quite a lot too. Lets hope it spreads.

April 3, 2009

A sign of Hope _ What is your greatest accomplishment?

The next in this series is a little more recent, last week I stumbled across this article trying to find out when Purdue was going to play. (They lost to Connecticut unfortunately.) This was a better article. From The New York Times on March 26, 2009.

I follow some sports. Mainly the Colts, sometimes college hoops. Sometimes, and usually they have to have a very strong tie to the dear state of Indiana. That being said, I was an enormous fan of the book, The Last Amateurs, by John Feinstein. This was recommended to me by a cousin and I must say I was initially skeptical of her endorsement, but then I couldn't put it down. . .

So that was a long drawn out way of saying that I will from time to time read articles about college ball.

This is a great filler article about Syracuse's coach Jim Boeheim, who for the past ten years has been hosting a "Basket Ball," a huge Coaches vs. Cancer gala event. Evidently he has in one way or another been responsible for raising $4.5 million for the central New York American Cancer Society chapter. It has now become a friendly competition with a group of coaches who 'compete' to raise the most money.

I think this is great for many reasons. But what caught my attention from this article were the opening paragraphs.

Tears were in Jim Boeheim’s eyes that night. “How can we ever top this?” he asked his wife, Juli.

It was not the night in April 2003 when Boeheim coached Syracuse to a national championship. Of that occasion, Juli recalled this week: “I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him and hug him. I asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ He said, ‘Relieved. Let’s go home.’ ”

The night Boeheim broke down was in April 2000, after Syracuse held its first “Basket Ball” gala to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer. Juli had organized the event, Jim had put his name behind it, and they both had recruited nearly everyone they knew to buy seats and get involved. The Boeheims, novice party planners, were nervous about the turnout until about 650 people arrived and moved Jim to tears.

Isn't it great when you read about someone just jumping in with blind faith and pulling it off? It gives me goosebumps!

April 2, 2009

A sign of Hope _ Faith

Another article from a few weeks ago. March 21, 2009 to be precise.

This article made me laugh out loud. A small disclaimer here. There are going to be a lot of Katie Doyle references in this blog. One writes what is on their mind, and she is never far from mine. So there you go, I've given you fair warning at least. The relevance here is that Katie was Jewish and completed her second B'nai Mitzvah last December with her mother.

These women reflect the same enthusiasm and nervousness that Katie shared before the event, yet I can only image how inspiring she, her mother and these women were standing at the bimah simply reaffirming their faith.

April 1, 2009

A sign of Hope _ Unity

mar13-norther-ireland.JPG
photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters link

This is slightly old news, I've been sitting of a few articles for a few weeks, now that I'm writing, here is the first I was struck by.

This image graced the cover of The New York Times a few weeks ago on March 13, 2009. During that week there was a different image of death every day except for the one day that had headlines about our dismal economy. I found this image to be heartening though. It is the funeral of a policeman in Northern Ireland. If you haven't been reading the news, Ireland has been experiencing a fragile peace. Evidently this was not acceptable to some of the fringe IRA groups and this policeman was one of the victims. What is heartening is that in a direct change from the many years of "The Troubles" this mans funeral was attended by both Protestants and Catholics. Both sides are saying enough is enough- this is senseless, there has to be a better way.

I will leave you with the last paragraph of the article. Mrs. Kate Carroll is the widow of the constable killed, Stephen Carroll.

Mrs. Carroll’s public remarks may have been the most poignant of all. Before leaving her home for the funeral on Friday, she said that people resorting to violence to settle Ireland’s future should realize that, like her husband, the only “piece of land” they would end up with would be the six feet of a grave plot, and that a broader grasp of that would mean that her husband had not “died for nothing.”

“Why don’t they realize that?” she said.

March 31, 2009

Hope

Hope requires the courage to reach farther, dig deeper, confront our limits and those of nature, work harder, and dream dreams.
_ David Orr, from "Optimism and Hope in a Hotter Time," Conservation Biology. v21 n6. 2007

The field of sustainability produces a lot of doom and gloom literature. Which is one reason that I enjoy reading David Orr. Orr, a professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, is a prolific writer in the field and I always leave his readings thinking that our planet still has a chance.

I was assigned the reading, "Optimism and Hope in a Hotter Time" last fall for my sustainable theory course. I was very taken with what he had to say at the time, and after everything that has happened so far in 2009 I am finding that his words are so much more applicable than I even originally thought. I highly recommend taking your next free 20 minutes to read this article.

Orr makes the claim that optimism is merely positive thinking when the likely outcome will be positive.

"Hope, however, requires us to check our optimism at the door and enter the future without illusions. It requires a level of honesty, selfawareness, and sobriety that is difficult to summon and sustain. I know a great many smart people and many very good people, but I know far fewer people who can handle hard truth gracefully without despairing." (Orr, 2007)

I really like this approach. If you read my last post, Refocusing, I was struggling to define what made Katie Katie. Katie was one of the few "people who could handle hard truths gracefully without despairing." It is one of my ambitions to live like this, it will not come as easily for me as it did her, but it is the best goal I can achieve and I will work towards this goal daily.

I like that the article acknowledges that not all is lost. I like that it acknowledges that it is going to require a tremendous amount of work. I like that it acknowledges that there is an infinite amount of hope available waiting for us to act on.

March 30, 2009

Refocusing

I lost my best friend to cancer last month. I have tried, and there is simply no way to explain what kind of person she was. Katie was Katie - unique unto herself. She was by no means superhuman, she was not a perfect person, but she was the best of us, she fully embraced life for every second of every day. Even this is not fully her, but you had to know her. It is as simple as that. I have not fully processed her death yet, nor am I sure that I ever will, it just makes so little sense. But there it is.

I met Katie at the very end of my sophomore year at Mount Holyoke College. We were to spend the summer working together in a summer stock theatre. Little did I know how close we would become. She was an actor. I only dealt with things backstage. She was going to do props. My first thought upon seeing this little sprite of a girl was - man - I hope she can cut it. Ha! I laugh at myself now. Not only did she cut it - but she was my saving grace that summer and was pivotal in maintaining a sense of sanity. From that point on we were inseparable, not in the sense that we couldn't exist without the other - we could go days without talking - but things were better when we were together. She quickly started working with me in the woodshop with the technical director as part of the student crew. (we even convinced the department that even though we were in the same class we should share the student rep responsibilities. looking back we were a little conniving really.) Through all of this we had fun. Our boss was continually having to tell us, "girls. be serious now!" at which (depending on how frustrated she really was) we would burst into giggles.

Through everything we had fun. We could be biting, but we maintained laughter as our grounding point. After graduation, I moved home to the heartland and she joined a traveling theatre troupe where she traveled the country directing school children in theatre. Talk about MANY laughs!

The year of our graduation was the first time Katie joined my family for Thanksgiving, which was for all intents and purposes when she was adopted into our family. Katie could bring joy and laughter to everyone she saw. Sure we still maintained our inner dialogues but in everything she did, Katie brought joy. The only times I knew her to be really sad were when we were trying to decipher the whys and wherefores of human nature in terms of their stupidity. [well this is my insertion here - basically when people were starving or in pain due to the actions of another human being.]

I think the hardest part of the last month is being unable to call her. We have been living at ends of the country since MHC. We relied on the telephone. I would call Katie when the ridiculous happened. And the ridiculous happens all the time, let me tell you. These conversations would usually be about random shit happening in our lives, but also really cool things that we saw happening.

With this said, I'm going to shift the focus of this blog, which I haven't been posting to, but want to pick back up. I will still be talking about sustainability. I participated Saturday night in the Earthhour event and read (and fell asleep actually) by candlelight for an hour with no electricity for an hour, joining millions across the globe. Things like this are important, and I can't stress enough that we had to do something yesterday not wait for tomorrow. At the same time, I want this to be a place to highlight the good of this earth.

I subscribe to the New York Times, [I think I've mentioned this] and two weeks ago every cover page depicted death except for the one that dealt with our dismal economy. It is important to recognize that this is happening but at the same time, we need to learn to celebrate life. We have to be able to live with hope, true hope, or we will be overcome with hopelessness.

With this in mind, I will be posting good stories here in addition to the peril we are subjecting our planet to. A balance of life inspired by my best friend, who if she were here would smile.

November 7, 2008

My favorite oxymoron

Inhabitat is a blog that I try to read everyday. They do a very nice job of bringing some very innovative plans and philosophies to light. They are predominately a sustainable design blog, but every once in a while they have other types of stories as well.

Check out their post on clean coal. Now clean coal has been getting a lot of attention from big business and the current administration recently because it essentially condones our extravagant use of electricity without any checks to the current system. In fact, in the 2007 State of the Union address, our president led his environmental initiatives with just two simple words. Clean coal.

coal-train330.jpg

Now let me clue you into a very tiny secret. Coal is not clean. Sorry to burst your bubbles. In addition to the issues that the Inhabitat post brings up, coal has to be mined. Coal mining is very very far from being a clean process. Simply do a google image search of coal mining.

This is an issue I will be keeping tabs on. Make sure when you are writing your legislators let them know that clean coal is not a 'green' option that you support and why.

November 2, 2008

Why the Big Picture?

I have had an interest in the environment since I was little. We had a globe that I was fascinated with. I would spend hours determining how I would get food to the people of Ethiopia from Indiana. (I listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell, thanks to my aunt who made me tapes of all of her records.)

I started my undergraduate career planning on studying theatre and environmental studies. I quickly changed this plan after taking three environmental studies courses. They were so depressing, and it seemed like people were more interested in discussing the state of deteriorating affairs than finding solutions. I wanted solutions. Later I decided to pursue architecture as a way to make tangible progress in the state of our environment.

So at present, I find myself with a Masters in Architecture and pursuing my Masters in Science in Sustainable Design. This is a fairly new degree here in the College of Design, and while it is definitely experiencing some growing pains, I will leave here with a strong knowledge base in sustainable design* and the ability to make an impact.
*What sustainable design really means is a topic for a post of its own.

One thing that I've been theorizing about lately is macro vs. micro thinking. When it comes to environmental measures. It strikes me that, by and large, humans, Americans, and especially policy makers* tend to think with a very narrow focus. This is not a good place to be! Now, more than ever we need to be focusing on very large picture scenarios. If we have learned anything, each decision we make affects a lot more than initially intended.
*another post

This blog is going to serve as a place for me to work through my burgeoning theories as well as a few of my rants. It succeeds if it encourages anyone to think differently about how we approach our* environment.
*Not to become redundant, but 'our' deserves a post of its own as well.