Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

questAt this point in my life, I am Over the Hill for sure. The sun is setting – how rapidly is anyone’s guess. Anticipating the unknown sounds like an exercise in futility. Any build-up is likely to increase anxiety. I think what is more important is simply practicing being the character I want to be. I am not on a quest to challenge my mortality, but to be at peace. I am looking forward to moving to a more rural part of the state in a month, on 56 acres of restored prairie that’s owned by the Conservation Foundation where I work. My quest will allow me to spend more time in Nature and more quiet time writing.  We’ll see how rapidly that sunset arrives. I’m not looking to jump on any fast trains to get there. 

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Quest

How Will I Behave Here?

This essay originally appeared in The BeZine’s September issue, for which I was Contributing Editor. 

“Environmental Justice” is a rather fancy framework – two words with seven total syllables to convey a concept. Let me give you a simpler structure – one question to ask yourself as often as possible. How will I behave here? Five important words make up this question, and each one can continue to yield insight the more time you spend with it.

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Let’s start with the subject – ‘I’. Bringing awareness to how you think of yourself is a huge step in understanding – not just for environmental justice, but for Life in general. Know thyself. What are you biologically? How do you fit in the ecosystem or the food chain? Do you have a beginning or an ending? What does it take for you to survive the middle? Who are you psychologically? What has influenced that and what makes that change?

The direct object in the sentence is ‘here’. What is the Here that you relate to ? I suggested in the writing prompt Tell Me: What IS Environmental Justice? that our contributing authors may look at the environment from a perspective of Nature, Place or Community. As you ask yourself this question on a daily or more frequent basis, Here will be increasingly specific.

Now the verb: ‘behave’. It’s the act of acting; perhaps it’s all verbs in one. What we do matters. In my work as a volunteer at a Nature Center, I learned a short maxim for Environmental Education. It was made up of 4 words beginning with ‘A’: Awareness, Appreciation, Attitude and Action. Action is the outcome of our character. A lot goes into making us who we are, but it’s who we are that will most influence what we do. There are those who hope to influence action from the top down and employ legislation, incentives and consequences. There are those who hope to influence action from the bottom up and employ education, compassion and liberty. Behavior is often the event that gets a conversation started, the outward and visible sign of internal forces. We see video clips in the news and wonder, “Why THAT behavior?” (the Oregon rock tippers, graffiti in National Parks, buffalo calf rescuers, photographers disturbing marine life, etc.)

The word ‘will’ in the question can be both a verb tense and a noun and makes a great pondering point. What is your Will? What do you desire, hope for, intend, long for, want, choose and champion? You get to bring all your personal energy into this question. You will behave in some way. You will act or refrain from acting one way or another, and this will make a difference.

Finally, we’re left with the very first word: HOW? This is where we’re invited to expand our imaginations and reach toward infinity. This is where creative people can lead and model and catapult the status quo toward a more distant target. It is also where we can entrench ourselves in habits, in conservative approaches that allow for little or incremental change, in comfortable measures of disturbance offset by self-congratulation. This HOW will be the expression of our will and our identity.

So, think and ask: How will I behave here? That is how you will engage in Environmental Justice.

And you will engage, whatever you do.

Ponderosa pines smell like vanilla! (photo credit: Steve Wiencek)

 

Priscilla Galasso

Text and photographs © Priscilla Galasso, 2016. (unless otherwise noted) All rights reserved.

THE BeZINE, Vol.2, Issue 12, Environment/Environmental Justice

This is what I’ve been working on. Besides editing, I wrote 3 pieces and Steve wrote one. Please click on the Be Zine link and enjoy all the contributions! I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about sharing. This is a hugely important arena, encompassing life, health, and EVERYTHING!

THE BeZINE

September 15, 2016

The Environment is a complex array of interconnections and interbeing (as Thich Nhat Hahn would say). Steve & I have various metaphors for this. He likes to refer to “his bowling pins”. He imagines setting up a toy set of pins on a lawn and bowling at them. When they scatter, you set them back up exactly where they landed and bowl again. This takes you all over the neighborhood in endless permutations. I think of “trophic cascades”, changes in an ecosystem that originate at an extinction or other dramatic altering of balance, similar perhaps to “the domino effect” but less linear. However you try to wrap your brain around it, the nature of Life on this planet is intricate and incomprehensible. We are wise to approach it with the utmost humility. Because we are intrinsically involved, however, we must not fear to engage. We are already…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Edgy

Ben Huberman talks about using a frame to “anchor” our compositions with something. Here’s my son holding down the Chicago skyline:

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But he seems to be bobbing in the water. What if I anchor him as well?

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Maybe that’s a bit unfair to put that on my kid’s shoulders. He’s not even as tall as I am. How about I anchor the skyline with some serious construction? Like Lake Shore Drive…

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I like that. And the monochrome treatment makes it even stronger. Thanks, Ben, for the tip!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror Question

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, I have a question: 

self portrait

Reflecting on life and love…

Reflecting on family…

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Reflecting on Nature…
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Aren’t these all just exercises to help us make sense of our selves?  Or perhaps to discover that our selves are happier when senses don’t need to make sense?

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Mirror

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change Frames

The south window of my tree-house bedroom is where my eyes gaze whenever I look up from my computer.  My bed is my home office. frame late summerThis has been my home base for 5 years now, in all seasons…

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safe inside

…and through various moods.

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But time brings evolution. Things change. I’m anticipating a move this fall, away from this framework and towards my life work. I will get a chance to live outside this particular box. 

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This frame has served me well. Very well, and I’m grateful. But it’s time to change frames and let the picture advance. 

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Onward and Upward! 

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Tell Me: What IS Environmental Justice?

As a Contributing Editors of The Be Zine , we are currently accepting submissions for the September 15 issue (submission deadline Sept. 10) that will focus on Environmental Justice, which is also the theme of our 100 Thousand Poets (and friends) for Change virtual event on September 24. In order to propel the discussion into deeper focus from the outset, we invite and encourage contributing authors to ponder a few things about their perspective and their voice on this topic.

When we talk about Justice, it is sometimes assumed that people will agree on what is ‘the right thing to do’. However, as with anything else, our decision-making about Justice is influenced by our values, by the things that we deem ‘special’, ‘important’, or ‘sacred’. I propose that there are (at least) three categories of valued environments, or ‘Holy Ground’: Nature, Place and Community. Think about these three different arenas and how you see Justice being applied to them.

For example, if Community is your value, you may feel that Environmental Justice has to do with how people are impacted and how human activity creates change. If Place is your value, then questions about Justice probably will involve a particular area with borders of a physical or conceptual nature. It may be that feelings of injustice are felt in terms of ‘This, not That’ or ‘Us, not Them’ or in a desire to see a Place resist change. If Nature is your value, then you may see Justice in more fluid terms as the balance of resources between producers/consumers and prey/predator is in a state of constant flux with perhaps no ultimate goal.

So, as you sit down to write about Environment Justice in your unique voice, identify your values. Perhaps use the lenses of Nature, Place and Community to focus. What is important to you? Why? How does it affect your decision-making? What factors impact this ‘sacred’ ground? How do different cultural models or systems impact your cherished home? What feelings arise in you – what empathy for Living Things or Living Habitats? What fears?

Thank you for spending time with these concepts and these questions. Your presence, your life energy, your embodiment of love is a gift that we are privileged and honored to receive. Please, share your thoughts, your words and pictures with us!

— Priscilla Galasso and Steve Wiencek