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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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

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Both Sides Now

Whenever you’re trying to solve a puzzle, it’s important to look at it from different angles. 

To read “A Little Story About Loving Yourself”, a story I created for this puzzle series, click HERE.

From Every Angle

Weekly Photo Challenge: Door – or No Door?

The open door…

edge

…is a symbol of the fluidity of life.  We pass through, but may we not also pass around or over?  Most often, I believe, doors are constructions of our own egos, our own consciousness.  We perceive doors even where there are none, just as we construct walls in the wilderness for no reason other than to give us a sense of boundaries.  Why do we find boundaries and closed doors comforting?  Maybe because they give us an excuse for setting limits.  Maybe that’s how they make us feel safe.  Where do you build doorways?  How would you feel in a place where there were none?

Door

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid Wings

The picture of the Sydney Opera House reminds me of this photo I took this week on a walk through the Fox Hill Nature Preserve, one of the properties owned by my new employer, Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. 

VividElectric lights don’t seem to hold a candle to a day of sunshine on the first of June when the air temperature is a cool 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Even in mid-day, every color seemed to pop with vibrancy and life!

Vivid

Freestyle Writing Challenge

While I was off in California at my brother’s wedding, my blogger friend Juls from Paris challenged me to a writing exercise.  Finally today, on a cool, rainy Saturday, I’ve had time to myself to sit down and write.  Here is the link to Juls’ post.   (This is my tricky way to get you to visit her site and discover an amazing quadra-lingual traveler and photographer!) Here are the rules:

1. Open a blank Document
2. Set a stop watch or your mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you prefer.
3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
4. Once you start writing do not stop until the alarm sounds!
5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)
6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals.
7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers)

The topic I was given was “The Road”.  I gave myself 10 minutes.  Here’s what I wrote:

The road is the path for the journey. The road is where we spend our time, living and going, breathing, walking, being alive, moving forward. The road is not always comfortable for me. I have often wanted to stop, to set up house, to be sheltered and still, coddled and kept safe. Danger exists on the road. Danger exists in life, and every instinct in me wants to minimize danger, for myself, my children, my loved ones. Trying to eliminate danger, trying to make the road more like a safety shelter, is a constant struggle against reality. I have tried many established ways of making the journey of life and death more comfortable. I have gone deeply into religion, the sojourner who seeks the aide of the divine to travel more safely. I have surrounded myself with the buttresses of society, traveling in numbers to increase safety and minimize inconvenience. The funny thing is, when the most dramatic events occur, I find that I am truly experiencing them alone. No one really travels through death in company. When your brain is about to shut off, who thinks your final thoughts with you? No one.

I have lost a lot on the road; I have gained much as well. My sister and I were in a car crash on an Interstate Highway. She lost control and was killed beside me. I lost my husband in the safety of our own home as we slept. Death is in life, not in location. I have discovered life on the road, on the journey. Moving forward to greater acceptance of my children and their autonomy is a fine example of this. It is an experience of opening up to possibility, to opportunity, to change and movement and dance. You can’t step in the same river twice; you can’t leave the road and still go somewhere. I have been stuck at the side of the road for stretches of time. I invariably begin to twitch, feel hot and restless. It is not living. The road is wonder, challenge, growth. I want to be on it; I want to be moving forward, even as I resist and return to neuroses sometimes.

Word Count = 365 words…one word for every day in the year, oddly enough.  My 5 nominees for the challenge are:

Jerry from “Taking a Leaf”

Kaye from “Rebooting”

Stephanie from “Love in the Spaces”

My daughter Susan from “Write a Thing”

Nicole from “Thirdeyemom”

Hoping you’ll find this stimulating!  And now, set your timers and scroll down for the topic….

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Your topic is: SPIRIT.  Go!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Motion of the Ocean

Initially, this challenge had me stumped.  I primarily photograph nature in still life.  I’m a very calm person, not enthralled by activity and speed.  Movement is, however, the way of the Life…but I generally see it in a larger, slower context.   How does the Earth move?  In myriad ways at varying paces, constantly, glacially, and in the beat of a hummingbird’s wings.  How have I photographed movement in Nature?  In water – falling and surging, as well as frozen.  Last September, I had the opportunity to revisit the Pacific Ocean.  It is constantly in motion, yet can appear stationary in a landscape photograph when spread out to the horizon.  Its dynamic nature is more readily apparent at its edges, and that’s where I aimed my lens. 

I recently discovered some really dramatic ocean photography in the work of Ray Collins.  Visit his website here to be really swept up in the motion of the ocean!

Motion

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Merciful Blur

“It’s all a merciful blur…” is one of my mother’s signature responses.  (from a description of 10 Silly Sayings that characterize her 80-year-old personality, from THIS POST)  Blurring can be a good coping skill.  It can be a result of too little sleep, too much crying, too much alcohol, or too much fantasy.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, now and again.  Softening edges can be useful when you’re feeling scraped and bruised.  But it’s only temporary, for me.  I really want to live my life in clear focus, as aware as I can be, facing reality.  Consequently, I doubt I’ve kept many blurry photos.  Here’s one I took yesterday…

blurry gate

…and here’s one I took from the passenger’s seat on I-94.  I was trying to imitate Karen McRae from “draw and shoot”.  Her art is superb (which explains why she’s got almost 15,000 followers!).

winter blurWhat I mostly get are blurry photos of people who don’t stay still…

picnic blur…or places that are poorly lit.

cave blurIt is a challenge to develop the appropriately artistic “merciful blur”, to be used in scary situations (like on the Jersey turnpike?).  Still working on it…spider blur

Blur

Five Days Challenge – Day Five

I have been invited by Terry of Through the Lens of My Life to participate in a Five Day Challenge.  Each day, I will post a photo and write a story to go along with it.  (I probably will interpret the term ‘story’ quite loosely.  I do that.)  I will also invite one person each day to take up this challenge on his/her blog.  This challenge has been a lot of fun!  It’s interesting to see where my brain makes connections between fact and fiction and how an image is a jumping off place for those associations.

This last little story is called “The Gold Coast”:

california

Jake is a bit of a space cadet, but he’s harmless. He does things like arranging the dried kelp on the beach into celebrity images. His Leonard Nimoy was quite touching, given the timing. He’s rather a local hero in Santa Cruz. You can see him cruising the volleyball courts near the boardwalk in the early morning, chatting up the homeless and delivering donuts. Seagulls follow him around because he chats them up, too, while providing breakfast. The other day, he gave an impromptu lecture on the California Gold Rush of 1850 from the middle of the wharf. Between his barking and the sea lions’, a small crowd of curious tourists gathered. Somehow, he managed to convince them that you could still find gold on the beach where the river emptied out, just beyond the eucalyptus grove. A few of them followed him to the spot. “Now, it’s only just flakes that are left,” he began. “You can say that again!” one of the gawkers snickered. “…so ya gotta get down real close, combat-style, to see ’em. Right down on your belly in the sand, dude, like this, and follow their trail to the sea!” Yup, Jake is a real scenic attraction. You never know where he’ll turn up next.

— Next, I invite you to visit Victoria Slotto at her blog.  She is a published poet and author who is delving a bit more deeply into her photography as well.  Peruse her site for lots of beautiful images, verbal and digital, and stories that will spark your own connections.  She does quite a few writing prompt challenges, so there are lots already there in her archives.

© 2015, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Wall Associations:

“All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.” Pink Floyd (my very first impulse; it’s always a song)

The wailing wall, the Berlin wall, the Great Wall of China…so many iconic walls.  What about the wall we put up when our privacy is threatened or when our emotions are about to bubble over, and we don’t want to seem vulnerable?  Walls and boundaries, according to Steve, are useful at times, but he hopes they are all only temporary.  His goal is to be open, always.  (You can probably guess he’s a pretty confident person.  Me?  I like to have somewhere safe to hide.) Fences and walls in poetry: Robert Frost “Mending Wall” (‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’ – yeah, like Steve) and D. H. Lawrence “Snake” (the snake comes out of an earth-wall into his water trough and…well, read the poem.  It’s good.)  My wall of photos, or my photos of Wall:

Whew!  So many walls…gotta go out and walk in open space now.  It’s almost Spring – I may even leave my parka behind!

Wall