Green Festival SF – Take-aways, Part 2

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Our favorite part of Green Festival was the opening night “Word to the Mother (Earth) event.”  Here’s some of what resonated the most, along with video clips.  NOTE: there’s some paraphrasing.

Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director of Co-op America, shared that “One of the intentions we (Co-op America and Global Exchange) set for this event is that everyone here might come up with one new commitment, one new idea, one new connection to go deeper into the solutions for justice and sustainability.”  She followed by asking how many people are willing to take on that intention.  Lot’s of hands went up in the air and hopefully many who attended during the three days took away some good ideas and take some positive actions.  Two of my commitments: having our family see a green dentist and donating money and energy towards elephant protection (see previous post for info on both).

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Jahi is an Oakland based hip hop musician who writes lyrics about “love and respect, honor, politics, and encouraging peace, unity and having fun.”  That’s great, because we all could use more critical thought and uplifting through song.  One good line: “Eat to live, okay to give, some of these rappers like babies with no bibs.”  Yes, food should be about nourishment, the universe is infinitely abundant so give more than you receive, and the musicians writing songs about greed/disrespect/violence are making messes and not cleaning them up.

Also from Jahi: “Reduce your carbon footprint.  Get the word out.  Put it in a conversation.  Ain’t no better time than now, so stop waistin.”  We all need to have conversations about what we’re doing/can do to change for the better.  Personal commitment is the first step, but communicating about it and getting others to consider new approaches is an important next step.  I’m very leery of being preachy and so tend to keep it to myself.  That’s a change I need to make.  It’s totally possible to share ideas without being pushy; a big part of that is also listening with respect.

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Mutabaruka is a highly regarded Jamaican poet and musician who’s been performing since the early 70s.  In his poems and lyrics he examines revolution, spirituality, and survival.  He didn’t wear any shoes on stage!  In our modern society it is so rare to actually see someone’s feet, except at the beach and at home.  It got me wondering when he does/doesn’t wear shoes.  My preference is to have as little on my feet, as little separating me from the earth, as possible, and it’s not an easy thing to accomplish on a regular basis.

He opened with a question to us Americans,relating to the election of Obama as our new leader.  “Now that we found love, what are we going to do with it?  And that’s the question right now.  Because we understand the excitement and the joy but, now that we found love what are we going to do with it?  Because we’ve seen it happen in history many time before.  When Mandela came out of prison and he became president, the euphoria was excitement.  But when you go to South Africa today, the people are still crying.  And their yearning for that freedom and liberation that Mandela brought when he came out of prison.  So coming from outside, looking on the inside, we say “Now that American people found love, what are you people going to do with it?”  That is the Question.”  This gets back to the theme of take action, harness the potential during this time of great hope.

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Regarding humanity’s future: “The environmentalists are talking about “save the planet”.  What the hell are you talking about “save the planet?”  Man is so arrogant that him think that him can do something to destroy the planet.  Save yourself.  Because all of this is about man trying to live on this planet with good air, good food, and good things.  It’s not about the planet really, because the planet have a way for recycle and regenerate million of years over and over and over.  And we have a phrase in Jamaica ” have no fear of atomic energy cause none of then can stop the time.”…Man will never be able to destroy this planet.  What is going to happen is that it will be very miserable for man to live on this planet.  So we have to change the language.  It’s human beings who have to save man’s fate on the planet.”  I’m not sure I agree that humans are incapable of annihilating the planet, but it’s certainly true that the earth is full of wisdom and has a better chance for survival than we do.

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It is sad, and unnecessary that “The drugs that are legal kill more people than the drugs that are illegal.”  Strengthen your immune system and pay close attention to what your body is telling you.

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Chuck D – co-founder of Public Enemy, hip hop producer, radio talk show host, writer, activist – wants to see musicians using their platform for good.  “…people…when they use the culture (music) it’s supposed to be used to as communication, to go back into the people, to progress the people, to progress mankind, as communication.”  He’s very engaging and humorous.

Talking about the importance of personal growth: “…my involvement in hip hop says, you know what, “Fight the Power” has meant a lot of different things.  Does it mean the same thing it meant for me when I first started my career?  No.  Things change every year…Whoever the fuck doesn’t change in 22 years, something is wrong.  But you change for the better because you realize your surroundings and you you realize every year it’s like your playing sports, the defense changed so you adjust the offense, or the offense changed so you adjust the defense.  Your conversation should be engaging to build around you.”  Change is so necessary.  It’s frequently not easy, but so worthwhile.

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He says hip hop should speak to caring about who you are (how you represent) and the planet we call home.  It’s just “common sense” and if hip hop isn’t speaking to that there’s “something the fuck wrong with that.”  Jahi is one positive example.  He also says hip hop is “lacking the collective voice of women.”  So going forward he’s fighting for “women empowerment through hip hop.”

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He talked about the importance of recognizing the value of the natural world, and paying attention to it, vs. looking to machines (technology, products…) as our saviors, as much of corporate America would like us to do.  “For the first time in my life, I’ve really been able to notice schools of birds on poles in the street…like 50 on a pole…and they all choose one pole…almost like they’re just laughing at us and saying “they (humans) are fucking us up, they’re fucking us up.”  ….My wife says the animals are going berzerk.  All we have to do is pay attention to the animals and they are speaking a language that’s telling human beings that “you know, time is running out.”  Yep, in addition to paying attention to your body and listening with respect to other people, tune in to the animal energy.  A lot of them are a lot smarter than a lot of us.

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Talking about how the approach those in power have been taking – competition and greed at the expense of others – needs to change to one of collaboration, if we are to survive.  “They’re like “Oh, I’m sorry but the United States ain’t number one…It ain’t no damn football team.”

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And this shows real wisdom and foresight: “…fresh water, which is the oil of the future.  So wars for oil, into wars for water, we’re starting to see the bleeding areas….and we’ve got to say and do something about this, to not have corporations have the same say so…If Exxon starts delivering bottled water, we got something to worry about.”  He’s not the only one talking about this, but so many more people need to wake up and realize that humans are sucking the planet dry, and without clean water we die.  It is an absolute shame that millions of people on this planet don’t currently have access and that number is rising.  There are so many great innovative technologies out there for reducing water consumption and recycling what is used.  Embrace them and also just conserve.  And, get other people thinking/talking about it.  It’s Really important.

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And finally, the guy with the megaphone in the parking lot: “The arctic ice is melting now, and it’s not freezing back again, so the polar bears are left with no ice.  They’re drowning.  And this was supposed to happen years from now, so there’s no time to waste.  And I’m not telling you to do this (wake up, stop harming and start healing the planet), the United Nations is, the International [Intergovernmental] Panel on Climate Control [Change].  So google that.”

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I have mixed feelings about blasting your message around.  It’s kind of noise pollution.  But, free speech is a right and privilege and people are free to keep walking if they don’t wanna listen.   His point was that you don’t need to “buy a Prius or change a light bulb, just stop eating meat.”   While I agree that a vegetarian diet consumes far fewer resources, I don’t agree that it is The Best approach.  There are many good approaches to living lightly on the planet and everyone is different.  So, let’s think critically, question the status quo, listen to our inner wisdom along with the wisdom of the planet, the creatures, and the people we interact with, and act wisely in ways that make sense for us.  And, keep in mind Chuck D’s point that things are always changing and so should we.

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