"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
Thought I’d share what is happening over at Abound. We’ve got a Facebook page, and Facebook Group and have started to collect stories that illustrate the “Abundance Affect“. Here’s an excerpt from the website:
…When we make this commitment surprising things begin to happen. Positive value begins to ripple and flow out from this intention and commitment. Happy accidents occur. Rather than creating collateral damage, collateral benefit begins to accrue. Formerly externalized costs are transformed into externalized value. It is the creation of unintended yet undeniably positive value in unexpected places. We call this the Abundance Affect.
…To understand more about how they are doing this, the challenges they face, and the tough choices they have to make please take some time with their stories. They are beautiful. They are real. They are happening now.
Apparently, we are not just what we eat. What we eat transforms us. Our bodies, brains–our whole system–organizes around what we choose to consume. A recent study has shown that rats fed a steady diet of Ding Dongs develop classic addiction symptoms and behaviors. These include withdrawal and the willingness to endure hardship (repeated shocks) to obtain those precious creme-filled treasures.
Think about what you eat. Vegetarian? A diet rich in meat? You have physiologically, psychologically and existentially organized your self around this choice and this choice now has become a habit, a way of life. This choice is now organizing you.
We are incredibly resilient creatures. Highly adaptive, the wholeness of our being adapts to and adapts us to the life conditions we choose and into we are embedded. And, what we eat seems to be one of the core organizing principles.
So, it’s kind of neat to think that we can choose our addictions. We can choose to overdose on Ding Dongs and their nefarious yellow cousins, Twinkies. We can choose to align our selves with Monsanto and Nestle and shovel down processed foods oozing genetically modified high fructose corn syrup. Or we can organize our lives around thriving and consuming and living locally. Literally, we can become one with land and, through the habits of mind, body and spirit this choice engenders, become closer to each other.
The choice, initially, belongs to you.
Z is for Zero, a Target for Waste. Robyn Hitchcock: You’re just trash…and you’re a loser. The only people that prosper (short term) from trash are waste removal companies. Eventually, we all lose. Take packaging: companies waste money and resources through packaging, we waste money to buy it and throw it away. Plastic packaging and waste floats languidly in nation-sized gyres in the Atlantic and Pacific. Consider this: Wend magazine reports that the North Pacific gyre is currently twice the size of the continental U.S.
Sooo, as consumers what can we do? Aim for zero waste. Recently, I was told that Dick and Jeanne Roy of the Center for Earth Leadership, here in Portland, put out one can of garbage per year. Waste serves no purpose, adds no value and is a meaningless burden on our communities and our world. We can all make a big impact here.
1) Simply reduce. Pay attention to what you buy and what is wrapped around it. Buy accordingly. Avoid plastic bags like week old guacamole.
2) Rethink and Redesign. Walk up to that big ‘ol mirror and don’t flinch at what you see. Take a moment to reflect on your consumption patterns and style. Change what is clearly wasteful.
And, repeat. It’s not just trash we’re wasting and it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about us. Our world, our communities, our home.
Y is for Yes and the Power of Intention. Peter Gabriel: And the tears roll down my swollen cheek, I think I’m losing it, getting weaker…I hold the line, I hold the line. Record numbers of homeowners are walking away from mortgages that they are fully capable of paying. According to a Times Magazine article Their decision is strategic. It’s good business. As the writer says, “we are all economic pinballs, insensibly colliding for better or worse.” Financial services organizations routinely make such “strategic” decisions. Banks no longer own mortgages, why should we?
This is economic nihilism and it does make sense – if we view our lives as one thin transaction after another. If we believe we’re losing it we probably will. Disconnective thinking breeds disconnected action. It is a a symptom of withdrawal, collapse, contraction and fear. Mentally, physically, spiritually we grow weaker. We believe we can separate our “selves” from “the world.”
We hold the line. The line is a thread. A thread that connects and binds us together. We can ignore it. We can say “no” to it but the relationship won’t go away. We hold the line. We can turn our backs on responsibility. We can put our heads in the sand and refuse ownership and obligation. We remain connected, however, the quality of that connection is weakened, degraded, frayed. Or, we can say, “yes.” “Yes”, opens us to opportunity, possibility and abundance.
They hold the line. What would happen if a line of credit was also seen as a line of connection? What would happen if banks looked at us less as risks to be managed and more as opportunities to increase social and relational capital in the communities they serve?
We hold the line. What would happen if we said “yes” to spending strategically to build value in our cities and communities? What if our intention as consumers was to support and sustain the banks, businesses and services that sustain us?
Try it. Say “yes”, reach out and connect. Manifest the intention to support and sustain each other. Share what we share anyway to strengthen our connection. It is within our grasp. We hold the line, the line of strength that pulls us through the fear.
At Kiyomizudera they have chosen “shin” as the kanji most representative of the past year, 2009. Shin means “new”. The kanji “新米” means a new crop of rice, new growth and symbolizes a fresh beginning. It is easy and, perhaps, more comfortable to think of the last year as a year of loss. Over 15 million children died of hunger. Millions of people lost their jobs, hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes, wealth evaporated, hope continues to be severely tested.
Yet in the midst of such suffering, tragedy and loss the seeds of opportunity are sown. Somehow, life perseveres. Somehow, we go on. And, somehow, we still have the capacity for happiness, compassion, joy. Somehow, we continue to work the land and, somehow, the land continues to provide.
Every day, every moment, in every breath, opportunity emerges. This place, our place,this planet, our planet this universe, our universe is impossibly complex, simply abundant. Our minds, our senses are the universe witnessing, wondering, reflecting on itself. What we perceive are our selves, in all of our inter-related, interwoven beauty. We are many. We are one. We are the dance and interplay between.
Opportunity emerges. Faith abides. As we awake to the “new” year, we strive to begin anew. To be better fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, children. We have the opportunity to be so much, even when we have so little – even when we’ve lost so much.
Let us all take a moment as we begin this new year and be silent, present, full. Of life. Of love. Of each other and the abundance the universe provides.
Now, let that moment go: on, and on, and on…
V is for Vision and What We Can See. Perry Farrell: We saw shadows of the morning light, shadows of the evening sun, till the shadows and the light were one. We act within the limits of our vision: what we perceive. From attention emerges intention, intention framing and directing attention. From Council Crest, a mountain top near our house I can see the valley where we do our shopping, downtown Portland, Mt. St. Helens, Rainier and Adams. I’ve seen the sun setting over the Coast Range and moon rising over Mt. Hood, shadow and light becoming one. From where I sit in my house, now, I see the Winter sun thawing the frost from the rhododendrons and hummingbirds hovering over their feeders. Mountains, valleys, sun and moon are mostly hidden from view. Yet, still they are here. Around me, in me, a part of me, in mind.
Deciding what, when and how to consume is a matter of vision. What do we perceive as our needs? What do we choose to see? To what are we blind? What is in our line of sight that we choose to ignore? From Council Crest some of us see mountains, some see the glittering lights of downtown Portland, some see power lines. For some people a home is family, for some shelter, for others – a prison.
If our vision is limited to “me”, my backyard, my needs then we act and consume accordingly. The world, essentially is perceived as a place that meets or threatens our well being. We take what we want. If, in seeking the larger view, we begin to include the people, plants, animals, environment and energy flow that create our community we will act and consume differently. Seeing the larger view, brings the world into mind.
Where we choose to direct our gaze depends on where we’re standing. Are you looking out a window? Staring at a wall? Commanding a view from Council Crest? Inspecting the bottom of your shoes?
It begins with an awareness of breath. My breath, my wife’s breath, rain falling lightly in the fog outside the bedroom window. My son stirs, clambers down from his loft and crawls into our bed. Family, the three of us half-awake, half-asleep, still this early morning.
Memories of Thanksgivings past dance through the fog Douglass Fir tree tops emerge. Family gathering in Ohio. Friends coming down from Tacoma. Friends full, already stuffed in Tokyo. Ah, the gift of Chex mix and bright green moss on the trees.
Grace, our turkey, begins her slow transformation into dinner. Grace, the words and the intent behind the words uttered before our feast, our communion and celebration of Abundance. So much to be thankful for. So much.
My son’s blonde mane appears over his now sleeping mother, followed by, simply, the most beautiful smile. Time to wake and be, fully, part of a day dedicated to Gratitude.
Itadakimasu. We humbly and wholly accept and receive this gift of life, family & community, bountiful harvests, opportunity & prosperity, and the means to give these gifts of Abundance to others. Om Shanti Om. Amen.
R is for (Re) That Begins the Begin. Michael Stipe: Let’s begin again. Begin the begin. Yes, REM again. It is slowly dawning (at least publicly) on key economic muckety mucks that a straight line growth model for business and the economy driven by relentless consumer spending may not be the direction we want to continue heading in. From No more reliance on consumer spending: Volcker on the Reuters site:
Consumer spending accounted for 70 percent of the U.S. economy before last year’s economic meltdown, a level that Volcker said was sustained only by “the magic of financial engineering.”
“We cannot rebuild the economy to the tune of 70 percent consumption or housing booms. It will just break down again,” Volcker said.
“We cannot have so much consumption.”
Begin the Begin. Volcker’s position is that we have to shift our paradigm from one of endless production and consumption of stuff to one of innovation and creation of value through projects like infrastructure development, “green” technology, energy efficiency and (re)trofitting of existing buildings. For consumers that means a strategic (re)direction of our spending. Instead of accumulating stuff how can we (re)orient our spending to create value?
Can we (re)invest in community?
Can we (re)trofit our homes?
Can we (re)duce our mindless buying?
Can we (re)place waste generating habits with value generating ones?
Can we (re)cycle the waste we do produce and the stuff that we do buy?
Can we (re)pair things instead of throwing them away?
Can we (re)use things and the things in things?
Can we (re)fuse that which is wasteful, poorly designed and, essentially, junk?
Can we (re)direct our spending on things, businesses and services that strengthen the Value Web?
You get the idea. Feel free to add to the (re) list and, please, begin the begin.
It is silly, really,
lines drawn where there are no lines. Only nature. No nature. Only darkness. Only stars.
We cannot separate
our selves, yet we
H is for Health That Should Never Be Poor. Basho: Old pond / frog jumps in / the sound of water. In the US we are currently wrapped up in a very important, often ridiculous debate about healthcare or, more accurately, health insurance. Having just repatriated and wandered the maze of healthcare choices”, as a consumer, I can say the array of choices in front of me was more like a game of Russian roulette or a bizarre amalgam of Sophie’s Choice and Groundhog Day. Each of the myriad “choices” I had to make was a gamble or a sacrifice. It was stressful, unsatisfying and, well, unhealthy.
David Gilmour: I am you and what I see is me. Consider a frog. Essentially frogs need water, warmth and bugs. Taint or take away one of those essentials (or the conditions that support these essentials) and you’ve got a mess of unhealthy, mutated frogs or no frogs at all. Frogs are voracious consumers in their eco-systemic niche. So are we. As humans we need a healthy, resilient, sustaining Value Web, yet so many of the choices we are being asked to make are neither healthy for us, our communities and the eco-systems that sustain us.
For consumers, shopping is a highly entertaining game of choice. The question is what are we really choosing? In the case of healthcare we are “choosing” damaged goods from a broken system. In the case of health, though, as we shop, we have the opportunity to choose for our selves and support the health of our communities and the eco-systems that support them. Our choices can give life instead damaging the conditions that make it possible. We can design the effects of our purchases to be less bad and more good and healthier for all of us-including the frogs.