Fresh hope unwinds

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Every spring fresh hope unwinds
aromas soft and verdant tones
caressed by breezes gently blown.

Downy branches above entwined
boast tawny lace and feather brush
display of life's relentless crush.

Hungry birds peck morsels of rind
Ants rush in to gather and feed
Meanwhile furry mold tendrils breed.

Mountains shudder tectonic grind
Homo sapiens slap, drill, frack
natural gas to feed smokestacks.

Droughts fertilize presence of mind
Precious aquifers, waters fresh,
prized soil cleaned for organic creche.

Winds of change blowing bane behind
Asthma lifts with less tar and coal
Smog fumes thin with less truck petrol.

World intentions yet to be signed
When minds wed will actions follow?
Could hopeful anthems ring hollow?

Gossamer from a spool unwinds,
Life threads its spiraled mystery,
Spins mirage of eternity.


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This poem is an attempted "Constanza" in
response to Jane Dougherty Poetry
Challenge #26: Constanza.  Please 
follow the link to learn more about
this poetic form.

© 2016, All rights reserved by 
Ontheland.wordpress.com

Life on the line–Berta Caceres

Berta Cáceres won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for defending the environment–she led her Central American indigenous community in protesting a hydro-electric dam project.  After numerous threats of kidnapping and death, she was shot dead in her Honduras home in March.



Fatal gunshots rang out in Honduras,
echoing across media channels,
a tragic event, an activist shot,
a senseless death for all to mourn.

Berta Cáceres: honored activist
took aim against a hydro dam,
championed indigenous rights,
Defended her home, a spirit river.

Berta Cáceres:  fearless, strong,
led the Lenca people's protest,
hearing threats to life and freedom,
Bold defender, they shot her down.

May her death become symbolic of
heinous crimes across the world,
killing stewards of nature spaces,  
silencing those who care.

True heroes, friends of the earth:
those who challenge industry are
not intimidated by guns, 
bulldozers nor political clout.

People refusing to move away from
native soil, birthplace and roots,for
centuries have tended their homes,
Preserving the planet for us all.

For an excellent video honoring Berta Cáceres after she won the Goldman Environmental Prize last year, please visit here.

Global Witness, a London non-profit organization, reports:

  • in 2014, there were 116 documented killings of environmental activists worldwide;
  • 3/4 of the murders were in Central and South America
  • 40% of the victims were indigenous people.

This post emerged after I pondered the Secretkeeper Weekly Writing Prompt #32 words: | SPACE | FRIEND | EVENT | MOVE | AIM.

©2016, All rights reserved by Ontheland.wordpress.com

Canaries in the coal mine–haiku and quotes

Fumes seep and spiral,
Canaries in the coal mine
Chirp their last faint song.

RonovanWrites’ prompts of the week (trill and final) made me think of canaries in a coal mine.  Initially, I had an image of canaries singing to warn of danger.  However the canary warning is not their chirping–it’s their death.  Miners used to bring caged canaries into mines to warn them of dangerous gas leaks. When their feathered friends passed out, they knew it was time to get out of the mine.

As Wednesday is the day I do a quotations post, I searched for  a ‘canary in the coal mine’ quote.  I was not disappointed.  I found three interesting candidates–the first two have an environmental theme and the third one offers artistic inspiration.

roger-payne-quote-whales-are-humanitys-canary-in-the-coal-mine-as-ocea

“Whales are humanity’s canary in the coal mine,…As ocean pollution levels increase, marine mammals like whales will be among the first to go.”

Roger Searle Payne (born January 29, 1935) is an American biologist and environmentalist famous for the 1967 discovery (with Scott McVay) of whale song among humpback whales. Payne later became an important figure in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling.

Wikipedia

frances-gulland-quote-i-believe-that-these-sea-lions-that-are-washing

“I believe that these sea lions that are washing up along the coast are actually acting as important canaries in the coal mine, warning us of some ocean changes that contribute in fact to human health.”

Dr. Frances Gulland is the Director of Veterinary Science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. Dr. Gulland has been actively involved in the veterinary care of stranded marine mammals and research into marine mammal diseases since 1994.

State of California Ocean Protection Council

I-sometimes-wondered kurt vonnegut

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts.  This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive.  They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”

What do you think about Kurt Vonnegut’s theory?  I believe he was pondering human survival and asking ‘how do the arts promote the survival of humankind?’  His answer, quoted above, is that artists (writers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, musicians, etc) are more sensitive; in touch with feelings, senses, imagination, intuition, and such.  Artists notice more of what is going on in the world.

A bit elitist or grandiose?  Perhaps, but Vonnegut may have been onto something.  Another approach would be to attribute sensitivity to artistic endeavour rather than to those who pursue it full-time.  In other words, people are more fulfilled and aware when they can incorporate the arts into their lives. We all have the potential to be canaries in the coal mine.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction.

Wikiquote

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In the mood for more quotes? Visit RonovanWrites and SilverThreading.

 

Thomas Berry’s Eco-Theology

I am happy to have been tagged by Sana of  My Journey with Hijab  for a  3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge’.  This is Day #2.  Many thanks to Sana for inviting me to participate. If you haven’t already visited her blog you might want to take a look–you’ll find humour, thoughtful reflections, spiritual quotes, words of compassion, and more.

The rules for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge:

1. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

2.  Choose three consecutive days to share a new quote on your blog. They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything that inspires you… Which means, it can be from yourself, too!

3. On each of the three days, nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this mission impossible endeavor (if they dare!).

Today’s challenge nominees are: The Writer Next Door, Uncle Spike’s Adventures, Your Nibbled News.

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quote-the-destiny-of-humans-cannot-be-separated-from-the-destiny-of-earth-thomas-berry-71-71-66

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At first glance, this statement may seem obvious: “The destiny of humans cannot be separated from the destiny of earth.”  However, the comment is a fine distillation of much thought by a respected Catholic theologian.  Further, it is a thought that is easy to accept, but not so easy to honour, as it doesn’t reflect our current legal, political, and economic systems.  One example:  in North America we have charters and bills of human rights, but the interests of land, air, animals, trees, and lakes, etc. are not enshrined in our constitutions.  In fact, some people debate environmental protection laws as if they are optional–why should they be optional if our destiny is in fact inseparable from the destiny of the earth?

Thomas Berry was a Catholic Priest, cultural historian, eco-theologian, and author from North Carolina, U.S.A.–he lived primarily in the 20th century, but lived almost a decade in the 21st  (1914-2009).  I came across his thinking accidentally.  I was looking into Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French writer, mystic, and theologian (1881-1955); and learned about Thomas Berry while listening to his talks about Teilhard de Chardin (posted on YouTube).

Teilhard de Chardin brought evolution into Christian theological thinking–he experienced the Divine within a dynamic unfolding universe, in a continual process of  creation and emergence.  Creation of the Universe lead to formation of the Earth, Life on earth, and  eventually, Humans.  Thomas Berry took this vision one step further and proposed that humans, as an integral part of the Universe, must live in community with it–in a spirit of cooperation rather than domination–shifting from an anthropocentric orientation to a bio- or eco-centric  one.

Here is a list of a few Thomas Berry books:

The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, 1999

The Dream of the Earth, 1988

Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred
 Community, 2006

The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and
 Religion in the Twenty-First Century, 2009

John Trudell: Crazy Horse

I am happy to have been tagged by Sana of  My Journey with Hijab for a  3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge’.  This is Day #1. Many thanks to Sana for inviting me to participate. If you haven’t already visited her blog you might want to take a look–you’ll find humour, thoughtful reflections, spiritual quotes, words of compassion and more.

The rules for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge:

1. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

2.  Choose three consecutive days to share a new quote on your blog.  They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything that inspires you… Which means, it can be from yourself, too!

3. On each of the three days, nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this mission impossible endeavor (if they dare!).

Today’s challenge nominees are:  the secretkeeper, in medias res, Stuff and what if…

♦ ♦ ♦

 John Trudell was a Native American activist, author, poet, actor and musician. He recently passed away on December 8, 2015.  A spiritual man, he viewed nature and man as one. A false dichotomy between human beings and the natural world has contributed to our ability to pollute the land, water, earth and air.

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air

Crazy Horse
We hear what you say

Too many people
Standing their ground
Standing the wrong ground
Predator’s face he possessed a race
Possession a war that doesn’t end
Children of god feed on children of earth
Days people don’t care for people
These days are the hardest
Material fields material harvest
decoration on chain that binds
Mirrors gold the people lose their minds

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon

Today is now and then
Dream smokes touch the clouds
On a day when death didn’t die
Real world time tricks shadows lie
Red white perception deception
Predator tries civilising us
But the tribes will not go without return
Genetic light from the other side
A song from the heart our hearts to give
The wild days the glory days live

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air

Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
We are the seventh generation
We are the seventh generation

Crazy Horse, We hear what you say.

John Trudell:  spoken word
Quiltman:  Traditional Vocals
Mark Shark:  slide guitar and percussion
Ricky Eckstein:  Keyboards and percussion
Billy Watts:  Electric guitar

‘Crazy Horse’ is the first track on John Trudell’s Bone Days album.

3 Days, 3 Quotes: Yann Arthus-Bertrand–Quotes and Human Movie Trailer

I am happy and honoured to have been tagged by the the secret keeper  to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge’.  This is Day 2 of my response. Many thanks to the Secret Keeper for including me in this challenge.  Many of my readers will know of her blog, a place of poetry, literature, reviews, humour, philosophy, photography, and amazing visual art.  You may also be fortunate to know of her, as I do, as a generous and thoughtful commentator.

The rules for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge:

1. Thank the blogger, who nominated you.

2. Share one new quote on three consecutive days on your blog. They can be from anywhere, anyone, or anything that inspires you… Which means, it can be from yourself, too!

3. On each of the three days, nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this mission impossible endeavor (if they dare!).

Today’s nominees:

Dancing Echoes: ‘Beats Stumbling Around in Silence’

The ancient eavesdropper: ‘Nature’s nuances in a nutshell’

To Wear a Rainbow:  Silver linings in a woman’s world’

And now, my response to the Challenge:

Yann Arthus Bertrand 2014
Yann Arthus-Bertrand 2014, photo by Robert Palau

The Earth is art, the photographer is only a witness.

― Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Earth from Above

“The Earth is art, the photographer is only a witness”. While viewing beautiful nature photographs, posted on WordPress almost every day of the week, I have felt this truth. The ultimate brilliance of a nature photo is nature  itself–of course photographic skills and equipment do help.

In honour of this quote, I am sharing a recent photo showing autumn colours near where I live in Ontario, Canada. The foliage is gorgeous right now.  This picture only captures a hint of the real beauty,  but if you look closely or click on the picture for a larger version, you will be able to see the cattail bursting open in the lower right quadrant, and the carpet of treetops bordering the roadway in the centre left.

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There is a universal quality about beauty; in front of a vast landscape, we all share the same feeling of wonder. When nature is beautiful, we are all moved by it. While taking a photo “for beauty at its best”, I aim at eliciting emotion to provoke thought and the need to know more, to read the caption and learn what is at stake… 

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand is most well-known as the journalist/photographer/environmentalist who travels the globe taking aerial photographs of landscapes–from helicopters and hot air balloons.  His well-known book, Earth From Above, was published in 1999, and sold over 3 million copies.  After that project he went on to produce environmental documentaries and films.  In 2005 he founded the Good Planet Foundation and in 2009, his feature film, Home, was released on YouTube for public streaming. Home features aerial landscape shots and narration, documenting both Earth’s beauty and how we are upsetting its ecological balance.

In September 2015, he released a new film, Human.  I learned about Human while writing this post.  It’s format is innovative.   Human, demonstrates that Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a humanitarian environmentalist–someone who knows that the welfare and happiness of human beings is important and inextricable from the health and welfare of other living creatures and earth’s biosphere.  Human features three Voices:  the Earth, in aerial photographs; People from all over the globe who speak about their lives; and Music by Armand Amar, composed as the film was made.

By putting humanity’s ills – poverty, war, immigration, homophobia – at the heart of the film, I made some politically engaged choices. But the interviewees spoke to us about all kinds of topics, from their difficulties in growing up to their search for love and happiness. It is this vast wealth of human discourse which lies at the heart of HUMAN. 

Yann Arthus-Bertrand in Human Presentation Kit

Extensive footage and audio recordings were molded into several formats, including a television version,  a cinematography version, and three films for viewing on YouTube and GooglePlay.  To view the first of the three see:  Human, Extended Version, Volume 1. Check this brief trailer for a flavour of the film(s):

Tomorrow I’ll post my final ‘3 Days, 3 Quotes’ submission, featuring another humanitarian environmentalist, Dr. Jane Goodall.

‘Love song to the earth’—Writer’s Quote Wednesday–#BeWoW

This is a love song to the earth,
You’re no ordinary world,
A diamond in the universe,
Heaven’s poetry to us,
Keep it safe, keep it safe, keep it safe,
‘Cause it’s our world.
See Mama earth is in a crazy mess,
It’s time for us to do our best,
From deep sea straight up to Everest,
She under crazy stress unless you wanna be motherless,
Clean heart, green heart, is the way I stress,
Speediness and too much greediness,
6 Billion people all want plentiness,
Some people think this is harmless,
But if we continue there’ll only be emptiness.

My quotes for today are from ‘Love Song to the Earth’, a charity single released on September 4, 2015.  The first section is the song’s refrain and the second is one of the verses.  The song was written by a group of writers at the request of the United Nations Foundation. There are a variety of  authorship attributions, but these names have been cited most often:  Tony Gad, John Shanks, Natasha Bedingfeld, and Sean Paul.

‘Love Song to the Earth’  is an anthem intended to increase public awareness and support for climate action as we approach the UN climate talks in Paris (November 30 to December 11).  The idea is that  general public support for climate action will motivate world leaders at the climate talks to reach a bold consensus.

Before reading more, I invite you to listen and view this beautiful lyric video starring 16 well-known pop performers, including Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crow:

The first time I listened to the song I thought it was sort of ‘soft’.  It is gentle, but I have come to like it.  I quoted the rap verse, because I feel that musically, it has the most ‘punch’–as do the words.  The gentleness of the song was intentional.  People tune out to climate change fear messages. The writers felt that appealing to feelings of love and a desire to care for our planet would be more empowering than trying to motivate with fear. I tend to agree. What are your thoughts on this?

This is more than a song, it’s a political strategy.  The song has a website: lovesongtotheearth.org  and a twitter handle: #sharethelovesong. On the website you are invited to sign a message, to world leaders attending the climate summit, saying:

“Please take a strong stand to keep Earth safe at the global climate negotiations.”

The message, with signatures, will be presented at the opening of the climate talks.  On top of all this,  any royalties from purchasing, streaming, or sharing the song will go to the United Nations Foundation in its work to promote international climate change efforts, and to Friends of the Earth U.S., for its climate change work.

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This post is being linked  to Writer’s Quote Wednesday October 7 hosted by Colleen Chesebro, author of Silver Threading.  Please follow the above link to read her launch post. As well, there are links to other Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts in the Comments section.

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And for more quotation posts, visit  Ronovan Writes #BeWoW, October 7This link will take you to a  post by Ronovan, host of #BeWoW– Be Writing on Wednesday  and Be Wonderful on Wednesday.