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Shades of Green

Can’t complain about climate change all the time…

INSPIRED BY the pergola kit from Lowe’s we installed in our backyard last year, I designed and built a trellis to match for the front. Although a redwood tree was harmed in the process, our intentions are green. Besides softening the view of the cul-de-sac from our breakfast nook, the honeysuckle and clematis starts on either end will eventually double as a hummingbird magnets and triple as a carbon sink. Or so I like to think.

Thing is, there has to be more to life than mobilizing against our mindless slide into climate catastrophe. Not much more, but even a little bit of gracious affirmation goes a long way. So, here’s to life while it lasts…


Climateer Comix

Putting Fun Back in Fundamental Change.

THE CLIMATE crisis is, generally, not very funny. And talking about it is, generally, no fun at all. So why not combine the two and see what happens; like multiplying two negative numbers? How that creates a positive number is still beyond me, but apparently it does. So I did, and this is what happened…

The “Casey and Claus” cartoon strip will be a weekly posting on our Climateers Instagram site. The hope, of course, is that it attracts more students to engage in climate action—including motivating their parents and grandparents to also engage. Could be a good thing.

Posted Wednesday mornings on Climateers

“Casey” (a kind of cool, gender-neutral name) is the blue “Climateer” and “Claus” is his trusty dog (and generator of subordinate clause punchlines). The PhotoShop-based template I built will simplify production—less than two hours per cartoon, start to finish. That’s manageable. Hope you enjoy them.

See you in the funny papers.

Sharing a Facebook Post.

MOST OF my FB posts are fairly pedestrian, but this one seemed to capture what I’ve been trying to say and do to inspire (cajole?) environmental engagement—so I wanted to share it beyond a small circle of Facebook friends. Maybe it will help? Ya never know. Goes like this:

“Five million acres burned, thousands of homes destroyed, dozens dead or missing, half a million evacuated, no end in sight. And we’re only in the beginning of the 2020 fire season. This is what hope without action looks like…”

What else can I say?

It’s up to me. And it’s up to you…

 

 

Vote Climate

…as if your life depended on it.

YOU MAY have heard there’s an election coming up. It’s true—although it may turn out to be more of an exorcism. We shall see. And perhaps, endure.

That being said, it’s probably no surprise that for me—along with the survival of the few remaining democratic principles America started with—climate remains the clincher. No climate stability, no civilization; sooner rather than later. And climate is no longer stable. The evidence for that is everywhere.

In response, Climateers, our fledgling, do-it-yourself activist group, is urging its followers to “Vote Climate” with a series of postings I designed, ending on election day. Here are a few samples:

You can see the series as it appears, every Friday until the election, by following Climateers on Instagram. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s the right thing to do.

And if you like one, please share it.

It’s up to me. And it’s up to you…

 

Serendipitous Song

An Unexpected Song of the Month.

I RECENTLY recommited to creating a Song of the Month, starting in September. For the relaunch, I’d intended to record “Jack,” my true tale about the harmless but crazy janitor from my graphic design days. And I will. For October.

Meantime, I’d been sitting on a request from Sravasti Abbey to produce a banjo-backed version of an ancient Sanskrit chant that I needed to complete first. Since their mission is to establish the Tibetan Buddhism monastic tradition in the West, they wanted something with a touch of Americana to use in video soundtracks. A really fun idea, I thought. And it was.

It also consumed far more (blissful) time than I anticipated; and then, to my surprise, seemed more accessible to non-Buddhists than I expected. And since I’d run out of time to record Jack for September, I realized (rationalized?) it could be a cool offering for restarting my monthly commitment. Either way, here it is.

om of the free

Yes, something fun, spiritually uplifting and non-political/non-apocalyptic. Almost un-American these days…


P O S T S C R I P T

IN THE PROCESS, I’m also abandoning the “newsletter” format for monthly song releases and including them in my more-or-less weekly blog. Cleaner, simpler and easier to retrieve this way.

Missing Links

…for Kids to Engage.

CLIMATEERS is steadily building a base of content and connection on Instagram with a series of entertaining short videos. Here are some links for your viewing pleasure:

It’s a start. We’re hoping to inspire students to get involved in creating and sharing their own climate activism to inspire other students to do the same. May work. May not work. Worth a try.

If you know any students (from kindergarten through grad school) who might want to engage, please turn them on to Climateers at Instagram.

MEANWHILE, obscured by appropriate but overwhelming Covid, electoral and economic media saturation, the climate crisis escalates. Our emissions continue increasing. Global heat continues rising. Wildfires are now infernos. Hurricanes are now apocalyptic. Irreversibly rising oceans are now also contaminated with toxic plastic garbage. In the face of this relentless reality, hope without action is wishful thinking—and nature doesn’t care what we wishfully think.

Only action matters. But, if we choose, we can do this.

It’s up to me. And it’s up to you…

 

 

Potpourri 2.0

Compost for Spring?

SOME WEEKS, it just feels like everything is turning to shit. Which is, after all, part of the natural cycle. Turn to shit, turn to compost, return to earth, die into winter, then resurrect in spring, renewed and refreshed.

In spring. But not today. Can’t be happy all the time.

For those who watched my Couch Concert 3.0 live, I thank you for your support and TLC. It will be my last. It’s insane, being my own producer, director, set designer, lighting director, audio engineer, videographer, technical director and, oh yeah, performer—live, in real time, singing into the void.* Not fun.

Instead, I’m returning to my neglected commitment of recording a “Song of the Month” every month. I’ve got enough material to keep me busy through the next year and beyond, so if you find enjoyment and meaning in my songs, I’ll keep them coming for you. If not, then they’re more easily ignored in this format. Either way, I think I’ve found the perfect price point for every budget.

 

Confronting a Climate of Complacency?

MAKING incremental progress with Climateers: Our little group is gathering youth on Instagram, where they live, working to inspire them into climate action—in the world and, at home, in their families.

Based on my own, scientifically unsound, anecdotal peer review, I’ve come to the conclusion that most Boomers, Gen-Xers, and older Millennials are aware they/we are currently losing our life or death battle with the unforgiving physics of climate change, but aren’t willing to endure any significant loss of comfort or convenience to retard its advance. Apparently, that’s just too much to ask.

So I’m planning on encouraging their children to question their complacency. If reasoning, educated adults won’t face reality on their own, act on the evidence that is unfolding all around them, or even be slightly roused from their trance of consumption by the guilt of destroying their host planet, maybe they will respond when their children and grandchildren ask why they continue this relentless indulgence, destroying all semblance of hope for them, their own flesh and blood, in the foreseeable future—and essentially, forever.

Then, recording their responses and posting them online for all to see.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

Ending on a Happy Note.

WE HAVE our first feathered tenant. A Downy Woodpecker has taken possession of one of our early spring birdhouses; curiously, the one designed, built and placed for, of all things, a Downy Woodpecker! How did it know? Will wonders ever cease!?

So, life goes on. And might even keep going on…

It’s up to me. And it’s up to you…

 


*  I didn’t post the video. The sound was unexpectedly hot and harsh; the performance, too meandering; and, overall, the entire production fell far short of expectations. So it goes.

Potpourri

A Little of This, a Little of That.

YOU MAY have noticed I didn’t post anything last week. Although the chaos of our times continues to accelerate, and opportunities for discussion and engagement abound, sometimes a blog just does not want to be written.

But that was last week…

C O M I N G   A T T R A C T I O N S

1) Climateers Update.

I JUST completed our first Climateers Pod Squad video prototype. The storyline is about dog food, specifically the remarkably indestructible and non-recyclable plastic bag it came in—a typical, mundane, daily annoyance for anyone paying attention to the avalanche of plastic that flows through our lives and into the trash. This particular single-use sack was so incredibly indestructible I decided to write a polite complaint and mail it along with the bag to the manufacturer’s CEO—something I’ve never done before.

Then I realized this action could also be a good demonstration project of our Climateers concept of documented and shared individual creative activism. So I photographed the process, added an upbeat music track and ended up with a surprisingly compelling result.

This 1-minute, animated slideshow has not yet been posted because that is currently beyond my level of Instagram competency, but it will be soon. In the meantime, you can have a sneak preview HERE.

2) Bodhi Bill is Back on the Couch.

IN THESE dark Covid times, death is all around. This may present an opportune time to share the experiences that motivated me to work with the dying. Or it may not. Your call.

3) Third Crime is the Charm.

AMID AMERICA’S criminally mismanaged Covid pandemic response and resulting economic free fall—neither of which had to be catastrophic but now are irrevocably so—the climate crisis continues to accelerate past our feeble attempts, so far, to contain it. This year is on track to be the hottest year in human existence. Yet silent complacency remains the fashionable response.

Offered once again is my fight song for those willing to engage in more than despair or denial. Turns out, it’s fun to fight back. Who knew!?

Stay safe. Stay strong. And stay engaged.

 

 

Serendipity

Changing Climate Change.

LAST YEAR, about this time, I began a fool’s errand. Having just returned to Reno, horrified by its explosive growth—doubling in just 12 years—and struggling to find any local climate action groups, I designed a poster and some fliers and began “Fasting for the Future” by the Truckee River on Saturdays. It appeared to make no difference, but one person happened to hear about it and also began fasting one day a week, on Fridays. We met up, made signs and stood out by City Hall and over time a few more joined in until we became a dedicated group of five elders, more or less acting as Reno’s placeholders for the international, youth-led Fridays For Future activists. And yet, still not making much of an impact.

Then Covid hit. We abandoned the sidewalk and continued to meet on Zoom, trying to figure out what to do next. Regrettably, the criminally negligent federal response guaranteed Covid would expand its death march through the country, unabated, for the indefinite future; we were not going to be returning to the sidewalk any time soon, whatever that might be worth.

Then we got lucky. An activist high school student along with a newly-minted Climate Studies PhD and UNR instructor joined in, taking us into a new direction online via Instagram. We fused ideas and inspirations to launch a new vision and Instagram account: Climateers.

The idea is to inspire “pod” groups of 2 to 5 “Climateers” to gather and create actions that can be done virtually or in small, safe settings, then upload their videos to our Instagram site. We’re starting with our UNR instructor’s summer class and will see how it goes. There’s not much there yet; we’ve just begun.

Two critical issues we are addressing: 1) Although Covid’s relentless toll is dominating the news, the climate crisis continues to worsen, irreversibly threatening everyone’s comfort, convenience and even survival; and, 2) Covid is forcing everyone to act virtually.

So maybe we’ll inspire people to create pods, sharing their results and inspiring others to do the same. And maybe not. Hard to predict. But we do have a dedicated group of seven to try and make it happen. That’s a good start. And maybe you can help spread the word or even create your own pod.

It’s up to me and it’s up to you…

 

Self Evident?

Taking the Fifth Every Fourth…

GORE VIDAL called America the United State of Amnesia. For a reason. Behind each freedom we cherish is a crime—against nature, against humanity, against any concept of God. And yet we, especially on this day, claim our divine right to forget.

Columbus “discovered” a fully-functioning Eden, where Man and God lived in harmony. He and his followers violently separated both and chopped down their garden’s still virgin tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to build cities of commerce, convenience, degradation and toxic waste. We celebrate that as progress.

Our founders created a republic for themselves on stolen lands while concocting a vicious, unprecedented form of perpetual slavery to pay for it. We celebrate that as liberty.

They devised a democratically enacted system of laws for those who looked like themselves that they denied to those who didn’t. We celebrate that as equal justice under the rule of law.

And yet, almost in spite of their arrogance, greed and willful blindness, they also created America as an ever-renewing, inspiring concept that transcends their faults and hypocrisies. The America they conceived, perhaps unintentionally, transcends the America they constructed.

This is an America worth celebrating.

And even our chronic national amnesia can recede, as we see in cities and towns across this country awakening to demand actual equal justice for our long-oppressed peoples.

This is a time worth celebrating

So let us move forward together, towards creating a more perfect union based on the vision of our founders and not the sins of our forefathers.

Happy Fourth of July Weekend…

 

 

 

 

Covid PSA

Not Just Another Flu.

ALTHOUGH last week’s post on racism and democracy generated much positive feedback, and I intend to continue that discussion, there is an element of the media’s relentless Covid-19 coverage that has pushed itself to the forefront of my consciousness—because it remains overlooked even as various states haphazardly reopen (and re-close): that more than a few Covid SURVIVORS will never fully recover.

I bring this up now because 1) it is an annoying, even reckless journalistic oversight; and 2) meanwhile, many of us, including me, are growing tired of the limitations imposed to “flatten the curve” of infections: the social isolation, social distancing, wearing of masks everywhere, relentless hand washing—the novelty of all this has long since worn off and many of us, including me, are tempted to at least bend some corners for social and emotional relief. After all, it’s only about one percent who die from Covid, right? And many of those were already in bad health and/or had pre-existing conditions, right?

Yes. But…

What is rarely mentioned is the damage and debilitation—possibly permanent—Covid can cause a significant portion of the 99 percent who do survive, including those who were perfectly heathy before being infected.

  • This from Science News: “In 70 patients who survived COVID-19 pneumonia, 66 had some level of lung damage visible in CT scans taken before hospital discharge.”
  • Or from the UK’s Business Insider: “The worst-hit coronavirus survivors could be left with lung damage that takes up to 15 years to heal.”
  • Or Gulf News: “1 in 3 survivors may suffer ‘irreversible’ lung damage.”

So if, like me, you’re tired of the social isolation, etc., etc., just try to imagine how tired you might become of trying catch your breath every time you walk across the room for the next decade—or possibly even the rest of your life, which could also be shortened.

The point being: now is not the time to relax preventive disciplines. I don’t much like it either, but…

…Covid-19 is not just another flu.

Just saying. Stay safe. Stay well.

 


POSTSCRIPT: ON A HAPPIER NOTE…

LIKE A lightning bug in a jar, Friday night’s live-streamed, seven-song Covid Couch Concert 2.0 was captured and its remaining luminescence can be viewed in the safe isolation of one’s own home on my YouTube channel. The theme: people I have known or known of. Was fun to make. Might even be fun to watch. You never know…