Why was Barack Obama awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

To begin with, congratulations to Barack Obama on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Obama received the award, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”And while there are some who feel the award may be premature, my belief is that this award is probably delivered at just the perfect time.

Is the award for things that Obama has already accomplished? Is it a recognition of Obama’s power to inspire people everywhere — coupled with his renewal of diplomacy as a means of moving the global conversation on peace forward? Or is there another agenda?

The Nobel committee many times awards the Peace Prize to people it believes can leverage the prize to further the agenda of peace — to add momentum, if you will, to efforts that are in-flight and may not have yet yielded dividends.

From the wikipedia entry on The Nobel Peace Prize:

However, others have pointed to the uniqueness of the Peace Prize in that its high profile can often focus world attention on particular problems and possibly aid in the peace-efforts themselves.

I believe it may be underestimated by many what impact this prize may have on the negotiations for peace that Obama will undertake in the coming years.

If this award allows him to be more effective in using diplomacy in the cause of peace over the next 3-7 years, then it will have a real and lasting impact — and I believe the committee is betting that will be the case.

I’m betting the same thing — for the sake of all who believe in the cause of peace.

The Outsized Power of Young People to Change The World

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It surprises me how many people believe that their individual actions make no difference to the world.

In a recent poll on this site, 45% felt that their personal actions “make no difference” with respect to Global Warming. (Of course, many of those responses were from Digg readers, who don’t represent the average reader on this site.)

I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I believe exactly the opposite to be true: Individuals can change the world, and for us to change the course that society is on it will be individuals that will have to lead the changes.

Corporations and Governments are going to change the world — that’s something that us individuals are going to have to do. Governments follow the lead of the people who fund elections, and corporations are focussed on making sure they continue to have short term profits. It’s only individual people who have the ability to change the world when it comes to environmental issues.

I also believe that young people have a dramatically outsized ability to change the world. Here are some examples:

1. Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King was only 24 years old when he became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Two years later when the black woman Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus, King became spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During the boycott he was arrested and his house was bombed, but he refused to quit — even though he had a young wife and child who, along with him, received constant death threats.

King was the youngest man to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize when he received it in 1964. His “I have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., is widely recognized as one of greatest American speeches of the 20th Century.

2. Bill Gates

Bill Gates was only 19 years old when he read in Popular Electronics about a new ‘personal’ computer that had been designed. He decided, along with his friend Paul Allen, to write software for it. They contacted the maker of the new machine and, within a year, he had taken a leave of absence from Harvard Colege and ‘Micro-soft’ had been founded.

The company they founded changed personal computing and the way people used computers forever. Today, Microsoft products are used worldwide and Bill Gates has become one of the richest people in the history of the world.

3. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was 26 years old in 1905 when, while working in the patent office as an ‘Assistant Examiner’ when he wrote and got published 4 papers on Physics. Among these papers were groundbreaking ideas on “The Photoelectric Effect”, a important discovery in Physics at that time.

In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work — with special mention of his early work on the photoelectric effect. In 1999 Einstein was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Century“. A poll of prominent physicists named him the greatest physicist of all time.

Einstein also made important contributions in other areas. His early warnings to US President Franklin Roosevelt regarding the potential for Germany to develop a Nuclear Bomb helped to spur the Manhattan Project. He was an ardent supporter of peace and spoke out for it throughout his life — he once was quoted as saying, “I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.

4. Rebecca Hoskings

Rebecca Hoskings was 31 years old when she traveled to Hawaii to film a documentary on its people and wildlife. But when she witnessed thousands of albatross chicks dying as a direct result of discarded plastics, she was both hurt and mad — and made a decision to make a difference.

Plastic grocery bags were a major culprit — the adult albatrosses saw plastic bags in the water and thought they were squid, so they scooped them up and fed them to the chicks. The chicks stomachs would then be filled with undigestible plastic which would eventually kill them.

So she organized a drive to ban plastic grocery bags in her home town of Modbury in the UK. Her efforts were successful and as of May 1, 2007 non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags are officially banned in her town. Moreover, publicity from this effort has made its way around the world and now many other cities are considering similar bans.

5. Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi was just 24 years old when he moved to South Africa for a 1 year job in South Africa. While there, he witnessed first-hand the discrimination and violence against Indians that was occurring in South Africa at that time. At the end of his 1 year job, he decided to stay on and help organize the fight against a law that was being passed to deprive Indians the right to vote.

A year later he founded the Natal Indian Congress to help organize Indians in South Africa as a political force. He continued to work for the rights of Indians in South Africa for 10 more years, during which time he developed his approach for non-violent demonstration. Eventually, Gandhi’s movement was successful and forced authorities to recognize the rights of Indians in that country.

The organizing skills and approaches developed by Gandhi during this time in his life helped him later when he used the same approaches to work for Independence in India itself. Today he is known as Father of the Nation in India and is recognized around the world as one of the great leaders of the 20th century.

6. Marie Curie

Marie Curie was in her late 20s when she and her husband Pierre began their groundbreaking research into radioactivity. When she was 30, they published a paper announcing the existence of Polonium, a new element. Later that year, they announced their discovery of Radium, another new element. In 1903, at the age of 35 she received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the work she had done in her late 20′s and early 30′s on radioactivity.

Marie also had to overcome discrimination against her for being a woman. Despite graduating first in her high school class, she was initially denied entrance to college because she was female. Despite this, she eventually found her way into the University of Paris where she again graduated first in her class (and later became the first female professor at that university). In 1902 she became the first woman in France to earn a Doctorate degree.

Marie Curie later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, making her the only person to have ever won a Nobel Prize in more than one scientific discipline.

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What Every Citizen Needs to Know NOW About Collaborating with Others On-Line.

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One of the primary ways that people are banding together to solve common problems is by using the Internet to collaborate with others. Whether the common problems they faces are around the world or down the block, there are great tools to use to help people get organized and work together to solve problems.

This guide will help you understand what the options are and how to move ahead and get organized!

Here are the 6 main categories of tools used and specific examples each and how to get started sing them.

1. E-Mail ‘mailing lists’, On-Line Groups and Forums

Early Internet users focussed primarily on e-mail listservers and newsgroups to share information and collaborate. Today, these two services are generally provided as combined services — meaning users can share information either by receiving e-mails every time someone posts an idea, or they can read posts left for the group through an on-line web interface similar to old-fashioned news groups.

Currently, the two most popular of these services are Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. They provide all the capabilities you need to:

  • Create groups and manage membership.
  • Send and receive e-mails to/from the group.
  • Browse and search or post new messages through a web-interface (similar to using a news group).

The Freecycle Network is an example of a group that’s been wildly successful in getting people to work together world-wide, yet they’re based primarily on local groups who are each using Yahoo Groups.

One problem with these on-line groups is that all group communications are public and stored in the archives at Yahoo and Google.

If your group does not want all their discussions to be publicly archived, a good option may be to use traditional e-mail list server software such as GNU Mailman or Majordomo. These options allow you to host the communications privately and have better control over the discussion archives, although they require reasonable technical skills to manage and maintain.

Many Internet hosting providers give you tools to create and manage e-mail discussion lists — and these can simplify things a lot if you want to host your own. For example, our hosting provider (Site5) gives you the ability to create and manage e-mail lists using GNU Mailman in their user control panel.

On-Line Forums are many times more random in scope than email lists or groups. But still, there are a powerful tool for collaborating with others. This is especially true for websites that want to help their readers share ideas and engage in general discussion.

Most Internet hosting providers provide free forum software as part of their basic hosting packages. Again, as an example our hosting provider (Site5) provides a couple options including phpBB2 and SMF.

2. Wikis

Wikis are great places to collaborate with other people and share important information. Wikipedia, of course, is the best know wiki on the Internet with literally millions of users world-wide.

Here are some other examples of great wikis:

  • DKosopedia
    A collaborative project focused on political and social change organized by the dailykos community.
  • Seacoast Eat Local
    A wiki put together by local bloggers in Southern New Hampshire, USA for people to share knowledge on local food options in their local area.
  • The FlatPlanetProject
    A wiki used by high school students to demonstrate the capabilities of working with others to organize and share information.

One of the really valuable things about wikis is that they stay around for a while. If you start a wiki then move on to other projects, someone else can come along a year later and build on your work. By getting the wiki started, you’ve organized at least part of the available knowledge and given the others a head start.

As with mail lists and groups, you can host your own wiki or find free ones on the Internet. Two of the examples here are built using the free wiki site Wkispaces. If you want to host your own wiki, we recommend starting here with this comparison of wiki software on Wikipedia.

It’s also important to consider the licensing terms you use for your wiki. To maximize the ability for you to cut/paste/copy other work into your wiki (as well as allow others to re-use your work in their projects) we recommend the GNU Free Documentation License. This license allows you, for example, to freely copy and reuse articles from Wikipedia, dailykos or any number of other sites that use the same license.

3. Blogs

One of the best ways to collaborate with others is to launch a blog with a team of dedicated individuals all posting on a specific topic. Some of the best examples of this are political blogs such as DailyKos, Think Progress and Little Green Footballs. These sites have literally hundreds of thousands (or millions) of readers who come there to share ideas, contribute thoughts and help to organize around ideas.

But many of the most effective blogs when it comes to organizing are much smaller and more focussed in nature. Here are just a couple great examples of groups of individuals blogging together for a common purpose:

Here are some other examples of great local blogs:

  • Seacoast Eat Local
    A group of individuals working to promote local food options in their area.
  • Blue Oregon
    A political blog focussed on local political issues in the state of Oregon
  • SM Baykeeper Blog
    A blog focussed on local environmental issues in Santa Monica, CA, USA. One recent post, for example, helped to Coastal Cleanup Day in and around Santa Monica.

While setting up your own hosted weblog isn’t that complicated if you’ve got the skills, many beginners Choose to just use the simple (and free!) services offered by Blogger.com or WordPress.com — either of these choices make it simple to setup and run your own blog quickly.

4. Skype Chat

Skype is a great communications tool for a number of reasons. First it’s free and allows for free calls around the world — but also because of it’s lesser-know chat capabilities.

Skype allows chats to be bookmarked and returned to at any later time. And the chats, once created, don’t die unless someone specifically kills them.

This allows for the creation of on-line chats where members can stop in any time and review messages they’ve missed. They can also drop in to say a few things, then leave — knowing the other chat members will pick their posts up when they get on-line.

This is especially good because it’s free and available world-wide. I personally work with groups of users on Skype chats that involve people from all over the world. We drop in and out and work together on ideas. It’s a great medium worth checking out.

5. On-line document development and sharing.

There are a number of ways to author and share documents on-line. The one I use most and like best is Google Documents. It’s easy to use, is always available, and makes it easy to share documents with other people.

I use this personally to work with other writers on posts to this weblog — even though those writers live in different states or around the world anywhere.

Another on-line document sharing service I’ve used that I liked a great deal is Backpack, from 37 Signals. Backpack provides another simple way to organize and share information as well as other features such as document storage, to do lists, and ways to organize information.

6. Basecamp

While my exposure to Basecamp (another 37 Signals product) has been minimal, I’ve seen enough to know it’s powerful and easy to use — although it’s not a free option. It’s good for larger groups that need to organize material to be delivered on a schedule.

Here are a couple quotes from individuals I know who are in love with the Basecamp:

Shea Gunther (StumbleGod and co-author of Ecotality Life):

“I’ve been using Basecamp for the past two years plus and frankly wouldn’t want to imagine my internet life without it. It’s an awesome tool for organizing teams of bloggers. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it just works.”

Chris Baskind (Author of LighterFootstep.com):

“We use Basecamp to handle all of our project planning for Vida Verde Media. One of the coolest uses we’ve come up with is coordinating our writer’s cooperative. We can set deadlines, track contributions, and share files — it really holds us together. It’s a great tool for decentralized workgroups.”

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5 Critical Resources for Understanding ‘Corporate Personhood’

Corporations in America are recognized by the government as having many of the same rights as people. They are actually considered ‘people’ for legal purposes in many situations.

Corporations claiming ‘freedom of speech’ are among the largest funders of elections and campaign advertising in America. And, as a result, they influence politicians to put corporate power ahead of the needs of citizens.

This article has a list of resources at it’s end — but let’s start by understanding how bad things have gotten.

To begin with, fear of corporations taking over America’s government has been with us from early in America’s history…

“Unless you become more watchful in your States and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given or bartered away, and the control of your dearest interests have been passed into the hands of these corporations.”

– Andrew Jackson, farewell address, 04 March 1837

How bad has it gotten? Well, the current US Government has pushed corporate power to new levels.

Today, corporate or business interests are the main funders of elections, the main controllers of the media, the most dominant forces over our governments … (and) the fastest commercializers of governmental functions, including military services…

– Ralph Nader in a letter to President GW Bush, April 29, 2004

It’s gotten much worse recently. Corporations exert power over almost every area of life.

The goal of the corporation is to maximize the profit of their shareholders. That’s it. If the value of a rain forest can be maximized by turning it into paper napkins, that will be the goal of a corporation.

“The belief is common in America that the day is at hand when corporations… after having created a system of quiet but irresistible corruption – will ultimately succeed in directing government itself. Under the American form of society, there is no authority capable of effective resistance…”

– Henry Adams, 1870

Can they be stopped?

No — they can’t be under current law. The laws today give them the right to worry only about themselves and to directly lobby government and support candidates that will help them in their quest to put profits first.

These corporations and their trade associations are relentlessly obtaining from governments more and more privileges and immunities which as “artificial persons” are severely tilting the balance of power and wealth against real people.

– Ralph Nader in a letter to President GW Bush, April 29, 2004

In an essay on the New Values of the 21st Century, we argued that a core value of society should be: “People are more important than Corporations”.

Abraham Lincoln, the great US President, kept this country together during a civil war — but worried afterwards that the corporations that profited from the war could pose an even bigger threat:

“As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

– US President Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Here are 5 Resources to inform you on this issue. Armed with that knowledge, we can inform others and work to establish this as one of the core values of the 21st Century Citizen.

1. The award-winning documentary movie, The Corporation.

2. Thom Hartmann’s great book on the subject, Unqual Protection [amazon link here].

3. An interview with Thom Hartmann where he discusses the subject of corporate personhood.

4. Here’s a great article from truthout.org, The Supremacy of the Super-Citizen.

5. This article on Alternet describing how the citizens of Humboldt County passed their law against ‘corporate personhood’.

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How to Talk to Kids about Global Warming and Environmental Issues

Me and my kids!

How Should I Talk with my Kids about Global Warming and the Environment?

This weekend we’ve been doing a lot of family activities. We watched a movie together Friday night, worked on homework today, have a barbecue planned for tomorrow, and I made sure to spend some individual time talking with each of the kids over the weekend.

And it got me thinking about something I’ve put a lot of thought to lately — how should I talk be talking with my kids about global warming and the environment?

There are so many sides to the issue. So many different things to discuss. Some of the issues can be pretty scary, too.

They’ll have to face serious issues later. Should they be exposed to them now?

My kids are going to likely live for a long time. They could live to the year 2100 maybe — far past peak oil, potentially. Far past other resources running out. Who knows what other issues they’ll have to do deal with. Whatever the issues are, I’m sure they’re more complicated than I can imagine today sitting on the back porch with a beer after a big spaghetti dinner.

Some of the issues are embarrassing to me. Like species extinction — what if polar bears go extinct in my lifetime? How can I explain that? Should I say I stood by and just watched? But on the other hand, what really can I do? Sometimes there are so many things to deal with that I just feel overwhelmed.

Focus on Values Now.

So here’s what I’ve decided. I’ll focus on values – values and the behaviors that align with them.

Like today, I was talking to my son about some juice packs we got. We purchased Rip & Sip packs instead of normal juice boxes. They use innovative sip-top packaging instead of the regular juice boxes — they’re recyclable and they’re made using less materials. Normal juice boxes can’t be recycled, but these can.

So I described it to my son in simple terms:

“Is it better to drink from a juice box that uses more materials — or one that uses less materials?”, I asked. Of course, he said “less”. Then I asked, “Is it better to have juice boxes that can be recycled? Or not recycled?” — and again he got the right answer. After he finished the juice pack, I made sure he knew to put the waste in our recycle bin.

In this way, I was communicating our family’s values to him. Values are fundamental beliefs about what’s right and wrong — we believe that recycling and consuming fewer materials is important. And now, so does he.

There are other values that are important as well. We covered these in more detail in the essay, The New Values of the 21st Century Citizen, one of the early posts on this website. I hope you’ll take some time to read that post if you’re a relatively new reader here.

Complex theories about global temperatures rising are too complicated for kids. And probably too scary — those issues are for us grown ups. They’re our battles to fight – for now. Our kids will take up that battle when they’re ready.

For now, we just need to teach them the difference between right and wrong from an environmental perspective. Armed with those values, they’ll learn to change the world when they’re old enough.

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New Study: 87% of Americans “seriously concerned about the environment”

Consumers are ready for a change?

A new study was released today that revealed some interesting trends among Americans.

According to the study, 87% — or “the vast majority” — of Americans are now “seriously concerned about the environment“.

This demonstrates what many of us in the ‘green blogosphere’ have known for a while — that there are radical changes underway right now in how Americans look at the Environment and Environmental Issues. According to the study:

The top five environmental issues weighing heaviest on America’s minds are water pollution and rainforest destruction (56%), diminishing fresh water supply (55%), fuel and energy shortages (54%) and man-made outdoor air pollution (53%). Asked who should take the lead in addressing these and other environmental issues, half of consumers (50%) rank the federal government first and 62% believe current legislation does not do enough to positively impact the environment.

Regular readers will probably remember that we’ve discussed the role of government in changing people’s behaviors before — here and here.

The role of government has been one of the most contentious issues we’ve discussed on this blog, and now we find, according to this survey, that most Americans believe that the government should take the primary role in managing our transition to a more sustainable future.

This, of course, leaves me little doubt that the process will be horribly mismanaged, do too little and arrive too late — unless individual citizens step up and lead/force the government to respond. And according to this survey, we Americans may be getting ready to do just that.

In a classic bit of consumer modeling, the study also classified Americans into different groups based on their beliefs and gave each group a catchy name — for example, “true blue greens” (30% or those surveyed) seem to be those people who are actually changing their habits, while about 18% are “apathetics”, or people who really don’t care.

Interestingly, “apathetics” as a group get most of their information on environmental issues from television. (For this reason, I’ve considered writing and asking them to rename this group using the more accurate term, “Fox News Viewers”.)

But there was one piece of news that I felt was very positive — that more people would change if they only knew how:

Lack of Education Hinders Many from Going Green

Though the American mindset has shifted to become more environmentally-conscious, half of consumers say they “do not have the information to be personally involved in increasing their green behavior” and “aren’t sure which products and packaging materials are recyclable.” Nearly half (49%) also state they would do more for the environment if they only knew how.

America in many ways is a sleeping giant. Once awoken, it can work miracles. Let’s hope this study is an indication that that’s what’s happening now.

600 Naked People Can’t All Be Wrong

Greenpeace has released a new YouTube video today focused on climate change. It’s an interesting film in which 600 people strip naked and lay beside a glacier to protest climate change.

It’s just one more instance where people are moving ahead of governments and speaking out. The governments won’t respond until the people lead and force them too — and this short film demonstrates people who are speaking out and leading.

These 600 people took their clothes off in front of cameras as a way of speaking out against climate change — what have you done?

Pass the Eco-Barf Bag. I’m Going to Lose My Eco-Lunch.

Recently, the prefix ‘eco’ has gained a life of it’s own. Like a Frankenstein’s Monster, it is being mish-mashed onto every conceivable idea, thought, brand, product and celebrity around. It endows a certain sense of Al Gore-ish, environmental correctness to whatever it touches.

In just this morning’s news we have the following examples:

  • “Eco-protesters” are setting up an “eco-village” at Heathrow!
  • Ozarka Water now comes in an “Eco Shape Botttle”!
  • CNN tells us: “Erin Brockovich in new eco-fight”!
  • And a new “Eco-Salon” is opening in Denver. (To help those with “green” hair, no doubt.)

We’ve even had news recently of “Celebrity Eco-Babies” – which I can only surmise means the mums in question here must have become impregnated using organic sperm from certified ‘eco-hottie’ males.

And the list goes on. And on. And on.

And part of me is sick of it. I feel like losing my ‘eco-lunch’ by ‘eco-barfing’ into a reusable, recyclable ‘eco-barf bag’.

But another part of me doesn’t mind. Another part of me thinks that all this is good.

In fact, when I read today’s news about Paris Hilton attending a screening of the 11th Hour (featuring “eco-hero Leo”), I was able to hold down my eggs, albeit with a bit of effort.

Because when they describe Paris and her escapades like this: “Eco-fashion show producer Rob Ganger of EcoNouveau was an eyewitness of the spectacle and said, “It was amazing to see her and think about the footprint that woman has on our lives.” — I know they’re right.

Paris does have an impact on our lives. She’s like a car crash we can’t look away from. A glitzy, rich, prettied-up, jailbird, car crash that we can’t look away from.

But now, for some reason, the media has re-framed her — as they’re re-framing seemingly everything — with a whitewash of ‘eco’.

And in this way, the media is reaching far out past the audience of this blog — or the audience of all blogs for that matter — and they’re presenting ‘eco’ as a new, important value that’s worth reporting on.

The question about Paris Hilton and whether or not she drives a hybrid car is actually critically important — because it’s helping to change how some segments of our society think.

There are literally millions of people who will never read this or any other ‘eco-blog’, but will know all about Paris Hilton and her presence at the 11th Hour screening, her hybrid vehicle dilemma, and probably even which kind of eco-friendly makeup and fashions she wears.

“Eco” has become short-hand for describing the changes we’re going through as a society. It’s become a new value.

More importantly, eco-improvements are news that the media will report. And in doing so, they make an impact on the values of the people who follow the reporting. They impact the values of society as a whole.

And only by changing the values of society can we make the changes we need to succeed in this new, 21st Century.

Steve Loo is Changing the World

Steve Loo rides his bike even in the Winter up in Calgary

Steve Loo is a passionate guy.

When he heard about Wheels for Change, a 1000 kilometer bike ride across British Columbia in Western Canada to raise awareness of global climate change, it seemed like a perfect fit for him. He had vacation time planned already, so he decided to join the ride.

He had already helped organize a 140 km bike ride to the Trails to Sustainability Conference earlier this year, and in 2005 he rode from Calgary to Yorkton (approximately 1200 km) to, in his words, “do environmental and social justice presentations and workshops in schools, community halls, churches and people’s living rooms.”

Not bad for a college student who’s passionate about climate change.

One of the differences between being concerned about climate change and actually doing something about it is taking action. Steve takes action.

According to Steve, “I am part of the problem and therefore must be part of the change.”

Steve’s passion for the environment really awoke after a hike in the desert in Australia a few years ago.

“When your life depends on all the water you’re carrying on your back, you gain a whole new perspective on this liquid that most people take for granted every day. I also learned a great deal about the importance of planning and preparation. I finished my long dry hike with roughly 200 mL of water and one extremely dry throat. I quickly rethought my attitudes and behaviors towards water.

After returning to Calgary, during a process over 3 or 4 years, I had to rethink much of my life – not just water consumption, but also transportation, food, clothes, media, government and our education system. As a result, it gradually changed to one involving better health and environment, greater creative and organizational skills, and more critical thinking.”

The only way we can collectively address the challenges we face together, is for each of us to change as individuals. Our values have to change first, and then our behaviors will follow.

For Steve, this has meant some personal changes as well:

“For example, now I am:

1. Using my bike as my main form of transportation including winter time (I still drive once a week through carsharing)

2. Using less paper (in fact, I haven’t bought any new paper in 3 years);

3. Having not just shorter showers but also having staggered and fewer showers; recently we bought a dual flush toilet. Woohoo!

4. Creating my own artistic notebooks reusing old materials

5. Becoming more integrated with my local economy – not just local foods but also locally made products and services (yay Calgary Dollars)

6. Organizing and promoting documentary screenings focusing on social justice and environmental issues, and showcasing local activists working on local causes

7. Gardening (with mixed success but still trying)

8. Questioning and challenging our politicians, journalists, teachers and other “professionals” (along with fellow students) regarding government policy and media portrayal of all the issues

9. Encouraging my friends to take up more sustainable lifestyles while emphasizing that this is progression rather than perfection.

Steve is changing things by changing his own behaviors and by working to encourage others to change theirs as well. He’s talking about his concerns and he’s taking action.

in this way, Steve Loo is changing the world — one person at a time.

Are you?

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PHOTOSET: Locally Grown Food / Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

This is a photoset on locally grown foods.

Eating locally grown foods has an impact far beyond the relatively little money you pay for it.

It’s an important step for the environment since it reduces the energy needed to grow the food and get it to you. It’s good for local farmers, because it helps them stay in business and thrive.

It’s also good for you spiritually. It feels good to take a step that so clearly helps both local people and the earth. It feels good knowing that your food is fresh and was brought straight from the farm to the market.

The Carbon Conscious Consumer is asking people to buy one pound of locally grown food a week this month. Here’s a banner that allows you to read more.

Carbon Conscious Consumer
We’re asking people to take part because it’s a small step that anyone can do. By taking part, people begin to think more about where their food comes from and how they can take small steps that could add up to something big if we all join in.

Share from a local organic farm in Sebastopol, CA

originally posted by brookelynn23

“kale, saladmix, cabbage, fingerlings, rainbowchard, strawberries, raspberries, artichoke, redonions, whiteonions, basic, cilantro, dandelionleaves, dill, parsley, zuchini, dill, floweringoregano, floweringthyme, sage, rosemary, nettlepesto”

This picture is of a share from a community supported farm in Sebastopol, CA. What a beautiful harvest of locally-grown, organic foods.

Locally grown organic food at a Portsmouth, NH farmer’s market

originally posted by jdickert

“Here’s Josh and Jean, the farmers from Meadow’s Mirth helping some customers. Fresh garlic, zucchini, flowers and other certified organic goodies.Taken at the Portsmouth, NH farmer’s market.”

There’s nothing like a Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market in the Summertime. This local grower features what looks like all organic produce.

More locally grown food at the farmer’s market in Des Moines, IA

originally posted by jasoncross

Speaking of farmer’s markets, here’s a picture taken at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. A great photo with beautiful colors — it looks like there’s a great supply of good food available.

Locally grown peppers in Albany, NY

originally posted by landis.

Here’s a great, colorful shot of freshly picked peppers at the Albany, NY farmers market. That produce looks great — and it probably costs less than the supermarket as well.

Organic tomatos from a local, organic farm

originally posted by joannseyes.

We’ll close with these words from Michael Pollan that were posted with the above picture of some amazing looking fresh, locally grown tomatos.

“Ripe vegetables were magic to me. Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility. I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green. To lift a bean plant’s hood of heartshaped leaves and discover a clutch of long slender pods handing underneath could make me catch my breath.”
~ Michael Pollan

Carbon Conscious Consumer