Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Threat to Wind Turbines

I just got this in an email from Environmental Action. It's important enough to pass along:

Some of you may know Don Young (R-AK)-he's the Congressman who has used every trick in the book to try and open the Arctic Refuge in Alaska to drilling. Now, Rep. Young is applying his underhanded ways to block efforts to harness wind power. We need your help in stopping Don Young's Power Play!

At the urging of his Big Oil allies, Rep. Young is trying to shut down the largest wind project in the U.S. by sneaking an amendment into an unrelated federal bill. If he succeeds, his amendment would ban all wind turbines within 1.5 miles of a shipping lane-even though an oil rig can be as close as 500 feet to a shipping lane. This would effectively kill all offshore wind projects in the U.S.

Can you send an e-mail to Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Inouye (D-HI), who lead the relevant Senate Committee, and tell them to Stop Don Young's Power Play?

Click here or paste the link into your browser:

The Cape Wind project slated for the waters off Cape Cod, is a promising symbol of the potential of renewable energy and a critical step in ending our dependence on fossil fuels. The 130 windmill complex would provide three-quarters of the area's electricity and as much power as a large coal-fired power plant.

However, a front-group for Big Oil that calls itself the "Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound" is fighting to kill the project. The co-chairman of this industry group is Bill Koch -- who also happens to be the owner of a major energy conglomerate that includes coal, oil and natural gas interests. Forbes Magazine listed Koch's company as one of the 400 largest privately held companies in America.

Now Koch-with the help of Don Young-is trying to kill this wind project and every other offshore project. If this amendment passes into law, one of our greatest energy resources-offshore wind-will effectively be out of reach.

Click here to help stop this back-door attack by Big Oil interests

After you send the letter, tell your friends about this outrageous attack on renewable energy.

Josh Irwin
Environmental Action

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Permaculture in the 'Hood

I loved learning about this new solution... creating an EcoHood.

EcoHood, n: permaculture retrofit of a mid- to low-income neighborhood with a high potential for ecological sustainability.

Permaculture activist Andrew Millison gave up his dream of a back-to-the-land ecovillage and brought it home to the 'Hood.

What is Prescott's "EcoHood"? It's a mid- to low-income neighborhood situated around the floodplain of nearby Miller Creek that encompasses roughly two blocks, two apartment buildings and thirty houses, the majority of which were built in the 1930s. Fifty percent Hispanic/Native American, it's also home to a significant number of retirees and college students. The district now has six systems that reuse household graywater for irrigation in the landscape, two rainwater cisterns, five organic gardens, 25 heirloom fruit trees, and (at last count) 57 chickens.

...the EcoHood has grown to encompass seven area households. While Millison has contributed key expertise in areas such as graywater irrigation, rainwater catchment and permaculture design, the process has unfolded organically, with neighbors swapping skills, information, tools, and, at times, even child-care, chickens and compost.
What a brilliant idea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thoughts on Community

Last weekend I had a wonderful experience of Community. It was the second workshop in Tree Bressen's intensive facilitator training series. We went to a cohousing community in Northern California to learn about the consensus decision making process and to support the community members in talking about an issue of their choosing.

I enjoyed myself so much because I really resonate with the sensibilities of facilitating and cohousing: inclusion, supporting everyone to speak their truth, deep listening, bringing the whole person to the table--especially including our emotional and intuitive selves, and trusting the wisdom of the group. After spending four and a half days with people who are committed to these principles I feel really blessed and "fed." My faith in humanity is restored.

It also made me realize that I have been focusing most of my attention in this blog on the "hard" side of community building--the information we need to know to prepare for a low energy future and the infrastructures that will support this. But there is another, equally important aspect to community building, and that is the web of relationships.

The cohousing community chose the topic of "participation," which is one of the ongoing dialectical tensions in every community. How much is enough contribution to the maintenance of the community? What are the ways of participating? Is everyone able to balance their community and family experiences? What about resentment when people don't appear to "pull their weight?" What about the burden of guilt and obligation when life circumstances preclude participation?

We started out by asking them to consider the question: "what kinds of participation make up the fabric of this community for you?" Then they spoke in turn around the circle. One theme that emerged was the importance of the informal kinds of interactions--the spontaneous meetings, parties, child-care swappings, etc. The formal kinds of interactions--community dinners, meetings, landscaping, committees, etc. weren't necessarily where the action was.

Another outcome was that people shared more about what was going on with them around their participation. This had the effect of helping those that had resentments or judgments that others weren't pulling their weight empathize with them. It helped people let go of their judgments. When we listen and really receive another's point of view we find our own point of view broadens. We are able to include and hold more. The complexity of life shows up instead of black/white, right/wrong categories.

The group realized that the root of the problem wasn't really about participation after all. What it was really about was "connection." It was a thrilling moment when that distinction came forward. I was honored to be a part of the team that was supporting the group to do this deep work.