July 2012

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #198: Making a Living While Making a Difference

Posted by on 25 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized


July 24, 2012

About a year ago we did a program with the title, “Making a Living While Making a Difference,” talking with Melissa Everett, author of a book of the same title. She told us about some of the ways in which activists can find satisfying careers being a positive force in their community. Tonight we’ll revisit the topic talking with authors and writers of two new books on that topic.

First, we’ll talk with Dev Aujla, coauthor of a book titled MAKING GOOD: FINDING MEANING, MONEY, AND COMMUNITY IN A CHANGING WORLD, published by Rodale. Dev is the founder of DreamNow, a charitable organization that works with young people to develop, fund, and implement social change projects.

Then we’ll talk with Neal Gorenflo, coauthor of a book called SHARE OR DIE: VOICES OF THE GET LOST GENERATION IN AN AGE OF CRISIS, published by New Society. Neal is the founder and publisher of a website called “Sharable Design.” http://www.shareable.net/share-or-die We’ll also talk to one of the contributors to that book, Hannah Brencher, who is founder of a project called, “The World Needs More Love Letters.”

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Dev Aujla

You’re listening to Ecotopia on KZFR and tonight we are focusing on making a living while making a difference in the world. On the phone with us is Dev Aujla. He is coauthor, with Billy Parish of a book titled MAKING GOOD: FINDING MEANING, MONEY, AND COMMUNITY IN A CHANGING WORLD, published by Rodale. Dev is the founder of DreamNow, a charitable organization in Toronto that works with young people to develop, fund, and implement social change projects. We’re delighted to have you on the program, Dev.

–We want to hear all about DreamNow, which is a fabulous and important project helping young people find meaningful work. But first, we’d like to hear a little of your story: How did you get to the point where you decided that you wanted meaningful work for yourself, not something that (to quote your book), might “dead-end in law school”? (Did you have any false starts in finding the kind of work you wanted to do?)

–What is DreamNow? How did it go from being a “scrappy little project” into “a social enterprise that had reached 50,000 people and raised over a million dollars for projects”? Does it help you pay your own rent? www.dreamnow.org

–What are some of the kinds of social projects that DreamNow catalyzes? Could you give us a few examples of young people you’ve worked with who are earning a living while making a difference?

–Much of the early part of yours and Billy Parish’s book focuses on helping young people find their talents and interests and being encouraged to pursue them. On seeing opportunities and not being afraid to act on them. On the surface, that’s the kind of advice young people often receive, but you and Billy really mean it. Could you describe some of the problems young people encounter and how you supply encouragement?

–You’re also the author of a book called OCCUPATION: CHANGE THE WORLD (available as an e-book an a download). There you talk about “non-linear career paths” and “starting in the middle.” Please explain how people can use those strategies.   http://media2.dreamnowtest.com//uploads/occupation_change_the_world.pdf

–In MAKING GOOD, you have a six step approach to finding meaningful work. We obviously can’t go into all the steps in detail (and people can read the book!), but could you describe how you see people working their way through the process? (Reflect, Adapt, Connect, Design, Launch, Organize).

–Your subtitle mentions that ours is a “changing world.” How is the world changing in ways that encourage young people to find meaning and money? What’s your best guess/best hopes for how this “market” will develop over the next several decades?

–What are you planning to do next?

Thank you, Dev Aujla, coauthor of MAKING GOOD: FINDING MEANING, MONEY, AND COMMUNITY IN A CHANGING WORLD, published by Rodale. Listeners, be sure to check out dreamnow.org for more on Dev’s work and for all sorts of resources

Our Discussion with Neal Gorenflo and Hannah Brencher

You’re listening to Ecotopia on KZFR, and tonight we’re talking about ways people—especially but not exclusively young people—can find meaningful ways to engage with the world in personally rewarding ways and still find resources to pay the bills and lead a reasonably comfortable life.

With us on the phone from San Diego is Neal Gorenflo. He is founder and publisher of SHARABLE MAGAZINE http://www.shareable.net/ and co-editor, with Malcolm Harris of a book from New Society titled SHARE OR DIE: VOICES OF GET LOST GENERATION IN THE AGE OF CRISIS.

Also with us on the phone from New Haven is Hannah Brencher, one of the contributors to the book through an essay “Heartbeats and Hashtags: Youth In Service.” She is a freelance writer and speaker and founder of a website called “The World Needs More Love Letters.” http://www.moreloveletters.com/

–You both have great and eye-opening titles to your work. Neal, please tell us about the title of your book, SHARE OR DIE. Who are the contributors and where did you find them? Why did you and Malcolm Harris decide to do this as a collection of personal stories rather than, say, a “how to” book or a philosophical treatise?

–Hannah: “Heartbeats and Hashtags: Youth in Service.” You tell about being fresh out of college with $60,000 in debts, living on $25 a week in New York, and being proud of calling yourself a “volunteer.” You’re doing a number of projects now, including being founder of a project called “The World Needs More Love Letters,” taking speaking engagements, and writing for Save the Children. Please tell us a little about your alternative career path.

–Either Neal or Hannah or both from here on out:

…Who are the members of the “Get Lost” generation?

…Why are they (allegedly) disconnected?

…What evidence do you see that (at least some or many) Gen Yers are not accepting the idea of being disconnected? [What is Gen G?]

…The book is an expansive look at living as well as sharing and making a living. How do you see those as interconnected? What kind of values do Gen Gers [or anyone who wants to pursue this lifestyle, for that matter] share in order to make this work?

…One of the book chapters talks of “Bad Education” and another describes “Learning Outside the Academy.” How good/bad is our educational system in preparing people for life in today’s world? How can/do people learn what they need to know to operate “in the age of crisis”?

…This week here in Chico we are running a “Gen Z Leadership Institute” for young people aged 14-18. (Many will be listening to the program.) What advice can you share with them about how to orient themselves and prepare for what will come next in their lives, especially if they want to make a difference in the world?

–As we close, please tell us more about how listeners can learn more about this world of sharing and the consequences if we don’t share. Neal and Hannah, are you optimistic that things will be changing on a significant scale?

–Thank you, Neal Gorenflo and Hannah Brencher for being with us on Ecotopia tonight. Neal is coauthor of SHARE OR DIE: VOICES OF THE GET LOST GENERATION IN THE AGE OF CRISIS, and Hannah is the founder of moreloveletters.com and contributed an essay about her volunteer experience, “Heartbeats and Hashtags: Youth in Service.” The book is published by New Society. Learn more at  http://www.shareable.net/share-or-die



Ecotopia #197 The Forces of Nature

Posted by on 17 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: June 17, 2012

This week on Ecotopia, we’ll be talking about Nature—nature as a powerful force that can bring destruction to human habitation, nature as an element that can bring calm and contentment to human beings.

In the first segment, we’ll be talking with Barry Vann, who teachers at the University of Cumberlands, about his book THE FORCES OF NATURE. In it, he explores the history and geography of natural disasters in the distant and recent past and considers what may be in store for an increasingly populous planet.

Then in the second segment, we’ll be talking with Richard Louv, author of a book called THE NATURE PRINCIPLE, who argues that the people on the planet are suffering from “nature deficit disorder” and need to realign themselves with nature in our increasingly digital and virtual age.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Barry Vann

Barry Vann is a geographer and professor of higher education at the University of Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He’s written a fascinating book called THE FORCES OF NATURE: OUR QUEST TO CONQUER THE PLANET, published by Prometheus Books. In it, he takes a historical and geographical look at far distant and recent disasters and offers some predictions, warnings, and possible preparation for natural disasters that may be in our future.

–Your book opens by observing that people just like to live in nice places, and once they discover a place, they like to move there in large numbers. Then at some point, they encounter floods, earthquakes, droughts, and other disasters and try to cope. Please tell us a little about how this observation and your work as a geographer led you to write THE FORCES OF NATURE. (What’s an “ecumeme”?)

–You go back into prehistory to trace the flow of people in ancient civilizations. Could you give us an example or two of how and where these civilizations developed? (“The best places to live are already occupied.” p. 58) What natural disasters did they encounter and how did they cope?

–One of your themes is “geotheology,” the role that religion plays in explaining disasters. Why didn’t we just stay in the Garden of Eden? Why do some people see natural disasters as the wrath of God? …You also argue that even today, people have a quasi-religious attitude toward Mother Nature and assume that natural disastsers are punishment for human misdeeds. Can you illustrate that for us?

–Fast forwarding . . . one of your chapters treats the general region where you live and describes “erosion and dispossession in the Cumberland Gap area.” You write about the Tennessee Valley Authority as an example of humans’ efforts to control nature and of some of the unintended consequences. Please tell us that story. (Why do we have such confidence in technological “fixes”?)

–In your chapter on “Hurricane Alley,” you talk about Katrina and other historic hurricanes, and you express doubts about the popular thesis that “human-caused global warming was behind the increase in the number and density of hurricanes…” (p. 157). But you also predict that “at some time unknown time in the future, a storm will develop” that “will be a killer” (p. 171). What happened with Katrina? Could “we” have been better prepared for it? Can “we” take steps now to limit devastation from the killer storm?

–Your final chapter is a vision of “The Americas in 2060” (not just “America,” but the continent). You also discuss how the world might change—Africa, China, the Middle East—including standard of living, men’s and women’s roles, economic production. What’s your best vision of what might happen over the next half century based on what we’ve learned about The Forces of Nature? Are you optimistic that we can learn the lessons?

–Where can our listeners learn more about your work and that of other ecogeographers? The book is THE FORCES OF NATURE: OUR QUEST TO CONQUER THE PLANET, published by Prometheus Books. <www.prometheusbooks.com>

Slide show/blog on Huffington Post: <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barry-a-vann/natural-disasters-deadliest_b_1414761.html#s856711&title=Pollution_Disasters>

Our Discussion with Richard Louv

Richard Louv, has written a book called THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: RECONNECTING WITH LIFE IN A VIRTUAL AGE, published by Algonquin Books.  In an earlier book, LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS, he created the now widely-used phrase “nature-deficit disorder” to describe a growing gap between kids and nature.  In this book, he says that adults suffer from nature-deficit disorder as well.

–What is “nature-deficit disorder” and where did it come from? (You say that you have “heard many adults speak with heartfelt emotion, even anger, about this separation, but also about their own sense of loss” (p. 3).  How are we affected by this separation from nature?

–You offer The Nature Principle as a possible antidote.  What is it and how did you come to formulate it?  (“…reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit, and survival.”  p. 3).

–What sort of immersion or reconnection is necessary?  Can we do this given our jobs, our responsibilities, our computers . . . ?  Are we talking about a daily walk in the park?  outdoor vacations? gardening?  (“Deep green exercise” p.72) (The Citizen Naturalist, p. 131.) (20 ways to bring nature into your life: http://www.neverstopexploring.com/blog/2012/05/richard-louv-applying-the-nature-principle.html)

–The book outlines seven major ways in which people can connect and reconnect with nature.  We can’t talk about all of these (and people can read the book!).  But let’s explore two or three:

…What is the “hybrid mind”?  You argue that people can basically sharpen perceptions, become more creative, be more thoughtful through the nature principle.  How does that work?  What kind of evidence did you find for it?

…What is “biophilic design,” and how does that work?  How can we create an “everyday Eden”?  Are there towns/cultures that have put this into practice?  Are there models of the integration of design, natural, and human spaces?  [Chico is a Transition Town with some biophilic elements but with a lot of pressure for “growth” and “development” despite its “master plan.”]

…How can we search for and find “kindred spirits”?  How might this work as a family-to-local-to-global movement? Are there organizations or structures or communities where people can find others who share a commitment to the Nature Principle?  What’s the “new nature movement”?

–A question we often ask guests on this program:  What’s your degree of optimism that people can or will make the change in sufficient numbers to make a difference on the planet?  Is there still time? Does the intrusion of technology/economic issues on our lives give us a fighting chance to make the change?  Walmart! What’s the role of schools in all this? of parenting?

–Where can our listeners go to learn more about The Nature Principle and related ideas?

Learn more and read the blog at http://richardlouv.com/

For a free online Field Guide to the New Nature Movement, see http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/field-guide/

Playlist for Ecotopia 197:

1. The Cyclone Of Ryecov 3:13 Doc Watson The Best Of Doc Watson 1964-1968
2. Fractured Air (Tornado Watch) 3:15 Calexico Carried To Dust

3. Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth 2:14 Neko Case Middle Cyclone
4. Nature Provides 4:15 Hugh Mundell Arise

5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

6. Mother Nature’s Son 2:42 Sarah McLachlan I Am Sam

7. Nature Reigns 4:04 Mad Professor Trix In The Mix Part One

Ecotopia #196 MomsRising and the Campaign against Antibiotic Meat at Trader Joes

Posted by on 10 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: July 10, 2012

Tonight we’ll be talking with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the Executive Director and co-founder of MomsRising, We’ll hear the mission and work of MomsRising, a million-strong grassroots nonprofit focusing on critical issues facing women, mothers and families. We’ll then talk about one of the current efforts of MomsRising to convince Trader Joe’s to source their meat only from animals raised without antibiotics.

Listen to the Program

Our Questions for Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner.

Part I:

1. What does MomsRising do? What’s its mission?

2. What makes MomsRising unique?

3. How did MomsRising began? How old is it?

4. I get MomsRising emails on various actions you propose and support. The list is amazing—everything from opposing Gymboree’s sexist t-shirts to legislation on family leave for taking care of babies, access to health care, maintaining support for WIC, maintaining clean air. Can you tell us what your criteria are for choosing the issues you want to pursue?

5. How do you go about achieving your goals? How do you work? Do you work primarily at the national level?

6. What have been some of your biggest successes?

7. Tell us about your MomsRising blog.

Part II:

We want to turn now to one of their current efforts, convincing Trader Joes to source their meat only from animals raised without antibiotics.

1. First of all, can you tell us why antibiotics in meat is an issue MomsRising decided to undertake?

2. What are important elements of antibiotics in meat that you want people to understand?

3. Why did you decide to make Trader Joes the target of this campaign?

4. Did you approach them before you began the campaign to try to convince them that this is an action the company should take?

5. I know you are asking people to sign an open letter to Trader Joes. How is that going? Are there other aspects of this action? Is there an “ending time” for the action? How will you know when you’re done?

6. What are some of the other work MomsRising is currently engaged in?

7. How can people become involved in MomsRising? What can they do? How do the contact you?

We’ve been talking with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, co-founder and executive directorof MomsRising. Thank you so much for coming on the show. www.momsrising.org

Play list:

1. Your Mother Should Know 2:30 The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

2. Mother of My Soul 6:27 Shimshai maui live at mandala World

3. Mother And Child 3:41 Dezarie Gracious Mama Africa Reggae

4. Mother Stands For Comfort 3:08 Kate Bush Hounds Of Love Alternative & Punk

5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary Folk 100 7/6/12 3:57 PM

6. Mother And Child Reunion 2:49 Paul Simon Negotiations And Love Songs 1971-1986 General Pop



Ecotopia #195 Rio+20 and the Million Person Project

Posted by on 04 Jul 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

July 3, 2012

This week we will be taking a look at the Rio+20 conference which finished up ten days ago in Rio de Janeiro. 1000 delegates and heads of state from around the world met on the 20th anniversary of the first Rio environment conference on the environment to talk about progress (if any) and to reach new agreements on controlling climate change. (Our head of state, by the way, did not attend the conference.)

Tonight we’ll be playing an interview we recorded this morning with two people who attended Rio+20 as observers and activists in their own right. From San Francisco, we’ll hear from Heather Box, who will talk about her Million Person Project creating community around the globe through storytelling.  And from Uganda, we will be hearing from Kaganga John, a remarkable farmer, environmentalist, and activist who has been working with his neighbors for twenty years to improve the quality of life and sustainability in his rural village.

Heather Box

Kaganga John

Listen to the program.

Background on Rio+20

This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and tonight we are looking at the recent Rio+20 international conference and at the whole problem of getting nations to agree on climate change resolutions through conferences such as Rio, Copenhangen and its followup in Durbin, South Africa. There are dozens of reviews of the outcomes of Rio in newspapers and blogs around the world, and virtually none of these is positive. (The official UN Rio+20 website lists a number of gains and agreements, but it is alone in being upbeat

U.N. Report from Rio on Environment a ‘Suicide Note’

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has wrapped up in Rio de Janeiro — contentiously so — marking two decades since the first Earth Summit was held, also in Rio, in 1992.

The recent three-day meeting was more easily known as Rio+20, but so few specifics, so few targets, so few tangible decisions came out of the gathering that some participants were derisively calling it “Rio Minus 20,” or “Rio Plus 20 Minus 40.”

A failure of epic proportions” was the verdict from Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International.

More than a year of “sophisticated U.N. diplomacy has given us nothing more than more poverty, more conflict and more environmental destruction,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for conservation at the World Wildlife Fund.

“An outcome that makes nobody happy,” was how Sha Zukang of China put it — and he was the Rio+20 secretary-general.

The final statement from Rio, “The Future We Want,” is 283 paragraphs of kumbaya that “affirm,” “recognize,” “underscore,” “urge” and “acknowledge” seemingly every green initiative and environmental problem from water crises and creeping deserts to climate change and overfishing. Women’s rights, indigenous peoples, children, mining, tourism, trade unions and the elderly also get shout-outs in the document.

The word “reaffirm” is used 60 times.

As the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote in an editorial:

“To be sure, all of the great questions facing humanity make an appearance in the document, but without any attempt at a binding agreement. The Rio+20 conference, which really should have provided a new spark, has instead shined the spotlight on global timidity. Postpone, consider, examine: Even the conference motto — ‘The Future We Want’ — sounds like an insult. If this is the future we want, then good night.” [Read the report at http://www.un.org/en/sustainablefuture/]

“If all countries are satisfied with the lowest common denominator, if they no longer want to discuss what needs to be discussed . . . then the dikes are open. There is no need anymore for a conference of 50,000 attendees. Resolutions that are so wishy-washy can be interpreted by every member state as they wish. No one needs Rio.”

[Greenpeace Executive Director] Mr. Naidoo called the final report the “longest suicide note in history.” Jim Leape, director general of the World Wildlife Fund, said it was “a colossal failure of leadership and vision from diplomats.”


Our Questions for Kaganga John and Heather Box

This is Ecotopia on KZFR and we are delighted to have two guests on the phone to tell us about the Rio+20 conference and about their own efforts to expand the global community and make our planet a sustainable place to live.

Kaganga John is talking to us from Uganda. He is a farmer, activist, and environmentalist who lives in the village of Kikandwa. He has been working there for over twenty years helping the community become sustainable, and his accomplishments and commitment are legendary around the world. He attended and spoke out at Rio +20 arguing for support for local sustainability programs. Welcome Kaganga John.
And talking to us from San Francisco is an activist Heather Box, who also attended Rio +20. In addition to being an environmentalist she is one of the founders of the Million Person Project, which helps connect people worldwide through storytelling. Thanks for being with us, Heather.

Part I: Rio+20

–Let’s start with the Rio+20 conference. Why did you decide to attend? What were your hopes and expectations for the conference?

–Rio+20 had about 1000 official delegates, while about 45,000 activists and environmentalists were in the streets of Rio. Please give us your impressions of the conference. Tell us about some of the people you met and your own experiences at the conference.

–The international press has been scathing in its review of Rio+20, saying that it failed to accomplish even very modest objectives. There has been considerable criticism of the conference final statement, “The Future We Want,” as being a vague confirmation of past agreements and offering no significant new commitments. What is your assessment of the outcome?
…What were the disappointments?
…What encouragement or successes did you percieve?

What we have to learn from the Ocean
My poetic thinking on Rio+20
by Kaganga John

When I look out at the ocean water
I reflect and wish that we people were like that
Each wave, going up and down, mixing, unifying
Going here and there
Sharing, flowing into each other
Ever busy
Finding balance
Looking for one another
You look out here at the ocean
And you know all over the world
Even on the other end of the Indian Ocean
It is the same
All the waves moving in one basin
How can we people achieve this type of justice, peace, love and sustainability
Let us start here at Rio +20

–A number of people we have interviewed on this program have said, in effect, “Don’t count on governments.” Is there any hope for global conferences and agreements? Should we bother having a Rio+30 or a Copenhagen+10?

–Can local and regional initiatives possibly accomplish what governments cannot?

Seque to:

Part II: Kaganga John’s Story

–Kaganga John: Heather has recently written your story on Huffington Post (and we’ll post that link on our website). Your mother died when you were 2; you were raised by your grandmother and aunt; you left Kikandwa at age 17. Then you came back. Please tell us your story.

–Please tell us about the projects that have been initiated during the past 20 years. What steps has Kikandwa taken toward sustainability. economic? agricultural? educational?

–What kind of support did you receive for these projects? Or did you do it mostly with local resources?

–Two of your maxims are “local to global” and “small to large.” What lessons can we learn from your experiences? What are your hopes for a sustainable Kikwanda? Uganda? Africa? World?

–How can our listeners learn more about your work and become involved with it?

Part III: Million Person Project

–Heather Box, you met Kaganga John through a program you initiated, the Million Person Project. Please tell us about its mission.

–Much of your work centers on storytelling. Please tell us how that works. [Our station, KZFR, hosted the NPR StoryCorps project last year, so most of our listeners are already on board with the value of storytelling.]

–What’s the Global Pen Pal Project?

–You’ve done workshops all over the world. Please give us an example or several of places you’ve visited, people you’ve met (including Kaganga John).

–Help us reconnect the Million Person Project with Rio+20. What do you see as the connection between storytelling and a more sustainable world?

–How can listeners learn more about your project and become involved?

We want to thank our guests for being with us, Kaganga John in Uganda, Heather Box in San Francisco. Your work is amazing and inspirational. Thank you for all you’re doing to help create a more sustainable, more humane world.

We will post links to the websites, facebook sites, Hpost, Utube, and others on our website, ecotopiakzfr.net.

Connect with the Million Person Project at http://www.millionpersonproject.org/mpp/



1. Death Of Mother Nature Suite (Album Version) 7:54 Kansas Kansas
2. Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth 2:14 Neko Case Middle Cyclone
3. Global Warming Blues 3:42 Lenny Solomon Armando's Pie
4. Slower Than Guns (LP Version) 3:50 Iron Butterfly Metamorphosis
5. Supernova 4:42 Liquid Blue Supernova
6. Waiting for the Worms 3:58 Pink Floyd The Wall
7. Will There Be Enough Water? 6:20 The Dead Weather Horehound
8. The Rape Of The World 7:08 Tracy Chapman New Beginning Folk
9. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary