WebSpotlight: Oil Imports Map

Energy consumption and policy are on many minds, and while President Obama’s recent decision to allow states to determine auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards may eventually help decrease U.S. dependence in “foreign oil,” we still have an insatiable appetite for that fossil fuel.

Knowing about the history and patterns of our oil imports can help us shape our future choices. The Rocky Mountain Institute has created an Oil Imports Map, which shows “how much oil the U.S. has imported, from where, and how much we have spent every month since 1973.”

The map allows us to see from whom we’ve gotten our oil and how much we’ve spent, and it connects our imports to major events such as Hurricane Katrina and the oil crises of the 1970s. It also makes it possible to pay attention to the history of our foreign relationships and how that has affected oil imports.

It’s an interesting and useful tool that can help expand our knowledge and perspective of energy policy and of the impact of our own choices.

~ Marsha

h/t to Worldchanging.

Get the Guide to the “Cleanest” and “Dirtiest” Fruits and Veggies

pesticideguidePart of living a MOGO life means choosing plant-based, local, fresh, healthy, organic foods whenever possible. But, choosing organic produce 100% of the time isn’t always possible, whether it’s due to availability or budget.

When you can’t go totally organic, you can still make a point to avoid fruits and vegetables with the heaviest pesticide use and residues. The Environmental Working Group has a downloadable guide to the “dirty dozen” and “cleanest 12” produce items.

The top fruits and veggies to avoid include peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines and lettuce. If money’s especially tight, onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples and mangoes are some of the produce lowest in pesticides (of course, fruits like mangoes and pineapples are shipped a long way, so that’s another reason to reduce your consumption of such items).

You can also find a list of 43 fruits and vegetables, with their pesticide rankings.

The next time you hear someone say they can’t afford to buy any organic produce, share this guide with them, and point out that, while organics can bit a bit more at the checkout stand, they’re also paying for richer soil, cleaner air and water, healthier bodies, safer wildlife and other benefits.

~ Marsha

MOGO Mini-Habit: Speak the Good in Others

whisperingMy 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Leddy, had us students do something that I have never forgotten. She called it a “car wash.” Every week one of us would be the “car,” and the other students would form two lines in front of the car. One by one, zigzagging from one side to the other, the car would go to each person in the “wash” line, and that person would whisper into the “car’s”  ear something good about them — something that the speaker liked, respected, appreciated or admired about them. I don’t remember many of the things my fellow students said to me. I remember one guy said that I was his third girlfriend (whatever that meant).  I remember that the boy I had a crush on told me that he liked playing sports with me (I was a major “tom-boy”…and still am.) Someone else liked my smile. Someone else said that she noticed that I tried to be nice to everyone. The details of those individual encounters is fuzzy, but the memory of how I felt after having been washed in all that good will and kindness is still precious to me.

I introduced this activity to my cohort of fellow humane educators when we had our Residency one year, and the faculty liked it so much that they used it as the closing activity for Residency. (They’ve modified it now so that students write down something about their fellow students during the week, so that everyone has something positive to take home from everyone else — a more meaningful way to do it.)

For my 25th birthday, my husband wrote down 25 things he loved about me and put them in a simple handmade book — one item per page, one page per hour of the day. It was one of the best gifts he ever gave me; I still have it these 17 years later.

One New Year’s Day, just after midnight, I sat around with a small group of friends in my co-housing community, and we each took turns sharing an intention that we had for each of the others. When we finished, everyone in that circle felt loved, appreciated, respected, more confident, more hopeful about the future — and more powerful about helping shape that future. I’ve never forgotten that night.

These are just a few examples of the times that sincere, authentic, kind words have helped shape my view of myself and have affected the next steps on my life’s journey. Yes, it’s important to look within for all those important qualities of joy, confidence, meaning, respect, love, and so on. We can’t rely on others for our self-perception, and it can be incredibly detrimental to pay too much attention to what others say about us. But I also think that it’s important that we help serve as a reflection for others so that they can more easily break through the static of culture and personal history that get in the way of their being able to see their own good and value.

Look for the good in the people around you and speak it. You will both be empowered by it.

~ Marsha

Two Wolves, Two Pictures: Which Do You Feed?

twowolvesThere’s an old story usually attributed as a Cherokee legend. I haven’t been able to determine its origin, and it has been shared and changed countless times, but I still think it has great value. This particular version comes from Zoe Weil’s book, Most Good, Least Harm:

“There is an old Cherokee story about a grandfather who is teaching his grandson about life.  He says to his grandson, ‘A fight is going on inside me.  It is a terrible fight between two wolves.  One is evil; he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, and superiority.  The other is good; he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, generosity, and compassion.  This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.’

The grandson thinks about this for a minute and then asks his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’

The old Cherokee simply replies, ‘The one we feed.'”

Likewise, there’s an activity that I use when I give my presentation on compassionate activism. It was developed by a colleague of mine, Kim Korona. The gist of the activity is to have two sets of words describing emotions written on pieces of paper. The first set have words like hatred, anger, despair, hopelessness, fear, and self-righteousness. The second set have words like loving, compassionate, joyful, hopeful, empowered, and understanding.

For the activity, I have volunteers take one of the first sets of words, go up to the front and strike a pose, become a frozen statue that reflects the emotion of that word. When everyone in the first set is up, they form a human picture of anger, despair, hatred, etc. I then have a second set of volunteers do the same thing — this time with the other set of words, so that they end up forming a human picture of hope, joy, compassion, etc.

I ask the audience to give their reaction to each picture and talk about how they felt about each one. Obviously, everyone prefers the second human picture. I tell everyone that the point of the activity is to help us remember that what we feel on the inside reflects on the outside. So, if we’re full of hatred and anger and despair and fear and hopelessness, that will reflect in our lives and our choices….just as in the Cherokee story, the wolf that we feed will be the wolf that wins.

In a world so full of violence, destruction, suffering, and cruelty, it’s so easy to wrap ourselves in a bubble of those same kinds of emotions. It’s hard to be patient with those making choices that harm others. It’s challenging to feel compassion instead of to judge. It’s excruciating sometimes, to feel love instead of anger and hatred. But, if we truly want a compassionate, joyful, just, sustainable world, then we must live that human picture and feed that wolf.

~ Marsha

Mini-MOGO Habit: Practice Third-Side Thinking in Your Choices

choicesroadsignWe live in what appears – on the surface – to be a dichotomous society: black or white, masculine or feminine, paper or plastic, organic or conventional, animals or people, jobs or environment, us or them, and so on in an infinite number of either/ors and exclusions of something or other. But in reality, we often have a much broader set of choices. There is almost always a third choice. Or a fourth. Or fifth.

I was skimming a magazine today that offered list of ways to save money and energy when upgrading your electronics. Some of the choices included stereo vs. mp3 player; cable vs. satellite; plasma vs. LCD TV. The point of the article was to show which items use less energy and emit fewer amounts of CO2. But, I immediately thought. Why are they telling me those are my only choices? I don’t own a stereo OR an mp3 player. I use a little portable boom-box that I’ve had for years (or my 6 year old laptop). I don’t use cable or satellite; in fact, I don’t even have a television, so the plasma vs. LCD is a pointless comparison for me.

Why do we stop at the easy either/or answers? Why don’t we dig deeper, further for the more meaningful solution?

We can start simply, like: instead of paper or plastic, I can bring my own bag. Or, do without one completely. But, I can also dig deeper: Do I really need to go to the store to buy this thing in the first place? What can I do instead? Borrow, build, share, improvise, do without?

No Impact Man Colin Beavan has mentioned on his blog that he always takes his own cup to the coffee shop, rather than using one of their disposable ones — and people thank him for it.  I would go even deeper and  suggest going without the store-bought coffee at all (I think my husband and I are about the only two people here in Portland who don’t drink the stuff), or at least ensure that it’s organic, shade-grown, fair-trade, sustainable stuff.

I recently read another article in a magazine about when and how to replace leather shoes with vegan ones. What was one of the first suggestions? Payless. Yes, they have vegan shoes that are pretty economical. But, many of those shoes are also made with petroleum products and other chemicals and quite probably were produced in sweatshops in another country and shipped thousands of miles. An excellent opportunity for some third side thinking.

As you go throughout your day, pay attention to the choices that you’re offered – and the ones you offer yourself – and then take some time to think about and look for third, fourth and fifth choices.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly they start appearing.

~ Marsha

Resources to Help You Help Stop Human Trafficking

Today is a day of new hope, of change, of the vision of a better world for all. Our new president, and all of us, have a long to-do list of personal and systemic changes to make in order to help create a humane world. One of those changes should be an end to human trafficking worldwide.

Last week (January 11) was Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. A day dedicated to bringing attention to the plight of the millions of men, women and children around the world who have been abducted, coerced or tricked into modern day slavery and labor. Most often the exploited are women and children, and many times they’re forced into sexual slavery. Amanda from End Human Trafficking did a nice post about 10 films about human trafficking to watch. I’ve posted most of them here, along with a few additions, and some useful websites. The first step in systemic change is learning more about the issue. Use these resources to help you.

Born Into Brothels (2004)
Academy Award-winning documentary about the children of prostitutes in India.

Call + Response (2008 )
Call + Response goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.”

The Day My God Died (2003)
“Entering the brothels of Bombay with hidden cameras, The Day My God Died documents the tragedy of the child sex trade, exposing human rights violations and profiling the courageous abolitionists who are working towards change.”

Features “investigative footage of the dark and hidden world of sex traffickers, pimps and buyers. Demand exposes the men who buy commercial sex, the vulnerable women and children sold as commodities, and the facilitators of the sale within the marketplace of exploitation.” From Shared Hope International.

Fields of Mudan (2004)
“When Mudan, a frightened, young Asian girl, is forced into modern day slavery by the brutal child brothel owner, Madam Zhao, the only solace she finds is through the memory of her Mother and the promise that she would one day find Mudan and take her away to America: the place where dreams come true.”

Holly (2006)
A docu-drama about an American stolen artifacts dealer in Vietnam who tries to save a young girl from child traffickers.

Lilja-4 Ever (2002)
A Swedish film about a teenager who is abandoned by her mother in the former Soviet Union, turns to prostitution to survive, and ends up as a sex slave in Sweden.

Not for Sale: The Documentary (2007)
A documentary that “covers what modern-day abolitionists are doing to fight the rampant terrors of human trafficking in the US and abroad.” From the book of the same name.

The Price of Sugar (2007)
In the Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians are under armed guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, most of which ends up in the U.S.

Sex Slaves (2005)
“An undercover journey deep into the world of sex trafficking, following one man determined to rescue his wife — kidnapped and sold into the global sex trade.”

Slumdog Millionaire (2008 )
A new feature film focused on the story of a boy with a chance to win big.

Trade (2007)
A feature film about a 13-year-old girl kidnapped by sex traffickers, and the brother and cop who struggle to find and free her.

Very Young Girls (2007)
A documentary “that chronicles the journey of young women through the underground world of sexual exploitation in New York City.”

(Note: Many of these films contain intense and graphic scenes, so be sure to preview them and ensure that they’re age-appropriate for your audience.)

Human trafficking is happening around the world, including here in the U.S., and if we pay attention and take positive action, we have the power to stop it. In addition to watching and sharing films like those above, you can find out more from sites like these:

Anti-Slavery International
Provides information and action opportunities on modern slavery and forced labor issues.

Childtrafficking.com Digital Library
An online library of information, photos and film sources regarding issues of child labor, slavery, sex trade, child marriage and more.

Free the Slaves
A treasure trove of information and resources on modern slavery.

Human Trafficking.org
Get reports, news and information about human trafficking from all over the world.

(And, for those of you in the Portland, Oregon area, the City Club of Portland Agora Committee is hosting a series of talks about Human Trafficking. The first one is Thursday, January 22 at 6:00 pm at Kell’s Irish Pub, 112 SW 2nd Ave. Find out more.)

As Gandhi said, “No one is free while others are oppressed.” On this day of hope, let’s work together to create a world where all are free from oppression, exploitation, suffering and violence. YES WE CAN create a compassionate, sustainable, just world!

~ Marsha

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Portland Area MOGO-esque Events

Be sure to schedule these into your iPhone, Blackberry, calendar, piece of scratch paper, or whatever you use to keep track of can’t-miss events:

The most essential ones (in my opinion — but, of course, that’s ’cause I’m helping organize them) are Zoe Weil’s appearance at Powell’s on February 4, and the MOGO Workshop on Saturday, February 7. Here are some details:

Author and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil, is appearing at Powell’s – Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd. ) at 7:30 pm to talk about her new book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful LifeMost Good, Least Harm shows that choosing to do the most good and the least harm is personally enriching and helps to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. If you care about social change issues at all (you know, like world peace, human rights, animal protection, environmental preservation — those kinds of things), be sure to attend.

Zoe is also leading an all-day MOGO (Most Good) Workshop on Saturday, February 7 here in Portland.  Creating a humane and sustainable world is not easy.  But when you live a life that deeply embodies your principles, not only do you help improve the world, you also cultivate your own inner peace and joy.  Tap into your deepest values and make choices that do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet with this terrific workshop. The regular registration fee is $110; the registration fee for students is $75; but, what’s that when this workshop could change your life and change the world?! Find out more.

Here are some other upcoming events to be sure to attend:

Internet Activism with Glenn Gaetz
Sunday, January 25, from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 238 )
This workshop, sponsored by the Let Live Foundation, features Glenn Gaetz from Liberation B.C., who’ll be talking about topics like  “making a website, using social networking sites, e-newsletters, and other relevant online tools.” Let Live will be hosting a different topic each month, so be sure to check them out.

Why Farm Animals Matter
Tuesday, February 3, at 7:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 101)
NW VEG, Vegans for Animal Advocacy and the Let Live Foundation are sponsoring this talk by Erin Williams, communications director for HSUS and author of the book Why Animals Matter. Erin will be talking about “the importance of making humane, sustainable food choices” and will share some of the exciting recent advancements for farmed animals in the United States.

NW VEG has some other great upcoming events, such as their new Happy Hour on Friday, January 30, their book club on Tuesday, February 10, and  their first annual Vegan Valentine’s Bake-off on Sunday, February 15. Find out more about NW VEG Events.

Also in the same vegan vein are the events sponsored by the MeetUp group Viva La Vegan. You have to be a member to enjoy all the benefits (about $6/year), but great upcoming events include the Garden Planning Primer on Saturday, January 31, and the free Ice Cream Social on Saturday, February 14Find out more and consider joining.

Know of more terrific MOGO-esque events in the Portland area? Let us know.