Worldchanging World-Saving Actions Must Include Humane Education and MOGO Living

Last week’s Earth Day celebration passed with the usual green this and eco that. But this year also brought more attention to how both Earth Day and the concept of green have started to lose a bit of their shine, with their cooption by multinational corporations and other companies trying to cash in on our desire to do good. There’s also the growing revelation that taking those itty bitty steps for the planet, while better than nothing, isn’t nearly enough to save us – or the earth – from ourselves.

As Worldchanging says,

“We’ll only head off disaster by taking steps — together — that are massive, societal and thorough. Most of what needs to be done involves political engagement, systems redesign, and cultural change. It can’t be done in an afternoon and then forgotten about.”

Worldchanging has created a list of 10 “big, difficult, world-changing concepts” essential for helping create the just, compassionate, sustainable world we want (and need). Here’s their list:

1.    Eliminate nuclear weapons.
2.    Stabilize the bottom billion.
3.    Create a globally transparent society.
4.    Be prepared, globally.
5.    Empower women.
6.    Enable a future forward diet.
7.    Document all life.
8.    Negotiate an effective climate treaty.
9.    Build bright green cities.
10.    Build no new highways.

If you check out the full post, you can see their explanations about the problems that each of these concepts solves and why it’s important.

All of the above are admiral, desirable elements of a humane world. But, one essential concept that’s missing from the top of their list is:

1.    Integrate comprehensive humane education and MOGO living into all areas of our lives.

If we’re taught from a young age to live with integrity, compassion and wisdom; if we’re given the tools and knowledge to put our deepest values into action; if we learn to pay attention to the impact of our choices and to do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet; if we’re encouraged to think critically and creatively and to find solutions that work for all; if we’re inspired to look at the world through a lens of interconnectedness; if we’re empowered to make positive personal choices and to transform systems, we can create a truly humane world.

We’re going to have a challenging time accomplishing all that other stuff on their list if we don’t collectively have the passion, the skills and the integrity to create that world, and those are things that have to be nurtured and taught.

~ Marsha


Be Part of the Energy Solution: Focus the Nation

focusthenationlogoMany Americans have come to realize that we need clean, sustainable, just energy solutions. On Saturday, April 18, across the U.S., students, business leaders and engaged citizens will connect with their elected officials in town hall meetings focused on determining local and national energy solutions that also promote jobs, cooperation and respect for the planet. Focus the Nation is the organization sponsoring this “Nationwide Town Hall on a Just and Clean Energy Future.” Find out more about events in your area, or if you want to organize your own event, download the organizing guide.

MOGO Tip: Write Right Now for a Better World

letterwriting1I have a friend who has written to legislators, corporations, and other leaders and officials since she was in high school, and she has kept a big binder of all the letters she’s written – and any responses she has received. That’s not the only citizen activism in which she has engaged, but she has certainly made sure that her voice and her views have been heard by hundreds, if not thousands, of people in power.

I’ve discovered through some of my own letter-writing to officials that issues (and better solutions to problems) I assumed they would already know about are frequently unknown to them. I’ve learned not to make assumptions about what people at any level of authority know and to do what I can to help educate, inspire and empower them…and to offer positive suggestions and praise as often as I express my concerns and complaints.

Whenever we take the time and courage to speak our piece about a MOGO world to others – including those in major decision-making roles – we help create that just, compassionate, sustainable world we seek.

Try to make it a habit to regularly write letters and emails to legislators, officials, editors and others who can help enact decisions that can bring about positive systemic change.

If the thought of writing a letter or email makes your palms all sweaty, here are a few sites with some good tips:

Let your voice be heard: Write right now! It only takes a few minutes!

~ Marsha

20 Years After the Exxon Valdez: A Great Time to Kick the Oil Habit

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, reportedly the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Nearly 11 million gallons of oil poured from a gash in the ship’s hull, spreading  out into one of the most pristine and delicate areas of the U.S.: Prince William Sound. The spill eventually covered more than 1,200 miles of coastline, killed millions of animals and devastated numerous communities.

Nature has written an article about the spill, reflecting on the disaster and examining the impact that lingers today, and you’ll find plenty of other media coverage.

People, animals and the planet are still feeling the impact of that spill. What a great reminder that our actions can have enormous and long-lasting consequences. What a great time to pay attention to all the choices we make that involve the use of oil — not just for transportation, but for our food, the products we buy, and so on.

Today, make a list of  all the connections you can think of that your life has to oil. Then brainstorm ways that you can reduce your impact, such as:

  • walking or biking whenever you can
  • eating a plant-based diet
  • using natural alternatives to petroleum products
  • choosing renewable energy options
  • writing your editor, legislators and other people in authority to encourage them to create systems that are sustainable and restorative.

Why support something that can cause enormous suffering and destruction (Iraq War, anyone?), when we can create and use the humane alternatives available to us now, and continue to work for better future alternatives?

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of USGS.

National Justice for Animals Week

I just discovered that this week is the first ever  National Justice for Animals Week, sponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.   The goal of this annual campaign is to increase “public awareness nationwide about how to report animal abuse—and how to work within your community to create stronger laws and assure tough enforcement.”

The campaign has a different suggested daily action to help work toward justice for animals, as well as information and resources to help you take action in your own community and abroad. You can also sign the Animal Bill of Rights, which, while not nearly strong enough, includes language to help protect animals from the worst exploitation, neglect, abuse and cruelty.

I also joined their Facebook cause and am recruiting others who might not know about this issue.

Check it out, and join in if you are moved to help animals who cannot help themselves.

~ Marsha

De-Spam Your Phone Books

phonebooksThe last time I used a phone book was when I was in a restaurant, waiting on a friend, and I had forgotten to bring her phone number. When I’m at home, I never use a directory, unless it’s the local ReDirect Guide, which has listings for healthy, sustainable businesses and organizations, or Green America’s National Green Pages, which has listings of “green” businesses nationwide. But, both of those are guides that I requested. They weren’t littered on my doorstep, wrapped up in a non-recyclable, will-be-around-for-practically-forever plastic bag.

Yesterday my husband came home and told me that his co-worker had accepted 8 copies of the phone book from the delivery person, because she didn’t want to upset him. What’s a store going to do with 8 phone books? Unless they’re going to become part of a special sales incentive, they’ll probably get thrown out.

Certainly it’s possible to recycle phone books, though apparently many people don’t. And, if you’re fortunate, you can catch the delivery person in the act and politely refuse a phone book — which I’ve been able to do about twice in my almost 8 years here in Oregon.

Phone books definitely are useful for some people, but in today’s instant-answer technological world when that same information in those yellow pages is available online, for many people they’ve become just another — albeit very large and bulky — piece of spam.

It feels ecologically unethical for something to be produced that most people are going to immediately toss. So, if you would like to join the ranks of people who want control over their phone book options, then here are a couple of choices:

A few days ago a friend sent me a link to Yellow Pages Goes Green, a site that offers to contact the various phone directory companies to ask them to remove your name from the directory distribution list. I filled out their opt out form right away, but then I realized that I don’t really know much about the organization. It has been written up in several blogs and a couple of newspapers, but that doesn’t reveal much information. So, use your judgment about using this option.

You can also call each of the Telephone Directory companies and ask them to remove you from their lists. Here are their phone numbers:

  • AT&T/YellowPages (formerly SBC and Bell South):   1.800.792.2665
  • Verizon (Idearc):   1.800.888.8448
  • Dex:   1.877.243.8339
  • Yellow Book:   1.800.373.3280 or 1.800.373.2324

It takes a little more time, but at least you’re in direct contact with the companies.

Really, though, this is the sort of issue that calls, not just for personal action, but for systemic change. Millions of trees are cut down to create pretty much instant trash. So, I invite you to contact the phone companies, as well as your legislators, and encourage them to develop a positive solution, such as one that mirrors the Do Not Call Registry.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for folks carrying bulky plastic bags, and hop online to search out “phone book crafts.”

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of frankh via Creative Commons.

MOGO Workshop Changes Lives, Changes the World

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud employee of the Institute for Humane Education, but I also volunteered to organize a MOGO Workshop for IHE here in Portland. It was held last weekend, and it was truly an amazing and transforming experience.

If you don’t know, MOGO stands for “Most Good” which refers to doing the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet. The MOGO Workshop was based around the 7 keys that IHE President and author  Zoe Weil writes about in her book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life. The 7 keys are:

  1. Live Your Epitaph
  2. Pursue Joy Through Service
  3. Make Connections and Self-Reflect
  4. Model Your Message and Work for Change
  5. Find and Create Community
  6. Take Responsibility
  7. Strive for Balance
Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Throughout the day, Zoe used these 7 keys as the basis for helping participants explore, question, reflect, think critically and define their values, the impact of their personal choices and the power of systemic change. Zoe used a variety of interactive strategies during the workshop. She started almost immediately by having people think about and list all the challenges of the world, the ones about which they’re most passionate, and what skills they have for helping solve those challenges. It was a very revealing exercise.  Some of the other activities included having people write their epitaphs, share experiences of joy through service and write out their MOGO Action Plan, as well as exploring the impact of our product choices on ourselves, other people, animals and the earth and learning about the ways other concerned citizens are creating positive change in the world.

As the local organizer, I was able to invite several of my friends and colleagues, and there were also several people there who didn’t know anything about the MOGO principle but were curious about the concept. Sweetpea Baking Company generously donated some yummy vegan donuts, which were quickly consumed (I jealously snagged a few extra for myself – not very MOGO, I know). And, Papa G’s catered an awesome vegan, organic, mostly-local lunch of enchilada pie, salad, corn, beans and rice, cornbread, and the best pear cobbler I’ve ever had (even better than my husband’s!). We were also fortunate that it was a beautiful, sunny day!

Everyone seemed to have a terrific experience (the evaluations were all very positive), and I think people left with a stronger sense of community and purpose, and the feeling that we all indeed can make a powerful positive difference in our lives and in the world.

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

I’m looking forward to connecting more with the participants and spreading the MOGO principle all over Portland…and the world!

~ Marsha