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Lee Camp: A Dozen Reasons Now is the Time for Housing as a Human Right – Mintpress News

Posted: August 10, 2020 at 9:44 pm

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Congresss inability to actually represent the real-live human beings of America, combined with an economic system that rewards lack of empathy and an excess of greed, has brought us to a dark time when an oncoming tsunami of financial ruin, destitution and evictions towers over our heads, blocking out the sunlight.

The impending evictions may soonkick 28 million people/familiesout of their homes. To put that in perspective, only ten million people lost their homes during the 2008 economic crisis, and that was considered by anyone paying attention to be the craziest thing to ever happen.

What were facing now could be three times crazier, getting to Charlie Sheen levels. (I almost wrote Kanye West levels but everything he does is in hopes of being mentioned in the media, and Im not falling for it. Shit. This parenthetical has betrayed me!)

To talk about the impending homelessness tsunami, we have to first get past the fact that our government could totally bail people out and keep them in their homes. Not only have they already bailed out big banks and Wall Street to the tune of$4.25 trillionbut on top of that the Pentagon hasover $21Trillionof unaccounted-for adjustments on their books over the past 20 years. This is to say theres plenty of money.

Money is an idea, a concept, an imaginary metaphysical belief, and its high time we faced the fact that the U.S. government has an unlimited imagination. As philosopher Alan Watts once put it: Money is not a thing, its a measurement. Saying theres not enough money to do something is like a builder saying there are not enough inches to build a house. He has the wood, nails, and hammers. Hes just out of inches.

The U.S. government could easily give every American $2,000 a month for the foreseeable future, which would keep almost everybody in their homes and apartments. In fact, Canada has opted togive $2,000 a monthto those who lost work because of the pandemic.

But ignore the fact that theres enough money. Thats not what were here to discuss.

There are also enough empty homes.As of 2018, there were nearly 1.5 million vacant homes in the country. Compare that to the estimated553,742 people homelesson any given night. So even before the pandemic, there were three empty houses for every homeless person. Three. Thats not even accounting for empty apartments, yachts, sheds, extra bedrooms, garages, condos, cubbyholes, attic spaces, basements, barns, pool houses, and walk-in refrigerators.

If those vacant locations were used to house the houseless, those of us lucky enough to have our own abodes wouldnt hardly notice a difference except that homelessness would have vanished. It would be something we talk about in a remember when fashion like VHS tapes, game shows about grocery shopping, and dating that didnt involve blood tests and an Instagram audit.

No more people on the street, no more fear that a little bad luck would result in you or your family under a bridge giving a guy your underwear in exchange for a sandwich. All that utter madness would cease to exist.

And the impending number of evictions28 millionisnt even accounting for how many people stay in horrible relationships because they cant afford a place of their own, both horrible marriages and other living arrangements. (Like a 25-year-old who has to live with his mom who cleans her feet on the couch every night while watching Wheel of Fortune and eating soup that smells of rotting raccoon carcass. Call me crazy, but in our post-scarcity world, that 25-year-old should be given an apartment.)

But lets back up even further and question the brain parasites we were given from our social engineering. Why should someone be homeless just because they dont have enough money? Some would say indignantly, Because they didnt work hard enough, so they deserve to be homeless. Thats called work ethic and its what this countrys founded on! George Washington something something Ford Motor Company. Meh!

Okay, thats a great point exceptNo, its not. How hard someone works hardly matters in our society. Think for a moment about all the filthy rich trust-fund kids who sit around on their asses all day smoking weed out of the skull of an exotic lemur. Yet theyre still rich. How many trophy wives or trophy husbands lounge by the pool eternally caressing their junk in the sunshine? They dont work hard. How many superfluous board members get paid hundreds of thousands to sit on a board and attend one conference call a month?

Plus, consider people that actually do work for their fortuneslike a CEOdo you honestly believe they work athousand timesharder than a janitor or a dishwasher or a coal miner? Of course not. Whats the hardest job in the world? Probably ripping asbestos out of a dilapidated sewage treatment plant in Phoenix, Arizona in 110-degree heat with improper safety equipment.

Do you think those guys get paid the highest salary in the world because they work the hardest? No! Theyre lucky if they get dental. Theyre lucky if their lunch break is long enough for a sandwichanda piss.

America is not based on hard work. Get it out of your head that this society is at all set up to be fair. Fair would be everyone with a roof over their head. Fair would be every kid getting a solid education. Fair would be every person drinking delicious clean water. Fair is the opposite of whatever the hell were doing here.

But very little of this discussion exists in our culture. Instead, the banks and landlords are preparing to kick 28 million families out. And its not like the bank will resell all those homes during the impending depression lathered in a pandemic. Nope. Those homes will sit empty, just like the 10 million foreclosed homes during the 2008 Great Recession sat empty for months if not years. So the reason for kicking people out is simply to um make sure theyre homeless? How can that make sense?

If the goal is to have a good, functioning society, its completely illogical to kick people out of their shelters. The families will be devastated. The kids will be traumatized. Divorces will occur. Suicides. Addiction. Overdoses. None of that is good for society. None of that helps America even slightly. So the trulypatrioticthing to do is demand housing for all.

Whats good for society is to have people comfortable in their homes, able to get educated and grow as humans. Whatever happened to the pursuit of human growth for every individual?

Some may argue, We cant let people stay in their homes because we need to teach them personal responsibility. Thats the argument every vomit-brained Fox News guest spits out reflexively. Yet its impossible to be responsible for something no one saw coming. Did anyone see this pandemic coming? Did anyone including the government prepare for it?

No. In fact, weve bailed out whole industries, the airline industry for one. Billions of dollars just handed to them. How are the heads of the airlines any different from a homeowner who lost her job in the pandemic? Theres no difference. Shouldnt the airline CEOs be the ones evictedleft out on the street sleeping in a box?

On top of all thisand this point is really going to blow a hole through your pantsits cheaper to keep people in their homes. For example,according toTheWashington Post, Utah was spending on average $20,000 on each chronically homeless person. So, to in part cut those costs but also to save lives, the state started setting up each chronically homeless person with his or her own house.

It worked. By 2015, they cut homelessness by 91 percent and saved the state money. However, since then, homelessness has gone back up. Its tough to say why, but one director of aUtah food pantry said, The mistake we made was stopping [the program].

Yeah, thatmayhave been the reason. Utah lawmakers found out how to end homelessness. and then they stopped doing that! (Why in this country do we run screaming from every great idea like its a hive of angry bees that all want to talk to us about life insurance??)

So here, alas, are the solutions. Housing should be a human right. We have enough homes. We have enough materials. We have enough dollars and enough inches. It doesnt need to be a goddamn mansion, but everyone should have a roof over their heads and four good walls. Hell, Ill even compromisetwo and a half good walls.

Even if we didnt have enough homes, which we do, we can now3D print a housein a matter of hours. (Although it must suck when the printer jams. All those houses stuck together in the tray.)

Point is, dont tell me we dont have enough houses and apartments for everyone.Paris Hiltons dogshave a fucking $325,000 mansion! Im not kidding. Just for the dogs. Thats, shall we say, mildly upsetting. (Let me guess those dogs worked hard to get where they are.)

The next solution is to fight the impending evictions. Dont let the authorities kick your friends and neighbors onto the street. We have a strong (suppressed) history in this country of fighting against landlords and the cruelty of evictions, such as the greatRent Strike War of 1932in the Bronx, and theChicago Eviction Riots of 1931.

Fighting back is not just an option, its an obligation. If youre strong enough to resist the profit-centered social engineering we are fed every day of our lives, then you will soon realize housing should be a human right.

Feature photo | This Sept. 25, 2019 photo shows an eviction notice on the front door of Apartment 17, the home of Ed Buck in West Hollywood, Calif. Brian Melley | AP

Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show Redacted Tonight. His new book Bullet Points and Punch Lines is available atLeeCampBook.comand his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free

This article was published with special permission from the author. It originally appeared atConsortium News.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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Lee Camp: A Dozen Reasons Now is the Time for Housing as a Human Right - Mintpress News

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August 10th, 2020 at 9:44 pm

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The Results of an Open Mind – Los Angeles Free Press

Posted: July 8, 2020 at 2:44 pm

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An open mind is said by some to be a virtue that corrects errors in judgment. Others find an open mind a signal of indecisiveness, being wishy-washy, or an inability to think for oneself. Either way, its likely very few, if any, of us would want to admit to having a closed mind. In truth, it is likely we all are, at any given time, somewhere on the continuum between having an open and a closed mind and it varies by day and challenge.

By and large, identity groups tend to consume media that reifies their position. It was Alan Watts who, in The Way of Zen, wrote, Men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life. So not wanting to be an enemy of life, I looked into what leads to an open mind. Turns out, it is a characteristic known as intellectual humility, which is to say, understanding the limits of ones knowledge. And within that, allowing the admission of being wrong.

Cultivating intellectual humility begins with acknowledging that my mind is not perfect, that I have blind spots. We all do. Given this universal condition, there is permission to safely admit, I was wrong. Sounds simple, but there was a time when admitting I was wrong was difficult, as my self-worth was tied up in being right. Today I see it more as freeing my intellect from its limited perspective. But it takes practice. And it was with practice in mind that I listened to our Presidents 4th of July address.

While standing on Black Hills land, stolen against treaty agreements, our President spoke of equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed. He stated how we embrace tolerance, not prejudice while speaking from the foot of the desecration that is Mount Rushmore. Its intellectual humility that enables one to absorb this jarring cognitive dissonance, hold two opposing ideas in their mind, and still function. Cultivating this ability is powerful, it enables frustration, anger, and helplessness to be side-stepped.

What if we were to do this, not merely as individuals, but as an entire nation? Can we both love America while at the same time admit that slavery, white supremacy, and Manifest Destiny were wrong? And if we have an open mind that corrects our errors in judgment, are we ready to make reparations now? As the Black Lives Matter Movement propels one of the largest societal changes ever in the 200+ years of our collective history, laws of our land will be reshaped to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The good news is intellectual humility and an open mind can be cultivated. Some practices include regularly interacting with a wide circle of diverse friends, being open to new ideas and experiences, and adopting an attitude of live and let live and goodwill toward others. Why do this? Well, its not a new concept living in relation to others with compassion and understanding has been embraced by myriad cultures and religions to their great benefit. And, too, because, in this increasingly interconnected and complicated world, curiosity and intellectual humility have become more crucial to our success than ever before. This is why I explore the illusion of separateness in my book.

Cultivating intellectual humility and an open mind unleashes creativity and brings us hope. You may say Im a dreamer, but Im not the only one. I hope someday youll join us and the world will live as one. Imagine. By John Lennon.

[Ed.s Note: Carolyn L. Baker, M.Ed. grew up in a segregated (white) suburb in Southern California but came of age in the counterculture of the 1960s. And so she went on to a 30-year career in nonprofits that helped the less-fortunate (the coded-container of, mostly, young blacks, older blacks, the in-between blacks, and fatherless black families). Wrapped in her mantle, helping them up, she had little reason to believe she had had a role in their lack of good fortune.

Her book,An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibilityfollows Bakers painful awakening to the realities of her own complicity in racism.It is a very personal narrative that explores the complexities of race in America, suggests ways to navigate the guilt that can arise in the face of these realities, and offers relevant methods to build a more humane society.

This book is more than timely, it is a revelation of todays magical metamorphosis. And, literally, you, me, all of us can follow her path to where our personal transformation can take place and, finally, become both creator and participant in a better society.

eBook and paperback editions @

More info about Carolyn, including her upcoming radio interviews]

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The Results of an Open Mind - Los Angeles Free Press

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July 8th, 2020 at 2:44 pm

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Where to Start With STRFKR’s Catchy, Cosmic Electro-Pop –

Posted: June 10, 2020 at 2:53 pm

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LISTS Where to Start With STRFKRs Catchy, Cosmic Electro-Pop By Casey Jarman June 10, 2020

STRFKR has been many bands over the course of its 14-year lifespan. In late 2006, it was a solo project that served mainly as a catalyst for Josh Hodgeswho was tired of fronting his singer-songwriter project Sexton Blaketo beat the hell out of his drums over pre-recorded minimalist electro-pop. STRFKR became a band early, in organic fashion, with members joining without much forethought or planning. By summer 2008, the band gained a reputation as the most promising group in Portlands then-bustling house show scene, placing second in Willamette Weeks annual Best New Band poll. Regional success led to lengthy self-booked national tours (serving as more of a mobile dance party than a traditional band). With 2011s sparkling sophomore effort Reptilians, the band amassed a broader fanbase, and in Polyvinyl, a permanent label home. In the years since, the band has battled with its own pop sensibilities, released inventive remix collections and served a delivery vehicle for sampled nuggets of cosmic wisdom from philosopher Alan Watts.

There is a tension in the projects odd skillset of super-catchy choruses, existentialist philosophy, and songwriting that focuses on death as often as it does on romantic relationships. Hodges, who is sheltering in place at his home in Portland, admits that hes not naturally the party-starting dance-party frontman he appears to be. Im a born grandpa, basically, Hodges laughs. Its funny that we facilitate these big parties and then we get on the bus and its like Everyone be quiet, you know?

Hodges is the first to admit that playing the same songs night after night can be grating. He has an open disdain for much of the music industry (hence his bands tongue-in-cheek name). But hes proud of the sort of 90s approach that STRFKR built its name on. We toured a lot and built personal relationships with fans, he says. We were always at the merch table after the show.

With all of the focus on touring, the bands studio albumsfive in total, though many remix albums, b-side collections and EPs flesh out a broader discographyare sometimes overshadowed. Ahead of the bands new album Future Past Life, out now, we walked through STRFKRs Bandcamp catalog alongside Josh Hodges himself. Im super lucky, he reflected toward the end of our chat. This band supports me and like eight of my friends. Im not educated, Im not qualified to do anything. As many days that I can live off of music, Ill take them. Heres where to start.

Portland, Oregon


✓ following


Portland, Oregon


✓ following


Josh Hodges moved back to Portland after a stint in New York City as a singer-songwriter, and STRFKR was the band that emerged from his discontent. The Sexton Blake project wasnt making Hodges any money, and it wasnt bringing him satisfaction. So he gave it up. I was totally sober, and not very social, so it was one of my only outletsdoing music, Hodges remembers. I was writing songs pretty much every day, just for fun. And Starfucker was just me taking that out in public.

The early STRFKR stuff is super simple and catchy. Most of those songs were just written for me to play drums on. Its all mid-tempo beats that I could play fairly well, Hodges recalls. The live shows are what made it stand out. Those first shows in Portland were magical. Every show was different. Sometimes wed do noise stuff for 20 minutes and then drop into German Love. We were just trying to entertain ourselves.

STRFKRs original moniker represented the antithesis of everything Hodges wanted in the music industry. It was chosen as a sort of insurance policy against success. But success came anyway. Everything came into place with the right peopleRyan [Biornstad] and Shawn [Glassford] being in the band at the right time, and contributing the right things. Biornstad provided unhinged energy to their live shows; Glassford booked the bands early tours, and found the band its first publicist, Avery McTaggart (whos with them to this day). But there was a learning curve. It became kind of its own thing and I thought, Well, Im along for the ride. It became my life, and I definitely didnt feel in control of it, aside from making the music.

Where the self-titled debut album and follow-up EP, Jupiter, were recorded and performed almost entirely by Hodges, Reptilians enlisted the help of STRFKR drummer Keil Corcoran and fledgling producer Jacob Portrait, who had been working with an explosive Portland-via-New Zealand band called The Mint Chicks. Portrait, who would go on to work with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wild Nothing, (Sandy) Alex G, and others, brought the band to the storied studio of veteran Portland rockers The Dandy Warhols. I think we were just trying to take my songs and make them into something we could play live and still have a party atmosphere at live shows, Hodges recalls. Some of the original demos sound way different than how they wound up.

I was actually unhappy with that album, he adds. But it was a good experience, and thats some fanss favorite album. While Hodgess dissatisfaction revolves around the albums cleaner production style and more pop-centric tracklist, Reptilians still has plenty of both chaos (see the lovably ramshackle opening track Born) and quirkiness. The overpowering synth horns on lead single Bury Us Alivethe product of a preset on a shitty 80s Yamaharemain one of the most divisive STRFKR recording decisions to date.

Between Reptilians and Miracle Mile, STRFKR jettisoned the vowels from its name, experienced a painful split with early member (and high-energy performer) Ryan Biornstad, coalesced as a four-piece, and took a break from their rigorous touring schedule to spend a few months writing and recording in the home of a family friend on the coastal Oregon city of Astoria.

I didnt even have a place to live at that point, so it was really nice, Hodges says. The dudes would come down for a weekend, wed work on music. We had all these little stations set up.

Miracle Mile wound up being STRFKRs most collaborative record to date, which changed the trajectory Hodgeswho had recently rediscovered alcoholhad in mind for it. I wanted that whole album to be a happy, drunky guitar record, he remembers. There are a few songs that feel that way. But Keil and Patrick [Morris] wanted electronic stuff for the live show, so it wound up being this really long album that probably should have been split into two. But it definitely captures where we were then.

Where they were may have been a bit more ramshackle than on Reptilians, but Miracle Mile proves that, left to their own devices, pop is still an essential element of STRFKRs DNA. YAYAYA and Last Words are among the earwormiest selections in the bands catalog. More ethereal and tender cuts like Kahlil Gibran and Golden Light, though, steal the show.

After the collaborative, sprawling Miracle Mile, Hodges took a solo trip into the Joshua Tree desert and began work on what he knew would be a sparkly synth-pop record of his own design. Recorded largely alone and completed alongside mixer/producer Jeff Brodsky, Being No One, Going Nowhere is STRFKRs most distilled dance music collectionwith the groups usual live drums notably absent. At the time, Hodges was obsessed with the hard-to-find Prophet-5 synthesizer, which appears heavily on the final record. The streamlined, layered result sounds excellent in a good pair of headphones. Its fun making that kind of music. Its not fun playing it every night on tour, honestly, Hodges admits.

Love songs and break-up songs abound on Being No One (so named for a book by Buddhist nun and author Ayya Khema), but in true STRFKR fashion, so do songs about finding inner stillness. The title track (the only lyrics to which are Youre alright where you are/ Being no one/ Going nowhere) is Hodgess favorite to play on tour. Hodges says that meditation has saved him from bouts of deep depression throughout his life, and spiritually minded retreats used to be a regular part of his life. But because of touring, I have pretty much stopped meditating, he admits. Touring is a hard life for keeping up healthy habits.

Still, the band incorporates existentialist musingsboth lyrically and with samples of lectures from philosopher and author Alan Wattsin songs across their discography. The Alan Watts samples are like Easter Eggs, Hodges says. Hes not even my favorite speaker, but hes really entertaining and accessible. If it ends up helping someone discover this stuff that Ive found to be useful in my life, thats great.

For those of us who have followed STRFKRs career closely, Future Past Life is an immensely rewarding listen. Where past records have sometimes glossed over Hodgess greatest giftshis penchant for writing subtle hooks, his delicate vocal delivery, his deep affection for off-kilter soundsFuture Past Life brings them to the forefront. The 10-song collection, much of it the byproduct of a chance collaboration with Dutch musicians Mathias Janmat and David Hoogerheide, is the perfect balance of pop majesty and outsider weirdness.

Hodges, who is uncharacteristically proud of the new record, says the collaboration with the Dutch musicians began as a non-canon experiment. We were going to do our own project that wasnt STRFKR, Hodges says. But I really wanted these songs to get out into the world. With his bandmates blessing and input, the collaborative tracks were folded into the new record. The remaining tracks were a mix of new and old. I found old demos that sounded crazy and overproduced, and I stripped them down, Hodges says. Its fun to do that. Like theres something good in theremaybe I covered it up with weird production. Thats something Im trying to do lately: put less shit on everything.

A collaboration like this might lead to jealousy and infighting with some bands, but the other members of STRFKR are used to a certain amount of fluidity in the recording process. All of us just want to make an album that were real proud of, Hodges says of his STRFKR bandmates, who hope to soon be prepping and reinventing the material for tour. And this is the one I feel the happiest about, for sure.




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June 10th, 2020 at 2:53 pm

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Watch: Stunning film shows the beautiful Isle of Wight in a way you might not have seen before – On The Wight

Posted: May 13, 2020 at 10:43 pm

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Isle of Wight Aerial photographer and cinematographer, Pete Heather, has shared this great short film with us today.

Shot last summer, it showcases some stunning Isle of Wight scenery and follows on from Petes earlier film called, Home.

Under Control features a voiceover by the writer Alan Watts and gives you views you might never have seen before.

Pete says,

Have you ever dreamt of being somewhere else, then only to realise that being where you are now is a much better place?

We continued our aerial voyage around the Isle of Wight only to discover that many of the places we dream about, can be found right here on this stunning island.

You can see more of Petes films on the PH Imagery Vimeo account, but in the meantime, check this out. Turn sound on and make the video full screen.

Under Control from Ph Imagery on Vimeo.

HoMe from Ph Imagery on Vimeo.

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Watch: Stunning film shows the beautiful Isle of Wight in a way you might not have seen before - On The Wight

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May 13th, 2020 at 10:43 pm

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At home with artist Jeppe Hein – Wallpaper*

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Moving museum benches, balls darting along roller-coaster tracks, mirror labyrinths, and a chorus of Tibetan singing bowls are just a few of the devices Jeppe Hein has used to elicit joy and wonder. Far-reaching in appeal while incisive and poignant, his work imparts truths that are particularly resonant in these turbulent times to live in the here and now, to accept the dark in order to see the light, to remember that we all share the same air. In midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the artist has taken his Breathe With Me project to Instagram Live, in the form of a regular Wednesday evening workshop that teaches mindfulness through art. We catch up with him ahead of his most recent workshop to talk about conscious breathing, inner change, and the pursuit of happiness.

Jeppe Hein: I am sitting at my desk, at home in Berlin. I have been painting my breath onto the walls of my room in my weekly Wednesday workshops on Instagram. There are other canvases standing next to me, on which I have started to paint waves for our corridor. My new yoga mat with breathing stripes is lying on the floor, and artworks from artist friends surround me. My desk is full of tools, brushes, blank paper, notes and sketches. It has started to thunder and rain heavily, and it smells fresh and very good. I had a long day today, with a lot of meetings and decisions to be made, a bit like a roller-coaster, but I am looking forward to breathing with you and the world in my workshop tonight.

Jeppe Hein wearing an I am right here t-shirt from his own brand, Change Yourself. Photography: Tom Wagner,

JH: Mindfulness is about observing and perceiving things in detail. Taking a break from what you are doing, opening up to new experiences and giving new ideas more space. After my burnout in 2009, I had to change my life. I started walking a lot, practicing yoga, and doing breathing exercises, which have influenced my later artworks and my public project Breathe with Me. I still try to include these exercises in my daily life. When I prepare my ginger tea, take a shower, take a walk in the forest, or work in the garden I always try to be in the here and now, be aware of my breath and control it, so that I feel well. Thats my goal, but of course, I dont always achieve it.

JH: When I realised my first work Moving Wall #1, I noticed that it activated something in the observer joy, surprise, wonder, and happiness. This activated something in me too. It inspires me to see how people overcome their boundaries, how they feel themselves, how they perceive their surroundings in a different way, and how they start a dialogue with one another. It helps me develop as an artist, but also as a person.

Jeppe Hein, Wishes for Two, 2017. Two coloured balloons hang from the ceiling, subtly moving with the circulation of the air, their mirrored surfaces produce a distorted perspective of the surrounding space. Only the roof seems to prevent the balloons from soaring into the air and expanding the reflection to the infinite. Courtesy of the artist, Knig Galerie, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York, and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

JH: While my aim is not merely to entertain, I believe playfulness and participation make artworks more approachable especially for those who are normally not in touch with art.

Art can make people laugh, and life is easier with a smile on your face or as Charlie Chaplin said, a day without laughter is a day wasted. I believe if an artwork puts a smile on your face and gets you in high spirits, it even makes your life better, at least momentarily. To see how people interact with my work, to be able to fascinate them, and sometimes even make them happy, makes me very happy too.

JH: Our different senses enable us to experience ourselves, others, our surroundings, as well as the artwork in the very moment. The more we are within ourselves, and aware of ourselves and our surroundings, the more we can open up to someone else. We always talk about what we see when we visit an exhibition, but in my opinion, what we feel and experience is more important.

Top, Jeppe Hein, Distance, 2004. White plastic balls dart along steel rollercoaster tracks in this site-specific installation. When a visitor enters the room, a sensor reacts and releases a ball that runs the length of the track. As more visitors trigger new balls, they begin to lose track of their own ball and experience the whole architecture as a moving and dynamic structure. Bottom, Jeppe Hein, Bear Your Consequences, 2018. Created for Heins solo exhibition at Cistererne, a subterranean reservoir turned exhibition space in Copenhagen. A small gas flame burns in the centre of a huge round mirror with a fragmented surface, growing warmer and brighter as the visitor approaches, offering an encounter that both seduces and repels. Courtesy of the artist, Knig Galerie, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York, and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

JH: Since its launch in September 2019, thousands of people around the world have downloaded our manual and taken Breathe with Me into their own lives. We continue to empower individuals, families, neighbours, communities, kindergartens, schools, museums, as well as other public institutions and organisations, to make the invisible visible, and share how we breathe around the world. We also aim to bring Breathe with Me to other significant locations worldwide, including Greenland, a place of great beauty and importance, where the climate change rising temperatures, warming oceans and melting ice could have the most extreme consequences.We are also developing a concept for the upcoming Global CitizenFestival.

JH: Its again about sharing. Right now, we are all sitting in the same odd situation, where we feel a lot of different emotions, and it is not easy to breathe freely. So I started to do these workshops to lighten things up and to give people a tool to look at themselves and reflect on their feelings.

Ive hosted the workshop in different ways. I did How do you feel like drawings, encouraging people to express their feelings by painting their faces. Then I did Breathing your wave, where I asked people to listen to their inner ocean, whether it is stormy or flat and calm.

I eventually decided to do Breathe with Me every time, since it is very minimal and the concept is easy to understand. Everyone knows how to breathe and how to paint a line while exhaling. It is the core of what we need now breathing. It unites us all. I will continue to paint my breath onto the walls of my room at home, and make a whole breathing room out of it.

Jeppe Hein, Mirror Labyrinth NY, 2015. An accessible installation of freestanding mirrored lamellae, exhibited at Brooklyn Bridge Park from 2015-16. The varying heights of the mirrored surfaces echoed the Manhattan skyline in the background.Courtesy of the artist, Knig Galerie, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York, and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

JH: All around the world, our current situation forces us to stop and actually look inside, whether we want to, and to realise that what we have around us is all we have. We have to feel and reflect much more than we are used to. This is the moment to do things differently on many levels: in our own lives, in our society, in our world. Because if you want to change the world, you have to change yourself.

Jeppe Hein, All We Have Is Right Now, 2016. ALL WE HAVE IS RIGHT NOW glows in white neon letters behind a two-way mirror, layered with reflections of the visitors and the surrounding space. Photography: Studio Jeppe Hein / Florian Neufeldt, courtesy Knig Galerie, Berlin, 303 Gallery, New York, and Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

JH: If this time has a positive aspect, it is that there is room for fresh ideas and new thoughts. I ask myself: What is really necessary? Which way have I come here, and do I want to continue or turn left, right or around? It has inspired me to create a few new works, but also made me realise how important works like Breathe with Me are in offering people a moment to feel themselves again.

JH: The song It starts now by Blond:ish, which includes a speech by philosopher Alan Watts.

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At home with artist Jeppe Hein - Wallpaper*

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May 13th, 2020 at 10:43 pm

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Conor O’Malley: The "CEO’s Caddy" & Instigator Of CoachAid20, Helps Executives ‘Execute The Right Shot’ Through His Transformative…

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Conor O Malley the CEOs Caddy and Instigator of CoachAid20 supporting CEOs & Executive Leaders trust the way they learn, lead, and know themselves. Transformative approach to leadership and delivering results are the key outcomes for leaders who work with him through his Observe | Choose | Act methodology. Sharing new ways to see themselves and the world they lead to take action differently. OMalley has shared his reflections and advice in an interview.

VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA / ACCESSWIRE / May 12, 2020 / Conor OMalley, the CEOs Caddy, Instigator of CoachAid20, and experienced executive coach walks alongside CEOs, Business Owners and C-Level Executives to help them execute the right shot through his Transformative Executive Coaching Practice; for executive leaders to trust how they learn, lead, and know themselves and to be more effective both personally and professionally in todays new economy.

OMalley helps his clients observe themselves from the inside out and truly observe the environment they operate in. He helps them see possibilities for their choice of shot (choose), how they execute the shot (act) and he walks alongside them reviewing the outcome (learn). As a public speaker, he supports the audience with his storytelling, through his own executive experience and by sharing distinctions for those present to understand themselves better, as well as the world they lead in, enabling them to take more effective action.

Having a clear view and providing direction remains critical to being an effective leader, OMalley states. He also contends that Executive leadership attributes and styles are changing. One change is to a more enabling leadership style from a more directive and hierarchical model of leadership. This is due, in part, to the increased pace and complexity of the environment that leaders now lead in, where the patterns in the data are harder to see and the pace of decision making has increased. The directive approach is limited by only having one source of listening the listening to self. A caveat to this he shares, is when there is chaos in a time of crisis, as is currently the case with COVID-19, where a more directive approach is required for decisions to be made quickly.

Critical to this change in leadership style is trust. Trust, OMalley argues is, and always has been, created by delivering on your promise. The change he refers to is more mutual respect, empathy at a humanistic level, curiosity, active listening and leaders showing vulnerability; not attributes the previous style encouraged.

This recognition is, in part, a result of O Malleys work with CEOs, Business Owners, and C-Level executives internationally. He takes a humanistic approach to leadership development and career transition through his Observe | Choose | Act Programme.

Conor OMalleys Observe | Choose | Act Programme is a transformative (not performance) coaching approach that delivers:

OMalley, now a native of Melbourne, Australia, has been coaching CEOs, Business Owners and C-Level executives internationally for 3 years, when he decided to leave the C suite in the supply chain industry. After he relooked at what success meant for him, both personally and professionally, he decided to move into the world of coaching and mentoring to support those who are now where he was to help shape how leaders lead, both personally and professionally.

In response to a question on the driving force behind his success, O Malley has explained how it really boiled down to being a beacon for others (his purpose) and helping to build the leadership behaviour and language of business leaders today, that helps shape the world in which we all live.

Reflecting on the change in O Malleys life, to where he is today, he quotes Alan Watts waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.

In a recent one-on-one interview, O Malley reminisced on past achievements, which helped build momentum towards the present day. Notably, his leadership at National Foods, in Australia, a core part of which was transforming the safety culture of the organisation that changed peoples lives for the better. Most recently, on the outbreak of COVID-19, his instigation and leadership of CoachAid20, where globally 350 coaches signed up to provide free coaching to support professionals transition to working from home 24 hours a day for 9 days prior to Easter. 146 sessions of free coaching were held across 6 continents within 7 days of his idea. Lastly, he shared that transforming his way of being, both personally and professionally, to enable him to be a beacon for others is an achievement he is immensely proud of.

His own learning journey, and competency building, over the last 3 years brought him to a point where he now has a highly professional, and certified, coaching practice working with CEOs and business owners. Having been an executive leader, and now an executive coach, he knows from feedback of the many who have worked with him in both domains, that he has inspired them and taught them skills that have lasted a lifetime, from which they have drawn on in their own journeys.

In the same interview, O Malley stated his intentions for the future. The primary goal for the next 12 months, he states, will be to build his executive coaching reach to support more leaders and, during Covid 19, to build on the community reach of CoachAid20 for those in need of what coaching, more broadly, can provide. This will be done by his message being heard by the leaders of the corporate world and by working with others on developing CoachAid20.

Looking farther ahead, the aim is to be working with world influencers to help shape the language and behaviour of leaders to be more in line with societal expectations of what leadership looks like and needs to be today. His second aim, through CoachAid, is leading a global movement to support those in the community at all levels to have access to free, or affordable, highly professional coaching. The aim being, through coaching, to help them solve their own challenges delivering the outcomes they want and need for themselves, both professionally and personally.

When asked more personally about a core mantra that drives him OMalley said: Trust starts with me. His reason being that without trust there is no leadership and no choosing to follow the leader. We need to trust ourselves first, both existentially and through our own actions, before we can trust others.

OMalley closed the interview by sharing his recommendation for anybody who wants to follow his footsteps in some fashion. According to Conor, the key to any meaningful, and successful, service offer in a marketplace is to meet the unmet needs of the procurer by listening to it, understanding it and ensuring your offer is heard by those whose problem you can help solve.

Further information can be found at:


Contact Name: Conor OMalley Business Name: Outlander Executive Services, trading as COM Address: 32 Gramatan Avenue, Beaumaris, 3193, Victoria, Australia Phone Number: +61405399580 Website Link: Email: Send Email

SOURCE: Conor OMalley

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Conor O'Malley: The "CEO's Caddy" & Instigator Of CoachAid20, Helps Executives 'Execute The Right Shot' Through His Transformative...

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May 13th, 2020 at 10:43 pm

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Handle Anything. Govern Energy. – The Good Men Project

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Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows it sucks. What are your triggers? One of mine is when I resist letting go of situations that are completely out of my control. Another is resisting feeling an emotion, subconsciously or otherwise, because its going to hurt.

Emotere, the Latin derivative for the word emotion, literally means energy in motion. Discovering this was the missing piece to understanding that its resistance to accepting emotions or energy in motion which causes me anxiety. It seems, trying to think of every possible solution or berating myself into being happy creates an energy blockage.

The first law of thermodynamics states, No energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. It is transferred to other forms of energy. Therefore, one may think one can indefinitely resist or suppress the energy which moves when experiencing an emotion but it has to go somewhere and eventually, it will. If ungoverned, energy blockages often come out in subconscious behavior or patterns e.g. self-sabotage, anger, creative block, etc or when bottled up for ages, ill-health may occur.

According to Taoism, the energy which is in play is called Qi (or Chi) and there are two fundamental types of it: Yin and Yang. Feminine and masculine, respectively. Succinctly put, the positive side of feminine energy is fluid, open and creative, the negative (shadow) side is chaos. Masculine energys positive side is solid, structure and drive. Its negative is trapped and restricted. To be clear, these energies are not related to gender. Every person is made from/uses a mixture of both. Too much of either creates a feeling of being overwhelmed and health, flow, passion, etc is found when theyre in balance, e.g. theres enough creativity to generate ideas coupled with enough drive to not spend all day with ones head in the clouds.

If what weve determined as a positive emotion is experienced, say happiness, we immediately accept the energy. It hangs around for a bit, then it moves on in its own good time. We dont stay ridiculously happy forever. With negative emotion, say sadness, we often dont immediately accept it which causes it to stick around. We keep charging up the energy by revisiting the negative emotion and questioning why we are having it or pushing ourselves to try to feel something else instead. As difficult as it might be to just accept, the result of not accepting it is often worse. Pressure builds, we feel overwhelmed, out of control and anxious, which often means we react rather than choose to act.

Accepting emotions is much easier said than done. Constantly being the observer and choosing to act is hard because we have a lifetime of subconscious coping mechanisms to contend with. On top of that, lets not forget that we are human and have primal reactions, ones we dont have a choice about; fight, flight or freeze. When each happens, the bodys reaction is the same; we release adrenaline. This prepares us to protect ourselves by supercharging (energising) our bodies ready for action. This surge of energy is uncomfortable and its the discomfort which magnifies our minds perception of the threat. This creates an energy-thoughts-thoughts-energy vicious circle and anxiety is the result.

Though a journey of trial and error, I pieced together a toolkit for when I register the start of being out of balance. It helps govern the movement of energy and break the vicious circle blockage.

1. Let situations unfold, dont fight it. Practise Wu-Wei. Take a breath, slow down, observe the energy moving in the body and the thoughts we (very quickly) connect to it as simply that energy moving and thoughts. Then try to accept the uncomfortable feeling.

2. Feeling all your feelings. To accept it, try to understand it. Ask Where in my body and how am I feeling out of balance? Are there too many options, a sense of chaos (too much feminine/not enough masculine)? Or do you feel backed into a corner, a sense of feeling trapped (too much masculine/not enough feminine)?

3. Whichever is the answer, as a quick sticking plaster, try and release or ground some energy by:

4. The above helps regain balance after a strong reaction but prevention is better than cure. To aid that, one can question which energy space they are in at any given point. Meditation is a huge, huge part of being able to do that. Here are a couple of prevention examples:

5. An easy question to remember is, Am I acting from a place of love or fear? I believe wherever we are or whatever we are doing, those are the base emotions we are acting from. Take sadness as an example. Letting yourself feel it is coming from a place of love, not letting yourself feel it is because youre fearful its going to hurt. Next time you react, try asking yourself whats underneath your reaction

The unexamined life is not worth living Socrates

Holding a mirror up to myself started my journey. I chose to because my anxiety bouts got quite severe. Through reading, seeing a professional (Sue from Third-space coaching) going to support groups and talking about what was happening, I better understand my brain/body connection. When I discovered anxiety is often triggered by something in the past, overreactions became signals for growth.

To govern the energy which moves during an overreaction, I found it is key to lean into anxiety and not run away from it. Ironing out creases from the past allows trapped energy to be released and the emotions to finally be felt. Its a very strange experience to cry about something that happened 20 years ago but that is 100% where reaching out for support comes in. Once acknowledged, awareness and understanding of whats happening in the body provides a solid foundation to achieving balance, makes the experience of anxiety much less scary and choosing to act rather than react becomes easier.

Ps. Books which were key to writing this: Tao Te Ching Lao-Tzu, The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts, Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson and Alice in Quantumland by Robert Gilmore.

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Writing about being a vulnerebel in life, love and business. Founder of Plight Club - The first rule is: you DO talk about it -

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Handle Anything. Govern Energy. - The Good Men Project

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May 13th, 2020 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

Earth Day: Remembering the first celebration – Reading Eagle

Posted: April 23, 2020 at 11:49 am

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On the first Earth Day in 1970 Bill Litvin was a senior at Pottstown High School.

He doesn't remember a lot, but he never forgot choosing to walk across town to school. It was a small act in what would become a lifetime of thinking globally and acting locally.

"It was uphill to and from," he recalled. "There was no snow, that was April. It was good long walk, probably a mile and a half. I lived in the east end and the high school was on the north end."

Litvin is now a retired Giorgio Mushrooms sales executive. He's lived in Reading since 1987 and has led Berks County's Earth Day celebration since 1989 when it became an annual event. He said it grew out of the Berks Recycling Coalition.

"We saw Earth Day as a chance to educate people about environmental issues," Litvin said.

He's guided the event over years when it struggled to find a home and supporters for the jubilant celebration now held in City Park that focuses on education with family friendly activities.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic the event, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, has been rescheduled for Sept. 27.

Our annual celebration of the Earth has its roots in what author Adam Rome called an extraordinary teach-in on April 22, 1970.

"The teach-ins collectively involved more people than the biggest civil rights and antiwar demonstrations of the 1960s," Rome wrote in the 2013 book, "The Genius of Earth Day: How a Teach-in Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation."

The first Earth Day received extensive news coverage as kindergartners to college students tackled cleanup projects and dramatic awareness campaigns.

"In the library of Tyson-Shoener Elementary School, a sign was suspended over a single red tulip: 'Look, you may never see one again. This is a flower,' wrote Ray Koehler on page one of the Reading Times on April 23, 1970.

He wrote that a Wyomissing Junior High School teacher said: "The kids are really steamed up about this. They've read in 30 years it could be all over and they are upset they'll only be in their 40s."

In downtown Reading, Koehler wrote, Students for Clean Air from Penn State Berks place flyers under the windshield wipers of cars: "Did you know the greatest air pollutant is carbon monoxide from YOUR car? You are hereby fined 10 years of life gasping for breath for involuntary manslaughter. Do your share to clean the air."

Sixth-graders at Thomas H. Ford Elementary School wore rubber masks to class.

Students fished television sets out of Furnace Creek and picked up litter around Antietam Lake.

"Practically every Reading and Berks elementary and high school had ground crews in action, but the Muhlenberg Junior High School Student Council went a step further," Koehler wrote. "It sent a letter to the superintendent of buildings and grounds requesting that workers refrain from using hard or long-lasting pesticides when spraying school shrubbery and lawns."

Students at then-Alvernia College planted a silver birch tree at noon.

Some Holy Name High School students, Koehler wrote, stood at Fifth and Penn streets seeking signatures for a petitions for anti-pollution legislation.

Koehler wrote that some students felt legislators were apathetic to their concerns.

"There was also the feeling that Earth Day 1970 would be a 'one shot and done' venture and that adults would not listen to the voices of teenagers," Koehler wrote.

But in his story, principals at Gov. Mifflin and Muhlenberg high schools expressed their desires to continue environmental education.

In Conrad Weiser, Koehler wrote, the school board had approved a one-year program to integrate environmental conservation into fifth and sixth grades.

Harry Serio, a Fleetwood resident and longtime United Church of Christ pastor in Berks County, was 29 on the first Earth Day.

Serio, a pastor in Martins Creek in Lehigh County, was involved in the civil rights and anti-war movement. As a member of Friends of the Earth, he helped organize college students at Muhlenberg College, Lehigh University, Lafayette College and Moravian College.

"There was a lot of enthusiasm back in that first Earth Day and the years following," Serio said. "Students would mobilize on campus and protest. We staged a lot of what we called teach-ins where we had groups come together to try to explain how critical the environmental crisis was."

Serio said the environmental movement had many different organizations in the 1970s, all based around different issues: nuclear proliferation, pollution, pesticides in food, supersonic transport and population explosion.

Shortly after Earth Day in 1970, Serio found himself in Womelsdorf.

"In Womelsdorf we started a movement made up of Conrad Weiser faculty called the Town and Country Coalition for Environmental Protection," Serio said. "We were concerned that so much farmland was being used up for development and highways."

Unlike the antiwar movement, which polarized people, Serio said, environmental issues didn't have many enemies except maybe those who were doing the polluting.

Serio said on some of those early issues advocates turned out to be alarmists regarding population explosion, supersonic transport and microwaves.

Oley-based John Hoskyn-Abrahall was a young filmmaker on the first Earth Day.

Hoskyn-Abrahall and his wife, Winnie Scherrer, own Bullfrog Films, which grew into a documentary maker and distributor.

"Earth Dayon Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park was actually part of Philadelphias Earth Week," Scherrer said. "There were events all over the city, and a wide range of celebrities came in including politicians (U.S. Sen. Ed Muskie of Maine and Mayor John Lindsay of New York), scholars and public intellectuals (Paul Ehrlich, Alan Watts, George Wald), well-known radicals (Jerry Rubin, Wavy Gravy), poets and writers (Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Terry Southern), musical acts (the Broadway cast of 'Hair', Redbone)."

She said everyone was fired up and there were heated political discussions at the events.

"John and filmmaking partners filmed all of them along with various local acts, community groups, gangs and others," Scherrer said. "We knew Earth Day was a huge marker in the evolution of the counterculture from obscurity to center stage. "

That film became "Circuit Earth," still available through the company or in separate clips on YouTube.

Hoskyn-Abrahalland his partners filmed in 16 mm, a revolutionary format that put filmmaking equipment into the hands and budgets of young people.

Bullfrog's means of delivering educational documentaries has changed from 16mm film to video (3/4 to Betamax and VHS) to DVDs.

"Now we are streaming digital files through our educational streaming partner Docuseek, through our community screening website, and through our consumer streaming site called," she said.

Larry Lloyd, senior ecologist at Berks Nature, said he participated in Berks' first Earth Day at City Park to follow the mantra that still resonates through the movement, Think globally, act locally.

"First, for the many people who work on environmental matters, environmental education, and land and water protection and management, Earth Day is every day of every year," Lloyd said. "The commitment to a healthy environment that sustains all life on earth requires daily thoughtful actions and is a responsibility across generations.

"Environmental awareness is a lifestyle that reflects stewardship of the planet's natural resources."

Lloyd said Earth Day emerged from the industrial legacy of World War II and the Korean War.

"The use of war technology to control the environment led to widespread pollution in the U.S. environment in the 1960s best captured in the book, 'Silent Spring,' " Lloyd said. "Many dump sites would later be called Superfund sites."

From the Vietnam War, a young-adult movement emerged.

Lloyd said young people called for a green revolution and a cultural revolution to "displace the emptiness of the American dream and its 'happy days are here again,' which was contrary to the reality of pollution, environmental degradation, rapid suburban development and urban decay. Environmental awareness, the emergence of ecology, and hope for a healthier future were the cornerstones which led to Earth Day."

The momentum led to political activity that resulted in legislation across the nation in the 1970s to protect clean streams and endangered species.

Scherrer said the first Earth Day directly impacted legislation.

"The first Earth Day was a combination of fired-up passion, laid-back affect and a confidence we could fix the problems," Scherrer said. "That year the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the EPA all came into being. Then the Endangered Species Act in 1973. It looked like the U.S. was going to be a leader, with law on our side."

Serio thinks Earth Day did make a difference.

"Because what happened was year after year people continued to be concerned about the environment," Serio said. "Now the issues have changed. What was important 50 years ago is not as important today. We have new issues. Global warming is certainly a big one. Our use of plastics the oceans are suffering and the sea animals are dying because of that. Farmland preservation is still important as well."

Serio credits the media for some of the impact.

"Just like today with the coronavirus," Serio said. "It was the same with the environmental movement. There wasn't a day that went by that you didn't see a story about environmental degradation."

Lloyd said the mantra of thinking globally and acting locally persists.

"There are many positive actions being done in Berks County," he said. "And there are many environmentally educated citizens, and there are abundant natural resources that can be restored.

"But greater participation is needed and the recognition that it will take everyone making the commitment to steward our environment if Berks County and the planet are to be regenerated and sustainable for future generations."

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Earth Day: Remembering the first celebration - Reading Eagle

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April 23rd, 2020 at 11:49 am

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Living in our isolation bubbles can bring great rewards – The Guardian

Posted: April 21, 2020 at 3:49 pm

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I find buttons to sew on and the result is always satisfying. Illustration: Eva Bee/The Observer

The first thing I do each morning is open the back door and sniff the air. It contains a surprising amount of information. Recently, it has become a little warmer. It still has a bite, but it lacks the viscosity it had in the coldest months. Now, it carries the scent of leaves and flowers, of turned earth. It is suddenly full of birdsong.

Ive spent my whole life falling in and out of isolation and this is one of the tricks Ive learned. Living as an undiagnosed autistic woman until I was nearly 40, Ive regularly suffered mental and physical crashes that drag me outside of life for a while. By trying to be like everyone else, Ive pushed myself too far, too often.

Every three years, give or take and Im not convinced Ive broken the cycle yet anxiety has engulfed me, or Ive become so exhausted that my body has gone on strike. Whatever the cause, the outside world recedes for a season.

Ive lived through periods of continuous panic, when the machinations of my own mind have stood in the way of doing anything of much significance. But there are minor gestures I can make, which take little effort and give me something pleasurable. Sniffing the air is just one of them. I can find buttons to sew on, for example, and the result is always satisfying. I can usually find something to pickle, and then to give away.

At the moment, Im flowing my nervous energies into growing things. Every day, I water my plants (the ones that want watering Im learning to neglect my cactus). Geraniums, for some reason, are particularly rewarding on this front. They seem to offer an endless cycle of renewal that demands my assistance. Every few days, the one on my windowsill produces a desiccated flower or a yellow leaf that I can ease off the stem and feel like Im carrying out an act of nurture. Its a strange kind of harvest, but it pleases me. I am given the gift of making things tidy again.

These times out of life have an emotional quality all of their own, a heady mix of intensity and drift. My attention is entirely unmoored. Right now, I have boundless capacity for reading newspaper websites, for assessing the contents of my larder and tidying my house, but an utter aversion to the book Im supposed to be writing. I am hypervigilant, driven towards the practicalities of sustaining life. Everything else seems flimsy in comparison.

These confined days are a heady mix of intensity and drift

In these moments, I think of the author Jean Rhys, whose magnetic attraction to tumult found her living above a pub in Maidstone in 1951. Her husband, Max, was in the nearby prison for larceny, and Jean had rolled from one form of trouble to another for so long that it seemed like she wouldnt recognise peace if she stumbled over it. By now, she was a known drunk and a fighter, with a spell in Holloway behind her.

While lodging in Maidstone to be close to Max, Jeans world shrank and it seemed to comfort her. Her attention shifted to an appreciation of her simple surroundings. She admired the row of black elephants on the mantelpiece, the plate of red apples on the table and the flowers that her landlady brought to her room. So you see, what more can I want? she said. For the first time in years, she stopped drinking (although she was saving up for a real debauch some time). I go about in a sort of dream, I suppose, she wrote.

I recognise that dream state well: the shifted priorities, the uncanny calm amid chaos, and the way that the minutiae become unexpectedly luminous. It was here that Rhys finally began to write the story she had yearned to tell about the first Mrs Rochester, the madwoman in the attic in Jane Eyre. It was a long time since she had been able to write at all. Her early literary promise seemed to have dissolved. But here, in the most straightened of circumstances, she was able to find a new perspective, and, most of all, she had time.

Its tempting to claim that this period in exile gave birth to her enduring classic, The Wide Sargasso Sea. But that would be a gross overstatement: Rhys signed a contract for the book six years later and only delivered the manuscript nine years after that. Her masterpiece was 15 years away from that little room with its flowers and elephants, and there was certainly more tumult to come. But for all its trauma, Rhyss time in Maidstone was something of a relief. The worst had happened. Everything stopped for a while. And in that space, she could think differently.

Not all of us find peace in the times when life stands still, though. Isolation can leave us pacing like a caged tiger, measuring the dimensions of the rooms that contain us. These are often moments when the ego cries out, when we feel sidelined or ignored. This moment of mass confinement sees many of us grappling with a sudden sense of irrelevance, of being restrained from succeeding. We are urged to think of the bigger picture, and we do, but that does nothing to soothe the sense that our lifes work the sum total of our ambition is now considered petty.

Isolation is not just time alone. Its also a personal U-turn, a seismic shift in identity that undermines our very sense of self. Being busy being part of the brisk congress of daily life is our code for being important, needed, wanted.

Being busy makes us skim over life like a stone on still water

In less interesting times, we will meet acquaintances on the street and tell each other how busy we are, what a rush were in, how fast life is. In fallow periods, time opens up, and we read it as an insult. The outside world does not require us. We are surplus stock, just another human body. The shame of it hangs over us, an unspeakable thing. But there is unpicking to be done here, because the pace at which we live is so often destructive. Being busy makes us skim over life like a stone on still water. In quieter times, we can feel the presence of all the things we miss in our hurry. We begin to notice the cobwebs that have formed in forgotten corners, the gardens that are overrun with weeds.

After I left my academic job two years ago, I realised that my sense of importance was only relevant in that very specific microcosm, and that the extra financial rewards of a salaried job were mostly squandered on fuelling my headlong pursuit of work itself. The takeaways and expensive groceries; the costly services that preserved my time. I was a whole industry of my own, a republic formed to make me believe I was important.

There is pleasure not just in small things, but in being small. When my health failed and it all fell away, I was relieved to drop the illusion. That doesnt mean it was easy. That doesnt mean it wasnt painful and full of paranoia and regret.

It felt like that moment of waking and watching a dream recede, incrementally remembering what is real and what is not. I had believed that I was the pin holding everything together, but it turned out that I wasnt. To know that at the time was agony. To know it now is a liberation. Im not that important in the scheme of things. That leaves me free to walk away from things that do more harm than good.

Often we resist change for so long that everything has to collapse before we can welcome it in. But thats not to say that crises and certainly not pandemics are some kind of divine intervention to make us mend our ways. Change comes because we live within a system governed by entropy. Change comes because our sense of control is an illusion.

As writer and philosopher Alan Watts says, we cannot be happy until we find a way to accept that our life is riddled with insecurity. For as long as we want it to be fair, we suffer. Change invites us to surrender. And if we refuse, it carries on regardless.

My standard response to a crisis like this is to burn shoe leather. If I can walk until Im exhausted, I can usually wear out the anxious part of my brain, too. This time around, Im not allowed even that luxury. Im embracing change yet again, pounding on my exercise bike in front of the TV, following ridiculous workout videos on YouTube, dancing to old records. Im not enjoying these things exactly, but they park my sense of dislocation for a while. Meanwhile, Im waiting to see what the change will bring me.

Wintering: How I Learned to Flourish When Life Became Frozen by Katherine May (Rider, 14.99). Buy a copy for 12.59 at

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Living in our isolation bubbles can bring great rewards - The Guardian

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April 21st, 2020 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

McGill Reads: COVID-19 edition – McGill – McGill Reporter

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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Self Portrait, Reading on a Blanket on the Grass Roderic OConor

In these anxious times of self-isolation and social distancing, many of us are turning to an old friend for comfort: the book. Few activities seem more perfectly suited to helping us weather the COVID-19 pandemic than reading. You read by yourself, or, at most, you read to your children. You read to explore and enjoy other worlds while sitting tight in your favourite chair.

The McGill Reads series celebrates this solitary endeavour but with a more communal focus. We pass on our favourite titles, encouraging others to share in our experiences. Just another slender thread that helps tie us together.

Enjoy and stay safe!


Im hoping Im not too late for this! Im not staying at my home, which means that I dont have access to my physical books, writes Torsten Bernhardt, Course Administrator and Pedagogical Developer in the Department of Biology.

My e-reader was light enough to make the trip, though, and right now Im reading The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling because steampunk escapism seems like a good choice, says Bernhardt, who is also reading the Grace Jones autobiography, because Im hoping it will be suitably surreal for these surreal times.

Being in a home with both an 11-year old and a 15-year old means that Im likely going to have to give in and read some Rick Riordan or some such, but if I manage to escape the world of young adult fiction the snippets of George Orwells political writing that Ive come across have been good enough that Ill try to read bigger chunks of it; he has a lot to say about todays world.


Dasha Sandra, a graduate student in Neuroscience, recommends Wisdom of Insecurity, by Alan Watts, a book that I read and found comforting during these times, she says


Kendra Gray plans on readingThe World Without Us,by Alan Weisman. The book explores how humans and our built infrastructure have impacted the earth and what would happen if we disappeared, writes the Internships Officer in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Student Academic Services. The current public health situation has, in some cases, resulted in cleaner air and water as industry has temporarily shut down.Im interested in further exploring a hypothetical situation where we simply disappear.

Gray is also rereading Leo Tolstoys classic War and Peace.I dont usually reread books, but there is so much in it, says Gray.The question of whether history (or events) is created by leaders or instead a series of small circumstances seems relevant given the current pandemic.


Strangely enough, I am finding it harder to find the time to read these days because my commute is only from my kitchen to my living room every morning, rather than a long walk and train ride, writes Jim Nicell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, and a of the legends of the McGill reads series. That being said, I always have a list of books to tackle in the weeks ahead.

A few days ago, I began reading The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, by Jack E. David, says Nicell. Once, Im done this wonderful book, Ill probably reach for SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard. And, after this, I will tackle The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, by Max Boot.


Mark Sorin, in his first year of the MD-PhD program is reading Demons, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Next on tap, Sorin says he will tackle The Citadel, by A.J. Cronin, and The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


I am reading Nicholas Rinaldis novelThe Jukebox Queen of Maltawhich gives a good picture of the country during WW II which received 15,000 tonnes of bombs by 1942 making it the most bombed place on earth, writes Karen Sciortino, Senior Admissions Officer, Enrolment Services.

Im also slowly going through Jordan Ellenbergs interesting book, How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, which is a tour of mathematical thought and a guide to becoming a better thinker, she says. Next up will likely be Gil Courtemanches A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali.


William Bielaskie is no stranger to the printed word. The Documentation Technician in McGill Librarys Inter-Library Loans has just finished Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, and is now reading A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry.


Caitlin MacDougall is revered by the McGill Reads team for having read or listened to 76 books in 2019. Has she slowed down? Not a chance.

I am working on my 2020 reading challenge on Goodreads with the goal of reading 85 books this year. I am currently ahead of schedule, having read 25 since January 1 (audiobooks, ebooks and physical books), writes the Liaison Officer in the Farm Management and Technology Program at Mac Campus.

Since weve moved to remote working I have been trying to get through a selection of TBR (to-be-read) books as a challenge with some friends; you know, the books you buy or borrow with good intentions but never seem to get to reading, she says. Of my five TBR challenge books, I have finished The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne; started Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen; and still have to read Villette, by Charlotte Bront; Survival of the Sickest, by Dr. Sharon Moalem with Jonathan Prince; and The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler.

But Ive also been listening to lots of audiobooks from the McGill Library while going on walks to enjoy the spring air, she says. Bill Bryson (as always) has an interesting read in The Body: A Guide for Occupants theres even a bit about pandemics and epidemics in there, so very relevant. But he gives you some facts about where different diseases or functions of the body were discovered, a bit about different scientists, while also explaining in laymans terms how everything works.

MacDougall has also finished Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward; Normal People, by Sally Rooney; and a really touching book by Cheryl Strayed called Tiny Beautiful Things, a curated collection of letters and responses to the Dear Sugar column which she wrote, she says. The message of that book is to express extreme compassion for all people, because you dont know where theyre coming from or what theyre going through, which feels very appropriate these days. Definitely one of my favourites so far this year.


I wish I have more time for reading, but I am still in fast-lane mode trying to address all the challenges arising from our current situation, writes Anja Geitmann, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and regular contributor to McGill Reads. That said, there are always the 10 minutes before I fall asleep that are reserved for reading, and here is my current page turner. Ironically it fits our current and daily obsession with numbers. Finding Zero: A Mathematicians Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers, by Amir D. Aczel.


Crystal Noronha, Graduate Studies Officer in the Faculty of Dentistry, opens her email with Hope you are safe! echoing a sentiment of the majority of our contributors. Noronhas list includes John Scalzis Lock In andMakeup Tips from Auschwitz, by Tommy Schnurmacher.


Victor Chisholm, a long-time supporter and contributor to the McGill Reads series, is currently A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster. I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg, and was easily able to transfer it to my Kobo, says the Student Affairs Administrator in the Faculty of Science.

What I can suggest that is apropos to the current time: Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann, both of which relate to illness and isolation.


I just finished reading The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks, an easy fiction to read, nothing taxing, writes regular contributor Abida Subhan, from the Department of Animal Science and the Department of Natural Resource Sciences. I randomly found books I have not yet read around my home. The next book I am going to read is A Princess Remembers written by the Princesss herself, Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi. I picked up this book on one of my trips to India.


As per tradition, we close out our list with the selections of the McGills enigmatic man of mystery Bud Martin, who is hunkered down in the Bud Bunker.

Im using these strange days to pick up dropped threads. Vancouver writer Kevin Chongs The Plague has sat, unfairly unread, on my shelf for two years. Its a contemporary reworking of Albert Camuss La Peste (1947), and a great read, writes Bud. A novel about fear, inequality, and quarantine is hardly escapist fare, but theres reassurance in lines like No one would characterize this period as fun, but there was a heightened feeling in every Vancouverites actions. A trip to the store to buy milk felt eventful.

Still on the epidemiology front, Im blowing the cobwebs off Steven Johnsons The Ghost Map, a page-turner about tracing the source of an 1854 cholera outbreak. Every time Ive borrowed it from the Osler Library, its been immediately recalled. Viva ebooks, says Bud.

On a cheerier note, Im reading The Penderwicks At Last to the kids at bedtime, he says. Jeanne Birdsalls gentle, warm and funny series has been a big part of a years-long nightly ritual that, sadly, we stopped for no good reason. Our daily routines are topsy-turvy, so its comforting to revive this tradition, and reconnect with some fictional friends.

Last one: a forgotten copy of Haruki Murakamis What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Im trying to jog every day, alone or with some combination of family members. Murakamis thoughts on perseverance ring especially true nowadays: I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.

Continued here:
McGill Reads: COVID-19 edition - McGill - McGill Reporter

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April 16th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

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