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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.

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

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April 16th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

Patience and Perspective: Uncertainty in a COVID-19 world – Elemental

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COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. In the span of a few weeks, our lives have been flipped upside down, leaving many of us in a deep state of anxiety and uncertainty over what the future holds. Myself included.

Constantly planning for my future, its easy for me to get overwhelmed when things go awry. As a future-oriented person, I have an extremely hard time focusing on whats here, right now, in front of meespecially when my environment does not match the ideal world Ive built in my head for myself and others. Instead, I tend to focus on the future and what it will supposedly holdand I usually get it right most of the time.

At times, this future is precisely what kept me afloat. It gave me something to look forward to and made my day-to-day life and its share of hurdles seem like a necessary step in the right direction. Pre-COVID-19, I couldnt wait to accomplish my lifelong goal of moving abroad. And things were looking up. Then, suddenly, my entire world collapsed over a few days. Borders closed. Lockdowns happened. Hiring freezes prevented me from landing my dream job. All the more events that no amount of planning could have ever anticipated.

Naturally, in the face of such exceptional circumstances, friends and family usually advise you to be patient. They insist that patience is a virtue. That we need to remain hopeful. They ask us to remember that all of this will be over soon and that we will be able to live our lives as we intended to, so as long as we dont lose sight of the goals and ambitions weve set for ourselves.

But as much as this advice feels good to hear and gives you the motivation you might just need to make it through the day, the reality is that we just dont know if and when this whole situation will be over. And if being patient implies waiting for an outcome whose terms we have no control over, is it wise to follow this advice? Arent we possibly creating utopian expectations in our heads to make the present more bearable? And if we are, would it be wrong to do so?

Some say yes. They contend that our focus should be on resilience and acceptance rather than patience. That we should live in the present moment and practise mindfulness instead of planning for a future ever so elusive. This is the argument that Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts and other writers alike have made. They attest to the unchangeable nature of the past and to the fleeting nature of the future and advise us to focus on the present instead. To accept our circumstances for what they are without waiting for them to change and to practise detachment as much as possible.

But this isnt easy for everyone either. This can be perceived as passiveness for many who would rather have some degree of agency over their own lives. Telling someone who just lost their job and home because of this pandemic to accept their circumstances can sound clichor worse, utterly insensitive.

So what is the solution, you ask?

Well, perhaps it lies in redefining acceptance itself. Perhaps acceptance could mean embracing the fact that this situation sucks and that we are allowed to struggle with it, while not losing track of the bigger picture of what we are working towards. The word picture should be emphasized here. Rather than attaching ourselves to a future weve carefully planned for years, we should embrace that it is only a picture, likely to evolve under the strokes of a brush we do not have full control over.

Ultimately, once we find that middle ground between patience and acceptance, we are likely to find some inner peace.

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Patience and Perspective: Uncertainty in a COVID-19 world - Elemental

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April 16th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

More tales from the trenches with ‘Mr. Boxing YYC’ – Calgary Sun

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There was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away.

That evening, all the neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.

The farmer said, Maybe.

The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening, everybody came back and said, Oh, isnt that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!

The farmer again said, Maybe.

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg.

The neighbours then said, Oh dear, thats too bad, and the farmer responded, Maybe.

The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, Isnt that great! Again, he said, Maybe.

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and its really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune.

Or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

Alan Watts

Maybe we pick up clues as we go along, labeling situations as either misfortune or good fortune.

But the yin cant exist without the yang the shadow depends on light and vice versa.

Heres my first tale, and after an hour-long chat for memory clarification with one of my amateur foes, I share a funny Scotty Bulldog Olson story.

Its circa 1985, and the Edmonton flyweight is prepping for his first year as a senior looking to capture another national title.

Hes training daily under the tutelage of Cougar Boxing boss, Mr. Paul Hortie. Hortie is a bit of a war hero, as he served in the navy on a Corvette warship, and as an explosive landed on the deck, he grabbed it and threw it off. As it detonated, it took a few of his fingers with it. Those stubs, according to son Brad, became like granite, especially when coach Hortie scolded you while pushing them into your chest.

So Scotty is hitting the double-end bag at Cougar, which is secured to the ceiling with a heavy wood plank. It pops, springs to the floor and crashes the Bulldogs head, knocks him on his butt and splits his head open. This is literally days before the nationals. Hortie springs into action and closes the cut with a coagulant then seals the wound using plastic wood. Olson went to the nationals a few days later and won. A few years later, he was in Seoul for the 1988 Olympics.

Im training in San Diego with the great Archie Moore. Were downtown at Irish Spud Murphys Boxing Gym right on Broadway Ave. Pop Murphy is head of the gym and also part of a clan that is an amazingly generous Irish family. The club was on top of a seedy pool hall, and one day after training, were sitting at the bar having a water when a very shifty individual wanders in grumbling at us and swearing, challenging etc. And then he sits right beside me at the bar. Im looking to get up and move to avoid knocking this sucker out and avoiding trouble when I see two suits walk in. They motion me to stay cool and silent. As they approach the bar, one guy grabs his arm, the other reaches into the guys pants and pulls out a pistol. They were detectives, and this guy just robbed something across the street, and people told the police which business he walked into. Whew!

There was a permanent border check-point between San Diego and Los Angeles. Of course, it was mandatory to slow down and either be pulled aside or waved through. I usually never experienced any trouble here whatsoever, and I was never pulled over, but one day, Im travelling with a friend of mine visiting from Canada. Another friend who actually owned the car remained in San Diego. As we get questioned and removed from the car, CHP brings a dog over to sniff. The excited officer comes over to me and states, OK, the dogs only alert to other people and drugs. Are there any other people in the car? I said nope. Well now the officers are all going crazy because they think they hit the jackpot two young guys travelling in a Chrysler K-car with Canadian plates coming from the south. So they have us standing out in the hot sun and not allowed to lean against the police car or sit down. They approach again and inform me that we know that there are drugs in the car and you better come clean now, otherwise well tear the car apart, and even if we dont find anything, it will be your responsibility to put the car back together. I tell the officer, Hey knock yourself out. We definitely dont have any drugs in the car, and if you tear it apart, youre going to put it back together. Not me. So after two hours standing in the hot sun and interrogation, I guess they decided it wasnt worth the risk of tearing the car apart, especially since I was very calm about the situation and very innocent. I dont remember what my buddy ever said that could cause a possible alert from the dog.

This one comes from the late-80s. Im in Edmonton and doing roadwork with Ken Lakusta every day. Hes a former two-time Canadian heavyweight champion and has been in the ring with over a dozen greats, including guys such as Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Every day he picks me up, and theres an extremely foul odour on his breath, and as we drive over to the top of the Edmonton river valley to start running, I cant explain how bad it is. Finally after a few days, I call him out asking, What the hell is that smell? He laughs and says he eats fresh garlic every morning before our run. Its good for the blood and as an anti-oxidant!

-So in the meantime and in between time, thats it another edition of Mr. Boxing YYC-

Go here to read the rest:
More tales from the trenches with 'Mr. Boxing YYC' - Calgary Sun

Written by admin

April 16th, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

The Tree’s Truth – Thrive Global

Posted: at 8:49 pm

without comments

Suffering the locked down blues in your home? You are not alone. Longing too for the moments when you felt the freedom, power and pulse of the planet in the mountains, the oak woodlands, the savannahs, and the coastal forests? I imagine many of you like me love to be outside, explore new environments, enjoy new cultures and experiences. So, I have a question for you. In your nature adventures (near and far) can you recall one special moment once stepping back and just marveling at a tree? Great, #MeToo!

Trees are a wonder. They simply stand tall and proud in one singular, solitary place their entire lives. Imagine that for just one exhalation (exultation), inhalation. How many of us during these COVID19 days can now truly appreciate the truth, tone, and temperance of a tree?

What patience what endurance what resilience, acceptance, peace, and calm, the tree must have, right? to accomplish this unimaginable (to me) featto stay rooted in one place, not just for a couple months, but for ones entire life!!! This reflection got me thinking perhaps the naturally resonant energy emanating from the forest is so positive and pure, precisely because the trees stand still. Now forced to remain rooted in our homes, is it possible that we could use this time of solidarity in solitude to recalibrate our natural resonance, remember our natural life purpose, and re-connect to Our Planet? What if you closed your eyes and for a moment, tapped into your creative mind, challenged yourself to remember the smell, the detail, the light, the ambience, the texture, the tone, the feeling you had in front of your special tree? Can you remember what it was like to be still, to be grounded and connected, rooted next to your tree and yet still free? The good news is that you can take a virtual walk in your woods and refresh, recreate, regenerate, re-emerge, anytime you need We are supremely fortunate that way as a species. We are conscious; we can dream and imagine and control our response to our current reality with our thoughtsand with our intentions, create new internal realities to endure the crazy world externalities.

Back to Reality

I recently learned that in my home in the Italian Alps the number of those affected in our little valley just climbed today to 700 and the death toll is now at 82. My mom lives in the Newport/Irvine County COVID 19 hotspot in California. And, one of my brothers and family are Staying in Place in their New Jersey home- also a hotspot. So, be sure I share with you, your pain and grief also in writing this piece. And that said, I do believe the way through this dark, scary night is by both honoring our sacred sorrow and igniting our inner hope, and in that way recognizing the greater truth of our current global chaos-crisis and opportunity.

Could it be that amazing grace is now leading us home? Families are forced to face (mirare look at the wonder and miracle of) each othercook, clean, play together contribute to the family tribe. Is it possible that this global pandemic is forcing us as an entire human civilization to re-root ourselves to the people and in the place we call home and to expand our view of home and connection to include every living being on earth? Remember Pope Francis Laudato Si? In the silent peace that follows the pain, are we beginning to see the re-growth of healthy tree branches and the re-sprouting of barren winter stems with new spring buds outside our home? Truth be toldSpring is still happening and now. Mother Nature is active outside our doors breathing cleaner air, sprouting upward into clearer skies, singing more robust and noise-cancelled bird songs, emerging from snow-covered havens into crisper, richer light.

At the same time COVID 19 is locking down, shutting down, and slowing down human civilization in her tracks. We are beginning again to actually notice spring, to long for that connection to nature, even as on average in the developed world we spent 90% of our time (pre-COVID19), indoors. Why is it that we only really appreciate something or someone when shes gone or unattainable (like Avatars unubtainium)? We are a crazy species. However, the good news is this plague will Pass-over and a new Easter season, a new Eid will come. And, just like other moments in history, like the Black Plague, a new re-birth, a new Renaissance of creativity and intelligence and connection to ourselves- to one another and to the natural world, will return.

Yes, these are tumultuous and trying times. I am with you. But these are also exiting and truly transformative times as every level and lever of society is being disrupted to regenerate itself. Nature has now forced us to evolve. And in this moment, we can learn a lot about building resilience from nature from our fellow mates in the biosphere the other 8.7 million species, who have adapted to a changing planet over 3.8 billion years. We are not unique in our Homo sapiens growing pains. Every other species been forced at one point or another to figure it outto survive to adapt to massive disruptions in their environments and epic natural disasters, like our current pandemic. So, there is a lot of wisdom about how to survive in the wild kingdom. (If youd like to explore further, during COVID 19 I am posting a podcast with clips from a book I am writing called Naturally Intelligent by Design 365 days and ways that animals adapt to and thrive in their changing world, complete with exercises for families to do together.)

And, in the spirit of Combatting COVID19 with Compassion (a campaign NI Media is launching with Ricky Kej, Earth Day, WHO, and partners) this Easter Week; I would like to dedicate this article to all those affected by COVID-19. May we be happy, healthy, and whole. OK, I now offer you a few of my reflections on Thriving Globally from my California redwood grove family home to your family home. I believe this the perfect moment to literally stop and listen to the natural drumbeat of the earth and to remember the lyrics of the forest treeswho must remain rooted in place with branches held high during every tumultuous storm. I hope these insights help you better ground safely and serenely into your current home situation, as wethe global foreststay standing.

The Tree

First, when I speak of the tree, imagine I am speaking about your special tree (above) and the over 60,000 species of perennial (persistently growing) elongated wood stem plants, worldwide. The many species of trees in many forests have evolved from Archeopteris spp. (416-358 million years ago)and adapted to ecosystems spanning the earth from the Ocean to the Mountain. When I refer generically to the tree, I am alluding to an entire group of living organisms with the potential (due to the timeless telomeres at the end of their plant cells) to grow infinitely and to live eternally. I am referring to over 3 trillion living stems rooted to Planet Earth today, numbering more than the stars in the Milky Way. That said, these perennial plants dominated many ecosystems before humans settled; and have lost until today 50% of their global tree population since we started building urban jungles. The greater tragedy is that accompanying human development and deforestation, over 50% of natures wildlife- many resident in these forests, have also disappearedgone not fishing, but extinct. The disappearance of Our Planets Garden of Eden is clearly accelerating. Thus, perhaps Nature Is Speaking and it behooves us to listen to what the forest has to teach us about reconciling with one another and nature in a new way-every day, so we all thrive into the future, together.

Seven Life Lessons from the Tree

Anyone who claims that they are thriving right now in this moment of turmoil is not being 100% truthful. We are all in some ways suffering from physical isolation and the disruption of our lives and work. And, these times of chaos are the tides of our times, driven by the storms that make the trees roots stronger and stems straighter, revealing true resilience and character. If you really spend time in the forest and get to know a forest grove, I have discovered you will notice many things. Their stems are not perfectly straight, especially when they are younger trees. And the young saplings, well, they are quite spindly, weak, and vulnerable looking. Fire scars abound. Most every mature redwood tree has some charred portion (usually on the downward wind side of the tree), where a fire has burned and smoldered, and tried and tormented and tested the trees strength and resilience. The older the redwood trees get and the thicker their bark skin, the less vulnerable they become to those ground level disturbances. They even self-prune the lower branches to keep their green growth points in the upper canopy where the light shines and higher intelligence lives. It also seems that their stems straighten; as they establish a broader base of stronger roots into their fluffy, duffy dark forest home soil.

Lying for hours next to the mother tree in the center of the next generation grove in the eerie creaking and softly swaying sounds oh the stories the trees will tell, the life lessons we have to learn, while the trees we continue to burn. There are so many laws of nature we have forgotten and interdependent connections to nature we have allowed to rotten.

One needs a lifetime to experience and to share. Do I dare move beyond the threshold of opening the door to natures abundant wisdom? What truth about humanity will I find there? But never mind Here at least are seven reasons I have found to hope and lessons from the tree to cope with the darkness when it is near.

Never lose hope, my dear heart, miracles dwell in the invisible. Rumi

Lesson One: Learn to Breathe

During the epic firestorm that besieged the Amazon and Australia this past year; we often referred to the forests as the lungs of the planet. As these forests burned and torched 10s of 1000s of hectares of photosynthesizing green growth drawing down excessive carbon in our atmosphere, so our lungs burned, too. The loss of millions of animals in the Australian fires touched us all, down under and deep within. (If you really want to hear an amazing, creative poet speak of her Australia burning, listen to Lynette Walworth, Crystal Awards, WEF 2020)

If we turn to the Ocean and cool off, then we encounter another suite of environmental calamities plastics, pollution, bleaching-dying-disappearing coral reefs, and the decimation of marine wildlife. If you are a sensitive soul, you may find it hard especially now to sleep at night and to breathe. If you have not experienced much change or tragedy or devastation in your life, you might find it hard to cope with crisis and to breathe. If you have been driven by a chocker-blocked work schedule and daily routine; the slow down might speed up your panicked insides and stir up your anxiety and you might find it hard to breathe. As Alan Watts often teaches, when faced with fear and anxiety; attack, dont look back. Walk right through the imaginary ghosts, future fears, and great depressions. You are alive- right here, right now be grateful, be fully alive and breathe.

Its curious, is it not, that this corona (royal) virus is a respiratory virus? Could it be that Gaia is simply now clearing her lungs? It is as if the virus thats hacked our global society and shut down our multinational mainframes and multiverse lives has come as a warning to humanityto stop, slow down, observe your world and your impact on the planet now exponentially spinning out of controlbreathe, or I will take the breath out of humanity. Microscopic as I might be, I still have the potential if you give me the power and place, to devastate theestraight to your face. Nature This is our reality. Mait no, we have the tree to teach the royal WE to survive. So then finally please tell me, what can we learn from the tree? We can learn to breathe really breathe, and from our past anxiety and future fear; we will be free.

The tree respires (breathes), just like you and me, same-same mechanically. But, the tree breathes naturally-fully-selflessly, unlike sometimes-and especially in times of stress, you and me. In ecology, there is a measurement we take to determine the vitality and growth of the tree. Its the PS/RS rationo not the price/sales ratio; thats in fact, where weve gotten this whole economic-ecological equation wrong. Rather, the PS/RS ratio is the ratio of photosynthesis (make food, grow, go) and respiration (relax, breathe, be). Yes, I am talking about the yang and the yin of the tree; the give and the take; the reflective relationship to the environment it will make; the stem and the roots, relatively equal in biomass measure and ecological treasure. Given the climate and environment and growth stage of the tree, it naturally knows if it is time to grow or to be. This is the first lesson about naturally breathing we can learn from the treeknow its OK and know that its the time to just be.

The second lesson, on tree breathing has to do with letting go and relaxing into the natural flow. The force will be with us as Jedi masters if we master tapping into the trees taproot. And, the only way I can explain this deeper breathing and freer being is by inviting you to be still, close your eyes, and imagine yourself sitting or standing right up close against the base of your favorite tree (the one you were admiring earlier in this article).

P.S. You are welcome to skip the next tree meditation part of the article if you think its too woo-woo. But, what if a simple, 3- minute breathing exercise brought more oxygen and attention and peace to the other 43,200 seconds in your 12-hour yang, active, waking day and 12-hour subliminal, restorative, yin sleeping night? And good to note that McKinseys TOP corporate advice to executives dealing with COVID-19s rapid and changing impacts on supply chains and business isBreathe!

Tree Meditation

You may already be a master Zen-Buddha-Christian-Indigenous-Yogi-meditator; so you already know what to do; awesome. For those of you who dont practice so muchso far, heres a way (to find your way) to start. First, close the media alerts on your phone, better yetturn your phone on silentbetter yet, turn your phone overbetter yet, put your phone into a desk drawer or lock it in the closet), close your eyes, un-focus your internal gaze (like you are looking at one of those pop-up 3D pictures), breathe, relax your jaw (yes, stop munching chocolate pretzels), breathe, unfurl your brow, breathe, rest your attention on the center point of your forehead just let your mind hang out there for a moment.

All these subtle gestures should conspire to cause a slight smile to naturally emerge on your face, quite nice. Sigh deeply and relax your shoulders, jigger around your body (crossed legs if on the ground; feet flat and forward if in a chair; mountain pose/basketball stance-feet rooted in the ground, if standing). Travel your minds eye up your body from your toes to your nose, relax, let go, and give into the gravitas of the exact place on the planet for a moment you have decided to root yourself. You are safe. You are secure. You are under the guardianship of your favorite forest tree. If random thoughts, fears, plans, people, popular posts swing into and out of your relaxed state; let those monkey-mind (thats what they call them in Buddhism) moments, like chimps on a vine, playfully swinging bycome and go. Hopefully, if you are able to sit and just listen to the ebb and flow of your breath, for a few minutes more, then you can imagine your point of contact with the ground, sprouting roots. Breathe again once, gratis from the trees; and twice, thanks to the ocean.

Fun aye! Thats one way to pray.

Without stepping our the door, you can know the world. Without looking out the window, you can see the Tao of Heaven. The farther one goes outside the home (heart), the less one knows. Thus, the sage knows without going outside, names things without seeing them, accomplishes all without striving. Lao Tse (translation: Chung-Yuan Chang)

Lesson Two: Defy Fear, Grow Against Gravity

When a tree breathes, it absorbs oxygen and respires also carbon dioxide just like us. The process of respiration releases also vaporized water into the atmosphere from the highly sophisticated, precisely calculated, and intelligently controlled opening and closing of the stomata (very Italian) on the needles or leaves of the tree. These openings are constantly optimizing for photosynthesis and respiration. Remember the Ps/Rs ratio? The clever trick of the stomata flick of the switch is that it actually controls tree growth and loss of water. This powerful process called transpiration drives the growth of trees and is part of the global water cycle. Thus, trees are not only the lungs of the planet; but also rain-makers.

Now then, whats even more extraordinary is that given the special cohesion properties of water molecules, this process of transpiration happens in a tree literally from the ground up. Yes, thats right. water flows against gravity up a tree stem. Given the special energetic properties of water, water molecules are linked together like a chain, traveling water cell to water cell in the trees xylem tissueuntil water vapor exits the stomata gate and enters the outer worlds water cycle once again for maybe the millionth, billionth time, for the rest of the non-tree environment to take. And, it can be no other way. The tree is an essential, biological water-carrier from its root to its shoot within the closed earth water cycle loop.

In order to grow, the leaves and needles must open their stomata without fear, but certainly with sacrifice of their anti-gravity water (via transpiration) to in turn make food for creatures on the planet (via photosynthesis) far and near. Sounds a lot like a social good artist, educator, and entrepreneur? The treelike the heroic social entrepreneur, must sacrifice his solitary water needs to supply a hungry forest community with food, knowledge, and future vision. It is her nature to do so, even though she must constantly innovate past the gravity of convention and grave reality of resistant tension to adapt to unavoidable change. Only then will humanity discover our true ascension. That said, flowing freely and fearlessly in our passion and purpose like water in a tree is going to be (during these COVID19 days, especially) really challenging, and yet really important for survivors like you and me. So, just remember the tree.

Lesson Three: Network, Share and Protect Our Common Forest

In my recent NIW interview with Peter Seligmann (CEO of Nia Tero, Board Chair for Conservation International), I had an epiphany when I heard him speak about the difference in perspective on the forest by Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest versus a Westerner. The classic western frontiersman sees the trees in the forest; whereas the Indigenous Peoples see the forest in the trees or as Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese monk) would say, the cloud in the paper (Bodi Leaf). What does this mean? A frontiersman aims to hunt badgers and foxes for meat and skins to sell, pans for gold to become rich, surveys to lay (false) claim to a plot of land as if one can, and cuts down trees wherever he please. This self-action is extremely limited and false and misses to see the forest through the trees. Rather, in the collective worldview of the Indigenous Peoples the forests are the trees and the trees are the forests. The biotic and the abiotic nature of nature are one. The animals and the environment commune. The health of one reflects the health of the other. I dwell in the forest, and the forest dwells in me. There is no separation. The energy, the air, and the water that breathes me, energizes me, inspires me, mentally charges me, activates me is the same for the tree and all other life that be.

The creation myth of the Skywoman Falling tells the story of the selfless collaboration of animals, the earth mud spread over the turtles back, and the dance of the sky woman in gratitude for the animals care of heras giving birth to our Garden of Eden, as making earth and covering it with green life for an earth ecosystem-rich with biodiverse plants, animals, fungi to then adapt, evolve, and thrive. (Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass) Why have these stories been hidden from popular western culture for so long? They hold the secret to our return to nature and natures return to our home (eikos).

The tree knows this truth and so even though it may maintain physical distance from the other trees in the forest (or so it appears above ground); when you turn the trees world upside down and look underground, you see the other (generally just as invested in biomass) side of the tree, the intricate and extensive system of roots that connect all the other tree shoots (also bushes, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers). They are connected. So, what does this mean? Like a brilliantly choreographed dance, the fine roots among trees in the forest serve as an information highway, an intelligent neural network in constant dialogue with the other trees (and all other living beings) in the forest, part of the collective trance.

Imagine a Lord of the Rings Ent-like underground silent communication.

Who needs water? Who has soil minerals to share? Who has recently been colonized by an insect infestation or overcome by a fungal disease? What else might the trees talk about? Whos hosting that family fox den in their hollow this year? What about that spotted owl? Have you heard them hoot lately at night? Who among us is getting to close or thinking themselves better than most? Time to use our allelopathic (chemicals) ways to suppress their growth? Hey, anyone pitch a spruce beetle lately? Ive had a few up my bark and smell the scouts in the air. Have courage. Stand strong.

In a healthy forest with strong tree and plant roots and communications, questions are answered, needs readily find resources, and survival rates among the community acting together to build resilience against a common threat, like a bark beetle outbreak. When I did my MS research on Dendroctonus.spp (deadly) bark beetles in mountain forests and tracked temporal/spatial patterns of infestation with the old ArcGIS tools, I determined scientifically (and spiritually) that these trees must communicate with one another (through pheromones) to warn the entire forest community of an impending bark beetle colonization attempt. Why is it important that the trees talk to one another and warn each other of such an attack? If the aim of the beetles is to colonize the trees and feed on their phloem to mature their larvae, then they are going for the dendroctonus kill; and the only way for the trees to fight back is to spread resources around, strengthen the forest stand as a unified whole, and coordinate a joint response. Trees intuitively know that bolstering the resilience of one is like bolstering the equivalence of nonein light of a colonization event or overcoming a virus (think COVID19) or withstanding a regular windstorm So, in face of it all; what can we learn from the tree in regards to protecting our community? Survival simply cant be about you and me Its got to be about future-proofing WE in unity.

True Symbiosis: Trees and Fungi Living as One

And speaking of unity consciousness as the key to survival-adaptation-evolution; mycorrihizae (the symbiotic relationship between fungi and plant-tree roots) have 100s millions of years of history and experience on bolstering unity in the community, to share. Mycelium is the vegetative part (the underground net) of fungi and when it connects to tree and (tree) plant roots in the forest soil profile, the fungi forms a new bond with the tree (plant). As mycorrihizae (the fungi and the tree) flourish, mutually. Together, they engage in the most extraordinary fair trade of water and nutrients that the mycelia sources from the soil to gift the tree and of carbohydrates that the tree gifts back to the mycelia as food, not just for itself but for all the other living organisms tied to the mycelia throughout the underground forest.

Additional beneficiaries of this mycorrihizae exchange are the other plants and tree roots, who may at one time be somehow in need of increased nutrition or minerals or water to feed. But, be sure that when the tides turn and those same beneficiaries learn that another brother in the forest is in need; to their spare resources will they give to return the good deed. This is what it means to build a healthy ecology on mutual trust and a healthy economy on mutual reciprocity.

This gracious and inclusive communication and communion among trees and fungi and other living beings in the forest is not audible or understandable (yet) to most of us. But it is this natural intelligence (NI) of life functioning at its bestexacting, enacting, and exchanging resources where and when needed that we as a species should learn to succeed. Could it be time to evolve our collective conscience with appreciation and valuation of the integrity of all life, and rise above the autonomous, anonymous (AI) high frequency trading of natural resources as commodities? In mycologist Paul Stamets world he calls the mycorrihazae trade, brokered mostly by mycelia (fungi) a multi-dimensional exchange of nutrients among the AOassociation of organisms. In his opinion, fungi lie at the center of nutrient exchange and growth among all life in a forest ecological community. So, stinky and strangely shaped as they may be, fungi in the forest are treated like nobility.

For the Love of Fungi Connecting Trees with Trees

In the beginning when the earth was formed, mycelia were among the first living beings born. Mycelia broke rocks and fermented soils, which became the nursing ground for life to transform after every storm. In this earth-shaping way, mycelia made rich aerated soil from which emerged the first equisetum plants; flowering and seeding, and in turn, feeding foxes and bears and wild hares. Fungi also sporulated, allowing a great biodiverse ecosystem of ants and plants to populate the earth and all life in advance to feed, procreate, and participate in the Earth Day dance. And did you know that during the PT (Permian-Tertiary) extinction (65 million years ago) when the night and day darkened; only those animals and plants who paired with the fungi in advance; survived to lead the New World in a new biological dance? True.

The more I learn about the magic of mushrooms, the more I respect and appreciate the fungis central role in forest nutrition, preventative health, and crisis recovery. I am convinced, that the Way of the fungi Tao is the secret to our survival post COVID-19. We have so much to learn from fungi, from the forest, from the forest of trees. Fungi teach us how to give, how to live, and how to let go. And, as keepers of the archetypal natural neural communication network, they can even teach us how to well communicate forward on our now nearly ubiquitous mobile devices. On that note, would you like to know mycelias secret strategies for connecting and networking the trees in the forest? Their strategy is simple, yet highly sophisticated and complex: unify, spread neural (netted, webbed, reinforced) communication highways widely (largest mycelia 300 miles in diameter), and create alternate routes for transferring nutrients in silent, underground, gracious, and (important) reciprocal ways. A super COVID-19 recovery response model, right?

Finally, given that fungi have co-evolved with different micro-organisms, like bacteria and viruses for literally 100s millions of years; it makes sense that mushrooms may have already evolved antibodies to supercede this COVID-19 virus. Is anyone exploring what solutions nature can bring to the epidemiology floor? Fungi have been humanitys anti-bacterial/anti-viral friend since the accidental discovery of penicillin by Andrew Fleming (on his windowsill) in 1928. Black plague, small pox, or the flu; didnt fungi eliminate them, too? Isnt COVID-19 in the flu family? Could mycologists now be helpful in finding a vaccine for our current global pandemic? Agarikon mushrooms have been shown to attack small pox and various flu viruses. As well, the Haida First Peoples of British Columbia used Agrikon to ward off diseases associated with evil spirits and ethereal (air-borne) microorganisms (viruses, bacteria). (Paul Stamets, MycoMedicinals ) Could Indigenous Peoples and mycologist knowledge be key to unlocking the COVID-19 antibody door?

P.S. And, for the love of fungi, watch Louie Schwartzbergs Fantastic Fungi film. Its a wonderfully orchestrated time-lapse view of the fungi forest floor and more. Divertiti!!!

Lesson Four: Conserve and Optimize Energy and Resources

Not only does the forest operate on the principle of abundance for all and communal resource sharing to maintain health and vitality; the forest has also evolved since Devonian days to optimize for the production and exchange of these resources. There lives a lot of wisdom in the forest. Depending on the age of the tree and their position/role in the canopy communitythe production, use, and exchange of resources has ecologically evolved (via natural selection) to optimize energy and access to resources. So, this part of the trees story seems best told in a life linear wayfrom the time the tree was just a seed until it grew to be quite old and gray.

The Seedling

Beginning with the beginning of life, the seed- whether literally blasting forth from a heated (serotinous) cone or traveling in the gut of a bird or a squirrel who calls the tree home; or following the wind currents of a maple wing on the winds of a prayer, the self-sustaining seed will finally find ground to settle somewhere. Quite a miracle indeed, the seed contains all the energy and nutrient resources, to sprout life below ground that it would need. And imagine this, many trees will mass coordinate their seeding and fruiting activity as a forestall for one and one for all all at the right spring time (or if the species only fruits every few years, all in the same year to preserve precious resources in harsh or limited environmental conditions), when the light and seasonal conditions are prime. Why? Again, the trees know that we be forest. We are family and when we all thrive, the forest stays alive.

That said, competition among individuals is healthy and clear; especially for a tree in its younger year. Thus, the sapling generation is naturally driven to the light and races to the top of the canopy to compete for that spotlight. But along the way as they grow, they benefit the forest, greatly you know, because they photosynthesize and breathe back, feeding the forest at this age the most and strengthening the tree tribe from an infection or bark beetle attack. Then, reaching the age of maturity, the adult trees become increasingly more careful in balancing their photosynthetic flush and belly-bole (tree trunk) outgrowth in order to optimize the ratio between offensive nutrition intake and forest green out-take with wind resistant stems. There is a reason that philosopher kings from Plato to Buddha to Jesus to Mohammed taught under the tree and found enlightenment there. Trees exude wisdom. They intuitively know that to live long and leave a legacy they need a robust, insect resilient, fire retardant, bark protected tree stem and a sufficient canopy of green biomass to feed the whole tree ecosystem of roots or shoots or mycelia connected living plants and critters or reproductive cones and flowers that the tree gifts food, water, oxygen, and shelter against snow showers.

Somehow coded in the DNA and genes of that small forest seed, the mature tree intuitively knows that natural disturbances are part of the forest life game, so ensures it has just enough resource to thwart an infection or infestation or storm or forest fire, aflame. Thus, as the tree gets older and becomes an elder, she will now grow very slow (if at all), knowing that not every vital phloem cell will flow with that essential sap to repair any branch gap due to a thunderous lightning clap. The good news is that with this accumulated age and experience all lived in one place comes the accumulated history and wisdom that no younger tree or forest visitor can replace. Knowledge over time from navigating a natural disturbance sheltering in placea fire, a flood, or a storm, gives the tree (and all who listen to thee) a distinct advantage to keep protected and more resilient against any future threat the tree or forest of family might face.

Then my favorite tree efficiency story lies within its core. Eager to hear more? Well, as most trees mature and have reached quite a nice height to establish a healthy green canopy and absorb sufficient sunlight; they slow their growth upward and begin to spin, within. Essentially, mature treesthe enlightened ones, build resilience with reduced cells and resources by a twist of the stems wristand in that way, they avoid the chronic old age stems hunched over forward list. But, they dont just randomly twist. In order to semi-retire in their elder years and still resist the wind; there is a specific pattern and precise motion to optimize the trees altered mature state and magic tensile strength potion. Many subalpine trees as from my ecology studies I recall, twist each outer plant cell wall, 23.50. I also believe this degree for the tree may even be aligned with Fibonaccis natural law, but you should check me and see. Anyway, astute urban architects, planners, and developers (e.g. Vanke, the largest real estate developer in China) who have studied the forest have succeeded brilliantly in constructing sky scrapers copied from lifes play book on optimizing tensile strength to resist earthquakes and wind storms in cities like; Dubai, London, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai from tree to tree and sea to sea, incidentally making billions of dollars off natures intelligence for free. Then further imagine, what if we built the buildings of our future cities as functioning forests, entirely? Dickson Depommier (senior counsel to Aerofarms and educator at Columbia University) has already mapped out New York with his graduate students from Columbia University and developed a new 100-year forest development plan for the entire city. As now many companies and banks realize during COVID-19 that they can work virtually, world centers of commerce might also aim to reset cities that optimize also a carbon neutrality and greater energy efficiency gain. If we drawdown over 30% of global atmospheric carbon by protecting standing tree forests (896.2 GT of CO2), then how much more carbon could we save if we cut the construction sectors carbon budget (23% of the total GHG) in half by literally building a forest of urban tree buildings? Isnt that another COVID-19 recovery and future-proofing point for team Tree? And finally (for now), what if we could make these new wood buildings singno kidding, but actually YES produce food, on every commercial building floor in a separate wing? This is Aerofarms vision, which is already a lucrative business, present reality, and huge win for team agriculture, looking to reduce their carbon emissions and feed the world, too.

Lesson Five: Be Inclusive, Welcome All

The tree is home and habitat to an entire host of forest species. This we know from our very first National Geographic Kids adventures, Disneys Animal Kingdom discoveries and David Attenboroughs BBC Earth series. And in some synergistic cases, specific keystone animals dependent on forests as critical habitat help protect old growth ecosystems as a whole from its rich natural history being deforested and legacy destroyed. The spotted-owls protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 in the Pacific Northwest old growth forest comes to mind as a good example. As well, there are many other iconic large mammals, like the Spirit Bear, or sacred fish, like the Chinook salmon, and miniature Alice in Wonderland earthen critters, like slugs and snails, who all play critical roles in keeping the nutrients flowing and metabolism of the forest going; essentially the community functioning as an interdependent, collective, healthy whole.

The stories and totems that celebrate different animal characters and contributions to the forest abound. I have explored a few of the most known in my Naturally Intelligent by Design animal picture book and selected animals NI by Design Podcast. There are ecologists, like EO Wilson; naturalists, like David Attenborough (new series) and Robin Wall Kimmerer; and forest experts and ambassadors, like Jane Goodall, Tom Lovejoy, and Sonia Guajagara who have studied and lived in the forest most (or good part) of their lives. They and many others have written papers, lectures, volumes, and books on the importance of maintaining the forest for the trees; the ecosystem for the community of organisms who co-evolved together under one forest canopy roof. Natures life philosophy that all are welcome under the forest cover to live in symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship to one another is just perfect for our day, for humanity to biomimic in every way.

What harmony. What grace You just cant find natures organic elegance represented so richly and completely in any other human artifice or urban space.

Then starting at the trees core, scouting bark beetles simply send pheromone signals out to friends; and in little time an entire colony arrives to the tree as if theyve reached lands end. Then, together they bore in and aim to colonize their new found home, incubating their pupae (multiple instars) in beautifully-carved signature tunnels where under the trees bark they feast for 7 instars and roam, feeding royally on the trees phloem (nutritious food resource). Although they are silent in their movements to our human ear, the woodpeckers know they are there and peck and pluck these pupae insects from the dark under the bark. The woodpeckers and the young eggs in their nest normally occupy the forest canopy, but sometimes an egg falls; and what appeared a tragedy for the woodpecker becomes the opportunity for the female fox who needs to feed her family, housed in the same tree root den. Of course, the white-tailed deer is also always near. She is the Artemis protectress of the forest sphere, who also browses the understory plants until winter comes and covers them with snow, so to the lichen on trees when summer forage is gone, shell go.

How is it that in one forest corner alone, such a rich natural history tale can be so naturally sown?

If we travel south to the tropical forests, then the forest story also explodes in life abundant in the canopy alone from flying squirrels, to lemurs and chimps, to parrots, macaws, toucans and 100s of other colorful, interesting birds; frogs and snakes, butterflies, chameleons

The whole community is too vast to speak and we havent even touched on the fire ants, or slough narrative at its peak. These forests and their biodiversity are the wealth of our planet. And, yet we have valued the forest for its trees; decapitated many on a sawmill when we thought there were plenty. You know his sawmill work in Yosemite is what fired up John Muir to protect his adopted forest from further development the enemy. And it is his passion and persistence, which gave rise to the first true earth day resistance, which finally birthed the first US National Park Yellowstone in 1872 to preserve the area for the benefit and enjoyment of the people in nature for nature and people to co-exist. Sadly until now most people have forgotten the value of a tree and so many forests have been cut and burned, but now after this horrific year of massive worldwide fires, perhaps we are beginning again to learn.

Welcome to the New World

Tragically, it is only recently before the corona virus attack that we came to realize the holy shit mess we are in with nature. But we are not too late and strangely with the virus having slowed down and shut down the world for a time; nature has been able to finally relax, breathe, and recline. In a BBC news interview, Sir David Attenborough, the 93-year old trusted ambassador for the earth, reflected on the fate of humanity, recognizing that we were the last truly organic generation of Homo sapiens to live. The path is clear; whether we try to travel to the stars or stay on earth here; the world as we know it is now gone. It will not re-appear. But what we must now guard against is the replacement of all that humanity holds dear by artifices and electronics digital zeros and ones, upgrading our human intelligence by a power of none. For the miracle of the evolution of all that is human- the accumulation of natural intelligence of life nurtured over 3.8 billion years, is clear. And, this miracle of the biosphere I simply cant imagine we would allow, if we knew its value, to disappear.

That said, the reality is that today we suffer biological loss and ecosystem collapse at an unprecedented scope and scale. Ive written in many articles these past years about the tragedy of the commons; the loss of 52% mammalian wildlife and the human domination of terrestrial ecosystems by 70%. If we really care; and we dont now dare despair; but are willing to share; then we can grab this corona virus by its virtual lungs and breathe life back into ourselves and our communities by regenerating our bioregional homes.

We will need $300-400$ billion USD annually to payto preserve and to restore these ecosystems, worldwide and to protect 50% of the natural world as wild. But to put our preventative and restorative actions into valuable perspective, our global response to the COVID 19 crisis according to IMF managing director and chair, Kristalina Georgieva; will be a war chest amounting to more than $1 trillion USD to be now optimally effective. On top of this, the pains of hunger and poverty and armed conflict over land and resources have not gone away. And, we will still need to produce 70% more food on 25% less land, or the global situation will get worse. That said, the positive path forward for all is to adopt carbon neutral, energy and resource efficient lifestyles. And hopefully the limited access to consumer goods and services (even online) during this corona virus has taught us to value what we have, to use less, to save, and to savor more. Further, well need to develop and to power our world with 100% renewable energy. Well need to connect people to nature in order to maintain our personal and planetary health- one in the same. Climate change, widespread destruction of nature, increasing frequency- intensity of natural disasters, and extraordinary biodiversity loss are real. And now we know that global pandemics can literally shut down world commerce, destroy livelihoods, and predate on our species. Thus, it is clear that there will not be a business-as-usual scenario when we emerge from the COVID19 crisis. Our global economy, trade, and way of life are now forever disrupted. However, the good news is that what at first appears the worst thing to happen to humanity could actually be the best thing to happen to humanity.

We now have a real opportunity on the other side of the COVID 19 crisis to reimagine our communities, local commerce, regional trade, and global travel in ways that are healthier and better for us. We can recreate our relationship to natural ecosystems in more balanced ways that allow biological communities to breathe again and to return to full vitality. Philippe Coustaeu (Jacques Cousteaus grandson) loves to tell the story of the radioactive sharks sharks who returned to the Marshall Island chain and stimulated a revitalization of the entire pelagic paradise only 20 years after the islands had been bombarded and 100% destroyed by nuclear test bombs. Nature knows how to recover if we dont decimate first the biodiverse intelligent defense system we have already in place. We just have to give mother earth a little space and now with the COVID 19 crisis locking humanity inside; the good news there is that the family is forced in closed quarters to learn to sustainably co-exist and nature is allowed for a while without the footprint of humanity in its midst; to for a moment, breathe freely and persist.

So what do we do to support our human+nature relationship at this time? Political and business leaders will be challenged to create new policies, protocols, and long-term programs to regenerate the new climate, nature-based economy. Even now, we can engage global citizens in a hyper-local (and for the time being, virtual) way to actively participate in the regeneration of our homes and the biosphere in our backyards. But we have to make our approach super cool, exciting, entertaining, engaging, positively addicting, and globally viral in order to reach our 50% re-wilding on land and sea New Deal for Nature goals by 2030.

And now to our tact, it must be an all for one and one for all worldview that will prevail or we will surely fail because like it or not; life is linked. We are all voyagers on spaceship earth; and we aught to have an astronauts planetary perspective that on this imperfect, organically evolved biosphere, we cant draw a discriminatory line between you or me or the tree. As in a forest it becomes abundantly clear, in order to survive synergy we ought to hold dear. We all have a role to play in this dance called life. There is a reason we are each here.

Welcome Home

Its often said that home is where the heart is. So when someone opens his home, he is no longer alone because he opens his heart. Conversely, when he closes and locks the door, he means to shut you out of his heart, life, family, circle of friends, and home. People can sometimes be cruelexclusive in thinking and limited in being. But, in the forest, the door is always open. All living organisms are welcome home. No one is ever rejected or meant to feel alone. And the good news is that the truth that the Indigenous Peoples have always known is that the earth is for every one of us, our common home. No matter who we are or what we do or where we live we are valued by life. We are an essential force of nature. And, regardless of how other people may treat us or find false prejudice, or call us foreign because of our different skin tone, on earth and in the forest we are never really alone. If the pandemic doesnt make the truth of our connected existence impeccably clear; then I believe it is important for us to reflect more deeply on who we really are, ultimately a shining star. The truth of our reality is that the circle of life and the compassion, which holds us together, has no beginning or end. Everyone deserves love.

When we try to pick out anything by itself; we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir

Lesson Six: Think in Circles and Seasons- Balancing Being & Doing

Life gifts us waves for us to weave. It ebbs and flows when it please and passes by so fast that only if we are attuned to the seasons, and tuned into the colors of our communities in winter, spring, summer, and autumn when the changing needles and leaves finally fallwill we be able to claim at all that we lived an awakened life connected to the secrets whispered in elder forest circles, forever strengthening and tightening the weaves among the mycelia and the tree leaves.

In temperate, mountain, and boreal forest ecosystems where there are seasons; trees will produce very distinct rings. In equatorial tropical forest ecosystems, the rings are faint (if at all) as the climate stays relatively consistent throughout the year. Why this difference in tree rings? In forest ecosystems where the cold, dark winter contrasts a warm, sunny summer trees grow differently; season to season. Most trees slow down their growth and activity in winter They rather settle into the cold; retreat resources inside; assess the assets they have to over-winter; and lay low, receiving, sensing the winter wind; preparing their needles, branches, and bark for snow cover; listening to the silence until spring. In slowing down, their cells bundle closer together and so in a denser statecreate a distinct and formidable dark ring around last years growth, almost as if honoring, protecting, and conserving their present health, then to celebrate and begin again fresh the first day of spring. Also during winter, carbohydrate and water resources in trees are pulled back to the core and roots, so as to be best prepared for this new spring growth. Simply, there is a time in a mountain forest tree life to be quiet and reflective and responsive- to BE a tree. In the winter storm of COVID-19 that continues to keep us cozy inside our homes, I hope that we can take advantage also of this time to simply BE, like a winter tree. I love that one of the first protective, self care measures (besides masking ourselves like bandits and keeping physical distance) is washing our hands; literally putting our right and left hands together, almost in prayer and circling and cleansing, and purifying and honing the energy within somewhere. That is what it means to BE, and to be still like a Tree. Imagine if now, we were to really wash our hands with the same quality of meditative presence as in the practice of Tai Chi and the Tao. And when the COVID-19 tide has turned and we can shake hands and hug each other again, at last, imagine the power of our first human + human exchangehow the fresh, centered, positive energy we bring, could really make the universe again; sing. Indeed, this will be a glorious spring.

And when it is time again to DO- to be active and out in our COVID-19 free world; I hope that stripping our communities to their essential service bones, we will also now give us pause to reflect on what best businesses and practices ideally support our communities and provide real value to our healthy homes. Soon enough we will awaken from our receptive, reflective COVID 19 lair; and we will have a chance to BE-DO the right thing. So what should this new spring bring? Here we can look to the trees and to nature again, please, for advice about how to create our new utopiaour new human+nature paradise. In this active (yang), progressive, productive, creative, and tree phloem-building DO state of spring there are three principles of the forest and nature I would now like to bringunity consciousness, symbiosis, reciprocity.

Unity Consciousness

First, in sourcing the hidden resources of winter, sprouting, and growing its new stemthe individual tree waits for the whole forest to wake up again, to reboot the ecosystem for spring; then in one coordinated dance zing, zing, zing up shoots and arrives to earth all the new offspring. This principle of life to support the survival of the whole is a principle we will be faced to follow (or not) when comes the first COVID-19 vaccine to avoid a new death toll. Here we can again learn from Indigenous culturesin stories, poems, human + nature rituals-dance; the ways to walk in this world, so as not to become too caught up again in the purely urbane, artificial, commercial, fast-paced, soul-striking marketplace trance. I believe post COVID-19 we have a real chance for the emotional intelligence and consciousness of humanity to really advance.


Second, all life in the forestcreatures big and small, are significant to forest health overall. Simply by nature of their existence and natures selection among others in the forest over geologic time, thats substantive proof that every forest creature must play a critical role in the health, metabolism, and wellbeing of the forest community as a whole. Earthworm may aerate the soil. Banana slug may deliver nutrients with its slime. Blue jay may drop (and inadvertently plant) pine tree seeds. Honeybee may pollinate forest flowers. Gopher may dig a den for the fox. Beaver may build a damhabitat for egg-laying frogs who then manage the mosquitos in those small forest pools. Trout purify with their life and nutrify by their death, the forest streams, gleaming with the fresh and local scent of native needles and leaves, fallen and now flowing with the winding waters. Symbiosis is alive and drives a forest that thrives. All living creatures matter to the forest, whether we know them or not. (sentiment of Sir David Attenborough)

Every animal and plant shows up to work-play every day automatically, offering real value to add to the community. Their barter exchange with others is mutual and beneficial to the forest entire; even if they dance as predator and prey or parasite and host and one ultimately respires. All types of relationships check & balance the other, like a well-functioning democracy. This way no group spins out of control and loses its focus on strengthening the weave of the whole. Similarly, communities who value and actively engage the talents and capacities of all its members, thrive. In the recovery and regeneration phase of our transition out of the COVID-19 crisis, it will be imperative for every local communitys self-sustaining capacity to engage in a highly synergistic Asset-based Community Development (ABCD) process. And this process would ideally, replicate a WEave, not a wave; meaning that the process is inclusive, mutually beneficial, and communally driven by the WE, rather than a one-way, pulsating wave of ME (leadership ego) promotion that simply crashes again and again on the shore in endless, hypnagogic motion. The essence of Robin Kimmerers book, Braiding Sweetgrass, speaks directly to this inclusive (WE) weaving action that not only requires communal exchange, but that also reinforces the bonds among communal beings 10-100-1000 fold, like all strong fibers used to make our blankets and clothes and keep taut our teepee home, as well, the sails in our Tiki boats wherever they now roam.


Finally, we need to adopt natures principle of reciprocity in order to re-create the natural circularity that existed before humanity began to create the concept of waste and build artifices and unnatural products that would not biodegrade or break. Where we have done damage, where we have created pollution, where we have clogged the natural metabolic streams of the planet to flush, rinse, and repeatwhere we have done wrong and biological harm; we need to mind the gap, and close the circle. Many consumer-facing, product-producing companies are now wrapping their minds around and designing their products based upon circular reciprocitythe concept of creating endless life, infinitely recycled products. Bill McDonough (founder of the circular ecology/economy vision) would take the recycling narrative further and faster toward upcyclingcreating more value every turn of the regeneration wheelto recover first our human + nature balance.

Is it possible in the post COVID-19 rubble that we may finally be able to create a new global economy? If economy returns to its roots and refers back to the management of our home resources, perhaps a new bio-based economy could now naturally emerge. Yes, an economy where we rightly value natures goods and services the natural capitalism way. Yes, a new economy where we are more about building mutually beneficial relationships and fair trade exchanges with full bio-accounting spreadsheets of real (human+nature) costs for production, manufacturing, transport and recycling (upcycling) of goods. And yes, ultimately evolve a true bio-based (life-based) economy where we do not look at nature as a mere raw resource and commodity or human laborers as employees with numbers and time cards; but an economy (system of management) run on reciprocitya commitment to a relationship of infinite value exchange based upon an honest recognition of the inherent worth and interdependences of all life.

The best instructor to teach this new bio-based, giving economy based on reciprocity is the natural world. Nature is perpetually gifting usfresh, wetland-filtered water; clean ocean breeze air; new models for medicines; new biomimic designs for innovation and technology growth; new grasses, roots, shoots, and fruits; which become our daily breadall for free, all without fee. As long as the ecosystem remains intact and not under human attack; the biosphere will regenerate, and every year give back. We do not have to take or to hoard or to lord over any natural resource or claim ownership over any land; if we orient ourselves to gratitude and give what we can; its amazing what healthful resources the universe brings when one unclenches his grip on life and fear of poverty or death or not receiving his fair share. As nature abhors a vacuum (Alan Watts), its a curious thing that more you give the more abundance seems to flow toward you and the life you life.

Many Indigenous Peoples who have lived generation after generation in relationship with nature and the land have really figured this out. As we emerge from the economic rubble of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we can really benefit from learning the Native Peoples gift giving approach to value exchange. (research TBC) Imagine if we re-created a local economy of goods & services (basic foods and essential village services) that were directly bartered or exchanged in parallel to a global (probably virtual & online) marketplace comprised of both digital (virtual) goods and (virtual) online services; as well as, physical goods, purchased in a virtual marketplace and delivered directly to your home with a delivery drone. This is one future scenario that is fast becoming our present reality and the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating this new economic paradigm. My natures reflection and intention here is simply that as we shift, we naturally drift toward a new economy that is conscious and compassionate and leads with an energy and ethic of fair trade, gift giving, and real calculation of nature-human-manufacturing-transport costs where money continues to insert itself as the medium of exchange. May we in re-creating that new bio-based economy value reciprocity and recognize the greater value of building right relationships and resilient communities.

Many years ago I learned about the Potlatch ceremony of the Pacific Island communities and remote Pacific Northwest villages. In the Potlatch ceremony itself the social status of individuals and families in a community are honored and elevated when they give. These cultures and this Potlatch ritual are excellent starting points for learning about the gift-giving, bio-based economy. They have adopted this sharing mentality and orientation to lifeto first give, and to give abundantly and freely; trusting in an eventual return; believing unequivocally in the circularity and reciprocity of life. And when everyone shares this common ethic, the village economy works well.

If we look closely, other cultural traditions have adopted this central value of giving to sustain a village community or tribeeven my own. In the spirit of Easter week, I will share an interpretation of the Fishes and Loaves story I remember learning at the University of Notre Dame; many years ago. The true miracle (mirare- reflection, mirror on society) and message of this parable was the selfless offering by a young boy of the 6 fishes and 12 loaves during a community gathering, where people were complaining of getting hungry. As the story goes; so moved where the rest of the travelers by this boys gift-giving; that those gathered stopped complaining and revealed the staples of food they had packed and rationed under the saddle bags of their pack animals. By the time everyone had offered gifts of food to the gathering, having been inspired by the young boy; after the meal they found that there was an abundance of food left over.

I love this story, especially for these COVID-19 days because I believe we may discover that if we can uncover the humanity in every home that there is enough, food, water, financial resources, emergency reserves for every human being from their previous misfortune or down-trodden life, to recover. As I have heard from my mother in some garages close to her homestores of food and supplies from ground to ceilingenough for a village of people that could fill an astrodome. I was reflecting on this fear-based hoarding reaction many had to the virus when the news broke out. And while walking along the seaside cliffs where I live, I just happened to look down and find myself in a rather large patch of mullein plants. I had to laugh. The Indigenous Peoples who used to tend these lands used the Mullein plant for toilet paper. And if you just take the soft, fuzzy leaves; the root of the plant will grow more back.

Suffice to say, if we truly turn toward the land and learn about the local food and natural riches our bioregions abundantly provide, then we will surprisingly soon close the human+nature divide and regain our sustainable stride, as well, our right relationship with nature where we reside. And in our very dense urban cities, we can also learn innovative ways to urban outfit citizens living in high-rises there with the highest quality natural lifestyle and nutrition by bio-mimicking these same natural processes outside the urban bounds to produce similar circular, regenerative processes to meet our needs. (e.g. rooftop gardens, green walls, algae fountains, aero-farms, permaculture waste ponds, natural parks and sanctuaries so much more.)

Briefly, but significantlyas this is a topic to further explore one other way to unlock the wheels of innovation to drive further, faster, forward to regain our reciprocityour right stewardship relationship with the natural world is to reduce our production-consumption spiral of products designed and packaged with artificial plastics and pollutants. Rob Tercek talks and teaches about the vaporization of physical things and the value that smaller, lighter, more powerfully connected fewer electronic smart things brings.

Finally, Nature is not anxious. Nature just flows in cycles and streams it simply, effortlessly goes. Life is a weave; and now is a great time to learn how to sow new future seeds.

Lesson Seven: Fearlessly Face Death and Life

What is death? No one really knows, and thats why we fear it. But, what if we looked at death differently? What if death was more dynamicless final and more familiar; merely a change of state and the constant state of change? What if when a living being dies; its spirit simply finally flies, shedding its false sense of separate self (ego) as it soars happily across the brilliant skies? What if when we die, we tap into the truth of a tree? What if when we respire our last breath, it is the exhalation of the false exultation of the singular (ego) self that is death? What if when we die, we inhale the truth of a tree? What if death was a slow, steady journey back to the essential Self, recycling (upcycling) back to earths origin, back to the original all-colored darkness and the female void, back to the infinite beginning of lifes circle-the dimensionless point, the center of the symbiotic mycorrhizae-like collective intelligence, the wise ocean, the alpha-omega, the ubiquitous universe? What if when we die, we learn that this naturally intelligent truth of the tree is no lie?

I focused my masters degree in ecology on natural disturbances in mountain forest ecosystems. After teaching ecology for some years, I then spent my PhD research time studying the regeneration of forest mountain ecosystems in the Swiss Alps, given multiple disturbance variables and anticipated climate change scenarios. After more than three decades exploring many of the Western worlds forests; either my sharp analytic eyes have gone fuzzy or my scientific mind is relaxing; but I am starting to see the forest through the treesand the distinction between life and death is not as clear any more as I had previously perceived.

I begin to wonder, had James Cameron truly tapped into an ancient Brazilian Amazon Indigenous Peoples truth; when in Avatar he directed Grace (played by Sigourney Weaver) to be laid to rest by the mother tree in Pandora to become illuminated with the blue tendrils enmeshed in natures soil and consumed in her earthly womb, to return to lifes pinnacle state of Grace-unification with all life in death? Could the distinction between life and death merely be our personal orientation to existence, our point of view? Could life and death simply be different sides of the same mirror; depending on the angle of our perception and reflection?

The more time I spend my COVID-19 days alone sheltering at home and in nature (my home is in a biological reserve), strangely, the more my mind, heart, and senses attune to (what I believe to be) natures essential truth life is dynamic; nature is sacred (sacra-whole). We are as transient travelers on this temporal earth journey, living and dying every step of the way, every moment of every day. There is nothing still or static or dull or dead about death and it is the same for deaths reflection on life. This realization gives me great joy and COVID-19 relief, as well the knowledge that this time will pass. And yet these COVID-19 days will also always remain with us, as this walk in earths woods, while not a journey from point A to B, is an invitation to embrace and accept all experience as the way to BE. There really is no real destination for life, no beginning or end no point of arrival, but rather a deepening realization that we have already arrived when we notice and celebrate abundance everywhere, alive. Gratitude is the correct attitude. And, the real gift of the journey is to learn to be present to every glorious moment.

Transience is the message of nature. The more we turn to impermanence- the more we appreciate the present moment is fleeting and therefore precious. Mark Coleman, Spirit Rock

yes, we need nature. We need nature to bring us back to the power of now. (Eckhart Tolle) We need to connect with natureto be in wild places to release us from the unnatural, grinding noise of local disruption and global stress, to recalibrate us to a harmonious peaceful state, to remind us of our naturally intelligent flow, to let go. Maybe in this dark night of the soul, when we are directed to stay still and shelter in place, we can find relief in this forced solitude by again admiring in the life-death face of it all; the trees grace and its ability for the entire time on earth to grow roots and to tap into natures life giving force in one forest space.

Read more:
The Tree's Truth - Thrive Global

Written by admin

April 16th, 2020 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Alan Watts

CAFE 541: Matts Picks: Interactive art, games, music and travel all accessible from quarantined homes – The Register-Guard

Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:48 am

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Its odd to consider weve been in the midst of this crisis for a month now. We all face a multitude of daunting hurdles some much more than others and yet we continue on each day.

Despite a devastating blow, arts and culture in this town continues to produce creative expression and adjust to new platforms. With not even one public gathering scheduled over the next several weeks, CAFE 541 still has multiple local productions to choose from.

We give thanks that closed doors and social distance has done nothing to quiet human expression. (And be sure to hit us up at #CAFE_541 for all of the many great events we didnt mention.)

Travel Oregon at Home

Nothings better in springtime than getting out and about in our endless outdoor playground. With COVID-19 curbing many activities, Travel Oregon provides a "Families Guide To Oregon Activities at Home" to those cooped up inside together.

Surf to to find the free guide that includes fun coloring activities, writing prompts, Oregon-centric games, Native history, whale watching and much more.

National Poetry Month

Thanks to local poetry slam queen Jorah LaFleur for reminding us that April is National Poetry Month. What better way to while away the day than string together a few lines that reflect the times or read up on the innumerable lyrical declarations at our fingertips.

Whether its reading or writing just one poem, verse brings perspective and opens up the world in ways that we may never have imagined. Check out Jorahs Facebook page for different locals taking part in the challenge and go to to find 30 way to celebrate poetry.

Practice mindfulness

Home seclusion distills down to a choice of few diversions, some of which might be driving us up the wall right now. One positive way to make use of still time is to be still ourselves. Mindfulness practice asks us to filter reality to right now because there is no time like the all-encompassing present.

Mindfulness takes a multitude of forms. Calysta Cheyenne, lead singer of local band Fortunes Folly, offers a free outdoor session on Facebook. And for moms and dads, Parents Magazine goes into the details of suggestions, like listening walks, mindful eating and self-body scans.

The Eugene Insight Meditation Community also now has online discussions. The Greater Good Institute, Berkeley, offers articles, lessons and quizzes on the subject. For a listen, Western philosopher Alan Watts wonderful logical journey through existential thought is a good place to begin.

Online exhibitions

As arts advocates here at CAFE 541, were always excited at a collision of cultural worlds. The Morrison Hotel Gallery offers one of those happy impacts with fine art music photographs. Representing the archives of more than 125 renowned music photographers, MHGs vast catalog of images encompasses several generations of jazz, blues and rock icons.

Search its more than 100,000 images by photographer, music artist, band or concert. Free at

In addition, we continue our coverage on local and national artists to check out on social media.

Ila Rose

Jerry Ross facebookcom/pittore44

Robert Dandarov

Carla Ciuffo

John St. Christopher

Edward Gorey

Contact reporter Matt Denis at or 541-338-2265 and follow him on Instagram @CAFE_541. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.

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April 11th, 2020 at 12:48 am

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The Link Between Meditation and Social Justice – Thrive Global

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Ron Purser is a prominent critic of how mindfulness meditation has been at times misused and abused. He wants the practices to be used to fight for more social justice and to fuel societal changes to reduce burnout and stress. He is a professor of Management at San Francisco University and author of the book McMindfulness.

We discuss the roots of meditation practices, their spread and corporatization,and whether suffering is in our minds or in the outside world and in how our society is structured. (Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

What is your personal experience with meditation?

It goes back to when I was an undergraduate in college. I was dabbling with numerous things back in those days. Many people were. I had actually moved out to Northern California, to the San Francisco Bay Area. There was a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who had an institute in Berkeley just north of the University of California. I started taking courses there. Everyone was reading books by Alan Watts he was the one who sort of popularized Zen. I started taking classes at this Tibetan Buddhist Institute. Ive been affiliated with them since then thats about 35- 40 years or so. I was coming more out of the Zen tradition and Tibetan Buddhist tradition: mindfulness is not really central to either of those.

What is your criticism of how mindfulness is practiced today?

Mindfulness is always practiced within some sort of context whether its a religious context or whether its a medical therapeutic practice. Its not a standalone practice by any means, even though people may consider it to be. So, when its completely severed from any kind of ethically informed context, whatever environment it is being deployed in becomes the context for the practice. So if its deployed for corporations and the underlying unspoken context is this will help you to be more productive, then that informs the practice.

How would you summarize the core argument of your book and its critique of corporate mindfulness?

There are two key messages. That mindfulness as a standalone technique is misguided. Number two, to send a message to people that your well-being, your health, your sense of success in the world is completely within your own control by practicing mindfulness is wrong. In other words, Im against the idea that true happiness is a skill, that you can hack your brain or train your brain and it doesnt depend on your social or economic circumstances. So its an ideological critique: against the idea of rugged individualism, that the individual needs to learn to adapt to the social, political and economic conditions, even if theyre toxic. Thats really a myth: resilience has a lot to do with whether you can access external community and environmental resources. You could be less stressed and more healthy if you have access to these resources and its not just about turning to an app to temporarily destress it also matters whether you have a healthy community, whether you have health care, whether you have child care, whether you have a living wage.

Do you think meditation can be harnessed to help people fight for social justice and make our society more centred around wellbeing, or do you think its largely focused on individual people improving their lives?

If you try to turn to the Buddhist tradition historically for any sort of radical application of mindfulness, you are not going to find it. Traditionally, Buddhism has relied on state support for monasteries, kings and emperors and so forth. Meditators were not going to become political or radicalized and question the social and political order. But you do see adaptations within very small segments of the Western Buddhist community, who have socially engaged Buddhists that are trying to say, look, we can use these practices in ways that can prevent social activists from getting burnt out. Its still been more of an individual service model helping people become a little more resilient. But yes, there are innovators out there asking if we can do something besides therapeutic applications for mindfulness.

As youre still meditating and have been for decades, where do you see meditation practices as having the most use?

Well, yeah, certainly. Im not denigrating people getting benefits or therapeutic gains. I really try to make that clear in the book. Thats not what Im critiquing. My critique is at the ideological level and the messaging of how these practices have been portrayed and presented. Obviously there is benefit in terms of reducing mental ruminations and reducing stress, theres no doubt that they work in that respect. Im not really critiquing the individual beneficial effects. My fear is with individualizing public health problems, or structural social problems. I go into the history of how stress was privatized and pathologized. Its reductionistic to say stress is just a maladaptation, our inability to adapt to the environment and its all inside our heads.

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What Is Tao? + 13 Quotes From Eastern Philosophy To Help You Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety – YourTango

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As they say, do the Tao now.

Many of us have turned to spiritual books and meditational practices in order to cope with the unrelenting stress that our present COVID-19 situation gives us. With nothing but time on our hands, we're home and we're starting to grow bored.

Yes, it's fun to pretend this is one big Netflix-Hulu-Prime Marathon of the Gods, but the truth is,we're nervous, and television entertainment is only acting as a band-aid, a temporary suture for our fear and depression.

I have been a student of Eastern philosophy for my entire life, and though I'm not a religious person, I do dabble in the practices that give me peace and lift me up. I've lived in an ashram where I studied yoga and pranayama, the practice of breathing; read all the books by Alan Watts on Zen Buddhism; grew up with Paganism and Witchcraft; learned the ways of High Magick, tantra and mantra meditation.

It was always hard for me to walk the Abrahamic paths, and Western religions left me cold. Of all the paths I've walked, the one that works best for me is the Tao. And it is the Tao that is getting me through the crisis.

RELATED:50 Life Quotes From Famous Philosophers To Inspire And Motivate You Every Single Day

It isthe way, the path, the road. It is the natural order of the universe.It is nature.

The Tao, pronounced "dow," is a mysterious concept, not able to be fully known, but intuited, felt. The Tao is the universe, and our awareness of it as infinite, perfect and eternally nameless. The study of the Tao is called Taoism.

When we align ourselves with the Tao, we are in full acceptance of nature and her ways. It is the momentwe know in our heart that what is happening at any given moment is both part of the plan and as it should be, no matter what is occurring.

This may feel uncomfortable at first, but when we know ourselves as part of the ever flowing universal energy,we fear nothing and accept all. We become bigger than our limited understanding of this terrifying virus.We become at peace with all things.

The wisdom of the Tao is brought to us by the enlightened being named Lao Tzu, who gave us the magnificent manuscript entitledTao te Ching:The Book of the Way. These 81 poetic and thought-provoking verses help us to stay balanced; they enable us to seek contentment in whatever our earthly situation is.

If we are able to master our minds, then the world of "things" and situations are a mere play of consciousness. Nature gives and takes, and we are here to witness.

It would be impossible to understand the Tao in one sitting, but one reading fromTao te Ching definitely has the power to attract you, as we all seek peace.The Tao is a place of ultimate peace and solace.

I hope you can see into them and allow them to penetrate your fear.

1. Everything is part of the whole.

When we "do the Tao now," we accept that everything is part of the unending flow of the universe.

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.

2. Accept, don't change.

Try not to see what is wrong with this or that. Instead, come to accept things as they are, and you will find the beauty in all situations.

If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.

3. Desire causes pain.

When we desire, we set ourself up for disappointment. Unfulfilled desire turns to anger and frustration.

To understand the limitation of things, desire them.

4. We need leaders, not pushers.

Arrogance limits us. If we are ever to be a light to others, we must understand that leadership is not about forcing our will, but of understanding what people want and need.

All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. if you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.

5. The wisdom of age is real.

When we are very young, we think we know it all. But life has lessons for us, and as each one comes, we begin to understand that these lessons will never end.

The further one goes, the less one knows.

6. Lust and greed cause chaos.

The human spirit is made weaker when we spend too much time dwelling on the thousand things that we want. When we do not want, we live in peace.

When there is no desire, all things are at peace.

RELATED:What Is I Ching? How To Use The Ancient 'Manual Of Divination' For Your Relationships And Love Life

7. True love is found in letting go.

We needn't prove things. What we are, and who we are should be enough. When we give of ourselves purely, we receive more than we ever thought possible.

True words aren't eloquent;

eloquent words aren't true.

Wise men don't need to prove their point;

men who need to prove their point aren't wise.

The Master has no possessions.

The more he does for others,

the happier he is.

The more he gives to others,

the wealthier he is.

8. Duality defines life on Earth.

If we accept that all things are balanced by their polar opposite, we come to know that all experiences are part of the whole experience. Bad will become good, and vice versa, over time.

Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear?

9. Trust in the universal flow of all things.

The Tao nature is the only reality. When we force things into being like love orbusinesswe are assuming those things wouldn't work without our prodding. They will. Do the Tao now.

Rushing into action, you fail.

Trying to grasp things, you lose them.

Forcing a project to completion,

you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action

by letting things take their course.

He remains as calm at the end

as at the beginning.

He has nothing,

thus has nothing to lose.

What he desires is non-desire;

what he learns is to unlearn.

He simply reminds people

of who they have always been.

He cares about nothing but the Tao.

Thus he can care for all things.

10. Understand the Law of Polarity.

All things are balanced with their opposite. If we insist on doing things one way, we must come to understand that the opposite effect is not only possible, but probable.

Not-knowing is true knowledge.

Presuming to know is a disease.

First realize that you are sick;

then you can move toward health.

RELATED:50 Ancient Quotes About Life And Love

11. Release the need for stress.

Trust in the idea that if you let go, you will get your answer. Quiet minds hold infinite knowledge. Noisy minds hold very little other than noise.

Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.

12. Humility is understanding.

Brash behavior only shows weakness and neurosis. One cannot help their fellow human until we come to terms with the idea that we are all flawed, with the potential within us for greatness.

A great nation is like a great man:

When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.

Having realized it, he admits it.

Having admitted it, he corrects it.

He considers those who point out his faults

as his most benevolent teachers.

He thinks of his enemy

as the shadow that he himself casts.

13. The universe flows freely, and so must we.

If we wish to understand who we are, what our place is in this universe, we must give up the notion that we know it all. Let go of your preconceived ideas in order to find out what the truth is. Make way for the truth by letting go of the lies of the mind.

The world belongs to those who let go.

(If you're interested in the Tao, read the Tao te Ching, and supplement the readings with further discourse by Dr. Wayne Dyer.)

Being of the Tao has really helped me during this crisis. It's good to feel like a candle that continues to burn as the wind around me blows. That is the Tao that is the feeling of peace one can have all the time, even in the face of calamity. Do the Tao now.

For further reading, here are a few books to look into:

RELATED:How Embracing The Japanese Aesthetic Of Wabi-Sabi Deepens Intimacy In Love & Relationships

DoriHartley is a portrait artist, essayist and a journalist. She's been published in The Huffington Post,ParentDish, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today,XOJane,MyDailyand The Stir. Her art booksBeauty, Antler Velvet, and 'MadsMikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are allavailable on Amazon.

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What Is Tao? + 13 Quotes From Eastern Philosophy To Help You Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety - YourTango

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April 11th, 2020 at 12:47 am

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From Homeless to Health Director: Meet the Woman Fighting to Flatten the Coronavirus Curve in Ohio – Yahoo News

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The Director of Ohios Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, is no stranger to adversity. She was once abused by one of her mothers partners, she bounced around to about 18 different living arrangements in her youth and she even spent one winter living in a tent. But she says her familiarity with disarray positioned her to be ready for a different catastrophe: the gravest pandemic the United States has seen in over 100 years.

I think because of the childhood I had, she tells TIME via video chat from the Ohio Statehouse, that Im at my best during a crisis.

Her collective calm amid calamity has played out in front of the Buckeye State and the nation. Before the CDC began issuing nationwide and universal social distancing guidelines, the state health official was working with her Columbus city counterparts to limit the potential for the spread of disease at an annual fitness festival that was expected to draw a couple hundred thousand visitors and at least 22,000 athletes from 80 different countries. With Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Acton at the helm, Ohio became the first state to shut down all public schools for an extended period of time on March 12. And just five days later, Acton issued a decree cancelling non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures that require personal protective equipmenteven before New York, Americas epicenter of the virus, announced it was pausing elective procedures.

While President Donald Trump claimed the virus is going away on April 3 and tweeted that we were approaching a LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL! (emphasis his) on April 6, Acton has been using her daily press briefing to treat the rising COVID-19 death tolls and lack of testing resources like the virulent crisis that it is. Today is the day we have to batten down those hatches, she somberly urged at her March 22 press conference. There is no time left. Listen to what Italy is telling us. On April 7, she doubled down: Youre winning the war to protect our scarce resources and keeping our hospitals being able to deal with this. The second we let our foot off the gas, the second we are no longer that category 3 hurricane, it can pick up wind again and we can be a category 5.

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Though the warning bells have gotten louder over time, Acton says they first entered her radar in early January. She was on a frightening phone call with the Centers for Disease and Control where a global epidemiologist was talking about an erratic illness that was spreading across Chinas Wuhan region. Something about her voice and what she was saying made me think this is zoonotic, which means transmitted from animals.

She sounded a little more alarmed, Acton says of the global epidemiologists message.

Acton, who holds both a medical degree and masters in public health, leapt into action. I went straight to my state epidemiologist, and I was like, Lets talk about this coronavirus. And that began the adventure. Honestly, it has been seven days a week since then.

Her prescient unease has likely saved lives in Ohio. The states coronavirus figures are lagging behind that of its peers. For example, Georgiawhich recently reopened its beaches to the publichas a smaller population size than Ohio, but almost double both the number of confirmed cases and deaths. While Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the nation, it ranks seventeenth in confirmed cases and fifteenth in confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.

Robyn Petras, a 53-year-old Lancaster, Ohio, resident credits Acton for keeping the tallies so low, even though Petras personally tested positive for the virus on March 24.

Petras has Cystic Fibrosis, a lung disease that causes thick mucus to build up in her lungs, which can affect respiratory function. After watching the state health official speak about the common COVID-19 symptoms on television, Petras wondered whether the virus might be causing her low-grade fever, dry cough and fatigue. The realization led her to connect with her Cystic Fibrosis team that recommended she adjust her treatment protocol in order to fend off more severe coronavirus systems, in anticipation of a positive diagnosis. Her sincere and calming presence, mixed with her compassion and medical knowledge gave me comfort and courage to take the virus head on, Petras says of Acton. I absolutely credit them for their quick and proactive action for not only saving my life, but the lives of my family and friends, she adds of Acton and DeWine.

And Petras is far from the only fan. A local apparel company designed shirts and sweatshirts in Actons honor with the slogan, Not All Heroes Wear Capes, with proceeds benefiting at-risk youths, like Acton once was. Further, more than 120,000 people have joined a Dr. Amy Acton fan page on Facebook, where some have even turned Acton and DeWines 2 p.m. briefings into Snackin with Acton and Wine with DeWine happy hours.

Actons ascension to the spotlight has not been without criticism, however. Back in mid-March, she indicated that the presence of community spread meant that at least 1% percent of all Ohio residents were carrying the virus. We have 11.7 million people, she reasoned at the time. So the math is over 100,000. Some experts were quick to cast doubt on the claim as an exaggeration. But if it was an overestimate, it also served as a reminder that many still claim the U.S. doesnt have enough testing kits or resources to know for sure.

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I do believe when we go back and look, we will find that people died and had this that were never detected, way before that moment I spoke, she says. She also clarifies that the alarming 100,000 figure was meant to include those who were completely asymptomatic.

Acton indicates shed rather arm people with as much relevant insight as possible at her press briefings than keep them in the dark. I really believe that people, when given the information, will use that to help themselves feel prepared. Im a person who likes to know the reality, she says. Maybe my childhood led to that, too.

To compile and disseminate that information during the current pandemic, Acton wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and is fielding calls from Governor DeWine by 7 a.m. She then prepares for the press briefings, communicates with health administrators and other state and local health actors, and then works in the states emergency operations center before she finally crashes in bed between 8 and 10 p.m.

Not everyone needs to help lead a states pandemic response to make a difference, though. By staying home when youre able, helping to supply those in need when you can and keeping in touch with loved ones during this period of isolation, all of us can do our part to help flatten the curve. I used to say if aliens invaded us, it would be a blessing. Wed all finally be on the same team. Wed have this common enemywell that is now, she argues. Im an ordinary person. So if I can be doing something extraordinary seeming, every one of you can.

But even she tries to carve out time for herself amid the chaos. I get up around 4 a.m. because thats a quiet time for me where I read and catch up, she says. When she was a child living in a dreary basement, Acton says she turned to books like Charlottes Web, the Hardy Boys and Little House on the Prairie to escape from her reality. I read and knew that it could be different than this, she recalls. These days, her reading material consists largely of COVID-19 news and research rather than tales of farm animals and mystery. Though, she notes that she does have an assortment of lighter literature by the likes of Bren Brown, Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts waiting for her once the pandemic subsides.

My husband makes fun of it because its like a dust-collecting pile of colorful books, she says of her collection, but they give me comfort to have them there. It goes to show that some thingslike what brings us peace in turmoilnever change.

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From Homeless to Health Director: Meet the Woman Fighting to Flatten the Coronavirus Curve in Ohio - Yahoo News

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