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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Great Reading

My Heart Goes Out To Those Down South

Cherry blossoms after rain, by Andreas

 

My heart goes out to those in Australia who are suffering or are fearful for their lives and homes. Twenty-five fires rage in southern Victoria, where many people have died thus far. Many more have lost homes and farms. It is suspected the fires were started by arsonists, and have been fanned by great winds and record temperatures.  


I fear climate change will bring more such tragedies.  Please, let’s learn to come together, help one another, do whatever we can.


If you are in the area, please read Belinda’s post “The Bushfires – What Can I do?,” Kate’s “Can you donate stock feed?,” Julie’s ”Handmade Help,” and Crone’s “What can I do?“ There is much you can do to help those around you. If you in other regions, contact your local Red Cross to find out what you can do to help.


Bec and Lisa are safe as of now.  I hope you are all safe.

 

A New Day Rises. It’s Time To Unite.

A New Day Rises


One Green Generation is a place without politics, a place to convene across the political landscape – because we must do so. The world won’t survive and thrive if we don’t come together.


At the same time I must speak my truth here, and so I will tell you that today is a special day in my heart. Today much of the world celebrates with hope. Today barriers were officially removed. Today a new voice enters the world when the world needs change so badly. Today brings tears to my eyes as I see people of all ages – who are excited, invigorated, and truly hopeful.


Barak Obama will not save the world, but there is hope deep within me that he will help us come together with compassion and sensible solutions. I have a bit more faith in humanity as I hear these words today:


That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.


Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.


…Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met….


Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.


Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.


Whatever political ideology you have within you, I hope that we can all come together to do the work we need to do to remake the world. Re-energize! It’s time to get serious about making our world a safe and sustainable place for every generation – by building sustainable communities for our children, by preserving our planet with ever more mindful lifestyles.


There is but one life we lead. Let’s each of us make an impact. Throughout the world people are invigorated today. Let’s use this momentum to create real change in our own lives, our communities, and our planet.


As I sit here writing, I raise my mug of tea to you, to us: let’s do it now!!


Vamonos Ahorita. Let’s Do It Right Now.


Today I am going to go work on an urban gardening plan for my community – to reduce our food miles, to provide fresh and inexpensive food during an economic crisis, and to teach new people how to nurture life. And I am going to inspire you all to make changes in your own communities (!!).


What Will You Do Today?


You can leave a note here saying what you’ll do, or you can keep it with you in your heart. But either way, please start the ball rolling – let’s do something today to make a difference. It’s time.


Baby Elephants Recycle Christmas Trees

Baby Elephant Nibbles Christmas Tree

 

This was too sweet not to share.  Matt found this on Slog.  According to National Geographic, each elephant in Germany will have a treat of 5 recycled Christmas trees to munch on – apparently it helps with their digestion!

 

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

 

World AIDS Day – A Time For Solutions

 

Monday December 1st was World AIDS Day.  I meant to write something about it, because we often forget about this disease and it is so important in our lifetime.  One in eight people in South Africa have HIV/AIDS.  1 in 8.  In our small apartment building, there would be 3 people.  In our old town of 1,600 people, there would be 200.  In our city of 500,000 people, there would be 62,500. That’s a lot of people.  


Of course it doesn’t really work that way.  In many poorer towns and townships in South Africa, the percentage of people with HIV/AIDS is much higher.  This disease hits impoverished people hardest, as they are least likely to have access to condoms and anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs). Fortunately there is a new health minister now, who is actively fighting AIDS rather than calling on victims to eat garlic and lemons to fight the disease.  But it is a long and expensive road to recovery.  And as yet there is no cure.


I worked on a film for a year, about a group of children living in an AIDS orphanage in South Africa.  It’s a good film, and it’s a heartwarming film.  You should be able to find it in your local video store or request it from your local library system.  It’s called “Angels in the Dust.”  I think you’d find the story interesting.  Here’s the trailer:

 

 

If you can’t see this version (it’s in Quicktime), here is the low-resolution YouTube version:

 

 

A Time For Solutions

 

We write a lot about solutions here, because for me it is not enough to become aware of an issue – it’s important to find solutions to that issue.  I think most of you will agree!  So the important thing about “Angels in the Dust” is that it offers a solution.  The orphanage is not just fighting HIV/AIDS with medicine, it’s not just keeping kids off the street with a place to sleep.  It’s a whole system of treating the mind, body, and soul together, so that the next generation grows up nurtured, educated, and self-sustaining. 


The orphanage is nearly self-sufficient – they grow and raise their own food, they pump water from a well, they built their own school, and they have a community that has built itself around them (the adults in the village do the laundry, cook, teach, make furniture and clothing, and help nurture the orphaned children).  Lastly, the founder of the orphanage is a wonderful psychotherapist, who works with the children on grief counseling and self-empowerment.


It is this way of thinking about the whole system, of treating all aspects of the issue, that is so incredible.  Do watch the movie if you can, and ponder how we might use this way of thinking find solutions to other important issues that are so pressing during our time. Can we expand upon this idea of creating a nurturing, educating, self-sustaining system of recovery – to reach millions?  Can we use it to work on other issues as well, like climate change?  How do we do it?


These are just a few of the things I’ve been pondering lately… What a little recovery time does, eh?!  I’m not asking for a solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis, nor to climate change, but I think there might be something to this idea of stepping back and thinking about the whole system.  What do you think?


Please do share your thoughts, whether or not you’ve seen the movie (though I encourage you to do so)!

 

Reflections

My aunt and cousins:  Omari, Nadira, Aunt Susan, Hadiya (from left to right)


I have three beautiful cousins who are being raised by their aunt in Florida. They’re African-American, two girls and one boy: Hadiya, Nadira, and Omari. I love them dearly – they’re amazing people. Some of you might remember my visit with them, where I stopped to see them on my way home from filming in the Dominican Republic in the spring.


The first night of my visit, we were all sitting on the porch eating a yummy dinner and Nadira, the youngest, asked who I was going to vote for: Hillary or Barak. All three of them said they were voting for Barak – and they were beaming when they said it.


Later that evening my aunt and I were talking after they’d gone to bed and she said, that it doesn’t matter so much who wins. What matters is that here are three children who are growing up thinking that it is normal for a woman and a black man to become president.


When I was a child in the 70s, we were still coming out of the Civil Rights Movement. Women’s Lib was the current phrase. People were fighting hard for basic rights. The Equal Rights Amendment didn’t even pass.


And here we are today, a woman ran for president. An African-American ran for president. And another woman ran for Vice President. And wow, our country has elected an African-American to become our new president. What a victory for tolerance, for diversity, for the American dream as our ancestors immigrated here hoping for a better life, for equal footing, for respect, and for the chance to be who they dream to be.


Impromptu Neighborhood Street Party on Broadway

The party grows and attracts local media

Hailing the bus!


Here are some pictures I took with my cell phone as Matt and I walked home from an election party on Tuesday night. This is the center of our neighborhood, on Broadway and Olive, just up the street from our house. Hundreds of people were dancing in the streets for hours. White, black, hispanic, gay and straight – all dancing together, celebrating diversity, celebrating hope, celebrating a new America.


We have come a long way. Here in Seattle, we voted to extend our new mass transit system. We voted for more parks. We voted to refurbish the aging downtown farmer’s market. Californians voted to extend animal rights. It was a good night to be an American.


In this neighborhood where I live, a large portion of the population is gay. And while we made great strides toward equal rights this week, we are not finished with this process. Three states voted for a ban on gay marriage. So we still have a long way to go.


But I am hopeful that we have come so far in my 35 years. I am hopeful that the children of my many gay friends will see great strides during their lifetime, that they will see tolerance grow, that they will experience the breadth of the American dream, as people of all types live here hoping for equal footing, for respect, and for the chance to be who they dream to be.


This week I am proud to be an American. Whoever you voted for on Tuesday, I hope you are proud too. Here’s to increased tolerance, to extended mass transit, to more parks, to improved farmer’s markets, to animal’s rights, to diversity, to respect, and to a wonderfully improving America!


Update: Just found this video of our neighborhood party…



I Don’t Know What To Say…

?


I feel like I am treading water in an open sea. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I feel like I don’t know what to feel.


And certainly I am at a loss for what to write. Me, who is never at a loss for topics, ideas, and thoughts.


Yesterday I drove my grandfather around to banks and investment houses and an accountant, so that he could make sure all of his finances were in order. So that he could make sure that he understood exactly where his stocks and bonds and cds were, and whether or not the bank would be able to hold his funds if the bank failed, how much of his money he had lost, what the penalties were for withdrawing some of it early in case he needed to… so many things to think about.


The man is a genius when it comes to money. Some of you may remember that among many other things during his life, he was a banker. He understands economics at the micro and macro levels intimately, he invests cautiously and smartly, he surrounds himself with others who are good informants for more details. My grandfather and his wife are living off of the interest from his savings, he has an elaborate system of cds and all sorts of investments at different banks.


Why am I going on about this?


Because I’m scared. And that my grandfather is worried makes me worried, too. He has told me all about the days of living through the Depression. It was a difficult life.


I am trying to change careers and I have debt hanging over my head from student loans, and this is not a good time for me to be living through a world financial crisis.


The world needs to be fighting climate change, and working toward good alternatives for its finite supply of oil, and tackling malnutrition and severe poverty and the suffering of creatures and environments everywhere. But we can’t when we’re all paralyzed with fear.


I want to write about the Green Your Insides Challenge and the Growing Challenge and the Buy Sustainably Challenge, but every time I start to write, the subject seems hollow in the face of widespread fear and financial distress.


What would help you all right now? What can I write to make you feel better? Do you need distractions? Tips for saving money? Or business as usual? Do you need news or are you saturated? What can I write and say that will help you live your lives happier, healthier, and more fulfilled?


What I’m asking, I think, is How are you doing? How are you feeling? Are you overwhelmed? Are you hurting? Are you ok?


And what are you looking for when you come here to read my words, especially during these more difficult times?


How can I give you what you need?


Feeding Our Souls During Difficult Times

Peppers Picked From The Garden On Sunday

 

My sister’s Facebook profile this morning read, “wishing I was at home in bed with a cup of tea and a good book. I guess it’s just that kind of day.”


While doing some research this morning, I realized that going to community meetings in my neighborhood really feeds my soul. It makes me realize I’m not alone, that others care, and that together a group of people can make a difference.


And come to think of it, a lot of other things feed my soul, too. Laughing and enjoying a good home-cooked meal with my husband. Hanging out on the couch with Raisin (the cat) curled on my lap and Ellis (the dog) asleep by my side. Smelling garden-fresh peppers roasting beneath the broiler. Hugging an old friend and catching up with each others’ lives. Walking through our neighborhood, smiling at neighbors and taking in the scents of fall. Reading comments at One Green Generation, and thinking about how wonderful all you people are out there, and thinking about the good things you’re doing, too.


These are just a few of the things that feed my soul during difficult times. It is tough to watch or read the news, and to worry about our finances, and to fear the state of the climate and the resources we are depleting and the people and creatures who suffer. But I encourage you to push on, to do as much as you can to put positive good into the world, and also to allow yourself time to feed your own soul.


An American Psychological Association poll released today found that 80% of Americans are feeling stress, anger, and/or fatigue because of personal finances and the state of the economy. More than half said they lie awake at night. Almost half said they have been eating badly.


Remember as you go about your day that others may be more stressed or irritable than normal. Take care of yourself and your family. Eat well. Shop sustainably. Save money. And make sure you actively seek out ways to de-stress and unwind. Nurture yourself and those around you.


What Feeds Your Soul?


Please feel free to share here. And then… go do it!