Farm Aid and MakerFaire: Go Forth and Be Fertile, Not Futile!

Green – The Huffington Post
Farm Aid and MakerFaire: Go Forth and Be Fertile, Not Futile!
For such a young nation, we’re having an awful lot of senior moments. Where the hell did we misplace those keys to a peaceful and prosperous future? Where’s our legendary American ingenuity? Why do we throw up our hands when the pie isn’t big enough instead of just rolling up our sleeves and rolling out more dough?

But not all senior moments are bad. When 94 year-old Pete Seeger unexpectedly strolled on stage at Farm Aid last Saturday in Saratoga Springs, NY, the crowd went wild. Clutching his iconic banjo, the sharp-as-a-tack senior delivered a soft yet stirring rendition of “If I Had a Hammer.”

Then Farm Aid’s founders — Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, and Neil Young — joined Seeger in singing “This Land Is Your Land” with a bonus verse that ended “New York was meant to be frack-free!”

As Young noted several times during the day, “Farmers are on the front line of climate change.” They’re on the front line of the fracking debate, too. From the Marcellus Shale to the Monterey Shale, fracking threatens our most fertile farmlands. Gas industry reps, aka ‘land men,’ been waving dollar signs in the weathered faces of weary farmers who’ve leased their drilling rights only to find themselves screwed, as the unpleasant facts about fracking emerge.

Thinking, perhaps, of all those methane leaks and our apparent collective apathy about curbing them, Young opened his acoustic solo set with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and then blew his top over the way we’re abusing our topsoil:

…farmers today, it’s all in their hands, because all that carbon that’s up in the sky — and believe me, this has a lot to do with what’s going on with all of these radical weather patterns we’re seeing, this is real — all the carbon that’s up in the sky used to be in the soil, used to be down here under the crops. And then Monsanto, and all the big chemical companies and the industrialists, they came and they made factory farms, and they replaced family farms, they brought in the chemicals and made it so you couldn’t grow without chemicals…

Those chemicals…have made it so we’ve lost sometimes more than half our topsoil. And it didn’t just disappear. It’s up there. We need to bring it down to earth…

He went from apoplectic to apocalyptic, alluding to Boulder’s biblical floods:

Colorado could be coming down a highway towards Albany right now. If you don’t believe me, you’re in denial. Wait a couple of months. We’ve seen it, seen it down in New Jersey, you saw it in New York, saw it in New Orleans…saw it in Toronto, saw it in Calgary, saw it in the mid west. It just keeps movin’ around like a ghost. We’ve gotta stop it. You can help. You can do your part by supporting your family farms and eating good food that comes from the land, grown sustainably.

Colorado’s catastrophic flooding created an all-too-literal shitstorm, contaminating the local waterways with a bacteria-laden brew of feedlot feces, raw sewage and some 37,000 gallons of crude oil. Dan Kelly, vice president of Noble Energy, admitted that the sheer force of the flooding had moved the earth so violently that the foundations to some of his company’s tanks “actually washed out underneath them.”

Hundreds of oil and gas wells (as well as pipelines) have been shut down while authorities try to assess the damage — which may take months — and state officials warn people to ‘stay away from the water.’ Hard to do that if it’s flooding your house or farm, though.

The pro-fracking contingent is pooh-poohing environmentalists who think these poop-and-petroleum-polluted waterways should give us pause. “That’s like worrying about a single drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool,” according to Amy Oliver Cooke, director of the Energy Policy Center at Denver’s free-market Independence Institute.

The natural gas industry swaddles its toxic twaddle in the American flag — energy independence, yada, yada, yada. But their ostensibly “clean bridge to a renewable future” is a surprisingly dirty detour, a dead end that diverts us from the road to self-sufficiency through truly clean, homegrown renewable energy.

That’s not a pipeline-free pipe dream; we have the technology to transition to clean energy and lower our energy consumption through conservation and greater efficiency NOW. But the fossil fuel-funded gasbags who determine our energy policies are so petrified by a future without petroleum, they’ve turned the capital into a kind of La Brea Tar Pit on the Potomac.

If they were more animated, we could ship D.C.’s dyspeptic dystopians off to The Temple of Doom ride at Disneyland, where they’d fit right in with the other dinosaurs. One destination they won’t be heading to, clearly, is Tomorrowland. That attraction was designed to give folks “a vista into a world of wondrous ideas,” a chance to explore “new frontiers in science, adventure and ideals,” and, sadly, they don’t want to go there.

But millions of us do. We can imagine a future filled with homegrown, sustainable solutions to our food and energy needs. That vision infused Farm Aid, and I saw it again the next day at MakerFaire, the annual DIY extravaganza that drew some 70,000 kids and grown-ups to the New York Hall of Science in Queens last weekend. It’s a kind of county fair for tech geeks and crafters (and yes, Disney sponsored it — here’s to putting the tinker in Tinker Bell). The Maker movement is all about fostering a love of science, nature, innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness.

The Farm Hack booth at MakerFaire was where the Farm Aid and MakerFaire missions collide. After all, sustainable agriculture’s heirloom seeds — i.e., the kind you can save from year to year and share with friends, unlike Monsanto’s patented GMO seeds — are a lot like the open source software at the heart of the Maker culture. Both are freely shared resources, as opposed to jealously guarded intellectual property patented in the pursuit of private profit. And both can lead us to a more resilient and fertile future.

Farm Hack farmer Dorn Cox echoed Neil Young’s “solution-is-in-the-soil” theme, steering me to the work of The Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving our soil. Quivera co-founder Courtney White has written a series offering “short case studies of innovative practices that soak up carbon dioxide in soils, reduce energy use, sustainably intensify food production, and increase water quality and quantity.”

We’ve got the can-do, we’ve got the know-how, this land IS our land. The sun, wind and waves are out there, too, just waiting for us to harness them. In 1967, Buffalo Springfield recorded “Mr. Soul.” Who knew Neil Young would become Mr. Soil? Long may he — and his FarmAid allies, and the makers, and the farmers — run.

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Why It’s Time to DIY Health
The signposts of health, everywhere – where we live, work, play, pray, and shop — are multiplying. Ads for 23andMe stream on satellite radio and television. Drug store clinics immunize and complete back-to-school health forms. Grocery stores are hiring nutritionists. Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike and a growing number of wristbands compete for our wrists for self-tracking activity. Signs boasting “Best Hospitals” listed in U.S. News & World Report appear in shopping malls, where major medical centers are siting urgent care centers.

Speaking of shopping, the public Health Insurance Exchanges launch for comparison-shopping on October 1, 2013. These insurance marketplaces will enable un- and under-insured Americans to assess health plans offered by competing commercial insurance companies operating in their states. Beyond the public exchanges, more working people whose employers have sponsored health insurance, such as IBM and Walgreens will be channeling workers to private health insurance exchanges.

Welcome to DIY health, where Americans shoulder a greater responsibility for health decision making… and pay more, whether we like it or not.

We’re already engaging in self-service in daily life. And, since the recession hit in October 2008, we’re cooking more at home, watching more food shows on television, doing more home improvement projects and planting more in our gardens. We develop photos on Shutterfly and Snapfish, build playlists in the iTunes Store, and welcome the UPS driver with packages we ordered online, from Amazon to Zappos.

As U.S. health consumers, we are paying greater health costs out-of-pocket, while looking for self-service in health, too. An Accenture survey found that nine out of 10 U.S. adults want to use self-service options in health, including accessing health information themselves, as well as scheduling and refilling prescriptions online. Mobile platforms, namely smartphone and tablet apps, enable us to price-compare prescription drugs versus generics, get a quick piece of medical advice, and even triage ourselves to make the decision whether to seek emergency or urgent care.

We can also access our personal health information more readily these days, with a growing number of physicians adopting electronic health records. Americans have data rights under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that compel health providers to give us our health data when we request it. That’s also getting easier because doctors who are adopting health records have an incentive to “engage” with us and our health information. Health insurance companies, too, are increasingly opening up the health-data kimono to give us access to our health information through patient portals. Blue Button, the evolving information protocol developed within the Veterans Health Administration, will be expanding for Americans at large to use in 2014, allowing people to download or print their health information.

In the U.S., we are at a fork in the health-care road: we can choose to let health care happen to us in the labyrinthine, bureaucratic health system whose default is expensive institutional care delivered in hospitals and clinics. Or, we can fight like heck to stay well and get smart about how to deal with the health system before we get sick and need it.

Think about this as Slow Health, akin to the Slow Food movement. Slow Health requires we spend more time thinking through daily decisions that skew toward health and away from fast food, fast decisions (like parking the car close to our workplace entrance or not taking the stairs), and bad influences on our health status (like binge drinking, smoking and inactivity). Slow Health takes just a bit more mindfulness and thought. But a little dose of that every day can help us move the needle on our own health, and because health is social, the health of our loved ones and community.

Welcome to DIY health.

For more by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, click here.

For more on healthy living health news, click here.

Why Music: Music Appreciation for the 21st Century

When I attended elementary school in Detroit, we had music class once a week. My teacher, Mrs. Keppel, would play songs on the piano to a fairly disinterested group of students and attempt to get us to sing along. For kids who wanted more, the public school offered some private lessons from a visiting teacher. For that privilege, and for the school to provide an instrument to use, the student had to pass an audition. At six years old, I failed that audition and was denied access to both the lessons I wanted and the flute I was hoping would become my first real musical instrument. I had to find my own path to music. Fortunately, it found me.

Growing up in Motown, there was no escaping great music. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, The Who, and countless other rock and R&B legends filled the airwaves, nightclubs and concert halls. By the time I graduated high school, the music that had filled my life outside those academic walls had inspired me enough to enroll into music school at the esteemed University of Michigan and, following that, to pursue a career in music. It wasn’t my desire to be a performer, however, that pulled me into the depths of study and practice; it was my realization and deep appreciation of how essential music was to my own wellbeing and happiness, if not to my very survival.

When I look around at traditional music education programs, I see the same fundamental areas of study:

• Performance — Learning how to play an instrument.

• History — Studying famous composers and musical works.

• Theory — Analyzing the mechanics of music.

• Composition — Learning how to write original music.

• Ensemble — Playing with a group of musicians.

Then there is also the “music lite” course called Music Appreciation, where even non-musically inclined people can learn about different aspects, styles, and eras of music. These are often presented as a watered down combination of history and theory framed around the music and lives of dead white composers. Even if I had access to one of these courses as an elementary school student, I’m not sure I would have fully grasped its relevance to my own life and experience growing in Detroit, nor to the music that consumed my attention for a high percentage of my waking hours. I was fortunate to eventually learn the fundamental’s hows and whats of music through the conservatory and private lessons. But something was still missing, even at one of the highest-ranking music programs in the country.

The “How To” courses are great for teaching people to become more proficient performers, arrangers or composers. But what about answering the fundamental question of why music is so essential or focusing on the universal gems of music: like how we can better use music to improve the quality of our lives and wellbeing, to enhance performance in other academics or careers, to improve our relationships, or to help us stay balanced during life’s more challenging times?

Shouldn’t the first level of understanding a subject matter, especially such a powerful form of intelligence, be an insight into why it has value? If we knew the “why” of music, and recognized the value and potential benefits already available to us, wouldn’t it naturally increase our desire to learn more?

Science has already shown, and continues to demonstrate, how music can improve human development in countless ways. It is a megavitamin for the brain, the ultimate mood enhancer for emotional balance, a golden key for unlocking creativity, the secret code behind health and longevity, and the connective fiber between human beings of all races, nationalities and generations [1].

Who in society wouldn’t benefit from these insights or the ability to tap into such an empowering resource? If mankind has been using music for these purposes throughout history, why aren’t we talking about the workings of music in these ways, thus giving everyone the knowledge and tools to integrate music into their lives in the most potent ways?

We are desperately in need of a new kind of music appreciation program — one that offers everyone the “why” of music, impresses upon us its deeper values, and helps people better understand how we can most effectively harness its tremendous benefits and better integrate those into our daily lives — one that extends beyond the walls of a classroom by creating positive social change and empowering every member of society.

For more information about the power of music to transform the human spirit, check out

For more by Frank Fitzpatrick, click here.


[1] Cardillo, Joseph, Don DuRousseau and Galina Mindlin. Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness and More. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2012. Link.

Doctors Say Changes In Wheat Do Not Explain Rise Of Celiac Disease
It’s true that about 40 years ago wheat breeders introduced new varieties of wheat that helped farmers increase their grain yields. Those varieties, which came out of the Green Revolution, now make up 90 percent of all the wheat that farmers grow around the world.

But the claim that the more productive wheat is somehow making people sick didn’t sound right to scientists who work with the crop.

The Science Beneath the Untethered Soul: Defusion
I was in Oakland a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the 40th anniversary of New Harbinger Publications (my good friend Matt McKay started it, and they published my popular book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, so I am a bit of a New Harbinger fan). They were a pretty excited bunch — not because I’d shown up but because their book The Untethered Soul was back at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

The Untethered Soul is one of those backlist anomalies like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now that just happen to hit a chord. The book sits among New Harbinger’s usual list of clinical guides, workbooks, and evidence-based self-help books, but it is a bit different. The founder of a multimillion-dollar software company, Michael Singer, wrote it for the lay reader. It claims no particular modality or theory — instead, it offers a kind of spiritual narrative, citing bits from ancient yogic texts as resources and evidence.

In that perhaps it is like a lot of books in that genre, but as I read it I’m struck by the degree to which its wisdom is supported by modern clinical science. It beautifully expresses some of the ideas that empirically based treatments have carved out and tested over the last few decades. Because I’ve been involved in its development, I can most easily relate its ideas to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and the underlying basic science on which ACT stands, which an international community of clinicians and researchers has spent about 30 years creating and testing.

The goal of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is to increase psychological flexibility — the ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being, and to change or persists in behavior when doing so serves valued ends. Psychological flexibility is established through six core processes, which are skills one develops to become more flexible.

In The Untethered Soul the very first chapter is a lesson in cognitive defusion, one of those six core processes.

Singer writes:

In case you haven’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops. It just keeps going and going. Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? How does it decide what to say and when to say it? How much of what it says turns out to be true? How much of what it says is even important? And if right now you are hearing, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any voice inside my head!” — that’s the voice we’re talking about.

If you’re smart, you’ll take the time to step back, examine this voice, and get to know it better. The problem is, you’re too close to be objective. If you spend some time observing this mental voice, the first thing you will notice is that it never shuts up. When left to its own, it just talks.

Certainly this idea of “stepping back” is not new. Every mystical tradition in every major spiritual tradition has addressed it. The ancient practices of meditation and yoga have been taught for thousands of years in the east to develop the skill to watch the mind rather than get caught up in its relentless fluctuations. The use of silence, koans, chants, dancing, mantras, prayer, fasting and other methods are all to a degree linked to this process.

The importance of stepping back from the mind and learning to watch it is true of many forms of psychotherapy as well, even in forms of therapy that one might not think of first as based on that approach, such as behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. When ACT was developed in the early 1980s as part of these traditions it embraced cognitive defusion as a keystone skill in creating more psychological flexibility. As one of the first popular books on the topic, when we published Get Out of Your Mind and Into your Life in 2005, we urged people to consider this approach. Instead of trying to change the form or frequency of thoughts, ACT uses “cognitive defusion” techniques to change the undesirable functions of thoughts. When you change how you related to the voice within, many of its unhelpful functions are diminished.

The idea of reducing cognitive fusion is so powerful that there are literally scores of such techniques that have been developed for use in clinical settings. For example, a negative thought could be watched dispassionately, repeated out loud until only its sound remains, or treated as an externally observed event by giving it a shape, size, color, speed, or form. A person could thank their mind for such an interesting thought, label the process of thinking (“I am having the thought that I am no good”), or examine the historical thoughts, feelings, and memories that occur while they experience that thought. These techniques attempt reduce the literal quality of the thought, weakening our automatic tendency to treat thought as meaning what they refers to (“I am no good”) rather than what it they are directly experienced to be (“I am having the thought that I am no good”).

We now know that reducing cognitive fusion can be a powerful contributor to psychological health. A recent summary of the research in the area (Levin et al., 2012) found that even single session interventions designed to reduce fusion produced a change that was just under the cut off agreed to among researchers for “large effects.” Furthermore, in important clinical interventions for problems such as anxiety people get better in part when they first they learn to reduce cognitive fusion (e.g., Arch et al., 2012). In other words, Singer is not just speaking from his heart: He is speaking directly to scientifically established ideas about how the mind works. I’ve never met the man. I’m not sure he knows that. But it is important that readers know it. There is a science underneath The Untethered Soul.

The result of cognitive defusion is usually a decrease in believability of, or attachment to, private events rather than an immediate change in their frequency. Or, in other words, as Singer says it:

The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively. Just view the voice as a vocalizing mechanism that is capable of making it appear like someone is in there talking to you. Don’t think about it; just notice it. No matter what the voice is saying, it’s all the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s saying nice things or mean things, worldly things or spiritual things. It doesn’t matter because it’s still just a voice talking inside your head. In fact, the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you. If you’re hearing it talk, it’s obviously not you. You are the one who hears the voice. You are the one who notices that it’s talking.

In the last part of that quote Singer begins to touch another flexibility process: perspective taking and the importance of distinguishing the person who is aware from the content of which one is aware. I will discuss that in a later blog.

The idea of freeing oneself from the constant activity of the mind is not only refreshing but also a quite realistic skill to develop through exercises used not only in ACT but across the board in modern psychotherapy in methods such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy, and the like. Defusion is not the only way out of suffering — but it is one of key stepping stones. Developing the skill to “step back” is an incredibly useful tool toward living life on your own terms, not just on the terms dictated to you by the voice within.

Good News – The Huffington Post
Kai The Baby Koala Gets Her Hands Bandaged After Rescue From Power Line (PHOTO)
Stop the presses, guys. We found the littlest baby koala with the tiniest and cutest bandages.

Little Kai was up in a tree in Australia’s Hunter Valley when her mom lost the ability to use her right foot. They were both stuck, scared and very close to power lines.

But luckily help wasn’t far away. According to a Facebook album of the rescue, a local koala preservation society called in about the trapped koalas, and Ausgrid, the Australian power company, sent in an overhead line crew get Kai and her mom down safely.

Both koalas made it to a veterinarian where they got the medical care they needed — and cute bandages to boot.

Kai’s mother hadn’t been able to move because of a large wound on her right leg that turned out to be a tumor. Kai wasn’t hurt during the rescue, but her hands were bandaged after getting blood tests done at the vet.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = “//”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

One order of koala adoption, please.

H/T: Daily Life

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s