Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change

The Memories of Trees, a poem by Melissa Rendlen

A young red pine (Pinus resinosa) with spread of roots visible, as a result of soil erosion courtesy Emery under CC BY-SA 2.5 license

Summer predawn looms long,
grey creeps, lightens,
promises a sun slow to come.

Loon cries give way
to the call of song birds,
as the reluctant day dispels the night.

Sunlight on water creates it’s own magic,
awakens attention to the moment,
even as the past drips like dew

from trees whose memories
reach back, before
my grandmother’s birth.

Will their future outlast mine,
or has our presence ended theirs?

© 2019, Melissa Rendlen

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change

The Faint, a poem by Iulia Gherghei

This image shows one consequence of forest clearing in the Amazon: thick smoke that hangs over the forest. / Jesse Allen and Robert SimmonNASA Earth Observatory / public domain photograph

I didn’t write for sometime
Didn’t feel the urge to do it
Overwhelmed by the reality flow
The muses fainted
The cracks from the floor swallowed them
Another layer of dust lavishingly spread at my feet

 

Vacuum, void, nothingness
Powerless, exhaustion
Mainly, emptied and knocked down by the atrocities of these times
The bad news are followed by more bad news
Fake or true, an instrument of manipulation
The muses got swirled under this tsunami wave called reality
No wish for survival left
In their foggy eyes I saw the doom
With the next wave poetry will leave too
The curtain of smoke from the Amazonian forests will envelope slowly our poetry buds
The lungs will succumb in desperate attempts to form a rhyme or to keep the rhythm in this intricate nightmare
The muses, already dust under our paved ways, can’t save us anymore
They donated us the last amount of oxygen
Their last breath, already
We are left intoxicated with our egoes
We will fall, one by one as the trees of that far away forest did

© 2019, Iulia Gherghei

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change

Climate Change Conversation Can Be Difficult for both Skeptics and Environmentalist

Reinforcing trust in science, focusing on perseverance may shift views, inspire action, according to studies.

Texas Corn Crops effected by drought. / Bob Nichols, USDA / Public Domain

Having productive conversations about climate change isn’t only challenging when dealing with skeptics, it can also be difficult for environmentalists, according to two studies presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The first of the studies found that reinforcing belief and trust in science may be a strategy to help shift the views of climate change skeptics and make them more open to the facts being presented by the other side.

“Within the United States, bipartisan progress on climate change has essentially come to a standstill because many conservatives doubt the findings of climate science and many liberals cannot fathom that any rational human can doubt the scientific consensus on the issue,” said Carly D. Robinson, MEd, of Harvard University, who presented the research. “These opposing perspectives do not create a starting point for productive conversations to help our country address climate change. Our goal was to find an intervention that might change the current situation.”

Though previous research has shown that social pressure to disbelieve in climate change stems from the political right and that conservatives’ trust in science has eroded, Robinson and her colleagues theorized that most people would find at least some branches of science credible. Leveraging those beliefs could lead climate skeptics to shift their views, they said.

“When people are faced with two or more opposing beliefs, ideas and values, it tends to create discomfort, which can lead people to becoming more open-minded about a particular issue,” said Christine Vriesema, PhD, of the University of California, Santa Barbara and a co-author of the study.

The researchers surveyed nearly 700 participants from the U.S. Half were given surveys about their belief in science (e.g., “How credible is the medical data that germs are a primary cause of disease?” and “How certain are you that physicists’ theory of gravity accurately explains why objects fall when dropped?”) and their belief in climate science (e.g., “How credible is the climate science data that ocean temperatures are rising?” and “How certain are you that global warming explains many of the new weather patterns we are seeing today?”). The other half was only surveyed about their belief in climate science. All participants reported if they considered themselves politically liberal, moderate or conservative.

“As we predicted in our pre-registration, conservatives reported a greater belief in climate science if they were asked questions first about their belief in other areas of science,” said Robinson. “For climate skeptics, it likely became awkward to report on our survey that they believed in science while at the same time, denying the findings of climate science. That dissonance led many to adjust their beliefs to show greater support for the existence of climate change.”

The findings showed that beliefs in climate science are malleable and not fixed, said Robinson.

“We were pleasantly surprised that a brief, two-minute survey changed skeptics’ views on climate change,” said Robinson. “It is exciting to know that in real-world settings, we might be able to have more productive climate conversations by starting from a place of common belief.”

The second study showed that igniting a sense of resilience and perseverance can increase action and engagement around climate change for people who work in aquariums, national parks and zoos.

“Many educators working at these institutions reported wanting to talk about climate change and visitors reported wanting to hear about it, yet many educators still felt uncomfortable bringing the topic into their conversations because they were worried about being able to communicate effectively,” said Nathaniel Geiger, PhD, of Indiana University who presented the research.

The study included 203 science educators from zoos, aquariums and national parks who were part of a yearlong communication training program from the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation designed to build participants’ confidence in talking about climate change. The training consisted of study groups, group assignments, readings, discussions and weekend retreats. During the last six months of the program, participants worked to integrate what they had learned into their jobs.

Survey data were collected one month before and one month after the training program and again six to nine months later.

Geiger and his colleagues examined two components of hopeful thinking to see which one might lead to the success of the training program: agency (e.g., enthusiasm, a sense of determination) and pathways (e.g., resilience and perseverance strategies) and how those influenced participants’ reports of engagement about climate change.

Participants rated their “agency thinking” (e.g., “I energetically do all I can do to discuss climate change” and “I anticipate that efforts to discuss climate change will be pretty successful”) and their “pathways thinking” (e.g., “I can think of many ways to discuss climate change”) in each survey. The science educators also reported the frequency with which they discussed climate change with the general public and visitors to their institutions, ranging from never to daily.

Geiger and his team found that pathways thinking was more successful at inspiring conversations about climate change than agency.

“Our findings suggested that portions of the training that taught how to persevere and be resilient in the face of difficult climate change conversations may have been the most effective at promoting discussion,” Geiger said.

The training program also increased the frequency with which the science educators spoke about climate change with visitors, from less than once per month prior to the training to more than two or three times per month afterward, he said.

“We found it uplifting that the training program showed such a robust effect at promoting these difficult discussions,” said Geiger. “We believe that climate change advocates and educators will find this work helpful toward meeting their goal of crafting more effective training programs to boost climate change engagement.”

Leveraging Cognitive Consistency to Nudge Conservative Climate Change Beliefs

Hope-Based Interventions and Climate Change Engagement

Presentations are available from the APA Public Affairs Office.

Posted in General Interest

Eco-Tourism and Jungle Law

We were grateful for bug screens on our trip to the Amazon, but the natural world often defies human-made barriers.

For instance, we shared The Hammock Room at the Research Center with a tarantula. He wasn’t as interested in us as we were in him.

It was a reminder to shake out our shoes each morning before getting dressed. Insects and critters found their way into our little sanctuary, but it was the ones I couldn’t see that bugged me.

We ventured into the jungle with Orlando, our guide. In spite of the heat and 90+ percent humidity, we covered as much skin as possible with clothing, and sprayed the rest with repellant. Nighttime mosquitoes carry malaria, daytime ones dengue fever, and I forget which ones carry yellow fever, but I didn’t want to be breakfast for anybody.

Below are a few of my own unofficial rules of the jungle for the timid traveler.

Rule of the Jungle #1– bring mosquito repellent!

Fallen trees and leaves, mud, and overnight storms in the tropical rainforest made hiking challenging.

We wore rubber boots to keep our feet dry.  Bea stepped in a puddle deeper than anticipated, and water poured into her boot.

Rule of the Jungle # 2–Watch your step!

Orlando uprooted several small trees, and cut the trunks off with his machete to make tea from the bark to relieve his mother’s arthritis.  He replanted the roots in the fertile soil, so the tree would survive.  Maybe the tea really was for his mom, but it was a tactful way of providing us with walking sticks to help balance on slippery walkways.

Rule of the Jungle #3–Take the hand extended to you, and be grateful for kindness in any form or guise.

So many trees and leaves were poisonous, covered with harmful insects or razor-sharp edges.  Another guest at the Research Center slipped and braced herself on a porcupine tree.  It left dozens of venomous barbs in in her hand, which swelled up painfully.  The nearest doctor was hours away, so her guide cut the barbs out with pins and a knife, and gave her anti-biotics.

Rule of the Jungle #4–Don’t touch ANYTHING!

Rule of the Jungle # 5–There are exceptions to any rule.

Orlando caught Olive Whip Snake with his bare hands.

He showed us how to handle a snake without getting bitten…

Orlando’s grandfather was a shaman. “My grandfather said if you can get a snake to wrap around you, it will become gentle and give you its energy.”  As soon as it wrapped around him, the snake grew calm, and then Orlando released it into a tree.

Rule of the Jungle #6–Be as open to new experiences as you can without endangering yourself or others.

Rule of the Jungle #7–Bring your camera!!

We caught many tantalizing glimpses of wildlife, but they were often quicker than I was when it came to focusing the camera.

However, some critters obligingly held still for me.

Occasionally I would be rewarded with a shot like this.

Or this….

Or this…

 

Or this…

 Or this…

Rule of the Jungle #8–Only you can know what it requires for you to glean the most meaning and satisfaction out of your jungle experience or your life.  Do no harm, be respectful, but make up your own rules, and break them whenever necessary.

All images and words copyright 2013 NaomiBaltuck

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change

Global forest wildlife population in significant decline, new WWF report Shows

Conservation group calls to declare a planetary emergency and act to keep forests standing and healthy in the fight against the climate crisis.


Amazon Rainforest in South America courtesy of Phil P Harris under CC BY-SA 2.5

View of Amazon basin forest north of Manaus, Brazil. Image taken from top of a 50 m tower for meteorological observations, and the top of vegetation canopy is typically 35 m. The image was taken within 30 minutes of a rain event, and a few white ‘clouds’ above the canopy are indicative of rapid evaporation from wet leaves after the rain.


The first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity, Below the Canopy, shows that monitored forest-dwelling wildlife populations have shrunk on average by more than half (53%) since 1970. The new report by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) highlights the multitude of threats forest-living species are facing and shows that habitat loss and degradation, primarily caused by human activity, is the cause of 60% of the threats to forests and forest species. Declines were greatest in tropical forests, such as the Amazon rainforest.

The landmark report shows forests, which are home to well over half of the world’s land-based species and one of our most important carbon sinks, are vital to the health of the planet. Forest wildlife, in turn, provides vital functions to keep forests healthy and productive, such as pollinating and dispersing seeds and other crucial roles that affect natural regeneration and carbon storage. If we are to reverse the decline in biodiversity worldwide and avoid climate crisis, we need to safeguard forests and the species that live in them.

WWF is calling on world leaders to declare a planetary emergency and secure a New Deal for Nature and People by 2020 to stop climate breakdown, safeguard our planet’s remaining natural spaces, and make our consumption and production model more sustainable. Protecting and restoring forests must be at the heart of this agreement.

“Forests provide us with the essentials for life on our planet, yet these same forests depend on the wildlife that reside in them to maintain their health and vitality,” said Shubash Lohani, Senior Director, Forests, World Wildlife Fund. “This report is a wake-up call that we can’t stand idle when it comes to protecting our forests and the abundant life that keep nature’s diversity intact. Immediate action is needed on a global scale to protect and restore nature while keeping our forests right side up.”

Remarkably, we know relatively little about real changes to the species that live in our forests at a global level. The Forest Specialist Index, developed by WWF following the Living Planet Index methodology (used within WWF’s flagship Living Planet Report), focuses on species that depend entirely on forests, which means this indicator provides an accurate representation of forest ecosystem health. UNEP-WCMC co-led the analysis and modelling for this report in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The Forest Specialist Index shows that monitored populations of forest-living birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined, on average, by 53% between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. Most of this loss is occurring in the tropics, where there is most wildlife to lose.

“The first step towards protecting threatened wildlife is understanding trends in their populations and what drives their decline. By focusing our well-established Living Planet Index to create a new indicator for forest species, we can look below the canopy to see how wildlife within those forests are faring,” said Louise McRae, Conservation Scientist, Zoological Society of London and report author. “Our analysis does just this, and reveals that many of the animal species that rely entirely on forests are dropping in number. Using this new indicator, we can continue to track forest wildlife and measure progress towards international agreements and biodiversity targets.”

The Forest Specialist Index also assessed whether forest cover alone – the most commonly used indicator globally – was an accurate indication of the health of wildlife below the canopy. The research found that while tackling deforestation and increasing forest cover are both essential to restore nature, these are steps alone are not sufficient.

While the findings of the Forest Specialist Index paint a gloomy picture of the state of forest biodiversity, conservation success stories show us that forest-dwelling animals can recover with the right interventions. From monkeys in Costa Rica to gorillas in central and east Africa, the report highlights a number of solutions that have successfully helped populations of forest animals thrive again.

Protecting wildlife and reversing the decline of nature requires urgent global action. The report points to 2020 as a crucial year for securing international agreements for a New Deal for Nature and People, through a commitment by heads of state at the 75th United Nations General Assembly. World leaders are also expected to review the progress made on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and, crucially, negotiate new 10-year targets for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Forests need to be front and centre of this New Deal for Nature and People because of their importance for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and people, through the provision of ecosystem services, such as water and air purification, nutrient cycling, soil erosion control, and supplies of food, wood and other products.

About the Below the Canopy Report

The Below the Canopy report is the world’s first ever global assessment of forest-living species populations. The full report will be available to view here on August, 13 2019.

About World Wildlife Fund

WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of more than 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org to learn more and keep up with the latest conservation news by following @WWFNews on Twitter.

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest, James R Cowles

Climate Change, SETI, And Dr. Fermi

There’s certainly a warning here by our esteemed colleague, Jamies R. Cowles. It was originally published on our sister site, Beguin Again. / Jamie Dedes



The recent report on the findings of climatic research into the causes and probable evolution of climate change – a more accurate term than “global warming” – prompted me to consider a possible answer to Enrico Fermi’s classic question “Where is everybody?” Multiple generations of science fiction writers have projected a future in which the Milky Way Galaxy fairly teems with life, rather like Times Square on New Year’s Eve or the tavern in the first Star Wars movie  – so much so that the late Prof. Stephen Hawking has publicly counseled SETI investigators to – not literally STFU – but certainly to exercise due caution in broadcasting the existence of intelligent life on earth to every corner of the Galaxy. (Not that we have a choice by now:  earth’s electromagnetic emissions by now comprise a bubble 200-plus light-years in diameter.)  We do not know, says Prof. Hawking, what sharks may inhabit the interstellar waters. (My analogy, not his.) So far, we have been safe. Except for the never-reproduced “Wow Signal”, for which a serious possible explanation has now been proposed, SETI researchers have so far not found any intelligent signal, using any kind electromagnetic energy, that so much as hints at an intelligent origin. The following is pure speculation on my part, albeit – so I would argue – intelligent and informed speculation, as to this eerie silence. Anyway, I submit the following for your consideration …

“Wow!” Signal

The evolution of an intelligent species – actually, any species – usually takes multiple millions, even billions, of years. I say “often” and not “always” because the speed with which a species evolves can be measured in days, perhaps even hours, if the evolving organism is simple enough.  Consider a flu virus comprising only several dozen base pairs. Add the adjective “intelligent” to the noun “species” and then we really are talking hundreds of millions, most likely billions, of years. It took about 4 billion years for the intelligent species homo sapiens sapiens to make an appearance on Planet Earth.

However … in terms of “boots on the ground” real time, evolution proceeds by fractions of a millimeter, temporally speaking.  The proto-hominid is concerned with finding enough wood to keep her / his family warm tonight, and perhaps for a couple nights in the future. S/He is likewise concerned with finding an area with abundant resources for hunting and gathering for perhaps a week or so in the future. Even when settled agricultural communities evolved, the primary emphasis was on this year’s harvest, and perhaps … maybe … next year’s. What is the point of all this? Only that the fraction-of-a-millimeter-at-a-time nature of evolution militates against anything that could reasonably be considered long-term planning. From the standpoint of survival and the propagation of one’s genes into the future, this is a good thing. A hunter-gatherer of, say, 100,000 years ago who paused to consider the long-term ecological effects of rampant deforestation, the poisoning of the atmosphere by wood smoke, the depletion of the oceans, etc., would probably be devoured by animals – or other hunter-gatherers – before s/he had a chance to reproduce, in which case I would not be around to write this “Skeptic’s” column and you would not be around to read it. At least in terms of earth-like intelligent life, it would appear that individual human beings, and human communities, are not “hard-wired” to reflexively consider The Big Picture. From a “boots on the ground” perspective, evolution has simply not equipped us to think in those terms. We can certainly learn to do so. But it does not come naturally. It is like learning to use your left hand if you are right-handed. Furthermore, this difficulty is reflected in our political institutions and our educational systems. Ditto economics. It is no accident that late capitalism does not encourage long-term planning – defined as time-frames measured in generations at least or centuries. As for millennia, i.e., the time-scale when climate change becomes glaringly, life-and-death critical … well … fugg-id-aboud-it!

Granted, I am referring now to terrestrial life, and to cognates thereof, i.e., to life that evolved on temperate, water-abundant earth-like planets, perhaps on a “super-earth”, orbiting a stable, main-sequence sun-like yellow-dwarf or red-dwarf star like our sun within that sun’s habitable zone. If the evolution of intelligent life on such earth-cognates was anything like the evolution of intelligent life on earth, then the environmental challenges we face on earth today would – so I would speculate – have their equivalents on those extraterrestrial worlds. So, from the standpoint of SETI, there is good news, but there also may be – remember, I am speculating here – bad news. The good news is that it is reasonable to conclude that, in the Milky Way Galaxy, there are around 2 billion earth-like planets (“earth cognates” in my terminology), but perhaps as many as 17 billion or even 100 billion. The bad news is that, for the reasons I have outlined above, the challenges posed for the evolution of intelligent life may be as difficult for beings inhabiting those planets as they are for us. (And remember: this is assuming the existence of intelligent life to begin with, i.e., discounting the “rare-earth hypothesis”, which is by no means a crackpot opinion.) Assuming that the laws of chemistry, physics, and celestial mechanics are the same everywhere, it is reasonable to conclude that our own environmental challenges on earth would have their equivalents on those alien worlds. So the key question in assessing the likelihood of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in our Galaxy is:  are there evolutionary regimes that result in brains whose “hard-wiring” is more congenial to long-term – as defined above – planning? I mean planning in time-frames commensurate with large-scale changes in the home planet’s environment.

Desert Drought Dry Elephant Global Warming

Forms of socio-political organization also enter the mix. Serious question:  to what extent, if any, is an emphasis on individuality, individual rights, individual liberty – basically, the presuppositions of an “Enlightenment-centric” socio-political culture – compatible with long-term planning for the survival of the species when challenged by incipient catastrophies like climate change? Maybe dealing with these challenges requires that intelligent species develop, if they have not done so earlier, forms of social organization similar to, e.g., the “formics” in the Ender’s Game / Speaker for the Dead cycle of novels, or the Borg Collective of Star Trek, or the Caretakers who used – but did not build – the wormhole subway in Carl Sagan’s incomparable science-fiction novel Contact. Or, less benevolently, the Dark Ones of Babylon 5 or the malignant alien collective that launched the planet-devouring self-replicating Von Neumann machines in Greg Bear’s The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars. Without in any way advocating for such a collectivist polity, a lucidly honest historical assessment would certainly indicate that trying to induce human beings to unite for collective action to confront a common danger is pretty much like herding cats … and feral cats, at that … unless the end-in-view is the apocalyptic and uncompromising destruction of some human enemy. Think “Manhattan Project.” That kind of cooperation we are damned good at! Climate change / global warming? Well … maybe not so much.

Back in the ’60s, the astronomer Frank Drake formulated the by-now-classical Drake equation, which attempts to quantify the number of intelligent species in the Milky Way Galaxy by factoring in quantitative estimates of the various coefficients that combine to produce intelligence in various planets’ species. I like to think of the Drake equation as analogous to the design of a digital circuit, with various “gates” — AND gates, OR gates, NAND gates, XOR gates, etc., etc., — that determine whether a given species achieves intelligence and a technological civilization capable of communicating with other intelligent species inhabiting planets and evolving their own civilizations. Many of the factors in the classical Drake equation are obvious, e.g., the rate of planet formation in a star’s habitable zone (however one might define that), the fraction of planets that actually evolve life, the fraction that evolve intelligent life, etc., etc. The historical trend strongly suggests that we have greatly underestimated the number and type of relevant coefficients in the Drake equation. For example, I would suggest that one such overlooked coefficient — one that I have never seen acknowledged in the literature — is the fraction of planets whose axis of rotation is stabilized by the presence of a large moon and the influence of other, probably gas-giant, planets in the same star-system. (An example of where the absence of these factors is critical is Mars. Mars only has two little pebbles for moons, Deimos and Phobos, and so Mars’ axis of rotation has, over the millennia, precessed perhaps 90 degrees, and the climatic variations would virtually preclude the evolution of intelligent life. By contrast, earth has a very large moon and is farther away from Jupiter, with the result that earth’s axis of rotation is stable enough to ensure a stable climate congenial to the evolution of intelligence.) Bottom line:  it is reasonable to conclude that the proportion of intelligent species capable of taking the long view, of planning for the future in terms, not of years or even of generations, but at least of centuries would have a critical bearing on whether a given “candidate” species achieved intelligence and survived long enough to develop space travel and a sophisticated communication technology. This is perhaps one missing coefficient in the classical Drake equation:  the percentage of species that have evolved intelligence sufficient to engage in long-range planning.

Radio Telescope Antennas Bure Peak

But our response — or lack thereof — to climate change strongly suggests that we may in perhaps a century, maybe less, encounter a break point where our endemic inability to take future centuries, even future millennia, into proper account may render us a footnote in some hypothetical Sagan-esque Galactic survey. We have to overcome the short-sightedness selected into us by the imperatives of evolution. So far, there have been five mass extinction events in earth’s history. We may well be in the middle of the sixth. Granted, some of these were unavoidable, e.g., the end-Permian catastrophe 250 million years ago. Others, if they occurred today, might be preventable, given long-term planning, e.g., the Chicxulub event 65 million years ago. But all would require a capacity for long-range planning for which we humans have thus far shown little aptitude or inclination.

So perhaps now we have the answer to Dr. Fermi’s question of “Where is everyone?”. Perhaps the eerie silence we detect with our radio telescopes is mute testimony to the scarcity of intelligent species that evolved an intelligence, and the accompanying social and political organizations, sufficient to deal with multiple-millennia-long threats to those species’ existence. Maybe the Universe is silent because, thanks to the in-built limitations inherent in evolution, intelligent species’ own short-sightedness caught up with them.

© 2019, James R. Cowles

Image credits

“Wow” signal … North American Astrophysical Observatory … Public domain
SETI logo … SETI Institute … Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Radio telescopes … Bure Peak Observatory … Public domain
Drake equation … Mohammad Alrohmany … Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Human evolution … Wellcome Images … Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Global warming map … Environmemtal Protection Agency … Public domain
Desert and tree … Max Pixel … Public domain
Two planets … Pixabay … Public domain

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, Event/s, General Interest

U.N. CLIMATE SUMMIT 2019, “A Race We Can Win”

Flag of the United Nations / public domain

The United Nations has opened additional places for civil society groups to participate in the 2019 Climate Action Summit, in recognition of the crucial role of civil society in driving forward urgent climate action.

Successful applicants will join global leaders in the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York on September 23, as well as working meetings across the Summit’s key action areas, to be held on September 21 and 22.

These places are in addition to more than 200 invitations that are already being issued to civil society representatives, including over 100 youth representatives. More than 600 young people will also participate in the Secretary-General’s Youth Climate Summit at UN Headquarters on 21 September.

The announcement is being made in conjunction with the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference, which was held in Salt Lake City from 26 to 28 August, convened by the UN’s Department of Global Communications.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba said the UN was responding to the overwhelming demand for increased participation from civil society.

“With carbon pollution increasing and the global thermometer rising, we are seeing the impacts of climate change getting worse every day, causing huge damage to people, communities, and ecosystems everywhere. But the movement to tackle climate change is gaining momentum, as people and organizations everywhere are demanding action. The Climate Action Summit will be a moment for civil society to join with leaders from across government and politics to push climate action into a higher gear.  The voices, solutions, and engagement of civil society are more vital than ever.”

HEADS-UP: SEPTEMBER 5 DEADLINE

Civil society groups – in all countries and across all fields – who are working to drive forward positive climate actions and solutions are encouraged to apply for the additional positions by submitting a short written submission by September 5 at https://reg.unog.ch/event/31641/.
Applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of UN representatives leading broader engagement with civil society and experts on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The application review process will take into account gender and regional balance when assessing candidates. Reviewers will also recognize the resilience and leadership of individuals from marginalized and vulnerable communities, including but not limited to indigenous and tribal communities, people living with disabilities, refugees, LGBTQ and otherwise. Candidates must also clearly demonstrate a commitment to addressing the climate crisis and advancing solutions, including through leadership positions, partnerships with other stakeholders, and evidence of impact.

Successful applicants will be notified by September 9.

For media inquiries and interview requests on this announcement, please contact:

Dan Shepard, UN Department of Global Communications: shepard@un.org
Esra Sergi, UN Department of Global Communications: sergie@un.org
For media inquiries on the United Nations Civil Society conference, please contact:

Felipe Quipo, UN Department of Global Communications: queipo@un.org

Follow @ladealba on Twitter for the latest news on the Climate Action Summit.

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, Event/s

“The BeZine” in solidarity with September’s Global Climate Action Events

copyright Rick Frausto*

This month in solidarity with Greta, the September 20-27 Global Climate Strike (info and sign-up HERE), and in support of the U.N. Climate Change Summit 2019, we are posting climate material.

We are still open for submissions to this effort: poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, documentary videos on climate change for The BeZine blog is open through September 10, 2019.  Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright. NO simultaneous submissions.  

Email submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com.

Please note in your subject line: For the climate change blog.

All honors to Contributing Editor Michael Dickel for coming up with this idea.

– Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

*The Greta Thunberg Drawing is all over the Internet. A bit of research reveals that it is by Rick Frausto and is part of his pen and ink “Visual Activism” series. It is available for purchase.

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, 100TPC, General Interest

100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Compilation & Curriculum

September 23rd – September 28th 2019

The compilation and curriculum are the result of a collaboration among 100,000 Poets for Change, Florida State University, and Reading Is Fundamental with selections from The John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection of Florida State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives.

Download the Poetry Compilation for Readers.pdf

Download the curriculum Simple ways to make poetry engaging 2.0  and the poetry workbook.

Freely accessible Sound Cloud playlist of 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Initiative

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, Poems/Poetry

Freely Accessible Sound-Cloud Playlist for 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Week Initiative, courtesy Michael Dickel and Randy Thomas

READ A POEM TO A CHILD WEEK

Sep 23 at 12 PM – Sep 28 at 11 PM EDT

August 26, 2019: THANKS to Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) for putting together this post for us on behalf of The BeZine  and for his interview of Randy Thomas. This post was originally done for last year’s event, but the SoundCloud playlist is still up and has grown a bit. I’m posting it today to remind you of this charming resource. / Jamie Dedes



A SoundCloud playlist!

August 2018: Thanks to 100 Thousand Poets for Change co-founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, and especially to our 100TPC friend, Voice-Over legend Randy Thomas, we have the honor of presenting a compilation of children’s poems read by master Voice Artists and created for the 100TPC community in support of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Read A Poem To A Child initiative. / Michael Dickel


Randy Thomas and the other voice actors / voice over artists in the playlist (further down) volunteered their talent and time to Read a Poem to a Child!

Thomas started her career as a radio personality and DJ in New York, LA, Detroit, and Miami. She’s announced for the Oscars, Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, Entertainment Tonight, The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, The Kennedy Center Honors, and much more. You likely have heard her announce:

“You’re watching Entertainment Tonight!”

or

“Live from Hollywood, it’s the Academy Awards!”

Voice Announcer Randy Thomas
Source

The BeZine asked Randy Thomas a couple of questions about how this came to be:

The BeZineWhat inspired you to organize these wonderful readings by VO artists for Read a Poem for a Child?

Randy ThomasI am always intrigued when invited to use my voice in a positive way that gives back to the community. My dear friend Michael Rothenberg, a world-renown poet told me about his effort to share a poem with a child during one specific week. He found interest from all over the world. It’s wonderful.

The BeZine: You have inspired a number of voice artists to contribute their voices—how did that happen?

Randy ThomasThe Facebook community of voice actors and friends that I have seemed to rally behind this idea. We all have our own audio booths to record quality audio in, and they are all being so generous with their time and Voice sharing these poems. I am proud to have played a small part in this beautiful effort.

You can hear the amazing results below, in the embedded SoundCloud playlist.


Please feel free to play these recordings
for children around the world!

These may be played right here from this post or go HERE.



Thank you Randy Thomas
and brilliant VO artists
for sharing your talent for the children!



All audio ©2018 by the individual Voice Artists.
Poetry copyright belongs to the poet
or other current copyright holder.

Post text ©2018 TheBeZine.com and 100TPC.org
Link-sharing of the SoundCloud playlist is allowed.
Link-sharing or credited re-blogging of this post is allowed.
Readings in the playlist are provided for free personal use,
not for commercial purposes or paid events.
The audio may not be recorded or redistributed in any form
other than a link to SoundCloud without permission of the voice artist(s).

Posted in 100TPC, The BeZine

REMINDERS: 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Week; Calls for Submissions: “The BeZine” in Solidarity with the Global Youth Climate Strike

This is a global event. Events scheduled for the “Read A Poem To A Child” initiative will take place from September 23th – 28th and will include readings in bookstores, schoolrooms, community centers, public parks and at private homes. Co-founder Terri Carrion explains that, “All you have to do is read a poem to a child in any setting that is convenient, and you can sign up on our website at http://100tpc.org/sign-up/


IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GLOBAL YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE

CALLING YOUTH & ADULTS

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS of poems, feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, art and photography, music videos, documentary videos on climate change for The BeZine blog is open through September 10, 2019. In solidarity with the world’s youth, we’ll post work on Climate Change throughout September. Your original previously published work may be submitted as long as you own the copyright. NO simultaneous submissions.  Please note in your subject line: For the climate change blog. Email submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com. All honors to Contributing Editor Michael Dickel for coming up with this idea.

Posted in Michael Dickel, Poets/Writers

Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel’s new collection, upcoming from Finishing Line Press



Congratulations, Michael. We’re so proud.

I’ve read Michael’s latest collection and will post a review, interview, and some sample poems shortly on The Poet by Day… Meanwhile NOW IS THE TIME TO PRE-ORDER Michael Dickel’s title, Nothing Remembers.
Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor, The BeZine


Advanced praise: 

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“He raises the question of whether the past can be preserved in memory, or whether memory is most effective in the face of loss. Either way, what does the past leave us, who are we with or without the past, and if poetry can occasionally fill gaps in our present, what if anything can it give us of our past? Is poetry anything at all — or is it nothing at all, and is the nothing of poetry the best memorialization? Dickel’s sensory, sensual, musical lyric roves across wet and dry landscapes, food and drink, family and friends, darkness and light, sleep and wakefulness, dreams and reality. His words hover between his homes in the Mideast and the American Midwest, conveying the fragility of present and past, enacting a memory at high risk of loss, maintaining faith against staggering odds. Nothing Remembers is a dream of peace, the peace that may come if and when persons and peoples live in a present comfortable with close and distant memory.
–Hassan Melechy, author of Kerouac: Language, Poetics, and Territory (Bloomsbury) and A Modest Apocalypse (Eyewear)
.
Michael Dickel combines powerful imagery and poetic beauty with a reality beneath life’s skin, that will gently shake the reader into an awareness, refreshing and engaging. He will take you through his pages to a ‘resting state’ where possibilities in your mind will feel endless.
–Silva Merjanian, author of Life and Legends
.
Between knowing and dreaming, shattered screams, pulses, shadows and longing, Michael Dickel’s arresting fourth collection, Nothing Remembers, navigates an erotics of re-membrance renegotiating a Proustian ethos of things resonant, prescient, and the ghostly revenance of hope.
–Adeena Karasick, author of Salomé: Woman of Valor
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“I know so many wildly talented writers. It is one of the great privileges in my life. Michael Dickel is one of them: he uses language like layers of color in a complex painting — you can access experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have. I’ve just preordered his upcoming collection, Nothing Remembers, from Finishing Line Press; poetry lovers, this is worth having.”

–Ina Roy-Faderman, author of 56 Days of August: an anthology of postcard poems

Posted in Music

Hallmark of Harmony, a premier men’s barbershop, a cappella chorus

c Hallmark of Harmony, 2019

“We are back up in Sheffield now after one of the best weekends in this chorus’ history. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the messages of love and support that we have received over the last couple of days. The British barbershop community is a truly wonderful thing and we are so proud to be part of it. There are far too many groups and individuals to thank but to everyone that has helped us on our journey, to everyone who stopped one of our members at convention to say congratulations and to everyone that has taken the time to send us a message since the weekend; we are eternally grateful and hugely humbled.” Hallmark of Harmony



We’re proud of and absolutely delighted for our friend and member of The BeZine core team, John Anstie (My Poetry Library and 42), and his friends and colleagues in Sheffield’s Hallmark of Harmony (HH) , a premier men’s barbershop, a cappella chorus in Britain.

Hallmark of Harmony logo (posted under Fair Use)

As part of a British Association of of Barbershop Singers 2019 Chorus of Champions Competition, HH just achieved best score of 83.2% under the musical direction of Tim Briggs.

John Anstie

Here is a sampling of HH in action. If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll probably need to link through to the site to view the entire post. John is the gentleman on your left, second row, with hand over heart. The Hallmark of Harmony website is HERE.

Posted in healing, poem, Poets/Writers, The BeZine

Deena Metzger, a triumph of tattoo and poetry over mastectomy; “The BeZine” call for submissions

c Jamie Dedes

My mom had her first mastectomy in 1949 when she was pregnant with me.  Things were different then. Mom and her contemporaries had no support after mastectomy. They had the surgery, were sent to get fitted for prostheses … and that was that. There were no hospital or clinic classes in art and poetry for healing. There were no support groups, no talk therapy. Perhaps worst of all, there was no privacy about medical records. My mother actually turned down a promising job opportunity because the firm’s board members wanted to review her medical records before hire.

Things have improved since Mom’s day, thank goodness. Privacy and rights are better protected. There’s patient support available before, during and after mastectomy. There are more options after recovery then chosing between having or not having prostheses. I’m artsy enough myself, I guess, that I love – and am touched – that some women choose to cover their scars with gorgeous, colorful and creative designs like the one below, which triggered this post. Allegedly Facebook kept taking this photograph down, seeing it as offensive. Who knows? Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. I can’t image why they would. This is a brave and beautiful thing. There’s nothing obscene about it.
11156334_10153170849803886_8901359381613103_n-1

Tattoos over breast-surgery scars started – as far as I know – with a poet and writer, Deena Metzger:

c photo by Hella Hammid
c photo by Hella Hammid

Deena (b. 1936), the proud Amazon. This photograph of her is iconic and became – with the addition of the verse below – “The Poster,” which was designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.

I am no longer afraid of mirrors where I see the sign of the amazon, the one who shoots arrows.
There was a fine red line across my chest where a knife entered,
but now a branch winds about the scar and travels from arm to heart.
Green leaves cover the branch, grapes hang there and a bird appears.
What grows in me now is vital and does not cause me harm. I think the bird is singing.
I have relinquished some of the scars.
I have designed my chest with the care given to an illuminated manuscript.
I am no longer ashamed to make love. Love is a battle I can win.
I have the body of a warrior who does not kill or wound.
On the book of my body, I have permanently inscribed a tree.

© Deena Metzger

If The Poster had come out when my mother was alive, I’d have bought it and had it framed for her.

*****

Deena Metzger is a American writer and poet, essayist and screenwriter, an advocate and counselor. Her book Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner World (Harper One, 1992), is ideally suited for those of us who see writing as a spiritual practice. Her website is HERE.

Appropo our upcoming June issue of The BeZine, I particularly appreciate Deena’s essay, The Language and Literature of Restoration..  I think the quotation (below) is relevant to our concerns for our earthly environment, which is the focus of the June issue.  Deena is holding us – lovers of nature, writers, poets,  and lovers of the arts – accountable for our part in what comes next, extinction or survival.

“Extinction stalks us. Not an act of God, but a consequence of how we have chosen to live our lives. Such choices are handed to us by language and literature. Literature that is reduced to media, obsessed with violence, conflict, sensationalism, nationalism and speciesism. We are each responsible – we participate – no exceptions. The antidote for extinction is restoration. Languages and literatures that lead toward restoration are essential. So we have to try ….” MORE

Note: The BeZine is a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines.

© 2016, words and mother/daughter photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; © Deena’s photograph and poem Deena Metzger.


“THE BeZINE” CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS thebezine.com is open for the upcoming June edition to be published on June 15, deadline June 10. This is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. We are unable to pay contributors but neither do we charge for submissions or subscriptions. The theme is sustainability. We publish poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, feature articles, art and photography, and music videos and will consider anything that lends itself to online posting. There are no demographic restrictions. We do not publish work that promotes hatred or advocates for violence. All such will be immediately rejected. We’d like to see work that doesn’t just point to problems but that suggests solutions. We are also interested in initiatives happening in your community – no matter where in the world – that might be easily picked up by other communities. Please forward your submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com No odd formatting. Submit work in the body of your email along with a BRIEF bio. Work submitted via Facebook or message will not be considered for publication. We encourage you to submit work in your first language, but it must be accompanied by translation into English.

– Jamie Dedes 

Posted in Music, Niamh Clune

We Are the Voice, 2019 – Children’s Anthem to Save Mother Earth

If you are viewing this from an email subscription it’s likely you’ll have to link through to the side to enjoy this moving video.

We Are The Voice: Children’s anthem to save Mother Earth. This song written by Niamh Clune in 2002 for the World Summit in Johannesburg. We have re-recorded it with singers from six Surrey schools. The song launches our children’s plastic awareness campaign.
Find us on Spotify HERE: https://open.spotify.com/album/2Y66pe…
and I tunes HERE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-…
app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4.
Join our campaign: https://www.wearethevoice.org.uk

Posted in John Anstie, Poems/Poetry

New Year

Same Rivers, New Waters …

Last year passed the golden glove
You know, the one with a fist of iron.
She wanted no more of it. Nor I.
Those glossy, glittering, glistening,
shining products of a golden age
had lost their sheen and the age of
growth and worshipping at the alter of
God. Demands. Profit. … is so last year.

Meanwhile, in the town, at Star Books,
reading over our tax-free coffee,
batting ideas on who could pay the bill
and how you make your money work,
if only we had some …

Consumption was her daily bread
and the disease that strangled
generations, who died of terminal debt.

The improper death of innocents,
but where is their misplaced virtue.
Are they free of blame … still free?
May be no more, and yet we must
pay due heed to plant the seed of hope.
To fight for nourishment forgone.
It might have been the will of the people,
but, for folk who step into the same rivers,

ever newer waters flow …

© 2019 John Anstie

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described, at various times as a ” Husband, Family man, Grandfather, Father, Son, Brother, sort of Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, AppleMac user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has (variously) participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and as a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011.

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry

O Jerusalem

I run from your city streets
where the Laws are too bright and hot,
the Shadows too hard, sure, possessed.
I run into the cool shade of your forest,
taking refuge like the birds.
(There are no knives in the forest.
Blood is shed here only as it must be shed.)
Not for bathing, drinking, celebrating.
The boundaries of wooded shade are deeply threatened,
Jerusalem,
as blood replaces even the rain,
as Laws turn into blood.

Originally published in the Journal of Jungian Scholarly Studies, 2017, Vol.12, Theme: Earth/Psyche  (The poem refers to the genuine threat of losing a forest in Jerusalem city proper)

© 2019, Judy Capurso

JUDITH CAPURSO  writes and works in the Catskill Mountains.
In and out through waitress, musician, wife, parent, librarian, poetry teacher, caregiver, script reader, archivist, she continues to “stumble along between the immensities”.
Posted in story

Waging Peace, On a Fairy Tale Wall

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” so wrote Robert Frost the great American Pastoral Poet. He thought about the great dividers between neighbors and nations. Are walls really so important, I have often wondered.

In fact the very word fascinates me.It resounds with great historical significance- Walls! Oh ! No, not the Great Wall of China nor the Berlin Wall, now gone. But I am thinking of my historical wall ‘ my historical wall was the cute little two feet high red bricked structure, that stretched straight across from the main gate to the back side of our house, dividing our neighbors house; easily climbable, easily cross-able and utterly comfortable to sit on , in the lazy Summer afternoons and sometimes early in the day, but on a holiday…yes, all day..that was my ‘wall’…

Huge lofty shady trees grew in the spacious grounds around the house which was built like a fairy tale cottage and of course a few trees grew alongside this wall, providing cool shade and shelter.

Memories of childish conversations quick chats and funny anecdote exchanges over it are still fresh in my mind.

‘Where is she,” my mother would ask worriedly. “Oh, she must be on the wall.” And so it was in full view of the house. Mother would be satisfied. I would lean against the dark rough bark of the nearest tree, pull a leaf and roll it into a tiny pipe whistle. We would call it a Peace Pipe. (I learnt it from my wall-time friend ).Nature was so near and dear to us. The freshness of the green leaves is still vivid. I can hear the “pip-peep, pip- peep” of the tiny flute. This was the best peaceful music we made together and broke into breathless laughter.

My friend and I would sit for long hours (or so it seemed) talk and laugh.. “come to the wall again tomorrow,” Nargis my friend would say. We were never really frightened as we were close to the main house.  Our elders could see us even from inside the house. We could see “the whole wide world,” the boundless sky changing colors from time to time, the birds gliding and swirling high above the gently setting golden sun. And, let not forget, the tiny ants that crawled harmlessly on our small hands and feet as if making us conscious. “Lo! It’s time to go home, to study, to finish the home work, and then to sleep. There was no video monster or audio ET then.

The small rather low wall was also our imaginary Express, sometimes chugging along and sometimes dashing and flashing by faster than fairies . . .

faster than witches
past the hedges
past the ditches

It was exciting, passing through tunnels crossing dangerous bridges blowing the whistle . . . er, not the real one but across the thumb and the forefinger . . . coo,ooo chhick chhik chhik. We never knew the stations or stops or junctions on our way. Our little express would just go on and on till it finally slowed down and came to a stop. “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Our little fence was never a point of point of trouble ‘What is it that we are walling ‘in’ or ‘walling out’ when we build a wall? Nothing really…

The whole world was clear as the wide open sky. Our wall was our astronomical observatory I say ‘our’ because I shared it with my sisters and neighborly friend. During the late night sittings in the hot summers, we would scan the twinkling sky for the Great Bear, the Seven Stars and the Belt of Orion, our nighttime fantasy land.

I would call my little wall a Kingdom of Imagination and Delight of ‘Enlightenment and Joy. It did as well, however, have its disturbing moments. Once we were so engrossed in a session on a lazy afternoon, before we realized a large dark swarm cast a pall over us. I remember shrieks and screams ensued…Locusts all around. It was a locust attack. We ran towards the house to safety. Once inside, the walls made us feel safe. This time the walls were different, strong and supportive.

Summer would soon be over. Most of the fun subsided due to the cold dry winds. My little kingdom would be silent for days, empty AND lonely and bare but standing like a rock with all its glory, its dark majestic castle like structure like a fortress, enclosing the wonderful memories of peaceful times, giggling and endless laughter.  Our world of imagination knew no limits.

“Thou wast not made to be broken ‘cos thou served a purpose of unity and friendship Thou had thy music too.”

My wall was a bond that brought love and built our character. It gave us strength and joy.
I wonder if my kingdom, so small and yet so rich, so strong and yet so tender, so silent and yet so vociferous, should still be standing.

Not long after, about four or so years we had to leave the cottage house for other places that  were never the same. Perhaps the times had changed.  Nonetheless, I know that ‘my wall had no equal would never have one. I know that my wall was such that to no one would it ever give offense.

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar (Poetic Oceans)


ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949.
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Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
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Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.
 .
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.
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Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.
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Memoir writing is her favorite form of creative expression.
Find Anjum here:
https://anjumwasimdar.wordpress.com/    Unsaid Words of Untold Stories…Prose  writing
knitting projects/stories
https://helpingenglishteachinginpakistan.wordpress.com/  ELT   Work experience/educational service for the country
Posted in African American, Peace & Justice, youth

In Search of Peace

Peace is a very elusive concept.  As a young girl growing up in California life was relatively peaceful but of course I was a child, and this was from a child’s perspective. We did not worry about having to duck and dodge bullets trying to get to school. We went to school, did our school work, had an hour recess in which we played kickball, dodgeball and indulged in many other fun physical activities.  We socialized and then returned to the classroom for the afternoon session.  When school was dismissed, we went home, did our chores and homework.  We ate dinner and got ready for the next school day. On weekends we went to church, participated in programs and shows. We learned about God.  In the summer we played outside for long hours enjoying ourselves immensely.

The most shattering experience of my peaceful idyllic childhood was the murder of Emmet Till.  I remember I was still in elementary school.  The school was mixed racially, and on that day, I was filled with such anger I wanted to lash out at my white classmates.  My emotions were a jumble.  We became aware of racism as we grew older, but it was not as overt as it was for children growing up in other parts of the country, the deep south especially.  Racism in the Bay Area of California was subtle.

My first brush with underlying racism was when I was in junior high.  The grades were 7th, 8th, and 9th, with 9th grade being the beginning of our high school academic record, even though the 9th grade was housed at the junior high level.  When I was registering for my 9th grade classes towards the end of 8th grade, I told my counselor I wanted to sign up for college academic courses. Well the counselor then took it upon himself to let me know I did not have the ability to take academic courses, but I certainly could take the business courses offered such as typing.  I was astounded but kept silent because I knew I had a very fiery advocate in the person of my mother. My mother went in the next day and quickly straightened that prejudice counselor out and I was enrolled in the college prep courses.

I often think of my best friend at that time whose father was a widower.  She had five siblings and her dad worked two jobs.  She wanted to be a doctor.  Her dad could not come to school and she ended up in a string of business courses. When she graduated from high school, she got a job as a bank teller. Her childhood dream had been shattered by one bigoted act of callousness. Langston Hughes in his poem Harlem asks the question:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

And then run?

Or does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

Like a sugary sweet?

Or maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

 

Or does it explode?

 

Our peaceful childhood had come to an end.  Unfulfilled dreams and goals started festering in souls in search of peace, equality, and justice. Growing up in the 60’s was an exhilarating time in the United States. My friends and I wanted to make a difference whether it was demonstrating in sympathy pickets called for by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against Woolworth’s stores or singing about the unfairness of the House of Un-American Activities committee persecuting liberals and radicals accusing them of communist involvement.

This committee was formed in 1938 as a committee in Congress…a House committee. It became a permanent committee from 1945-1975. Their purpose was to investigate subversive activities on the part of private citizens. This was also the era of the Cold War (1945-1991), the name given to the tense relationship between the United States and its allies in the west and the USSR and the communist world including China. It was a war of words involving the race to Space and the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Anti-Communist hysteria…the red scare… was on the rise in this country. The first wave of HUAC hearings went after the movie industry. Many talented people ended up blacklisted including Paul Robeson and Langston Hughes. Jackie Robinson was called to testify about so-called communist subversion in the NAACP.

The House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1960 came to San Francisco City Hall to have hearings that involved journalists, college professors, and 110 public school teachers that had been subpoenaed the previous year.  Their names had been leaked which created an uproar. The protestors were ready and prepared to peacefully picket. These demonstrators had gathered to protest assault on free speech and personal beliefs and were greeted with fire hoses, the police copying what had recently happened in Alabama during a protest for civil rights. The brother of a friend of ours had attended this demonstration and taught us the song the protestors were singing:

Billy Boy

Did they wash you down the stairs Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Did they wash you down the stairs charming Billy?

Yes, they washed me down the stairs

And they rearranged my hair

With a club in the City Hall Rotunda

 

We were young high schoolers in search of a just and a nonviolent world. Civil rights demonstrations were occurring around the United States. Violence and bloodshed were a tragic part of this movement just as it had been in the past to Blacks, Native Americans and other minority groups. Non-violence was an integral part of the Civil rights Movement. Participants, especially in the deep south were trained on how to protect themselves if they were attacked. There was a pledge card to sign often referred to as the Dr. King’s Ten Commandments. Number 2 read “Remember always that the non-violent movement seeks justice and reconciliation-not victory” and Number 8 read “Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.” Dr. King was influenced by Ghandi because of the great victory in India using non-violence. Ghandi  was influenced by the teachings of Jesus as found in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

This was the 1960’s and as the Civil Rights Movement was making strides in changing minds, attitudes, and hearts while simultaneously being enmeshed in both triumph and tragedy Vietnam was looming on the horizon igniting the indignation of the people, both those that opposed the war and those that supported it. This was the age of the draft that when all males hit the age of 18, they had to register with the Selective Service System. My brother was drafted as were other close friends. Small demonstrations against the war began as soldiers were being deployed to Vietnam. As more and more American soldiers lost their lives the voices of those in opposition to the war became stronger and stronger.

Much of the music that played over the airways reflected the times both in rhythm and blues and folk music.  Nina Simone singing “Young Gifted and Black” and James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m Proud”. The words to Pete Seeger’s popular folk song “Where have all the Flowers Gone” written in 1955 inspired the demonstrators against the war to greater heights of concern and activism. Here is one of the verses:

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

 

Protestors burnt draft cards, conscientious objectors fled to Canada, Heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the Army in 1967 because his local draft board rejected his application to be classified as a conscientious objector. He was arrested and stripped of his title. Also, in 1967 Dr. King publicly denounced the war speaking out against United States policy in Vietnam. The war raged on as did anti-war demonstrations. Paris peace talks began in 1968 and eventually a cease fire was also signed in Paris in 1973. The last military units left Vietnam this same year. Fifty-eight thousand American troops lost their lives in this war along with over several million North and South Vietnamese soldiers including civilians, men, women, and children. Thank God my brother and other friends came home alive but severely traumatized, a condition that years later would be labeled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Since the World Trade Center tragedy, the United States has been involved in war, the war on terrorism…Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria to name a few of the countries in which we have troops. We are also in a war of words with North Korea. In addition to wars outside the country the United States once again is embroiled in battling internal injustices. Racism and xenophobia are at an all-time high recalling the pre-civil rights movement era in which hatred for the most part was directed against blacks. But now narrow-minded, warped rhetoric along with violence is being spewed out not only against blacks, but Muslims, immigrants, and Jews as well.

We are living in the time of “dreams deferred’. For African Americans Michele Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow is now the new reality. Over 2,000,000 people are incarcerated in the United States. The war on drugs has contributed significantly to mass incarceration.  One out of three black males and one out of six Hispanic males will go to jail. The school to prison pipeline another phenomenon has destroyed lives. Young black people with no hope, no dreams filled with generational anger are literally “exploding” throughout their communities.

Dreams of young immigrants brought to this country as children, the” Dreamers”, now live in fear of being deported. Immigrant children are being forcibly separated from their parents after crossing the border. A proposed wall to be built that will keep our southern neighbors out, stopping them from seeking political asylum because they are trying to escape horrific conditions in their own countries, is an issue of great controversy. Limitation on immigration from Muslim nations has been enacted.

The music plays on…picketing, marching, singing, demonstrations demanding justice for just causes. United empathetic people riding the waves of despotism and cruelty denounce current inhumane practices in this country harmonizing Woody Guthrie’s song:

 

This Land is Your Land

[Chorus]
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me

[Verse 6]
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me

Will there ever be peace, that elusive concept, in our nation, or in the world?  As Bob Dylan’s famous folk song, composed back in the sixties, so aptly states “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

© 2019, Tamam Tracy Moncur (Mercer Street Blues)



Tamam tells us “I enjoy writing. I write for the sheer pleasure of writing. Writing helps me organize my world and express what matters to me at any given moment in time. I’ve been a Civil Rights activist, taught elementary school for twenty-five years, worked with my husband, Grachan Moncur III arranging musical compositions and performing. In 2008 I self-published a book entitled Diary of an Inner City Teacher, a project that was very close to my heart. I am now a retired teacher, a community activist, and a seasoned senior who still loves to write.”

 

Posted in 100TPC, TheBeZine

Announcing the new “The BeZine” Arts and Humanities Group page; details on our well-established 100TPC FB Group

“Creativity is the most supreme form of love. When it flows from any heart flooded by truth and light, it can change all those who encounter its seductive vibrations.” Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem



The BeZine now sponsors two Facebook Groups.  The first, established years ago, is The BeZine 100TPC 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change. It was established to share best practices for facilitating change, to share good news and initiatives that might easily be implemented anywhere. It’s not a place to simply regurgitate the horror stories playing out around the world. It is a place to encourage positive action.

The new Facebook Group:  The BeZine Arts and Humanities discussion group is also unique. It’s place to share all your arts activities and accomplishments, not just poetry, in the hope of inspiring one another and encouraging collaborations among the arts. Within this group you may announce publications, showings, events and so forth. You are encouraged to share your videos: music, poetry readings, photography, art, film and so forth. No selling please … And . . . please keep it kind and supportive. Thank you!



Artwork by team member Corina Ravenscraft

Guidelines for the Facebook The BeZine 10OTPC, 2019 Group:

2019 NEWS & GUIDELINES FOR POSTING: We’re especially interested in filling a gap here by collecting info on practical initiatives – ideas for taking action – from anywhere in the world, “best practices” so to speak that foster peace, sustainability and social justice, especially those that might be picked up and implemented elsewhere. Examples from the past include a variety of initiatives taking place around the world to mitigate pollution and climate change, the churches that open their parking lots at night to the homeless, the restaurant owner who serves meals to the homeless; and, the barber who uses his days off to give homeless people haircuts and the group that put out clothing for people to take if needed. PLEASE DO NOT POST POETRY ON THE BeZINE 100TPC, 2019 discussion page. There are plenty of poetry groups for you on FB, now including the new Facebook is The BeZine Arts and Humanities Group.

We also offer other opportunities to share your poetry and creative work.

FOR WRITE-UPS ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE for Beguine Again message Terri Stewart. Note: We have a FB page – The Bardo Group Beguines – where we provide Zine info, inspiration, notice of spiritual events of interest to seekers and links to work posted on beguineagain.com founded and managed by Terri.

SUBMISSIONS to The BeZine of poetry, essays, short stories, creative nonfiction, music videos, and artwork for – journal or blog – are considered via email only: bardogroup@gmail.com. Facebook message questions to G Jamie Dedes. Please don’t use FB for submissions.

The BeZine is published quarterly. Here are the schedule, themes, submission deadlines and publication dates for this year:

  • March 2019 issue, Deadline February 10th. Theme: Peace.
  • June 2019 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
  • September 2019 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2019 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

SAVE THE DATE: SEPTEMBER 28, 2019, 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE, GLOBAL, 2019 and THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE VIRTUAL EVENT

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES: Email me (thepoetbyday@gmail.com) if you have poetry news or essays on poetry to be considered for The Poet by Day jamiededes.com. For submissions (poetry and short fiction or creative nonfiction) for consideration by Michael Dickel for Meta/Phor(e)/Play https://michaeldickel.info message Michael.

The Bardo Group Begines is a twelve-member core team of poets and writers, artists and musicians, philosophers and clerics providing comfort, inspiration and information via The BeZine and Bequine Again. The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.

– Jamie Dedes