Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Creating Space to Just Be

*Originally posted for Groundswell Blog
-Don't try to fix the world. If you and me are fixed, the world will be fine.

I heard this quote from a video not too long ago, and it spoke to something deep in me that I’ve been coming back to for quite some time now. This understanding that we, indeed, have all the technology we need, we have all the tools and resources we need, in short, we have ‘everything’, everything ‘outside’…. what we (and I’m speaking as a whole now, not specific to the Groundswell cohort) need is that individual, internal awakening, that individual healing…And I do truly believe that until we can cultivate that inside each and everyone one of us, to take the time, and space, whatever necessary to get there… until we do so, we will keep perpetuating what we see today, we will keep coming up against walls, and our ego’s will dominate. And when we, ourselves make time for that, we make it easier for others to do the same, which is something our rational minds cannot necessarily fathom.

We explore the depths of where technology can take us, but do we explore the depths of our own beings? If not, at what cost?

I think a lot about how that comes about, this ‘awakening’ in each and every one of us. And, I don’t mean to glamorize it or commodify it, because that is happening too... so perhaps I should explain what I mean by the word awakening also recognizing that all of it, even the word itself is beyond words…. And everyone will have a different meaning, and word and that’s okay too, but I shall try to explain where I am at with it, such that we can be on the same page.

To me, it is the deep recognition, beyond verbage, beyond the mind, and into the body - that we are all one, that while  I appear to be in my own body, “separate” from you, that this is simply not true. That what I do ultimately and deeply affects you, and what you do affects me too; as Charles Eisenstein elegantly rephrased the Golden Rule As you do unto others, so you are doing unto yourself. That until we truly embody this understanding - that we are so deeply interconnected, and dependent on each other for our survival and that we need to cooperate, not compete (indeed this is what mother nature does)….we will continue to inflict pain on others as we try to “do the right thing”, or maybe we’re still in an endless pursuit of success, money, and fame… in these moments we are letting the ego take hold. Wherever we are in our journey, all of this needs to fall away before we can truly co-exist as a species in harmony with everything else.

It’s love, and it’s letting love embody oneself. It’s stepping outside and feeling immense gratitude for the sun shining down, feeling the energetic presence of the trees, the grass, the birds, the insects, and our neighbor passing by on the sidewalk and sharing in conversation with them. It’s realizing that everything is perfect and we had all we needed all along, inside each and every one of us. That all we need to be is love.

I have moments where this feeling is indescribably intense and it’s these experiential moments that help me to articulate it further what I’m trying to say, and that help hold me in this story of interbeing, as its easy to get pulled back into the chaotic ego-infused state out there.

Everyone is so incredibly different (and yet so similar); we are all affected by things differently, and we all have our own individual moments of awakening; some are quick, some are slow, some are neither and go beyond the binary expressions in this world of ours. I ponder a lot about how it emerges in others. 

Photo Cred: Paola Qualizza & Groundswell Grassroots Economic Alternatives
Last week we had an opportunity to come together and let our creative brains work for a bit, give our logical, analytical sides a break – we did vision boards. At the end we went around to share what we had done and what I found lit a spark in my soul was the realization that….we, as a cohort, while fairly similar in our convictions as what drew us to Groundswell appears to all have similar threads at the roots, we all produced such beautifully unique pieces. . . it made me think of snowflakes, so seemingly similar and yet so wonderfully unique, each in their own beautiful way, inside and out. I thought about how both of those things can be used synnergysstically. How we, as humanity, can continue to be our unique selves, and yet come together under a common narrative, a narrative that goes beyond cultures, beyond genders, beyond borders, beyond whatever traditional means we’ve used to separate ourselves….we’re all here, together, on this one and only planetary home.  

Somedays…actually, most days…I don’t really know what is going on, or what’s to happen to us, collectively, on this planet. Things are messy, and life is pretty insane right now, truly. Sometimes I just want to stand at the top of a building and yell as loud as I can hoping people will hear and snap out of ‘it’. If I get in my head I get worried, stressed, feel helpless and scared. But when I tap into the place inside me that goes deeper than all of that, which is hard to describe using words, I feel a sense of peace, harmony, and a deep knowing that despite everything, it’s all going to be okay, we’re all okay.

I’m trying to make more space for that, to sit with that space so it can re-energize me and allow me to continue, so that the ego isn’t always the dominating force; such that I can get out of my head and into my body.

Our bodies are insanely intuitive, and have many gifts to offer us when we work as one (both within our bodies, and together as a humanity), not as a separated mind-only unit. I just want to clarify too (and I have to do so because of the current dominating narrative we live in) this doesn’t mean that I sit around and “enjoy” because I feel everything’s going to be all right…. of course right in front of me I see many injustices…but it’s taking time to cultivate space for that energy to take shape, to heal the pain of being in the mind a lot, and to allow for different outlooks, perspectives, and guidance. Making this space allows me to continue to transform, and without that underlying piece, that deep knowledge, awareness, sensation of truth….I’m not sure I’d be able to continue.

I see a lot of doing in GS in this second semester, which I understand. Which is important, as long as the doing is in alignment with our utmost inner core/truth/being (however you wish to word it), and is not simply a “going-through-the-motions”. However, I also want to allow for space to just be, if that is where we are. I know I’ve brought this up in class a lot…but here I go again. J Our hyper-speed to-do world can make us feel like nothing if we’re not doing…but non-doing is incredibly empowering, and brings with it its own truth. (And just to be clear, I don’t mean non-doing as in…sitting around hanging, in ignorance…I mean accepting that maybe right now, we simply don’t know, and allowing space for being with that and let that guide us). We’ve been through a lot, beyond even our present life-time….. while most of us are relatively young, we are part of a history of many many years, and it’s all deeply interconnected, that energy continues on, builds upon itself. When we take the time upfront to make that space, what emerges is something greater than we’d have ever thought possible.

Let us remember, we, individually, inside, need to heal before the whole world can heal; as what is outside is but a reflection of what resides inside each and every one of us. To sit, to be....It's okay to not have all the answers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Coffee Cup Saga - To Compost, To Recycle, or To Landfill? What is REALLY happening?

I don't buy Starbucks coffee. Yet, I some how get intertwined in figuring out what the heck is going on. 

I do not enjoy their coffee, but more importantly, I do not agree with their practices (how they source their coffee), and their misleading methods and greenwashing - i.e. having bins in their stores to "take-back" their coffee cups, but having them merely end up in the landfill. 

Photo: starbucks.com
So, while these unaware citizens happily place their disposable, plastic ridden, petroleum lined cup in the bin, feeling good because they recycled....the truth is much harder to swallow.

To be fair, it's not just Starbucks, it's all coffee places where they do not have compostable cups but we think somehow they are being dealt with responsibly. 

Of course bringing ones own cup is the best option. But....what I think is scary is thinking we're doing good when we're not doing anything but the same, but only appears different. 
How do we change when we don't even know? When are a blinded and seduced into thinking we are "doing the right thing"? 

How do we get the word out? 

I just played the ol' rigamarole on the phone, being transferred from one person to another, as Starbucks failed to answer my, what I assumed were simple, questions:

1) Where do the cups go that are put in the "take-back" bins that I've seen in stores? 

2) They are meant to be recycled, but are they? 

Below is another exchange I had with them in 2013 but I had one again today, as I look for options for a client that comes into contact with a lot of Starbucks cups. It's frustrating how hard it is to find answers to such seemingly simple questions. Talking to multiple people at head office who are confused and dumbfounded as I ask, again, what I thought were pretty basic questions. 

Why weren't these questions answered from the get-go? As design was taking place? Why was this not on the minds of those who were birthing this? Shouldn't this be the most important thing we consider before we pump a product out into the environment, especially one that's getting consumed so rapidly and being tossed "away"? ....Surprise, there's no "away".

I'd love to tell my client, replace the Starbucks bistro with a local, organic, fair trade alternative....and, you know, I will suggest that...because then, we can be supporting local business, using compostable cups, or heck even refusing to serve in disposable cups - as one brave coffee company did in the US. Much respect their way. 

Maybe they won't take my recommendation, but I sure as heck won't be recommending they put in a bin that "take's back" Starbucks cups, only to then have them dumped into the same bin that garbage is...hauled away by the garbage truck. That's just misleading. 

Why are organizations not held accountable to this? Not liable to this? This is misleading the public. 

Another interesting thing? MMBC now accepts Starbucks (and other) coffee cups in your blue bins as a Metro Vancouver resident (and other areas I believe too). But are they actually being recycled? 

It seems odd to me that they are accepted residentially, but not commercially. Why are they not accepted commercially? Because no recycling facilities exist. But recycling facilities, whether for commercial or residential are all the same - all stuff comes to the same spot...so what is going on? What is  actually happening? I have my ideas, but plan to find out for certain. 

What I do know is, we really need to stop blindly enforcing rules, and actually start asking questions, and following through on those.....what's the point otherwise? 

It is my goal to research this further, look deep into it, and ask more questions - ask the companies, ask the haulers, ask our city councillors and other people involved in these regulations and mandates....do they realize how they play out in the "real world"? 

You can help too! Start asking questions, if you've already been asking them, great! Ask more! Or ask your friends to ask, too....! I don't think it's possible to ever ask enough questions (and that goes for all things in life, by the way). 

Pop into a Starbucks and see if they know what happens to the cups? Then share what you find out. 

Tweet @Starbucks and @RecyclingInBC @MultimaterialBC - ask them what's going on.

Gotta get the word out...... To be continued. 

Email response from CSR at Starbucks - Click to enlarge

If you can't read it in the image, here it is transcribed: 

Greetings Jocelynn!

Thank you for contacting Starbucks.

Thank you for your interest in our recycling processes.  Our disposable hot cups are made out of 10% post consumer recycled fiber for hot cupsused in the U.S and Canada.  I'm not sure if the wax lining is petroleum based or vegetable based, but the hot cups do contain an inner polyethylene lining which offers the side and bottom seam seal when heated.

As for your inquiry about the disposable cups being compostable or not, our cups are not rated as compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute or Cedar Grove Composting.  However, in some areas local composters will accept our hot cups even though they have a plastic coating.  Your best bet would be to ask your local composting hauler to confirm if they will accept them or not.  Clean cold cups may be accepted for commercial and/or residential recycling, but again, please check with your local hauler for confirmation.

Regarding the actual recycling process, and what the cups eventually become as the end result of the recycling process, we generally have no control over that aspect.  Most of our stores are located in shared spaces like malls, where it is often the landlord who controls waste collection and recycling, not Starbucks.  For more information on this please visit  http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/environment/recycling.
Thanks again for writing us.  If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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Shana G
customer service

Received: 7/25/13 8:55:00 PM MDT
To: <
Subject: Corporate social responsibility

Hi,I'm both personally interested, and on the green team at work and have a few people ask me every now and again at work....and in general, I've been having this conversation/debate with people for a while now... I'm hoping someone can provide me with the answers! It is with regards to your disposable cups! 1) what are they made of? i.e. a % of post-consumer recycled paper, and new paper, and is the wax lining petroleum based or vegetable based? 2) this leads me to my next question which is - can they be composted? My rule was "if you can rip it, you can compost it" ...I can rip starbucks cups... so I've been composting them, BUT not in my own place, I compost by taking my stuff to a drop spot (I have a worm compost too but, the cups don't make it in there)...so I have not yet had a chance to see if there is any plasitcy residual upon composting... can you provide any insight? 3) lastly - what do you do with the cups you recycle in your stores - i.e. those blue bins you've put out, where it notes the cups get recycled - could I please have information on what that process is? how they are recycled, where they are recycled, and what the end recycled product is? Thank-you!