For the final webisode of Africa Chatter for the Spring term we present to you Noel Mbise, a fulbright student from Tanzania, who has worked diligently in the IEP and MBA programs to reenter the field of resource management in Tanzania with renewed energy. His experience is unique and his voice and tone are reassuring. In the interview, we shared insights regarding the environment, travel to and from places within the continent of Africa, the community aspect of African cultures, how IEP issues are in fact everyone’s issues, and how healthy debate is fostered at the Institute. He was a magnificent person to interview and a wonderful panelist for the discussion following the African Nations Club screening of Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee bean. As special send-off, he is also graduating this Spring term, so congratulations to him!
Enjoy the podcast and post your reflections of MIIS Radio to help it grow over the summer months!
Please welcome Dayton Hughes to Pro Bytes, provided to you by MIIS Radio. Though not a professor per se, Dayton is critically involved in the ebb and flow of MIIS, and his outlook on life is one worth sharing in all capacities. Dayton is officially our Director of Outreach and Employer Relations, and unofficially the go-to “DOER” on campus (derived from the acronym). He’s also an avid hiker and dedicated maximizer of student potential through his work at The Center for Advising and Career Services (CACS), combining practical career training with practical advice. But what makes Dayton unique and his opinion worth consulting is his advocacy for connecting to one’s environment to learn and experience self-reflection in a more meaningful way.
In this lecture John reported on his recent experiences of pursuing the goals of liberal education through work off campus and outside the traditional classroom structure. John introduced the concept of “ecotonal education,” a concept that maps ecology and systems thinking on education and perhaps offers us a means to re-frame interdisciplinary teaching and learning. An ecotone is defined as the space between habitats or fields; at the edges or boundaries of natural habitats these spaces tend to be rich in bio-diversity where new species develop, and adversity and opportunity abound. John offered the ecotone as a new metaphor for thinking about the relations between academic disciplines, between the university campus and the ‘real world,’ between online and face-to-face teaching and learning, and between cultures. He offered examples of immersive classes dedicated to sustainable rural communities and online discussions of poetry.
John Elder taught English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf School of English for 37 years. He edited the Norton Book of Nature Writing with Robert Finch, and his most recent three books, Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa, all combine discussion of environmental literature, description of the Vermont landscape, and memoir. In addition to stories of Frost, Bashō, ballads, and pastorals, comparative studies of the literature and landscape of Japan, Italy, and Ireland have complemented his work in northern New England. Read more about him here.
Recorded Tuesday, April 2, 2013 – Morse Lecture Hall, Monterey Institute of International Studies
I conducted an informational interview in preparation for the Economics of Happiness Conference, which took place in Berkeley in March 2012. Listen for his thoughts on how our globalized capitalist system and constructed social norms impact our lives in profound ways.
Steven Gorelick is the US Program Director for the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), and teaches Economics and the Environment at Sterling College, in Craftsbury, Vermont. He is the co-director of the documentary film The Economics of Happiness (ISEC, 2011), author of Small is Beautiful, Big is Subsidized (ISEC, 1998), and co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness (Kumarian Press, 2002). He lives with his wife and two children on a small organic farm in South Walden, Vermont.
CSU Monterey Bay hosted an evening with activist and writer Winona LaDuke on the topic Environmental Justice from an Indigenous Perspective. LaDuke is a member of the Mississippi Band Anishanaabekwe who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations in Northern Minnesota and the executive director of Honor the Earth, a native-lead organization concerned with the environmental movement. A forerunner in speaking out for environmental action, social justice and indigenous rights, her sixth book, The Militarization of Indian Country, released last April, addresses issues such as affronts taken when Osama Bin Laden was revealed as target “Geronimo”, and the United States’ uranium mining in the Grand Canyon in the wake of possible nuclear contamination in Japan. Her talk focused on American Indian economic and environmental concerns.
Tom Philpott is the Food and Ag blogger for Mother Jones, and the former editor of the online environmental news site Grist. He spoke at the closing plenary of the 2012 EcoFarm Conference at Asilomar Conference Center. Listen to his compelling treatment of America’s regulatory regimes and biotech agribusiness companies versus organic and sustainable agriculture. He also discusses the plight of farm workers and alternatives to current institutionalized oppression many experience.
The twenty-second annual Bioneers Conference took place in San Rafael, California, with thousands of attendees.
The weekend focuses on Bioneers’ manifesto, which is “to inspire a shift to live on earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other, and future generations.”
The year’s theme was “From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Transforming Civilization in the Age of Nature”.
Speakers included the author and feminist activist Gloria Steinam, mushroom expert Paul Stamets, and energy policy savant Amory Lovins.
In addition to the mainstage luminaries, forums, breakout sessions, art installations and musical interludes abounded.
Bioneers showcases social and scientific innovation.
The goal? To connect people and solutions.
The conference deals with ideas of equity and interconnectedness, with special focuses on including youth, women, and the concept of “indigeneity”
– which deals with the question of how to “re-indigenize” our societies and selves.
I wanted to learn more about this concept, and attended an interactive program called “Restoring and Honoring the Sacred Feminine and Sacred Masculine”.
I left my shoes with a pile of Clarks, Keens and Merrills outside the round tent on ‘Council Circle Island’.
Sharon Sloan is a Council practitioner, and opened the session by inviting attendees to share their stories.
“We worked together to begin to create a center – you know, an open space here where we’re bringing forward what is meaningful for us and offering it to be seen by the group with our words, or maybe with our songs, or maybe with our silence, or our prayers, or our poetry, or our stories, that are personal to us. Not our ideas about or what the guys on the stage say, but what is the personal experience that speaks to what is the sacred masculine? What is the sacred feminine?”
Sloane’s co-presenter, Ilarion Merculieff, is an Aleut traditional messenger.
“And for us to work together, young white woman, you know, older indigenous man, we’re walking over here together this morning and I’m going so fast – I’m like 2 feet in front of him – he says ‘you’ve got to slow down’ – I slow down back and we’re walking side by side but the next thing you know I’m 2 feet in front of him – because we’re late! But we were right on time. And it’s a beautiful dance to be in relationship in the way we are – to explore the agency of timeliness and fast pace and the communion of being where we are in the time and in the moment.”
Sloane says that Council is held all over the world, often with very rigid and specific traditions.
“So what we’re inviting you into today is a hybrid space – this is a new space – that we are co-creating together with the basic simple offering being to speak from and listen from the heart. So would you like to join us in this experiment? Would you like to do this with us? Yes.”
“So in honoring the hybrid of traditional forms of Council as Ilarion brings and the way that it’s come to me to carry we’re gonna honor going with the direction of the sun…”
“And it doesn’t have to be serious. Okay? Spirituality includes humor!” Laughter.
“So let us begin with the feminine. Here’s the question – what do you know, what is your direct experience of the sacred feminine in your life?
“I have many experiences of the sacred feminine, and have for my whole life. But what came to my mind right away that gave me the butterflies to speak is my experience of the fierceness that I will hold when I protect my children.”
“I’m feeling a lot of memories – I’m having a lot of memories – i had a miscarriage earlier this year and significant complications, and so much of the lesson of that and the ceremony around it is that the feminine principal is all the faces and phases of life, and that it’s letting in my own feelings of everything I feel and experience, creating a much wider space in community for feeling our feelings and placing the lens of that towards how we steward life.”
“I’m feeling a really big open-heartedness that I associate with being open and connected to the earth, and to the web of all that is. And for me when I go to that place, has enough space that it can encompass all the spectrums of our existence. Whether that is tragedy and terror and fear or beauty and bliss or creativity or boredom or ordinariness, there’s room for all of it.”
“My first experience with the sacred feminine of course was with my mother. She taught me about what it is to actually experience a deep connection with self and then subsequently with connection with all of life. It actually – she set the template for that for me. To the point that as I grew older I could feel all of life, I could actually feel the life in the wind, I could feel the life in the rocks, I could feel the life in the water, I could feel the life in the animals, I can feel the life beyond a normal kind of conventional energetic exchange with another human being. Profound connection to the point that I knew that every human being is divine. Every human begin – I knew it, thanks to the divine feminine in my mother who passed it along to me. There is no separation, and I was fortunate at such a young age to know it through my own actual connection in my unique way, with everyone. I see everyone, every time, they’re sacred. When I do that, there is no separation. The masculine and feminine begin to unify. Which is our spiritual challenge, I believe.”
Merculieff says that achieving a balance will be difficult.
“The women have a big challenge as do the men with this ,because we have been in a period of masculine imbalance for 4-6 thousand years. That the collective energy consciousness at a deep subconscious level of women is rage. Passed down from generation to generation to generation to generation from extreme violence and violation. It is a psychic energy that as soon as you are born a woman inside of your mother’s womb is downloaded from the lineage of your mother. Then you are born physically into this world and you tie into the collective consciousness of that pain and that rage. And then you have your own life experiences in a world that is filled with masculine imbalanced structures. And men acting in a way that they have totally forgotten – they’re stuck in the first and second shakras and objectify women … that has created the imbalance that is destroying mother earth. And now mother earth is waking up to say no more.”
Sloane says it’s possible to overcome this imbalance without demonizing the masculine.
“And to do that with the divine masculine in these times when we’re coming out of this long line of patriarchy and oppression is radical. Not to violently overthrow the masculine and say this has been bad, this has been terrible, but to re-member, to redefine, and to embody again what is sacred about the masculine.”
The Council with Our Relations ended with reflection on what had occurred, and what to take forward.
“Just in the short amount of time, so much wisdom has been shared here. And I think each of us will probably take something home we didn’t have before. This is what happens when we have a collaboration inside and outside – to open up hearts, to share, it’s such a simple thing but people are so afraid of it until they actually do it. Then it becomes so much easier to open up our hearts. Ultimately it will be the people of the fire will change the world. And the fire is the heart. All of the prophesies around the world share it in one form or another – it is the fire in the heart. I encourage you to keep – as unsafe as it is in places to go to – that we have automatically shut our hearts down to the point where they’re closed almost all the time. Open yourself up. Protect yourself, but not to the expense of closing your heart. Because it’s going to take courage to do what we need to do, to change, and the first step of courage is the biggest step, because it’s deciding to make yourself vulnerable because I’m going to open up my heart regardless of the circumstance, other people can change because of that. Thank you all for being here, thank you for the sharing, so powerful.”
This session was only one of dozens, but it captures the dynamic, idiosyncratic and inclusive nature of the conference.
Bioneers engages both the cognitive and emotional centers of humanity, trying to forge new connections and advance society’s understanding of ourselves as individuals and as a species.
Learn more about the annual conference, and their year-round educational programming, at bioneers.org.
I had the opportunity to interview Andy Kimbrell, the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, at the recent Justice Begins with Seeds Conference in San Francisco. CFS currently has five cases in the courts to regulate or restrict GM crops. As Kimbrell says, “at CFS we don’t get passive aggressive, we just get aggressive – we just sue.”
Listen to Kimbrell rip the industrial meat system, particularly Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, known as CAFOs, and the e-coli contamination they spread… see the transcript below.