January 2009


chickens-and-mcdonalds

Here’s a story that crossed my path over two years ago. I continue to find it inspiring how groups that have traditionally fought each other have been able to work together for a common cause – saving a precious part of our planet. I like to think that we’ll see more and more of this kind of cooperation in the years to come.

John

 
 Huge chickens invaded fast food stores in London and started to ask
 customers if they knew they were eating soya from deforested areas of
 the Amazon. That was in April. The chickens were noisy Greenpeace
 activists… It took McDonald’s only six hours between the first ‘homo
 chickenacius’ invasion of its restaurants and the phone call to
 Greenpeace to discuss the issue. Why? Because fast-food consumers
 started to be choked with McNuggets and McChickens. Ethical
 consumption’s appeal is increasing.


 Brazil’s foremost business commentator Miriam Leitao was writing in the mass circulation newspaper O Globo about a unique campaign that began four months ago in Leicester Square and culminated last week in Sao Paulo, when some of the world’s most powerful companies took a first step towards saving the Amazon from the ravages of soya cultivation. An unlikely union of Greenpeace, McDonald’s and leading UK supermarkets like Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and ASDA had successfully pressured multinational commodities brokers into signing a two-year moratorium on buying soya from newly deforested land in the Amazon.


 Business journalists have often been quick to accuse groups like
 Greenpeace of nurturing a knee-jerk hostility to global corporations.
 Well, yes, we do hold the view that multinationals are responsible for
 much of the environmental degradation blighting our planet. But our
 alliance with McDonald’s and other food companies demonstrates that when business is ready to seriously tackle a crisis, we are ready join
 forces.

 

 

 

 I cannot say it came naturally to Greenpeace to jump into bed with the
 world’s largest fast food company! But it is a fact that, in this
 instance, the company immediately recognised the nature of the problem and sought not simply to put its own house in order, but to use its might to push a multi-million dollar industry towards a more sustainable future. For that McDonald’s European executives must be congratulated.


 Home to at least 30 per cent of the world’s land-based animal and plant
 species and 220,000 people from 180 different indigenous nations, the
 Amazon rainforest is one of the most unique and biodiverse regions on
 the planet. Yet in recent times, an area the size of Wales has been lost
 every year – that’s equivalent to a football pitch cleared every ten
 seconds. Soya is becoming the prime driver of this deforestation as the
 crop is used increasingly to feed chickens, pigs and cows for meat
 products, including, until recently, Chicken McNuggets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 We conducted a three year investigation into the trade, uncovering a
 supply chain that begins with illegal rainforest destruction – sometimes
 using slave labour – and ends at the counters of fast food restaurants
 and supermarkets in Europe. Using satellite images, aerial surveillance,
 previously unreleased government documents and on-the-ground undercover monitoring, Greenpeace campaigners for the first time tracked the trade in soya beans from plantation field to fork, in the form of meat reared on the bean. Given the slice of the market commanded by McDonald’s, the company was an obvious starting point for the application of consumer pressure. What we did not expect was the speed with which the campaign progressed, and the allies we would make along the way.


 The April release of our investigation, across three pages of this
 newspaper, coincided with a simultaneous invasion by 2m high clucking
 chickens of McDonald’s restaurants in seven UK cities. By the time the last of the chickens had been unchained by police from the counter of Manchester’s flagship restaurant, Ronald McDonald had come to the table.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/forests.cfm?ucidparam=200604041825
 
 The company very quickly agreed to get Amazon soya out of its chicken
 feed. But more than that, it formed an alliance with other UK retailers
 – including ASDA, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer – to put pressure on
 agribusiness interests operating in Brazil, including Cargill, to stop
 destroying the rainforest. Cargill is the world’s largest privately
 owned company and has led the march of soya across the rainforest
 frontier. If the big retailers will not touch chicken fed on Amazon
 soya, so went our reasoning, the pressure on Cargill and the other
 commodities giants to source soya from elsewhere would become
 irresistible.


 An indication of the influence being exerted by the retailers came in
 May at a meeting I and my colleagues had with Cargill executives in the
 midst of a shutdown by Greenpeace volunteers of the company’s European headquarters.


 http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/forests/forests.cfm?ucidparam=200605220932

 

 Our discussions had been preceded by phone calls from UK buyers expressing concern at Cargill’s practices in the Amazon. Cargill’s bosses seemed to have jumped the psychological barrier of dealing with Greenpeace and were ready to negotiate. And they did, in a series of meetings in London and Brazil over the following weeks. These meetings included the president of Cargill in Brazil who was very frank about the problems of legality the company was facing in the Amazon.


 Eventually the alliance of Greenpeace and European retailers led to a
 two-year moratorium on multinational traders buying soya from newly
 deforested land in the Amazon rainforest.

 

Last week, the agreement was signed in Sao Paulo. The signatories included the US-based multinationals Cargill, ADM and Bunge, the Brazilian Amaggi group, and French-based Dreyfus — between them responsible for most of the Amazon soya market.


 Given the scale of the crisis in the Amazon, a two year moratorium is
 only a small beginning and falls far short of what is ultimately needed
 to protect the rainforest. It is now up to us to monitor the
 implementation of the deal to ensure there’s no going back on the
 commitments made.


 Crucially we have to close any space that might allow companies to go
 back in two years time and return to a business as usual approach in the belief that the heat is off. But the deal, if implemented properly,
 truly demonstrates the influence consumers can have on events thousands of miles away, and the power that can be brought to bear when business is willing to apply its might to the greatest problems faced by our species and our world.
 

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    diamond                                                

Here is a true story from the 19th century – with a timeless message. The story is about a farmer who lived in Africa and through a visitor became tremendously excited about looking for diamonds. Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent and this farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond line. He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped by, constantly searching for diamonds, wealth, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a country egg and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by and in viewing the rock practically went into terminal convulsions. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was about the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, “Heck, the whole farm is covered with them” – and sure enough it was.

The farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine…the richest diamond mine the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on “Acres of Diamonds” until he sold his farm.

Each of us is right in the middle of our own “Acre of Diamonds”, if only we would realize it and develop the ground we are standing on before charging off in search of greener pastures.

“Opportunity does not just come along – it is there all the time – we just have to see it.”

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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acupuncture-needles1

John’s special guest on Voices from the North on November 5, 2008 was Terri Stout. Terri describes the shift she made ten years ago from psychiatric nursing to the completion of four years of training to become a registered acupuncturist. She has a saying, ‘Listen to the whispers or get hit by a brick,’ because her life is guided by meaningful coincidences. She describes the Chinese medical model which is based on prevention and puts the onus on the individual to take responsibility for their own health. She indicates that it is never too late to begin Tai Chi or Chi Gong. Practitioners may be ill in their 60s when they began and going strong in their 90s.

Here’s the interview:

Acupuncture has been around for between 3,000 and 5,000 years and data is being collected today to show its possible assistance in cases of infertility, of all things. This is interesting, because the Alexander Technique has also been found to assist with fertility.

Terri is much more than an acupuncturist. She is an intuitive and a guide. She gives the example of a man who, through a couple of sessions, decided to completely revamp his life and work. Terri has found that people want to be given permission from someone else like herself to make changes in their lives. And she tends to be the visit of last resort, ‘the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.’

An inspiring example Terri gives is of a lady in her 80s with a motor neuron disease who has lost 21 pounds in weight in 5 weeks of treatment and who now has ‘Betty Grable’ ankles. The acupuncture has helped her to release excess fluids from this woman’s legs.

Terri describes moxibustion and cupping and gives an example of cupping drawing out accumulated toxins, the residue of old injuries. True healing occurs when symptoms move from inside the body outwards. Terri Stout provides her services on a donation basis or koha. Payment is sometimes given in fish, shellfish, furniture or ketes (Maori flax-woven baskets).

Acupuncture works on all levels-physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. New Zealand national health insurance (ACC) covers acupuncture visits. Terri presents an inspiring viewpoint of the role acupuncture can play in the establishment and maintenance of health and wellbeing. The song midway through the interview is Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love.

Be sure to check out all my uploaded radio shows and associated blogs here.

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

tall-grass-bread

 

‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food’ Hippocrates 400 BC

I promised I would post a good news local business story and here it is. I love this story. I trust you do too. 

Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company

On June 10th & 11th, we told you about the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We received a lot of mail requesting a copy of that story so we’ve decided to post it here:I have been talking today about my travels over the last month or so. Well, before I left Toronto, my friend Julie Penner, who is the music producer here at the Vinyl Cafe, and also a pretty decent violinist, notably as part of the Toronto music collective Broken Social Scene, stopped by my desk and said, When you get to Winnipeg I want you to promise that you will go to the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company for breakfast and say hi to Tabitha, who’s one of the owners. I think you’d like her. Julie used to live in Winnipeg and she used to work at the Tall Grass Bakery, so I said I would do that, and I want to tell you why I am so happy I did. It has nothing to do with the bread, or the sandwiches, or the first class cinnamon buns, though it could have, because they were all great. And I would have been happy to have gone just for them … What I what to tell you about is Tabitha Langel, who Julie had mentioned. Tabitha came out of the bakery covered in flour and sat at my table and had a cup of coffee while I ate. And because I asked, she told me the story of her bakery, and how it started, and I want to tell you that story this morning. So Tabitha is a lapsed Hutterite. She left the Hutterite community where she grew up because, she said, she was curious. And she moved to Winnipeg, and married, and settled down, and joined an ecumenical church, a church which includes some Mennonites, and some Hutterites, and some Lutherans, and some Presbyterians, and some Catholics … and I am telling you this because the church was important to the bakery in the early days. The bakery was born out of conversations that began at the church. In these discussions, the church members were wondering how they could be more of a community. Most of them lived in the same neighbourhood, but they were wondering if they could work together in some way too. This was in the late 1980s, a time when farmers were struggling … when grain farmers were getting the lowest grain prices Canada had ever seen … and farm suicides were at a record high … so another question that arose at church was if there was any way they could support farmers. And that is where the idea of starting a bread co-op began. It would address both concerns. You see, if you tracked a loaf of bread, you found that farmers were getting about 2 cents a loaf in those days. Tabitha and her church friends figured if they went to one farmer and bought grain directly from that farmer, and then milled and baked the bread themselves, they could afford to pay more than 2 cents a loaf and thus support one farm family, have fun baking together, and maybe even get some decent bread out if it. So they started their bread co-op, and they baked bread every Saturday night in a kitchen they rented at the St. Margaret’s Church, and it became a neighbourhood thing … not a church thing. Neighbourhood people joined the co-op … and you could work in the co-op and get work credits, and people who were well-off were invited to pay a little more for their bread to carry those who couldn’t, and neighbourhood kids delivered bread around the neighbourhood in little red wagons … and the co-op grew over two or three years. And they were actually supporting one family farm. And having fun. Just as they had hoped. And this provoked more discussion. It began with the question: What is good stewardship of the land? And what did that mean to people who live in the city? If you believed, as Tabitha and her friends did, that herbicides and pesticides were not God’s best idea, how should you proceed if you are city folk? How much should those who live in the city be paying for grain, ethically? What would things look like if instead of having farmers begging city people for pennies, city people were begging farmers for grain. Finally they asked … what could they do? Could they do anything to support farmers in some larger way? Five of them decided to open a bakery. They found one for sale and figured they needed about $40,000 to get going. They went to the bank and explained they wanted to sell bread at $2 a loaf rather than the going rate of 50 cents. They said they figured if you explained to people that you were charging more so you could pay farmers more, people would be happy to pay the extra. The bank told them this was absurd. The bank said that wasn’t the way the world worked. So they got money from friends. Some low interest loans, some no interest loans. They promised to pay them back, if and when they could. They figured there was this great hunger for connection; that farmers wanted to meet the city people who used their crops; that city people wanted to know where their food came from. They had no idea if they were right. Everyone told them they weren’t. Everyone told them not to quit their day jobs. Everyone told them they would fail. They figured they wouldn’t be grandiose. For opening day they baked about 30 loaves of bread, 2 dozen muffins and 12 cinnamon buns. When they opened their doors at 10 o’clock … there were 200 people lined up at the door. They had planned to have a bread blessing, but after ten minutes there was no bread left to bless. Someone gave their loaf back and they blessed it, broke it, and ate it. They had made all these careful plans for failure … how they could exist selling 12 loaves of bread a day … but they hadn’t given any thought to what would happen if they were wildly successful.It was a nightmare. They were working so hard. Tabitha remembers the day the timer on the oven went off and she picked up the phone and couldn’t figure out why no one was saying hello. And today … some 15 years later … three of the five original owners, Tabitha, and Sharon Lawrence, and Lyle Barkman have opened a second branch of their bakery … they still have the little neighbourhood place in Wolseley where it all began, and now they have added a new one at the Forks. Which is where I went … and they support five farm families, and they employ about fifty people and they have learned that you can’t get rich when you pay fair wages to both farmers and staff … but you can make a decent living. “We buy our wild rice from a local native co-op”, says Tabitha. “We could get it way cheaper elsewhere… but we like what these folks are doing. They have a store in the poorest part of the city and they won’t sell cigarettes …and they are part of changing their community and we want to support them.” She picked up her coffee and looked around her bakery and smiled. She said, “If something is too cheap that means someone is paying the cost somewhere. Maybe it is the environment or maybe it is someone else down the line.” “The average food item in the average grocery store travels 2000 miles,” she said. “Here the average is 200 miles.” “The farmers come here and deliver their grain. And they see the bread. They see where their grain is going. And our customers see where it is coming from. They can have coffee together.” Tabitha says she has learned that you can make a difference to the local economy and make a living at the same time. “The questions that we continue to ask,” she said, “are how can we be more local, more just, more environmentally conscious than we were yesterday.” “It has been an unbelievable journey,” she said. “I am honored to be part of it. I am a tad tired. But show me a baker who isn’t.” They started with 2 people in 1990 and baked 30 loaves on opening day. This Saturday they baked about 700 loaves of bread, all organic and many hand-shaped. And I don’t know how many cinnamon buns and croissants. I am a lucky man. I get to travel all across this great land and talk to people from coast to coast. Mostly I get to tell my stories … but often I get to hear others. And every once in a while I meet someone who tells me a story I think everyone should hear.

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In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

 

 

 
 

It Once Was a Mountain

Ok Tedi: It Once Was a Mountain

In 1987, while backpacking through Papua New Guinea, I came face to face with a multinational mining company that knocked the top off a mountain in search of gold. I chronicled that debacle in In Search of Simplicity and you can read of it here. This brazen act of modern engineering resulted in masses of toxic waste silting the previously pristine Fly River and forever altering the serene lives of countless villagers living along this watercourse.

 

A couple of years ago I took our two teenage daughters to watch a screening of the documentary, China Blue. The award winning film maker, Micha Peled was on hand to answer questions afterwards.

 

China Blue is the true story of a 14-year-old country girl voluntarily leaving her sleepy village to work in virtual slavery in a jeans factory in China’s industrial southeast. The film makes it creepily clear how our consumption habits in the affluent West can have major detrimental impacts on the lives of people in faraway lands, just as those same consumption habits can have major detrimental effects on the environment in far away lands like Papua New Guinea.

Do we need to return to more locally-based economies and more local manufacturing? It can be safely said that New Zealand has been exporting jobs to Asia for many years now. Is this not the case in most Western lands? Wouldn’t it be satisfying to see ‘Made in New Zealand’ printed on more consumer items rather than the ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ we see today? Wouldn’t this result in more jobs for New Zealanders? Each of us can help this shift to occur by purchasing more food and other items that we know are produced in New Zealand. Even if you only shifted five dollars a week from imported goods to local goods it would make a huge difference. In today’s world we vote as much with our pocketbooks as we do on official ballets. In a consumer society, our purchasing habits are powerful.

I don’t begrudge the rights of emerging nations like China to progress, but don’t you think your neighbour’s challenged business deserves a chance? I personally would rather spend a few dollars more for a locally produced item of quality than for an imported piece of junk that simply won’t last. I finally had to replace my New Zealand-made MacPac daypack recently when one of its straps began to give out after almost 17 years of daily service. I could not find a new replacement pack with the quality and durability of that original bag. How can we get back to making quality, local goods? How can you contribute to this shift? I believe this step is possible. But it will take our collective will to make it happen.

John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives. In Search of Simplicity is a startlingly poignant real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life. John Haines hosts a popular weekly interview program, Voices from the North, from his place in paradise in New Zealand’s subtropical far north, and leads what he calls ‘playshops’ in voice, sound and communication.

 

 
 

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In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

 

 

I found this in my inbox today. This lady sings an operatic tribute to the challenging life of every mother. It is well done and fun.

 

The above video gives examples of Gaelic speech and song.

 

In this recent Voices From the North interview, musician and singer Diane Brown shares her life and her deep, unstoppable love of traditional ethnic music. She brings a keyboard into the studio and plays examples of songs from South India, Bulgaria, Japan, the Middle East, Appalachia and Scotland. Diane plays 16 instruments and would love to play 40.  Here’s the interview:

 

 

She’s collecting traditional music from around the world, having examples from 94 countries so far. She voiced a special request for traditional Bhutanese music, so if anyone out there has any please let me know.

 

Diane passionately outlines the story of how she got to the Mhòd on the Isle of Lewis in 2005 and became the first New Zealander ever to win there—in the traditional Scots Gaelic singing competition.

 

And she describes another role she has as a Gatekeeper – one who helps the spirits of those who have recently died. Don’t miss her story near the end of the interview of the young Iraqi man who recently died in the war there. And hear of Diane’s ongoing communication with a Kauri Tree Spirit and the Water Nymphs of Rainbow Falls, one named Vendra who is 800-years-old..

 

Here are a few gems from Diane:

 

“Why is that when you talk to God it’s called prayer and when God talks to you it’s called schizophrenia?”

 

Diane advocates taking the time to really sit and listen and feel. This runs contrary to the mantra many of us have heard from birth. “Don’t just sit there. Do something.” Osho said, “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”

 

One of her mottos is, “If I don’t understand something, let me. People fear what they don’t understand.” She doesn’t want to be afraid; she’d rather understand.

 

“The secret of being a musician is not how well you play, it’s how much in the music you are.” This makes me think that the secret to life isn’t in how well we play out our lives; it’s how present we are.

 

 

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Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

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