From: www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/book_bytes/2010/pb4ch10_ss8

By Lester R. Brown

Given the enormous environmental and social challenges faced by our early twenty-first century global civilization, one of the questions I hear most frequently is, What can I do? People often expect me to talk about lifestyle changes, recycling newspapers, or changing light bulbs. These are essential, but they are not nearly enough. We now need to restructure the global economy, and quickly. It means becoming politically active, working for the needed changes. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.

Inform yourself, read about the issues. If you want to know what happened to earlier civilizations that found themselves in environmental trouble, read Collapse by Jared Diamond or A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright or The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter. My latest book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, can be downloaded free of charge from Earth Policy Institute’s (EPI’s) Web site, earthpolicy.org, along with complementary data sets and a slide show summary. If you find these materials useful in helping you think about what to do, share them with others.

Lester Brown

Pick an issue that’s meaningful to you, such as tax restructuring, banning inefficient light bulbs, phasing out coal-fired power plants, or working for streets in your community that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, or join a group that is working to stabilize world population. What could be more exciting and rewarding than getting personally involved in trying to save civilization?

You may want to proceed on your own, but you might also want to organize a group of like-minded individuals. You might begin by talking with others to help select an issue or issues to work on.

And communicate with your elected representatives on the city council or the national legislature. Aside from the particular issue that you choose to work on, there are two overriding policy challenges: restructuring taxes and reordering fiscal priorities. Write or e-mail your elected representative about the need to restructure taxes by reducing income taxes and raising environmental taxes. Remind him or her that leaving costs off the books may offer a false sense of prosperity in the short run but that it leads to collapse in the long run.

Let your political representatives know that a world spending more than $1 trillion a year for military purposes is simply out of sync with reality, not responding to the most serious threats to our future. Ask them if the Plan B budget?an additional $187 billion a year for eradicating poverty, stabilizing population, and restoring the earth?is an unreasonable expenditure to save civilization. Ask them if diverting one eighth of the global military budget to saving civilization is too costly. Remind them of how the United States mobilized during World War II.

And above all, don’t underestimate what you can do. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It doesn’t hurt to underpin your political efforts with lifestyle changes. But remember they supplement your political action; they are not a substitute for it. Urban planner Richard Register recounts meeting a bicycle activist friend wearing a t-shirt that said “I just lost 3,500 pounds. Ask me how.” When queried he said he had sold his car. Replacing a 3,500-pound car with a 22-pound bicycle obviously reduces energy use dramatically, but it also reduces materials use by 99 percent, indirectly saving still more energy.

Dietary changes can also make a difference. The climate footprint differences between a diet rich in red meat and a plant-based diet is roughly the same as the climate footprint difference between driving a large fuel-guzzling SUV and a highly efficient gas-electric hybrid. Those of us with diets heavy in fat-rich livestock products can do both ourselves and civilization a favor by moving down the food chain.

Beyond these rather painless often healthily beneficial lifestyle changes, we can also think about sacrifice. During World War II the military draft asked millions of young men to risk the ultimate sacrifice. But we do not need to sacrifice lives as we battle to save civilization. We are called on only to be politically active and to make lifestyle changes. During the early part of World War II President Roosevelt frequently asked Americans to adjust their lifestyles. What contributions can we make today, in time, money, or reduced consumption, to help save civilization?

The choice is ours—yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come.

#   #   #

For more inspiration about What You Can Do, see Earth Policy Institute’s Action Center. To connect with others interested in taking action, join EPI’s Facebook page.

Adapted from Chapter 10, “Can We Mobilize Fast Enough?” in Lester R. Brown,
Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
(New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009),
available on-line at www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/books/pb4.

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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.

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Maitai Bay

Maitai Bay

Richard Robbins, my special guest 090909 (don’t you love the date?) on Voices From the North speaks with informed passion for a new project just getting underway with a name you’ll also love—H2O (Hills 2 Ocean).

Richard works at the Far North Environment Centre in Kaitaia and he’s one of those lucky people who are actively engaged in work that marries their strengths and experience. His previous eclectic employment with entities such as Air New Zealand (in Edinburgh and Auckland) gave him useful exposure to marketing and customer service. That vocational background combined with his studies of ecology and environment has landed him in just the right place in the Environment Centre.

This new project which Richard emphasizes is in its formative stages, is designed to assist and encourage the community to do something positive about declining water quality in Doubtless Bay.

Pohutukawa in Bloom on Doubtless Bay

Pohutukawa in Bloom on Doubtless Bay

Richard points out the two main impediments to pristine water are nutrient and sediment loading. Nutrient loading comes from such sources as animal wastes and fertilizers on farms and sediment loading is the erosion we see clouding the Bay each time there is a major storm. This erosion has been exacerbated by the felling of native forests and by excessive roadside spraying and stock and machine damage to river and stream banks.

Inspired by the success of Fred Lichtwark and the Raglan Harbour Caregroup since 1995, Richard would love to see a nursery created to grow hardy local natives for riparian planting. He’s also approached Taipa Area School to get young people involved in qualitative water testing in a project that could be called Wai (meaning ‘water’ and pronounced ‘why’) We Love.

Richard welcomed Suzanne to the Environment Centre. She’s taking on the Sustainable Living Activation Programme. To contact Richard and his team at the Far North Environment Centre phone 408 1086 or email info@ecocentre.co.nz.

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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. 

You can’t beat Paul Hawken for an eloquent dose of optimism in a world sometimes dominated by doubters. This arrived recently in my inbox and I’d like to share it with you.

Blessings,

John

“You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring…”

The Unforgettable Commencement Address to the Class of 2009,

University of Portland, May 3rd, 2009

 By Paul Hawken

 When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” Boy, no pressure there.

But let’s begin with the startling part. Hey, Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation – but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of operating instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, and don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food – but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, re-imagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown – Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood – and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit.. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, and non-governmental organizations, of companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe – exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, challenging, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental activist, and author of many books, most recently Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters by University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., in May, when he delivered this superb speech. Our thanks especially to Erica Linson for her help making that moment possible.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com 

 In Search of Simplicity is now available as an eBook here.

“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

“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”

Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101

grapes for Personal Alcohol Blog 240509My journey with alcohol was short but tumultuous. My parents drank socially but not to excess. It was their daily ritual to enjoy a drink together when my father returned home from work. It was their way of quietly sharing the trials and tribulations of their respective days, each lubricated by a single drink of rye and water, on the rocks. I vaguely recall my father drinking beer previously but that had to stop after having surgery twice (in his late 30s and early 40s) to ease his hiatus hernia. From that time on he was unable to properly digest steak, most fruit and beer. These items tended to return forcefully to their point of entry.

I began drinking at sixteen or seventeen. My parents were aware of my explorations with alcohol and openly condoned them. They never instituted a list of dos and don’ts. I suppose they adhered to the parenting adage that counts on the behavior of adolescents being established in early childhood through the examples of the parents. Now that I was a young adult they allowed me to explore the world in ways of my choosing, not theirs. I respected this approach of my parents greatly, and still do. It must have taken a dollop of faith and a bucketful of patience for my father and mother to sit back and silently observe my faltering steps into adulthood.

If a drink served as a relaxing balm for my parents, several drinks served as a courage booster for my early forays into the world of dancing with girls. Until I took my first drink I was far too shy to attend a school dance, as much as part of me wanted to. But now I would join a few friends nestled behind a remote hummock of our local airport to sample from a range of alcoholic beverages before walking as a group to a school dance. Pleasantly fortified with the drink of choice and breath disguised with cough drops (I’m not convinced now that the teachers at the entrance were totally naïve as to what we were up to) we would descend en masse into the darkened school gymnasium for a night of dancing. Magically, I had the confidence to ask girls to dance, and they usually accepted. Unfortunately the beer or wine or liquor did little for my coordination or dancing skills.

Within two years I found that I not only had the confidence to attend a dance without the aid of alcohol, but enjoyed the dancing much more when I was sober and in complete control of my dancing appendages. Drinking had served as a crutch to bolster my broken confidence; once that confidence was restored I was ready to throw away the crutch.

At one high school party I blacked out after consuming what must have been an excessive quantity of alcohol. It was embarrassing to have friends describe my adventures of that night to me the following day, adventures that I had absolutely no memory of.

This experience of blacking out was to be twice repeated. In the winter break of my first year at university I was one of four young men and four young women who, under the auspices of the university ‘Explorer Club’, rented a van and drove virtually non-stop for forty hours to New Mexico and Arizona. In Albuquerque, three of us purchased a bottle of tequila, a powerful liquor that had originated in the desert country. That night we set up tents in a roadside high desert area. After dinner, while the others slept, the three of us passed around the tequila bottle, customarily preceding each drink with a lick of salt and following up with a squeeze of lemon. I remember drinking twice from that bottle. That is all I recall until being vigorously woken by my friend Duncan early the next morning. On the way back to his tent after a pee he decided to look in on the three drinkers that shared a tent near his. He found me dead-to-the-world on top of my sleeping bag while my tent mates slumbered cozily inside their bags. I was lying in my underwear with frost coating my bare legs. The outside temperature was 13 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius). I thought I was going to become a human popsicle.

That morning we walked around the Painted Desert, a stunning crimson landscape sprinkled with an icing of snow. We then drove to our ultimate destination, the Grand Canyon. The others exclaimed in ever more glowing terms over the awesome landscape, while I lay in agony with a horrendous hangover on the floor of the van.

Back at the university in Ontario I saw photos of an actively engaged and drinking John taken on that less than memorable excursion into tequila heaven. There must be something terribly wrong when one continues to function and converse but has no later recollection of the events transpiring.

My third time unlucky occurred in Spain, during a bus camping trip around Europe I was taking with my friend Chris and thirty‑three other young people from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. In addition to being a cultural eye opener this trip proved to be an almost non-stop five week party. One night in Barcelona, I recall sharing a bottle of Sangria with Chris and some other friends. That is all that I remember until waking the next morning sharing a single sleeping bag with a girl from my tour group, a girl I considered to be like a sister to me. I was profoundly embarrassed. This instance proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

When I returned to Canada I began working for the telephone company. I would occasionally enjoy a meal after work with colleagues. On one such occasion, a few months after my return from Europe, I enjoyed a single beer with my meal. The next morning I woke with a whopping hangover. I quit drinking immediately. I was twenty two years of age.

People sometimes ask me why I don’t drink alcohol.

I have no regrets that I did drink for a few years. I enjoyed that time and, as I explained, the alcohol temporarily helped me to overcome shyness. But I have so much fun now, and feel uninhibited without so much as a sniff of alcohol. And I never have a hangover. People speak of using a substance such as alcohol in moderation. This may be fine for some, but I proved through direct experience that alcohol was a poison in my body. A little bit of a poison is still a poison. So why have it?

Have you ever seen a young child reach for a drink in order to relax or to be happy and playful? What unseen boundary do we pass when we begin to justify the use of toxic substances?

It was a great pleasure growing up in Niagara Falls, Ontario and stopping at roadside stalls in the country to purchase delicious local fruits such as cherries, plums and peaches in season. In the last couple of decades much of the highly fertile land of the Niagara Peninsula has been converted to the growing of grapes for wine production. A way of life I remember so fondly is in danger of disappearing. Canada’s other great fruit growing locale, the picturesque Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, has undergone a similar transformation. Many of its productive orchards have been converted to wine or expensive residential development, a playground for the nouveau riche of the west.

Here is New Zealand there has been a huge conversion of productive orchard land to wine grapes. In Marlborough, at the top of the South Island, there is evidence that this recent change to huge plantings of grapes is causing the water table to drop, putting pressure on stretched water resources.

Once again our consumption habits impact the world in which we live. The lowly grape. Is it the elixir of the gods or an environmental nemesis?

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

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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Eastern Lowland Gorillas

Eastern Lowland Gorillas

 

 

 

 

In the November, 2001 National Geographic Magazine I read the following words:

 

How many cell phones is a gorilla worth? In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, eastern lowland gorillas are being killed for food by miners searching for coltan, a mineral in demand for making capacitors used in high-tech electronics. Each gorilla lost diminishes the country’s potential to attract ecotourists.

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to 80% of the world’s coltan reserves.

 

Here’s whatHelen Vesperini reported for the BBC a few months earlier in 2001:

 

 

In the yard of the Shenimed sorting house, young men are busy sorting and cleaning colombo-tantalite ore, or coltan, as it is known in this part of the world.

Regional analysts say the international demand for coltan is one of the driving forces behind the war in the DRC, and the presence of rival militias in the country.

First the young men toss it up into the air as if they were winnowing rice.

Then they sort it with magnetic tweezers to eliminate any particles of iron ore.

It is then washed, crushed manually in a big pestle and mortar and tested again for iron ore before being fed into a photospectrometer to test its tantalum content.

The men concentrate calmly on their work or joke among themselves.

 

Blood tantalum

It is a far cry from the drama of the “No blood on my cell phone” campaign that a group of NGOs and religious communities have launched in Europe to lobby for an embargo on so called “blood tantalum”, the colombo-tantalite ore that comes from the war zones in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tantalum is essential in the manufacture of electrical components known as pinhead capacitors. cell-phone

These regulate voltage and store energy in mobile phones, tens of millions of which have been sold in the past few years.

The European lobby groups, like the regional analysts, say that coltan production is fuelling the war in Congo.

 

 

I was so touched by this story, with its shades of ‘Blood Diamonds’ that I wrote a song questioning our relentless need for more and better high-tech goods like cell phones. Once again, it is worth being aware of the implications of every purchase we make. By the way, I still don’t own a cell phone and I don’t feel I’m missing a thing.

 

 

The song is called Lookin’ and if you click here you’ll get to a page where there’s a link to it.

 

John

 

 

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

“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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Sue Bradford, Green Party Member of Parliament in New Zealand, has twice been named backbencher of the year. She is ranked number three on the Green Party List voted on by all Green Party members, coming in behind the co-leaders Russel Norman and Jeanette Fitzsimons. Sue had three private member bills passed into law in the last 2008 parliamentary session, more than anyone ever has. Listen to the complete interview below:

 

She speaks with passion of the role of the Green Party being a voice for the environment and for the voiceless members of society. She eloquently elaborates on how the Greens look to the long term—50 to 100 years—rather than the superficial perspective the big parties tend to have.

 

Sue explains how the Vietnam War influenced her as a teenager during a year her family spent in Wisconsin. Her lifelong passion for standing up to injustice was initiated during that North Amercian sojourn. Her comments on the upcoming US elections (this Voices from the North Interview was recorded in October, 2008) are insightful. She describes America as an empire in collapse. She calls tax cuts superficial and ‘like fiddling while Rome burns.’

 

She speaks of the damage in low income communities of ‘pokies’ (slot machines) and how the main parties seem to have a ‘conspiracy of silence’ with issues like this. Sue, herself a mother of five children, elaborates on the importance of early childhood education for all socio-economic classes. This was a timely interview as the New Zealand elections were November 8th, 2008.

 

 

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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