Tuesday, 01 January 2013 22:23
If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.
— Maya Angelou
By Joe Romano,
Although the world was predicted to end at the end of December 2012, on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula Mayas "continue their daily lives, industriously pedaling three-wheeled bikes laden with family members and animal fodder down table-flat roads. They tell rhyming off-color jokes at dances, and pull chairs out onto the sidewalk in the evening to chat and enjoy the relative cool after a hot day," according to the Associated Press, who joined thousands of other news outlets in the small town of Uh-May, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, gathering a story that, if proved true, would never be reported.
They found many of the residents living simply in thatched, oval, mud-and-stick houses designed mostly for natural air conditioning against the oppressive heat of the Yucatan, where they plant corn, harvest oranges, and raise pigs.
When asked about the end of a major cycle in the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar, a period known as the 13th b'ak'tun, many responded with a healthy dose of homespun Maya philosophy.
"We don't know if the world is going to end," said Liborio Yeh Kinil, a 62-year-old who can usually be found sitting on a chair outside his small grocery store at the corner of the grassy central square of Uh-May. Reflecting a world view with roots as old as the nearby Ceiba tree, or Yax-che, the tree of life for the ancient Maya, Yeh Kinil added: "Why get panicky? If something is going to happen, it's going to happen."
If you are reading this, nothing did happen; the world did not end. Or did it? Yucatan Governor Rolando Zapata said he felt growing good vibes.
"We believe that the beginning of a new b'ak'tun means the beginning of a new era, and we're receiving it with great optimism," Zapata said. "It is a transformation, the dawning of the age of Aquarius," said Jonah Bolt, 33, the host of Starseed Energy Radio, broadcasting from the still–intact state of North Carolina. "We hope that everyone's intention and love and light focused on this day will just help awaken others to just a better way of living."
If December 21, 2012 was the end of a b'ak'tun, when did it begin? The most recent b'ak'tun of the Maya Long Cycle Calendar, used by its priests to place events in the context of era-long periods of time, some even tens of millions of years long, began in 1606. This was the time of the invention of the telescope, a period that would be known as a time of troubles in Russia, civil war in England, the beginnings of the United States of America, and the end of the Ming Dynasty in China. All of these events, and others, led to colonialism, population growth, slavery, and the industrial revolution, growth that would even have us leave the planet to explore our universe.
From our vantage point here at GreenStar, it might indeed seem like endtimes, as we observe self-destructive habits like unhealthful eating and the willful devastation of our environment and planetary resources. Coupled with small-town and global violence, our planet could seem bent on annihilation, but there are some positive signs to signal the beginning of a new era.
For example, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, several cities and states throughout the country have recently reported declines in childhood obesity. Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi, and California are among the places reporting declining childhood obesity rates.
According to the report, growing evidence suggests that the change comes from strong, far-reaching changes — those that make healthy foods available in schools and communities and integrate physical activity into people's daily lives. More efforts are needed to implement these types of sweeping changes nationwide, and to address the health disparities gap that exists among underserved communities and populations, but a definite trend is emerging.
In the Caribbean, Rastafari on several islands are starting a back-to-the-soil movement that educates islanders about the dangers of fast-food chains and American eating habits. While encouraging his neighbors on the island of St. Maarten to "eat from their backyards," Ras Bushman of the Freedom Fighters Foundation warns that fast food "kills you fast, too." He reports that more and more islanders are attending lectures and planting their own gardens again, leading to "local people, eating local food, from local soil." Says Ras, "Go in your farm and plant a seed with faith, hope, love, and one day you'll reap it."
And there are further signs of a new world. Ethiopians and Somalis, Pakistanis and Afghans, and Columbian government and rebel forces have all begun peace talks, and India and Pakistan have resumed "cricket diplomacy." The nations are preparing to face off on the cricket field, playing their first series since 2008, when relations were shattered by the Mumbai attacks.
"The fact that the matches are happening at all is widely seen as a sign of the warming atmospherics between the South Asian neighbors, which have fought three wars in their brief independent history. Politically, cricket has always been there to break the ice," said Aamer Naseer, a Pakistani TV sports show host.
The recent school shooting in Newtown, CT took place in that small community of 27,000 people on the very day the final bid was placed for a playground embedded in a proposed park and wetland education center in that community, that would include habitat gardens and green buildings. If adopted widely, parks like these would transform suburbia as we know it.
According to Billie Cohen, the architect who placed the original bid, "At first it seemed like all I could think about were the children who would never play there. But soon, we realized we had to do something positive for the children and families who would be there. And now, the ideas for transformation and transcendence are flowing in." Not just proposals for memorials for the children, but for green buildings, bridges formed from melted guns — even a group to teach people to go off-grid called Transition, Newtown is getting involved. This place that has seen such darkness is already opening to light and possibility. "It was stunning, to see how many people wanted to take positive action," said Cohen.
Locally, Ithaca College distinguished scholar Sandra Steingraber has been named the 2012 TreeHugger.com Person of the Year. TreeHugger recognized Steingraber for her efforts to oppose fracking. "Working to abolish fracking in New York is part of the larger struggle to free our nation from its ruinous dependency on fossil fuels," said Steingraber. "It's the animating issue of our time. It's an honor to be part of this movement and a thrill to be recognized by TreeHugger for it."
Here at GreenStar, we support the anti-fracking movement, most recently by paying for buses to Albany so Ithacans can show Governor Cuomo and our other leaders where we stand on fracking and to let them know that we support the vision of a cleaner, better world for our children.
GreenStar members have voted to approve a GreenStar location in Collegetown, giving us the opportunity to spread our mission to more people, and to introduce students from around the world to our cooperative business model and to the life-affirming values of the world we foresee:
We envision a world that reveres the earth and the web of life it supports, where our choices are guided by stewardship, sustainability, and social justice.
We envision a world community of people living in mutual respect and peace, celebrated in our individuality and affirmed in our connectedness.
We envision cooperatives flourishing everywhere, empowering individuals and communities to create and run their own democratic institutions, with GreenStar as a leader.
Here's to the vision of a happy, healthy, just, and bountiful first year of the new b'ak'tun, here at GreenStar and around our community and our planet.
Here's to a lucky 2013!
By Laura Buttenbaum,
What is a co-op? This seemingly straightforward question can elicit a wide range of responses, from visceral and intrinsic to completely organizational and economic. According to the International Cooperative Association, "A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons unite...