Credit:  www.wochenblatt.de

Credit: www.wochenblatt.de

Today we here at LGBG would like to remember and honor Pete Seeger, folk artist, rebel, activist and environmentalist, who truly sang songs in the key of life.  Seeger died as he lived, peacefully, on January 27th at the age of 94.

Seeger will be remembered for his contributions to society largely through his music.  After dropping out of Harvard in 1940, he was introduced to Woody Guthrie, with whom he toured.  As a believer in communal singing, Seeger is credited with the rebirth of folk music in America.  This music embraces people as a whole and generally is an expression of a way of life, historical and personal events or impending tragedies or natural disasters.

The importance of singing together

“We all go to different churches or no churches, we have different favorite foods, different ways of making love, different ways of doing all sorts of things, but there we’re all singing together.  Gives you hope.”

Seeger’s songs generally had simple lyrics that provided a verbal analysis of current social and political situations.  Rather than preaching a stance on the environment, civil rights or politics from a podium, Seeger stood before his audiences, young and old, with his banjo and engaged them in songs that voiced a protest while uniting the groups of people present., who often were from very different backgrounds.  His music helped us to learn to think for ourselves and to question the powers that be.  While many political leaders and conservative pundits try to convince us that climate change is a myth, Seeger urges us to observe our surroundings and to question “where have all the flowers gone.”

We all should get in the game of life.

“There is something about participating.  It is almost my religion.  If the world is still here in 100 years, people will know the importance of participating, not just being a spectator.”

Pete Seeger’s songs were important to many movements in the 20th century.  Perhaps the most notable is the civil rights movement.  Seeger is credited with introducing and leading protesters in the singing of “We Shall Overcome,” which became the signature song of the civil rights movement.  This song consistently has brought together protesters from various backgrounds, summoning emotion, strength and courage to continue the struggle for human rights in the face of all types of adversity, including legal, educational and physical.  In fact, Seeger introduced Martin Luther King to the song and even suggested that the civil rights activists form a group to be known as Freedom Singers.  He stated that these “songs have accompanied every liberation movement in history.  These songs will affirm your faith in the future of mankind.”[1]

Seeger also joined in the anti-war protests during the sixties.  Over the years, he lent his voice and support to protests for workers’ rights, world peace and environmental conservation.  He remarked that “a good song reminds us what we’re fighting for.”

As a result of his stance on most political and social issues, Seeger’s life was not without controversy.  In the early fifties, he and his singing group, the Weavers, were named as Communist Party sympathizers in a magazine called Red Channel.  When subpoenaed to come before the House Un-American Activities Committee to answer to charges of Communist influence in entertainment, Seeger declined to invoke his constitutional right of protection from self-incrimination.  Rather, this gentleman of high principle chose to discuss his music, and he even offered to sing some of his songs.  In response to the questions posed to him, he remarked, “I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”[2]

Credit: blogs.loc.gov

Credit: blogs.loc.gov

Seeger was convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four years in jail.  However, his conviction was overturned due to a technical flaw in his indictment.  He was not retried.  He saw the curtailment of offers for his group, The Weavers, to perform.  He later apologized for many of his early thoughts on Stalin, but he maintained his ideas on socialism, stating that “I ask people to broaden their definition of socialism.  Our ancestors were all socialists:  You killed a deer and maybe you got the best cut, but you wouldn’t let it rot, you shared it.”[2]  Throughout his life, he maintained the right to free thinking and inquiry.

This land is your land.  This land is my land.

Folk music witnessed a resurgence in the 1960s, and with the many political struggles, the war in Vietnam and other social ills present at the time, Seeger found himself back in business with his simplistic approach of using music to encourage people to participate.  He lived on 17-1/2 acres on a mountainside in Beacon, NY where he became very active in environmental efforts, including cleaning up the Hudson River.  He founded the Clearwater Sloop Project, which he supported until his death.

Seeger’s commitment to the environment and sustainability through music was infectious as evidenced by the admiration and support he received by many entertainers, notably Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen.  These singers support and appeared with him at Occupy demonstrations and other events for social causes and some even adopt Seeger’s easy enticing and uniting style in their songs.  Perhaps one of the most popular is Browne’s song, Stay, which reminds us “people you got the power over what you do.”

It’s all about love.

Perhaps Pete Seeger sums his life up best in his description of his songs in the key of life.

I call them all love songs.  They tell of love of man and woman,
and parents and children, love of country, freedom, beauty,
mankind, the world, love of searching for truth and other unknowns.
But, of course, love alone is not enough.[2]

Rest in peace Pete Seeger, and thank you for a job well done!

__________________

1.  http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jan/28/pete-seeger-man-brought-politics-to-music.
2.  Barnes, B. (2013, January 29).  Pete Seeger:  He sang of things as he saw them.  The Washington Post, pp. A1, A15.
3.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_music

Most viewers of the 2014 State of the Union address, delivered last night by President Barrack Obama, should be praised for having the wherewithal to persevere through such a sleep-inducing collection of strung together sentences — although, among the mind-numbing were a fair share of surprisingly spritely, humorous notes.

Regardless, for those green enthusiasts out there, hoping to learn more about initiatives in the way of sustainability, clean energy, and alternative fuels, there was relatively little mention of such, and with even less value behind it.  Far from a laughing matter.

View the enhanced speech on demand –which is by far better than the
live broadcast– if you don’t believe me (tune in around the 15:40 mark).

Unfortunately, the most prolific takeaway for such enthusiasts was a regurgitation of the All-Of-The-Above Energy Strategy, originally introduced several years prior.  And let me be clear (pun intended) — by “regurgitation” I don’t mean Mr. Obama repeated himself per se, but I do mean that it was just a simple spewing of what “we” have already accomplished over the past several years’ time.

Some of the facts and statistics used in the accompanying supplemental presentation seem randomly curated and desperately included, almost in some form of a last-ditch attempt to appear arguably progressive.  And be careful not to blink when watching the address, you may miss the just-over-four minutes the Pres took to speak to the notions of this All-Of-The-Above plan.

Nonetheless, a brief recap is in order, to point potential non-viewers in the direction of the few notions splayed upon last nights audiences:

  • America is closer to energy independence today than we have been in decades.  I hope this is self-explanatory.
  • Natural gas is being extracted safely. This was an obvious reference to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, something we have written about in the past and something which environmentalists everywhere denounce.
  • Companies are planning to build new plants that use natural gas.  President Obama made clear the fact that he wants to promote this via tax and other programs for these manufacturers who indeed increasingly move toward natural gas as a replacement means of production (instead of oil).
  • America will continue “strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities,” and “protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations” to come.  By definition, probably the closest we’ve come thus far to targeting sustainability, but still not compelling.  This just seems like some general commentary that could have been used years ago to describe our state, and which seem to be added only because they sound better to the heart than to the mind, once processed.
  • We are becoming a global leader in solar — “every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar.”  This is a great stat, assuming its factually accurate.  Bravo, Mr. President.  And his use was impeccable, directly relating solar’s ongoing push to economic job growth by referencing that men (and women) physically installing pieces of such equipment is not outsource-able.
  • GOAL: continue to invest in fuels of the future.  Check.  This should go unsaid — it’s something that would be done regardless of who is in office, be it oval or congressional.  Next.
  • We can continue to reduce energy we consume. He referenced the new standards for the auto industry, implemented after the bailout, to make vehicles more efficient.  Good example, yes, but we have been there and done that, so where else could this be actionable moving forward?  Another prospective example would have been beautifully refreshing.
  • The US is the leading nation in reducing carbon footprints.  Impressive, but how about we explore how we will maintain that role modeling… right?
  • We need to legislate new standards on the amount of pollution our power plants are permitted to dump into the air.  Air pollution is important, I get it.  And as we’ve seen in places like Mexico City and eastern Chinese cities like Beijing, it can quickly get so out of hand as to realizably affect the day-to-day quality of life for area inhabitants.  The future can only get worse, if not attended to, so let’s hope something of action can become of this verbiage.
  • “The debate is settled: Climate Change Is A Fact!”  Again, self explanatory, but a headline-grabbing quote all enthusiasts can be mildly happy about.

Now, that brief recap above contains literally every point I could imaginably pluck from the whole discussion of ecological sustainability, and most of it spoke solely of vague past accomplishments and emptily bottomless comments surrounding the overall direction we are headed. Personally, as someone truly interested in hearing what particulars could lay on the horizon, I was extremely underwhelmed by the President’s words, or complete lack thereof with respect to true governmental policy.  This could have been a chance for Mr. Obama to openly target specific goals and initiatives on one of the broadest stages possible, to really put the pressure on Congress to do something about the potential headliners — an opportunity blown.

As one US News and World Report describes fairly well, the State of the Union was predicted to be and then turned out to be unsustainable.  The article describes, quite adequately, that sustainability is the focus of making sure our living our lives does not hinder the ability of the generations to come from living theirs.  While the State of the Union contained moments wherein the glimmer of hope for the future verged on addressing some social or economic sustainability, environmental sustainability was not allowed to shine in its full brilliance.  There was clearly insufficient forethought and future initiatives relayed from the President — no true future plans were outlined for environmental policy.

All of this being said, I must concede that it is not all President Obama’s fault, that the entire State of the Union address seemed monotonous and archaically pointless.  In actuality, it is just that, and by inevitability.  The State of the Union was originally put into policy as a way for the President of the United States to relay his views on the current status and future agenda of the country to the US Congress.  This is especially needless in today’s society of technological advancement, what with all the instantaneous newsfeeds at our constant disposal via push notices to our pocket devices.

Overall, Obama’s address was only half-baked, nearly ignoring future sustainability, clean energy, and alternative fuel plans altogether.  But that’s just my opinion.

Got some time to share your opinions?  We’d love to hear them!

Simply put, The lions need us. More specifically, the West African Sub-species needs us.  Desperately.  It is estimated that less than 250 mature males exist in 17 countries from Senegal to Nigeria and they are continuing to decline rapidly.

Help Save this Beautiful Creature

West-African-Lion-237x300

Here is a map from PLOS One that illustrates the current presence of lion populations in West Africa.

lion pop pic 2

The Causes  

  • At this very point in time, these genetically unique lions have lost 99% of their historic range due to land conversions for cotton plantations and crop farms
  • A steep decline in prey populations resulting from unsustainable hunting and poachingdeclining prey pop 2
  • Human and lion conflict
  • Lack of funding for governments to maintain protective areas[1]

The Reality 

The majority of this comes down to a lack of funding.  Most of these West African nations are in the midst of extreme poverty and have zero funds to contribute to the conversation of these precious animals. Still though, for most of these countries, lions are held in the highest regard.  They are a symbol of pride and appear on several countries’ coats of arms.  In order for this subspecies to dodge extinction, the international community must step up.

African wildlife is the continent’s most precious natural resource.  Protection of the wildlife, particularly the endangered species, is key to many African nations rising from poverty  and becoming economically independent.  The potential income from promotion and tourism that stands to be gained from the global interest in seeing lions and other wildlife will go a long way to provide funds for many causes, including education, health and infrastructure development, just to name a few.  These beautiful lions are the face of African wildlife and deserved to be helped.

Contribute

As always, when trying to make a difference, there must be a call to action. We along with the international community can do so much to help with this effort.  You can donate at Panthera or simply share this post to help create awareness!

Additional Sources:

  1. http://www.panthera.org/
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25722058

[1] http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0083500;jsessionid=0EA32041EEA89E0BAB3A2429CEE7D8C9

Size is a featured component of many topics of conversation, and in living green, the question as to whether or not size does really matter is entertained often.

Size is mentioned in discussions of many facets of life, including, but not limited to portion size, clothing size, family size, house size, sexual endowment and so on.  In each case, the reference of size is important when it comes to living green.

Why is size important?

So many decisions that we make are influenced or should be influenced by size.  The very size of a paycheck and budget determines an individual’s ability to live and function in society.  The size of one’s indebtedness contributes to a person’s happiness, stability and the ability to raise a family, get an education and live a wholesome life.  The size of a family’s food budget determines their ability to eat nutritious food.  The size of one’s ego impacts his/her self perception.

Credit:  www.toprosters.com

Credit: www.toprosters.com

Of course, we know that serving size is a very important component of a healthy diet.  To that end, we can find specifications on the amount of food we should eat in a meal, as well as the actual size of the plate that should be used to limit the portion size.  Consideration of portion size also can be applied to control the percentages of meat, vegetables and carbohydrates that should occupy our plates at any given time.  The subject of size has led to a criticism by nutritionists of the fast food industry and its practice of advertising “super size meals” for a small additional price.  Also, moviegoers are familiar with the policy at most theaters whereby the purchase of giant size bags of popcorn and drinks earn patrons free refills.  The increase in the size of our meals has led to weight increase and ever-expanding abdominal girth in so many Americans, along with the accompanying adverse health consequences of obesity, diabetes, back and joint pain, infertility and hypertension.

Credit:  fitmapped.com

Credit: fitmapped.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothing size and body size also are major topics of conversation in the fashion industry.  Shopping for clothes often is difficult because there is no uniformity in clothing sizes.  Sizes of clothes, particularly for women, vary widely by brands.  This forces consumers to spend considerable time, energy and fuel traveling to different stores trying to find clothes that fit.  In that living green includes being healthy and stress free, the dilemma of clothes size negatively impacts those efforts.

Credit:  fitmapped.com

Credit: venusvision.com

Also, the issue of body size must be considered in any efforts to live green.  Perception of a healthy body size is important, and we need realistic guidelines, both to achieve and maintain this.  Unrealistic expectations for body size can be emotionally and physically damaging, leading to harmful practices such as unhealthy dieting, binging and purging, and even psychiatric problems of anorexia that can be fatal.  As we are constantly bombarded with visual images of thin models and beautiful clothes only available in small sizes, many people struggle to achieve these looks and fit those clothes, not realizing that often the people depicted in these pictures are airbrushed and images are electronically altered to give an appearance that is false.  It is important to accept that body size is important, but that we must be realistic and acknowledge the major contribution of genes to our appearance.  We should adhere to a healthy diet, exercise and maintain a balanced weight but not go to extremes to look like models in the media.

Another area where size is a major concern is in the housing industry where builders keep constructing larger houses and mass marketing efforts constantly remind us that we need more living space in our dwellings.  As a result, we cut down more trees to clear areas for houses.  We build more roads and supporting structures for our new larger communities, reducing open green space.  We assume larger mortgages to pay for our more expensive houses.  We endure higher energy bills to heat and cool our super sized houses.  We buy more furniture and objects to fill our houses.  The bottom line is that we are drowning in debt and working longer hours to pay for all of this.  Sometimes we feel like hamsters on treadmills, and that is neither healthy nor green.  This is an instance where size does really matter.  It can make the difference between a wholesome fulfilling lifestyle and sheer misery.

.Credit:  www.designboom.com

Credit: www.designboom.com

 

 

Family size is important in green living.  In modern times, families are smaller than they were many years earlier.  Increased housing and other costs of living have forced most families to rely on both parents as wage earners.  As a result, people tend to have fewer children due to time and money constraints.  Some countries, such as China, have legally enforced limits on family size for purposes of population control.  Clearly when it comes to family, size does matter.

Lastly, size often comes up when discussing sexual relationships.  Hollywood and popular culture have forced sexual endowment to the forefront of relationship issues.  Living green includes healthy and satisfying interpersonal relationships.  In choosing a mate, it is important that such selection include character, morals, values and compatibility and not just physical attributes such as sexual endowment, breast and hip size.  Here size matters but should not be the primary consideration.

It is important that we learn to live green, and from the examples given, we can see that size does really matter.  In our efforts to adopt a green lifestyle, we have a lot to consider.  As we look at ways to live sustainably, we have to take time and size up the situation carefully.  To do so is to live green, be green.

_________________

Resources for this article:

1.  http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/09/ralph-lauren-gap-ent-tech-cx_tvr_0109sizemeup.html
2. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=4294967941
3.  http://www.askmen.com/dating/vanessa_60/87_love_secrets.html
4.  http://www.wect.com/Global/story.asp?S=3015997