Category Archives: Human Goodness

Fight Rages On to Save Centuries-Old Giant Philippine Rosewood Tree

Bong S. Sarmiento, Mongabay
August 28, 2020

MINDANAO, Philippines — For centuries, a giant Philippine rosewood tree has stood as an iconic landmark along a stretch of the Pan-Philippine Highway that runs outside the rustic southern town of San Francisco.

Known locally as toog, and formally as Petersianthus quadrialatus, this particular specimen is believed to be 300 years old, dating back to the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It survived a strong typhoon in 1942 here in the village of Alegria in what is today the province of Agusan del Sur, on the southern island of Mindanao, and is considered the oldest and tallest tree of its species: it stands at 56 meters (184 feet), the height of a 13-story building, and its diameter close to the base is nearly 4 meters, or 12 feet, or about the length of the average car.

It holds significant cultural value and has become an iconic representative of a species that is losing ground in the Philippines. Threatened by illegal logging and kaingin, the traditional practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, the toog is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss and unsustainable harvest. Its sturdy ruby-tinged wood is prized for making furniture and musical instruments, among others.

While it has survived the test of time and the fury of nature — from floods to typhoons to earthquakes — the Alegria toog tree could soon become a thing of the past: it’s threatened with a slow death after officials decided to cut its upper half. Without its crown, where the leaves thrive, the tree would be deprived of food, which would eventually kill it.

The decision to slash the height of the Alegria toog came after experts confirmed that it’s infested with fungi and termites. Having been left unchecked and untreated over time, the problem has led from a small cavity in the trunk to a hole large enough for a person to enter.

In April 2019, Marcelina Pacho, a pathologist and tree surgeon who assessed the health of the Alegria toog, noted that a basal cavity measuring 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide and 3 meters (10 feet) high had formed at its base.

“The presence of few mycelia, the vegetative part of fungus, and the fungal odor are indicators or signs of wood decay,” said Pacho, who was formerly associated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB). “Rotting wood can be crumbled as well as the presence of moisture further indicated that the decay is in the advance and active phase.”

Pacho didn’t recommend that the tree be cut down; instead, she suggested a course of fungicide treatment and the extraction of the decaying wood, which could then be filled in with concrete mix reinforced with gravel, cinder block and rebar.

Following Pacho’s assessment, the ERDB’s Forest and Wetland Research, Development and Extension Center (FWRDEC) conducted a biomechanics and structural analysis of the Alegria toog.

The agency reached a different conclusion, recommending the cutting down of the tree due to the high risk it posed to residents, commuters and surrounding properties. (It stands 9 meters, or about 30 feet, from the highway.) In its findings released in July last year, the FWRDEC said the trunk structure was continuously deteriorating due to mycelial infection and only two of its eight major buttresses were holding it steady.

“The mechanical and structural strength and stability of the toog tree has already been compromised,” said Conrado Marquez, the FWRDEC head.

The decision to cut down the Alegria toog triggered an outcry from local residents, conservationists and tree lovers across the country. It’s considered sacred by the Indigenous Manobo tribe, who believe it houses the spirits of their ancestors. Over time, it has also become a major tourism draw for the town of San Francisco.

In September 2019, the iconic tree was saved from being cut down after officials yielded to public appeals to allow treatment for the decaying tree.

But almost a year later, the local government said it hadn’t seen any improvement in the toog’s health and scheduled it to be cut down, for a second time, on Aug. 7. Again, the decision sparked protests that forced officials to suspend the activity and call for a stakeholders’ dialogue.

By Aug. 10, officials headed by Solomon Rufila, the mayor of San Francisco, and members of the municipal council, following the stakeholders’ consultative meeting, changed tack. Instead of cutting down the tree entirely, they decided to reduce its height by cutting off the top half, including its leaf canopy.

Leaves produce food for their host plant through photosynthesis, so scalping the crown of the Alegria toog is a sure death sentence, albeit a slow and painful one, according to scientists and officials. Amando Palijon, a renowned tree surgeon and former forestry professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), said the tree would gradually die if the upper portion is cut, according to a report by news portal MindaNews.

“If you notice the tree is devoid of lateral branches from the base to the general crown level which is normal architecture of the tree,” Palijon said. “This means that this will not assure the tree will produce sprouts that will develop into branches that will subsequently form the crown that is needed to make it function physiologically.”

Lawrence Tinampay, a spokesman for the San Francisco municipal government, told Mongabay that officials had decided to trim the tree — the actual amount to be cut is still unknown — so the public can still see the legacy tree (or at least its trunk) at its exact location as part of a municipal landmark.

He agreed with the assessment that because the leaves of the tree, all on the topmost portion, would be cut off, the tree would eventually die.

“The toog tree will be cut off to a considerable height that it will no longer pose a danger to the lives of residents and commuters, and their properties,” Tinampay said. He denied allegations the government had been negligent about conserving the tree. The “time has come to choose between safety and heritage, and with the decision to cut it to a considerable height, local officials have achieved both ends,” he said.

Jurgenne Primavera, a renowned marine scientist and native of Agusan, blamed officials for their failure to curb the deterioration of the tree, which the municipal council recognized as a “protected tree” through a 2012 ordinance. “It’s a result of poor governance,” she told Mongabay.

Primavera, a pioneering member of Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts, a social media group with some 14,000 members, said that up until the 1990s, there was still a wide swath of vegetation surrounding the tree. In 2005, the community had begun to encroach on the area as people cleared away the vegetation to build their houses, she added.

Leonilo Tandog Jr., the San Francisco disaster risk reduction officer, said there are proposals to retrofit the tree with a support structure that will not only prevent it from falling over but will also double as viewing decks to keep the tourists coming to San Francisco. The town offers views of Mount Magdiwata and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area spanning 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of complex freshwater marshes and watercourses with numerous shallow lakes and ponds.

But “we cannot compromise public safety,” Tandog told Mongabay.

The local consortium Save the TOog tree Please (STOP), headed by  Mauro Bravo Jr., urged the government not to cut the Alegria toog and instead allow the recommended scientific treatment to save it. The group called for a third-party scientific reassessment of the state of the health of the Alegria toog.

Primavera said she believes the tree can still be rehabilitated, citing the case of a bitaog tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) in the town of Magallanes, in neighboring Agusan del Norte province. Declared a Philippine centennial tree in 1998, the bitaog’s two big branches broke down due to fungal rot in June 2017.

Through a regimen of tree surgery, fungicide treatment and regular checkups, the bitaog tree is still alive today. Primavera said officials in San Francisco should do the same for the Alegria toog. “The toog tree can be saved, no need to cut it,” she said, adding it’s also important to conduct further studies to improve its physical and structural stability.

Officials have not yet set a date for cutting the tree “to a safe height,” pending further instruction from the DENR. For now, the STOP local consortium and Filipino tree conservationists say they’re committed to keeping the flame of protest glowing to save the centuries-old Alegria toog from being destroyed.

Eco-Friendly Behavior In This Finnish Town Gets You Free Cake

Ailsa Ross 
Aug 31, 2020

One Finnish town is literally helping green-minded citizens eat cake as they reward eco-friendly behavior with various rewards: including free public transport tickets, swims, and yes, cake.

A little north of Helsinki, the city of Lahti has developed an app tracking the carbon emissions of local residents based on whether they get around by car, public transport, bicycle, or on foot.

Residents who volunteer their information in the CitiCAP app get a carbon quota for the week.

If they have some of their allowance leftover, they get ‘virtual euros’ to spend on things like bus tickets, bike lights, access to public pools, or coffee and cake at a local cafe.

In a city of 120,000, so far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app.

The project’s research manager, Ville Uusitalo, told Euronews, “You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low, but this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

MORE: 2 Million People in India Gather to Plant 20 Million Trees Along the River Ganges—All While Social Distancing

Currently, about 44% of trips in Lahti are considered sustainable. The city, which is the EU’s 2021 Green Capital, plans to lessen its environmental impact even more over the next decade, so that by 2025 the city is carbon neutral. By 2030, the aim is that at least half of the journeys taken are done so by sustainable means rather than by car.

Changing Perspectives

City council worker Mirkka Ruohonen, told AFP that the app has helped changed her perspective in the seven months she’s been using it.

“I went for a hiking weekend and we did 15km of hiking, but I had to travel 100km by car,” she said. “After that I checked the app and I was like, ‘Was that a good thing?’ Maybe for me but not for the environment!”

RELATED: Downtown Sydney is Now Powered By 100% Renewable Energy Thanks to Historic Deal

CitiCAP’s developers are planning to create similar tools in the future that will help people with their consumption-related carbon emissions.

After all, as Uusitalo explained to Euronews, “Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint.”

Face-Masked Batman is ‘The Superhero to the Homeless’, Bringing Food to Them Across Santiago

Judy Cole 
Aug 22, 2020

The streets of Santiago, Chile may be a long way from Gotham City, but among its citizens dwells a true superhero. Far from being a fictional crime-solver, he’s a real-life hunger fighter who distributes food to the city’s homeless population on a regular basis.

With his Batmobile—or in this case, white SUV—fully stocked with a cargo of hot meals, he dons a shiny black costume complete with a cape and two masks (one with pointy comic book ears and eye slots; the other, for COVID-19 protection).

The self-proclaimed “Solidarity Batman” is doing his part to make life during Chile’s months’ long lockdown more bearable for some of those hardest hit by the current pandemic.

But this Batman’s do-good mission is about more than simply delivering food. Knowing that sometimes all it takes to nourish the soul is a little humor or a few kind words, he aims to feed people’s hearts as well as fill their stomachs.

He chose the Batman outfit to cheer people up, and it fosters a feeling of togetherness.

“Look around you, see if you can dedicate a little time, a little food, a little shelter, a word sometimes of encouragement to those who need it,” he told Reuters.

And, like Bruce Wayne, this modest caped-crusader prefers to keep his identity anonymous.

Yet, no matter who the man beneath the mask is by day, the message he delivers along with his meals is clear. As Simon Salvador, one thankful beneficiary of Batman’s compassionate outreach told Reuters, “It is appreciated…from one human to another.”

Once Left For Dead, The Aral Sea Is Now Brimming With Life Thanks to Global Collaboration

Andy Corbley 
Aug 17, 2020

Kissing the borders of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the North Aral Sea is experiencing an ecological resurgence following a long period of decline.

In 2005, a $86 million project from the World Bank made repairs to dykes and paid for the construction of an eight-mile dam.

This project raised water levels of the sea by 11-feet in just seven months—going far beyond scientists’ hopes of a rise over three years.

The Kokaral Dam’s erection south of the Syr Darya River has proven to be the catalyst in an incredible resurgence of local fish stocks. Beyond this great news for local fishing communities, the sea’s recovery has also led to a reduction in local disease rates from formerly-contaminated drinking water.

Once the fourth-largest freshwater lake on Earth, starting in the 1960s the Aral Sea shrank dramatically after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects—so much that it split into the North and South Aral Seas.

When this happened, increased salinity in the water led to the die-off of several fish species like bream and perch, leaving the resilient flounder as the only animal capable of dealing with the high salt content.

Fishing for hope

Between 1957 and 1987, fish harvests fell from 48,000 per year to zero. Now, since the Kokaral dam was built, levels of salt have returned to normal. As a result, fish stocks have exploded back to life.

National Geographic reports that in 2018, catch limits were set at a generous 8,200 tons: a 600% increase from 2006.

Many of the surrounding communities depend on fishing for their livelihoods, and for Askar Zhumashev, 42, a supervisor at Kambala Balyk Processing Plant, he has seen the recovery firsthand in the inland town of Aralsk, where he and his team process roughly 500 tons of fish a year.

“When I was born, the sea was already gone,” Zhumashev told National Geographic. “I went to the Aral Sea for the first time only two years ago. My parents used to tell me that the boats would come in and out every day from the old port.”

The World Bank followed up with an effort to restore delta and wetland habitats on the Uzbekistan part of the Aral Sea through the Drainage, Irrigation and Wetlands Project.

The project is based on a successful pilot program that saw the restoration of the 100,000 acre (40,000 hectare) Lake Sudochi elsewhere in the region.

Not only do fisheries benefit from improved wetland and delta habitat. Ranching and farming improves as well. Since the project began, river and delta salinity has returned to normal, allowing local farmers to irrigate their crops.

That’s good news for local communities. And the world. As Kristopher White, a professor at KIMEP University, put it, the success of the Aral Sea project just goes to show, “Anthropogenic ecological damage can be reversed by human intervention.”

Re-Designing CommUNITY, The-Co-Creation of The New Earth Village

Collective Evolution
August 13, 2020

In this colourful time where humans are given the choice to evolve or stay the same, I am in humble ceremony and celebration for all that is unfolding. I use it as a stepping stone into TRUTH. I choose to see it as all serving personal and collective ascension, rather than labelling it as chaos, good/bad, right/wrong, and the path to a paralyzing apocalypse. I strive to lead my life with flow, and have been practising non-resistance, non-attachment, and non-judgment when stories and limited belief systems come knocking on my door.

I have held a sacred vision since I was young. A oneness commUNITY of the New Earth. A farm and forest “school” that has returned to the wisdom tradition. A shared living and learning eco-village holding space for both children and adults to connect, be curious, grow with awe, wonder, love and oneness consciousness. I see vast acreage with rolling hills, a farm and a forest, glass domes offering space for workshops, dancing, art creation, singing, gardening, drumming, woodworking, and yoga. Eco-spiritual beekeeping, herbalism, plant and spirit medicine live here. It is a space where children are raised together, a birthing hut is made to free birth in, biodynamic farming thrives, sacred ceremony to honour and celebrate our daughters’ first moon cycle, and space for boys and men to collaborate and share is created. This is a spot to land, where we return hOMe. I am in joy to know that others share the same vision. I am spearheading the gathering of souls who meet weekly to co-create this school and eco-village somewhere surrounding the Greater Toronto Area! I am so thankful and blessed to know and learn from each of these families.

I’m an educator in Ontario, and I’m grateful for my dance with the system. Truthfully, I could never squeeze my square-pegged Self in the system’s round holes, even with all of my teacher training. I have felt the fragmentation over the freedom. My children are age 7 and 2. I always knew that I would homeschool if I chose to be a mother. I feel so guided and blessed to have chosen homeschooling during all of their formative years. Our homeschooling days are comprised of wandering the woods with friends, learning the art of homesteading on our farm, self-sufficiency and minimalist living, reading, singing, dancing together, trusting intuition, growing food and learning to preserve it, studying with elders, making mud cakes, and breathing deeply together.

My offerings to the homeschool community in my seven short years of homeschooling are based on a passion for community development. I’ve hosted a weekly forest playgroup for three years. I’ve facilitated seasonal parent meetings to co-create homeschool cooperatives. It was beautiful to see parents to come together and offer their skills and experience to teach and guide their children, and so awe-inspiring to see sub groups form. I’ve organized adventurous field trips, and invited the remembrance of Self through holding space for women during monthly circles. In all of this, I’ve realized one simple thing. Everyone needs the freedom to play. The chance to connect, to embody love, to be seen, heard, and understood.

I’m hearing about the schools re-opening plan. In addition to polarity and judgment, I’m seeing the confusion and unsettlement on social media. The puzzle pieces are coming together. I see everything outside reflected within me, and I’m invited to transmute lower frequencies and an old way of life to zero point neutrality. We may feel we don’t have a choice, but there are so many pathways Source is offering us at this time to grow and advance. What is the plan for our children this year? Will they flourish in active co-creation of their educational experience, one filled with play, wonder, freedom, and awe? Or will they wilt because of a fear based environment, one that supports an old belief system that we must maximize safety, boundaries, and protection. It isn’t easy for the parent who must work, for the caregiver who chooses the remote school option, for the parent who agrees to homeschool. Out of the options available to everyone, I trust we will make informed choices, choosing that which resonates in our hearts, and not because of fear.

When was school introduced and why? What was the purpose of the institution? Can we carry our school system into the new world? Are we over-schooled and overloaded with unnecessary information? What really matters for humanity’s empowerment and expansion? Do institutions and workplaces embody Unity and Unconditional Love? Do they allow for expression of True Self, alignment with the wisdom tradition of the Universe? If we did away with money, the program that we need to get a job to earn money to survive, be successful, thrive in life, would we still send our children to school? Do we need to play with such systems anymore? How can we adjust the environments in our life to feel more natural?

If we are serious about moving toward a conscious, loving, harmonious, peaceful and ecologically sustainable future, even greater collapse needs to happen and I believe we are on track for that. Our children are not our projects, the cogs in the assembly line. We will clearly see the social experiment that is the classroom, with concrete walls and on concrete playgrounds now with muzzles and shields and tape on the floor that directs us like prisoners. Power. Jurisdiction. Separation. All under the program of perceived safety and protection, belief systems that keep us small and confined.

We’re being ushered into a commUNITY of LOVE and oneness and many don’t even realize they signed up for this because they are still holding onto the OLD. Everyone wants true CHANGE, but have we tapped into the unlimited courage that allows us to be the change agents? We may expand our life experience and open up our potential to freedom and empowerment. And together in global flux, we are invited to be a part of the dismantling to co-create a loving, empowering, and evolving experience. Our world requires active co-creators and leaders who do the inner work and are connected to their True Essence, so that decisions and changes are made from the inside out, all of which uplifts and nurtures our planet.

I’m birthing this beautiful baby right now, choosing not to participate in the mainstream narrative and rule; and so co-creating The New Earth Village is an initiative near and dear to my heart, and one that is so much bigger than I am. It is the creation of a oneness community for us to create flourishing and harmony. The space will be free from hierarchy, competition, fragmentation, and separation. It’s a place full of peace, whereby we care and live and learn together in a loving and equal way, because we recognize we are ONE. Ego is on the back seat, as we lead from HEART-CENTRE.

Our intention is to gain support as we share our visions and initiative. We are passionate about connecting with other souls whose dream is to also create and support a oneness community for the New Earth. If you are interested in offering support and/or collaborating with us on the creation of The New Earth Village, please join us!

Written By Natalie Natasha

Email: thenewearthvillage@gmail.com

Instagram: @thenewearthvillage

Thank you for reading and your support!

About Natalie:

Natalie is a heart-spaced guide, a rebel, and a conscious wild woman. Her journey involves submergence in the realm of energy medicine, surrender, trust, unity, mysticism, ceremony, and celebration. She is a visionary, and her gift is in co-creating from pure source consciousness. Her passion is in community development and connecting like-minded souls. She is the catalyst and portal for spiritual expansion and deep change, and through her words and presence, she activates and awakens others to remember their wholeness, embody their Higher Self, and live out their soul’s purpose. She is here to help dismantle and collapse of all we have been told is right and true, and re-design the way we live and learn offering more freedom, fluidity, and flow. Her presence is her power, and she practises non-resistance, non-attachment, and non-judgment as she re-designs her life. These days you’ll find Natalie in ceremony with the Sun, harvesting her garden with love, curled up with nettle tea writing her book, offering guidance in coaching sessions, and hosting sacred ascension circles. @newearthnatalie

Seniors Recreate Iconic Movie Posters For Calendar That’s Raising Thousands For Alzheimer’s – And They’re Amazing

Ailsa Ross 
Aug 10, 2020

These seniors have been getting fancy with makeup and lights since long before COVID-19 spurred us all to creativity.

In genius photoshoots, residents at the Spiritwood Assisted Living in Washington State have been recreating iconic posters from classic movies for two years now. And the results are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The idea to transform seniors into Hollywood stars came to Jennifer Angell in 2018. She’s the community relations director at ‘Spiritwood at Pine Lake’. Her mission? To combine unique, enjoyable activities for the residents with something purposeful—like raising money for others.

Jennifer struck gold when she came up with an idea for a ‘film star’ calendar.

“For two years we have dressed up the seniors as Hollywood movie stars and Village Concepts, a family company that owns the senior home, produces the calendars for us,” she told GNN. “I photograph each senior after doing makeup, hair and costume. The best part is we sell each calendar and every penny earned goes to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

LOOKNursing Home Residents Recreate Classic Album Covers While in Lockdown – LOOK

“For the first calendar in 2019, the whole process took about four months,” says Jennifer. “I would do just one photo at a time, and when it was ready, I’d present it to the community at lunchtime. People passed the photo around and the featured resident would dress up in costume and parade around the lunchroom. It was so much fun for everyone.”

Jack Guptil, 83, who starred in the “Blues Brothers” photoshoot told the Issaquah Reporter in 2018, “When asked by Jennifer to be a part of the calendar, I didn’t want to be bothered, but when I saw how much fun people were having being someone else, I said that’s me—Elwood from the Blues Brothers.”

Fedoras, check. Sunglasses, check. Two ‘somebodies to love’, check.

The first three boxes sold out in just four days. “Resident families just loved it and swooped them right up,” says Jennifer.

After the Alzheimer’s Association posted them for sale on their blog in 2018 they raised around $14,000.

Jennifer gave GNN the inside scoop about the theme for the 2021 calendar. It will be ‘Iconic Figures’ including pop culture icons like Sonny and Cher, Willie Nelson, and Andy Warhol, alongside historical notables like Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The annual resident calendars bring so much joy to not only the residents but their families,” says Spiritwood’s Executive Director Michelle Strazis. “They feel good about themselves participating in something that makes them feel so special and to be contributing by helping raise money for such a worthy cause.”

Which iconic Hollywood image is your favorite? Scroll down to see them and share the ones you love the most.

Do you think this senior had maple syrup spaghetti cravings after their Elf photoshoot?

All Photos by Spiritwood Assisted Living

Here’s one ‘way cool’ version of Wayne’s World.

Spock and the gang are back in this futuristic tribute to Stars Wars—‘ ‘The Older Generation’.

Helen Mirren (and the world’s most famous Elizabeth) would surely bestow a crown on this lady for her homage to The Queen

Tom, is that you? Here’s one senior with a need for speed… and an apparent love of Top Gun.

Oh Marilyn! Junita Oney brings old school glamor with this stylish rendering of Ms. Monroe.  

Click below to see more photos and learn how to order a calendar…

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When Hunger Intensifies in Pennsylvania, the Soup Brigade Mobilizes

GOOD NEWS NETWORK
August 7th, 2020

When New Yorker Julie Snarski first moved to the picturesque community on the Delaware River, she felt like she had wandered onto a television set. From Yardley’s charming downtown, with buildings dating back to the 18th century, to St. Andrew’s Parish, the beautiful Episcopal church next to a tree-lined pond and historic graveyard, it’s easy to see why Snarski had trouble believing the town near Trenton, New Jersey was real.

Not only is Yardley, Pennsylvania real—it’s really kind, too, and its been named one of America’s 50 Nicest Places by Reader’s Digest.

For nearly four decades, on the third Sunday of every month, St. Andrew’s parishioners have been meeting in the church parish house and assembling meals for elderly and shut-in residents of the five-county Philadelphia area.

The coronavirus ended their proud 37-year streak. But church members figured out a way to continue their essential service, just as the need skyrocketed.

Caring for Friends, the organization that distributes the meals, came up with the idea for the parishioners to make meals in their homes. They enlisted neighbors to help, and pretty soon the volunteers were cranking out 1,000 meals and 400 containers of soup each week—almost ten times more food than before.

“I’ve been impressed how this seed of an idea has taken root,” says Snarski, who nominated Yardley as the Nicest Place in America.

“There was all of this passion and energy around feeding people and food justice, so we thought, What else could we do?,” says the Reverend Hilary Greer. “We got inspired after learning that 40 percent of America’s produce in World War II came from victory gardens in backyards and at churches. I thought, What if we did that here?”

MOREChef Andrés’ Charity is Injecting $50 Million into Restaurants By Paying Them to Feed the Hungry

They couldn’t come together to plant a community garden in one place, so they created a community garden throughout the community. Anybody who wanted to join in came to
St. Andrew’s to pick up seedlings to plant at home. As the tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and basil came in, the home gardeners brought the bounty to the church to be distributed to area food banks including the Bucks County Housing Group and the Interfaith Food Alliance, also located in Bucks County.

St. Andrew’s is also educating its largely White parish and community about racism, with training and discussion sessions every Sunday after church via Zoom. (The training and discussion sessions will occur every Sunday via Zoom in July.)

“We’re a White, wealthy suburb,” Rev. Greer says. “We need to learn all of the ways that racial injustice fuels criminal injustice, and injustice in the educational system. Until people get how all this is interconnected, they’re never going to understand why all of this is happening.

ALSOSchool’s Food Drive to Help Those Affected By Looting in Minneapolis Turns Into Tsunami of Grocery Bags Deliveries

“We’re going to have conversations that go places that are uncomfortable, it’s how we grow. We will show up to listen, and bring our whole selves to the conversation. We will be in it for the long haul,” says Rev. Greer, “not just while the protests are happening.”

Need more positive stories and updates coming out of the COVID-19 challenge? For more uplifting coverage, click here.

Opinion: Can We Expect Peace Between Nations When Our Most Basic Relationships Fail?

Arjun Walia
August 6, 2020

To say that I’m sick of politics is like a chemo patient saying he feels under the weather. I’m dying here. I’ve pondered wearing earplugs to muffle the pundits. I’ve considered using Google glasses to program “Trump” and “Democrats” and “Republicans” out of my visual spectrum.

Because there’s one issue that must come before politics…

It’s marriage.

Our romantic relationships are the basic unit of civilization. Men and women have children and build families, which make up neighbourhoods, communities, cities, states, and nations. Basic logic, right?

And it takes civilized people to make a civilization. So how can we expect to have peaceful nations when our most basic relationships are downright crude? We have missions to Mars and particle colliders that are rumoured to open portals to new dimensions. But, when it comes to love… we’re dragging our knuckles on a flat Earth.

Our version of love is a cycle of insecurity

We can’t stand to be alone. But rather than learning to love our lives and find meaning alone, we place impossible standards for fulfillment on our lovers. We get a little security, and a lot of pleasure. But when the chemicals wear off, we’re left with the truth: We don’t know anything about our lovers.

And when we do get to know each other, we hate what we find. Then we split. But each split tears a thread in the fabric of our society, because family is our foundation.

We can thrust ourselves into heady political conversations, and pretend that our red (or blue) rage is going to build a better world. But those political solutions aren’t addressing the root cause of our pain. We just need to fix how we love first.

Foundations of love

Foundations are, well, foundational to success. So we pave them for our houses, we practice scales before learning a difficult piece of music, and we learn the fundamentals of math before going on to algebra and calculus. We know that we need a strong foundation for successful relationships, too. But who actually takes the time to build one?

Loving responsibly is hard. It seems outdated or religiously nonsensical by today’s standards (getting to know someone inside and out before you take them to bed?), but if you don’t have a strong foundation, you’ve got a house of cards. Just like every one of my previous relationships.

From age 12 I trained myself to objectify women by watching porn. And until my early twenties, I was more concerned about my next sexual fix than my career. I hooked up with girlfriends not because I wanted to love them with all my heart, but because they were my key to security and satisfaction — which I got, for a time. But the net result was an increasingly lonely, unfulfilled, and depressed version of me.

By the end of my last relationship, I seriously considered taking my own life. What was I doing wrong? After picking up reflective habits like journaling and meditation, I figured it out.

I wasn’t fulfilled alone. I was bored alone. And I was unsuccessful alone. But in my mind, relationships were magical things that would wash all the bad stuff away and make me happy — kind of like a drug. In reality, for each desire that I lacked on my own, like joy, or security, I was strangling my relationships with conditions.

I’d “love” a girl until I was no longer joyful with her, or until she bored me. Then, for each condition that she failed to meet — no one can be perfect 100% of the time — I withdrew my love from her, bit by bit. The withdrawals happened on her side, too.

By the end of my relationships, whether they were six-month flings or two-year engagements, the end was predictably uncivil. We abused each other with our language. We cheated on each other, and betrayed each other’s trust. We blamed each other on and on for what the other had failed to do. Almost sounds like our relationships with other countries…

But the real failure was in choosing each other as romantic partners. It was in pursuing love without getting to know each other’s values and character traits first — before we built a foundation. We gambled on placing our faith in each other. And, like most people, we lost. Big time.

Rather than castrating myself, or settling for an endless string of heartaches — somebody shoot me — I worked on the foundation of my next relationship. I worked on me.

I learned to lean into my insecurity

Instead of running for another girl when I got lonely, I leaned into my insecurity and learned more about me. I developed a prayer life and a relationship with God. And I stuck to my new habits of journaling and meditation.

Through mindfulness, I channeled my sexual desire into my goals and self improvement. I felt the urge to ogle gorgeous women, of course, and at 27, their beauty moves me now more than ever. But I trained myself to move in a positive direction, to express healthy emotions at a woman’s beauty — like gratitude, inspiration, and awe — instead of imagining how she could please me.

Then I took it a step further.

I disciplined myself to think of a woman’s future husband. Would he respect me for the way I was thinking about her? And then I’d think of my future wife. If I couldn’t expect myself to view other wives with dignity and respect, how could I expect that of other men in looking at mine?

In my new way of thinking, I shed my selfish ways and became a man — and a neighbour, and a lover. A year into the habit I became independent for the first time in my life. I discovered my writing career and found success in it. And I became a role model for other people.

My dramatic life change happened because I figured out how to harness my sexual desire in an uplifting way. And in learning how to love civilly, I became a functioning part of civilization. *But people still call me out for not voting…

How you can love civilly

The way we think about each other determines how we act: civil, or uncivil. So you’ve got to train yourself to think respectful and positive thoughts — especially when it comes to beautiful men and women.

No matter how much we hope, the magical love chemicals can’t erase reality: We either love each other with respect, or we don’t. And if we don’t, our relationships will degrade, and our families will degrade. And as our broken relationships pick up steam down the social gradient, our communities degrade, and our cities degrade. And if the cycle of uncivil romance continues, states and nations will degrade as well. It’s basic logic.

So, you can talk about what these morons in office are doing to feel important and keep you occupied… or you can do something that actually makes a difference. You can learn to love like a human-fucking-being. Pardon my crude language.

Learn to love for the long term. Build faith in yourself. Quit porn and casual sex. Become so joyful and inspired by your own life that you couldn’t imagine expecting anyone else to be responsible for your happiness. Channel your sexual desire into your highest self. Use those urges to remind yourself of the things you haven’t done yet to become the person you want to be. Direct that energy into a future you would admire, and a person you’d be proud of.

And when you’ve changed the way you live and think, you’ll change the way you love. You’ll love civilly.

By your example, you’ll inspire others to take the harder path and to love civilly themselves. And when enough people do that… I won’t ever have to hear another political pundit for as long as I shall live. And I’ll thank you.

The Silent War – Gen. Flynn: This Is My Letter to America

EDITORS NOTE: Michael Thomas Flynn (born December 24, 1958) is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who was the 24th National Security Advisor for the first 22 days of the Trump administration until his forced resignation. He served as the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama, from July 2012 until his forced retirement from the military in August 2014. Journalist Sara Carter has repeatedly stated on-air that Flynn “Knows where the bodies are buried”, an idiom often used to describe someone who has personal knowledge of the secrets or confidential affairs of an organisation or individual.
After his forced resignation, he continued to work in the field of intelligence gathering, many believing that he is part of a covert operation by defectors within the military (actual patriots) who have been planning a take over/cleansing of the Pentagon, DIA, FBI, and possibly the complete dissolution of the CIA, not to mention ceasing the endless wars in the middle east which we are seeing right now despite Deep-State proxy armies being activated to try and instigate WWIII.
The personal spiritual nature of his letter might be a turn off to some, I’d only ask that you think of what it has been like for a man in his position. Think like an Omnist, imagine that all spirituality is important, not in terms of which spirituality is right or wrong, but as systems of self governance. It is often when religion becomes organized and manipulated over centuries to fit powerful peoples agendas that they become the twisted distortions many view modern religion as, particularly Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. People turn them to hideous inversions of the original messages of love and peace.
Without becoming an evangelist, I’d suggest that we are all spiritual beings in nature no matter what user manual you subscribe to or even if you have invented your own, whatever suits your consciousness. It seems as if this aspect of our lives is being removed by the establishment and pop culture leaving a void where Hedonism, Sabbateanism, Nihilism and apathy can flourish.

-Ryan

General M. Flynn
August 5, 2020 at 11:17am

We are witnessing a vicious assault by enemies of all that is good, and our president is having to act in ways unprecedented in decades, maybe centuries.

The biblical nature of good versus evil cannot be discounted as we examine what is happening on the streets of America.

It’s Marxism in the form of antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement versus our very capable and very underappreciated law enforcement professionals, the vast majority of whom are fighting to provide us safe and secure homes, streets and communities.

When the destiny of the United States is at stake, and it is, the very future of the entire world is threatened.

As Christians, shouldn’t we act? We recognize that divine Providence is the ultimate judge of our destiny. Achieving our destiny as a freedom-loving nation, Providence compels us to do our part in our communities.

It encourages us in this battle against the forces of evil to face our fears head-on. No enemy on earth is stronger than the united forces of God-fearing, freedom-loving people.

We can no longer pretend that these dark forces are going to go away by mere prayer alone. Prayers matter, but action is required.

This action is needed at the local, state and federal levels. Action is also required in the economic, media, clerical and ecclesiastical realms.

Decide how you can act within your abilities. Stand up and state your beliefs. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for. And face, head-on, those community “leaders” who are willing to allow dark forces to go beyond peaceful protests and destroy and violate your safety and security.

Churches and houses of worship must return to normal. We invite everyone of goodwill to not shirk their responsibilities and instead act in a fraternal fashion. If for no other reason or with no other ability, act in a spirit of charity.

We cannot disrespect or disregard natural law along with our own religious liberties and freedoms.

I am witnessing elderly people lose their connection to all that is good in their lives: connections to their faith, their families and their individual freedoms, especially the simple act of attending church, something they’ve been doing for decades.

Let us not be intimidated or fear those who cry out that we are in the minority; we are not.

Good is always more powerful and will prevail over evil.

However, evil will succeed for a time when good people are divided from each other and their personal lives — children away from their teachers, preachers from their congregations, customers from their local businesses.

America will never give in to evil. Americans work together to solve problems.

We do not and should not ever allow anarchy and the evil forces behind it to operate on any street in our nation.

No one should have to fear for their very life because some dark, disturbed force is challenged by the very essence of what America stands for.

We are “one nation under God” and it is our individual liberties that make us strong, not liberties given to our government. Our government has no liberty unless and until “we the people” say so.

God bless America and let’s stand by everything that was and is good in our lives, in our communities and in our country.

Otherwise, America as the true North Star for humanity will cease to exist as we know it.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. 

The Search Engine That Plants Trees With Every Search Has Just Planted its 100-Millionth Tree

Staff Writer,
July 11th, 2020

For eleven years, the search engine Ecosia has used most of the revenue from advertising on its website and app towards planting trees—and this month they planted their 100-millionth tree.

The German nonprofit, which became the first ‘B Corporation’ in that country because it was established for social good, has earned its founder Christian Kroll widespread praise—and one reason is that they claim to plant more native species than any other mass tree planting effort.

The phenomenon of mass tree planting began in the early 2000s when scientists began hypothesizing that the increase in CO2 emissions could be countered by replenishing the world’s forests.

Since then, projects like Africa’s Great Green Wall (and China’s Green Great Wall) or dozens of others in Asia, like this man who planted an entire mangrove ecosystem, have seen billions of trees planted over the last two decades—although many died due to improper planting or post-planting management efforts.

Ecosia often targets countries that are the most biodiverse, where tree loss directly corresponds with species loss. This has caused them to launch projects in Nicaragua and Peru, Burkina Faso and Malawi, and Indonesia and Australia.

In 2018, for example, they created a tree nursery for 200,000 trees in Madagascar, to help create a forest corridor leading from an isolated habitat to the ocean. In 2019 they created a forest agriculture project in Borneo, to prevent locals selling the land to oil palm development.

Following the devastating fires in the Amazon, the number of people who had installed the Ecosia app doubled, allowing them to fund a 3 million tree-planting project in Brazil. In the wake of the Australian bushfires, Ecosia began restoring native forests there.

Just last year they celebrated their 50-million-tree milestone, having now doubled it in just one year’s time.

“100 million trees tackle the climate crisis by removing 1771 tonnes of CO2 every day, but it means so much more than that,” wrote Ecosia in their blog. “100 million trees means habitats for endangered animals. It means healthy rivers, more biodiversity, and fertile soil, and more fruits, nuts, and oils for local communities.”

Ecosia is a dream company for any environmentalist. Besides planting over 100 million trees, they have built their own solar power station—to energize 200% of all the power required to run their servers. They have also added little notes to their search results to let you see whether a company is tree/planet friendly, or whether they utilize a lot of fossil fuels.

They have also committed to never selling the company, so that no one will ever “become rich” from their efforts, except Mother Earth.

You can download the Google Chrome extension for Ecosia here.