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Tag Archives: Environmentalism

A Life Well Lived

a life well lived jim whittaker

Fifty years ago, Jim Whittaker became the first American to summit Mt. Everest.  Today he’s still an adventurer and and avid environmentalist.  He was the first full-time employee of REI, and retired as President and CEO after 25 years with the company.

He has a couple of things to say. And we’re all ears.

 

“Being out on the edge, with everything at risk, is where you learn and grow the most.” – Jim Whittaker

 

 

 

 

 

Above Video:  A Life Well Lived | Jim Whittaker & 50 Years of Everest from Eric Becker on Vimeo.

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The Earth Does Not Belong To Man, Man Belongs to the Earth.

Despite the fact that historians have been conflicted with whether Chief Seattle said these exact words, or whether they were improved by others along the way during the ’70′s environmental movement, this profound speech perfectly captures the Native American spiritual connection to Mother Earth that lies completely dormant in most of modern society.

As a young warrior, Chief Seattle was known for his courage, daring and leadership. He gained control of six of the local tribes and continued the friendly relations with the local whites that had been established by his father. His now famous speech was believed to have been given in December 1854. There are several versions of his letter; the following was provided by Barefoot Bob.

Chief Seattle’s Letter

“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.

One thing we know – there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all.”

Check out two great book recommendations on Native American spiritual practices:  Brother Eagle, Sister Sky & “The Soul of the Indian” at our Amazon Store

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I Didn’t F it Up

I didn't fuck it up

Earth Day is Monday April 22 and we’ve done our best to pull together some of the best inspirational and informational content on the web, and just couldn’t leave out this video from the beautiful Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy.

Yes, the seriousness of our global predicament can get us down, so here’s a little humor (note: language might not be appropriate for some offices).

This might just be the theme song for all the younger generations.  Enjoy, and happy Earth Day!

Will you help un-F it up? 

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In Honor of Henry David Thoreau’s Birthday – Be Yourself, and Define Your Own Success

“…be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

Today would be the 195th birthday of legendary philosopher, poet, political pundit, abolitionist, and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, who remains, to this day, one of the world’s most important voices for environmentalism, protest (his work against slavery) and the true nature of the self vs. consumer culture.

We know, it’s been awhile since you were tested on history, but here’s your Cliff Notes / abbreviated Wiki:

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic,surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law. Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.     Thoreau studied at Harvard University between 1833 and 1837.

Thoreau’s family owned a pencil factory, which he worked in for much of his life. He was taken under the wing of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Emerson took a paternal and at times patronizing interest in Thoreau, advising the young man and introducing him to a circle of local writers and thinkers – and of course Emerson was responsible for sending him to live on his land at Walden Pond.  Thoreau also lived with the Emersons at times, serving as the children’s tutor, an editorial assistant, and repair man/gardener.

Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and “Yankee” love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.

Thoreau contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and suffered from it sporadically afterwards. Recognizing the terminal nature of his disease, Thoreau spent his last  three years revising and editing his unpublished works, particularly The Maine Woods and Excursions, and petitioning publishers to print revised editions of A Week and Walden. He also wrote letters and journal entries until he became too weak to continue. His friends were alarmed at his diminished appearance and were fascinated by his tranquil acceptance of death. When his aunt Louisa asked him in his last weeks if he had made his peace with God, Thoreau responded: “I did not know we had ever quarreled.”

Thoreau’s last words were “Now comes good sailing”, followed by two lone words, “moose” and “Indian”. He died on May 6, 1862 at age 44.

From the conclusion of Walden Pond:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

In Thoreau’s honor….what are you doing to live the life of your dreams?  If you’re not, what’s holding you back?

 

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