I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Street Farmer"

This is an article that Martin just shared with me today, about Will Allen, hands-down hero, who is changing the world with urban community & soil-enriching farming. Please read about the Street Farmer.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A message to lobbyists

pray there is no hell

Time's Running Out (aka People before Profits)

Sorry for the long delay in posts. As people probably know by now, I'm in the thick of preparing for the BEE Japan 2009 Ride, which starts in just under a month.

But while I was doing a bit of training earlier today in the hills on Konze earlier today, a thought struck me. My time is running out. Maybe I'm a bit young to be thinking this, but in terms of Japan and this blog, it's true. My job at Kusatsu High School will end at 4pm on July 28th (maybe a few hours earlier :-), and after that my time in Japan will be extended for my final 3 months for the BEE Ride.

So what's next? People ask me this often, and I used to know. "I'm going to go back to school and become a teacher!" I used to answer. But wait a minute, I'm a teacher already now, right? By title yes, and based on the fact that I stand in front of 40-odd students everyday, I suppose I am a teacher. And as the years here have passed, and I've realized I have many more interests that would make me just as apt a pupil as a teacher. And if I go back to grad school to avoid facing rejection in our current depression, what for? Environmental studies? Japanese studies? English or Psychology as I studied before? Music? No, really, I'm asking, I have no freaking clue cause if I could live to 160 I'd do them all...

I know I'm on the verge of losing your attention now, so I'll get to the point. What do we have too much of in this world today? (please take a minute to think about it seriously)...

My answer would be greed and lies and a general lack of responsibility & humanity. Very fun and uplifting, I'm sure you can't wait for the punchline, but I have a point here so please bear with me. Our current lifestyles, our nation and its financial, social, cultural, gastronomical system have grown into the insatiable monster they are today because about 50 years ago (and as humans long, long before) we decided that our personal profit outweighed that of life.

And thus we hunted animals to extinction for the sport, shit all over the enviornment because we assumed it was an infinite resource, and enslaved other humans beings because we had guns and they didn't.

When I first arrived in Japan I read Johnathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and the section about how the Yahoos were mesmerized by shiny objects (ie precious metals). Again in Thailand I noticed the same thing when the monkeys went for watches, earings, necklaces, and the signs that warned us to take any of these things off before climbing the steps to the "Monkey Temple."

Are humans in our current state still so easily persuaded by the thought of riches that we would commit these same atrocities of social, special, and planet destruction in return for gold (even though practically all our gold has been locked since the Great Depression and our cash magic wanned into plastic and online digits)?

Every time I wake up I am reminded that the answer is clearly yes. And while I recognize we are not all active participants in genocide, toxic pollution, deforestation, third world enslavement, animal commoditization which poisons ourselves and our children,


Well that is going to change, because I've decided what I'm going to do with my life. Through BEE I've realized that people don't want to be ignorant, but honestly just don't think they no better. There's a double-edged sword to watch out for here
1) people don't want to feel scared and helpless, and they will choose ignorance over ambivalence
2) if you give people the options, provide them with the awareness, get them the message, the chance we can start working together to make a better society can only improve.

The information is there, studies show that McDonalds + Coca Cola + WalMart = exponential death via corn and oil.

I want to rebuild this world, because we are the people who live with the consequences, and we owe ourselves and each other a better world. I'm starting by calling bullshit, and showing people what they can do to make things better for themselves, for everyone & thing living in the world, and for the earth. Just a warm-up:

1) When genocide in Darfur continues without significant UN intervention because China and their allies block the intervention votes, millions of people die and are raped and are forced to starve homeless in refugee camps.
RESULT: China gets cheap oil to make shit Americans don't need but buy because it's made with oil imported from unstable govt of Sudan, China's emissions skyrocket over past 20 years.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Don't buy Chinese products (buy local anyway to reduce oil from transportation), write a letter to the UN, tell someone about this vicious cycle and get more people thinking so you are not alone with the burden of knowing

2) When you use products made from inorganic chemicals (that's a long list but think of just about anything in your bathroom cabinet--Old Spice, shaving cream, shampoo, hair dye––anything man-made and not naturally occurring), these chemicals leak endrocine disruptors which are unregulated by the US gov, and seep into the water system, causing frogs to grow 6 legs, male fish to carry eggs, and retard sexual maturity in humans as well.
WHY? Because there is no way to treat for these chemicals, because they never had to be approved before thrust onto the market in the first place.
RESULT: Water quality is deteriorating and incrasing rates of breast & prostate cancers, and well as other unnatural
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Use natural products, which can be just as effective and fashionable as synthetics; what's really more important, physical appearance or providing safe water for yourself and your children?

For more info about similar issues about health, the environment, eating healthy, and cycling of course!--check out the links section of beejapan.org, which has been a major project for social awareness for the past couple months.

And I encourage you to call bullshit anytime you see humans trading people for profits.