June 2008 – From Greed to Green

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By Stephen Longfellow Fiske

Everyone is going green. On TV you can see Chevron, Dow, Ford, and other corporations green-washing themselves with tasteful eco-ads. Walmart and others have realized the long term economic value of going green.  The good news is that from the corporate CEOs to the person on the street, we are all more eco-conscious than ever before. This is a great thing, but we have a long way to go. 

What does it really mean to go green? In a practical sense, it’s changing our lifestyle so that our carbon footprint is as neutral as we can possibly make it, as we recycle, reuse, and reduce. We can drive less, and walk, ride a bike, skateboard, or rollerblade more; we can stop using plastic bags; we can buy bio-degradable eco-friendly goods; we can change our light bulbs to those energy saving fluorescents; we can work for environmental groups; we can better conserve water and other resources; we can drive a hybrid or an electric vehicle; we can keep our cars well tuned and use more public transportation—each of these and many other actions we can take are votes for building a sustainable future…and each vote counts. All of our small but positive steps together make a difference. Our future depends upon it. 

But these practical actions reflect a change of consciousness on a much deeper level. Green is the color of healing, of nurturing, of sustainability. It represents the sprouting of seeds, health, and the resurgence of life. It also represents an awareness that the environmental movement has brought to the everyday forefront of our thoughts—that we are intimately and intrinsically intertwined with our planet and all of life. What we do on one side of our world affects what we do on the other. The basic ecological teaching is that everything is interconnected; there is no “away” to throw anything. 

We and our enemies share the common air, water, and soil of the Earth. So the environmental movement teaches us that we’d better learn to get along, because there are few things as ecologically destructive as war, not to mention the ultimate threat of nuclear annihilation. You can’t punch a hole in one end of the boat and think you’re safe from sinking if you’re on the other end. In contrast, green teaches us to act as stewards and caretakers of the life support system that sustains us all. Dominion over the Earth does not mean to dominate, but rather to be gardeners for what we have been given. Nature is inherently giving—we are given all we need to live on this beautiful planet. But we human beings have been like parasites, sucking the life out of our very Mother and cutting off our own lifeline, in addition to over-populating the place. It is a biological fact that an organism cannot survive in its own waste. Our vulnerability to the lowest common denominator of human character leads us to seek the power to exploit, to pillage, rape, plunder, destroy, manipulate, control, enslave, colonize…all fueled by the disease of greed. 

To move from greed to green is the imperative for our future. In green we find inclusiveness, interdependence, and generosity. The apple tree just gives its apples; it doesn’t charge us $1.89 a pound. The rain falls freely to the waiting soil. The Sun doesn’t bill us for its light. Everything in nature has a place and a purpose. The indigenous people have always known that Mother Earth is a great teacher and provider, blessing us with her bounty, and we best respect, honor, and learn her ways if we are to live and prosper. But in the green movement, prosperity does not mean exploiting the market place for the momentary profit alone. Green creates a double bottom line, where our choices are based upon the long-term good of the whole, as well as on earning a rightful living. Can you imagine if the industrial revolution had been based upon such a philosophical economic premise? We would never be in the mess we are in now. But alas, we must learn from our mistakes and suffer the consequences, as crises so often precedes solution. A mistake as colossal as contributing to the melting of the icecaps is not one to take lightly. 

So the environmental movement has taught us the immediacy of the crisis, and although there are those who may make light of the “alarm-ringers,” the evidence is all around us. Just look at the rise of disease, the decimation of the forests, the loss of species, the depletion of resources, and the gasping, choking, unhealthy conditions of our urban centers. Do we have time to reverse our environmental peril? How do we do it? 

The green movement also teaches us that the environment has tremendous capacity to cleanse, heal, regenerate, and revitalize itself. And it is up to the human beings on this planet to help this process. The diminishing window of opportunity is upon us. One thing we can do is to have a festival, the Venice Eco-Fest, which is really a big networking of community concerns and talents on the theme of our common ground, our sacred Earth. This is the ultimate purpose of the Eco-Fest–to help move the planet from greed to green. 

As one of the leading progressive communities in our nation, Venice can take the lead in going green. The purpose of the festival is to honor the Earth and all of life, as well as to:

Promote solutions to global warming, such as having individuals, businesses and communities becoming carbon neutral.

Educate and raise awareness of the many environmental issues that affect every being on earth.

Raise awareness of conscious consumerism, to support socially and environmentally responsible businesses and organizations.

Promote the benefits of organic and healthy foods.

Celebrate life and the arts and bring the arts to the greater public.

Foster community unity – bringing together the diverse communities of the LA area, especially in Venice and the Westside, under the banner of protecting the Earth.

Showcase and support the work of our vendors, artists, and sponsors.

Feature local businesses and organizations that are ecologically friendly.

Festivals, often held during the changes of season and harvest times, have always occurred throughout human history as opportunities to celebrate our collective identity and honor our cultures. Festivals can also exhibit new technologies, innovations, and directions for our society to take. They celebrate the progress and excitement of the arts, science, and industry, magnify the awareness of new discoveries and ideas, and catalyze the momentum of a new collective consciousness. 

Throughout history, we have seen the great sea changes taking place as a result of a collective consciousness reaching a critical mass, whether it was the rise of democratic ideals, the movement to end slavery, women earning the right to vote, the ending of apartheid, or the fall of the Berlin wall. We are at a point of creating a great paradigm shift in the course of human history. It is no small thing to move from greed to green. When we come together in a festival, we can feel that critical mass coalescing in the very experience of being there. We know that we are not alone in the movement. 

Come to the Venice Eco-Fest, Saturday June 28 and let your vote be counted.

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