Some good things that are happening...
I spent a wonderful Sunday hiking in Mingo Creek Park - an absolutely beautiful day that brought me peace and lightness.
Wednesday, I am off to Orlando for APA - presentations of our studies about health and well-being of priests, and about thriving and burnout among psychologists who work in college counseling centers.
Tonight - class. I am teaching the Psychology and the Environment class again to students in the masters counseling program. Wow, what cool people. We live all across the spectrum of environmental awareness and interest, political affiliation, experience with nature, attitudes and beliefs about climate change and global warming. I learn something new every night. I struggle because there is so much that I want to share, that I want us all to think and talk about, and that others have to offer - and there is never enough time.
Tonight we took a trip around the world, looking at different ideas about "well-being" - how do we define it? how is it related to one's relationship to the natural world? We started with an article about how children in Ethiopia define their own well-being - is it related to their access to education? to productive assets like land with water, cattle, and a boat for fishing? to parents who care? to one's own behavior and moral action as these affect one's community? We moved to the Netherlands to learn about a study that explores the relationship between "Vitamin G [green spaces]" and health, then to Alaska where there is conflict between the traditional Yup'ik ways of living harmoniously with nature and respecting elders, and the Western ways that are becoming part of the Yup'ik way of life.
On to a talk by Bill Davenhall, who encouraged physicians and other medical professionals to include information about an individual's Place History in one's medical records - he believes that information about what chemicals or toxic substances one might have been exposed to, or not, in the various environments of one's life can be helpful for making decisions about health care and behaviors. Then finally - a film about how proposals to do mountain top removal in a tiny town in Kentucky created tension among neighbors, and moral and ethical dilemmas for individuals who were offered money to lease their land to mining companies for MTR.
I am not sure what we could take away from tonight's journey except that humans are intimately connected to the natural world in complex ways that greatly affect their daily lives. We are constantly challenged by conflicting needs of business and industry, laborers, farmers, lawmakers, homemakers, and consumers - and we may each fall into one or more of these categories at the same time. We all come together to make a community, large or small, and struggle to make the "most right" decisions for the common good - very hard to do under the best of circumstances.
So our class traveled around the world tonight, thinking and talking about these important ideas. All weekend, around the world, citizens went beyond thinking and talking into acting - civil disobedience, nonviolent protests - but little of it made the national news. There were anti-fracking protests in Washington, DC, anti-nuclear protests in Japan, and an action in China that halted plans to pipe wastewater from a paper factory into the ocean. And there were Occupy actions all over the place. Didja know about all this?
Closest to my heart was the Mountain Mobilization in West Virginia spearheaded by the RAMPS CAMPAIGN during which many protesters effectively shut down a mine, leading to the arrests of twenty. Here is Dustin Steele, an activist I met at Blair Mountain and at the Mountain Justice camp, speaking before the direct action and his subsequent arrest (Junior Walk is in the background):
Then I listen to Bill Moyers interview Chris Hedges about his new book co-authored with graphic artist Joe Sacco - Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt - about capitalism's "sacrifice zones" - "those forgotten corners of this country where Americans are trapped in endless cycles of poverty, powerlessness, and despair as a direct result of capitalistic greed." And I decide that I have to keep learning and speaking up.