Ancestral Healing Through Our Community

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When we consciously relate to our ancestors, it can be a tremendous source of healing, guidance and companionship. It can help us to relate more positively in our communities. Making it a daily ritual to honor the people who have come and gone before us is so important for any kind of spiritual work. It opens the door to a part of ourselves we haven’t yet healed or acknowledged. Even if you do not know anything about your lineage or blood family, try to find the place inside yourself to honor those who have come before you. Honoring our ancestors includes not only our blood relatives. We can draw upon strength of anyone who has come before us to inspire or influence. Writers, artists, healers, activists, etc.

Now is the time to strengthen our bonds within our communities. When people come together with a common intention or purpose, we can make huge changes and empower one another. There are many forms of community and many ways to come together for a purpose. Find a way of connecting that works for you.

We’re in a time where the news is full of scarcity, violence and corruption. How can we make room for abundance and call in the wisdom of our ancestors? What can we do personally to support and strengthen our own community? How can we stand up for those who are not being heard? For the people who are struggling everyday just to survive and for their basic rights. For those of us who have more choices and have more options, how can we show up even more for those people whose voices aren’t heard?

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Pop-up Park Bench Shelters: Helping The Homeless

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Trying to stop the homeless from taking shelter on the street by placing strategic spikes in the ground might be absurd, but the attitude isn’t unique. (After all, forcing the homeless out of cities before major global sporting events could even be called something of a tradition.) Last year, one advertising agency decided to point out something even more absurd: The fact that people have to sleep on benches in the first place.

In 2013, Canadian firm Spring Advertising approached the RainCity Housing and Support Society, a local shelter and advocacy organization in Vancouver, with an idea for modifying bus stops and park benches. Instead of trying to discourage the homeless from sleeping on them, they’d welcome them to stay.

As a result, the creatives ran a campaign with park benches that folded out like airplane tray tables into miniature shelters. By day, one version of the benches read, “This is a bench.” But at night, the dark revealed a different message: “This is a bedroom.”

Rob Schlyecher, Spring’s co-founder and creative director, explains that the campaign was intended to draw attention to the lack of housing and mental health resources for Vancouver’s homeless population. The city has a particular problem with homelessness because it’s the one of the few areas in Canada that doesn’t freeze in the winter, he notes.

But Schlyecher also has a very realistic sense of where the campaign falls in the spectrum of housing solutions. It’s a small action, he says, part of a program the agency has run since its inception, called “strange acts of kindness.” This year, Spring is forgoing awards ceremonies and donating the money that would have been spent on travel to local charities instead.

“The advertising industry doesn’t really give a lot back to the community, and we felt like we wanted to change that,” Schleyer says. “We’re not doing very much. We’re not Mother Theresa. We just feel that when we’re not using our skills to sell products we’d like to use them to help people.”

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The BIQ: World’s first algae powered building

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Does it make sense to power buildings with algae? That’s the question that arises with the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, in Hamburg, Germany, which has now been operating for more than a year.

The panels are 0.78 inches thick and cover about 200 square meters in total. They’re filled with algae from the Elbe River and pumped full of carbon dioxide and nutrients. When sunlight hits the 129 “bioreactors,” photosynthesis causes the microorganisms to multiply and give off heat (the water goes to about 40 degrees C). The warmth is then captured for heating water or storing in saline tanks underground, while algae biomass is harvested and dried. It can either be converted to biogas, or used in secondary pharmaceutical and food products.

A prototype building, BIQ is being monitored by the Colt Group, which hopes to market the system, created by Splitterwerk Architects and Arup. Wurm says they’re pleased so far. “It’s producing more heat than we thought,” he says. “We optimized the performance after introducing a new set of pumps at the beginning of the year.” Surveys show the people in the 15 apartments are also content, as well they might be. They have no heating bills and plenty to show off to visitors.

Algae power has the additional advantage of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, though the amounts involved are not huge. Wurm says each square meter of panel reduces emissions by eight tons a year, which includes two tons sucked up in the green gunk and six tons left unproduced by generating energy using dirtier methods. The building currently reduces overall energy needs by 50%, and Wurm says 100% is achievable. Combined with solar panels to power the pumps and heat exchangers, the building could be completely self-sufficient.

Wurm says we’re likely to see the first full-blown commercial applications on data centers, which of course are particularly energy hungry, and require a lot of cooling. That’s another advantage of algae: it provides natural shading as it absorbs sunlight.

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Disarm – Turning Weapons Into Instruments

Pedro Reyes uses sculpture, video, and performance to explore the boundaries between the individual and the group, between ordinary experiences and extraordinary moments of interaction. His socially engaged practice seeks alternative methods to restore a peaceful society through pedagogy and participation.

He wants people to think about the availability of guns in the United States, and the impact that has in Mexico. At the University of South Florida in Tampa, he recently held a series of workshops and a performance, using theater to encourage a discussion about guns. It’s called “Legislative Theater,” a style of performance pioneered in Latin America in the 1960s to influence social change.

In Tampa, Reyes called his project “The Amendment to the Amendment.” Specifically, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms. Reyes asks his actors and the audience to consider if there are possible changes that might improve the amendment

Reyes believes art should address social issues like gun violence, even when they’re difficult and controversial. “We have to be allowed to ask questions,” he says. “If you are not allowed to ask questions, you are not free.”

Reyes also addresses the issue of gun violence in another way, by using guns themselves. His first project began in 2007 in the Mexican city of Culiacan. As part of a campaign to curb shootings, the city collected 1,527 guns. He used them to create art.

“Those 1,527 guns were melted and made into the same number of shovels,” he says. “So for every gun now, there’s a shovel. And with every shovel, we planted a tree.”

Find out more at http://www.pedroreyes.net

Cultural Conditioning and the Importance of Critical Thinking

Cultural Conditioning and the Importance of Critical Thinking

A person’s culture is a collective of beliefs, methods, way of life, and social perspective which a person acquires in their mind. We’ve been conditioned since the day we were born by religion, educational systems, government, corporate advertising and media in an attempt of socialization. We make moral judgments all the time and these are largely influenced by cultural conditioning. Hasty moral judgments are deeply ingrained blocks to thinking critically, for the values upon which they are based typically are imparted very early in our lives, well before we can seriously examine them and the belief systems they spawn. Thus, before we’re mature enough to think intelligently about subjects of religion, race, sex, and politics. As a result we tend to acknowledge what supports our acquired moral value systems and to ignore or dismiss what does not. We wall ourselves off from disclosure contrary to our preconceptions, thereby purchasing security at the price of insight and understanding.

The exposure of conditioning and cultural programming in which an individual receives to form their perception then creates the parameters of their thoughts, motivations, and ultimately their behavior; essentially limiting the practice of true free will. A mind that is largely free of cultural conditioning is one which uses methods of analysis, evaluation, validation, and integration on all information being presented. This type of mind does not typically respond to events or information based solely on cultural programs, but yet seeks verification, establishment of context and evaluation of underlying influences. A free mind challenges reason, often in opposition of information at face value.

Cultural conditioning will always be apart of the foundation of an individual’s social architecture. It’s important as a community to begin to promote and instill in our future generations the values of self awareness and critical thinking in attempt to breed optimal leaders to excel and supersede the unimaginable barriers of current society. Encouraging true self assessment into the natural process of thinking is a critical component in development of one’s self. Being capable of relying less on the experts outside our ourselves, and more on the greatness within to promote the establishment of genuine independent thought and self-empowerment.

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The Divine Feminine Intuitive Shift

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We are on the verge of a shift, the feminine, intuitive energy is recycling into our lives to balance the dominant male-oriented thought forms that have set the tenor for modern societies. The current state of our military industrial-complex exemplifies exactly what we must evolve away from. Such aggression is the age-old impulse to dominate and control through fear.

A polarity runs throughout the universe. It is a form of energy you might be familiar with as yin and yang, or female and male. This polarity is reflected in humans as the left and right brain hemispheres. The left brain is the domain of the male force — logic, intellect, analytic thought, science and math. As the source of intuition, feeling, holistic thought, art and abstract creativity, the right brain is more femininely oriented.

Ancient spiritual texts identify the yin, or female force, the feminine face of God, if you will, as that which led the fall or dispersal of consciousness into creation. When consciousness first fell into material form, this feminine force would have dominated the minds of our early ancestors. History does tell us that most societies prior to 3,000 BC were feminine oriented and worshiped some form of the goddess in their mysteries. The world would have seemed magical to the early humans as they intuited their way through life in pulsations with the rhythms of nature.

But now consciousness found itself embodied in physical form subject to all the laws and perils of physical existence. Wild beasts preyed on our ancestors. They needed to gather food and seek shelter. They had to organize and analyze in an effort to understand and control their environment.

The left brain, or male way of thinking, eventually came to dominate the human thought process so successfully that today we are practically destroying ourselves for the sake of dominance and power as we find ourselves living in the vestiges of modern patriarchal societies today.

The gateway to higher consciousness is balancing our male/female energies to make intuition and intellect work in harmony. It is through this female energy (creativity, compassion, emotional, understanding) that the evolution of our planet will become whole. The male energy force (focused, direct, logical, statistical) has served it’s purpose through science and technology allowing us to progress to this point. However, it is now time for our spiritual emotional higher self to be expressed; originating from LOVE.

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Support Schoolyard Farms

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Help transform underutilized schoolyards into farms from now until Dec. 6th by donating to Schoolyard Farms’ Indiegogo campaign. Together we can bring back the basics of how to grow food and cook nutritious meals. In turn, we’ll nourish our kids and our communities. Schoolyard Farms is working to create farms from underused schoolyard space to feed cafeterias and educate students about healthy food-systems. Schoolyard Farms has spent the last two years laying the groundwork to make this vision a reality in Milwaukie, Oregon: They have cultivated their first three-quarter acre farm at Candy Lane Elementary, sold thousands of pounds of produce to our community, designed and taught garden-based curriculum to over 300 students, built their community’s support and a board of directors. Now they need our help to grow from a grassroots, volunteer project to a sustainable organization that can expand to other schools and make a profound impact.

Click here to make a donation before Dec. 6th.

Reaching Your Unconscious Consciousness

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There are four levels of consciousness. Most people never make it out of level one and are condemned to suffer in a self-sabotaged inner world. Here are the four levels of consciousness:

1. Unconscious Unconsciousness
At this stage you are not even aware that you are unconscious. You attract negative things into your life at a rapid pace, as if you have developed a negative ball of energy rolling down hill. Nothing is ever your fault and you are always looking for someone to blame.

2. Conscious Unconsciousness
Here you are aware of your negative thinking and the consequences that it might bring. You might see your negative pattern and have become aware of what it is that you are attracting. You may not like what you are attracting, but you have taken responsibility for it.

3. Conscious Consciousness
You deliberately decide to focus pure and positive thought on something and remove all resistance to its arrival. And, sure enough, it arrives. Your creation might be something as simple as visualizing a parking space opening up for you at the mall. You deliberately intended it, allowed it to come to you and acknowledged it when it arrives.

4. Unconscious Consciousness
When you get to this point, you do not have to work so hard to create things in your life. You are a believer in how the mind game is played and you spend conscious time each day making your mind important. New creations come to you easily and quickly. You have built a positive ball of energy that continues to roll forward in your favor. People call you the “lucky one”.

This consciousness is beyond the body, feelings and thoughts. It is beyond beliefs, attitudes, names, gender, family and social or economic status. It is your inner being. You do not need to search for this Consciousness. It is here, and you are living in it all the time. You only forgot it. You let thoughts rule your life. The sky is always up there. If you don’t see it, this is because of the clouds that cover it. In the same way the clouds of thoughts cover your Consciousness, but by removing them you become aware of it.

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The Recycled Orchestra: Paraguay

The world generates about a billion tons of garbage a year. Those who live with it and from it are the poor – like the people of Cateura, Paraguay. And here they are transforming it into beauty. Landfill Harmonic follows the orchestra as it takes its inspiring spectacle of trash-into-music around the world. Follow the lives of a garbage picker, a music teacher and a group of children from a Paraguayan slum that out of necessity started creating instruments entirely out of garbage. Landfill Harmonic is a beautiful story about the trans-formative power of music, which also highlights two vital issues of our times: poverty and waste pollution.

Click here to learn more.