Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A New Semester: Teaching Environmentalism and Living Through Irene the Hurricane

So you think it only takes place in books and movies?

Two books I teach regularly deal with post-Apocalyptic narratives--Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler) and Into the Forest (Jean Hegland).  I spent the summer weeding through a few more: Kunstler's The Long Emergency, The World Made By Hand, and Atwood's Year of the Flood.  I also spend much of my time contemplating nuclear disaster, climate change scenerios, and dire water predictions.

So, when a week ago my house rocked back and forth from the earthquake, and a few days later a tornado and hurricane struck my neighborhood-- and, in the middle of the night there was a large blast of sound and red in the trees behind my house that signalled "fire"--I fearfully wondered: what if?

What if? 

I know one thing; I have no ability to survive in a world made by hand.   I have no survival skills.   If "it" happened right now-- my little family would be the first to go.  I can't build a windmill, a generator, a house, or grow food.  I don't recognize wild edible plants.  I can't make fire.  I am not prepared.

So, here I am.  Long Island: 2011.  In the first day post- storm, driving was risky.  Many trees and electrical wires were down.  They still are.  The streets were pretty empty and there was/is no word about when the lights will come back on.  Gas was scarce for a few days, so I stayed put.  What was the point of leaving?  After the storm ended, I charged my cell phone in my car and listened to the radio there.  Most of the world seemed to be carrying on, and there was no information about our burn-out or predictions about when stuff would come back on.  It's four days into post-Irene: and many of us still have no electricity, no internet, no landline phones, no warm water.  Laundry is piling up.  Our refrigerators are full of rotting food.  Nobody seems to know when things will return to normal.

The libraries (the ones that are open) are jam packed with folks trying to work.  I'm huddled in one now.

My university, where I teach, was open for business yesterday, though.  So, while I might be camping at home,  I needed to get there to teach my first class.

I left bright and early, hoping to get my syllabi printed out for my students and accomplish other work on my office computer.  Plans thwarted:  I got a flat on the way.   The local tire stores didn't have electricity, so I had to drive quite a distance to get help on a lousy spare.  It was nerve racking.  Would I find something on time?  Would I have a second flat?  It took several hours to fix things, which meant that I arrived on campus with only five minutes to find my new classroom.

It isn't the end of the world.  Not yet.  So, I  arrived with no syllabi to hand out.  So what?  I managed to text a student to ask her to pick up some films from the library I wanted to show.  That worked.  The students will get their syllabi copies in the next few days.

Still, it makes you think.

This event is a perfect one for our class topic of Environmental Literature and Film.

What if?  And, why?  And, how might we do things differently to prevent the worst from happening?  How must we change the way we live and what we call "normal"?


So here is something you can do right now:

Join the campaign to write a million letters to Governor Cuomo of NY to Ban Fracking (hard copies).  Enlist others to do the same.  All the information you need is at this link. Tomorrow, there will be a great film you can watch there, too:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tar Sands Film by Josh Fox: What You Should Know and Why You Should Protest

Tar Sands Action/ Josh Fox from JFOX on Vimeo.

Bill McKibben just out of jail... :

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Song for the Ocean

Speaking of ecology and interconnections: I saw Kristin Hoffman perform for the first time in Northport Village, NY and sang harmony with her on a Joni song a few months ago; then Carolyn Raffensperger posted this fabulous song of hers on FB (link above), and I watched and said, "Wow. I just met this woman! Small world!" Been thinking of Kristin ever since and wanting to reconnect with her somehow, and on my last morning at Omega Institute this past week, as I was chewing on my breakfast, Kristin walked by and I recognized her yet again. We huggged and she told me where she'll be playing this week back home.  What a small and amazing world. When you want to see someone, just close your eyes, and there they are. 

Take a listen to this gorgeous song Kristin wrote about our precious oceans.

A poem in Chronogram Magazine

My poem, "Long Island Sound", is in the August, 2011 edition of Chronogram Magazine:

Long Island Sound

The same swans waiting
Year after year
long black beaked
We are still walking
Each time the sky is different
Orange, ridged in black
My arms floating
He prances up through the grass
Steps back in that moment
Criss-crossing the sand
He looks for me

You said she lay in your arms
Wind flowing through the promise of
Beautiful white breasts
Your hand across her small oval stone
Slices of blue on light
That crease and cause the fusion

Then, it all passes

Vanishing into the future of pregnancy and birth

Others, tossing their sex into each other’s nets
Year after year, successfully loving
Successfully married couples, coupling

While the feeble fail
Skimming small waves
Licking the edge of sand
Licking the broken oar
A dark cloud rises

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Omega: A goblin and many secrets

Visiting Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY during family week:  this morning  I was startled by the tangled morning glories on a wooden fence. I miss them so; my yard at home won't host glories for some reason.  When I lived in New York City, my window boxes were filled with them and they crawled up the sides of the old frames.  I love that Omega has an organic vegetable garden at its center with young folks picking and digging and tending--slowly, in unison, as a perfect dance.  For some reason I feel as if I'm in some futuristic science fiction ecofeminist novel--perhaps Woman on the Edge of Time.  I am also reminded of places I've lived, visited, and loved~such as the berry land of the San Juan Islands and Celo Community.

Things I like:
1) the plantings--flowers, veggies, green
2) the kindness of people (they look in your eyes, stop and ask you how you are and really listen, and share honestly about themselves)
3) crazy hairdos (turbans, wildness, shaved heads, colorful scarves, dreadlocks)
4) flowing skirts and scarves
5) impulsive wild laughter
6) mixed ages--babies and the very old
7) mixed human cultures (I've been practicing my french)
8) tennis in the rain
9) teenagers wear antlers and pointy ears
10) spontaneous hugging
11) dancing, dancing, dancing
12) groundhogs
14) sunshine on the lake
15) the little forest people
16) singing pete seeger on the porch with Izzie on guitar with a host of folks~young, old, black, yellow and white
17) my daughter is a goblin with a sword of many secrets (they won the battle)
18) a startling show of masks and rock and roll

Oh glory that humans can dream up such fanciful beauty~

Oh glory that I am here~

Oh amazing grace how sweet you are~

My dream:
That we should all find and build sustainable, loving, beautiful communities to live and be in, in a permanent way (such as permanence goes!)~not just short term visits (although these are good for learning and rejuvenation).   Oh, yes, we need to create and support human communities that contribute to, but do not drain, our planet's precious and gifts!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What is a new poem?

I want to tell you about The Long Emergency 
And talk to you of the vanishing bees
Just as I want to touch the crease and wrinkles 
On the sides of your eyes
The slack aging skin of your jaw
And take you inside me
And hear of your protests at the Nevada Test Site
And listen to you tell me of prison
And inhale your chemistry lessons
Just as I tell you to look in my eyes
And speak of the two children in red
(Our children)

Each book I read has a reference
To the sea where you are now

Each day I move closer
To the light beneath the water
At night understanding more
Yet you do not know my days!
Or see my words!
You make love to others--
Do they read of the end of the world, too?
Do they read of the heat and the tar?
Do they read of the explosions in the desert?

Only I can know
As I go deeper into the carbon
And the fossil
And the shale
Who you are