The Thesis – Just Transitions

So, today marks a full year since I left the land of the midnight sun.

I wasn’t kidding when I said  a piece of me would always remain there. Sometimes I miss it so much it aches in my bones.

I’ve finally finished the written portion of the related “thesis.” Since I was granted the license of doing a creative project I opted not to write a stuffy academic piece full of statistics and citations, and instead opted for an opinion piece without the jargon.

It isn’t as long as a typical thesis, but it is certainly longer than a typical Adaptive Earth blog – if you’re interested in the final learning outcome of my experience there and have some time to kill – read on!!

Just Solutions

     When I took off for Iceland, eyes clenched, white knuckle gripping the airplane armrests, I did so intending to learn about Iceland’s climate change policy. For my children I hoped to bring something worthwhile home to America.

My life revolves around being a mom, so when I hear the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of catastrophic climate chaos that will cause widespread famine, an increased number of long droughts in heavily populated and large scale food production areas, increased weather anomalies and extreme weather events, all of which will cost hundreds of thousands of lives and cause huge numbers of people to become climate refugees before even mid-century if we don’t act now, it sends shivers down my spine.

When I first decided to build my thesis work around a 12 week trip studying climate change and sustainable community building in Sólheimar, a tiny eco-village in Selfoss, Iceland, I did it hoping I could come back and contribute to the discourse on the green energy policies we seem to be sluggish on instituting here in America. Iceland seemed like the right place to go considering their optimistic and ambitious goals, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75% within the next three decades.

I was naïve though.

Not because there are no good green energy answers in Iceland – to the contrary, the choices that country makes to power itself are nothing less than of the “greenest” caliber in comparison to the typical fossil fuel alternatives; they really do put America to shame.

Think the power of volcanic heat. Think abundant, renewable water sources. Imagine wind power in one of the windiest places you’ve ever been nearly blown over by.

No, my naïveté came from the idea that green energy is even the end-all answer in the first place.

One of the most pervasive themes of my curriculum while studying with the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) abroad revolved around the idea of community building to achieve the desired results sought after for a sustainable life. Sólheimar is not just an eco-friendly-village boasting a carbon recycling system that promotes crop growth by sequestering its own climate-forcing greenhouse gas emissions, which they then pump back into their on-site greenhouses. It is also called home by a population that is roughly 50% special needs.

This may seem wholly unrelated to the theme here, but for me, it was especially intricate to my learning experience. It meant I had to do more than study charts and graphs about what a kilowatt hour of energy is worth in terms of digging up old dinosaurs to burn for power, and what the environmental impacts are of mining rare minerals for “green” energy – it meant I had to learn how to coexist with people carrying different needs than my own. I had to learn how to be a good community member not just a good thinker.

It meant I had to learn to talk a little quieter during lunch for community members with hyperactive sensitivities to sensory stimuli; that I had to pick my seat judiciously so as not to be accused of theft by the regular incumbent thereof whose anxiety levels were regulated by a need for consistency. Instead of throwing on a hood to hide from the rain, it meant laughing with those who found joy in it and proudly wearing nicknames that reflected my snack choices – I had to acknowledge that I was being made to systematically readjust my routine approach to living, not so unlike what our species will need to do as climate change continues to encroach.

In addition to the requirement of blending into this exceptional and diverse community, I was required to blend into an even more immediate community – my CELL community, which consisted of a group of 10 students including myself and two instructors, all living together in a small cottage with shared rooms.

Our close-knit group studied environmental justice issues; we watched films that showed firsthand what it means to make a living by digging through garbage dumps, what it means to accept a higher likelihood of living with breathing problems because skin color placed you conveniently closer to toxic waste sites than people with paler complexions. We read accounts of exploitation of low-wage workers in “lesser” countries by other countries with high-consumerist culture-sets who buy and sell their sweatshop products at markups workers will never see reflected in their paychecks.

We also got lectured on the disparity between the resource depletion that constitutes an American lifestyle (on average 3-5 planets’ offerings per lifetime per person) compared to that of someone living in an underdeveloped village across the ocean who doesn’t even venture to use up their share of a single planet’s offering. This is the difference between going to the mall in a gas guzzling pickup truck to snatch up the next best entertainment gadget or gizmo, and having to travel a half mile on foot to the nearest water hole to scoop up the day’s cooking and bathing resources, which may or may not be contaminated by industries owned by people from faraway places.

We then put climate change impacts into context when considering that the communities that already get hit the hardest and are predicted to continue to, have contributed least to leading lifestyles of hyper-consumerism that have cultivated the emissions problem to begin with. Lifestyles that take up more resources than a planet’s ability to give, resources which have to come from somewhere, and by logic and sheer mathematical certainty, will eventually run out.

Connecting the dots and crafting a bigger picture about what needs to be done to meet the challenges of climate disruption however, started to come less and less from the intellectual brain-packing we were doing, and more and more from the shared experiences we were having. And not just those we were having with the village community, but also, and maybe even more so, the ones we were having with each other as a tightly bound intentional community. In addition to tackling our academic pursuits together we were also cooking together, cleaning together, eating together, and challenging each other’s as well as our own perceptions of necessity regularly. We did this by picking “challenges” out of a hat once a week that we would try to take on either individually or as a community that encouraged us to rely on borrowing from one another’s strengths and skill-sets.

I remember one of the more difficult challenges we took on together was a voluntary sacrifice of all things ‘technology’ for an entire waking day. This included clocks, radios, lights, TVs, phones, computers, you name it.

It might not sound like much – a single waking day – not even 24 hours.

Believe me when I tell you this was not nothing.

This was an exercise in saying hello with eye contact. It was card games by candle light.

It was Poetryreading

Andknitting

Anddrawing

Andwalking

Andcookingbyfire.

It was living.

For real.

This was the day I realized that green energy like standard energy continues to perpetuate a lifestyle that is depleting resources faster than they can renew, and owing to its ambitions of keeping us powered up, also contributes to the climate and social crises we are dealing with today. Green energy, while an unarguably better alternative than fossil fuels in terms of greenhouse gas emission rates, is a short term solution for a long term problem; and it offers its own injuries through a whole new set of destructive ambitions, exploitations, and toxic extraction of finite resources.

These injuries can be seen in the environmental impacts on places like China that are dealing with the burden of toxic chemical leaching from the mining and recycling of photovoltaic solar panel cells – impacts that ruin fresh water aquifers and contribute to unusually high rates of digestive cancer and other associated health problems. Also in places like Northern Brazil which is nestled in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, and is home to the Carajás iron ore mine. This mine is one of the largest on the planet of its kind, and is responsible for the clear cutting of one of the world’s most vital carbon sinks, as well as of the displacement of tens of thousands of indigenous people. The resources extracted here, among other things, are used for the production of industrial wind turbines.

Green energy is a “solution” that continues to prop up a social structure that takes from the meekest to give to those who are already living in abundance – a structure that rips us away from our roots and each other; and for what? So we can get busy staring at screens.

Well, shit.

In order to get to Iceland I had to fund raise hard. One of my biggest donors was a green energy company.

So what am I supposed to do with this now?

I originally wrote a proposal for this thesis project that professed my intention to leave America, soak up all the green energy goodness abroad like a life-size sponge, and come home and sell it to the masses with my video camera.

I can’t do it anymore.

What I learned in this experience was nearly opposite of what I set out to learn, which I guess means the thesis work is working… I came up with a hypothesis about green energy policies abroad being the best answer to the issue and my experiential research has proved me wrong.

The fact is, the learning, bonding and blending I engaged in with my temporary family abroad brought me back to instinctual wisdom – the stuff that says I can find lasting and robust fulfillment in my relationships with other people and with the Earth just as much, if not more, than in a purchased trinket.

The stuff that says I don’t necessarily need to buy stuff. That I don’t necessarily have needs that require the exploitation of people who struggle to find clean water, or clean air. That I don’t need the next best technological toy that came from an extraction process that poisons a child’s backyard thousands of miles away out of sight and out of mind – not to mention emits noxious greenhouse gases that are quickly dwindling our shot at offering to future generations a planet that they can thrive upon.

If I really want to make a personal impact I can do it by growing my own food instead of financially supporting industrial agriculture, which is by far, through its production methods, transport of goods, and in some cases, through deforestation that occurs to make way for it to exist at all, is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. I can also choose to go to my neighbor’s house the next time I run out of sugar and ask to borrow a cup, building community instead of carbon foot-printing my way to the store to buy more. I can commune with my own backyard by setting up a blanket and meditating under a tree instead of draining the Earth of yet more energy by turning on the boob tube to watch other people pretending to live in the trendy sitcom of the day.

If I want to make a social impact I can support and push for political policies that address the world’s inequities caused by nightmares like unbridled free trade agreements that reward the exploitation of people living in poverty and underscore the tragedy of the commons, the unfettered growth that disregards the right each being on Earth has to an atmosphere with undisturbed equilibrium. I can push back on policies that continue to strip social programs of resources to increase funding for our already bloated military budget, which not only asks our men and women in uniform to sacrifice their lives in both the physical and emotional sense, but also boasts being another one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas contributors. I can even demand that subsidies to fossil fuel companies, which hide the external costs of bleeding and burning our planet, be replaced by a carbon tax that reflects at least some of the price tag – one that will not only reflect a more honest monetary figure but will also make us all think a lot harder before getting behind the wheel to go to the store because we too will be feeling the cost of our choices.

The majority of the movement to address climate change has largely pushed its momentum forward with renewable and green energy as the muscle behind its message, but I think that message is underscoring too many unjust solutions that are a band aid for where we really need to do the work.

It is not an original idea I’m having that we need a system change, but for me it is an alien idea that the change needed is not going to help enough if it is mostly derived from innovative energy solutions. We are going to need to change what we consider necessity, plain and simple. And if you ask me, this is accomplishable.

Hokey though it may sound, I’ve learned that the impossible is possible.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the abolitionists, the suffragists, the counter-culture activists of the 1960’s and 70’s who took to the streets and put an end to the Vietnam War, winning against one the most powerful institutions in the entire world, the United States Military Industrial Complex. Look at the 400,000 people who took to the streets of New York less than a year ago to sound the alarm on climate change.

People are waking up.

While I was about half way through my semester with CELL we visited with an internationally famed author and environmental activist named, Andri Snær Magnason who has worked on creating a more just and eco-friendly world for years unabated. Having been battling a feeling of fatigue in my own activist work I asked him what he would suggest for someone who felt like they didn’t have the motivation or strength to continue doing what they do.

Prozac, he said with a wink.

After a good laugh, he went on to talk about the choices we have in perception. The climate change crisis is exactly that: a crisis. Being a parent makes that fact live in all the more an urgent truth.

Just because the answer has more to do with changing the system than an easy one-stop-shop cure-all in green energy doesn’t mean it has to feel impossible though, and that was his take home message. We can carry it as heavy or as light as we choose through our approach.

Is the climate crisis a burden to carry or is it an opportunity to paint the world in the strokes we see beautiful?

Maybe it’s both.

We are alive in a time that as well as being scary is offering each one of us hero status. We can grab the opportunity by changing the way we live and being willing to do the work that creates socially just transitions, or we can run from the risks into a face full of electronic screens and cheaply made goods that we tell ourselves are just fine, as long as their creations were powered by wind, water, or sun – allowing the pernicious impacts of this approach to continue to ruin the future for so many of us.

Though implementing sound energy policy for people who can’t or won’t transition to a more minimalist lifestyle is certainly one component of what needs to be addressed in the ongoing threat of climate change disruption, we will pass by an incredible opportunity if we don’t see this struggle as the one that can be best solved by dragging humanity and a connection to natural living back into the sunlight.

The fact is, if we continue to take more than the Earth is willing to give us naturally, which is exactly what we are doing when we perpetuate lifestyles that depend wholly on harnessing electricity and manipulating the Earth for conveniences and entertainment, we will continue to run into a wall when trying to offer a future to future generations. Some of the populations hit hardest by climate change are those of indigenous communities who look seven generations into the future when making choices for today; if we want to survive as a species and give a shot at such for other species as well, we all need think like this.

I just landed a job as a community organizer for a nonprofit that focuses on social justice through programs aimed at empowering culturally oppressed and other impacted and marginalized communities.

When I set out to Iceland I thought I would finish up my thesis studies and search out a job with an outfit missioned to work almost exclusively on transitioning power consumption from fossil fuels to something “cleaner” but I’m finding that “clean” is a matter of perspective when finite resources and quality of life worldwide is considered.

The climate change crisis is not just a crisis of emissions – it is not just here to get us to open our eyes to the ways in which we treat the Earth – it’s also asking us to rethink the ways we treat each other, and by virtue of the inevitable connections we have to one another, ultimately how we treat ourselves.

“In the light of a collapsing world,

what better time to be born than now?

Because this generation

gets to rewrite history…”

-Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh-

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Trailer: Adaptive Earth thefilm

Hey everyone! The trailer for the Adaptive Earth film is finally up on the interwebzzz.

Check it out!

Posted in Activism, Adventure, Climate Change, Documentary Film, Education, International Travel, Photography, Sustainability | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

One More for the Road

By this time next week I’ll be back in America.

I’m so ecstatic to see my family and the best puppers dog in all the land! Too bad I can’t put this place in my pocket on my way out.

I want to take the lava. and the moss. and the birds. and the glaciers. and the grand expanse of schizophrenic sky that at any given moment might open up and pummel me with hail while in a hair’s breath be ready to kiss my cheeks with the soft springtime sun. even the smell of sulfur permeating the air. it reminds me of Earth’s gurgling underbelly. I want it.

Most of all though: the quiet.

I came here to learn about climate change and sustainability, and I did. I really did. But without bargaining for it I also reconnected with the Earth.

I expected when it was time to climb back onto that plane headed for home to feel nostalgic for the people here who became a temporary family I could rely on, laugh with, cry with, and cook with. But I never expected my cheeks to meet the tears they did last night for the relationship I fear losing with my Mother Earth.

The idea of traffic and noise is scary. I dig the sound of birds and wind.

I think the leaders of every country still perpetuating an “all of the above” energy policy ought to be forced to come to this place where the glories of Earth still poke out on every corner.

I imagine a part of me will probably always reside in this beautiful slice of wild, longing for the calm that comes with living on an island home to just over 300,000 people, most of whom live in the capital city.

With all this said though, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t another part of me that is insatiably excited to get on that plane.

I can’t wait to put my feet on the ground at home so I can try out my new-found knowledge in familiar settings, to start new sustainable projects, to build up renewed communities with neighbors and friends, and on a personal level, to strut around a more confident me than I’ve ever been.

My husband practically pushed me out the door to make me do this. After a long history of living in poverty, chewing on government cheese, wondering if I’d ever get out of the homeless shelter I was living in years ago, this world I’m in now is more than foreign, it’s alien. It took almost until I was leaving to feel like it was even real.

He wanted me to have this for me and he made sure I went after it. That I knew I was supported. That I come and learn as much as I could to bring home something of value we can both use to try and make a better world for our children.

Couldn’t have dreamed up a better partner in life.

And as if that wasn’t enough, besides him, numerous others offered support along the way by either relentlessly encouraging me, writing me letters of recommendation, or by reaching deep into their pockets to help me make this project a reality.

I am the luckiest person I know.

Looking forward to getting home to my comfy bed and my film editing software – it’s going to be an epic summer.

I’ll miss the shit out of Iceland because it stole my heart in every way it’s possible to do so, but man, though this may sound corny as a tortilla, it gave it back fuller and more ready to try and push for a better world than I ever thought possible.

So, signing off for now…but keep an eye out because I’ll be back in film form before you know it!

And of course, as always, smile BIG and stay green, folks!

Glacier

They say they were there,

Giant time crystals, ticking,

Before the sea rose.

~Brittany Longhetano~

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Taters and Beauty

The world is fucking beautiful.

Please excuse me for saying so, but look at it:

IMG_20140403_120323_534(Lava field in the heart of Snæfellsnes – unedited – no filters – click to enlarge)

Nine weeks ago I had stars in my eyes. I knew I was boarding a plane bound for beauty, my intentions bloated with all the love and worry I have for my children and the world they are inheriting.

I slung my video camera over my shoulder, packed my motivation, and made my way to another corner of the Earth to look for the missing link to solving the climate change crisis.

I found something different though.

I found the person I want to be. Sounds kind of lame, no?

I don’t care. It is what it is. I like who I’m becoming and what I’ve learned here has found the most pointed focus on how I can change.

I have no plans to slow down my efforts in trying to find solutions as I scoot along in life, but the thing I keep coming back to week after week here is that the solutions weren’t an ocean away – they are with me wherever I am in my own actions and in my own community.

I’m done trying to do it on my own. And thinking I can.

And I’m excited about it.

When I get home I’m planning a good old fashioned work party. I want to build a root cellar so I can preserve what I grow in my garden this year and drive to the store less – since community is the stickiest word I’ve found here, I’m going to invite my neighbors and others I know as well.

Of course, that means you – please come to my root cellar party…

I’ll give you a potato. And beer.

And of course, if my ‘taters and beer aren’t enough incentive for you to want to help me dig a hole to cut my carbon foot print, then how about this?

Our world is magnificent-

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Every single week I’ve been here I’ve been reminded of this fact and found a reason to cry about it.

If you too find  a weepy appreciation and want to do something in addition to coming to my party (which I know you want to do more than anything in the whole world), then check out this article about some really simple and effective ways you can make an impact: 10 Little and Big Things You Can Do (it’s a great article!)

Hope the week treats you well, friends! Smile BIG, and stay green!

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IPCC: Talk Me Down or Wind Me Up

I’m on a very limited time budget this week, so I’m going to try and keep this short if possible – I wish I could say sweet as well, but I think I might be lying if I did.

As it were, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just put out the 2nd part of their newest findings, and to say they were a bit unsettling would be putting it mildly.

According to the chairman of the panel, Rajendra K. Pachauri, “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”

For those who don’t know what the IPCC is and does, they are an international body of scientists tasked with assessing and reporting out on the current science research regarding climate change. These assessments are authored by hundreds of scientists from around the globe and include info on impacts, future risks, and best possible options of adaptation and mitigation.

They do this work without pay to inform policy makers world wide.

This most recent publication was particularly timely for me because over the weekend I got a chance to visit the Sólheimajökull Glacier, which is not only strikingly beautiful, but also frighteningly visual in terms of giving a stark example of how quickly our planet is, indeed, warming up.

Exhibit A:

(Note the lake forming at the foot of the glacier that was not so long ago glacier instead of forming lake)

forming lake solheimjokallExhibit B:

(Take a peek at the sign in front of the glacier – this is where the foot of the glacier was October of 2010)

IMG_1994

I’ve been doing my best to be solutions oriented with this blog since starting it. I’ve been using it as a catalyst to try and introduce readers to cool, far off places, and to offer treats and tid-bits about how to tread lighter on Mother Earth.

I’ve purposely shied away from being a doom-sayer when possible and to keep these posts focused on the positive.

I’m breaking ranks with this post though, because while I usually leave it to others to create a sense of urgency, I can’t help but feel an astoundingly urgent need for change after digesting some of the information coming out of this most recent IPCC assessment.

I don’t want to be alone in this feeling.

This report is being called the most sobering yet and details the ways in which people will begin to endure widespread poverty, increased food insecurity, increased pestilence and warfare, and all before the turn of the next century.

So, what can we do?

Normally, I’d take this moment to throw out some spiffy new trick of the sustainable trade I’d learned over the week, but I think this week, I’m gonna let it hang and throw it back to you.

Any thoughts?

I have plenty, but I would really appreciate hearing from the people taking the time to click on this blog and read it. Obviously you give a crap, otherwise you wouldn’t be listening to me yammer on – so please, help me get creative! or logical! or more efficient! or thoughtful if what you have to share is your philosophy on all this!

It seems often that it’s in the gravest hours we find the strongest ties of community strength and innovation.

I’m really interested in what others think and feel here.

The New York Times was kind in reminding us that though this assessment might be severe, “…growing evidence [suggests] that governments and businesses around the world are starting extensive plans to adapt to climate disruptions.”

I may feel urgent, but I’m optimistic too.

I was going to flood you with beautiful images from some of my trips out and about this week, but instead, in light of this newest report, I think I’m going to leave you with the video below and a renewed request that you take a quick moment to either talk me down, or in kindred spirit, wind me up even further.

What do you think? Do we still have time to mitigate the problem, or should we start plowing into the efforts of adaptation?

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Hey, Doritos!

“Hey, Doritos! Why you not eating meat today?!”

These words, lobbed in my direction daily by one of the Sólheimar natives every time I step foot in our shared cafeteria, rank as one of the indubitable highlights of my every lunch hour.

Earning the nickname ‘Doritos’ because I was once caught here trotting down the road with shame in my eyes, crumpled bag in fist sparks a grin far too wide to wipe away.

I’m tickled by wisenheimers. They are by far a breed of people who earn the utmost of my respect.

This camaraderie I’m finding with the people who live here is comforting – it’s also a fantastic underscore to what we’ve been learning this week about the importance of community building.

I work at home regularly with a dedicated grassroots direct action group (350 Maine) that aims to consistently raise awareness about climate change issues. One of the initial and most widely used tactics of this group when launching a campaign always involves some form of community building (going door to door in small neighborhoods, engaging people at public events, leafleting passersby in local parks, etc).

This type of action always felt slightly awkward for me and even possibly, I dare say, of little use. After day-in, day-out community building with the people of this village, however, along with nightly bonding dinner conversation with my fellow CELLmates, the likes of which is brought on by an intentional ice-breaking question and followed up by belly laughter and the occasional vulnerability of tear stained cheeks, I’m beginning to feel differently.

Something I’m coming to realize is that building community, especially when trying to bolster a meaningful campaign, isn’t just about getting an extra set of hands on deck, it’s about getting a set you can trust.

It’s about earning the trust of your neighbors and finding people to laugh and celebrate victories with. This is what will create change.

Without collective pressure for system change things will remain the same. I get it.

This week our lessons significantly leaned on the idea of community building as a means to sustainable living. To accentuate how this works our instructors piled us into the van and carted us from one farm to another to meet with and pick the brains of the people supplying some of the food goods both to this village and to nearby communities.

IMG_1792IMG_1844I now appreciate the cheese I’m eating here in a way I couldn’t completely connect with before. It may sound ‘cheezy’ (yuk yuk yuk), but getting to know my farmer is having a profound affect on how I view my food consumption.

This, of course, made me think about how easily I can bring this type of community building home. Educating myself on who farms what in my area will not only help me to make acquaintance with my food providers, it will also give me a chance to see how it’s all being done – that I will be granted better access to fresh, yummy vittles is a total bonus!

IMG_20140322_104439_720IMG_20140322_105424_965In my initial search into who does what and where in the world of local farming in my town at home, I found an excellent website that offers a nationwide directory of farmers markets. You ought to check it out if you’re into that kinda thing: National Farmers Market Directory

And as far as community building goes, consider this: when I was a kid (probably when you were too) and mom ran out of sugar, she went to the neighbor’s house and knocked on the door; she didn’t get in the car and carbon footprint her way to the store to get some.

Community: it rules.

Stay green friends! And until next time get some sugar from your neighbor! :)

And of course, enjoy some perty pics of this week in Iceland:

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Prozac, Bacon, and Imagination

Gathering
Man’s primal instinct
was not the hunting instinct
in ancient times
before man had spears and weapons
he roamed the prairies
and he was gathering!
he was gathering roots
and he was gathering fruits
and eggs and nuts
and selfdead animals
I
the modern man
I can feel how the primal man breaks forth
when I race with the cart
and I gather and gather and gather…

~Andri Snær Magnason~

Time seems to be walking out the door before I can even try to catch it here. With half of my semester in Iceland already over I still can’t help but feel I’m continuing to climb my way through the novelty stages.

Despite this, however, today is mid-term assessments.

Pretty cool to look back and see that when I boarded that plane in Boston and told my husband I was saying goodbye to me too, it wasn’t just lip service.

I’m definitely a different person today.

For starters, I’ve become a full-blown vegetarian after more than three and a half decades of gleefully stuffing my pie hole with tacos, chicken fingers, and bacon wrapped scallops.

As a matter of fact, I was such a lover of bacon before coming on this trip that my bio site described me as a “lover of living and eater of bacon.”

I have since amended that description to say, “eater of chocolate.”

I started a month ago by cutting out all meat but chicken and fish, but then I found the wonderment and versatility of quinoa and decided to just go all the way. Since quinoa is a complex protein rich in nutrients I’m not left feeling hungry at the end of my meals like I used to be when attempting to go vegetarian by replacing my meats with veggies exclusively.

As a result of this choice, I’m thrilled to say another part of who I am that I’ve been able to wave goodbye to is nine pounds of my former self.

Getting out to hike more often I’m sure hasn’t hurt, but even without going on any major outings over the last few weeks I’m continuing to lose the weight.

So there’s all that…and then there’s the philosophical transformations:

I think my favorite so far was inspired by a meeting we had with one of Iceland’s most famous environmental activists and authors, Andri Snær Magnason.

During our meeting with him we got a chance to ask some questions and when it was my turn, I asked him what he’d say to a person working actively to improve their world who was beginning to feel jaded. His initial response was to suggest popping a few Prozac and carrying on but after the giggles subsided he suggested that our perceptions are our own choice.

The challenges we face in the world today can be looked at as daunting chores or they can be looked as opportunities for creativity and imagination: a chance to rebuild the world in our own vision.

I couldn’t be happier to have asked that question. Makes me feel good about carving out my own version of sustainability.

If you want to use yours to help build a greener world check out some really simple tips on living more sustainably by clicking here. I promise they’re all really simple!

To learn more about how you can use your vision to reduce climate changing carbon in the atmosphere by simple tweaks to your dietary choices (not all of which require eliminating meat), click here.

And to peek at a few pics of my experiences over the last week or two in this beautiful landscape enjoy this slideshow below, and as always, until next time, smile BIG!

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