Tag Archives: heroes

Yuri and the View from Up There

Ben Gibbard said, “everything looks perfect from far away.”  Taken out into space, this phenomenon is known as the Overview Effect.  Space-faring humans frequently report how compelling and life-changing the view back towards home really is when you’re out there, not only because it is the biggest splash of color in an otherwise fairly black-and-white vista, but because you can see how fragile and precious that thin film of biosphere actually is.

“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!”

~Yuri Gagarin, 1st person in space (12 April 1961)

Apollo 17’s “Full Earth” image (a.k.a. “The Blue Marble”) | NASA image AS17-148-22727

I’ve commented before on how powerful the image of our home planet from space truly is.   Recently, the good people at The Planetary Collective produced a 19-minute video discussing the phenomenon.  They’re using it to promote a feature-length film called Continuum they are funding through Kickstarter.

Watch the Overview video: it’s a great way to celebrate Yuri’s Night!

P.S.  Ekostories did a lovely, thoughtful review of the Overview video  – check it out.

Keep your paint off my magic mirror!

Alex Steffen, leading Worldchanger, had the following post (28 March 2013):

Dark Gray Paint

If you want to try to change the world, you will inevitably encounter the guy with the bucket of dark gray paint.

This is the guy who in the middle of any discussion of any new proposal, innovation, plan or solution demands that everyone in the room revisit how fucking horrible the reality of the problem is. Working on an idea for clean energy as climate action? He’s there to tell you about starving polar bears you won’t save. Working on imagining a new public health program in a poor country? He’s there to remind you of the sick babies who’ll die anyway. Working on a hunch about a more sustainable product design? He’s there to remind you of the dark mountains of toxic trash that will pile up in China despite your efforts. You’re working on envisioning your contribution to the world as vividly as possible, and splash! Dark gray paint.  more…

This reminds me of Caroline Casey‘s story of the magic mirror.  The Critic holds
up a mirror to reality, showing us the problems of today’s world: “This sucks.  In detail.”  But the Trickster Redeemer transforms that mirror into a window, showing us how beautiful things could be.  Then the window becomes a door that we are invited to walk through, and make the vision a reality.

Critics have their place (which is good, because otherwise… I’d be place-less much of the time).  But there is great need for visionaries to show us those windows, and leaders to hold open those doors.

Cyanorhamphus saisseti SmitAnd, as Andy Partridge (XTC) sang,

Awaken you dreamers, asleep at your desks.

Parrots and lemurs populate your

unconscious protests…

Don’t let the loveless ones sell
you a world wrapped in grey.

Propithecus tatersalii, Duke Lemur Center, photo by E.S.Peterson

Independence/Interdependence Day 2012

A news clip today from the world of high-energy physics reminded me that today isn’t just about people with small explosives:

Today is an important day for science, and for human civilization as a whole. CERN picked a good date to announce its findings, too: In the future, rather than drinking beer and grilling meet to celebrate the vanquishing of those British malcontents from our glorious land, instead I will celebrate the discovery of the particle that makes this universe, and thus everything I hold dear, possible.

Of course, I can’t let a Fourth of July pass without remembering my dear friend Joody, and our attempts to articulate and celebrate new thoughts appropriate to such a revolutionary anniversary.  So raise your own flag, occupy your world, get decolonized,  start your own currency and declare something wonderful today!

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

While my favorite shopping option is Buy Nothing Day (followed closely, in at least two senses, by Buy Local Day – I succeeded with both this year), there are often a few people that we wish to get gifts, but we don’t want to burden with ever-more meaningless stuff.

This list has a nice mix of stuff-less-ness and stuff that at least helps someone and means something:

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

Occupy Gaia!

One example and a beautiful image

Gaia Rising by Alex Noble

of the power and importance of the feminine in the global shift taking place:


And, if we’re thinking global, check out

Occupy Gaia (Apollo 8 Earthrise)

Getting Inspired at Bioneers

There is so much concentrated hope in one weekend at Bioneers, it can get a person like me and thousands of other “reverent, sane people” (a.k.a. environmentalists – Caroline Casey) through the rest of the year.  Here are just a smattering of the amazing things I learned about this weekend:

  • restoration on the Loess Plateau in China (John Liu)
  • the ways Google Earth is being used to protect coral reefs and indigenous Amazonian lands (Rebecca Moore)
  • the design of churches as a metaphoric representation of birth, but administered and controlled by men (Gloria Steinem)
  • the Wampanoag had a prophecy, now being realized, that invaders would take their language from them but then help restore their language to them much later (Nitana Hicks)
  • fungus is smarter than us, and can do almost anything, from cleaning oil spills to designing transit systems to curing cancer (Paul Stamets)
  • slavery is the basis for the modern food production mindset; the first national Food Day is this October 24th (Anim Steel)
  • sometimes the best way to solve problems is to make them bigger – expand the parameters; solar PV on just 3% of existing buildings in the US would replace all the energy we now get from coal (Amory Lovins)
  • we need to think about intergenerational justice: fairness in the ways that living generations interact with those that will follow us (David Orr)
  • almost all of the commercially raised bees in the US meet and mingle in California’s central valley during the couple of weeks that the almond orchards are blooming (the film Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?)
  • restoring the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of old-growth cultures,  and this amazing image (Melissa K. Nelson)
  • if the history of life on Earth were one calendar year, there wasn’t any sex until September 17th, and fungi got to land a week before plants did in mid-November (Dayna Baumeister)
  • a democratically-elected Women’s Parliament was convened in 2009 in India, the world’s largest democracy (Pam Rajput)
  • Co-operators are standing by!” (Caroline Casey)
There was so much else, in the plenary sessions, in the afternoon workshops, and else-when.  I was on a panel called “Education in Action: Leveraging Higher Education for Sustainability,” moderated by Anthony Cortese of Second Nature. In case you missed it, Bioneers sends this:

 If you weren’t able to join us in California this past weekend, or catch the live webcast of the conference, check out archived videos of all three days by clicking here. You can also watch Kenny’s Bioneers 3.0 presentation referenced in the video above by clicking here.


There is as much cause for hope as for horror. As David Orr said, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”

It’s all alive.  It’s all intelligent.  It’s all connected.  It’s all relatives.


Why so many vampires? « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill. An essay I wrote in 2009, considering the relationship of superheroes and power (especially the challenges faced by men and other male apes in the transition to adulthood), … Continue reading


Interview: Mom’s Special Recipe for Gender Equitable Science Education | The Mary Sue. A nice piece on gender and science – especially important for educators and others who seek to reduce the male bias in STEM education (that’s Science, Technology, … Continue reading

Save the Knoll

A local site in Santa Cruz is in dispute. Remains attributed to the native Ohlone tribe have been found, with the site dating back about 6000 years. Local Ohlone heroine Ann Marie Sayers, along with local archaeologists, anthropologists and community members, are petitioning the city government to respect the sacred nature of the site and halt “development” work there.

About the Knoll | Save the Knoll – activist site with online petition

Ancient Ohlone Village and Burial Site Uncovered in Santa Cruz – news article

Pitchapalooza! « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill

Pitchapalooza! « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill.

A bit about the pitch for my latest fiction idea.  I’m developing a young adult novel for a couple of strategic reasons:

  1. I think it’s the best way to reach the most people quickly with important ideas. (Of course, I’d be delighted to sell out, given the opportunity.  Just because I have a lot of disdain for the money culture doesn’t mean that having money would be a bad thing, given that it’s not going away tomorrow.)
  2. It’s an even better venue for talking about both traditional permaculture approaches and the promise of sustainable technology.
  3.  Honestly, I love the story and the characters, and I’m having so much fun writing it.