It’s Not Just What You Buy, It’s What You Don’t

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With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday almost safely behind me, I’ll admit, the merry madness threatened to sweep me away — I nearly lost my eco-consciousness.

Black Friday is most definitely not my thing — and the mighty Hudson River stands between the malls and me.

Saturday, I cruised the shops in my vibrant small town, and hit the Farm and Flea on Sunday.

So far, I’ve made it through today without a purchase. With so many cyber-deals flying furiously past my screen, it’s a miracle the credit card hasn’t shimmied its way out of my wallet.

I have a new strategy for not shopping. Every time my mouse gets twitchy, I grab a snack.

It’s Munchy Monday!

Not so fast…

It’s not just what you buy (or eat), it’s what you don’t.

How do you get through the holiday shopping season hoping to save a buck, save the environment, save yourself?!?

Image: Long Live Irony

“They Might Have Guns, But We Have Flowers”

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It seems impossible to make sense of the horrific attacks on Paris last week.

So how do we explain it to children?

My colleague, Gretchen, who will be representing Moms Clean Air Force at the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in less than two weeks, grapples with this when her child asks, Mommy, why are they shooting?

While it’s heartbreaking to need to have such a conversation with a child, in an interview with French news broadcast Le Petit Journal, a reporter asks a frightened Parisian boy if he understands why Paris was attacked on Friday. This touching exchange with his father highlights how love wins.

Yarn Tasting

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A recent study found that 81% of subjects suffering from depression reported feeling happier after knitting, while more than half said they felt “very happy.”

I’ve been knitting my life back together since I was a teenager. Things unravel, I pick up my needles. Stitches drop, I figure out how to get on track and reknit. It’s my M.O. when life goes haywire. The perfect therapy — a rhythmically, repetitive mediation that calms. And you end up with something beautiful and useful!

Can you get all that from a therapist? Well, I guess you can, but it may not be as relaxing.

Since knitting is my first emotional line of defense — and calm and happy are always welcome — as the seasons transition, I can almost taste the yarn.

Without further adieu…

Here are my latest knitting crushes:

What’s on your knitting menu?

Overcoming Fear

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Threatening hurricanes like Joaquin churn up waves of speculation. When a doozy of a storm is eminent — dumping boatloads of rain and destruction — I fearfully follow a steady stream of hurricane alerts on social media. Normally, the wild weather choir would swallow me up — especially, since family members literally lost the house in Hurricane Sandy. But lately, my perspective has had a slight shift.

Still squarely aligned with the scientific community, I look to the experts who tell us carbon pollution is the main reason our planet is getting hotter, thus increasing our chances for severe weather.

Having recently spent time outside my little corner of the world at a series of conferences, I’m using a moral rudder to sail beyond fear. Mashable’s Social Good Summit, the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the United Nations and the Omega Institute’s Women and Power conference focused heavily on women and climate change.

Gender and Climate Change

“It is terribly unjust that the people paying the most brutal price for climate impact are the ones least responsible.” Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN)

Locally and globally, climate change is not gender neutral. This injustice takes aim at women because women encompass a disproportionately large share of the poor — in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Women are the caregivers for children, and those tiny lungs bear the brunt of pollution.

I was shocked to learn, women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters.” And according to the World Economic Forum, women perceive climate change risks more than men.

Yet, the policies of extreme weather are governed mostly by men. This is our political reality. In fact, leading up to Hurricane Joaquin, my newsfeed in the New York metropolitan area focused solely on two decision-making governors tracking the hurricane — Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie.

As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, noted in her keynote speech at Omega:

“I meet amazing women who want to do amazing things, but are not doing it. They are not because of fear.”

Empathy, Education and Ethics

There was an overarching theme I heard over and over at these conferences to counteract the powerless fear women feel about climate change — we employ empathy, education and ethics.

To overcome fear, we need to use these weapons and get active. When we started Moms Clean Air Force, we didn’t ask people to donate, we asked them to care – to care about air pollution, to care about how toxic chemicals affect their families, to care about the climate that will impact their children’s future. We discovered once people cared about the issues, they became empowered to activate in their community.

But as Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the U.S., said at the Social Good Summit,

“America is a generous country but we aren’t doing enough…given the scale and our own capabilities.”

In the U.S. we call for strong environmental regulations and get pushback every step of the way from polluters who defend their right to pollute and the politicians that protect them. Compromised, we inch forward.

Storm Warning

Globally, the situation is even worse because nature doesn’t regulate. For instance, in the Maldives, the islands off the coast of India, “could become the first state in history to be completely erased by the sea.”

Thilmeeza Hussain, from the Maldives and founder of Voice of Women spoke at the WECAN event about a location that can’t wait for politics:

“We are thinking about our survival, our existence. There’s nothing to negotiate when it comes to global warming.”

Living in a sacrifice zone is no way to live. Many of us care about our relationship to climate change — now we need to reach beyond and help women across the globe move from fear to caring about solutions.

The scientific evidence is settled; global warming is real and climate change is a women’s rights issue. Now it’s time to weather the storm together.

It’s Only Rock and Roll

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Had an interesting discussion last night with my brother about the packaging and personality of music — the lost art of album covers and lyric inserts.

My brother is in the music biz. Along with partner, Chuck Leavell — The Rolling Stone’s legendary keyboardist — he’s created irocku, a website that provides online rock music lessons.

We talked about how we’ve wholeheartedly embraced digital music, but cannot remember the words to current songs. Could it be age, or that we don’t watch music videos? We agreed that it was most likely because we read album covers and inserts.

We looked at music differently.

The covers of The Beatles White Album and James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, are indelibly inked in my music memory. The late 1960’s and early ’70’s were chaotic, full of friction and heady introspection. All the coming of age stuff — that moment in time when life changes forever.

This excellent video critiques the intersection of culture, music, art — and its changes:

What’s your most memorable album cover?

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