Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Making A Living


How many times have I heard - during my years as a self- employed entrepreneur - "Can you actually make a living doing that?"

As a small business owner publishing and marketing maps, I often heard the question: " Are you still doing those... er ... maps?" as if the poser were flabbergasted that there was, indeed, any possibility of ongoing income from one's chosen business model. When I moved into the even more ethereal sphere of organic farming, I was seen as even more ripe for the picking. " Can you actually make a living at that?",  "Do you do that full-time?", " How do compete with conventional methods?" came the derisory dismissals. Aware that I was expected to fail at ay time, how many times have I wanted to scream: "Sure. How about you as a banker? Are you proud of your living"? "Do you exercise any principles or follow any morals in making *your* living?"

As an independent organic farmer, I receive zero government support, no disability or sickness benefits. If I get injured or ill or break a leg, take time off, I receive no compensation for down-time. I receive no subsidies for stewarding the land, preserving the health of the soil, or growing nutrient-dense food. On the contrary, I have to pay, as a organic farm, to verify - annually - that my farm passes all tests for organic practice, environmental stewardship. In eighteen years this has cost around $15,000. All the while, unverified claims see farms passing themselves off, scot-free, as "organic", whilst big industrial "conventional" farms are grossly subsidized by the government to grow herbicibe- and pesticide-laden corn, soybeans, and wheat, largely to feed their industrial antibiotic-addled livestock under the guise of "Farmers Feeding Cities".

What are the morals of those "making a living" or simply earning their pay from corporate monolihs like banks, law firms, mining companies,  pharmaceutical companies, the military, Big Agriculture, the Government? Is money, a steady income sacrosanct, all-consuming? Where is their conscience? How does their organization promote well-being? How do they view the future? Do they care about the future of the planet?

May the *campesinos* of the world be left alone to tend the land, grow nourishing food, and sustain families and communities, all the while making a "healthy" living.

Happy Labour Day, all.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

The Map Room

On a visit to a close friend the other evening, I was pleased to see the gift of a satellite image of The Great Lakes, weather-worn and time-faded, still being used as a coffee table top. I imagine it doubles as decoration and travel-planning tool. It brought back memories of the time in my life when I was publishing and marketing maps as Map Appeal with my then business partner Arlene. 

For twenty five years prior to converting to organic farming in mid-life, I was swept up as a cartographer in the world of maps, the map trade, annual shows at the Frankfurt Book Fair and other shows, notably in Dublin Castle, in Heidelberg, Denver and Seattle. Those days saw frequent trips to Santa Monica to negotiate rights to satellite image data and source new material. Acting on a lead sent me by my dear Mum, I hopped on an Alaskan Air plane from Toronto to Los Angeles and returned home with publishing rights for Map Appeal to the first ever composite view of the whole Earth from Space. Tom Van Sant was the gracious and effervescent author using satellite data from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. Rights were for Canada, oh, and Europe too.

Months later, the first print run of 30,000 had to be added to, thanks to the astonishing response to a multi-page article on the GeoSphere image, The Earth From Space which appeared as cover story of the London Sunday Times on the day the first Gulf War broke out. Michael Marten of Science Photo Library and owned media rights "was sitting in the bath and had this idea...": a poster offer tagged on to the end of the story. Owning the publishing rights, our tiny company set about the logistics of printing, shipping, warehousing, fulfilling and delivering 23,000 poster orders. Versions in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, even Greek followed, thanks to similar offers in other news magazines.

So, a warm fuzzy glow resulted from renewing my passion for this Great lakes image print. It remains a favourite, reminding me of the special part of the world we call home. My map room downstairs is still filled with poster prints, among them The Great Lakes, Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, even Northumberland County! 

All views of our Earth from Space are humbling and act as snapshots revealing the accentuated fragility of our planet and all its eco-systems and environments as climate change tightens its stranglehold. For a brief moment in history, the first views of the Earth from Space, seen naked and exposed without borders, filled us with wonder. A few decades later, it is time to wake up from our daydream and seriously get to grips with preserving what we have, under mortal threat as it is. We must switch over fully to clean, renewable resources like the sun, the wind, waters and geo-thermal energy allied to state-of-the-art technology and quit our fatal addiction to fossil fuels. We must speed up the transition exponentially, to 100% by 2050. 

For inspiration, just take another look at this wondrous home Planet.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Thai Cave Rescue

 (Photo: Linh Pham, Getty Images)

Wonderful to hear news of the successful rescue of all twelve Thai boys and their coach after being stranded in the flooded Tham Luang cave for eighteen days. If only we could show the same empathy and caring for the forgotten ones - the countless children who are casualties of war (in Gaza, in Yemen); casualties of drowning as refugees fleeing war; casualties of trafficking for sex and money; casualties of physical and mental abuse at the hand of brutal "adults", including those currently mandating and operating detention camps in the United States that separate chidren from their parents and nurturers and take them away to destinations undisclosed. Barbaric abuse and killing of children should be met with not only empathy but outrage.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Arbiter(s) of Truth

Put that in your pipe and smoke it

Who is the Arbiter of Truth? Or, who are the Arbiters?

We all have our views, blinkered by perspective and coloured by what we read, see, and hear. Who do you trust as truth-teller when it comes to sourcing news? All media have some kind of bias, especially when it comes to religion, politics, power, sport, and any other competitive pursuit that we humans love to engage in and be swayed by. Is there such a thing as objective truth or are all reports tainted by an element of lying and fakery? After all, most news bearers have an agenda, a deep-seated prejudice. Can we trust our governments, our food suppliers, our doctors, our scientists, our lawyers, our priests implicitly? I think not. Before we start railing against pseudo-science and conspiracy theories, a healthy dose of scepticism about all news would be helpful.

Who is your go-to for "the truth"? Do you trust CBC, CNN, Donald Trump, Doug Ford, Confucius, Nietzsche, your government, your psychiatrist, Jordan Peterson, your parents, your sister, Facebook, Google, Yoga, the Bible, the Koran, the Catholic Church, Mormons, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Hollywood Reporter, Hello Magazine, the Toronto Sun, Wikipedia, WikiLeaks, TruthDig, Dr. Weil, David Suzuki, Rex Murphy, InfoWars, the Guardian, Hezbollah, Daesh, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Bayer Monsanto, Angela Merkel, Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, your local MP? None of the above, some, or all, to some degree?????

We all need to be discerning, and with today's wealth of information out there, we need to be more discerning and sceptical than ever. But freedom of speech and thought are important in upholding our personal and societal liberties. Please do not censor what I read, where my news comes fro, and how I formulate my own truth in this world. It is a basic right. I can use my own judgement and so must everybody. If not, then just tune out.

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Fog of War

'"The first casualty, when war comes, is truth."

Hiram Johnson (1866 - 1945) was referring to the First World War. 

A progressive U. S. senator, he died on the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, immediately killing 80,000 civilians. Tens of thousands would later die from radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, immediately killing an estimated 40,000 people. 

These two bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare, to this day... Our leaders appear to be blundering blindly into dangerously escalated war once more.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Forge A New Path

Minimize stress. Do not obsess about what ails us, harms us, confronts us. Let go of the shackles, the ties that bind. Stasis, the status quo will grind you down.

Rebel. Strike out in a new direction, on your chosen path. The way will reveal itself. Leave your baggage behind. Become unstuck, no longer trapped.

Make a plan. Follow it in stages, one day at a time. Do not sweat the small stuff. Dream the big picture.

Make hard choices. Clear the path. Forge the future. Act resiliently. Be ruthless.

Act. Do it, before it is too late. *Tempus fugit. Carpe diem.* Seize the moment. Gain momentum. Take a leap. Be brave.

Follow your heart, your deepest desires, your innermost passions. Connect with others in love, joy, community, sharing. 

Care for family and friends, those near and dear. Lean on others for support. Nurture heart-felt relationships.

Honour life in all its guises. Practise tolerance, respect. Do not yield to fear, frustration, hatred, or to those that harm you. Walk away from them.

You are alive. You owe it to yourself. Stride confidently, with firm resolve, into a future you create. Live the life you envisage.