[coincidentally, my 3000th post…]
• 2014-01-28–in ‘how many people can live on planet earth‘, david attenborough said we need to reduce population, affluence, and level of technology. although china instituted the one-child policy and india encouraged voluntary sterilization, the only workable solution has been to educate girls and make contraception available.
singer pete seeger (accolades from cbc, deep roots, others) composed classics like where have all the flowers gone? but he is also famous for songs he didn’t write, like we shall overcome and this land is your land, both of which he sang at obama’s inauguration (with grandson tau and bruce springsteen, who had recorded the seeger sessions). the stories behind songs like eyes on the prize, turn! turn! turn! , and oh! mary don’t you weep are centuries old. good songs tell stories, of the past, the future, and right now. some of his favourites were jacob’s ladder and guantanamera. in a sense, seeger is a conduit, part of the evolution of the universe. death is not the end, but only a transition. as such, he is, like all of us, immortal.
in the power of song (2007), he says he plants seeds. they seem to have sprouted. like many of you, i grew up singing pete seeger‘s songs. i became a musician and activist in part because of him. the video has clips of many famous sprouts, singing, or talking about his songs. although he called himself a ‘lefty’, he sought to include everyone, right-wing, left-wing, saying, ‘we have all got to be involved in trying to put this world together.’ he was a master of getting everyone singing, and he got to lead the whole world to better things, but not without first experiencing, like nelson mandela and so many others, dark times.
seeger endured the red scare of the early 50s in which he was brought before congress’s house un-american activities committee (huac) and blacklisted from tv for 17 years. turn, turn, turn (yes, he wrote that one, too, based on ecclesiastes). decades later clinton awarded him the presidential medal. blacklisting didn’t stop him. the song we shall overcome, which inspired martin luther king jr and civil rights activists, is in the smithsonian. and it was songs such as seeger’s waist deep in the big muddy that helped end the war in vietnam. maybe tom paxton said it best: ‘to sing for peace was to sing for sanity and justice.’ peace overseas, peace at home. in the 40s, pete and toshi (1922-2013) built their log home in upstate new york on the hudson river but by the 70s as the river flowed past new york city, it was an open sewer. the seegers helped start the hudson river sloop clearwater project and the clearwater festival (check out these sites for more pictures and words). they promised their grandchildren that when they grow up they’d be able to swim in the river. now they can.
when asked about his spiritual views, seeger said, ‘i feel most spiritual when i’m out in the woods. i feel part of nature. or looking up at the stars. [i used to say] i was an atheist. now i say, it’s all according to your definition of god. according to my definition of god, i’m not an atheist. because i think god is everything. whenever i open my eyes i’m looking at god. whenever i’m listening to something I’m listening to god.’ whether you believe or not, you can love, and perhaps the greatest gift of love is the freedom to choose–as parents we know this. sometimes we see our children suffer, and we suffer too. but we also love them, and know they must endure some suffering to mature. although seeger was keenly aware of war and suffering, it must have helped to have a positive view of humanity, to help everyone sing a song and believe in its power. one such song was quite early morning. i keep in mind the line about it being darkest just before the dawn. when all join in the chorus, he said, there’s hope for the world.
SumOfUs reports that two orcas have been captured to be displayed at the Sochi Winter Olympics. ‘Animal experts say that transporting orcas causes them stress, [and] that keeping them in captivity shortens their life and can even turn them “psychotic”.’ Take action!
• 2014-01-29–nature presented crested macaques, once plentiful, now critically endangered, and the people who are out to change local opinion; then allen zweig profiled 15 reasons to live; and finally green heroes presented sarah harmer [pictured] (who works with perl to stop quarrying of her native escarpment), gord downie of the tragically hip (who works with waterkeepers to protect lake ontario), and ladies of the lake (who promote the clean-up of lake simcoe).
• 2014-01-30–trek of the titans traced the leatherback turtle‘s annual migration between nova scotia and trinidad. groups like nature keepers in trinidad and the canadian sea turtle network work with ‘scientists, commercial fishermen, and coastal community members … to conserve endangered sea turtles.’
• 2014-01-31–sue and i celebrated a personal milestone with dinner at explorers café. but the u-s state department’s approval of the keystone xl pipeline was not cause for celebration.
Juliet Bennett (with her grandfather) is empowered, inspired by bell hooks: ‘Without a doubt when it comes to equality of wages and opportunities, protection from rape, power to choose divorce, abortion, playing sports, and bounds of research…, I am a feminist.’
• 2014-02-01–we learned from dark and handsome stranger what likeable guy rock hudson was.
• 2014-02-02–never mind the groundhogs, it’s world wetlands day. wetlands perform vital tasks (for free!), including cleaning water, feeding animals, providing a home for some, and a rest-stop for others. this morning, sue counted sixty swans at the marsh. come in the summer and see blackbirds, muskrats, cat-tails, and much more.
Hand the old banjo on, like to Old Man Luedecke.
• 2014-02-03–neil oliver examined what the vikings traded.