Saturday Links for the Week — October 11, 2008

mindful wandering by maren yumi
photo by Maren YumiMindful Wandering: The coined term (by Barbara Ganley) is “slow blogging“, but I much prefer the term my friend Chris Lott uses: “mindful wandering“. The idea is to see blogging, which is really just a new way of recording your thoughts in a diary, as a meditative practice, taking the time to ponder the meaning of what you’re reading, thinking and writing, letting your mind meander in thoughtful and creative ways to “make sense” of it. I find that some of my best blog posts are those I’ve stopped and restarted several times, allowing time for thoughts to percolate and new ideas to emerge. Letting your readers follow your thought process, putting yourself in context, can greatly enrich the value of what you write, at least for those readers with the patience to allow themselves to be immersed in “where you are” as you are writing, to enter, as much as is possible in a diary, into intimate, tacit conversation with you. Some of the bloggers in my gravitational community (listed at right) are very proficient at diarizing their mindful wandering: Colleen has been doing this delightfully, day by day, chronicling her month-long retreat in Seattle. Beth’s blog is another great example.

An Audience Without A Reason to Care Is Just a Bunch of People That You Have to Clean Up After: Justin Kownacki explains the need to engage your audience with something more than spectacle if you hope to build a relationship that endures, and goes on to tell you how to do it. If you haven’t been watching his hilarious online series Something to Be Desired, check it out.

The Effort is Worth It: Justin also directs us to Seth’s blog post on our growing propensity (in light of the billions made and lost by lazy, greedy, incompetent financial brokers) to believe luck has more to do with what comes of our life than effort. Seth prescribes a diet of less mindless activity, more effort on important things, more exercise, more volunteerism, more time meaningfully spent with those you love, and more financial frugality. I’m there.

Community Effort That Pays Off: Tree pointed me to this amazing list of initiatives and proposals by the work groups of the Corvallis (Oregon) Sustainability Coalition. It’s an ambitious and inspiring list in 12 sectors of public life: community inclusion, economic vitality, education, energy, food, health, housing, land use, natural areas, transport, waste reduction, and water use — let’s hope the town council will listen and implement them. If you have (or should have) a program like this in your community, this would be a great list to get you started. Geoff Brown came up with a similar list for St Kilda Australia, as part of the Sustainable Living At Home community activism project.

Story-Telling Resources: From the same vector as the above links, Barbara provides a veritable host of useful links on storytelling, and CogDog Alan Levine provides (with a caveat on not getting preoccupied with tools), 50+ tools that enable storytelling. Thanks to Tree for the links. BTW, a great everyday site for story-telling guidance and ideas is my friend Shawn Callahan’s Anecdote site.

Why We Fall for Greenwashing: Cataclysmia explains the dangerous appeal of corporate greenwashing — that it reassures us that we don’t have to change. It is human nature to be resistant to change, to only change when we must, and we are under siege these days to change in so many ways that when a corporation, cynically, dishonestly, tells us that they’re good corporate citizens we are inclined to want to believe it.

Explaining the Financial System Collapse: Six of the best articles on the current mess:

The Attempts to Steal the Election Continue: If you can’t defeat the opponent by heavily-financed character assassination, outright lies, gerrymandering, or rigging voting machines, well, then, just don’t let supporters of your opponents vote. In politics, it seems, the end always justifies the means.

More on Soldiers in the US Streets: Patrick Leahy weighs in on the decision to deploy a US army unit to the ‘homeland’. This has stirred up no small hysteria, but I’m still not sure what it really means.

And the Fuse of the Population Bomb Still Burns On: The Bush Administration’s anti-family-planning ideology has greatly worsened the lives of as many as a billion women deliberately deprived of inexpensive family planning information and tools.

The Problem with Monogamy: Daisy gets it: “It’s absolutely clear that no one is meant to love and be loved by just one person, and that we slowly kill ourselves when try to make this happen. No one can meet all of another person’s needs, and there is no reason to expect anyone to do so…The natural outcropping of this, when we do itdaily ó when we form many diverse loving relationships, as many as will grow, and treat their maintenance as important work ó is community.” Sigh. Someday, perhaps, the whole world will understand.

Just for Fun: It didn’t really happen, but this ‘sign feud’ between two churches over dogs’ souls is delightful nevertheless. Thanks to my new colleague Miranda for the link.

wild horses chernobyl
Image: wild horses near Chornobyl

Thought for the Week: Thanks to Sarah Burridge for putting me on to the poetry of Robert Pinsky (by quoting the sixth line of this poem):

The Horses

Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs, no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, headed north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
Nothing. The radios dumb;
And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
All over the world. But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again,
If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
We would not listen, we would not let it bring
That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
They look like dank sea-monsters crouched and waiting.
We leave them where they are and let them rust:
“They’ll molder away and be like other loam.”
We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
Long laid aside. We have gone back
Far past our fathers’ land.

And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
We had sold our horses in our fathers’ time
To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield
Or illustrations in a book of knights.
We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
By an old command to find our whereabouts
And that long-lost archaic companionship.

In the first moment we had never a thought
That they were creatures to be owned and used.
Among them were some half a dozen colts
Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads,
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.

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2 Responses to Saturday Links for the Week — October 11, 2008

  1. Damn-fine round up there, Dave.Don’t know if you saw Marty Kaplan’s piece on what’s really going to make the difference in the election, but here’s my post on his article from Sunday, September 28: for all the good stuff, Dave. You are an aggregator all by your lone-self.Beth

  2. Alan Levine says:

    Thanks for the link, Dave. I like tools and stories ;-)FYI, your friend Chris Lott is not in (CA) as listed in your sidebar, but (AK). He is such a good soul, he deserves accurate geography…

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