Monday, October 29, 2012

The Big Fix

#1 - I door-knocked for my state representative and senate election, something I've been meaning to do.

#2 - In general it seems I usually get around to what I mean to, even if takes a while.

#3 - Telling people where their polling place is located. Most people already knew, but at least a few didn't. Even when they are voting for the opponent, I still had something to offer.

#4 - After the oil spill in the gulf, one of my "green investments" (where I have a retirement account) wrote an article in their newsletter about Nalco (Ecolab). Nalco made a dispersant used in the spill and the mutual fund was defending the use of this product. This was already my least favorite of my retirement accounts and that solidified it. Since then I have avoided putting more money in this account.

This weekend I watched a movie "The Big Fix" about the BP oil spill and became reinvigorated in my distrust/disgust in the use of the dispersants. I looked at my investments and was dismayed to see a second retirement fund also is invested in Ecolab.

So I sent them an email -

"I watched a movie last night called the Big Fix about the BP oil spill in the gulf. What was worse than the spill itself is the Corexit which was used so things don't look bad. The blatant coverup revealed throughout that film is devastating. I knew that one of my "green" investments had written in their newsletter after the spill about Nalco and were defending the investment. Since then I have not put any money in that fund. However, today I am renewed in my confusion as to why an "ecological" investment would support such a company. I decided to check if any of my other investments had Nalco (which is owned by Ecolab) and unfortunately {the mutual fund I was writing to} does. Has {the mutual fund name} put any investigation time or pressure on Ecolab in relation to this product and how it was used?

Thank you so much for the work you do,


This is part of the response I received

"... We're well aware of the situation you describe and have been in conversation with Ecolab for some time regarding the topic you bring to our attention...concerns were raised after Ecolab’s 2011 acquisition of Nalco. This acquisition almost doubled Ecolab's ingredient portfolio...Recognizing the increased ecological risk of Ecolab’s product portfolio we are currently working to set up a face to face meeting before the end of the calendar year. After our meeting, we will reevaluate our position in Ecolab."


Now I suppose I should write the company that defended Nalco, I'm guessing that response will be less encouraging.

#5 - "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." Greek Proverb

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage

Today I did my first phone calling in opposition to the amendment that would define valid marriage as only between one man and one woman in Minnesota. I'd already done door-knocking and prefer being outside and seeing people face to face, but they have a lot more phone call opportunities and the time worked better this week.

There really didn't seem to be much I could do to sway the first woman who spoke with me, she said her aunt was gay and had been in a committed relationship for 30 years. One partner in the couple worked for the school system which now recognized their partnership and provided health coverage for them both. So apparently the woman's aunt didn't really care much about the vote. If her gay aunt, in a partnership for 30 years didn't care, I doubted I could do much to convince her it was important. I offered the story told by my partner in training this morning, his cousin had been in the hospital with meningitis and his cousin's partner of 7 years was not allowed to see him much. However, he, as a cousin, could.

#1 - I'm grateful that the woman took the time to dialog with me and agreed my last point was a problem.

#2 - The man who began our conversation by saying his viewpoint was personal (he didn't want to share what he thought). I said something like I feel that way too, but I also really care about this so I am making the effort to do something uncomfortable. The man later admitted he was undecided about the vote and that no one in his life was talking about it. I asked if he knew gay people. He did, but none of them were close to him or people he felt he could ask how they felt about this. We talked for a while and at the end of the conversation he said he would "probably vote no". You would think that would be my gratitude, but in fact I felt even more grateful for his openness and willingness to both share and listen.

#3 - One woman I spoke to said that marriage was ordained by God for procreation. I then asked her if she was married.


"Why did you get married?" (pause in the conversation) "I mean did you marry to have children."

"No, we got married because we were in love."

I tried to connect with this love angle but i couldn't get her beyond the God/marriage/procreation. When I got off the phone I asked one of the people supporting us what I could have said there. He said I could have asked her what about couples that are barren, are their marriages valid?

"Good point," I said, "I never would have thought of that."

"Do you think she would have responded to that?"

"I don't know, but I think it would have made her think."

Which later made ME think. "What is the purpose or point of marriage?" It seems like such a simple question, but I honestly don't have a simple answer. I guess if I ever decide to get married I'll have to work on that. Though I'm kind of grateful I haven't had to face that yet. Though I can't say I'm taking a stand and won't get married until all people have the right, I would also feel sadness participating in something that excludes so many people.

#4 - I made phone calls for two hours, in that two hours I had 7 conversations (and a lot of no answers). None of the conversations were unpleasant, even when in complete disagreement with me. There were a couple people who refused to talk in a brusque way I guess, but that was it. And yet still, after doing this I got off the phone emotionally exhausted. I actually felt emotionally exhausted after my #1 & #2 gratitudes above, which I can't figure out, because they were such positive experiences. Maybe it is because as an introvert it takes so much energy, maybe it is my sensitivity, maybe...who knows. Anyway, I took refuge in the fact that a good friend of mine would be at my soccer game soon after volunteering and I could get a hug from him, which I felt I needed.

When I arrived, I walked in with the organizer of the soccer league, she asked why I was wearing jeans and I explained I had just been volunteering. She had volunteered as well and when I told her I was looking forward to getting a hug from my friend she said, "I'll give you a hug right now."

#5 - The most important people to talk to are not the strangers on the phone but those in my own life. I was feeling guilty because I had not yet spoken to my own father. My Dad and I are in almost complete agreement on politics, so I thought he would be a "no" vote. However, I have never in my life heard my Dad mention gay people in any way, so I really didn't know. I finally brought it up today by asking if his church (the church I grew up in) had taken a stance on the issue. I expected they would either have the opposite view of me, or not have taken sides. To my pleasant surprise, my father informed me that the pastor of the church is going family to family talking with them about it and that they are working for a no vote. My faith was renewed (and my Dad is with them :)

Bonus - I've tried to get my brother to come in and volunteer with me on this for months. Meaning I've asked him a few times and he's always said no.

Tonight he said he will come.

I'd like to add this link by Jack Davies a former state senator. He was the drafter of the form and structure rewrite of the Minnesota Constitution ratified in 1974.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Let the Rant Begin

Tonight, after a tired and slightly drained afternoon, I was surprised to find gratefulness emerge as I drove down the highway to buy groceries. I could rant endlessly about how cars, and roads, and highways, and gasoline are destroying our world, but tonight I just felt grateful. To live within reasonable driving distance of a co-op, and to have a vehicle to take me there. And then I thought, "May we see the beauty in what we create. May it not imprison us."

Once I heard a speaker, John Perkins, tell about bringing a shaman from the Amazon Rainforest to NYC. The shaman had never been outside of the rainforest, never seen a modern civilization. To ease his transition, Perkins decided to stop first at Central Park. To his surprise, when the shaman got out of the car he did not walk towards the trees, instead he crossed the street to a tall building and told Perkins, "You must fall in love with your cities."

I get that now.

This co-op is usually a bit hectic, but not on a Saturday night. At one point in my shopping I looked at my cart and realized, "This is going to be an expensive one." But I also knew I had the money to pay it.

One thing I love about the co-op is how, on some level at least, the food is already health screened. But today I reached for a frozen veggie burger on sale and read the first ingredient, "rice" and put it back. I had heard a few months ago from my friend concerns about the arsenic (carcinogen) level in rice, but I consciously decided to remain in the land of "ignorance is bliss" for a bit longer. Then the latest issue of Consumer Reports magazine came out and I read the article and could remain there no longer.

So now even in the land of healthy food I have to think twice. So many choices that were once the best ones, no longer are. For example, rice cakes were my ultimate healthy snack food. I would never choose to eat them at home (when I had other options) but for a snack away from home they were perfect. And then there is the rice milk for my cereal and....

"Human activities also add arsenic to the environment. They include burning coal, oil, gasoline and wood, mining, and the use of arsenic compounds as pesticides, herbicides and wood preservatives."

This is where I need to take a deep breath. This is where I connect dots that I have never heard Race for the Cure or any cancer group make. This is where I think of my mom, who loved rice, brown rice. And it's not just rice, it's apple juice and a system that separates what we put in with what we get out.

As I picked up my bags to exit the coop I saw a picture in a strange spot. I realized it was a silly photo of Vanilla Ice, and it was on the front of the ice machine


I laughed out loud.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lack of Tidy

#1 - I've been doing yoga for 15 years now, and today I wondered, "Is this what it feels like to be married?" Something that began so nurturing, exciting, special, possibly even life-transforming - now is ordinary. I forget how it felt when my mind first started being quieted, my body being stretched, how I'd walk out of class feeling like I was walking on a cloud. Now, I certainly feel good when I leave, but the elation isn't the same.

Today there was a moment - the music got loud and rhythmic, I looked in the mirror and I completely dove in. A few moments later the music was turned down and I was back, but that glimpse helped me remember how it used to feel - maybe a bit like marriage?

Granted, even now, if I go for a week without yoga I do miss it. Maybe a bit like marriage too?

#2 - I thought it was pointless to try an tell a child who is not even 1 1/2 to stay back while her grandpa replaces his back door. She can watch but can't come close. But to my amazement I watched my niece cautiously approach but keep a four foot distance, at one point laying on her stomach and sliding backwards across the kitchen floor (something I'd never seen her do).

#3 - As I observed her I thought, "She is absorbed like she is watching television, but it's her grandpa fix something."

#4 - The soft voice that my father spoke to her with when she came in the room crying.

#5 - "Living in a pretty unorganized and not-as-tidy-as-I'd prefer home. The other side of choosing to spend free time not at home on the weekends." I read this on my friend Jill's blog yesterday and it is felt so reassuring to me both then and now. The top of my dresser has been a mess for the past few weeks, and reading this reminds me it is not just out of laziness but rather because of a project and focusing on other things.