Sunday, November 22, 2009

All Systems Thinking

I love, and often think about that old story to explain systems-thinking - that a butterfly languidly flaps its wings in a hot, tropical Rainforest of South America, setting in motion an energy that ripples across the world and, amongst other things, results in the hat flying sharply off the head of a man on a cold, blustery Oxford Street, London.

Every time, it makes me think about my own smile. If I smile now, and send out a ripple of smiling energy, might a husband in Malawi hug his wife? Might a child in Ethiopia eat a meal? Might a grandmother in India enjoy a belly laugh? Might a girl in Cambodia get a scholarship to finish school?

Who knows the power of my smile?

I remember that every time I love Life - every time I admire a flower, delight at a stick insect, save a worm, plant a tree, stop and acknowledge a squirrel, regard a mushroom as special, feel lucky and excited because I saw a whale - I am sending out a ripple that encourages more Life somewhere on this extraordinary planet, in some extraordinary way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Love Tiger

I close my eyes and sink into a green world. Dark and light greens, untouchable greens and the furry greens of mosses under my fingertips. Across my entertainment of leaves and grasses, of vegetable, meteor and verdant seaweed, flashes a powerful amber light – on and off, so that I conjure up a tiger.

As I receive this tiger, my heart starts to hurt instantly, my head rolls images of hunting and desiccated skins, hunger and deforestation, desparate claws and cruel traps. Decimated populations hit like bullets. Disappearing sub-species puncture the lining of my stomach.


I want to stop this roll. I do not want to share in the extinction of the Tiger I love.

I am so weary of thinking of great tigers with despair. What I really want is to be unequivocably thrilled to my bone marrow by Tiger. What I really want is for wild tigers to recover, restore and thrive again. What I really want to do is fill each and every wild tiger still holding onto to Life with my great love for them. I want them to feel my gratitude for their against-all-odds existence in their own cells, in their precious DNA.

I want to be a light for the long future of wild tigers.

Now. I just thought that thought. I just filled wild tigers with all my love. Love Tiger.

Maybe a mother tiger just slipped away past a poacher; maybe a conservation officer just won a small battle against urgent villagers, maybe a logging company just turned away from a big, bad deal.

I love the black and amber with its white flashes rippling through the green of my mind. I am grateful. I am love. I am hope. I am Tiger.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Family Nature

In his U.S.A best-selling book, "Last Child in the Woods", Richard Louv coined the term 'Nature Deficit Disorder' (NDD) and inspired an international movement to reconnect children with Nature. Mr Louv highlighted concerns that resonated intuitively with multitudes of today's parents - that children disconnected from the Natural World are children at risk. The consumerist society takes their children for walks in shopping malls instead of the mountains. It provides passive entertainment with children sitting still, indoors, absorbed on screens - instead of running, climbing, swimming, slipping and sliding outside in woods, streams, meadows and trees. It substitutes 'Animal Planet' for real-life encounters with wild-living birds and beetles, porcupines and caracals. In crucial ways, the child of this consumerist world is a child raised in a special kind of poverty who manifests real and long-lasting symptoms of its disadvantage.

There's an abundance of research that tells us what we know anyway - Nature is good for human beings. We understand and connect to the wild and wordless essence of ourselves when we deeply and truly experience the greater wild and wordless context of our World. There is no possible virtual, technological solution to meet this need. To provide our children with opportunities for this essential part of whole human development, we have to get them outside into the Natural World - often.

It is arguable, that this generation of children needs this more than any other - they are facing unprecedented environmental challenges in their lifetimes. We cannot expect them to grow into adults responsible for sustainable living and sustainable human development if we are raising them in conditions conducive to Nature Deficit Disorder.

It is this realisation that is motivating mothers, fathers, grandparents, neighbours, environmental educationalists, non profit organisations, businesses and governments to organise and support formal and informal groups, clubs, networks and programmes that involve families in Nature walks, hikes, camps, adventures and holidays. Being in Nature, experiencing wild places, observing and connecting with all aspects of the Life around us is increasingly recognised as a vital part of family well-being. It is not something that parents can leave up to schools. As role models, as the nurturers of our children's development, we need to be actively fostering their connection to Nature on a daily basis.

Big picture ideas, support and connections can be found at: Children and Nature Network -

More about Richard Louv and "Last Child in the Woods" at:

I love this stunning Cape Town-based initiative:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Earth Charter

I am immersed in The Earth Charter this week - busy conceptualising and writing educational resources, for teachers of ten-year olds, with the Earth Charter as a theme for enhancing sustainability education.

I think that The Earth Charter is an extremely valuable initiative. It is wise, helpful and hopeful. It provides a sound and inspiring ethical framework to guide the transition to sustainable living and sustainable human development. The Charter's great strength is that it both recognises and accommodates the irrevocably interconnected aspects of Life on Earth in its 16 succinct principles. It serves to remind us that social justice, peace and the end of poverty are intertwined with the protection, respect and care of the wilderness, biodiversity and other species that we make use of.

The Earth Charter began as a United Nations project, but was then driven and fully implemented some years later by an independent global civil society initiative - at the urgings of the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev. A decade-long process of the most inclusive and participatory consultation has helped The Earth Charter to gain legitimacy and further its goal of becoming an international 'soft law document' - morally, if not legally binding on its signatories. It has been endorsed by more than 4500 organizations, including governments and international bodies. Because of its status as a 'people's charter', you can as an individual, a family, a school or a community also endorse the Earth Charter, take action and use it as a wise guide to 21st Century living.

The mission of the Earth Charter is:
"... to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace."

Read the principles, take them to heart, sign The Earth Charter and be inspired to take action at:
For kids, teachers and parents, there's the Little Earth Charter - the 16 Principles synthesized into 8 communicated through beautiful animations and songs: