Thursday, August 07, 2014

Respect=Ecological Justice!

Respect [From the Latin verb respicere “to look back at.” … “An understanding that individuals, communities (including other species), the ecosphere should be treated in a just and appropriate way.”  
Modified from Oxford; Merriam-Webster dictionaries]
paul bain martin

Entre menos burros, mas elotes.  Dicho de Mexico    Me? … We!! Muhammad Ali
The free bird thinks of another breeze … and he names the sky his own.  But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams … his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.  Maya Angelou

Respect within relationships among individuals, demes, populations, and communities--locally and across the globe—is dependent upon profound and comprehensive comprehension.  During my formative years and afterward I played, studied and worked with young and old of various shades of color and various roots in Devine, College Station, Florida, Georgia, Mexico, Poland, Brazil and other locales (and during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964—after a feed mill accident--my life was saved by Afro-Mexican American coworkers, Lacy and Gene Haywood, which must have in part spurred my quest for respect and justice).  But I respectfully acknowledge and confess that despite my good fortune to have relative power, money, education, resources, and time with which to work toward improved states of respect, I can be very lazy and I need to work much harder at learning how to respect various peoples and assist in the realization of justice for all.   To wholly respect others it takes a life of learning the nuances of their language, culture and history.  I also recognize that I need to spend more time communicating with the poorest of this and other regions and countries--including ancient (indigenous) and recent immigrants--and to afford them with the power, resources, time, and communication skills (in their native language, English, mathematics; through computers and algorithms) to understand me and my culture and history.

As touched upon above, a goal of realizing respect is as simple as the theme of the 2014 prestigious TLU Krost Symposium, environmental justice, i.e., ecological justice, or … just justice!  It involves simple affirmations that we will do unto, e.g., Haitians and other peoples as we would have Haitians and others do unto to us if we were in their extremely challenging situation. It is simply the achieving very significant reductions of consumption by the 1% of humans who consume 75 times per capita what the poorest 20% consume.  It would involve drastic reduction of this consumption also because it is decimating populations of other species.  Moreover, this simple goal would include the transfer of a large portion of that power of consumption of the 1% over to the 20% who are hungry and undernourished and poorly clothed & sheltered, and to other species.  In addition, it would involve short and long-term management of population growth of humans and domesticated animals.  It would necessarily be a process of working toward equality and equity through “applied ecology across curricula and campuses”   curricula and campuses of churches, businesses, government entities, not-for-profit non-governmental organizations, as well as school systems--public, private and home schools.  It would be the beginning of what I call a generation of positively ethical applied community ecologists/PEACEmakers who have sustainable livelihoods.  (Herein, community always includes all species in an area!) 

On the other hand, the reality of even the beginnings of a realization of just a bit of a dream of ubiquitous and universal respect truly is perhaps not so simple, but is very, very, very complex and muddled.  It involves grassroot work in the trenches in local communities all over the world as well as heavy-duty politicking at the local level and on regional, state, national and even international  scenes.  Certainly the great works of Sam Flores, A.J. Malone, Dolores Huerta, Willie Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, Betty Friedan, Harvey Milk, W.E.B. DuBois, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gandhi and others who have fought so hard for respect and justice—but only partially achieved it--have attested to that.

A journey toward truly holistic respect is about positive relationships with other humans and with Nature.  And it is about real action.  It is not “Yes sir!” and “No sir!” to the status quo, including our current world systems’ status quo of rampant transformation of energy and subsequent loss of existing topsoil, quality of water systems, & biodiversity.  Respect is not bowing down to the power structures who worship big and fast at the expense of others, including other species.  It is most certainly not a neglect of going to the voting booth and a disdain for getting involved in the political process.  An attitude of respect does not involve the acceptance of our current socio-political/economic systems which are so exploitive of relatively stable natural economies.  Respect is looking hard for a different route toward individual quality life which is quality life for all of the community.  It starts by speaking truth to power and to apathy, and to ignorance of ecological processes and principles.  (Global and local power might include the moneyed, transnational corporations, politicians and bureaucrats, the majority in a democracy, the military-industrial complex, or religious institutions.)

Down these lines, I have to say that too many of us—including yours truly--are often quite satisfied with our sheltered “life” in comfortable artificial bubbles.  But surely we
should begin to more fully live and launch a critical mass of relatively wealthy, powerful and ”good” christians/muslims/jews/hindus/buddhists/humanists/others who would travel to troublesome sites in great numbers and use strategies and tactics of civil disobedience and non-violence to stop:  wars in Syria, Central Africa, Ukraine, and other areas of the world; continued production of weaponry; extreme poverty in Zimbabwe and Haiti and other countries; ecological disruption all over the globe     and perhaps one day take us a bit closer to open borders, cosmopolitan and relative peace.

Respect must start with self, but self must also include local and global community.  Respect is an effort toward pristine and natural and is not polluting and not so artificial.  It recognizes anthropogenic detrimental changes in Nature/the Land.  We are but one of many species working at survival, but we are the dominant one on this ecosphere and we need to recognize that an excess of this dominance can lead to extinction of quality life for more and more.    Respect is having Faith in the power of good & community.  But respect also gives Science equal weight and works to conserve and share with others the resources of mineral and hydrological cycles, photosynthesis and biodiversity and the daily solar energy which arrives on this ecosphere.  (On the other hand it is not imprudently and totally getting on the bandwagon of STEM and many of the values being pushed in these programs.  In some ways this currently fashionable “education” process of STEM has little respect for positively ethical applied community ecology or faith in Nature/the Commons/the Land, and is far too focused on faster and bigger, pseudo-growth, inappropriate technology, upward mobility, and money  … and power over resources.)

As far as the Latin derivation of the word respect is concerned, in looking back I appreciate any good/god I may have in me which would have been contributed from the villages in which I have lived, including Seguin!  I am grateful for the freedom of continuing development these villages provided or are now providing toward eliciting freedom songs from “caged birds” and enabling “free birds” to realize “We!”

Finally, I want to get back to the point made in the 3rd paragraph herein that respect is a complicated and confused process.  It is an understatement to say that humans and human relationships are not perfect and that change toward real conservation, resilience, & sustainability--i.e., social justice, humaneness, and ecological sanity--is tough and very challenging.  But across the ecosphere much does exist in the way of healthy relationships, dialogue, discussion, listening, diplomacy, and consensus-building.  And we do need to shed plenty of light on this good which is taking place in community.  Indeed there is much that is happening in Seguin which might get us on a road toward increased respect and good-/god-liness, i.e.,:
  • voter registration drives  
  • some research into Seguin’s sustainability status (and a committee on sustainability)  
  • dialogue about better and more holistic educational systems including continuing ecological education 
  • initiatives at more art, historical knowledge, learning of other languages, including mathematics and computer languages 
  • programs to increase individual/family/community physical and spiritual health 
  • scholarships and leadership programs focusing on the less fortunate 
  • naturalists working to protect and enhance green space  
  • programs to achieve more nutritious, energetically-sound and user-friendly food systems  a library which is being constructed with goals of the long-term conserving of energy and resources 
  • some efforts at reducing, reusing & then recycling 
  • an effort at mass transport, some bicycle lanes and increased bicycling for transport rather than just for exercise or recreation 
  • efforts toward quality life in Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Africa and other parts of the world 
  • a realization that land fills and waste can be very problematic 
  • perhaps some realization that (conspicuous) consumption and the desperate grab for & transformation of energy can be a serious problem …
  • the respect campaign which initiated this column which has been run much of this year of 2014!! 

“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”  Wendell Berry

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Do I believe we will achieve peace ... and sustainability (social justice, humaneness, ecological sanity)?  ...   I would rather believe thusly, i.e., in good (my god), than to worship gods of power and money and more stuff, and therefore believe in war and ecological destruction.

Monday, June 23, 2014

good god! (Just a thought.)

"God" is a lazy man's way to individual "peace".  Universal Good strives for universal PEACE.  ...  I will concede, however, that god and good might be one and the same.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Non-believers and Believers

"There are two ways to slice easily through life--to believe everything or to doubt everything.  Both ways save us from thinking."  Linguist Alfred Korzybski, quoted in the Associated Press.  From:  The Week, February 28, 2014
Some of us can never be "believers".  And others can "'never not' be believers".  ...  On the other hand, all of us must be agnostic.  We can never know! pbm

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

"Sleepwalking to Extinction" by Richard Smith (Adbusters # 110, Vol. 21, Number 6)

This is a good essay!  

I hope you might find time/have the desire to read it!
“The Sky Is Falling!” for some at various points in time in the universe(s).  This can be studied/analyzed/realized through lens … of the space shuttle, … at eye level here on Earth, and … involving micro & nano views. 

On the other hand, at all of these levels in certain spatial/temporal sectors for some species complex (ecological communities), “Life Is Good!”
I love life!! and I especially love it on a day like today here in “Clean” Seguin when we have a grandkid (or grandkids/kids/friends) over and it’s a cool fall day after recent rain   and I’m listening to John Prine singing “You Got Gold” (or even some “Humans Ain’t Human”  ) on KNBT 92.1 New Braunfels.
I do think biochar, photovoltaic systems, conventional organic food production, high tech, etc., etc. are not moving us much toward community resilience & sustainability (I’m going to post some Martin-“poetry”—below--on this.).  On the other hand, what makes more sense is:  planned controlled grazing, passive solar designs of buildings, lowering consumption, low/appropriate technology, and building of small schools in concert with the Land/Nature and with positively ethical applied community ecology across the curricula and campuses.

I do recognize that I haven’t done much of significance in my ca. 67 years of life.  But “We Are All Sinners!” and can do better  … and “Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life!!”  (And efforts toward smaller schools and ecology across curricula/campuses is where we should be expending much of our energy. )
Headed to The Farm in Stockdale.  pbm


Jan 2007 (pbm)

Depression and Pinchot-wired parents taught us to conserve.
2007 Chosen People-fundamentalist preachers impel us to grab and rule the all that WE MOST CERTAINLY deserve.

Humility, frugality used to be preached in the churches.
America First!!!  War!! Estados Unidos  sempre precisa ganhar! …  And the ship of state lurches.

Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates.  The power reigns.
Others squalid in big city/rural remains.

So green! So green!  A  new gas-electric hybrid auto and a muito  verde LEED home built  for only 
        200, 000 times what half the individuals in  the world make in a year.
“Organicissimo!! Organicissimo!!”  With this certified pesticide-free apple sent from New Zealand for our fresh fruit Texas party of Christmas cheer.

“Environmentists”’ answer is “R enewable”.  Used only a half million BTUs per capita last year of ethanol and fuel cell energy.
… Did I mention it cost about a million British Thermal Units of oil, gas and coal.  Don’t you love the synergy?!?!

Cars cause super-problems; we rush for more.
9-11!  Pres says rush for the store.

Indoor pools, treadmill exercise machines..
Could we become Mexican Raramuri or Kenyan Kalenjins and make the whole earth Nature’s park,  and run it in our jeans …  and get it back  into concert with  our genes?

Hot outside?  Turn on the arcondicionados!  Keep eating more gas, oil, coal fueled potatoes.
Global warming (Climate change)? Highly recommend moving from Barbados.

The Chosen few of the world possess Capital and are Landed,
While the Third World is kwashiorkor- stranded.

7 billion Homo sapiens—Number ONE!!!
Other top trophic species?  You’re certainly done!

Top soil?  Watersheds?  Diverse biotic communities?  Passive solar energy?  Who the hell has heard of “it”??
Big screens, NFL, NBA, empty calories—chips and beer.  All of this is what keeps the U.S. lit.

Farm subsidies, conservation easements, cheap energy and  basic resources  from abroad.  For the Lorded Landed this spells more cash!
Certainly can’t cap excessive income and capital gains, strive  for real equity and equality and produce less trash!

Trans Texas Corridors!  Loops around Interstate jams.  Muckity, muckity, muck, muck, muck.
I’ll solve it by traversing overLand with my on-steroids Hummer, ATV, Suburban, and Big diesel truck.

Frequent flyer miles, ecotourism, luxury ‘beachcombing”, Carnival Cruise. 
Explain for me again now those South American favela blues!?!

Come to our High Schools and Universities and learn to change the world faster.
No matter this “serves”  to make the Natural ecosphere much  less of a laster.

Mold those young uns into businessmen, corporate lawyers, sports physicians, oil field geologists.
But “Heaven forbid” an environmentalist  or world renowned ecologist!

It’s the parents’ fault, the teacher’s culpa, the administrators get in the way; a federal problem, a local one.  The village!  The family!  The individual student! …  Let’s get more realistic!!!
It’s all of these.  Just start somewhere and stay  focused on it with lots of will and energy.  Get off your butt and think holistic!

Radios, TVs, cell phones, iPods, video games, plastics, petroleum perfumes,Taco bell food,  this dam computer screen.  Peggy Lee cries out, “Is That All There Is?” … VIRTUAL reality?
Think this is really messing with my Natural innate  personality!

Go out into the country, inner city or even suburban streets. 
In this wealthiest of nations you’ll find unattended-to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, cancer, malnutrition-- to which I would attribute bad (or lack of) local doctors, politics and economics, chambers of  commerce, ecological ignorance and apathy, and high fructose corn-based sweets.

Arteriosclerosis, arthrosclerosis, hypertension, embolism, angina, arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke.  Could it be our way of life??
Perhaps we could just slow down and do it the natural way and give (human) Nature less strife??

Small is beautiful!  Don’t let them tease you!!
Big is passé … pasado.  Communidades que pensa grandao are screwed.

War. Basic/Airborne Ranger/Green Beret Special Forces training--into fit muscled/artificial “Army of One”- MEN (and woMEN).  Uniforms, weapons, order, brass gives us meaning.
Could we all do a chaotic Peace Corps thing --and rather than destroy do just cleaning?

Haifa, Chechnya, Darfur, Cuba, the deep dark Congo.
Their notoriety? “ Isn’t  one of those where they invented the bongo?”
I’m confused!!!!
Or too much BS infused?

Got to act local.
I’m not just a Seguin yokel.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ecology-Across-Campuses & -Curricula


Ecology-Across-Campuses and -Curricula … and Ecological Literacy:
Toward Sustainable Livelihoods and Conservation and Sustainable Community

paul b. martin, ph.d., Marvel Maddox, & Jolly Ellis*

Siempre Sustainable Network

605 Elm, Seguin, TX 78155

Paper presented at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Society of Educators and Scholars, Oct. 2010

We know we are in dire straits as a species, and that we are among associated species facing even more difficult immediate threats … such as extinction by Homo sapiens.  At least one billion relatively powerless humans, and great numbers of individuals of other species, are in the midst of unprecedented peril in this moment.  Therefore, we must demand that our institutions of learning--from the pre-kindergarten to post-graduate school--unreservedly address the challenge: of lowering ecological footprints and material/energy usage/”abusage” (loss of topsoil, usable water, and  biodiversity; and dependence on  virtual slaves)  in the sectors of the world with power, and of facilitating the increases in these footprints for those lacking power (the objective being an average worldwide per capita ecological footprint of ca. 5 acres and daily energy usage of ca. 60 thousand kilocalories with a very small standard deviation.).  Stakeholders should be basing their decisions on ecological principles and processes; they should be thinking critically & creatively and acting in local & global systems with goals of banning inequality, and enhancing conservation, resilience and sustainability.  A comprehensive and intensive plan for making this happen through our educational systems is seriously needed.  Development of ecology-across-curricula toward ecological literacy and sustainable livelihoods and sustainable community is a moral and ethical imperative for true scholars and educators.  Educational systems should be a part of the solution rather than serving to increase the social and ecological problems we all will continue to face in the future if we do not begin to rapidly change our socio-political/economic local and global systems.
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road -- the one less traveled by -- offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”  Rachel Carson, Ecologist

*The junior authors are included because their impassioned support in this effort has been and is essential.  … However the senior author is solely responsible for the content herein.

We of the greatest generation, baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, are responsible for: the devastating Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill damage in the Gulf of Mexico, for dead zones in our bays and estuaries, e.g., also in the Gulf of Mexico, for the covering of precious topsoil by Texas Toll Road SH-130, and also for the desperate condition of millions in the world who lack even limited power and basic resources in order to live quality lives.  Nevertheless, we—the authors of this paper--do feel we can do something about these and other problems we have caused.  Moreover, we believe it is obvious that our educational systems must be at the forefront in providing immediate and long-term solutions.

Therefore, the major points we wish to leave the reader with after his/her digesting of this paper, are:
  • world systems are facing local and global quality life-threatening challenges which need immediate and very significant attention,
  • we have knowledge of responsible, appropriate responses to these challenges (although we are not generally doing much about realizing these needed actions at this time), and
  • our educational systems at all levels are the logical vehicles for:
    1. teaching and molding community and society such that it yields quality life,
    2. developing critical and creative thinking and ethical decision-making built on knowledge of ecological principles and processes, and
    3. motivating communities and society at local and global levels toward conservation and development of resilient and sustainable community involving generalists & sustainable livelihoods.

Barriers to Ecological Literacy. In the senior author’s small rural childhood community, children were taught about:

  • “doing to others as you would have them do unto you,”
  • natural resource and energy conservation,
  • some basic principles & processes of ecology,
  • appropriate scale,
  • being generalists, and
  • how to live well in a place. 

At home, in church, and in elementary school we received a strong foundation of guidelines for positively ethical applied community ecology.  Moreover, the sizes of schools the senior author attended were generally in the range (200-500 in elementary, middle school and high school  and <12000 cite="" in="" universities="">
 ) which is conducive to quality education, and there was plenty of “Natural” pasture in which to roam and learn in a hands-on way about Nature and the Land.  (This author almost wrote that his formative community had lots of “Greenspace”.  However these formative years were during the long and severe drought of the 1950s in south Texas, and the green space was very brown.)  Finally, there was an attitude of life-long learning and of the belief that a citizen working in local community could really make a difference.

But despite this great ecological knowledge-base provided the senior author down in South Texas in the 1950s and 60s, he was born the year after WW II ended, and baby-boomers in the U.S. were experiencing an explosion of technology--and “stuff”, of increasing numbers of automobiles, large heat-pump air-conditioned homes, expanding exotic lawns and lawnmowers, and energy- and material-extracting gadgets, resulting in generally rapid conversion of Natural to Artificial.  Therefore, even though we were being taught one system of values, many sectors of society—including parents and children--were beginning to live, more and more, another ethos.  
This consumptive system of values continues to escalate.   A consumerism mindset, which even much of China and Mongolia now have or are rapidly getting, is terribly destructive of the top soil, high quantity of clean water, clean air, macro and micro mineral cycles, and robust biodiversity upon which high quality and robust life systems depend for quality life and sustainability.  This consumerism and need for more is destroying humanity because of its inhumaneness.

We need to consume less here North of the equator (and those with considerable power south of the equator need to do likewise).  Along with reduction of consumption by the powerful, it is imperative to increase the power and consumption of the world’s poor, undernourished and disenfranchised.  (Another confounding issue is “War,” and particularly our U.S. military-industrial machine and all the arms it produces.)

Moreover, even though population growth rates are not as serious a problem as per capita consumption by the powerful, we must continue to curb population growth.  … Obviously we would be in a better situation now if we had to deal with one to two billion humans rather that seven, nine or 11.

October 2010 is a time of “unprecedented” talk of education reform.  Why are we not hearing more about what is fundamental to the education process and essential to critical thinking and quality life for all, i.e., ecological literacy and ecology-across-curricula?

We think there are at least seven reasons:

1. Ecological Illiterates. In 2010, most parents, teachers, administrators, education policymakers in the U.S. do not have real knowledge of a concept of ecological literacy (EL) and ecology-across-the-curriculum (EAC).  Moreover, their grasp of EAC and EL is probably less than that of parent, teachers, administrators and policymakers in, e.g., the 1930s.  (The senior author’s father, who had not attended college, and mother, who only went to school through the eighth grade, knew much more about ecological principles and processes than most folk coming out of college in today’s world.).

A good foundational knowledge in ecological principles and processes is essential to anyone even beginning to understand socio-political/economic systems and for beginning to help move us toward correcting them in an ethical manner, i.e., for the good of rich or poor--including other species--and for as long as possible.

2. Fear of Change. When folk do have an inkling of understanding of what might be meant by EAC, they often generally want to avoid it at all costs (including the costs incurred from the sacrifice of necessary ecological knowledge and actions resulting from critical thinking which would take us toward future quality living within this ecosphere).  The reason for this is that their paychecks, interest rates and dividends, yields from stocks and bonds, annuities, government checks, subsidies and assistance, i.e.,  their relatively comfortable conventional lifestyles, depend upon the bankrupt financial system and fragile socio-economic/political structure which is perilously propped upon a deteriorating natural resource base.  And they do not want to rock the boat!   
The very powerful, in particular, are reluctant to give up power or even use what they have in order to gain increasing power.  Moreover, many of those with power threaten those without similar power with certain job and income loss, in the event that they, the rich and powerful, should lose their own foothold on their exorbitant power.

3. Uncompassionate Apathy. Many people do not de facto care much about the three billion humans who really are struggling to get by in the world and we care even less about other species, especially if they are not mammals or are not relatively large or not stunningly beautiful.

4. Sustainability Is Difficult! (Particularly in a World of 7 Billion and Capitalism). Individuals and world systems are complex, and difficult to reprogram toward conservation and sustainability.  Moreover, there are many folk who settle for the status quo, and thus there are many naysayers, cynics and con artists taking a perceived easier path, even while their actions are nudging, shoving or leading us over the cliff..

5. Communication Barriers. It is extremely difficult to even begin to communicate with folk who hold a completely different system of values, especially when these values are on a compellingly attractive and even addictive (yet unfounded) "foundation."

6. Faster Horses! Older Whiskey! Younger “Mates”! More Money!  We generally continue to worship at the altar of growth and big, fast and noisy, and technological and artificial, (and energetically and socio-economically/ecologically costly) … at the expense in particular of "average" students/people.

7. Problems in Knowing When the Well Really Is About to Run Dry.  As human populations and their appetites and their technology increase, the finite resources of this finite planet are rapidly tapped into and utilized.  But to some extent, everything seems fine up until the depletion of necessary resources (especially macronutrients/essential elements & compounds) is precariously near.  It is difficult to know and predict when the last amount of life-essential resources are nearing depletion until very near the end of depletion (or near the point where it is virtually energetically impossible to secure them in sufficient amounts to maintain the homeostasis of life systems).   [Dr. Albert Bartlett eloquently and thoroughly discussed this in 1978 in his “Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis”  ]

(Certainly there have been better analyses of barriers to sustainability, e.g., ; however, the seven barriers listed are significant.)

Ecology-Across-the-Curriculum and the Campus. Of course dealing with challenges and surmounting barriers is what we in education are all about.  Therefore, we propose that we whole-heartedly really get to work and begin to realize EAC and EL.

Now, what might be some of the characteristics of school systems with EAC which produce ecologically literate graduates?  In this section we will try to create a vision for curricula and campuses which might be approaching EAC and effective facilitation toward EL.

First of all the schools would of necessity be small.  (Schools should be small enough so that administrators teach.) Pre-university educational systems would involve more neighborhood and rural schools (including high schools) built in concert with Nature and the Land with no more than 500 students  .  The landscapes of  the schools would be of mostly native plant communities (possessing placards with species identification/information), some agricultural production, living and rainfall-catchment roofs, and limited vehicle parking space (encouraging walking, bicycling, bus transport and car-pooling).  Buildings would be sustainably built of mostly local materials and would be designed and strategically placed (perhaps in earthen embankments) for passive cooling and heating, and for comprehensive, holistic education that is lived and breathed on the campus.  Food and drink—and fibers and other materials used on campuses-- would be mostly locally produced, processed, and prepared for consumption. 

An individual/group walking through the campus with EAC and teaching EL would immediately recognize humility and courtesy within the school population, but would also note can-do attitudes indicative of leadership schools in its citizenry.  (The “yes sirs” and “no sirs”, and “thank yous” and determination to listen and learn, which the senior author recently encountered while working with elementary students of Jacksboro ISD, would be very apparent in the systems we envision with EAC toward EL.)

All those involved the school system—students, staff, faculty, administrators, school board members, the larger community—would be knowledgeable about energy flux and material flow inputs/throughputs and outputs for the school campuses (or at least seeking out this information) and ecological footprints of the school and school system, and involved in changing them for the better (effective communication, participatory/hands-on, decentralized/site-based management, lifelong learning/critical thinking).  Various low input technologies like chalk and blackboards and “dog run”-venturi cooling systems; “renewable” energy sources; holistic and preventative systems of student health care; composting toilets and simulated-wetlands sewage-treatment systems; and higher input systems involving LEED certification at the highest level also need to be considered. 

Schools would have systemic and holistic “greening of the curricula.”  )  All of the giants of the education process (Appendix 1) as well as other components of this process, including extracurricular activities, would be viewed through a lens of (applied) ecology with a goal of quality life for all, including other species, for as long as possible.

Community service learning toward conservation and sustainability on campus and in the larger community would be a part of the life of all students, teachers, staff and administrators.  Teachers, staff and administrators would live in the neighborhoods served by the school system, and pay scales of all these entities would be equitable and relatively equal.  No employee, not even administrators, would receive a salary which would allow him or her to exact inequitable and unjust power over others, including other species.

Some of the working or conceptual models for accomplishing conservation and sustainability to which students and other stakeholders(faculty, staff, administrators, policymakers) would cognizant of include ecological economics (of Herman Daly et al.), the sustainable livelihoods approach of the U.K. Department of International Development , holistic management as promoted by Allen Savory et al., the Commonwealths of Ogallala Commons, and the systems approaches of Helmut Haberl, Vaclav Smil, Cornelia Butler Flora, David Pimentel, Wes Jackson, and Miguel Altieri.  They all would read Donald Worster’s Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas and Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.  Moreover, they would need to be familiar with the works of Paulo Freire, Saul Alinsky, Murray Bookchin, Aldo Leopold, William Catton, Wendell Berry, and E.O. Wilson.  (Of course we did leave out many classic and conventional works related to ecology and numerous key ecologists with which school systems should already at least be familiar.)

Outcomes: Sustainable Livelihoods in a Conserving and Sustainable Community. 
As we have indicated, the real crisis in the world is not in the financial economy and its current state, … but rather, the crises in Nature’s economy [severe human poverty and malnutrition (and other physical and mental/spiritual stresses on humans), watershed disruption, top soil loss, dead zones, desertification, loss of diversity and resilience, serious pollution, global climate change, and other ecological problems.]. Moreover, we are not providing our children (nor most of the “adults” around them) with the educational foundation for developing critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills, particularly with regard to the serious long-term ecological challenges.
(Of course in the U.S.A. there is little immediate awareness of many of the problems in Nature's economy because we have so much power and we suck tremendous resources from all over the world to a relatively small population here in North America--a process which masks and hides the really serious problems our kids and grandkids ... will have to confront with insurmountable difficulties. Moreover, most of us live in such a virtual and unreal reality that whole lives of relative ignorance and procrastination are prevalent--versus what could be fulfilling and spiritually rich and active lives of wisely dealing with real problems.)
The bottom line is that, for the most part sustainable livelihoods do not exist in our very artificial conventional economic systems. Our current (and past) economies, and most of our livelihoods that come from these socio-political/economic systems, are destroying soils, water, the air we breathe, and the climate which sustains life--and these unsustainable livelihoods are doing away with the organisms and their ecological communities with which we as humans must associate for quality life. … They are destroying our humaneness--our humanity!

As already emphasized in this paper, some of us strongly believe that we, as “educators” and “scholars”, should earnestly and immediately begin to attempt to change this unpleasant situation we humans are creating as a result of our development and continued propping up/bandaiding of non-conserving and unsustainable, and non-resilient ecological communities. In particular, we are certain that this major shift in behavior and action must include a comprehensive and intensive long-range planning which would involve (“optimally”) small (less that a 500 student population ) neighborhood and rural schools—with separate elementary, middle school and high school campuses placed side by side, but in concert with the Land and Nature.

“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. …
when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament;
when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.”
Wendell Berry, Essayist, Poet, Farmer

An ecologically-sound school system modeled after the guidelines discussed herein, can definitely help to realize sustainable livelihoods for local communities and the world--livelihoods which involve some of the following:
0 Educated holistic and ethical decision-makers
0  Folk who dedicate their lives to targeting the poor with education, knowledge, enfranchisement, empowerment, power, and resources
0 Organic farmers who are “truly organic” in a holistic sense
0 Urban farmers and rural farmer-ranchers who produce grass-fed and browse-fed meat animals on a small and large scale
0 Holistic low-input community gardeners
0 Health care professionals who holistically and comprehensively practice preventative care on a local level--first and foremost!—and curative care when needed (and who develop health care systems that particularly target the poor)
0 Lawyers who mostly help the poor (including other species)
0 Bankers supporting microloan/microenterprise systems which are conserving and sustainable
0 Blue collar workers who make enough for a good quality life
0 White collar workers who make enough for a good quality life. But no more!
0 Architects who design conserving and sustainable built-systems
0 Builders of small ecological-friendly homes
0 Constructors and maintainers of transport systems primarily involving bicycles, trains, buses, and modern clipper ships 
0 Seekers of low input/throughput/output systems involving ethical use of what is truly “renewable energy”
0 Effective and efficient communicators who work in inexpensive low input systems
0 Systems analyzers and researchers who can effectively communicate the state of the state/the world in terms of material flow and energy flux—inputs, throughputs, and outputs; ... also, teams producing life cycle assessments for products/systems
0 Scientists who truly seek knowledge vs. technicians and technologists who attempt to bring the Land/Nature “to its knees” in service to humans
0 Guardians of diverse native living communities of organisms (including in bays and estuaries); ample amounts of good clean water and air; rich, deep, living top soils; and ethical use of energy
0 Ethical naturalists
0 Readers who seek socio-political/economic (ecological) knowledge about how to live well in a place
0 Human cultures who respect other human cultures, traditions and rituals
0 A human culture that respects the Nature, the Land
0 Ecological historians
0 Local, homegrown entertainers who are relatively “low input”/”low maintenance”
0 Everyone actively participating in local low maintenance sports and entertainment
0 Politicians and bureaucrats/policy-makers at all levels who work intelligently and prudently to facilitate change toward “conservation and development of sustainable community”
0 Teachers of reading, writing and arithmetic who live where they teach and are striving to meet our local and global challenges within a holistic, participatory/hands-on, site-based curriculum of applied ecology
0 True Peacemakers / Poets / Artists
0 Folk in all disciplines and roles in life who are Positively Ethical Applied Community Ecologists and who live light on the Land

School systems which lead to sustainable livelihoods—and more generalists who know much about the whole vs. specialists who know more & more about less & less--can help us in our journey toward conservation and development of resilient and sustainable communities.  

Conclusions. The senior author has no doubt that if we opt to continue to only band-aid and patch up the current system, and if we continue to use the old socio-political/economic models to accumulate capital, … that in his specific case, he, his children and his grandchildren would continue to do well.  They have and probably will continue to have the power, know-how, social and financial capital and leverage to continue to have a good life. 

But we do have serious concerns about the more long-term future of humanity, and we particularly worry about those humans and other species that lack sufficient power.  And although we have not really focused on or adequately discussed many of the various more specific socially and culturally destructive aspects and negative consequences of our inequitable local and global power structure in this paper up to this point, we do particularly have concerns, compassion, and empathy for:

  • the well over three billion humans who will continue to lack adequate power in order to realize quality life and the increasing detrimental effect deteriorating resources will have on them,
  • those in community who have been devastated by our state, national and international drug policies, 
  • the millions who are in prison, and have quality life denied to them (attempting to sweep them under the rug through incarceration and even capital punishment vs. their being in a society and world that really cares and works toward rehabilitation and getting to the root of our social problems), 
  • undocumented workers who do not openly receive the wages and services they deserve, nor the compassion and respect they should receive, and
  • the millions devastated by War, preemptive strikes, military nation-destruction, and related chaos.

Positively ethical applied ecologists coming out of our school systems will actively work in a collaborative and intelligent fashion to resolve this horrific lack of humaneness in today’s ecosphere.

The argument is oftentimes over whether is the cup half full or half empty with respect to dealing with our socio-political/economic (ecological) challenges.  But does it really matter?

It most certainly is emptying at unprecedented global scale and at a rate we have never before experienced.  It is time we began working together in a transdisciplinary manner to educate across the curriculum toward ecological literacy.  It is immoral and unethical to do otherwise.

Appendix 1.  Giants of the Education Process
Communication [Language(s), MATHEMATICS, Computer Science]

ART    Kinesiology/SPORTS   POLITICS [Law, Military Science, …]

Philosophy / Religion [Ethics, Morals, Values, Mores]

Physics [Energetics]

Economics [Money, Marketing, Management, Accounting]

ECOLOGY [Chemistry, Biology (Agriculture, Medicine, Dentistry)],
                                                Geography, Social Studies-Anthropology

Appendix 2.  A Panel Discussion realized at Siempre Sustainable Network’s Monthly Meeting, November, 2009
Questions for the Panel of Experts in the Field of Education. I am certain each and every one of the panel members feels strongly that there is much room for improvement in our public schools. However, differences arise when we begin to discuss what?, where?, when? and how? we need to go about realizing improvement. The questions listed below will hopefully provide some initial insight into how this community and others might move forward toward providing sustainable livelihoods and quality life for all—locally and globally:

Briefly tell the audience what the term “quality life in community” means to you?

What is education for?

What is the most important change we can make in our public schools in order to realize quality life locally and worldwide for as many folk as possible, and for as long as possible?

What are your thoughts concerning ecological literacy and the importance of such?

Discuss the importance of keeping schools small, “neighborly” and rural—and in concert with the environment.

Discuss the role of schools in community and the need for schools to be “truly Green” holistically, and in concert with the local ecological community of diverse organisms?

Do you believe a “charter school”-initiative targeting low-income families and involving a small middle-school student population--and an ecologically-sound, socially just and humane mindset--might be effective in improving our public school system? Could you actively support a charter school in your current situation, i.e., primarily in an advisory capacity and through possible collaboration with institutions/entities you represent?

What are some other suggestions for moving us toward:
· ecological literacy?
· sustainable livelihoods?
· and communities which are socially just and humane, and ecologically-sound?

Appendix 3.  Proposed Sustainability Course for Texas Lutheran University

Realizing Sustainability and Sustainable Livelihoods: Quality Life Locally and Globally/Helping the Powerless with a Hands-up & Protecting Nature

paul b. martin
[“Team taught” with key members from all sectors of community, including TLU]

Billions of powerless, disenfranchised people in the world have little hope for quality life and living.  Moreover, “Nature” is currently being destroyed locally and globally at unprecedented rates.   This course will investigate ways to better:
  • realize locally and globally our power to know,
  • spread real/active compassion, and
  • take action judiciously toward conservation and sustainable/resilient community and sustainable livelihoods …
while recognizing our insignificance and ignorance, and a need for humility and light ecological footprints.

This course will require active hands-on involvement of the student in understanding local community and global influences as well as involvement in developing policy and actions (including within the university) providing a knowledge base for:
  • revealing truly important questions,
  • initiating and developing processes which might lead us to more conserving/resilient/sustainable communities, and
  • ways to shift the structure and actions of power toward realizing the development of a sustainable knowledge base, revealing real problems, and sustainable community/livelihoods.

Quality Life.   (First 2 wks)
What is Life?  Biology basics?
What is Nature?
What do we mean by Quality Life?
What determines peace of mind/happiness?
Sense of place/community?

[Describe this for your community/place.    Early one morning feed & prudently/humbly/respectfully interact with day laborers on Kingsbury St.—after cking with City/County officials concerning related ordinances/Health rules & regs]

Critical Thinking.  (2 wks)
Ecological processes and principles?
Key steps to critical thinking?
Facilitating creative/critical thinking?

[Work on addressing/”solving” a major ecological challenge in Seguin.  (Watershed challenges; appropriate water quantity/quality; droughts and floods??)  Invite Debbie Magin and/or Cinde Thomas-Jimenez, GBRA for presentation/interaction.
(“Green”/sustainable housing for the poor. )  Deal with this holistically by bringing in the poorest of Seguin’s population, folk involved in implementing stimulus package retrofitting-projects/programs, Guadalupe County Appraisal District, etc.

Shouldn’t all Texans be vegetarians?  (Morally & ethically)]

Sustainability.  (2 wks)
The “End of Nature”--and do humans need “Nature”?  Ecosystem blocks—Energy flux, mineral cycles, hydrological cycle, dynamic ecological communities
History of concept of sustainability and “appropriate” technology/actions/processes?
Energetics and ecological footprints?  (Rees, Wackernagel, Haberl; WWF Living Planet Report)
Ecological soundness?
Socio-political/economic (ecological) justice?
Sustainability indicators?
What is education for?  (David Orr, Oberlin College)
[What is the EF of an average student, staffperson, faculty member, administrator?   Does going “Green” mean being sustainable as an individual/community?  State of TLU (Sustainability initiatives/projects/programs on campus).]

Local Challenges to Resilience/Sustainability.  (1 wk)
Literacy.  Ecological literacy.  Education toward/for sustainability/sustainable livelihoods.  (Small neighborhood/rural schools in concert with Nature?)
Relative poverty.  Inequity/inequality. 
Substance abuse in all socio-economic sectors.
Health issues.  Obesity, diabetes, cardio-vascular problems, respiratory challenges, HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.  Health care access.
Appropriate housing.
Transport/bike-walking lanes.
Water/energy/food/fiber/green space-wilderness.
Socio-political structure/processes including bureaucracy, large and small business, role of churches, etc.

[Sustainable Livelihoods, Ogallala Commons, Holistic Management International, Cornelia Butler Flora, ecological economics (Herman Daly, E.F.Schumacher, Robert Constanza, H.T. Odum, John Ikerd, David Pimentel, …) approaches to address these challenges.

Local vs. global.  Low input/throughput/output vs. high. “Renewable” energy.]

Global Challenges to Resilience/Sustainability.  (1 wk)
Global climate change.  Energy (“renewables”, fossil, nuclear)
Food/agriculture/organic agriculture/sustainable agriculture/agroecology.
Species extinction/loss of diversity. Green space-wilderness.
Health care systems.
Socio-political structure/processes including bureaucracy, corporations, religion, etc.

[Cap and trade/taxing/education/remediation/etc. efforts to address global climate change.  International governmental, NGO efforts at address resilience/sustainability issues.]

Systemic Change toward Conservation and Development of Sustainable Community.  (Remainder of time minus last week of classes)
Short-term and long-term actions.
Sustainable livelihoods approach; ecological economics; conservation and development of sustainable community; positively ethical applied community ecology; commonwealths; traditional/sustainable/organic agriculture; natural systems agriculture; holistic management
General steps
  • Historical roots of sustainability in region
  • Rapid appraisal/Assessment of natural resources and quality life
  • Definition of workable community boundaries (w/ consideration for migratory trends of populations
  • Team-building/leadership development
  • Goal-setting, policy, action plan development
  • Testing of action plan
  • Financing strategic actions
  • Measuring for sustainability, analyzing, evaluating, replanning
  • Continuing (quality) education for all
Effecting change in your university?  How will we begin to better realize “ecology across the curriculum” and ecological literacy?
Realizing change in community?  (Obtaining real/robust/dynamic participation from the poor/powerless/disenfranchised.)
Local/regional/state/national/international policy.

[Meetings with “movers & shakers” at TLU.]

Making This Course Obsolete--and Having a Natural University of Sustainability that Graduates Students with Sustainable Livelihoods?  (Last wk)
[Evening round table discussion with members of TLU administration, faculty, support, parents/family of students, larger community.]

Assessment:     Portfolio “graded” through rubric twice. 
                        Mid-term and final essay exam.
                        Service learning required.