What just happened?

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

 

Oceans

byJuanRamonJimenez

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing. 

And nothing happens!  Nothing…
Silence…Waves… 

Nothing happens?  Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly
in the new life?

 

It’s been one week since my 320 mile journey from Fortuna, CA ended safe and soppy at San Francisco’s City Hall.  Since then, with all of you in mind, I’ve been trying to piece together a synopsis of the event – a couple of cleanly written, succinct and inspiring paragraphs to summarize the success of our activism and the mission we accomplished.

 

Much to my own confusion, I can’t.

 

It’s not that there wasn’t success, which I’ll get to in a minute.  But last Thursday, upon leaving the 124 other cyclists and walking my bike towardBART, I was weighted-down by more than my backpack.  I was feeling an unwelcome sense of anti-climax.

 

Day 1, POURING

 

In ways I could never have predicted, last week’s Climate Ride was epic: Northern California’s rainy season began the evening of day one, and day two featured a winding 12 mile mountain descent in a downpour.  The fourth night delivered a midnightstorm so severe tents were ripped apart. On a brighter note, the week also included miles of coast-side pedaling, paralleling pelicans flying in formation.  And, the fortitude of the group was astounding! Individually, each of us admitted we wanted a warm bath and dry clothes, but as a group, we surprised every doubter within by showing-up to breakfast each morning, bedecked in spandex, ready to ride.  I am no longer afraid of cycling in the rain, even when my shoes are squishing puddles and the raindrops are forming a waterfall at the end of my nose!

Sun for a second, Day 4

 

 

 

 

There is a lesson here, right?  It’s about meeting adversity, and digging deep into the reservoir that’s created by community.  It’s a success well worth mentioning since climate change forecasts include perfectly lousy weather and natural disasters likely to have us wishing for a warm bath, but pushing us instead to ban together and to respond as best we can.  And, THIS, I think offers insight to my mood following the ride.

 

Did we, as Climate Riders, accomplish our mission?  We did!  Do you know that of the 325 of you on this list, more than 100 of you gave money to my Climate Ride?  A 30% response!!!  And together, we raised $6500 of the nearly $300,000 received for this year’s Climate Ride beneficiaries.  Thank you so, SO much.  Your generosity has been incredible.

 

Was our activism successful?  I don’t have an answer because I’m now seeing, it’s the WRONG question. JuanRamonJimenez‘s words above describe perfectly how I feel about “activism” in today’s world.  Like you, I like my life to flow easefully along with humor, beauty and love.  Death, heartache, and fear are messy and inconvenient.  Riding every mapped mile of the Climate Ride did not bring an end to the grief I feel toward what could be a future none of us would wish for, nor did it immediately change the decisions made by CEOs and political leaders around the world.  But this doesn’t mean that “nothing happened.”

Dear CEOs of America...

Arrived!

Cycling through the hush of the redwood groves, riding high above the white caps hitting the jagged rocks below, attempting to mimic those incredible pelicans in flight, I was reminded to soften (my grip), to relax (into the downhill), and to love (in the face of uncertainty).   And, like it or not, you were all there with me!

Last Thursday morning, preparing to ride our final 40 miles into San Francisco, the rain showers grew louder and louder upon the make-shift meal tent.  One of our pack  reveled fervently, “Harder!  HARDER!!!!”  And the rest of us, heads thrown back, joined-in, howling hearty invitations to the pouring skies.  In the face of life’s inevitable hurts, inconveniences and uncertainties, a practice of “inviting in” might be the best plan there is.  Did nothing happen?  Did everything happen?  I’ll let you decide.  Thank you, all, for taking this Climate Ride with me, and for showing me, again, this ever-anew life.

City Hall, San Francisco

Lauren Muses about Winning

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

 

“This is not about the whales anymore.  It’s about us.”

– Thomas L. Friedman

“Live in Joy; live in Peace, even among the troubled.”

The Buddha

Last weekend, I received an email that really surprised me.  Climate Ride organizers wrote to let me know I was $32 behind the TOP Fundraiser for the Ride.  Wow, only $32!!!  …And then the other emails came, reminding all us cyclists of the incentives and the prizes we could win.  Having paid very little attention to incentives thus far, I watched my response: “Hmmmm, what could I win?”  And then, “What am I talking about?  I don’t need anything.”  Which was followed by, “Lauren, are you afraid to win?  Is winning a bad thing?”

 

Are you familiar with this conversation?  I used to deny that I was a competitive person.  While I’m not totally comfortable with winning, what’s more true, is that I really hate losing.  I like it when we all succeed….together!  So what does this mean in regards to climate change and the health of our Earthly home?  For starters, the Friedman quote above is short-sided and we all know it (evenTom).  If the whales lose, we all lose.  More compellingly, though, I am struck by the Buddha’s invitation – to find a place of joy and peace, and to stay with it, despite the challenges surrounding us.  This practice doesn’t place value on winning or losing, but rather on showing up and being present, for whatever is happening.  It’s a highly active response and one that requires a great deal of tending.

Earth from Space Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC

 

Tomorrow, Sept 23rd, the fundraising totals for the Climate Ride will be tallied.  Will I win?  Will I lose?  Ack!  I feel a tightening in my chest!!!  I’m cycling in the Climate Ride so that we might ALL win – the whales, the trees, the earthworms, all of us; AND…I’m cycling in the Climate Ride as part of my practice to show up for that which is without guarantee.  I have no idea if humans will win or lose in our struggle to protect the Earth and Her species.  Amidst, the eco-news that can be troubling indeed, I intend to cultivate joy and peace, whenever and wherever possible.

 

For those of you who’ve already given, thank you very much!  AND, If you’re someone who would still like to give, you have ONE day left!  Thank you all so much for your support!

 

The Tar Sands? Let’s RE-create our Behavior

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

 

Happy Long Weekend!

Last Friday, I featured The East Bay Bike Coalition, a local organization doing work that’s close to my heart, in my neighborhood.  I would be remiss, this week, if I didn’t recognize 350.org, a national organization making grassroots activism an international sensation…AND whose founder,BillMcKibbenwas arrested this week while protesting the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline.

This week: 350.org http://www.350.org/

Their mission: 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

Geek Treat:  To preserve our planet the way we like to live on it, scientists say we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. Using grassroots wizardry (social media) and brilliant simplicity (people & cameras), 350.org invites change at the global level.  At the end of 2010, they coordinated a climate art project so large it had to be photographed from a satellite in outer space.  WoooHOOOOOOO!

 

And now… Let’s RE-create our Behavior

 

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

–         AlbertEinstein

Climate Change is slow and sneaky in its signs; it doesn’t register for humans with the same urgency another crisis might.  The non-profit, 350.org invites us (YOU and ME) to create educational tools and visuals to translate the brain-bending concepts into ideas that invite behavior change. Thank you, 350!

 

So are we changing our behavior?  As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I’m thinking about the word, “recreation.”  It’s what we do on weekends, right?  Especially 3-day ones, that are set-aside to honor our “labors,” and take a break, no?  And while it isn’t always true, I’m struck by how often our acts of recreation are actually creation destructive (i.e., energy-intensive electronics, resource-depleting cruise trips or golf courses).  What if the word were, “RE-Creation?”  With some creative reframing (see 350.org above), can we care for Creation through our recreation?

 

Today marks the 13th day of a 14-day sit-in at the White House to protest the Keystone Tar Sands oil pipeline.  Since it began, over 800 people have been arrested in one of the largest environmentally-focused acts of civil disobedience in U.S. history.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/opinion/tar-sands-and-the-carbon-numbers.html?_r=1

 

And the Tar Sands?  The Alberta, Canada Tar Sands produce over 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, more than 1.3 million cars. Tar sands are the 2nd largest pool of carbon on earth (Saudi Arabia’s oil takes 1st)…and one of the biggest greenhouse gas offenders.  Why?  The extraction of petroleum from tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.  Currently, Canada plans to double its tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day – a rate that will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir.

Invisible Man, Credit: Liu Bolin/Eli Klein Fine Art

 

To me, this is a big invitation to Re-Create and behave differently.  After all, some of the best economy-enhancing ideas we’ve had this year have been about renewable energy, green jobs and closed-loop thinking.   Tomorrow, while I’m on a training ride, getting high off the California Redwoods’ oxygen offerings, those brave, creative activists at the White House will deliver a petition asking Obama to ban this silly, uninventive pipeline idea.  If you haven’t signed yet, you have time.  Go here: http://act.350.org/sign/tar-sands/?rd=1
Thank you all so much for your support!