Tuesday, August 4, 2020

After Corona- The 4-day Work Week Revisited

Corona has allowed us time-space to question the status quo of many aspects of our lives, as well as question the way we do things in the hopes of coming up with some collective agreement that we will not go back to “business as usual”, because business as usual was killing us all.  Corona has also come to unveil some very broken health care and economic systems. I think in small ways we all have intuitions or ideas going off in our heads, and I believe collective consciousness is at work through each of us.
As I reviewed over the feelings I and many of my friends have expressed regarding going back to what we used to do, there is one common denominator:  we will miss the extra time some of us were gifted.  This time afforded us time to reflect, to think, to ponder, to examine, to question, to innovate, to meditate… and indeed these actions are some of the most important things we can do to give birth to the new humanity and to co-create the world we want to live in.  But for the most part, unless one makes a heroic effort to carve out time-space, modern societies do not allow for much of these crucial activities.
I remember a few years ago some people had proposed a movement towards a 4-day work week.  I don’t recall if the movement was trying to fix the economy, the environment, ourselves as individuals, our families or society at large.  But as I pondered about this idea now, I became excited as to how much all of these issues would be helped by the 4-day work week.
Of course, the school system would also have to be slightly modified.  I propose it would have the 5th school day (Friday) as a “guided” home-schooling day.  The guidance would be for the parents to give them ideas and exercises to enrich the experiences for the entire family… the overall purpose: to increase their health and the health of the planet.  So, this day would be dedicated to growing food, cooking, exercising, being in nature, reading, playing games that encourage cooperation, watching little movies that teach self-esteem, learning about the interconnectedness of all of Nature of which we are part, etc.  And it would be done TOGETHER. 
Most people would love to have an extra day a week.  But worry about insurance coverage.  If the government-corporations agreed to consider 4-days a week full time employment, it would solve this issue.
Another impediment would be a reduced salary.  Governments could step up to the plate to offer subsidies or some other mechanism to ensure fair wages.  After all, they would be saving in tear and wear of roadways and in dealing with traffic accidents, pollution, etc.  Also, if people used the extra day to produce more of what they consume, to cook at home more (vs. buying frozen or pre-packaged expensive ready-meals), to can vegetables in the summer for winter, to recycle and upcycle more, they would be spending less. They would also spend less time and money traveling to work each day.  Actually, one of the 4 work-days could be done remotely from home.  These two extra non-travel days combined would have a great decrease in traffic and pollution issues specially in the large cities.  And some other impacts on our own health as we gain more time to exercise and take care of ourselves… time to do all those things we have been doing since the Corona has us cooped up at home.  Perhaps the health-care system would get less pressure as we would become healthier human beings, and the environment would get a desperately needed break.  Perhaps it would stimulate people to go back to our roots and engage in trading of goods and services, like we have been doing in Guacimal since 2014. It works!

I had a conversation with a young man.  He closed his shop at the beach and came to join his mother at her shop and now they run it together. He said they work fewer days a week now.  He explained they used to worry about how they would make ends meet, but to their surprise, the quality of life has INCREASED. Their satisfaction and happiness has increased even though they have less money, because they work less and they have time to actually enjoy.  They consume less and pay more attention to their old habits of consumption.  Perhaps many of us are doing the same as far as paying more attention to our own behavior.

 If each of us takes responsibility for doing what we can to correct the course of humanity, we can turn the ship around.  Many of us believe that it is our habits of consumption that are at the heart of many issues we are grappling with… I view as good news that some of us are recognizing this and getting the word out, because we can’t control governments nor international corporations, but we have a certain degree of control over our own lives… what we eat, where we obtain what we eat, how we spend our money, where we travel and where we stay when we travel, how we spend our time, etc.  The state of affairs of our planet, is the sum of our individual choices… Do we really need to spend so much of the world’s resources?  Could we turn down the heat in the winter and raise the thermostat in the summer?  Just because we can, does not mean that we should… because what we each do has an effect on the Whole… 7 billion of us doing things differently, will indeed take us on a different course than the one we are on… in this sense I see a lot of hope… There is a caveat… we must have TIME-SPACE to be able to ponder and reflect, to think, and to have enough time and energy to follow through on our insights and inspirations in order to make the best choices… and these are different for each of us.
A 4-day work week would allow us the luxury of time and help towards giving us back a dignified way of living, of thriving, not just ‘getting by’.  If we want to see different results, then we must be willing to do things differently.  It is totally possible… and some would say it not only possible to change, it is the only way out.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Intentional Community. The time has come.

Last week I was doing my usual  morning contemplation/meditation.  There were two questions asked "What do you really really want?"  What do you value?"  I pondered as if the answer was going to be granted by a genie. I want spiritual, mental and physical health.  I thought about my answer because as a parent of a teen son, I am always thinking about his happiness and wanted my answer to ensure he was included.  He has his own life, he is the captain of his own ship, yet, if I am healthy, I can be the best mom, my very best self to be able to listen and be present and to love him through his highs and lows on his travels. I also thought about others I love... the best gift I can give, is my unconditional love and compassion and I can only gift something if I already have it within myself to give. And I thought about the environment, other sentient beings and the state of affairs of the people in the world... I can only stay conscious amidst the pain and be most useful, if I am strong, resilient, if I have a good attitude... in other words, if I am healthy. 

My definition of health is to have peace and joy that run deep, deeper than the world we normally pay attention to.  It does not necessarily mean to have a perfect body, or perfect mind, nor a spirit that has achieved enlightenment, but simply a positive attitude towards life and a will to continue to grow and learn and improve... an inner knowledge of my place in the whole, the understanding that I am the drop in the ocean and I am the ocean, to have a clear sense of the inter-connectedness of all beings, as if we were all cells in an organ which then belongs to the body of our Mother Earth.  So that I am very aware that what I do matters, what I think matters, what I feel matters... and that I am then careful as I walk on the planet.

Connected to personal health is collective health.  As what I do affects others, what others do clearly affects me.  Therefore, it behooves me to help create the conditions, not just out of love and compassion, but out of common sense, to ensure every person on the planet, every sentient being is healthy at all levels because we truly are ONE.  It is in this spirit of love, compassion and common sense that my partner and I are moving into the next phase of our lives.  For a very long time, we have tried to be supportive of the community we live in facilitating education and self-employment opportunities, environmental protection, etc. But the planet has put a new spin on things... probably as IT watched us go straight to our demise, it decided to help us by placing a break on our activities and allowing us to re-set, to re-examine the course we were on as humanity.  We have taken the opportunity, this break, this complete re-alignment to establish our new course of action... perhaps not that it is entirely new, but that we have renewed energy/time-space to switch to it, thanks to the new socio-economics of the entire planet.  This is a time to realize our ONENESS and co-create the conditions that allow HEALTH to flourish as a prime directive for our lives and for our Mother Earth.
The idea of drawing more people to our community from other communities around the globe has always been present.  It makes sense to balance the scales.  Our community has what many others don't:  clean air, clean water, fresh food, healthy soil, forests, rivers, wildlife, peaceful and healthy people- i.e. an environment already conducive to good health.  Now with the new world situation and what is coming due to the COVID19, more than ever, our community needs people with good intentions that can inject their own energy into the system to help co-create an intentional community based on the value of personal and planetary health.  It is like building a home, or a body; we need different parts, different organs. We can't build an entire system with the same type of energy. We realize that each country, each town,has its own type of energy, its own strengths and skills to develop, and in this co-creating, we can all help one another balance the scales.

We invite you to take a look at our community, and if you think you have something to learn and something to teach, something to contribute and something to take, and your main life directive is collective health based on personal health, then living in our community is worth exploring... to live a life worth living and at the same time to collaborate in the healing of our planet and elevating the vibration of our collective human consciousness.  It is a win-all!

Earth Stars

Earth Stars

My partner called me out to come “see the stars”.  We do have some amazing views of the stars so I put on my sandals and out I went to join him and our son.  I had a little light on, so I did not notice what I was walking into… Then they turned off their flash lights and asked me to turn off mine… We were in a sea of lightning bugs that twinkled and appeared and disappeared as if the entire area had been decorated with flashing beautiful Christmas lights.  It was as if after the first rains, the very stars had come down from the heavens for us to take notice of the magic we live in every day; the miracles that our Mother Earth performs each day and displays right before our eyes... if we allow it and notice it.  I was in awe and overjoyed. 
And these days I wake up every morning to a gift of mangoes freshly fallen from our tree in the back gardens of our Sustainability Demonstration Center.  As I walk to our worm-composting area with a bucket full of fruit skins, I see the avocados ripening and the monkeys swaying in the trees, and I stop to eat a juicy mango.  Then I walk to the veggie garden and see the leaf-cutter aunts have eaten some of my very precious moringa plants.  

As I ponder what to do, the “earth stars” remind me to carefully evaluate what to do about these farmer aunts… The lightning bugs are here because they are safe from pesticides. The mangoes I eat are also free from poisons, which is why the monkeys and we like them so much.  So, I am moved to further research how to encourage the aunts to relocate and eat something else out in the forest.  When we move too fast, we are pressed for time, have more on our plates than we could ever do; there may be little energy left to evaluate the choices we make… but every little choice we make, has an effect on the Whole… we are all interconnected. 

The Corona issue has allowed us more time for a great deal of reflection, appreciation, contemplation, contact with nature, and it is my hope that there is a transformation in my own consciousness, an evolution, towards a healthier and more joyous way of being.  And as I am a part of the Whole, when I heal and do better, the entire planet will also do better.  I would like to think there is something similar going on in a great number of people around the globe, and that when we come out on the other side, there won’t be “business as usual” because the “usual” was killing us all and our planet.  But that we will do a different kind of business; the business of being joyous and healthy on all levels.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


I intended to publish this on 6/30/2015 and just found it as a draft...  I am posting it, because I think it is still very true and relevant:

Dr. Tom Shahady from Lynchburg College has been collaborating with the University of Georgia and the Center to protect the rivers of the Bell Bird Biological Corridor. He brings his students to monitor the quantity and quality of the water in many rivers and streams of the Corridor.

This student from Lynchurg College is making a documentary regarding the danger that these rivers face from pollution and from large irrigation projects.  She is at the Acapulco River which has been virtually left dry by irrigation projects combined with the drought this area is experiencingThe Costa Rican environmental protection agency has been issuing permits to withdraw up to 90% of a river's water without environmental studies.

These Lynchburg students have worked hard and now they are enjoying a little time with the newest rescues at the Center
Behind the scenes, a student dancer from the Grupo Cultural Arenal y Sol from the National Tech University in Puntarenas is getting help with his atire from Aydee

The Center was filled with customs, make-up, laughter and people helping one another get ready for their wonderful theater-dance presentation called Somos Costa Rica (We are Costa Rica)

Amazing talent

At the end, the applause was mixed with gratitude and excitement as many people in the audience had never attended such an event.  Many thanks to Pedro Garcia, the professor who directed the play and to the University for bringing such joy to our town


Oxen drive the mill

Just realized I never posted this... I wrote it on 6-24-2015.  It is still very pertinent, so here it is:
Large transnational corporations offer jobs and even housing and improved schools and roads to poor communities.   People in these communities sign up for work but do not that the chemicals used in the majority, if not all of the pineapple, sugar cane, bananas and African palm monoculture farming threaten their health, their ground water and their land.  According to those who have been studying this issue for many years, pineapple companies no longer buy the land but just lease if for about 10-15 years.  After this period of time, the land is rendered useless, the groundwater is contaminated and the people are really sick, some with kidney failure.  The price of cheap pineapple is high.  Costa Rica is left to pay for trucking in drinking water and for the healthcare of these people, including the sterility of many of the men who have worked at the banana plantations.  Can you imagine what these chemicals do to those who actually eat them? 

There are solutions though… they  lie on many different levels…the consumer has a tremendous amount of power… if the demand for organic pineapple in other countries increases and the consumption of pineapple that devastates the natural resources and economies of other countries decreases, then the companies MUST change if they are to survive. 

Another solution lies in going back to traditions.  Costa Ricans used to produce their own basic crops.  Now with the subsidized prices of imported crops such corn nobody can compete.  But on a local level, neighbors can work together.  Our new Trapiche (a traditional sugar cane mill) is one of the core components of the BASIC FOOD BASKET project at the Center.  Virtually everyone consumes sugar and this is one of those problematic crops when grown in vast monocultures. A trapiche is very expensive, so not everyone can have one, but the Center’s new mill (well it really is not new, it is about 100 years old) is available for anyone in the surrounding communities to come bring their sugar cane and take home sugar cane products… they share some of the sugar with the Center- everyone wins including the environment as this sugar cane is not grown in a large monoculture so it needs no chemicals and no artificial irrigation as it is grown with the rainy season.

We gave away this crystalized sugar cane at our farmer’s market, but now there is one farmer selling his sugar cane at this market… a testimony that given the opportunity, people want to do the right thing for themselves and for the world

 Our local artist, David Villalobos, created this work of art to pay tribute to the farmer and traditional agriculture. See the sugar cane at the very top it is holding, wrapped up in its own leaves, so there NO packaging to pollute our environment

The world is slowly taking a turn in the right direction...