Archive for September, 2009

Is It a Farm Yet?

Sharon September 24th, 2009

I know a man who wanted to start a farm.  So he went out and bought 500 acres, fenced it and grew corn and hay, and ran sheep and cows on it, and then he had a farm.

I know a woman who wanted a farm, so she went out at bought 176 acres, four cows, a bull and a tractor, and then she had a farm.

I know a man who wanted a farm so he bought 49 acres, an old barn and a flock of sheep, and raised wool and grew plants to make dyes with and sold yarn, and then he had a farm.

I know a woman who wanted a farm, so she went out and bought 27 acres and raised vegetables, chickens and goats, and then she had a farm.

I know a man who wanted a farm, and went out and bought a house on six acres, built a chicken coop, grew a garden and sold pumpkins at the farmer’s market and eggs to his neighbors, and then he had a farm.

I know a woman who wanted a farm, and she looked down and saw that she had three good acres, and fenced them, and got a Jersey cow,  a garden full of cabbages and some hens, and then she had a farm.

I knew a man who wanted a farm and looked out and realized that he was renting a good half acre, and talked to the landlord and got angora rabbits, chickens and a garden full of raised beds, and then he had a farm.

I know a woman who had a yard full of forest, and who grew shade loving plants under the trees, gathered acorns for her chickens and worms for her ducks and grew mushrooms in woodpiles along the edges of her yard, and then she had a farm.

I know a woman who had a 30×80 lot, and she built a chicken coop, planted raspberries and basil against the house and is trying to convince her partner to let her get miniature goats, and then she had a farm.

I know a man who had no room in his yard for more gardens, but who talked to his neighbors and the city and found two backyards, a vacant lot and a corner of a church, and filled them with vegetables, and then he had a farm.

I know a woman who had no ground at all in her house, but had a balcony with bees on it and a dozen windowboxes full of lettuce and strawberries, worms in her kitchen and the right attitude, and then, she had a farm.


Independence Days is Here!

Sharon September 22nd, 2009

Ok, you’d think that the third time around, it’d be old hat to receive the first copy of your book, but it isn’t.  Not to mention that this one has by far the most awesome cover image - I’m mentally composing a recipe for pickles that look just like this.

 Ok, I’m psyched.  Heres’s the cover photo, btw, if you want to see it:

 Sharon, staring at shiny pretty object, while the raspberries she just picked are being neglected.

Dreaming a Life

Sharon September 22nd, 2009

A few months ago, I had an email exchange with Bill McKibben about the commonly perceived but, we both agreed, false distinction between lifestyle changes and political acts.  Those of you who have read _Depletion and Abundance_ know that I spend a good bit of time on just this subject - on the idea that our ordinary daily activities are not political acts, or that we can resolve our problems in a way that isn’t whole, that doesn’t include our personal way of life *along* with our political and community activism.  Bill expressed it rather more concisely (I quote with his permission), saying, “I find the split between working on politics/working on lifestyles to be frustrating as hell. the lifestyle-centric can’t do math, and the political-centric don’t understand how culture works.”  

The reference to not being able to do math was an articulation of the fact that we don’t have time to change the world “one lifestyle at a time.”  And that’s completely true.  But also isn’t necessary - lifestyles, if nothing else in the world, are never changed one at a time, past a certain critical mass. Instead, they are changed en masse, as people’s dream of what constitutes a good life changes.  And this is the central point that those who disdain lifestyle alterations (and by life changes I do not mean “oh, wow, last month I started using a cloth bag and next month I’m going to change my lightbulbs” - there’s a case to be made for taking baby steps, particularly at first, but the reality is that babies walk, and then run - a few baby steps are enough to get you moving.) miss - is that much of what we do is based upon our dreams of what kind of life our actions move us towards. 

And this is something that worries me about our present course of climate activism - as we move towards Copenhagen, I’m thrilled to see a rising tide of activism and commitment among those who understand the urgency of our climate situation.  I’m obviously far less thrilled to see the retreat of governments from serious commitments - Chinese officials recently claimed that trying to keep warming under 2 degrees was not “realistic” - never mind that China itself will suffer enormously if we cross that tipping point.  And only last night, news came out that the Danish Prime Minister may be backing out of a climate treaty.

Why, when there is so much new attention to climate change, so much scientific consensus and so much activism, are governments so reluctant to act.  It isn’t because of lack of knowledge of the long term consequences.  My own take is this - that it is simply because they recognize what many climate activists have not - that their own people may agitate for climate change action now, but they do not fully grasp what it will entail - a change in way of life.  There are plenty of other reasons - business interests and political realities, but the truth is that we will continue merrily on our way to disaster if the world’s politicians believe that the people don’t want them to act - not really.  And it does not take a great deal of critical thought to realize that the average person, at this stage, would like, all things being equal, for politicians to take care of climate change, along with all the other of the world’s problems, without inconveniencing them, but are far less clear on what inconveniences they might be willing to tolerate.

The reason that people don’t grasp what addressing climate change will entail is in large part the fault of climate activists themselves who have been afraid to utter the words “sacrifice” and “radical change” - instead, they cite studies that say that we’ll be richer if we just convert to renewable energies - never mind that those studies are almost always done on much lower emissions targets and over longer time frames than the science supports.  They cite studies that suggest small changes, or that ignore other, equally pressing crises like global dimming and energy depletion; or that leave out the methane that is already leaking out into the atmosphere.  They might talk about 350 targets, but they don’t use research that takes those numbers into account - or they still talk about the politically motivated 450ppm.

Even climate activists who mostly get it, often do not get their attention drawn to the incongruities between their way of life and their actions.  Coal, for example, is one of the world’s most pressing climate issues, and much activism centers on shutting down coal plants - a truly good and noble idea.  But at demonstrations and such that I’ve attended, I find myself asking people what they believe is going to replace the electricity powered by coal.  They generally mention solar plantations or vast wind farms - assuming, comfortably, that something will.  But there’s plenty of research pointing out that we can’t replace the near-half of our electricity produced by coal with renewables rapidly - that means closing coal plants will mean higher electric prices and must lead to vastly lower usage. 

Were it not for the stakes of the issue, I couldn’t blame climate activists for not pointing out “you do realize that as you are trying to close down this coal plant, this means really you should be giving up your a/c” much less the high costs and lifestyle changes that are the logical outcome of truly dealing with climate change on the scale to which it needs to be addressed.  For a long time, before we realized that climate sensitivity was much greater than expected, before we realized that the time window for action was growing much shorter, it seemed just possible to imagine that addressing climate change could be done without radical lifestyle shifts, or at least, that we could work up to them gradually.  Once it became obvious that this was completely false, the urgency of the work of addressing climate change rose, and the need for a political consensus to match the scientific one became more acute - and it was more terrifying to imagine trying to get that consensus through a language of self-sacrifice and radical changes than by selling the idea that we can fix the climate and still stay rich and comfy.

But it is hurting us now.  Because it is not possible to honestly tell people that they can have much the same life they wanted.  In George Monbiot’s superb _Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning_ he argues “By ‘feasibility’ I mean compatibility with industrial civilization…whether or not we enjoy the soft life…it is politically necessary to discover the means of sustaining it.”  Monbiot makes a very nearly credible case for a means to stabilize the climate and simultaneously maintain a near-normal life.  It involves virtually no air travel, a completely different shopping model, a lot of money invested very quickly and a lot less concrete, electricity and heat.  That he leaves out agriculture, responsible in some way for nearly a third of all climate gasses is the book’s big weakness, and why I do not think he quite succeeded.  But in a sense, it doesn’t matter - because the climate target that Monbiot used, while cutting edge for 2006, has now been superceded.  If he could just-barely-but-not-quite pull off a maintenence of modernity with a 450ppm carbon target, what are the chances of doing it with 350?  None at all, I fear.

And other analyses are equally problematic.  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that radical lifestyle changes are coming, whether we like them or not - whether they come from adapting to a deeply damaged climate or from addressing the crisis, whether they come from adapting to depletion or from enduring it, our lifestyle will not be the same for very long.   And the danger of telling people that they can have all the things they want - a future for their children and an affluent present now - is that when they realize (and they are realizing right now) that this is not true, that there’s not enough money, or time or alternative energy to provide it, people will be very, very angry indeed.  It is not pleasant to tell people hard truths.  It is less pleasant to deal with people facing hard truths who believe they have been lied to.  I believe we are seeing the early stages of the political unrest that will accompany this sense of being lied to, of having lost more than is being accounted for on both the left or the right, and I also believe quite strongly that unless a true and comprehensible story is offered, false ones will be taken up, and used as bludgeons.

The breaking of false idols is good, honest work.  But in the wake of iconoclasm, there must be a truth to set in the place of the shattered idols.   Telling the truth itself is not enough - nor is portraying the disaster we face and leaving people to imagine the alternatives themselves. 

Even if it were possible for this to happen organically in some places, we cannot forget that at every moment of our lives, each of us is being bombarded with dreams that we did not manufacture, and that these collective, advertised dreams of what constitutes a decent life are going to be more powerful for most people than autonomously created private narratives of goodness.  All of us live in the world, and most of us want others to approve of us.  Moreover, quite honestly, most of us aren’t all that creative in our dreaming - we imagine ourselves as unique because we choose among a large range of commercial options - we can decorate our kitchen with baby ducks, pigs or flower; can choose between coke or pepsi, can decorate our bodies within a range of a dozen or so arbitrated “personal styles.”  Given the sheer number of commercial choices, it is perhaps no wonder that we imagine that this is sufficient to constitute an identity and a dream.  Nor is it any wonder that ecological programming on television seems poised to offer us the purchasable green lifestyle as one of these alternatives - you too can have an e-bike, a set of solar panels and an eco-mattress. 

But this, of course, is the commercial version of this dream, and people buy it - a lot of them literally buy it, and more accept that this is what constitutes a viable future - lower toxicity, recyclable cell phones for everyone, your personal hybrid vehicle in your choice of designer colors, mascara that doesn’t give you cancer and organic cotton undies.  But no real changes, no alteration in our basic consumer patterns.  Never mind the fact that there will never be a society in which everyone can have mascara, much less a personal hybrid.  Never mind that even the rich having them is a disaster - if all the world but North America and Australia were simply to vanish tomorrow, we’d still cross the 2 degree mark eventually without substantial lifestyle changes.  The math is really clear - there’s not enough climate leeway, not enough water, not enough food, not enough money, not enough oil, not enough gas, not enough dirt, not enough phosphorous, not enough rainforest…. not enough left in the world to avert disaster if we have rich people, who see themselves primarily as consumers in a consuming world, and who live as we do now.

Which means we need an American (and European and Australian and Japanese…) dream that can work - and we need it fast.  Because the reality is that we are increasingly close to having to confront our crisis.  For all that people are heated up by issues of justice and politics, what people really, deeply care about is the future of their own lives, their own children, their ordinary hopes and dreams.  You simply cannot live a life on “this will prevent your grandchildren from starving someday” - that’s important, it is part of the story, and it works for a short, concentrated period.  But everyday life depends on a dream, on a set of hopes and imagined futures that are “a decent life, a happy future.”  And as long as people in the rich world have no way to imagine a happy life and decent future without wealth, without constant striving and consuming, without more and more and more, in the end, the politics of this is bound to failure. 

All of us need beauty in our lives, all of us need to believe that we are working for something that matters.  For the last many decades, what mattered was consumption, the achievement of greater wealth.  For the last of many decades we have sought, as people always have, to give our children better than we ourselves had.  The problem, of course, has been figuring out what “better” means in a world where the average household has two cars, four tvs and a wardrobe sufficient to keep them dressed for the rest of their lives.  It can’t mean three cars and six tvs, right?  

It is a counter-intuitive, and thus difficult thought,  that after a certain critical mass of affluence, better comes from less, not more.  A better future for our children comes not from greater affluence, but less, and the preservation of resources for the future.  A better life for us in the present involves fewer hours of work, and thus, more freedom - and fewer possessions and less affluence. 

In order for a majority of the world’s rich people (and here I mean rich by world standards) to choose less, to actually recognize that giving their children better means choosing a life of less, there has to be a vision of what the life constitutes - and it has to be immediately accessible. It cannot require vast creative energies, because honestly, most people don’t have them.  It cannot require that everyone go against the grain, because, quite honestly, most of us go with the grain.  It cannot require that we build an imagine entirely internally - you have to be able to go look at it.

It isn’t as shiny as political activism, and it is harder, of course, because there’s not much money in selling non-consumerism, radical simplicity and not buying stuff.  It isn’t going to show up on HD-TV anytime soon, except, perhaps as a comedy show.  And yet it is essential - the beauty and accessibility of an ordinary life, without the trappings of industrial consumerism has to be modeled, it has to be offered up, and it has to be available.  It has to be because otherwise, we can never say to people “shut down the coal plants” without them noticing that they’ve been betrayed into iconoclasm without any truth to take the place of the false idols.  But with a dream - with a sense of the beauty of simplicity, with a dream of an ordinary human life that is both good and humane and uses vastly fewer resources, you can say to people “we must shut down the coal plants” and the answer comes back “we weren’t using them anyway.”

Note: Of course, this essay is deeply derivative, I’m hardly the first person to think of this.  The always-thoughtful Risa has a post up at her blog showing just how derivative, and it is well worth a read - Plato doesn’t guest-post everywhere, so don’t miss this one:

Independence Days Update: Indian Summer

Sharon September 21st, 2009

We had a slight dance with frost on Friday and Saturday nights, and to my immense relief, we had none on the ground, although a bit on the windshield.  I’m simply not ready to be done with the tomatoes - I *still* haven’t done my corn marathon, since Selene kidded on the day allotted to it last week (it is planned for tomorrow, and I fully expect Maia to kid tomorrow, of course ;-)).  And the tomatoes are still trickling in, I haven’t harvested the tomatillos yet, and I’ve got a late planting of greenbeans that should make it harvesting size yet…so at this point I’m grateful that the forecast is for a week of lovely Indian summer weather - warm days, cool nights, no frost.

It was a glorious holiday weekend for us - we had guests both nights, delicious food (we did vegan Mexican the first night, and the tamale pie and the “round challah with cinnamon-sugar swirl, basically “challah as giant cinnamon bun” really were great), lots of laughter and fun, great singing and every other imaginable pleasure.   On the second night, my friend Alexandra’s 90+ year old grandmother made it to our home (this was something of a big deal), and got to pet a 4 day old goat kid, as well as a salamander the kids brought in for the creek, and the whole thing was utterly delightful.

My favorite part of the weekend was that Eric read Haftorah (the reading from prophets done after the Torah reading) in front of a packed synagogue of people on the second morning.  This was something of a big deal because he’s only just started chanting Haftorah after a 26 year break ;-), since his bar mitzvah again - this was his third time.  It was an honor to be asked, and he has a lovely voice that shows itself well in the acoustics of our shul.  My husband is a modest guy, not at all prone to arrogance, but enough people praised his clarity and voice that he’s starting to believe that it isn’t just because I’m his wife that I’m incredibly impressed with him. 

Despite the preparation for the holidays and the new baby (who is doing extremely well - she is the cutest imaginable thing, and so friendly), we did get some canning and gardening done last week, but I admit, I’m looking forward to having a few bright days between now and Yom Kippur to harvest and preserve the summer things - while some years our last frost date has been as late as the end of October, this has been a cool year, and I’m simply not counting on anything after October 1.

Once October starts, I’m going to enter into raised bed building in earnest for next year - and planning the expanded herb gardens. We’ve also got some new fencing and mowing to do as well to get ready for sheep.  I’m trying to decide if our family can pull off a trip to Rhinebeck, to the sheep and wool festival in October - Eric isn’t exactly enthusiastic about his wife with money near a giant festival of sheep, yarn, fleece and associated products (he has told me that he’s going to frisk me and take all my cash and credit away before we go) but since we’re looking to get sheep, I’ve almost got him resigned to the fact that this trip must be entirely necessary ;-).

As much as I always regret frost, I do find that I really enjoy the “frost preserving” - that is, putting up the last stuff on the vine.  I love making things out of green tomatoes, that over-ripe cucumber that was hidden under the leaves, and all the other things that one finds and needs to preserve at the end of the season.  I find it fascinating and creative to put up the odds and ends, plus, I could live on green tomato pickles ;-).

Ok, onwards:

Plant something: - I transplanted a few starts, and planted some arugula, but that’s about it.

Harvest something: Cucumbers, summer squash, beets, beans, peppermint, hickory nuts, wild grapes (still too early, really, but we ate them ;-)), onions, potatoes, turnips, broccoli, chard, carrots, eggs, milk, goldenrod, plantain, peppers, eggplant, cabbage.

Preserve something: Canned tomatoes, canned salsa, dried tomatoes, dried sweet peppers, made cheese, made lemon pickles, made kimchi.

Waste Not: Made lemon pickles with some of the overgrown cukes, and fed giant summer squash to the chickens (I step on them first).  Otherwise, just the normal things - not going places, not buying stuff, composting, feeding scraps to animals. 

Want Not: Can’t think of anything.

Eat the Food: Besides cinnabun challah, which was not local but was awesome ; the tamale pie with sauteed sweet potatoes and caramelized onions were really good, so was the yellow tomato and tomatillo salsa with rau rom (I was out of cilantro).  Second night the baked apples stuffed with cranberries were really good (although the apples themselves were not the best bakers), as were the coconut-lime mashed sweet potatoes. 

Build community Food Systems: I’ve got a couple of things in the works, but nothing right this week.  Independence Days should be in my hands sometime this week, which means some good stuff.

How about you?


In the Space of the Days of Awe

Sharon September 17th, 2009

I realize that there are a number of readers of mine who think that my tendency to G-d-bother, as a friend of mine puts it, is one of my literary weaknesses.  I’ve had the emails “you’d be such a good writer if you’d just leave that archaic religious stuff out” one person put it.  That’s ok with me - I annoy the humorless with the comic posts, the people opposed to soppiness with the moving ones, the left, the right, the middle, Jews who don’t think I’m religious enough or hate my politics on Israel, Christians who think I’m too Jewish and should shut about about it already…and so I’d feel rather bad if I never got so much as an eye-roll out of my athiest readers ;-). 

I write what I write, whether silly or serious, practical or analytic, simply because I want to write it.  I’ve never claimed otherwise - this blog is, as the sidebar says, a synthesis of all things of interest to me.  And the question of where we go - in our inner and outer lives - when there seems to be little hope for change is of a great deal of interest to me.

This post comes from an email I got from a reader, who asked that I give a friend of hers who is worried things aren’t changing fast enough a reason for hope.  At first I wasn’t going to do it - I know people need to feel hope, but I get impatient hope sometimes, since it seems to be more about comforting people than getting work done.  But I wanted to write something for the new year, and I thought perhaps there was a way to write about hope that might be useful.  It seemed, at least, an interested exercise.  So here goes.

The first talk I ever did was at the Community Solutions Peak Oil Conference in 2006.  Pat Murphy, director of The Community Solution had read my writings and called me up and asked “do you give talks.”  Now as everyone knows, the answer to that question is “yes” whether it is true or not, and so I did.  The conference took place on Rosh Hashana, and I almost said I couldn’t go because of that, but I figured I’d never be asked again.

I’ve told this story before, in _A Nation of Farmers_ and elsewhere, but I’m going to repeat it anyway.  I had spent several months laboriously constructing a talk about food and agriculture for the conference.  Peter Bane, editor in chief of _Permaculture Activist_ magazine was up before me on the Sunday morning that I spoke, and his talk, also on food and agriculture, covered pretty much every single thing that I’d planned to say in my talk.  I had allotted myself 5 minutes at the end of the talk to a. throw up in panic and b. make sure that my breasts didn’t leak milk all over my shirt, since it was the first time I’d been away from Asher who was 10 months old at the time.

Instead, I had to construct an entirely new talk in that five minutes, while panicking in the rest room.  I had one or two ideas that hadn’t been covered, a nice quote from Thomas Paine, and not much else.  So, when I got up the stage, I did what everyone who needs to buy time and can’t do soft-shoe routines does - I told a story, one about precisely the question of how much hope we have. 

You see, Jewish tradition teaches that at the New Year, G-d inscribes the fate of all the world.  At that time, who will live and who will die, and the future of each person is written down for the year to come.  At that moment, all that will be is decided.

Except, that it isn’t.  Because we are taught that only for two groups of people are the inscriptions final.  The truly righteous, the saints and the best of all human beings are inscribed in the book of life with their fate written down.  And the evil, the truly bad have the same.  But the vast majority of us, the ordinary, incomplete, imperfect, turbulent mass of the rest of us get another shot. 

Because Jews are taught that G-d gives us one last chance and does not close the book. In the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, each person gets one more chance to change what is written, to make themselves and their future a little better.  Why do we get this one last chance, when, after all, we knew that the New Year was coming?  Well, from the mercy of G-d, of course, but also, because a space in which to change is the greatest gift anyone can ever have.  How many of us have ever stood, while disaster struck our lives, thinking “it cannot be happening, please, just let me go back and undo it.”  This doesn’t give us the promise of undoing anything, or even the promise of change. But the story gives us the hope of a second chance to at least brighten our future a little, a gift that all of us can appreciate.

Now I am not a religious literalist - my point, when I stood up and said these words in front of 250 people in 2006 was this - that we too live in the space within the Days of Awe, in which it is possible, not at all certain, that the right actions on our part can reinscribe our future in some measure.  The space of second chances - not do-overs, but space in which some small softening of our blows can be enacted, need not be metaphor.

Moreover, I would argue that the space of the Days of Awe, which we can think of as a kind of box in which to enclose our Schroedinger’s cat-like selves, in which we stand, potentially able to change, and equally potentially fixed and inscribed, is a space of hope and optimism. Hope is not a word I have a lot of truck with, at least in the way that a lot of people use it.  My own thinking is that “hope” is a cheap emotion unless it causes you to break a sweat - I’m only interested in hope when it inspires us to work.  But, of course, that’s the value of hope - not as a balm to our souls, but to the calluses on our palms.

What has changed since 2006?  In 2006, I had vastly greater hopes for our capacity to change, to reinscribe ourselves.  In the years since, we’ve seen that climate change is a much more acute situation than anyone had known.  At this point I think there is real and honest reason to doubt whether even our strongest actions could make a difference - that does not free us not to try (although we are not trying, generally), but it is likely that the words are written.  Instead of a steady and gradual increase in oil prices that drives us in the right direction, we are facing a volatility that means that most people simply can’t fully grasp their situation. 

We are closer now to Neilah, the closing of the gates, in which our fate is inscribed, and we shift to acceptance of our fate.  Much closer - perhaps they are already closed, we do not know and can not know, and must live our lives as though they are open.   Most of us don’t grasp how very close we are to disaster - we go on through our everyday life, and things don’t seem so very bad, and so many people have predicted disaster before, and there’s every reason to believe we’ve got all the time in the world.  Except, of course, the fact that nearly every expression of our science tells us otherwise, that it is time and past time.

It is possible to believe that it is both too late to do anything and possible to do a great deal - in fact, I think this contradiction is the only way to go forward. I spend a lot of my time and energy finding ways to deal with this contradiction, asking how I simultaneously say to people “what you have had is lost, and there is no hope to get it back, you are living in a dead culture and simply haven’t seen it fall over yet” and also “you are needed to act, there is reason to hope and things to look forward to, and much, much work to do” - how does one do it, and say it so that others can hear? The truth is that even what is done, and closed can be helped - we may not stop one disaster, but we can pick up the fallen, tend the sick, help the hungry, bury the dead, and pray.

Again, I know many of you probably aren’t theists and most aren’t Jews.  But I’m not sure that matters - I don’t pray because I’m sure that G-d answers my prayers, or even because I’m always sure G-d exists - I pray because prayer is a form, like the shape of a sonnet or a dance.  One masters the forms, does the discipline of work, in order that maybe someday something transcendent might come out of it - I might work all my life at poetry and never create a great poem - but unless I master the form and discipline of my art, I know I will never create anything great. 

 The same is true of prayer - I do not pray because I think it will mend the world, any more than I garden or write because it will mend the world - I pray and write and garden because I can, it mends me, and it might help - and that’s enough reason.  For some people this may seem cynical, to me, it is consolatory - and hopeful.  It is easy to imagine that the only tools and things that matter are the ones that save the world, that save the day, that fix everything.

But we may be past that point.  And now the things that merely help, that simply make things better begin to come into their own.  The things that allow us to work and cope in a place where there may be nothing more we can do, or where we are constrained, enable us to pick up the tools we have, regardless of circumstances and use them as we can, for the best we can.

These things are small, mostly, and far less shiny and impressive than the tools of world saving, of resolution.  They require we get grubby, both metaphorically and literally down and dirty with the world around us, and that we accept limited results - not enough potatoes to eat all year, but enough for a week.  Not enough money to have what we want, but maybe most of what we need.  Not enough time to fix it all, but to save some, and soften the hurt for many.  Not one single solution, but something close to a whole answer in the actions of thousands and millions and billions, each softening and easing the pain of another a little more.

I hope all of you have a happy and healthy new year.  And I wish for you all the small things, the great joys, hope, and that you may break a sweat.

L’Shana Tova Tikatevu!


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