Bobbing Around

Volume Thirteen, Number One
August, 2013

Bob Rich's (melting ice coloured) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Responses to past issues
  From Liana Taylor
  Australian elections coming
  Thousands of migrants arrive through uterus, by Phil Dobbie
  Summer Heat, from
  Waste, olive oil and the environment, by Joe Zammit-Lucia
  Get the information on climate change
  Methane and the risk of runaway global warming, by Andrew Glikson
  David Attenborough Says Humans Are A 'Plague On Earth' Who Need To Stop Breeding
  It's closer than you think
  Importance of planning 3, by Allen Currie
*Good news
  No fracking in France
  Thanks to Comprehensive Sex Ed, California Cuts Teen Birth Rate, by Mindy Townsend
  Boy Scouts of America introduce sustainability merit badge, by Lloyd Alter
  Too Much Stuff? Share it on Yerdle, by Peter DiPrinzio
  Peru's poorest will soon have solar power, by Holly Richmond
  The Sustainable Joes go off-grid in the city, by Lloyd Alter
*Deeper issues
  How to limit population
  The Target Shoppers, by Sara van Dyck
  How to Respond to Bullies, by Pragito Dove
  Recaptured by a cult
  My life is over: I've lost my bf!
  End the age of coal, by Fiona Armstrong
*For writers
  Tips and Tools for Every Emerging Author, by Jessica Leigh
*What my friends want you to know
  From a refugee, to your heart
  Australian Intentional Communities conference, Dec 2103
  Menergy 2013, 1-4 Nov 2013
  Trauma: theory and practice: call for papers
  Cynthia Richards' "books and banter"
  SharingwithWriters newsletter, from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
*Book reviews
  The Wooden Chair, by Rayne Golay
  The Black Pony, by Connie Peck
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Cheryl O'Brien
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Rayne Golay
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Amanda Armstrong
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Jay Levy
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Greg Austin
*A bit of fun

I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.

   Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.

For the fifth time -- retiring

   I thought I'd be working as a counselling psychologist until my last day, but... but a combination of events has made me and my wife Jolanda decide that I need to retire.

   I will look after my existing clients. My registration runs out at the end of November, 2013. Most of them will be strong enough to go it alone, without needing further involvement from me, long before that.

   In Australia, the title of psychologist is legally controlled, and involves jumping through various hoops, all expensive and time consuming. However, the title of counsellor is completely unregulated. I know a man who did a 3 year university degree majoring in psychology; didn't even do an Honours year. All the same, he has been working as a counsellor for many years. He does good work, and all his clients are referred to him by satisfied previous clients.

   So, I can continue to work with long term clients who need me, and even take on the occasional new one, by reinventing myself as a counsellor. Those who can will pay me a small fee; those who can't I'll see pro bono, or perhaps for a few dollars to cover room rental.

   Judging on the basis of the previous 4 retirements, I am very unlikely to die of boredom. Of course, money is going to be tight -- but then, we happily lived below the poverty level between the years of 1978 and about 2005, and we raised 3 wonderful children during this time.

   I worked out, way back in 1972, that earning a low income is one of the most environmentally sensible thing you can do, because every dollar earned, every dollar saved, every dollar spent finances the multinationals, and keeps the monster of economic growth going.

   Hey, but isn't economic growth necessary, a good thing to keep up employment? Isn't it what society is built on?

   Well, it IS what society is built on, but it is a deadly addiction that needs to be cured. Dr Glen Barry has sent me an essay that is so important that I posted it permanently on my web site rather than have it buried in the archives of Bobbing Around. Please have a read: Ecocide Is Not Development; Love and Ecology Are the Answer.

   And if you haven't already, you could read my essay on how to change the world, and a a speech I gave a few years ago that gives tips on how to lower your environmental impact.

   And (shameless plug) if you want to be inspired to do it, read Ascending Spiral.

Essay at Savvy Authors

   Please go to Savvy Authors and read my essay there. I would love to have a long list of comments on the article.

How I do review swaps

   Are you a writer? Do you want your book reviewed? I have the same burning need for my books.

   If I consider a book to be worth 4 or 5 stars, I will provide a public review. I'll publish it in my newsletter Bobbing Around and happily post it on any web site you specify. You may use it in any way you wish, with a link back of course.

   However, I don't trample on another writer's baby. If I don't consider your book to be excellent, I will privately let you know why, pointing out what in my opinion are its good points, and where it needs improvement.

   Also, I am not interested in certain genres.

   Naturally, I expect the same in return.

   Please check out my books at

   If you like my writing, send me a blurb of your book, and the first approx. 1000 words, to bob at


Worrying does not take away TOMORROW's troubles; it takes away TODAY's peace.

Paul Carney

Responses to past issues

From Liana Taylor

Hi Bob,

   I spend so much time at the computer doing work, in my own time I prefer to walk or ride or do other things. As a consequence I don't always get around to responding to bulk emails, however, in this little moment, I did want to say how much I appreciate bobbing around.

   It's always a joy to see the breadth of topics, our psychological and philosophical, political and spiritual, environmental and economic...

   Just wanted to say thank you for sharing,

Liana Taylor

Liana spends much of her time running excellent workshops on Buddhist psychology all around Australia.


Australian elections coming
Thousands of migrants arrive through uterus by Phil Dobbie
Summer Heat from

Australian elections coming

   If you're an Australian, and concerned for the environment, you need to look here for a comparison of the major parties:

Thousands of migrants arrive through uterus
by Phil Dobbie

   Latest figures show how hundreds of thousands of people are arriving in Australia through the birth canal.

   Their arrivals have been criticised by many, saying they claim the right to live here but don't have the paperwork to support their case. None can speak English or even have proper toilet training. Many of them are ugly and coated in slime.

   Tony Abbott has been told his policy of turning them back is gynaecologically impossible and instead has called on the navy to patrol the broken waters more vigilantly. The army will also take charge of hospital maternity wings in a newly announced "Operation Cervix Borders."

   Mr Rudd has spoken to Papua New Guinea about establishing a processing facility for the new arrivals, but PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said, "we're dealing with enough of your shit as it is."

   Columnist Andrew Bolt has criticised the new arrivals as good for nothing dole bludgers. Statistics have shown that many are still not working eleven years after arriving in the country. He says even though we have generously offered them temporary protection, all they do is whinge and soil their clothes.

   A temporary move to ship the women traffickers offshore and subject them to the 'no advantage test,' whereby these arrivals are refused entry for more than a year, has proven unsuccessful.

   The government is to try and cut the problem off at source, although such a move is likely to be extremely unpopular with younger male voters who want to keep their penises.

   Tony Abbott said this afternoon this was another crisis foisted on us by Labor.

The Pulp

Phil Dobbie is a freelance journalist and content creator.

Summer Heat

   We're excited to announce a massive new wave of campaigning: Summer Heat. Let us explain. Our team -- Katie, Lexy, Claire, Simon, Sarah, Alana, and Josh travelled from Australia together at the end of June to Istanbul, Turkey for an event organised by, called "Global Power Shift."

   Global Power Shift brought people from 130 countries together to plan, strategise and get active in building a global climate movement. There was one clear message: to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, we need to take on the fossil fuel industry. We need to get active from every corner of the world to stop them from tanking our planet.

   That's why here in Australia, we're planning a series of actions targeting the fossil fuel industry this coming summer, called 'Summer Heat.'

   Click here to get involved in making Summer Heat happen -- from being a volunteer to organising an event, we need you. This campaign is people powered.

   Summer Heat is based on one simple motto: as the temperature rises, so will we.

   It will involve a series of actions targeted at the fossil fuel industry and their dangerous plans to expand coal and gas mining in Australia. Summer Heat will bring Australia's climate, social justice and environment movements together to show the fossil fuel industry and the Government that we are one bold, connected, and powerful movement and we can't be beaten.

   We know that sustained action will have an impact. It will change the conversation about fossil fuel developments in this country. But we need your help to make it happen.

Let's rise,
the Australia team


Waste, olive oil and the environment by Joe Zammit-Lucia
Get the information on climate change
Methane and the risk of runaway global warming by Andrew Glikson
David Attenborough Says Humans Are A 'Plague On Earth' Who Need To Stop Breeding
It's closer than you think
Importance of planning 3 by Allen Currie

Waste, olive oil and the environment
by Joe Zammit-Lucia


This article was first published in The Guardian.

   Moves to ban olive oil jugs in restaurants have been ridiculed but beyond the bureaucracy lies a serious environmental and sustainability issue.

   The latest European Commission controversy arose from an attempt to impose Europe-wide regulations on how olive oil is served in restaurants.

   Apart from what this all says about the EU, what does it tell us about "sustainable business"?

   The idea of this regulation was that olive oil could no longer be served in restaurants in refillable bottles. Rather it would be served in single use containers that would be discarded after use. The regulation was proposed and pushed by the olive oil producers in the three main producer countries -- Spain, Italy and Greece.

   The producers introduced two arguments: (i) consumers in restaurants deserve to know which olive oil they are being served and (ii) according to Juan Corbalan, lobbyist for the Spanish olive oil producers, "It's not safe" for bottles to be used again and again.

   Both arguments are highly questionable. However, what has received less attention has been the environmental cost and sustainability impact of having olive oil individually packaged in disposable containers. First of all, the proportion of olive oil going to waste would increase dramatically. Secondly there would be a spectacular increase in the amount of packaging material. The European Commission has prided itself on its environmental credentials so it is unclear why it would conceive regulations such as these that have a significant environmental cost for consumer benefits which are, at best, minor or questionable.

   From the producers' perspective, such a regulation has clear benefits. Increased wastage of olive oil clearly increases producers' sales potential. Margins are also likely to be higher on individually packaged oil containers than on the sort of bulk containers that many restaurants currently use.

   And herein lies the rub and the major challenge for building a sustainable business. As long as increased consumption -- and increased waste -- continue to be profitable routes for most businesses, all other attempts at sustainability will amount to little more than window dressing.

   There are many models that one can think of where businesses could make money in ways other than relying on continuous consumption or waste. However, they require a fundamental re-think and re-engineering of whole business models. Few executive teams seem to have either the appetite or the courage to embark on such a radical re-think. Until that happens we will continue to get companies and industries pushing for regulation that increases waste and unsustainable practices while trying to dress them up in questionable arguments.

   The EU olive oil plan has been shelved, for now. Sadly, it will likely re-appear on some quiet Friday afternoon. Businesses that push these sorts of wasteful ways of growing their business can have no credibility as sustainable businesses no matter how much "eco" and "organic" labels they add to their products and packaging.

Stolen with Joe's permission from his blog.

Joe works at the intersection of many disciplines to explore issues relating to growth, sustainability, and the relationship between how we organize human societies and the relationship with the non-human world around us. His aim is to find ways to re-imagine ‘environmentalism,' which he describes as the politics of our co-existence in the ecosphere on which we all depend.

Get the information on climate change

   The National Research Council is pleased to present this booklet in three parts that (1) summarizes the current state of knowledge about climate change; (2) explains some impacts expected in this century and beyond; and (3) examines how science can help inform choices about managing and reducing the risks posed by climate change.

Methane and the risk of runaway global warming
by Andrew Glikson

   This essay is a must-read for anyone interested in the science of climate change. It is understandable by the layperson, and sets out the greatest danger to human survival.

   From The Conversation.

Andrew is one of the world's top paleoecologists. He has featured in Bobbing Around before, here, here and here.

David Attenborough Says Humans Are A 'Plague On Earth' Who Need To Stop Breeding

   All I need to say is that, sadly, I agree with him.

Check it out at the Huffington Post

It's closer than you think

   Many Australians still see climate change as a distant threat -- something that will affect people in far-off countries in the far-off future.

   But did you know that every Australian is just 2 Degrees of separation away from a climate change story? Chances are, climate change has already affected you, someone you know, or someone they know.

   That's why WWF-Australia has launched a new social platform called the 2 Degrees project.

   Through the stories of everyday Australians, the 2 Degrees Project demonstrates that climate change isn't just happening to other people in other parts of the world -- it's happening here and now.

   This project is about the power of storytelling.

   The stories are from people like former Victorian Emergency Services Commissioner Bruce Esplin, who says that disasters are now occurring more frequently, and from people like farmer David Bruer, who had his Verdelho grapes destroyed by sunburn for the first time in nearly 40 years of farming.

   Many ordinary Australians have already shared their everyday experiences of climate change; from a koala leaving its tree to beg for water during a heat wave, to a community nurse talking about the impact of heat on elderly people.

   There are also stories of solutions, such as a community-built and owned wind farm, and a gardening tale from Australian celebrity and author, Indira Naidoo.

   Touching, personal, beautiful, urgent… these are stories that are sure to get you thinking.

   And if Australians understand how climate change affects them, they're more likely to be willing to work together to find a solution.

   So take the next step and connect with the 2 Degrees Project to discover stories from your friends, neighbours and people like you. And by sharing your story or the story of others, you'll help inspire the action we need to solve this crisis.

Importance of planning 3
by Allen Currie

   As I outlined in my previous articles, I researched every combination of events I could think of, both natural and manmade. I spent five years in this research.

   It was pretty clear to me that weather, and other things like solar flares, would be significant in my survival. I started studying where in the world weather might be modified to lesser extremes. There were a number of candidates. As I said, I loved the idea of the west coast of North America, but changed my mind. One of the most significant modifiers are largish bodies of water such as the Great Lakes. Not really large enough to CREATE weather, but large enough to modify it. Proximity to the Great Lakes turned out to be key in my final selection. During the dirty, dustbowl 30s, there was adequate precipitation in some areas, particularly where a currently existing warm weather zone poked its nose up from the US into Canada. The second reason I loved this area was that there existed millions of acres of undeveloped wilderness, satisfying my need for maximum isolation from the maddened crowds. Unfortunately it was all crown land with no purchases allowed.

   However, in this jurisdiction you buy a prospectors license ($25 and a valid address.) plus staking tags (25 cents each. Four needed per 400 metre on a side claim. -- you can stake up to one square mile of claims in one place.) Get your hands on a map of locations open for staking. (Every Department of Natural Resources -- whatever it is called -- has one, often on the net,) Cross compare available spaces with a detailed topographical map. Look for slightly hilly terrain with swampy areas in the valleys. Say with a beaver dam (which indicates both precipitation and running freshish water). The area above the dam, now or recently covered with water, will be quite flat, and GOOD soil. You now have a ready-made growing area. After picking out two or three potentially good areas on the maps, you have to get to the area to view it personally. Detailed topographical maps usually show trails, fire access roads etc. With an ATV or 4wheel drive vehicle you can usually drive in.

   Survey out your claim, stake it and register it. (cost about $28 per 400 metre claim.) Now get an occupancy permit. Don't know at what cost, but not very significant. Here you can "camp" on crown land anywhere without an occupancy permit, but you have to move your camp every 21 days at least 100 metres. The permit removes the obligation to move. Still, here, you may not have a "Permanent" structure. Any structure MUST be mobile, i.e., hitch up and move it. Break ANY ONE of their rules and they can turf you out.

   Now you can haul in (By dozer, etc) a 40 foot steel ocean going container as living quarters. Have skids welded to the container and holes for windows cut back in civilization when you buy it. It is easy to haul in some 2X4's, chipboard, painted, for interior walls, some quality insulation (Which is one of the few modern devices I am allowing myself to use on an ongoing basis because it has such a long life), a wood stove, a dry composting toilet. I have no problem using modern, labor saving devices on a one time basis, but my first goal is to be self sufficient. E.g., I don't object to using modern equipment to break land, but I want to be able to hand or horse till it. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

   Now I have a cosy, easy to warm habitation, which with a few defensive measures, will be a pretty tough nut to crack should a roving group of bandits actually find me. (I do expect to be found about twice a year, once by bad guys and once by friendlies, which I may be able to add to my community.)

   There are a myriad of regulations which can be a pain or a godsend depending on how you use them. To maintain the claim you must do $400 per year of work on each claim. (And make appropriate filings) BUT you can do $800 and bank $400 for next year. The numbers were made up way back when $400 was a month's wage. A single grizzled old prospector had to work almost all year to support 10 claims. Today one can claim work at $200 per day, so you can bank a lot. Rather than use man hours to inspect, they require photos and samples of what you found. (Read the regulations carefully.) So two days digging to get rock samples per claim gets you through the year. No taxes or other costs required. Free rent legally, and very few direct costs otherwise.

   My novel, "Operation Phoenix" (Available in Download, hard copy, and free sample read at takes a different location, but the same economic disaster and uses the same logic to cope with that downfall.

Good news

No fracking in France
Thanks to Comprehensive Sex Ed, California Cuts Teen Birth Rate by Mindy Townsend
Boy Scouts of America introduce sustainability merit badge by Lloyd Alter
Too Much Stuff? Share it on Yerdle by Peter DiPrinzio
Peru's poorest will soon have solar power by Holly Richmond
The Sustainable Joes go off-grid in the city by Lloyd Alter

No fracking in France

   No shale natural gas campaigns using hydraulic fracturing will take place in France under the current administration, French President Francois Hollande said.

   Hollande said economic recovery would not come through the exploitation of shale natural gas because of the environmental risks associated with the process.

   "As long as I am president, there were will be no exploration for shale gas," he was quoted as saying.

   The French Association of Environmental Health last year said the chemicals used in the extraction of natural gas from underground shale formations present health risks.

   The French government enacted a moratorium on shale natural gas exploration in 2011. French energy giant Total, which had a permit to explore 1,670 square miles of land in southern France, said it would challenge the decision.


Thanks to Comprehensive Sex Ed, California Cuts Teen Birth Rate
by Mindy Townsend

   California's teen birth rate has fallen by 60 percent since 1991, and it is now the lowest it's been in the state in the last 20 years.

   California has a law that requires all public schools in the state to offer comprehensive sex education and accurate information about birth control. And it looks like state health experts do think that the impressive decrease is due to the state's comprehensive sex ed program.

   Interesting -- it's like not hiding your head in the sand is actually helpful.

   According to the new report, teen birth rates in California have declined across the board. For Latinas between 15-19, the birth rate fell from 74 births for every 1,000 girls to 42. It just goes down from there. The rate among black teen girls dropped from 51.8 births per 1,000 teenagers to 34.1. Among white teens that number went from 20.1 to 11.2, and for Asian teens it went from 13.9 to 5.3.

   Wow, that's incredible. Who knew a little knowledge could go so far?

   This California study fits in pretty well with what we see happening elsewhere in the country. Teen birth rates are decreasing nationwide, but not uniformly. The southern United States is not doing as well in this area, which, incidentally, is the place where you are most likely to see abstinence-only education and low access to birth control.

   This really feels like the difference between fear-based and knowledge-based sex ed. Not only does abstinence-only education not stop teens from having sex, it fosters a really unhealthy relationship with a major and natural part of life. It leaves these boys and girls ill-equipped to deal with sex when they decide to have it. I cannot imagine that ignoring the existence of sex for enjoyment -- which, despite the saturation of sexiness in culture, is a prevalent way of handling the topic -- leads to a more fulfilling sex life as an adult.

   If we want to keep kids safe and give them the knowledge necessary to navigate sexual relationships, we can't ignore the reality. The data is in and it's compelling. Abstinence-only education doesn't work. Comprehensive sex education is the best way to arm teens against unwanted pregnancies. Not only that, but access to birth control greatly decreases the number of abortions. So if we really want to decrease the number of teen pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies, it looks like comprehensive sex ed and access to birth control is the way to go.


Boy Scouts of America introduce sustainability merit badge
by Lloyd Alter

   The Boy Scouts have always been strong on conservation and nature, but they have always been pretty conservative too. The concept of sustainability is controversial in much of the USA, particularly in states where the Boy Scouts are a big deal. So it was surprising to see the BSA introduce a sustainability badge at this time, and much more surprising when you read the requirements for getting the badge; this is a serious and sophisticated approach to sustainability.

   The requirements look at five areas of sustainability; here are some of the things that the scout has to achieve, taken from the blog of Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout and editor of Scouting Magazine.


   Develop and implement a plan that attempts to reduce your family's water usage. Examine your family's water bills reflecting usage for three months (past or current). As a family, choose three ways to help reduce consumption. Implement those ideas for one month. Share what you learn with your counselor, and tell how your plan affected your family's water usage.


   Develop and implement a plan that attempts to reduce your household food waste. Establish a baseline and then track and record your results for two weeks. Report your results to your family and counselor.


   Learn about the sustainability of different energy sources, including fossil fuels, solar, wind, nuclear, hydropower, and geothermal. Find out how the production and consumption of each of these energy sources affects the environment and what the term "carbon footprint" means. Discuss what you learn with your counselor, and explain how you think your family can reduce its carbon footprint.

   This is where it gets really interesting, going beyond the usual and into more complex and controversial issues of sustainability:


   Draw a rough sketch depicting how you would design a sustainable community. Share your sketch with your counselor, and explain how the housing, work locations, shops, schools, and transportation systems affect energy, pollution, natural resources, and the economy of the community.


   Keep a log of the "stuff" your family purchases (excluding food items) for two weeks. In your log, categorize each purchase as an essential need (such as soap) or a desirable want (such as a DVD). Share what you learn with your counselor.

   Discuss with your counselor how having too much "stuff" affects you, your family, and your community. Include the following: the financial impact, time spent, maintenance, health, storage, and waste. Include in your discussion the practices that can be used to avoid accumulating too much "stuff."

   Candidates for the badge then have to explore and discuss two the issues of plastic waste, electronic waste, food waste, species decline, world population and climate change.

Why is this controversial?

   When I was a Boy Scout, and indeed since the beginning of scouting, conservation and protection of the environment have been an integral part of the movement. However any discussion of sustainability or mention of climate change is going to be controversial in the USA today. It didn't take long for commenters in the blog post to start calling this the "Liberal Agenda Merit Badge" and write ""Carbon footprint?" Climate change?" Why did Boy Scouts add a junk science MB to their program?" and of course, "Sustainability = U.N. Agenda 21's system to global control and one world government."

   On some issues, like gay rights and religion, the BSA have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It is wonderful to see that when it comes to sustainability, they have jumped in with both feet and demonstrated real leadership.

From TreeHugger

Lloyd Alter is managing editor of TreeHugger and editor of the Design section. He has been an architect, developer, inventor and prefab promoter. He now writes for green websites TreeHugger and Planet Green, and teaches sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design.

Too Much Stuff? Share it on Yerdle
by Peter DiPrinzio

   The inescapable result of a world full of consumers and products is the collection of stuff. In the words of George Carlin, "That's the whole meaning of life: trying to find a place to put your stuff." But what if there was an efficient way to share stuff you don't need with friends who do?

   Ordering new stuff is easy. With 1-click ordering on Amazon, you can buy things in seconds and have them delivered in a day or two. However, many of these items are actually sitting in the garages and under the beds of your friends, you just don't know it. That's where Yerdle comes in -- connecting you to your friend with the book, tools or equipment that you need.

   Yerdle has found that members can find 20 percent of what they're searching to buy in their Facebook friend network for free, saving money and environmental resources. Items can be shared permanently or temporarily, by mail or in-person. You can let other users know if you want the item back after some time, and whether you're willing to mail it to them. Shipping costs are paid for by the recipient.

   Many people do this already on Craigslist, but Yerdle eliminates many of the pain points of Craigslist by making it more streamlined, like Amazon. Craigslist users are not vetted and are completely unknown, while Yerdle connects you via your Facebook network to people whose online profile you can see. In many cases, this risk is entirely eliminated by allowing users to ship goods to their friends and pay for shipping securely online. On Craigslist, users spend hours looking through listings and checking back for new posts. Instead, Yerdle allows sharers to post 'have' and 'want' listings, which are connected automatically if there's a match.

Peter DiPrinzio is an International Economics student at Middlebury College and former Fellow at Mosaic. He is a 2013 Venture for America fellow and has worked at Gates Capital Management, and the New York City Parks Department and on Middlebury's house into the 2011 Solar Decathlon competition. Peter also DJ's a weekly radio show and cooks for friends.


Peru's poorest will soon have solar power
by Holly Richmond

   Solar is for rich people -- or so it often seems. There's the cost of the panels themselves (although they're slowly becoming more affordable) and the fact that getting your landlord to plop solar panels atop your apartment building might be a lost cause. Community solar is catching on, but solar is still out of reach for most of us.

   Unless you live in Peru. The country just launched The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program, an initiative to get solar to 2 million of the country's poorest residents.

   The first phase of the program, called "The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program" was initiated on July 8 in the Contumaza province, where 1,601 solar panels were installed. These installations will power 126 impoverished communities in the districts of Cupisnique, San Benito, Tantarica, Chilete, Yonan, San Luis, and Contai.

   The program plans to install about 12,500 solar (photovoltaic) systems to provide for approximately 500,000 households at an overall cost of about $200 million.

   According to Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino, the program's goal is to give poor people clean energy options that don't threaten their health. Yeah, I would say solar panels are a good upgrade from heating your home with an oil lamp. By the beginning of 2017, 95 percent of Peruvians will have electricity -- up sharply from the current 66 percent.

   Yo America! See that shiny thing? IT'S A GAUNTLET AND IT'S BEEN THROWN DOWN.

From Grist.

   Holly Richmond writes and edits things for fun and money. She worked for Grist in the 1890s. Please follow her on Twitter because that is the entire basis of her self-esteem.

The Sustainable Joes go off-grid in the city
by Lloyd Alter

   Going off-grid is easier than it used to be as the equipment gets cheaper and better, but it is still a challenge. In London, Ontario, Steve Szucs and Dave Pope are doing it in the city, in a rental apartment. It's a four-month experiment in sustainable living, trying to live off-grid, zero waste, as green as they can be, "to develop a sustainable now for nature and humanity."

   Steve wants to show that this is possible for the Average Joe, hence the name of the project, the Sustainable Joes.

   Dave told the CBC:

   I think a lot of people are curious [about sustainability] and have an inherent feeling that something needs to be done, but they just don't know how to do it, so we're just trying to make this more accessible to anybody.

   It isn't easy. They have electricity courtesy of Goal Zero Canada, which supplied them with solar panels and a Yeti, a neat little battery/inverter package that gives them AC, DC and USB power. They have a solar shower (but the sun hasn't been very cooperative) and are trying to cook by the light of a giant Fresnel lens from an old projection TV that they call their "death ray". This hasn't worked so well yet either; they are surviving on smoothies and raw food, and have lost a lot of weight already.

   Watching the videos, it is clear that these guys are learning as they go, and having some fun doing it; I am glad they are in the city instead of trying to survive in the bush or out in the desert. It is sort of what Colin Beavan tried to do with his No Impact Project, but they actually have it a bit easier than Colin did, having a backyard for solar panels and a bit of room for a garden.

   Steve tells the London Free Press about the challenges.

   Are we experts in this? No. But, are we going to try and figure it out? Absolutely. Because otherwise, what kind of world are we going to leave future generations -- one with no natural resources left.

   Writing about his no impact project, Colin Beavan wrote that the exercise "wasn't just good for the environment, but it made us healthier, happier and richer in ways we never expected." It looks like the same might be happening to the Sustainable Joes. More at The Sustainable Joes new website and on Facebook.

Lloyd Alter is managing editor of TreeHugger and editor of the Design section. He has been an architect, developer, inventor and prefab promoter. He now writes for green websites TreeHugger and Planet Green, and teaches sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design.

From Tree Hugger.

Deeper Issues

How to limit population
The Target Shoppers by Sara van Dyck

How to limit population

   Until Pasteur's germ theory of disease became universally accepted, western cultures were filthy. Many "primitive" cultures (e.g., some native Americans) traditionally practiced hygiene, but Europeans didn't. Gradually, healthy practices, like hand-washing at certain times, became embedded in our culture. There are still grots who'll prepare food after wiping themselves, without washing hands. Some people might make a sandwich after blowing their noses. But, mostly, we are trained in many ways from infancy to wash hands at the right times.

   Apart from people whose job is to prepare food for others, this is not enforced by legislation. You don't go to jail for spreading your flu to your family, or even giving gastro to dinner guests. All the same, without enforcement, people routinely practice reasonable hygiene.

   What brought this on? In one of my discussion groups, there is a debate (on one side) and an abusive argument (on the other) about the need to limit global population. Some participants consider that to suggest the need to reduce global population turns one into a Hitler.

   The question is academic, because even if, right now, every human stopped having children, we would still be heading for environmental catastrophe. We are past the tipping points, and in fact millions have already died in misery because of overpopulation.

   All the same, regardless of outcome, we should be doing our best to minimise suffering. It is still worth examining how population can be limited without dictatorial measures like China's "one child" policy.

   If we had the time, we could embed reproductive responsibility into the culture in the way hygiene has been. Which side of the road you drive on is not a personal choice, but a social agreement. What clothes you wear to a funeral is not enforced by law, but almost everyone dresses appropriately. In the same way, the social expectation could well be developed that the number of children you choose to have is governed in part by the need to reduce future suffering for those children, and for all their age peers. Like with hand-washing, like with respecting private property, some will disobey social mores, but the overwhelming number of people will comply.

   A second way of doing this is central to my novel Sleeper, Awake. Over 1500 years ago, there was a decision to limit global population to 1 million people. This was after a cataclysmic event had wiped out most of humanity. You can have a new child when someone dies. There is a list of women wanting to have children, supervised by a computer. Everyone takes this state of affairs as natural, it is embedded in the culture. People may be unhappy about their place on the list, but everyone simply accepts the benefits of having a limit on population.

   Just think. Every person on earth has the resources now only available to billionaires.

The Target Shoppers
by Sara van Dyck

   Shoppers wheeling their carts out of a Target store in Wilsonville, Oregon this summer confronted an appalling sight: thousands of bumblebees, dead or helplessly twitching, littering the parking lot. While most city-dwellers casually notice bumblebees or other native bees only on their flowers, this was dramatic enough to shock many people into a recognition of a problem -- and for once spurred action.

   According to the Los Angeles Times of June 21, 2013, at least 25,000 bees were found dead or dying earlier that week, "in what experts have described as the largest known die-off of bees in the United States." Authorities confirmed by Friday that the massive bumblebee die-off was caused by the use of a neonicotinoid pesticide, dinotefuran, on nearby linden trees in bloom. Along with a similar event a few days later in the neighboring town of Hillsboro, over 50,000 bees are confirmed killed.

   Should this have been surprising? Had the local residents known from the beginning the trade names of the chemical being used by the landscapers, they might have been dubious: Venom, Safari, and Scorpion. Publications, conservation groups, and scientific organizations had been reporting for years that this pesticide was dangerous. But less than two weeks following this die-off, officials who had been considering, studying, debating, dithering over the question of these pesticides found the courage to make a decision. Right then.

   The Oregon Department of Agriculture has now slapped a moratorium on 18 pesticides that contain dinotefuran. Partly, presumably, because it beame clear that using this pesticide was going to entail bee losses and economic consequences. Bumblebees after all are key pollinators of certain crops. And partly, possibly, because of the public response.

   One possible lesson from this is that it takes an ugly event to bring about change. But there's another aspect. It wasn't just the event -- it was those Target shoppers. Little has been published about them, so it's possible that they were all members of the National Wildlife Federation who happened to be shopping together after a meeting.

   But I prefer the more likely explanation: they were ordinary folks -- some bee admirers, some not -- picking up detergent and socks, who saw something that disturbed them. Some stopped to report this to the shops. Some knew enough to pick up their cell phones and call the Xerces Society, an organization that works for conservation of invertebrates. Whatever their background, the shoppers cared. The bee loss didn't hurt them personally. They didn't say, this isn't near my home, it doesn't make any difference to me. Or, someone else will probably report this. Or, I'm too busy to bother. Their feelings told them this was wrong, sickening -- and they made those calls.

   For a more general consideration of people responding to nature, please see Dr. Joe Zammit-Lucia's article The currency of outrage.

Sara van Dyck is the author of the children's e-book The Boy Who Loved Ants: Edward O. Wilson, a biography of the famed biologist. This book is a recipient of the LiFe Award: Literature For Environment.

Here is the book's web page.


How to Respond to Bullies by Pragito Dove
Recaptured by a cult
My life is over: I've lost my bf!

How to Respond to Bullies
by Pragito Dove

   Have you ever been bullied? Were you able to respond to the bully in a way that valued YOU?

   I grew up with a mother who was a bully. My response was to shut down into a kind of frozen numbness. When I was 12 I started smoking cigarettes and at 16 I started drinking -- all to continue the numbing process and not feel the pain.

   Now, I've un-numbed myself, let go of cigarettes and alcohol, and found my true self. Life is filled with love, joy, and inner peace. Along the way, I had to learn how to stand up for myself, be vulnerable, and speak my truth.

   Here are my 8 Keys to addressing a bully and giving them an opportunity to apologize. They might apologize, or they might not -- I've experienced both. Either way, the success is yours, because you have spoken your truth. Your self-confidence builds and eventually, if a bully starts up, you can dismiss them quickly, and easily, without getting upset.

1. BE EMOTIONALLY HONEST WITH YOURSELF Are you emotionally honest? Ask yourself: How do I feel when a person is abusive to me? Angry? Hurt? Paralyzed with fear? Numb? The important thing here is to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF about how you feel. This is the primary key to freeing yourself from the prison of victimization.

2. ACCEPT -- DON'T JUDGE YOURSELF Keep the focus on yourself, not on the bully. Accept your present moment, whatever it contains. Beware the ego coming in and dismissing your feelings, saying things like: "It's no big deal," "I'm fine" etc. The Ego doesn't like us being put down so it might try and distract you by focusing on the bully or rationalize you out of your feelings. Stay with your present-moment reality, no matter how uncomfortable (uncomfortable is good because it means you are moving away from an old habit that doesn't serve you) -- simply allowing things to be as they are, without judging yourself. And have compassion for yourself -- you're doing the best you can with the best conscious awareness you have in the moment.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY If you don't know how you feel, your body will tell you. Are you contracted in fear or rage? Is your heart heavy with pain? Or do you just feel numb all over? Whatever is happening, allow it to be so. Your body is your friend. It acts like a shock absorber in stressful situations to help you deal with things. Pay attention because the body gives us warning signals when we are not in harmony and at ease with a person/situation. The more in tune you are with your body, the easier it is to address things early on, before they escalate into something worse.

4. GET SUPPORT Find a friend or a family member you are close to, SOMEONE WHO LOVES YOU VERY MUCH. Tell them what happened. This will bring you some instant relief and the powerful loving support you need to speak up to the bully. Allow yourself to RECEIVE the love of your friend to fill yourself up and build your confidence.

5. BE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE PERSON/SITUATION Before you address the bully, spend some time in self-reflection and realize that you might have to walk away from this person, or from this situation. Friends can be helpful here to help you see things clearly. You might not have to let go, but you might. A lot depends on the response of the bully. Do they apologize ? Do they "get it"? If not, they are highly likely to bully you again.

6. SPEAK YOUR TRUTH Speaking your truth means RESPECTING YOURSELF enough to let people know that YOU DESERVE RESPECT. Bullies will transform, or leave. Either way, you win!

   Best case scenario is to speak to the bully in person, in a calm, respectful manner, simply stating how you feel about what happened. Bring a friend as a witness and for support. If that is not possible, talk on the phone. (Your friend standing by). Third best option – send an email or letter. Know this truth: bullies, underneath their aggressiveness, are cowards. In many instances, they are embarrassed you've called them out and apologize, which allows the possibility of taking the relationship to a whole new level. If they don't apologize, see #5!

7. BE COURAGEOUS AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE VULNERABLE Courage means going into the unknown in spite of all the fears. Courage does not mean fearlessness. Fearlessness happens over time when you go on being more and more courageous. In the beginning, the only difference between a coward and a courageous person is that the coward listens to their fears and follows them; the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person can say, for example: "What you said hurt me," in spite of inner trembling and a constricted throat.

   Be willing to be vulnerable, befriend your fears, and remember that this situation is happening for you, not to you. It's helping you step out of victim into mastery of yourself. It's helping you expand even more into who you are.

8. PRACTICE EXPRESSIVE MEDITATION Expressive Meditation techniques can help you become more aware of your feelings and be honest with yourself. The Gibberish expressive meditation is great for releasing the charge of anger, rage, frustration and resentment, and helps you come back to a calm, neutral place of clarity.

   You can learn to express your emotions without being emotional.

   Expressive Techniques for healing grief, sadness, and emotional pain, help with the emotional wounding that can keep you in a victim state (all these techniques are in my book Laughter, Tears, Silence). You will experience pain transforming into peace and love.

   From personal experience these 8 keys work! By speaking your truth you attract people who treat you with courtesy and respect... because you are treating YOURSELF with courtesy and respect!

To learn more about Pragito Dove:

   And Join my Laughing Buddhas Network -- it's FREE!


Recaptured by a cult

   I was raised in a very strict, very religious family. Church was the biggest part of our lives, and there was absolutely no doubt that God was real. Looking back now, I see that we were actually serving man, but my family didn't see that at the time. When I was 11 my family was kicked out of the church for buying a house without permission. We were forced to stand before the church to be rebuked, and after my parents refused to repent, we were shunned and our names were put on the "black list". We were to never associate with anyone from that church again, and no one was to associate with us. After that my world completely changed. My family fell apart, my faith was destroyed, my friends hated me, and everything that I thought I knew about life, God, people, everything, was completely just a lie. There are absolutely no words to describe to you the utter pain, isolation, loneliness, and sheer darkness that entered my soul and my heart. For years I cried myself to sleep every night, wishing, wondering if there would ever be an end to the pain in my heart. 8th grade was the absolute worst year of my life. It was the year directly after we had left the church. For an entire year I received no verbal or physical interaction from my parents. I guess they were just too dead inside. My youngest sibling was born that year, and since he was born with severe physical and mental disabilities, the church said it was God punishing our family, and that the only way we could receive healing was to come back and repent before them. My parents starting fighting, and since my mom was gone for weeks at a time to stay with my youngest sibling in the NICU, I was the 2nd mom. My dad, who is actually my step-dad, began drinking obsessively. Somehow I was spared from losing anything that I could never get back, but he did break my trust, my respect, and my desire to be his daughter. He ruined the meaning of a father's love for me, and to this day I still think it's weird when I see a close father-daughter relationship. And I cry. Anyways, life changed dramatically, and over the next 7 years, it may have healed on the outside, but my pain just sank deeper and deeper into my soul. I didn't know if God was real anymore, I didn't know who I was, and I hadn't had a true friend in a long time. I do believe that there is something "out there" because somehow I fell in love with, and married, an individual of the same exact family whose church hurt my family all those years ago.

   I can't really spell out a question, and I don't know what kind of advice to ask for. I just need to let someone know my pain, someone who can hear my words and see my tears. I'm living in a cage, and I have become the very thing I never wanted to be. I resent myself, I hate the skin that I wear. I feel as though I am me inside of someone else and I'm screaming to break free, but no one can hear me. I only now realize the dire circumstance that I am in. I come from a cult, I have never fully healed, and somehow I blindly, and naively, allowed myself to return, before ever even thinking about the consequences. And now I have a child, so I can't just run. And it hurts so bad knowing that another innocent, beautiful little life will be affected by this monstrous family, these horrible, wicked people. My in-laws despise me. My mother in law thinks I'm worthless. I can't even feel anything anymore, except for my tears. I not even know if I still love my husband. I am just so hurt, so disgusted, so broken. I want to get away, I want to start over. I want to leave all of this crap behind. But I can't, because I'm married to them. I'm one of them now. Please help me. What should I do? Is there even anything I can do??

My dear,

   There is lots you can do. And actually, you have already done some of it. You now know that this group has nothing to do with God or Christianity, but is an abusive cult.

   You want to get away, and you can. Instead of wishing, start planning. A good start will be this web site:

   I don't know where in the USA you live, but there are probably local resources you can use. Some of the things these people have done may well be illegal. If so, you can turn to the police, who will direct you to resources. If you have been verbally, emotionally or physically abused, you can probably find a shelter to take you.

   Of course, you do have a child, but nowadays the world is full of single moms. If they can survive, so can you.

   You don't need to run straight away, but carefully and secretly plan it, and go when you are ready. For example, this can include studying to get some sort of qualification, so that you can earn money once you are free.

You have the rest of your life to look forward to, with freedom, respect and dignity.

My life is over: I've lost my bf!

   i am 18 and have an ex boyfriend that i love very much, but he's already now taken and he has a gf for 1 year now, i still love him but what can i do if he has already now taken. we don't broke up permanently so i'm hoping, he only leave me not knowing why. his bff said to me that he is so super defendant to me because of the game dota. what can i do now, i still really love him but he is now happy to her girlfriend. we are actually 2 years and 10 months break but still i can't move on. please help me :(((

Dear Min,

   Words are magic. You can't let go of him, because over and over and over, you keep telling yourself this. It is an endless repeating record in your mind, isn't it?

   You were only 15 when you broke up with this boy. How old were you when you fell for him? 13? 14?

   Now that you are 18, and a young adult, have a look at kids that age. Do you think they have the maturity, experience and wisdom to make life-determining choices?

   When you were a very young person, you made a choice. Now that you are several years older, do you feel that you need to be chained to that choice?

   If you agree that now you are more mature, more able to make wise decisions, then you can replace the endless repetition of thoughts like "I still love him! How can I live without him? Oh terrible, he has a new girl!" or whatever the thoughts are, with a new lot of thoughts: "I am now wiser. That was a good learning experience. Now I can move on."

   How to do this?

   Don't try to chase the old thoughts away. They have become a very strong habit, so will come back, again and again. Instead, treat them as noise.

   Suppose you are reading a good book or watching a movie, and someone is talking to you. Do you sometimes find that you didn't understand a word of what that person was saying? You were concentrating on something else, so the other person's talking was just noise.

   When the old thoughts start, treat them like that. Focus your attention on the new thoughts you made up for yourself, and allow the old thoughts to be just noise in the background.

   It doesn't matter if a thought is true. What matters is whether it is useful or harmful. For nearly 3 years, these thoughts have harmed you, made you sad, probably cost you sleep. It is time to replace them with thoughts that serve you well, and allow you to move forward into a good life.

You can do this.


End the age of coal by Fiona Armstrong

End the age of coal
by Fiona Armstrong

   The national coalition of health groups, the Climate and Health Alliance, has today expressed its support for the international efforts to "end the age of coal."

   Environment and community groups are rallying internationally on June 29 to highlight the harms being caused to people, to global ecosystems, and the climate from burning coal.

   Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the evidence was very clear: coal is one of the major drivers of climate change and burning coal kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.

   "Australia is one of the world's biggest exporters of coal. If proposed Australian coal exports go ahead, the emissions produced from burning this coal would push the global climate system into a danger zone. Climate scientists, the World Bank and the International Energy Agency all say we cannot continue to burn coal, and yet the industry and governments ignore these warnings."

   The Climate and Health Alliance says the health and climate costs of coal are not reflected in its price, but when costs to health systems are included, coal is more expensive than other, cleaner, healthier and safer alternatives.

   "Health and medical groups are saying: we must stop burning coal -- both for our own electricity supply and in other countries via our exports. Coal is killing Australians and Australian coal is killing others -- this has to stop," Ms Armstrong said.

   Actions were being taken around the world on June 29th in a coordinated international effort to highlight the risks to health, climate and environment from coal.

   The Climate and Health Alliance is a coalition of healthcare stakeholder organisations with a common agenda of advocacy for climate action to protect and promote health.

   For media enquiries or to speak to health experts regarding coal and health, contact Fiona Armstrong or 0438900005.

Fiona Armstrong


Tips and Tools for Every Emerging Author by Jessica Leigh

Tips and Tools for Every Emerging Author
by Jessica Leigh

   When I took a deep breath, and hit that publish button for the very first time, it was an exhilarating experience. But boy, was I what one would consider a Noob. I quickly realized that the writing and editing were the easy parts!

   My journey is still in the beginning stages. But it has not been overwhelming, and it is certainly doable for any emerging author with a will and a bit of grit. Let me show you what I've learned so far.

   A Must-Do List for Building Your Author's Social Media Platform:

1. Start Facebook and Twitter pages with links to buy your book. Focus on the quality of your posts -- don't go overboard -- and focus on entertainment (not just selling). Utilize hashtags where you can, they will help. (ie. #fiction #books #romance)

2. Start a Blog. I used Wordpress, but Tumblr is also pretty good. Blogging has been the single most important factor in getting my name and style out there. You don't have to blog about your book, but you do have to blog on a consistent basis. Again, think about the entertainment factor (but of course include links to your book or your website.)

3. Engage in Google+. This is often overlooked, but has become hugely important in increasing your Google search rankings. Click the Google+ button for everything you do! Set up your Google+ profile.

4. Set up a Goodreads and BookDaily account and add your title(s). This is a great place to start gathering reviews and ratings. You want your name and book to appear on Goodreads and BookDaily asap for credibility.

5. Build a Website. If you have the money to hire someone to do this, great. If you're strapped (like me), use to EASILY build a cute concise site, (and I am about as tech-illiterate as you can be.) Check out my site for an example: Don't forget to add the newsletter option to begin collecting emails.

6. Frequently update your Author Central Page. Amazon is an amazing marketing gizmo/tool all in itself. It functions a bit like Google with all its different search algorithms and keyword triggers. Try and optimize just about anything you write on your author's page OR book descriptions and editorial reviews with keywords you feel your readers would be looking for. Change it up frequently with little tweaks or additions, to keep yourself higher on the Amazon radar.

7. Sell more than one book. I have heard that the best marketing tool possible is to have multiple book listings -- they will literally sell each other -- at no marketing expense - other as your fan base grows. I have my second novel waiting in the wings, and I cannot wait to see the results upon its release. Keep writing!

8. Toughen up your skin. You are bound to hit some negativity at some point -- it's inevitable. When I received my first harsh review, it still stung me like an angry hornet and left me doubting my skills for several long days. Reach out to other authors in forums and realize it will pass. It's a rite of passage. My sales did not stop or slow down. It just happens.

9. Pick out several successful authors in your genre and follow everything they do. Yes, it might make you feel a little like a stalker, but it's an excellent way to learn. You can even repost some of their tweets or share their Facebook posts on your own page -- they won't dislike it, for it gives them even more exposure. I actually got noticed by and made a friend of a successful author that way.

10. Look for ways to mount a joint marketing campaign with other authors. If you can network with others in your genre, you have more than doubled your reach very quickly. Try and remember that there is more than enough space for everyone in the ebook world -- don't focus on competition, focus on joint effort. It's much more profitable, powerful, and positive. The most important thing to remember about building a great social media platform is that it should be extensive AND interconnected to achieve the greatest results.

Jessica Leigh is an emerging author in the romance field, and still holds her "day job" as a free-lance writer/PR specialist for a social media marketing firm. She is also an Environmental Scientist and researcher with a degree from Penn State University. Her first historical romance release, Savage Forest, delves deep into the Native American cultural heritage of the eastern seaboard, and chronicles the life and death struggle of a feisty young Swedish immigrant thrust into a native way of life unknown to her. Jessica's upcoming contemporary romance release, Waiting for Eden, will be available in September 2013.

What my friends want you to know

From a refugee, to your heart
Australian Intentional Communities conference Dec 2103
Menergy 2013
Trauma: theory and practice: call for papers
Cynthia Richards' "books and banter"
SharingwithWriters newsletter from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

From a refugee, to your heart

My name is Najeeba.

   Thirteen years ago I came to Australia on a boat. In Australia, I learnt English, graduated from high school and gained a degree in medical science. I am now back at university and on my way to becoming a lawyer.

   I was born in a country that is shattered after decades of war that has left little sign of justice, humanity and freedom. I'm Hazara and as a minority ethnic group, my childhood was stolen. I don't have good memories like other children. Instead I remember being afraid; I remember persecution and death. What Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd don't understand is that we took our chances on a boat because nothing could match the horror we fled from.

   Shutting desperate people out of Australia and sending them to Papua New Guinea is not going to stop the boats, but it will mean more broken people on an island that does not have the resources to look after them. That's why the Greens approached me about making an ad to tell the real stories of asylum seekers -- instead of the myths and fears Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are using to justify their harsh policies.

   Please donate to help us make an ad that tells a human story no Australian can ignore.

   Tony Abbott has announced that if he wins the election he will use the army to send back boats. Just like me and my family, people who flee persecution have seen enough military, enough guns and enough intimidation.

   Politicians talk about the number of refugees Australia accepts as if we are statistics. They talk about boats with desperate families aboard as if we are the enemy. The Greens are putting together an advertisement to counter some of the myths and fears people have about asylum seekers - and to tell the stories of asylum seekers that rarely get heard.

   I am so thankful to be here in Australia. To be safe and to have been given the education I have always wanted. But I am so saddened by the way we are treating others who, like me, desperately need our help.

In hope,

Australian Intentional Communities conference

   This is at MY community.

Menergy 2013

Melbourne Cup Weekend, 1-4 Nov 2013

Grantville Lodge, near Phillip Island

   A 3 day gathering of men journeying together…to bring more of ourselves to life.

   Children know that treasures lie deep in caves guarded by dragons. Later, those dragons become mortgages, work commitments and domestic duties; every bit as good at keeping us from the treasure buried within.

   Menergy 2013 calls you to continue the journey and discover what it takes to gain intimacy, success, satisfaction and the path to your own treasures within.

   This three-day gathering lets you participate in activities, workshops and discussions relevant to manhood -- a time to reflect on the journey past, present and future, and a chance to hear others' experiences.

   You are invited to be a part of the richness that arises when men gather in an intentional space of respect, gratitude and fellowship.

   Further Details:

Trauma: theory and practice: call for papers

4th Global Conference
Saturday 22nd March - Tuesday 25th March 2014
Prague, Czech Republic

   This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary conference seeks to examine and explore issues surrounding individual and collective trauma in terms of practice, theory and lived reality. Trauma studies has emerged from its foundation in psychoanalysis to be a dominant methodology for understanding contemporary events and our reactions to them. Critics have argued that we live in a 'culture of trauma.' Repeated images of suffering and death form our collective and/or cultural unconscious. The 4th global conference seeks papers on a variety of issues related to trauma including: the function of memory, memorial, and testimony; collective and cultural perspectives; the impact of time; and the management of personal and political traumas.

   Trauma has a thematic identity that exists on the interdisciplinary fringes of other subject areas, either peripherally nudging, or fully penetrating existing research, shifting cultures and influencing global politics. Thus, while we continue to welcome research papers of core theoretical and clinical interest, we would also warmly encourage those papers that address: critical questions of practice; practical projects; first-hand survivor/bystander reports of individual and collective experiences; and, those that interrogate, critique, represent, or create works that deal with fictional and actual traumatic events.

   We would also like to encourage presentations that take the following forms: auto-ethnographical and experiential accounts, case studies, papers, performance pieces, reports, works of art, works-in-progress, and workshops.

   Finally, submissions which engage with the aftermath of trauma as a space of potential opportunity for change, emotional growth, identity shifts, or developing spirituality are particularly welcome across any of the following themes...

Further details here.

Cynthia Richards' "books and banter"

   "Books and Banter" is a quarterly newsletter. One of Cynthia's contributions is a service to writers and readers by posting announcements of new releases.

   This issue announces the reissue of my short story anthology Striking Back from Down Under.

SharingwithWriters newsletter
from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

   SharingwithWriters newsletter is now coming to you as an easily read (and easily passed along) .pdf file. This is my ever-popular AllTips edition and includes tips on reviews, scams, and a whole slew of other tips and resources.

   To read it you now go to and click on the July 31 issue.

   This newsletter is also a community. Share your ideas. Learn from theirs! Associated with the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.

Regular Features

  • Note from Carolyn: How Superheroes Can Inform Your Writing
  • Tons of Tips
  • Carolyn's Appearances and Teaching
  • Wordstuff

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
    Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS.

    Book Reviews

    The Wooden Chair by Rayne Golay
    The Black Pony, by Connie Peck
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Cheryl O'Brien
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Rayne Golay
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Amanda Armstrong
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Jay Levy
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Greg Austin

    The Wooden Chair, by Rayne Golay

       As a counseling psychologist who has to help clients cope with the results of childhood abuse or neglect, I've often thought that some people should not be allowed to be parents. The heroine of this story, Leini, is a perfect illustration of the damage a child can suffer. I instantly loved Leini within the first few sentences, but, sadly, her mother Mira didn't.

       The heart of fiction is characterization. On that basis, The Wooden Chair is a great book. The people leap off the page, and while reading I was in there, wanting to shake some sense and decency into Mira, giving Leini the love she needed, even identifying with several of the minor characters.

       The plot is a down-and-up: at first Leini went down and down, eventually following her mother in using alcohol and cigarettes as emotional crutches, then the slow way up, to eventual healing. The journey toward healing is very realistic, very touching, and very admirable.

       Do I have criticisms? I was surprised at how well Leini's younger brother Sami turned out. In real life, I'd have expected him to become a spoiled brat with a chip on his shoulder. And the psychiatrist's techniques are not quite what I'd have used -- but then he'd practiced 50 years ago, and probably he was excellent for his times.

       This brings me to time and place. As an historical novel set in a country that will be esoteric to most people, The Wooden Chair rings absolutely true. Rayne Golay took me THERE and THEN, and not once did anything about time and place jar on me.

       Finally, this is a book written from the heart, and will appeal to those with a heart. Shouldn't that be all of us?

    Rayne writes:

       I've lived three lives in one. Some people spend their whole life where they were born. They're surrounded by people they've known since childhood, have deep roots. I believe they are very rich. My life has been made of a different cloth with hues of the rainbow. It's been about change and adaptation.

       I was born in Helsinki, Finland. I changed schools 3 times before Highschool. When I was very small, my mother used to read to me. After reading "A Thousand and One Nights," my passion was born. From then on, I read everything: matchboxes, newspapers, pamphlets and books. I was only 6 when my father gave me a library card. That was one of the happiest days of my childhood. To this day, I read at least 3 books a week. In school, I always had high grades in composition and wanted to be a journalist, but my parents had other plans. I got a Masters degree in psychology, was certified as addictions counselor in England after studies in the United States.

       Skilled in languages, from 15 I translated Hollywood movies from English into Finnish and Swedish. This, my first paying job, came through my father, who was the Nordic managing director of an American film company.

        After graduation, I married, had two children in rapid succession. My then husband was transferred to Switzerland, so that's where we moved.

        In Geneva, I worked as an addictions counselor with responsibilities in several countries, and wrote 2 books, about alcoholism, and about dysfunction in the workplace. I also wrote the script to "Something of The Danger That Exists," a 50 minute film, used within the company as part of an educational program I facilitated. I was a frequent speaker on dependence at conferences and business groups.

       I've read most American, French and Russian classics, modern literature and poetry. It may seem that my books are autobiographical, particularly THE WOODEN CHAIR because I write about what I know, so my life has parallels in Leini's story, but you have to read the book to find out more.

       My whole life I've longed for the warm sun, so one day I moved to Florida. I live here with my best friend, David, my husband.

        The award winning novel THE WOODEN CHAIR is my second book. Currently, I'm editing my third story.

       Every book is a journey, so enjoy the trip.

    The Black Pony, by Connie Peck

       This charming, beautiful story will be enjoyed by almost any boy or girl from 10 to 15 years of age. The heroine Annie is a very real girl, who has to survive bullying, homework and strict (though loving) parents. She has a telepathic bond with Midnight, a wonderful pony, and their adventures together are a lot of fun, with a bit of drama thrown in. Incidentally, I have heard of real life stories of people and horses "talking" with each other, so I didn't find this mental connection to be farfetched.

       Every bit of writing has a message under the story. The message of "The Black Pony" is respect for all living things including humans, horses, rabbits, snakes, even mice, the connection between human and animal, the need for decency and kindness.

       I approve.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Cheryl O'Brien

       I have read this book recently and really enjoyed the story. There are many layers to the story and I know it will take a few more reads before it all sinks in it is one of those books that you can read and reread, making it very good value. If you care about the planet, like a little cross-genre reading that includes historical, romance, sci-fi, and good Aussie yarn spinning you will enjoy this book by Dr Bob Rich. It is a darn good read and yes for the blood thirsty there is some bloodspill, and if you have a proud Irish Heritage this book will make you glad you are Irish. Ascending Spiral is a tale that just is what the title says it is, an Ascending Spiral of growth and development of one human spirit! There is a message of hope and a message of conservation, and a message of love.

    Cheryl and I have been long-term email friends. We are both writers, both passionate about the same things. She is currently full time carer for her daughter Teri who suffered brain damage in a car smash when she was a baby. She couldn't have a better mother on her team.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Rayne Golay

       A good book should fulfill two objectives. One is to entertain me, the second is to stimulate my thinking. When I first received Ascending Spiral by Bob Rich, I was dubious whether I wanted to read a book on metaphysics, but decided to read the Prologue. Pip, the man who's lived a long time, ends his letter to Maria with the words: "Only two things matter in life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is Monopoly money." After this simple wisdom and show of sense of humor I couldn't stop reading.

       Pip Lipkin took me on a journey through space and eons of time. Most important, he made me rethink my position on life after death or life after life.

       In the time of the Vikings, the shepherd boy Padraig falls in love. In Ireland, Dermot and many others are found guilty of treason, imprisoned and as punishment are sent to New South Wales in Australia for the rest of their lives. As a soldier, Dermot makes huge efforts for the sake of his people. He becomes a criminal, and dies after he's raped another man's wife.

       Amelia is born in the 19th century. She marries a squatter, a tyrannical man who treats her as his property. Despite her hard life, removed from everything familiar and cut off from her loved ones, she strives to improve the conditions of the Aborigine women who work for her husband.

       The story continues through several incarnations. The characters are well drawn and true. Amelia captured my heart though her courage and resilience. I believe it takes courage for a writers to kill off one of his characters, but Dr. Rich does in the case of Dermot for the sake of the rest of the story.

       Ascending Spiral is rich in plot, a journey through time. I give it five shining stars and thank Dr. Rich for a read I warmly recommend.

    Ascending Spiral reviewed
    by Amanda Armstrong

       When was the last time a book actually made you think...?

       I began this book with some trepidation. I had never considered too deeply my views on reincarnation.

       However, from the moment I started to read, I was instantly drawn to the characters and engaged by the style of writing.

       Despite being a complex topic, the story flowed beautifully and was incredibly easy to read. So much so that I finished it in two days!

       Not only is the emotion clearly conveyed but the whole book is so very thought provoking. Once I'd finished it, I sat for a moment, pondering the message that had been written. It really does make you consider the 'bigger picture' and want to aim to be a better person. A wonderful read!

    Amanda Armstrong has been writing short stories and poetry since she could hold a pen.

       Her debut novel, Rose, was published in 2011. Her second novel, Ten Yen True, was co-authored with her aunt after a mysterious coin appeared. You can read about this strange occurrence on Amanda's website

       Amanda lives in Kent, UK with her husband and daughter and is currently working on the sequel to Ten Yen True.

        Both of Amanda's novels are available at

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Jay Levy

       This is a highly entertaining read. An existential adventure of travel through time... Whose main character, Dr. Pip Lipkin, demonstrates our potential of becoming and overcoming from destructive violence to forgiveness and love. Ascending Spiral is an engrossing tale that goes beyond a simple stagnant notion of good and evil by creating a character that experiences all things. Pip's quest takes us through his many incarnations to experience the deeper truths and historical lessons of our existence. It is sometimes through pain, violence, and misfortune that we are able to re-calibrate and truly travel on a spiritual path. In essence, the author, Bob Rich, via his wonderful book Ascending Spiral, helps us to rediscover that through love and understanding we can help humanity and ultimately ourselves.

    Jay S. Levy is the author of the highly acclaimed book Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways: From Words to Housing and has published a monograph and several journal articles on the subject.

       Jay received his MSW degree in clinical social work from Columbia University during 1987 and has spent the last 25 years working with individuals who experience homelessness. He has achieved formal recognition from Massachusetts Department of Mental Health for his ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness through direct service, clinical supervision, and program development. p>   Further information is available at his website: .

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Greg Austin

       Apart from being a marvellously insightful story about how we interact within our human and natural environments--I could not put it down. My usual quick visit to the coffee shop ended an hour or so later reading this gripping adventure story. Highly recommend this author.

    Greg Austin has published sci-fi novels & shorts and screenplays for adults and children. Recently he won 2nd place at the Fantastic Planet Film Festival and A Night of Horror 2012, for 'Ritual.' This has added to several awards tallied so far since his debut novel, 'Fallen City' won an Eppie Award for best sci-fi 2003.

    A bit of fun

       A mother was driving her little girl to her friend's house for a play date.

       'Mummy,' the little girl asked, 'how old are you?'

       'Honey, you're not supposed to ask a lady her age,' the mother replied. 'It's not polite.'

       'OK, what colour was you hair 2 years ago?'

        'Now really, those are personal questions and are really none of your business.'

       Undaunted, the little girl asked, 'Why did you and Daddy get a divorce?'

       'That's enough questions, young lady! Honestly!'

       The exasperated mother walked away as the two friends began to play. 'My Mum won't tell me anything about her,' the little girl said to her friend.

       'Well,' the friend said, 'all you need to do is look at her driver's license. It's like a report card, it has everything on it.'

       Later that night the little girl said to her mother, 'I know how old you are. You are 32.'

       Surprised, the mother demanded, 'How did you find that out?'

       'I also know that you used to have brown hair.'

       The mother was shocked now. 'How in Heaven's name did you find that out?'

       'And,' the little girl says triumphantly, 'I know why you and daddy got a divorce.'

       'Oh really? Why?'

       'Because you got an F in sex.'

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