Thursday, September 26, 2013


Right at the heart of the Great recession there was a global conference sponsored by the London School of Economics and Columbia University entitled "A manifesto for a New Global Covenant: Protection Without Protectionism". Professors Joseph Stiglitz and Mary Kaldor have pulled together some of those papers with their own analysis in a new book published by Columbia University Press - The Quest for Security: Protection Without Protectionism and the Challenge of Global Governance.


I'm just 20 pages into it but already I see the importance of this bird's eye view of globalization from some of the world's brightest thinkers on the topic.

     Ideas matter, and ideas about what a fair and just world - and a fair and democratic system of global governance - might look like are shaping debates about globalization and how it could be managed better. (p.13)

The editors are clearly accepting that globalization is a fact of life and that governance, not to be necessarily confused with government, must evolve to create a future that is better for us all. They continue

     The prevailing wisdom in recent decades has argued for stripping away social protections, lowering taxes, providing greater reliance on individuals to protect themselves - a move away from the state towards markets. [SOUND FAMILIAR!!] This was supposed to lead to higher growth, which would benefit all. Economists have typically depicted a trade-off: One can only get more equality and security by giving up on growth. The Scandanavian model challenges these presumptions. The Scandanavian countries have the highest taxes in the world and the strongest system of social protection; yet in most metrics, they also have the highest standard of living, with lower inequality, better social indicators, and dynamic economies. They have embraced globalization more than any other region in the world. (p.21)

Of course in what media forum or from whose lips in the U.S. are you hearing this? This book might be a gift to consider for every elected official in the land.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time for Resurgence

n. 1.   A continuing after interruption; a renewal. 2. A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigor; a revival. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed.

Last winter I wrote about the magazine with the same title and subsequently, my decision to reinstate a subscription that I let lapse to save a few dollars. Well, last week the new issue (September/October 2013)
issue cover 280
arrived. It continues to solidify in my experience, that it is THE periodical of sustainability. Non-subscribers can view a few articles for free each month as you'll note by clicking on the link above. But the editing choices that Satish Kumar and his team make each issue, continue to support the possibilities of a more sustainable future by fueling how we think about that common future. The writing is uniformly passionate and compassionate, inspiring, and potentially transformational. When taken as a whole, each issue beginning with Satish's welcoming essay invites one to reflect on our personal and social futures and the community of life we share it with. A few excerpts from pieces I've enjoyed over the past few days.

     Evolution favors diversity and decentralization. GM food favors monoculture and monopoly. So, in my view, this so-called scientific food revolution is anti-evolution.
     We need to give dignity to farmers and gardeners. We need to realize that dirt is not dirty; working with the soil is a respectful profession. Why should a banker be paid $10,000 a day, and a farmer one-hundredth of that? This should be the other way around! (Satish Kumar, p.1)

     While profitability may necessitate the emergence of intensive and specialized urban farming models, there is also another, perhaps forgotten, social and educational role that urban farming can play. A report by Kubi Ackerman of Columbia University's Earth Institute points out other benefits, including utilizing neglected space, educating the public on food, and benefiting deprived neighborhoods through the availability of healthy foods. All of these could yet entice private companies, charities and city governments to support and develop a second, less profit-driven urban farming sector. (Tom Levitt, p. 19)

     Imagine you own agricultural land near a town or a city. Imagine you take just one acre and divide it into five gardens, each about one fifth of an acre (about 750 sq. meters). These would be quite large, certainly large enough to contain an orchard, a vegetable garden and grassy areas, as well as flower beds. Such a garden could be for example, a rough rectangular shape 25 x 30 meters. These gardens could be surrounded by hedges and laid out with access paths, a parking area for cars and bicycles, and maybe even a communal picnic area with a fire pit for barbecues. (Rupert Sheldrake, p.25)

     So if the first step towards getting beyond skepticism is empathy, the more critical second step is solidarity. And this is a far more challenging leap to make. Whereas empathy involves being able to put yourself vicariously in someone else's shoes, solidarity is created when we understand our shared experience and the mutual need to collaborate. It moves us from seeing people as the 'other' to recognizing that we can address our collective problems jointly and that, to use the well-worn phrase, "we're all in this together." (Deborah Done, p.38) we are almost all, at times, concerned about what psychologists call extrinsic values - concern about money; social status and image; authority. At other times almost everyone prioritizes what psychologists call intrinsic values. These are values associated with greater concern about social and environmental problems. They include values of connection to family, friends and community; appreciation of beauty; broadmindedness; social justice; environmental protection; equality; helpfulness.
     ...It's difficult to prioritize extrinsic and intrinsic values at the same time. It's difficult to be concerned about making money while also being concerned about equality.
     ...Firstly, exercising one value within a group (for example, an intrinsic value like broadmindedness) is found to increase the importance that person places on other values within that group (for instance, environmental protection).
     ...Secondly, exercising an intrinsic value tends to suppress the importance that person places on extrinsic values, and vice versa. This has been called the 'see-saw' effect. So, for example, drawing a person's attention to the importance of money (an extrinsic value) is found to reduce the likelihood that person will help someone in need, or donate to a charity (behaviors associated with intrinsic values).
     ...The trouble is that, in highlighting the financial benefits, you are also subtly drawing attention to extrinsic values that are associated with lower social and economic concern. This is likely to have knock-on effects in other areas of a person's life. (Tom Crompton, pp.42-3)

We need a resurgence of possibilities and this is one great source for exploring the possibilities of a sustainable future for all.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Moving the Measuring Stick

     In good or in bad times where do we want the business sector to end up? Even the critics of CR [corporate responsibility] are not always clear about that. In short, I reckon the best outcome would be a return of the private sector to the fold of Joseph Wharton's vision of social entrepreneurship, where financial gain for a few is substituted by simultaneous financial, social and environmental gain for the many. Instead of a business (i.e. financial) case having to be made for a social and environmental benefit, the reverse would apply; a social and environmental case would have to be made for doing business.
                                                                     Parkin,  The Positive Deviant, p.133.


Fast forward to the "Sustainability Update" section in the June 30, 2013 Pax World Mutual Funds Semi-Annual Report. Here VP for Sustainable Investing, Dr. Julie Gorte (an MSU alum!) discusses their efforts to "benchmark our funds with respect to their carbon emissions. This means we calculated how much of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the firms in our investment portfolios Pax World "owns," based on the percentage of the firm's stock held in our funds. Carbon benchmarking measures an investment portfolio's carbon intensity or carbon footprint, which is total metric tons of carbon emissions per million dollars of revenue of the companies in the portfolio." (p.36)

When they did this they found that of their five largest equity funds, four of them were less carbon intensive than their benchmark indexes. But they didn't stop there. They made their Global Environmental Markets Fund carbon neutral, by purchasing verified carbon reduction offsets based upon the emissions portion they own of the companies in their portfolio. Not only are they now tracking them but with an eye towards their reduction in each sector of investment.

By the way the performance of their fossil free Global Environmental Markets Fund was up 23% for the past year and 13% over the past three years. Now if we could only get universities and other institutional investors to listen to Parkin and Gorte, maybe we could build a more sustainable profit one that we could all share in.                       

Monday, September 16, 2013

International Day of Democracy

On 8 November 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, inviting Member States, the United Nations System and other regional, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to commemorate the Day. The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to highlight the centrality of this universal core value and to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy become reality, to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
 Polling officers help a voter cast her ballot in Timore-Leste’s parliamentary elections. U.N. Photo

Today the UN celebrates the International Day of Democracy. I suspect that here in the U.S. you won't see parades, fireworks displays, newspaper stories or any acknowledgement of the importance and the role of democracy in building a better future for all. Given the low turnout of eligible voters to the polls here, especially in local primaries and elections, let alone involvement through direct communication with government, letters to the editors, involvement in political campaigns, etc. ours is not currently the emblem of the term.While the U.S. might be the birthplace of modern democracy, our practice of its ideals is weak.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Color of Green

The mother of the term so frequently evoked to represent care for the environment,

 Petra Kelly, would find much of its use now to be simplistic and much shallower than what she had in mind as she forged the birth of the Green Party. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1982 for " .for forging and implementing a new vision uniting ecological concerns with disarmament, social justice and human rights." 

I became interested in the Green Party just before Kelly's sudden death in 1992. So much so, that I applied for a mini-research grant to visit the National Clearinghouse of the Greens, then located in Kansas, a few months after her death in March 1993. I honestly don't recall if I knew that she had died when I went to KC as I was only marginally aware of her work and the US press would not typically spend much news time acknowledging her passing.

I spent a week at the Clearinghouse combing through files looking to understand how the various local Green groups around the US functioned. How did they design  decision-making? How was power shared? What were the concerns Greens had about group process? I knew that process was very important, and that no one size fits all approach driven from on high was going to ever determine how local Greens would work. I never fully completed any lengthy or formal research from that experience, although a summary of my research was submitted and it also forever awakened me to the role of process in developing a sustainable future. My involvement with the National Coalition on Dialogue and Development and recent work with the Kettering Foundation, "Building Civic Capacity"  efforts are simply a continuation of the explorations begun two decades ago.

But back to Petra Kelly and the deeper meaning of Green that she helped give birth to and which is the fundamental basis of the Greens Ten Core Values. In her posthumously published book, Thinking Green!" that she was working on at the time of her death, she addresses not simply environmental concerns including climate change, hazardous chemicals, pollution, biodiversity, etc. but the role of women, of nonviolence, of economic equality, peace and the arms race. Her final essay is optimistically entitled, "If There is to Be a Future, It Will Be Green."

But not the bleached green that so many use the term for these days, but truly a deep green, or perhaps as noted sustainability thinker/friend has recently phrased it - a robust green. Petra Kelly's Green was no whiter shade of pale as you may sense from a few select excerpts from this 1994 collection of essays.

    Peace studies should also touch the spirituality of politics, talking about the problems of poverty, oppression, and the nature of war, and offering alternatives to war, militarism, and deterrence...It should also discuss Third World development, ecological planning, human rights, social movements, and grassroots movements. (p.56)

    There are many structures of domination - nation over nation, class over class, race over race, humans over nature. But domination of women by men is a constant feature within every other aspect of oppression. (p.14)

    For environmental solutions to be effective, economic imbalances must be redressed. We need sustainable development in the Third World that supports an ecological economic system, a more just distribution of wealth within and among nations, political reforms, and greater access to the knowledge and resources of the North. (p.29)

    The destruction of nature, the militarization of the world, and the exploitation of the disenfranchised all kill life and kill the spirit. We "shut down" and not only numb our fear and pain, we also lose touch with our own innate spiritual resources - compassion, imagination, and the power to respond. (p.61)

Petra Kelly has set the standard for the deep meaning of Green and it's successor, sustainability. Looking back to the Greens Ten Core Values

Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.
All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature.  We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments.  We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.
We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a “living wage” which reflects the real value of a person’s work.
Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers’ rights; broad citizen participation in planning; and enhancement of our “quality of life.” We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that distribute resources and control to more people through democratic participation.
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.
We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.
We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.
Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.

Looks an awful lot like The Earth Charter perhaps the most important document of this century to date.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Positive Deviance continued

Having wrapped up the biography of Petra Kelly this week and started on her posthumously published, Thinking Green, I was drawn back into the work of her biographer, Sara Parkin, whose last book, The Positive Deviant: Sustainability leadership in a Perverse World (Earthscan, 2010) has been too overlooked. Nearing the half-way point of this  easy to read 260 page tome, the following observations are worthy of sharing.

Parkin, as I knew before as a speaker I have heard twice and in informal conversations, is the real deal. Like her friend, Petra Kelly, she evolved around the confluence of feminism, ecology, justice and sustainability. After her long involvement with the Green movement, mostly centered in the UK, she co-founded with Jonathan Porritt, Forum for the Future. Forum is a leading UK/European think-and-do tank focused on sustainability, principally aiming it's energies at the business and higher education sectors. Parkin is responsible for creating their highly regarded sustainability leadership program.

As one reads this thoughtful and wise guide to building a better future, the tone of her writing as well as the flow of her language woven with many keen insights and examples empowers the reader to roll up their sleeves and work from where you are, no matter where that might be in place, time, experience, position,...

Parkin is a genuine, compassionate, funny, and wise elder too often neglected by those in the sustainability trenches, but with so much to teach us about how to move forward.  She is a scholar and  seasoned activist who has blended the two strains with her own spice for life and possibilities.There is nothing preachy here. She lays out what she sees as the problems and the evidence, what she calls "The Anatomy and Physiology of UnSustainable Development" followed by her critique of the "Lost Leadership" and moving towards what she names "Sustainability-Literate leadership" while finishing up with "The Global Sustainability to do List". A powerpoint presentation of the work behind this with some graphics is available here.

As one who has spent a good chunk of his life wrestling with these issues, I wish I had had some of this wisdom with me earlier. More to share I'm sure as I move through the remainder of this worthy read. 


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Commerce of Violence

Is the title of a June 2013 article in  The Progressive, by author Wendell Berry, arguably one of our best living writers and consciences.

        To learn to meet our needs without continuous violence against one another and our only world would require an immense intellectual and practical effort, requiring the help of every human being perhaps to the end of human time.

This would be work worthy of the name "human." It would be fascinating and lovely.

Unfortunately, President Obama, seems aloof from such reflections as he ramps up the militaristic jargon to appear strong and executive. But as Guardian columnist Gary Younge notes today, that isn't cutting it with most of the world.

       The problem for America in all of this is that its capacity to impact diplomatic negotiations is limited by the fact that its record of asserting its military power stands squarely at odds with its pretensions of moral authority. For all America's condemnations of chemical weapons, the people of Falluja in Iraq are experiencing the birth defects and deformities in children and increases in early-life cancer that may be linked to the use of depleted uranium during the US bombardment of the town. It also used white phosphorus against combatants in Falluja.
      Its chief ally in the region, Israel, holds the record for ignoring UN resolutions, and the US is not a participant in the international criminal court – which is charged with bringing perpetrators of war crimes to justice – because it refuses to allow its own citizens to be charged. On the very day Obama lectured the world on international norms he launched a drone strike in Yemen that killed six people.

Peter Drier, the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program, at Occidental College writes in a blog for Common Dreams today that makes the linkage between Syria  and Walmart and asks some legitimate questions.

     Over 1,000 innocent Syrians were killed by poison gas.  Over 1,000 innocent Bangladesh garment workers were killed when a huge factory building collapsed in April.
      The Syrian government is responsible for the first mass killing. Wal-Mart, which (according to the New York Times) knew about the dangerous conditions in the Bangladesh factories that make its clothes, and did nothing, is responsible for the second mass killing. Wal-Mart actually blocked efforts to upgrade factory conditions in Bangladesh.
Why all the outrage about the first murders but not the second?
Why is the U.S. government ready to go to war against Syria but not even punish or pressure Wal-Mart?

     For a person who received the Nobel Peace Prize in hopes of what he might do, President Obama's rhetoric and proposed actions belie the choice the Nobel Committee made. Perhaps he will be the first to have it rescinded. And no doubt he has the NSA collecting every public comment we make.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Eduardo Galeano on Writing

from a recent issue of the Progressive Eduardo Galeano's,  "Why I Write" begins,
  "Why I Write" begins,

   A confession to begin: Since I was a baby, I tried to be a soccer player. I still am number one. The best of the best, but only during dreamtime, while I sleep, and as soon as I wake up, I confirm that I have wooden legs, and I have no other chance than to try to be a writer.

The rest of this short piece will interest anyone who relishes reading.


Reminds me of the quote from a blog a few days earlier quoting Rebecca Solnit in case you didn't see it.

      Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone. Or rather writing is saying to the no one who may eventually be the reader those things one has no someone to whom to say them. Matters that are so subtle, so personal, so obscure, that I ordinarily can’t imagine saying them to the people to whom I’m closest. Even once in a while I try to say them aloud and find that what turns out to be mush in my mouth or falls short of their ears can be written down for total strangers. Said to total strangers in the silence of writing that is recuperated and heard in the solitude of reading. Is it the shared solitude of writing, is it that separately we all reside in a place deeper than society, even the society of two? Is it that the tongue fails where the fingers succeed, in telling truths so lengthy and nuanced that they are almost impossible aloud?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Justice Becomes Injustice, Resistance Becomes a Duty

Petra Kelly uttered those words in her first term in the German Bundestag, as she led the struggle to prevent nuclear weapons from being located on German soil.

A provocative statement for sure. Is it true? Do you feel that it is true? Why? Why not? What is our responsibility to act when confronted with injustice?

Could this be a central question for what we face in Syria? And if so what action would be called for? A military strike? Where? What would it gain? What seeds of reaction might it germinate?

Could it possibly be that we have so convinced ourselves that the only response to violence is violence? Is that why the Department of Defense is all about 'military strikes' as opposed to nonviolent passive resistance? If we were to have an equivalent Department of Peace that focused on nonviolent conflict revolution as much as on military strategy could we move away from war?

There are countries without militaries! Nonviolence has been shown to work in the 20th century. Could we make the 21st century the century of nonviolence? Do we think we can achieve this by military strikes? Certainly we can conjure up alternative approaches that don't sow the seed of future violence. One sure step would be the reduction of inequality.

Making and selling more armaments, especially those that kill even more remotely, making killing closer to a video game, will not bring the Syrians peace. This is not to say that some ACTION isn't called for. We should continue publicly all efforts to broker a meeting with all sides in Syria, without  violence, but calling for an end to violence. Too many have died. Anyone with any ties to the regime should be approached to see if they can help open up a negotiation with the parties with the sole goal of ending the violence..

This is a time we should have built an international peace brigade, trained for involvement in violent conflict situations. International Peacekeepers larger in number than soldiers with guns or bombs with depleted uranium. Let's not simply bury the idea of war, let's give birth to active resistance to violence with nonviolence. Are we brave enough to enlist our time and energy? Are we ready to be ridiculed as utopians?
Or will we saunter down the same old path?

Our government is getting ready to act. If nothing else, might we raise our voices to be heard that there must be a better way? As A.J. Muste noted many years ago, "There is no way to peace - Peace is the way."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Positive Deviants: Path to a Sustainable Future?

Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds. The birds sleep on, inadvertent givers. The moths fly on, enriched. We feed on sorrows, on stories, on the spaciousness they open up when they let us travel in our imagination beyond our own limits, when they dissolve the boundaries that confine us and urge us to extend the potentialities of our imperfect, broken, incomplete selves. (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, Viking/Penguin, 2013)

Can we find the stories to dissolve the boundaries that steer us towards an abyss? Jump to Petra Kelly, whose shortened life, was a story of awakening possibility - the idea that feminism, nonviolence, and ecology could be connected and thereby bring a better world. And then to her friend, colleague, and biographer, Sara Parkin, who continues this work as a Positive Deviant.

     Keith Grint says leadership 'is not a science, but an art; it is a performance not a recipe; it is an invention not a discovery'. And I agree.As I agree that it is primarily a product of the imagination. A leader imagines a better future and persuades people to follow (Grint, 2000). There is however, a difference between leadership for anything else and leadership for sustainability. Leadership for sustainable development (SD) is definitely about imagining a better future, but not one that is constrained by an organizational or geographical boundary, as most leadership is. It is for something far greater than an individual, or his or her organization, or even family and country. It is for the greater good that embraces all life on Earth, including all humanity and future generations. As we recently celebrated the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, it seems appropriate to say that sustainability leadership is about the continuing participation of our species in evolution. Get it wrong and we are fossils. (p.4)

Parkin suggests four habits of thought as a mental checklist - resilience, relationships, reflection and reverence to guide our actions.

     Many people are put off getting to grips with sustainable development because they believe it is too complicated and more the domain of specialists sporting PhDs. And it can be daunting to realize that sustainability is about everything. How on Earth can one person, or one organization, know about everything?
     No one can, of course. Which is why sustainability literacy is about having sufficient knowledge and understanding to make good enough choice or decision. By definition, we've not done sustainable development before (certainly not on the scale we have to now), so we are all learning as we go. Hence the importance of reflection as an important habit of thought. You may not get it right every time, but with a good enough insight into the broad range of old and new ideas, you should be able to work out when it is wise to ask for help, or just to go ahead with sufficient confidence you've got the direction of travel more right than not. (p.10-11)

 ...It is your task to work out the right thing to do where you are and deviate around or remove the policy, funding, and other impediments to make it happen. (p.11)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Forgotten Star and Reconnection

Twice in the past couple of weeks I've bumped into the figure of Petra Kelly.

Once from a book I picked up from the Library's new book shelf Nonkilling Global Political Science, where the author, Prof. Emeritus of political science Glenn Paige writes:

Her [Petra Kelly] call to action encompasses every critical issue from disarmament through economy and human rights to worldwide cooperation to save the planet. She calls for a "global culture of ecological responsibility" and urges establishment of "binding principles governing ecological relations among all countries (Kelly, 1992: 76). Along with Tolstoy, Gandhi, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Petra Kelly deserves to be seen now and will be recognized in the future as a major contributor to nonviolent global change in the 20th century and beyond (Kelly 1989; 1992; 1994; Parkin 1994). 

Ironically, Parkin, the biographer he cites, is Sara Parkin.

 I met her twice, once at a conference where a few of us sat around late one evening discussing sustainability and geopolitics and a second time when I invited her to speak at Michigan State, where again I had the opportunity to sit casually and discuss the state of the world with her. So a few days later I am halfway through Petra Kelly's biography, an impressive story and great read, meanwhile discovering another book by Parkin written since she visited here a few years back entitled The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World.
Front Cover

Both were crucial forces in the emergence of the European Green movement, an unlike Kelly, who's life was shortened by a bullet at 44, Parkin has continued her lifelong work to make the world a better place. I haven't started her latest book yet, although attracted by title :) but looking forward to it before long.

Our stories

In trying to make sense of her own life, Rebecca Solnit offers this insight as she moves to the conclusion of her evocative recent book, The Faraway Nearby.

Something wonderful happens to you and you instantly look back over your life and see it as a series of fortunate events stretching off into the distance like mountain peaks. Something terrible happens and your life has always been a litany of woe. The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn't a story; it's a whole Milky Way of events and we are forever picking out constellations from it to fit who and where we are.

Solnit uses stories of course to help make sense of things, but she honestly recognizes they are only glimpses of a whole. The map is not the territory as the saying goes. She continues...

Essayists too face the temptation of a neat ending, that point when you bring the boat to shore and tie it to the dock and give up the wide sea. The thread is cut and becomes the ribbon with which everything is tied up, a sealed parcel, the end. It's easy to do, and I've done it time and time again, sometimes with a sense of betrayal of the complexity of what came before, and sometimes when I haven't done it, an editor has asked gift wrap and ribbon.