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Showing posts from May, 2011

And that's a wrap!

Over this, the last week of our first year of attempting to eliminate plastic waste in our lives, we generated another 8 oz in recyclable and non-recyclable plastic trash... and discovered a cache of another 2 lbs, 5 oz of packing materials from construction and repair projects around the house. 

Everything, everything around here needs repair!  And everything, everything, seems to come swathed in plastic.  Sometimes, when we need to special order hardware for things around the house, we get just what we ordered, plus a whole lot of plastic packaging.  It can get a little discouraging...

However this does mean we have a final weigh-in of 2 lbs, 13 oz of plastic waste for this last week.  And our grand total for the year that began on June 1, 2010, and ends today, May 31, 2011, weighs in at 30 lbs., 15 oz.

This puts us somewhere between 12% and 18% of the national consumption of plastic, per person.

It has been quite a trip.  (More on that tomorrow, over at No Unsacred Place.)

Things do do…

Peter Goes to Kenya, Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...

Our last day in Kenya was Easter Sunday. It began with hiking to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise and to pray, asking for the blessings of Mother Earth.

Later, after breakfast, most of my students stayed at the guest house or went hiking to see a waterfall, but I had asked Eden to bring me along to experience a Kenyan-style Quaker worship service.

My own Quaker meeting, in the heart of New England, is unprogrammed. It’s what most people imagine when they think of Quakers: silent, waiting worship without a preacher, without a pulpit, without hymns or sermon. The pews are arranged concentrically, and messages are delivered when worshipers feel moved by Spirit to stand and speak. We sit at one end of a continuum of worship among American Quakers. At the other…

Peter in Kenya, part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...

I said that Christianity in Kenya hasn’t sponsored a single pogrom since it was first introduced in 1902.

There are two possible exceptions. While Kenya hasn’t seen much religious warfare between rival sects of Christianity, Kenyan Christianity did supplant an indigenous (Americans might call it “Pagan”) religion. I know almost nothing about traditional African religion. I am told it was animist and that it involved ancestor reverence (both of which sound fine to me) but also that it was quite misogynistic. There were dietary taboos that effectively prevented pregnant women from getting protein. And it was the coming of Christianity that ended the practice of female genital mutilation.

If I were more connected to Kenya, it would be incumbent on me to learn more abou…

Almost a Year...

Since April 20, we have generated another 3 pounds, 5 ounces of plastic waste.  This means we're still running at something around 15--17% or so of the national average,  using a conservative estimate.

Actually, some of that plastic--most of it--will be reused.  This month, we replaced windshield washer fluid, Peter had to drink a plastic-jug of noxious stuff prior to a medical test, and we used up a bottle of ammonia.  All those jugs are heavy!

But we have started a garden.  And it turns out that one good poor man's version of a seedling cover, in case of frost, is an HDPE jug with the bottom cut out, and the top put over the seedling to protect it from cold.

So these jugs are actually not yet in the waste--or the recycling--stream--as yet.

More on the garden, as well as some reflections on a year of reducing our plastic use, next time I log on.



Peter in Kenya, Part III: Fairy Gold

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...

Folklore has stories about objects that change as you carry them from one place to another, like Fairy gold that turns to clay in your pockets when you return home. Christianity did something like that when I traveled from America to Kenya. Waking up in another world, I took a piece of worthless clay from my pocket and saw it shine like gold.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still not Christian. I still have no illusions about the incalculable harm that Christianity has done throughout history, and in particular, the harm that Christian missionaries have done in Africa. In many cases, they served as the vanguard of European colonial conquest, or they were used to pacify an occupied and oppressed people. But the picture looks different when you actually get there.

For one thi…

Peter in Kenya, Part II: A Society In Upheaval

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...

I’ve been to Kenya. That doesn’t make me an expert. I haven't read the history books (though I’ve had a couple of good titles recommended to me). What I know about the place, I know from being there for one short week and speaking with a handful of people, mostly my friend Eden Grace, but also several Kenyans who I got to know at least a little.

One of the drivers who was hired to shuttle us around was a man named Anthony. Our party had divided up into small groups for the day, and Anthony drove two students and me to a village to observe an outreach maternal and child health clinic being run out of a Friends Church. While we were there, since we were in the neighborhood, he said he wanted to show us his grandfather’s farm.

We piled into his truck again and he d…

Peter in Kenya, Part I: Culture Shock

Part I: Culture Shock
Part II: A Society in Upheaval
Part III: Fairy Gold
Part IV: Oppressor and Oppressed
Part V: Speaking in Meeting, Kenyan-Style
Part VI: Paths I Might Have Taken
Peter's Spiritual Journey Begins...

The idea started a few years ago. My Advanced Placement Biology class was discussing AIDS and health care in the third world, and I mentioned that I knew someone who administered a couple of AIDS hospitals in Kenya. One of my students made an offhand comment about how it would be fun to go out and visit and see, and when I told this to Eden Grace at that year’s Sessions of New England Yearly Meeting, she said, “Yes! By all means, come! Bring your students!”

It was a pie-in-the-sky idea, and nothing came of it for several years. But when I mentioned it to last year’s AP class, their interest was seriously piqued. Could it really happen? I said it was unlikely, that there were about 800 things that would have to line up just perfectly for a trip like that to happen,…

Cat, It's Beltane

I'm feeling a bit torn this morning.  It's time to head out to meeting for worship, and I've been kept away from worship far too often this winter; I really feel the need to be there.

On the other hand, I've been just a little under the weather for the past two weeks, and physically exhausted for no reason all weekend.  If I go to meeting, I doubt I'll have the energy for anything else: not shopping for groceries, not cooking the staples for the week, not grading the stack of student essays on my desk.

And certainly not celebrating Beltane.  And that does not seem acceptable to me.

So I'm staying home, but, as I said, I'm feeling a bit torn by all that needs to be done, and how little energy I seem to have this week to do it with.

Which puts me in mind of a story...

Once upon a Beltane, Peter and I were at a Church of the Sacred Earth retreat in northern Vermont.  Despite being almost on the Canadian border, it was warm that year, and we were all tenting in …