Want to do something about climate catastrophe and pollution? This 2018 study puts consumer buying habits in the crosshairs. Turns out the shampoos, fragrances, and other toxic consumer products we buy and use so blithely emit enough volatile organic compounds to contribute a whopping 38% to the urban air pollution. This is almost as much as gas and diesel fumes, and much more than industrial sources. But these toxic consumer products comprise only 4% of the mass. This means your Axe body spray is probably doing more immediate and lasting harm to the air than a gallon of gasoline left uncapped. And that’s outdoors! Think about the effects of these chemicals on indoor air.
I’m ecstatic to hear of these findings, but as a person who is exquisitely attuned to symptoms of poisoning upon contact with thousands of consumer products, I could have told you this many years ago. I knew intuitively that consumer products made with volatile organic compounds (including fragrances and scented personal care products) were playing a much larger role in climate catastrophe–as well as dangers to public health–than most people would want to admit. And that what’s happening on our planet with pollution and climate change isn’t just due to the greed of corporations and governments (aka “those guys over there”), but also due to the gullibility and thoughtlessness of the average consumer. Every single freakin’ one of us.
But hey, I’m a “Cassandra in the Coal Mine” (people believe canaries and run for their lives–they don’t listen to human “canaries” at all). We were all talking about this 30, 20, 10, 5 years ago, and just yesterday too. You all don’t listen, at your peril.
Stop Buying That Shit
Think of the difference we could make if we all just stopped buying that stuff? We may not be able to do much about arson in the Amazon, but we COULD make a huge difference to our forests by not buying palm oil unless we’re sure it’s sustainably sourced.
In the same way, we have it in our power to substantially cut back on pollutants in our air, water, and soil (thus diminishing the chemicals which lodge in the bodies of your kids and all those cute forest animals and water mammals). Forget that bottle of fake strawberry body rub or “Juicy Lucy Mango-Citrus shampoo.” Save your cash instead for a nice evening out, perhaps at a restaurant with a “fragrance-free” policy so you can actually taste your food instead of another diner’s heavily applied “designer fragrance.” Or put it a college fund so your children won’t have to become indentured serfs at a One Percenter’s golf course or franchised BDSM dungeon in order to pay for their college education. (Not that I have anything against BDSM–it’s just that I don’t think sex workers are going to have many rights under such circumstances.)
And…because I’m now in the midst of my own thirty-year anniversary of multiple chemical sensitivity, which began during my pregnancy with my first child, I’ve finally simply had it. Up to here, in fact. I’m already socially isolated AF, with a declining career, and since my beautiful Trickster God is quite happy to support me in going all “Lokasenna” over this issue, I’m putting the rest of my sadly limited but bizarrely interesting life on the line. For this issue and a few others.
Someone just please take care of my cats when I’ve finally bit the dust after throwing myself repeatedly at windmills.
Okay, so the neighborhood bear broke my favorite red flowerpot in the middle of the night and traumatized the geranium that was barely holding on. And the turkey flock who takes over my yard at least twice a day, pecking for bugs or raiding the outdoor cat’s food dish, scrapes and scratches the crab grass to bits (not that I much care). Flocks of quail skitter through as well, never any trouble. Someone spotted a family of foxes the other day, and so now I’m worried about the feral kittens I’ve just taken on…
As “difficult” as I might find my animal relatives from time to time (black widow spider, do you really need to make your web in the coil of my garden hose?) I am sure it’s nowhere near as difficult as they find me–us–humans. As a species we are clearly beyond insane and every single creature on this planet probably suffers from Post-Human Trauma Syndrome. I am not joking.
But I am pleased by my visitors, even the clumsy bear. And the earth is generous to me. I eat from this land. My neighborhood is fed by a spring–a real, living spring!–and I bless it every day. I feel emotionally held by the trees, mountain, and lake that I see from my window and greet each morning. And I believe that this act of greeting is what allows me to engage with them in a deeper way. This engagement leads to communication (I think) which engenders respect (at least on my end), which transforms into reverence (from me) for most of what’s around me. (I’m not feeling much reverence for the neighbors who were arguing loudly yesterday afternoon.)
As a child, I think I lived this way naturally. Then I forgot it for a long time. And now near the end of my life, I’m relearning and living this way again. I’m cultivating this life with devotional practices, so what I do can look a little quaint. I don’t mind. For a long time, I’ve been seeking some way to live reverently.
Yearning for Justice and an Earth-Reverent Life
Except for the uber-rich and the sociopaths who fancy themselves at the top of corporate and governmental “food chains,” I feel that many of the rest of us humans are longing for reverence. We want to get back into balance, back to a state of what the Kanaka Maoli would call “aloha ‘aina” (loving the land). We want people, plants, animals, and our planet to be treated fairly again. We need to learn how to deal fairly with all that is, ourselves.
I suspect that a yearning for an Earth-reverent life as well as justice are reasons that Mauna Kea and its Protectors (Kia’i) have become an international flashpoint this summer. Thinking and feeling people (not those who are lumpish with greed and glutted with power) see how bad it’s gotten and how much worse it can and will get. Unless… unless… unless we come together. Unless we learn how to make community again–if we live among people where such skills are rusty–and to include the Earth and its creatures in that community, as equals and stakeholders. We need a world where our mountains, forests, rivers, deserts, lakes, species, and oceans are “people” too, with legal rights. (Corporations are just golems. They shouldn’t have rights at all.)
The animists are right, you know. All matter is imbued with consciousness. Studies show…
As for justice, we also need to ensure that legal human rights are strictly observed as well, that the rights of indigenous and aboriginal peoples are upheld and strengthened. It’s a key element in the only positive future we can possibly achieve. The health and safety of every human, every creature on this planet, and the planet itself depends on our taking this very, very seriously.
And it’s imperative that those who make a request of a mountain or a lake–or an indigenous or aboriginal community–learn to take “no” for an answer, if that’s the answer that’s given. Because you know what? Consent counts. It really does. And no amount of wheedling or PR spin can change that. TMT guys are coming on like rapists, frankly, and their “you know you want it” approach to the mountain is disgusting to the rest of us.
This stunning short film, featuring Jason Momoa and a number of the Mauna Kea Kia’i, makes these issues abundantly clear, in case it wasn’t clear enough already.
Love of Place
Almost every Hawaiian mele (song) and oli (chant) is either about a beloved place, or includes references to beloved places. Almost every single one. Places aren’t “just” locations for family and community life, they ARE family. That’s as near as I can express it. I think I’ve got it nearly right.
Other examples of passionate love of place: I think of the French writer Colette, who wrote so movingly about the countryside of her childhood.
I’ve always been deeply affected by places I’ve lived, even if briefly. I attach to houses and landscape features very easily and mourn when I have to leave them. Themes of exile and homesickness are strong in my life, and these feelings of longing are often unbearable. I still miss “Nemo’s Rock” in the Coronado tide pools and the houses on Loma Avenue and Loma Lane, not far from the beach. I deeply mourn the cottage across from La Jolla Cove (below) where I lived as a teenager (it’s now demolished). I remember the light and feel of the air in La Jolla so vividly that I’ve cried over it. Certain places where I’ve lived in San Francisco and Albany also still clutch at my heart. I dearly miss the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I used to go there in the early morning, after dropping my first kid off at preschool, and sip green tea in the teahouse. Sometimes rain would dapple the koi ponds.
But the island of O’ahu gave me my first experience with exile and homesickness. When I was five I lived on Lipe’epe’e Street in Waikiki. Though my family was there for less than a year, the feel of the ocean water, the sand beneath my feet, flowers and trees, and the sight of the Ko’olau Range east of Honolulu, all were absorbed by my soul. Later, I must have buried my yearning for Hawai’i as surely as I squashed feelings of missing my father. I say that because my yearning roared to life when (1) I saw the Hokule’a voyaging canoe when it visited San Francisco, and (2) when I returned to the islands with a series of visits starting in 2000–first Maui, then Hawai’i island. On Maui and Hawai’i I experienced a bewildering assortment of numinous and healing experiences. These were confusing because I have no genealogical connection to explain them. For many years, I felt like I was living with one foot in California, the other in Hawai’i.
I moved to Hawai’i Island in 2016, living on Mano Street in Pahoa for seventeen months. Even though I moved there with the expectation of being happy “at last,” it was a bad time for me. I had post-divorce crazies, terrible social anxiety and depression, frequent suicidality, and a longtime love affair gone wrong. But in that house on Mano Street, I began my inquiries into magic, refined my polytheism, and began to cultivate spirit relationships through devotional practices. It’s ironic. I’d prayed for so long to be allowed to move to Hawai’i, and once I was there, I prayed fervently for permission to leave. When I finally got my dismissal from the Powers there, I made the most costly and physically devastating move of my life.
But would it surprise you if I told you that now I miss my house and the Puna district? I miss the thirty-foot tall hibiscus trees dripping red blossoms on all three sides of my yard. I miss the ‘ohia lehua trees. I miss the spaciousness of my house, its high ceiling and large windows that looked out on jungle all around me. I miss my “difficult” and noisy neighbors: the shrill coqui frogs and gutteral cane toads. I miss picking up fallen coconuts; the “bathtubs” of morning rain dumped on my metal roof (which scared the cats until they got used to the noise); wild orchids and ti plants; the Ahalanui Warm Ponds (covered with lava now); the young coconut grove and view of the ocean from Kalapana, just across from Uncle Robert’s place. I miss driving the Red Road from Hawaiian Beaches past the “Four Corners.” I miss Mauna Loa and Kilauea. And yes, I miss Mauna Kea.
I believe it is natural for human beings to cherish the soil where they live, and to feel kinship with it.
So you see, Mauna Kea, is a cherished ancestor, as well as a beloved place, so how could the Kanaka Maoli ever consent to simply hand it over to people who have no reverent life at all? And why should the Kanaka have ever been asked this in the first place? Why should we ask them to break their hearts simply at the whim of a science that could go elsewhere?
Disclaimer: The following rather harsh critique is strictly limited to the impact of the Moore Foundation’s funding of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) via CalTech and the University of CA–as it affects Mauna Kea–and is not meant as a sweeping generalization of the funding impacts of other grants to other organizations, projects, peoples, or parts of the world. Let’s just be clear about that.
There’s No Place Like Home
Two years ago, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), published a piece in the Learning section of their website called “Perspective: Grateful for this place we call home,” The photograph accompanying this article is a sweeping panorama of South Bay hills that certainly would not be as lovely should an 18-story telescope be built on the skyline. What follows is a quote from the piece:
“Silicon Valley is the place we call home. Our founders, Gordon and Betty Moore, spent most of their lives and raised their family in this region. It is the place where Gordon co-founded two iconic companies – Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. And, it is where our foundation is located.
A passion for this region is in our DNA.”
One could be forgiven for thinking that such heartfelt boilerplate is evidence that the grantmaking heads of this foundation are capable of recognizing and honoring the family values and “passion for a region” that the Kanaka Maoli have for Mauna Kea and the rest of their ‘aina. After all, the Kanaka have lived in their island home as far back as 400 C.E. Very old families, one might say.
By contrast, the Moore family has just a few generations of California settler-colonial history and yet claim “DNA-based” ties to their beloved Silicon Valley. I agree, humanity in general has the capacity to become deeply rooted in place–even new places–and can be passionate about those roots. If just a generation or two of settlement history can twang the DNA heartstrings of a Gordon and Betty, imagine the depth, the extent of the love, the connection, the ancestral ties felt by the Kanaka Maoli (and other indigenous peoples) who have hundreds and thousands of years of family history invested in their homelands.
One might think an organization of broad and beneficent vision, as expressed in the Moore Foundation “perspectives,” would be able to “grok” this, but I suppose the unalloyed enjoyment of “passion for a region” is something allowed only to the very, very wealthy.
As for the legacy of soil and groundwater contamination created by Gordon Moore’s semi-conductor companies, now Superfund Clean-up sites…
…Lovely view of the valley, don’t you think?
The Thirty Meter Telescope – 18 Stories of Desecration Planned for a Sacred Mountain
Making science, exploring the universe, discovering new galaxies, teetering on the rim of black hole event horizons–astronomy is the good guy, right? Who could object to it? Well, blithe star-bitten glamour aside, objections can be made to doing astronomy in a place and in a way that causes immense harm to any indigenous people who revere that place. It’s not the astronomy that’s objectionable, folks, it’s the location, location, location!
Below you can see how much this dream of science means to the Moore Foundation. Here is what they have invested in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)–a project always depicted in magical-thinking public relations “photos” as a structure already built on Mauna Kea, complete with a night sky of stars twinkling in the background–beckoning idealistic astronomers from afar. The same night sky, by the way, that Hawaiians and their ancestors have been accustomed to look upon with unimpeded views and important sight lines, from the summit of one of their most sacred places in all the islands, all the way over to Haleakala (another sacred mountain) on Maui and beyond.
The sums below represent how badly the GBMF and other TMT-on-Mauna Kea proponents want to get their way. Much is at stake. But still more is at stake for the Kanaka Maoli, their descendants, and the Mauna itself.
Anthony Trollope, a Victorian novelist once wrote, “I have sometimes thought that there is no being so venomous, so bloodthirsty as a professed philanthropist.” This is from his novel, North America, published in 1862. Times have not changed. I found Trollope’s quote in an article called “Toxic Philanthropy? The Spirit of Giving While Taking” (Lynn Parramore, Dec. 10, 2018). The article discussed Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, a book by business reporter Anand Giridharadas. The article was published on the website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, co-founded by George Soros. (Link to board and staff page.)
Though the book apparently focuses mostly on a new generation of “21st-century ‘philanthrocapitalists,’” two paragraphs of the review seem relevant to classic brand of philanthropy now affecting Mauna Kea:
“Giridharadas presents searching conversations with well-educated, often well-meaning people floating above and apart from the lives of ordinary Americans, wishing to ease their consciences but failing both to clearly see the problems of society and to notice, for more than a nagging moment, the ways in which their own lives are financed by the fruits of injustice. They end up embracing a warm-and-fuzzy vision of changing the world that leaves brutal underlying structures securely in place.
The author has said what few who have traveled in this world have said plainly, lest their passport be revoked: the efforts of philanthrocapitalists are largely disruptive, rather than beneficial, to public life.”
Ruthless self-examination might be in order for the philanthropic community, especially powerful grantmakers like the Moore Foundation. Such examination and organizational assessment might reveal their own (even if inadvertant) complicity in past and present acts that perpetuate cultural violence and genocide. This is the kind of self-examination that people in other walks of life are just now starting to embark upon.
The communication model known as the Johari Window, particularly that upper right hand corner called “known to others, not known to self,” can be an effective way to approach unacknowledged privilege and entitlement assumptions, factors that cause “good” intentions, and “good” works to pave a “road to hell” for others. Sometimes we cannot see ourselves in the mirror, in the same way that others see us, looking in.
Right now, those who stand on or with Mauna Kea see “in” to the GBMF and its associates, with devastating accuracy.
Checking Your Privilege and Complicity
As of Sunday morning, July 21st, at 7:37 AM PSDT, 698 astronomers (and a few academics in other fields) have signed the letter (1) condemning the arrests of kupuna on Mauna Kea last Wednesday and (2) inviting “the astronomy community to suggest more links and ideas on how to divest from using state-sanctioned violence in the construction of facilities for our field’s future.” This is a long-overdue invitation, from within that rarified community, to consider the ethical implications of how and where they do their science, and at what cost to others.
And as mentioned in an earlier blog post, this week 100 religious leaders also signed a letter of inter-faith solidarity, recognizing the spiritual traditions of Kanaka Maoli as equally valid as their own. Many of the people signing are associated with religious institutions which have their own historical complicity of disregarding native traditions and/or causing colonial and state-sanctioned violence (e.g. missionary work in Hawai’i; stones from sacred heiau used to build churches, etc.). Here is an excerpt from that letter:
“The controversy surrounding the TMT telescope continues to highlight the struggle of native peoples to protect and preserve their sacred sites from desecration.
We the undersigned have a responsibility not to stay silent in the face of injustice. We are not against science or scientific research. But it should be done in an appropriate location.
Building one more gigantic telescope on our sacred mountain might harm the natural environment, and the spiritual integrity. In light of recent arrest of kupuna, in the act of peaceful civil disobedience, the questionable telescope project is certainly harming the deep peace of our Hawaiian community!
Some may disagree, but we believe the mountain belongs to the Kanaka maoli. It is part of their homeland.
And they must have a say about what to do and what not to do on their sacred land! We offer our prayers in solidarity with all our kanaka maoli sisters and brothers who feel oppressed, bullied, and not listened to.”
Let’s remember too that all this is taking place in the context of the present and historical belligerent occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, an occupation which has ongoing political, cultural, social, legal, economic, environmental, and personal and community health impacts, etc., on Kanaka Maoli since 1893. (Other Hawaiian Kingdom subjects were people from elsewhere who were naturalized before 1893).
To put it clearly, the above describes a state of ongoing, pervasive violence for generations, mostly impacting the Kanaka Maoli, who–if you remember from above–have a deep and abiding attachment and relationship to their ‘aina, their ancestors, and to their spiritual relationships to na akua (the deities) or ke akua (one deity). Multi-generational trauma is a comparatively recent development in psychology, pioneered by Dr. Joy DeGruy and others. It is now widely accepted by in the field of psychology. Trauma can become part our DNA and is passed to our children and grandchildren.
(Did we mention the view yet?)
Though Kanaka are not monolithic in their spiritual beliefs and traditions, it is probably safe to say–given the widespread support given to the Kia’i–that Mauna Kea is foundational and sacred, as a cultural icon, as a place of deep cultural significance, and as a felt, ancestral, spiritual presence (and a place that is the home of other deities as well.)
Back to the Future We Don’t Want: The Cycle of Philanthropic Violence
There’s quite a lot about how the TMT project has tromped on Kanaka Maoli and their indigenous rights and traditions that reminds me of an abuser who insists that you’ll enjoy it if only you’d relax and give in. Or perhaps the forces behind the TMT are inherantly sociopathic, determined to win at any cost, crushing whoever and whatever gets in their way.
Seriously. I am seriously saying this.
Sociopaths begin by charming others. Philanthropists charm others by holding out the prospect of a juicy grant for a project. “Court me as a major donor,” they wink, but nothing is free, and the power that money wields is everything.
I’ve watched the growth of the movement for the Mauna, and against telescope desecration, for many years now. I remember things. So as sort of thought experiment, I’d like us to consider the abusive nature of the TMT project, its impact on the Kanaka Maoli as a series of deliberate non-consensual violations and micro- and macroaggressions causing physical and psychological harm to other human beings. These violations have already caused multi-generational trauma for a large number of people. They already affect multiple generations. (The protectors of Mauna Kea range from toddlers to people in their 90s.)
Some of what I describe below may fit into the pattern of the above chart, some may not. I actually feel that we’re seeing several swirling cycles of corporate, government, and philanthropic abuse happening simultaneously, at different paces, originating from different groups of pro-TMT stakeholders.
For this thought experiment, you can imagine “The Abuser” as a Frankenstein’s Monster, a sort of golem animated and fed by philanthropic, governmental, and corporate privilege AND the sum total of all actionstaken to advance that being’s agenda on Mauna Kea.
(1) The Abuser makes an initial threat of violence–in this case, the threatened desecration of a sacred place of ancestral and spiritual significance, in spite of legal, cultural, and environmental objections. It will not listen when you say “no” and it will not stop.
Remember, Hawai’i has a “state” law, §711-1107, against desecration which incorporates the concept of “outrage” as one of the standards for determining that desecration has taken place. Outrage is a way of saying “no!” The law is supposed to make violators listen.
(2) Reports of outrage and harm are dismissed by authorities–or reluctantly heard and reported. No one does much of anything to uphold the law or prevent further violations. Plus, authorities often blame the targets for the harm that is done to them. The blame could sound like this. You wouldn’t have been hurt:
• IF only you wore something different. For example, ” That Kia’i hat? You look like you’re asking for trouble!”
• IF you assimilated more fully. For example, “If you were more like the settler-colonists here, you wouldn’t care and this would be a non-issue.”
• IF you felt completely differently about what is happening. For example, “What educated person would claim to be related to a mountain? Who has DNA with a landscape feature? Surely we don’t do that sort of thing in Silicon Valley.”
• IF you tried to look on the bright side. For example, “Hey, at least The Abuser is promising you a job and money for STEM education. Suck it up!”
And then there’s the dismissal: “You’ll get over it.”
(3) The Abuser questions the status and/or sincerity of the person complaining. This was in play during moments in various hearings when Kia’i were asked, in so many words, “Are you a REAL Hawaiian? Do you really do that cultural practitioner stuff? Prove it.”
(4) The Abuser gaslights, attempting to sow self-doubt:
• “Conservation district regulations have to be taken seriously? Silly! No one pays attention to those. Look at all the telescopes that are here already!”
• “No one actually tried to hit you with a car on the Access Road while you were protecting the Mauna. You must have imagined it.”
• “No one around here would have dismantled your ‘ahu. You must be crazy to think that.”
• “We don’t really want to deny you your constitutional rights of access to cultural and sacred places, we’re just worried about your health and safety.”
• “A bond? What bond?”
(5) In addition to direct threats, The Abuser threatens to harm other things or people if you don’t give in. Examples:
• arrests of kupuna with an implied promise of more arrests to come;
• Ige’s Declaration of a State of Emergency and calls for National Guard and additional police from other islands;
• the project’s potential to harm to na ‘iwi (remains of the ancestors), endangered bugs and plants, pu’u and other features of the Mauna. And so forth.
(6) The Abuser creates a climate of fear. See 5. Also, retaliating against potential or actual allies, as was done to at least one porta-potty contractor, who was threatened with fines.
(7) The Abuser placates:
• “We’ll make a committee to oversee cultural practices on the mountain. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
• “We’ll give more money for STEM education.”
• “I’m like you. I just want to go up to the mountain to pray.” (A reference to Ige’s visit to the Mauna in 2015).
(8) The Abuser retaliates by controling the movement and behavior of the target. For example, cultural practitioners have been denied their access to the Mauna for quite a long time now, in violation of their traditional and customary rights as per the state constitution. Or maybe–if they promise to be good–they could be allowed to travel up the mountain in special, supervised vans. The astronomers, including many foreigners, get complete unimpeded access. But the Kanaka cultural practitioners are treated like unruly children.
TRADITIONAL AND CUSTOMARY RIGHTS
Section 7. The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua’a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]
(9) The Abuser lies about the target in order to marginalize, isolate, and undermine social support for the target. Example: “There are drugs and alcohol at Pu’u Huluhulu” to smear the Kia’i as irresponsible people who are desecrating their own sacred space. There’s a world of wrongdoing in this particular lie. This tactic also plays to racism against Kanaka Maoli.
And so on… It’s an ugly portrait of cycles of abuse writ large, but cognitive dissonance, defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change” allows philanthropic elites to avoid recognizing the impact of their actions on people whose rights and interests they dismiss.
Why So Much Good Work Elsewhere, and So Little Similar Concern for Kanaka Maoli, for Mauna Kea, and for Hawai’i?
Now, I’ve been hard on a lot of people here, particularly the Moore Foundation, and yet I do want to be fair. I’ve scanned many pages of Moore Foundation giving histories and they give to a number of causes and organizations that I personally support–or would like to support (had I the funds).
Here are some examples of good work the Foundation has done elsewhere, which demonstrate a history of goodwill, humanitarian values, and a thoughtfulness that could easily be extended to Mauna Kea and its protectors.
Conservation of native habitat and species.“Since 2001, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Bay Area conservation portfolio has been supporting groups working to conserve native habitat and species in the San Francisco Bay Area.” (March 2017)
Since Mauna Kea is a sensitive environment, legally a conservation district, and is already experiencing “serious, adverse impacts” as a result of the industrial-strength astronomy already in place on Mauna Kea, the Moore Foundation could easily reconsider their attachment to Mauna Kea as the site of the TMT, as such a decision would be congruent with their own vaunted conservation consciousness.
Recognition of Indigenous Lands.“The Colombian Amazon stretches across nearly half of the country, and is a priority region for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative. Moore funding has supported the creation and consolidation of protected areas, and recognition and management of indigenous lands.” (Feb. 2017)
Again, in the interest of congruence with vaunted concerns about protecting indigenous areas, the Moore Foundation could easily comprehend that Mauna Kea IS indigenous land in need of protection, and act accordingly.
Women in science — making the invisible, visible.“The data on the dearth of women in science is clear and far reaching. Women are underrepresented along the pathway from undergraduate to faculty to leadership positions in most research and scientific communities. This is particularly true for women of color.” (Feb. 2018)
Great. Yay for figuring that out. However, I do wonder why some of that concern for “invisible” women of color can’t be extended to the Kanaka Maoli, people “of color” in Hawai’i, who seem to be invisible to the Moore Foundation and its TMT collaborators? It would be really easy to achieve cognitive congruence by resisting the urge to mentally erase the concerns of people of color who are standing in the way of your pet project.
The importance of accuracy in science journalism. The Moore Foundation showed its concern about “pressing issues of accuracy and honesty in media” by giving support to a report issued by “Knight Science Journalism at MIT”: The State of Fact-Checking in Science Journalism.” (Sept. 2018)
I hope the future of fact-checking in science journalism includes facts about cultural, social, and physical/mental health impacts of large-scale projects in indigenous places, in spite of the objections of residents.
Now, the Moore Foundation gives to the TMT project through donations to CalTech and the University of California. I am sure this is all right and proper, with the added advantage that this strategy of giving places the foundation carefully upstream from the numerous downstream violations to Hawai’i law on behalf of the TMT. I am no expert in the conservation district violations that would occur should TMT break ground, but I know people who are. I understand there are at least eight serious violations. I’ve also mentioned the Hawai’i state law against desecration (above), with its the criteria of causing outrage, as well as the violations of traditional and customary rights guaranteed to the Kanaka Maoli by the State of Hawai’i. Not to mention arrests for advocating for those laws and rights to be upheld. I am sure there is more that could be said.
So I would think respect for Hawai’i laws and indigenous rights would be an appropriate concern for a foundation seeking to do things in a legal and ethical manner. Such consideration would be congruent with the stated interests and values of the organization.
And just because I’m an unrepentant gadfly, I would also recommend that the Moore Foundation begin to enfold consideration of the Resolution 61/295: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (2007). This resolution does not have the force of law, and apparently the U.S. has not agreed to sign it. However, the resolution does have the force of moral high ground and integrity. The entire document is relevant to the struggle to protect Mauna Kea, but I’ve picked out three of the Articles, so you don’t have to take my word for it:
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
I would think that any entity as wealthy and powerful as the Moore Foundation could use UNDRIP as part of their criteria for assessing grant proposals which might impact indigenous peoples and lands. It would be so appreciated and set a good example for others in the philanthropic community.
The beauty of Kapu Aloha as practiced by the Kia’i is that enduring enmity does not have to be born of conflict. What has been enacted these last several years has provided unexpected, complicated lessons (and a great deal of stress) for all concerned, whether intimately involved or watching from afar. All that the Moore Foundation and other TMT stakeholders need to do is (1) agree to not build the TMT on Mauna Kea or any other place in Hawai’i and (2) sincerely apologize to the Kanaka Maoli. It would be so philanthropic!
Then the beauty of forgiveness and aloha can be extended. Healing can begin. (And all the while, the beauty of Kapu Aloha is thriving and growing at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu.)
As one of the Kia’i said in the Friday press conference, there is no aloha without truth–and what is contained in this blog is part of the truth and a perspective seldom offered to a popular audience. But I admit, I’ve been a bit snarky here and there, so kala mai!
I hold strong hopes for the triumph of the Kia’i and the protection of the Mauna, as well as the construction of the TMT in some other location (they do have a “Plan B”). And strong hopes too that the executives of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation might stand with us and peer into the upper right hand corner of their own Johari Window, clearly seeing the opportunities to correct misalignment with their stated values and mission, making common cause instead of inflicting corporatized cruelty.
Let what happens next be in perfect congruence and accord with Hawaiian values. It’s the only way.
Today’s “Thirty Days of Devotion” topic asks if there’s a difference between ancient and modern worship of Loki. The answer is a resounding, artisan-grease infused, sprinkle-spattered “YES!”
So far, archaelogical records do not show that the Old Norse had anything resembling the cholesterol-crunching goodie we today know as “the donut.” Cane sugar arrived in Europe by the 1100s, making inadvertant contemporaries of Snorri Sturluson and a key donut ingredient. However, it was incredibly expensive, known as “white gold”, and until the 18th-19th centuries was reserved for the very rich. Simple folk offering baby teeth to Loki via the hearth-fire could not have known that the future held a far more delectable and acceptable offering, one whose very shape invoked the World-Encircling Jormungandr and whose endless variety echoes the consumate shape-shifting of the great snake’s Dad.
Furthermore, two donuts, side by side, approximate the symbol of eternity. Ponder that if you will! And that shape with a hole in the middle is as good as a hag stone for some. (Sadly, they seldom last as long.)
Fun fact: For a long time, Sweden consumed much less sugar than the rest of Europe. Sweden then began to produce beet sugar and so sugar consumption–and tooth decay–skyrocketed. Not so Fun Fact: Researchers then performed tooth decay sugar experiments on mental patients without their consent.
Though a skilled confectioner can spin “white gold” as fine as Sif’s hair, Scandinavia was slow to catch onto sugar. And the rest of Europe was slow to catch on to Norse mythology. However, by the 19th century, suddenly everyone was hot for both. How can we not detect the hand of Loki in this?
Think of it this way: increasing popularity of Norse Myths means more popularity for Loki, which means that in a period of rising sugar consumption, Loki gains more followers who can be prompted to make offerings of sugary goodness (and fewer baby teeth). Quite elegant, if you ask me!
However, well into the 19th century (and possibly beyond), most cane sugar was produced with slave labor, which we all know now included not just “labor” but also torture, murder, rape, imprisonment, tearing families apart, etc. I ask myself if Loki would have been so fond of his surgary sweets, had he known their cost in human lives?
Though we’re now reinventing our donuts as “paleo” or sugar and gluten-free, and can deplore the brutal history of past sugar production, it’s worth asking ourselves if we can also examine some of the other entitlements of modern neo-paganism and Western consumerism. Can we consider such factors as the labor exploitation and environmental damage that occurs in the mining and trade of our “healing crystals”?[<—Read this!] Can we offer goodies made from ingredients sourced from “fair trade” farmers? Can we question ways in which we might still be complicit in cultural appropriation or resource exploitation, without knowing it?
So this isn’t just a blog about donuts, or how modern Loki worship differs from way back when (we don’t even know if Loki was “worshipped” per se), it’s a blog about how Loki worship can continue to evolve, based on our climate-catastrophic times. It’s a blog about examining how our devotional and magical practices and consumption habits can be changed, one by one, to reflect the actual realities of the worlds around us, enabling us to do as little harm as possible in the pursuit of our spiritual practices.
I’ve been guilty of buying supermarket donuts for Loki. It’s a quick fix for offerings and I don’t have much money. But based on what I’ve just written and how I can’t “unsee it,” I may need to change my offerings. And I need to talk with Loki about this.
And if it takes going back to throwing the humblest of offerings into a fire, or placing a simple flat cake on an altar, so be it.
On the other hand, I’m a fan of Loki Spongecake Day and the reasons behind it–so everyone else, offer what you will! I won’t be judgy.
(This thirty-day devotional format is based on a list developed by someone named Arrin, known as “a Gaulish polytheist.” It can be used for any deity.)
As a public service, here are a few resources from your friendly neighborhood Eco-Lokean. Be sure to scroll down to the end for solar cooker info and “hay box” thermal cooker how-to links.
Drawdown.org is a research-based initiative created in part by Paul Hawken. From the website, here is a definition: “Drawdown is the point at which levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then steadily decline, ultimately reversing global warming.”
Here are the 100 research-determined solutions from the website. Each solution has a link to an in-depth explanation and a ranking. You can also access a PDF of the Summary of Solutions by Overall Rank.
Below is the link to the report mentioned in the above article:
The authors dedicated this report:
“To Greta Thunberg and to the whole #FridaysForFuture movement, for your relentless courage for the preservation of our planet, and a better future for us all.”
Ram M., Bogdanov D., Aghahosseini A., Gulagi A., Oyewo A.S., Child M., Caldera U., Sadovskaia K., Farfan J., Barbosa LSNS., Fasihi M., Khalili S., Dalheimer B., Gruber G., Traber T., De Caluwe F., Fell H.-J., Breyer C. Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power, Heat, Transport and Desalination Sectors. Study by Lappeenranta University of Technology and Energy Watch Group, Lappeenranta, Berlin, March 2019.
Lappeenranta University of Technology Research Reports 91. ISSN: 2243-3376 Lappeenranta 2019
From the Executive Summary:
“A global transition to 100% renewable energy across all sectors – power, heat, transport and desalination before 2050 is feasible1. Existing renewable energy potential and technologies, including storage, is capable of generating a secure energy supply at every hour throughout the year. The sustainable energy system is more efficient and cost effective than the existing system, which is based primarily on fossil fuels and nuclear. A global renewable transition is the only sustainable option for the energy sector, and is compatible with the internationally adopted Paris Agreement. The energy transition is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will.”
“Global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced to zero by 2050, or sooner, across all energy sectors • Annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the energy sector decline steadily through the transition from approximately 30 GtCO2eq in 2015 to zero by 2050 (see Figure KF-4). The remaining cumulative greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 422 GtCO2eq from 2018 to 2050. Energy-related GHG emissions account for more than 60% of total global GHG emissions in 2015. • In contrast to popular claims, a deep decarbonisation of the power and heat sectors is possible by 2030. The transport sector will lag behind, with a massive decline of greenhouse gas emissions from 2030 to 2050 (see Figure KF-4).”
Developed to assist people in imporverished countries, I predict that home solar cooking will also become increasingly important in “developed” countries as a primary and emergency cooking and water purification technique.
“One solar cooker preserves more than 1 ton of wood every year.”
“Using no-emission solar energy to cook and make drinking water safe improves health, builds resilient families, breaks the cycle of poverty, boosts local economies, empowers women and children, and helps achieve all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
What follows is imagined, an eco-parable. Gerda, a Jotun, smells only of rich soil, bruised herbs from her garden, and luscious Jotun pheromones. This was enough to dazzle the Vanir god, Freyr, from afar. His sister, Freya, adorns herself with amber jewels, but cares for her skin only with salves of honey, clear water, and powdered grains. The dry tips of her hair are moistened only with the tiniest bit of melted butter. She scorns the feckless chemistries, the unwise alchemies, of Midgard’s humans, which propel poison into every living thing. Freya has complained to Odin that dead warriors are no longer what they once were–they are now creatures with flacid muscles, except for their texting hands, and that they die now with withered sperm counts, and distortions in their DNA.
Even worse–“They (the humans) are even going after the roots of the World Tree,” she whispers, “with something called ‘Round-Up.'”
Freyr, the Corn God, nods. He dies each year for the harvest and comes back reborn, but it’s becoming apparent that the humans who once honored him for this would now rather manipulate the mysteries of the grain themselves. Perhaps an extended vacation in Vanaheim is in the runes…let the humans spend a year without him for once, prefereably after an Icelandic eruption, when ash clouds herald global famine. That’d learn ’em, he thinks, but in the next moment he backs away from such thoughts. He will serve as he has always served, all these long eons. “Perhaps Ragnarök will be a blessing after all…”
Freyr smells of rich earth too, and Gerda’s herbs and mead, and a not-unpleasant tang of godly sweat and semen. Vanir pheromones are also rather scrumptious, carrying a faint scent of apples. But humans, drunk on designer petrochemicals, can no longer detect them.
As for Ragnarök, Loki has no comment. What will be, will be, and has been–so many times. Contrary to his bad press, Loki finds no happiness in wanton destruction…but cleansing…the metabolism of poisons when all else fails…sometimes that is something to be desired. He should know. The next cycle has already unleashed forces powerful enough to bake the planet, to scour it of the unwise alchemies of the paltry, money-grubbing humans. Midgard will eventually recover (Gaia is strong) but Loki isn’t all that keen to be the trickster god of cockroaches. However, he recognizes the cosmic joke about to be played on them all. He’ll do his best to find some fragment of mirth when the time comes. But onlookers will mistake his battle grin for vengeful joy, misunderstanding the mask that hides his hot, angry tears. It was all so unnecessary! It always is! Meanwhile, cremation fires are at hand for another death of a too beautiful world. It’s Loki’s job to ensure that creation follows cremation. Somebody has to do it…
Sometimes Loki wishes Sigyn had gone in for systems change, rather than holding the bowl for him alone. He imagines he could have borne his suffering–bound with his son’s entrails and scorched by viper spittle–if he’d known she was battling the powers that be, on behalf of all sentient beings. Sigyn might have known better though, and who really is to say? Her victory might yet be won.
It doesn’t take a völva prophecy to know what’s coming. Freya sheds tears. She and her daughter want to save a cat or two. Freya wants the falcons to be okay, and bees. Freyr puts in a word for boars and grains. Dogs too. Their father wants to save whales, sharks, sea turtles, guppies, and coral polyps, among others. His is a long list. Loki would like to send wolves and snakes and salmon and horses to Hel, for safekeeping. Gerda hides seeds in safe places, and waits. The souls of animals are already reluctant, but plants and fungi have not yet given up all hope. Neither has Gerda.
Loki says, “Don’t shoot the messenger (especially if I’m it!). Don’t ignore the voices of doom, of climate change, or the canary in the coal mine. Invite Cassandra onto your podcasts–she’s still got a thing or two to say! Don’t disregard the muttering sibyl, the trancing völva, or anger of witches and Jotuns.” He’d slap this message on t-shirts, even though it’s not a sound bite, in hopes that humans would pay attention, but he distrusts capitalism–particularly the kind that sells toxic petrochemical perfumes wrapped in bottles that look like Marvel Universe characters, especially his!
This last is a particularly painful mockery–big anime eyes and golden horns on keychains are one thing, but this is quite another–all those bottled endocrine disruptors ending up in the salmon, just so a few fans can pretend they have access to “his” scent.
Meanwhile the big money laughs and this makes Loki mad. “Stick to cosplay,” he mutters. “Is nothing sacred?” but he already knows the answer to that question. Rather say that nothing is so futile as the sacred, and nothing is more powerful. After all, Loki knows how to stand with two, four, eight legs, or none, in the spaces between all the worlds you could ever name. (Some say that’s why he drinks so much sometimes. He’s so sick of stupid.)
All matter is alive and aware. If we could hear it, all Midgard is screaming at us right now, “Stop it! Go back! You’re hurting us!” The Earth is our hearth. Hearth fires are lit for warmth and nourishment, not destruction. But we have forgotten this. We have forgotten to extend our hospitality (our frith) and our care to all living things. Loki-as-Lóðurr awoke the first humans with his breath, which was clean and alive and full of strength. He warmed us with his breath and gave us fire to warm our hearths. He certainly did not give us a command to go forth and pollute.
Is there any hope at all? Or do I just put another gaudy, food-colored donut on Loki’s altar and sigh, “fuck this shit, Worldbreaker, we’re doomed. Bring it on…”
But Loki will have none of that. He absolutely refuses to let us dodge this wyrd. He says, “Stop buying this crap, especially not in my name. Use your breath for something decent, like saving the planet, while you still can.”
“Do this,” he says without winking, “and maybe you’ll get a whiff of my pheromones…”