What qualifies as amazing

A friend asked me about “three things that you find amazing” and I replied with:

First thing that is amazing to me is the possibility that there is enough fresh water on this planet for all of us, just as there is enough sunlight and solar rays for all energy needs. We’ve been socialized to believe that there are finite resources and that they must be fought over, hoarded and controlled. I just said possibility, it may be more fitting to say notion or reality.
Second amazing thing is how I am allowing more and more of the illogical to pervade. I am in a new phase, the post-intellect, that is more aptly returning to how we as humans and nature fundamentally are. This is a condition that gives rise to the recent curiosity about freshwater.
Third amazing thing are the new experiences, new challenges and new learnings in my lived experiences. I have been baking one loaf of sourdough bread a week for much of this calendar year. I began taking a six-week, fiction writing class at the community college this week where I was exuberant as I walked the hallways towards room 571 and after the inaugural class. I learn, read and ruminate the animal totems that I encounter around me. This week alone, they have included magpie, praying mantis (a white, albino one), and deer.

Prompts can tremendously help me out. Amazing is enticing.

Malnourished in the midst of plenty

I watched A Place at the Table a few weeks ago. Yesterday, a friend mentioned the adage that if you are not at the table then you are likely on the menu. In this society of excess, imbalance and unroofed eating habits that is not a desirable place to be.

It occurs to me that the same imbalances ailing food systems affect the nonprofit sector and civic life. Both have a dire unevenness of diet, there is a fixation on certain elements to the detriment of the broader, holistic wellbeing, and we chase some short-term goals that afflict harm when not aligned with long-term health and vitality.

The ills of the corporate good system are reasonably well known. My focus here is how the food system is a metaphor for a cancerous, blighted nonprofit sector.

Inputs: The over-reliance on foundation grants equate to the dominance of carbohydrates in nonprofit’s heavy and heavily imbalanced diet. Instead, of a plethora of sources for nourishing foods, fresh foods rich in vitamins and minerals, most nonprofits depend on a few starches. Grantwriting is essentially highly processed foods composed with strange ingredients, cumbersome production processes and deceptive packaging. What goes into an organization’s coffers is the result of great manipulation resulting in an unnatural shelf life, where the taste, texture and quality are an afterthought.

Energy: This imbalanced diet is exacerbated by where most nonprofits direct our attention. Evaluation is the nonprofit form of cholesterol — it is talked about a lot, with little bearing on overall vitality. In nonprofits, certain information gets monitored and is the basis for evaluation. The fixation with an academic style of evaluation is a distraction from the original factors motivating a small group of people to start an organization. Book knowledge trumps street smarts because there is a logic mind bias against learning from our lived experiences as much as from books. And in a crisis-saddled society, we scurry from one crisis to the next giving ourselves little space or patience to reflect on how we use our energies.

A Place at the Table summarized the profound changes to the food system that have occurred in the last 30 years. Hunger and food insecurity have skyrocketed in spite of the proliferation of food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency food providers, which numbered [a few dozen?] in the early 1980s and exceed [40,000?] today.

The most insidious manifestation of the food/nonprofit mimicry is our habitual concern with problem diagnosis, rather than problem solving. Instead of pursuing solutions, the sector is mired in recording social dysfunction. This mirrors the national attention on illness and manifestations of physical health, environmental degradation and how sick, obese, diabetic, cancerous we are.

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Just as grassroots alternatives to the traditional food system of the late 20th Century exist, alternatives to a grant-heavy, evaluation-fixated and problem-saddled social profit paradigm are expanding.

Alternatives for the here and now begin with:

  • an asset-based approach (rather than problem-based)
  • recognizing access and privileges that each of us have (instead of running from or denying them)
  • embracing the many identities and multiple issues alive in each of us (instead of the myths that there is most important issue or single most affected community)
  • embarking on radical changes that occur at many levels simultaneously (rather than the faulty and imposed notion that change happens in an incremental, sequential fashion)
  • aligning efforts across different groups, populations and industries (rather than perpetuating silos)
  • recognizing that faith, people power and humility are as important, if not more so, than money
  • yet making tremendous financial investments in experiments to spawn wholly new approaches, ecosystems, paradigms, and ways of living, working and being
  • harnessing the lived experience of our bodies and the wisdom of the Earth (instead of preferring the logic-mind).
  • The choice is ours. To continue on the same old, same old do loop. Or we can embark on the paths less traveled.

on cholesterol rather than general

food trends: blueberries, tofu seitan tempeh

According to two stories on NPR this morning:

Therefore, 29% of people are eating meat alternatives and meat. Reasons mentioned are that it is healthier, wanting to eat less meat.

How, what and how much we eat shifts due to push and pull factors. Texture and taste matter as much as price.

spice and appreciation, daily

Years ago, someone described my cooking as subtle. Aside from the jokes that that meant bland, I heard the compliment acknowledging the use of nuance and a soft touch. Like my father’s light-handed ra-ta-ta-tat of the salt or pepper shaker on his steak.

In tonight’s dinner of grilled cheese, ketchup to go on the side and onions to grill in the skillet were givens. Rosemary sprinkled within was a last second addition before putting the two slices of bread over the heat. And that bit of spice, makes all the difference.

Like the rosemary in a grilled cheese, there is nutmeg in pancakes, asofetida (hing!) in curried lentils, ashes of cinnamon and red pepper in hot cocoa that change everything else about a mouthful of flavor. and allspice in anything with pumpkin.

Food each day can have such lovely additions when I think of them. It is a practice a lot like an appreciation. By practicing at least once a day, and sometimes more than once, cultivates the greater chances of having more spice and appreciation in the next day. When I have had long lapses of bland days, they tend to be devoid of being able to appreciate the itsy bitsy things in life. With time, I have found little games and sensory gimmicks that increase my abilities to appreciate.

It is becoming the same in the kitchen, where I open the cupboard door that is too the left of the stove more often. Most spices sit on the second shelf, within easy reach of the gas burners on the stove top. As I have come to make pancakes more and more, not a pancake recipe goes by without nutmeg. Nutmeg is only denied on the odd occasion that it detracts from the rest of the batter.

When I concocted the four ingredient version of hot chocolate — soy milk, cocoa powder, coconut oil and agave — into a pot on the stove, I thought of the dashes of cinnamon and red pepper. It was as little work as the Swiss Miss packets (with those awful, artificial marshmallows) that I had plenty of as a child. Yet, considerably better suited to my grown up palette. Just as my adult self has less practice with schoolyard humor and teasing, which I have replaced with appreciations and mirroring.

sharing the love of meetings and meals

It does not work for me when two people, in a group of eight, are responsible for the brunt of an eight hour meeting. It results in poor design, poor execution. I find it frustrating, whether I am 1 of the 2 attempting to carry all, or 1 of the other 6 flabbergasted at the self-imposed exclusive, isolation.

In another light, it would be if I were to cook a meal at home, for 7 others, and only rely on one other person to assist with cooking, setting the table, and clean-up afterwards. Such, hoarding of activities results in people feeling less connected, having less of a stake in the taste, quality of the food and the caliber of the experience.

Having people choose silence because what they eat is so tasty is a far different choice and a different silence than when people are mum because of discomfort, awkwardness or not knowing how to connect with the others at the table. Similarly, people can shut down in a meeting when they feel uncomfortable what is not working for them. Or when people have been shunned from the design of a meeting, and therefore lob facilitator’s grenades nit-picking over what could have been different.
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i have identified 6 preferred go-to metaphors, which are body, sex, relationships, meals, ecosystems and ____ (I have forgotten the sixth, as I fly at 30,000 feet). in light of my recent activities, such out-of-whack behavior would look like the following:

  • in the body, it would be using one-quarter of my body while the other 3/4 sit idle.
  • in relationships, it is when one person talks 3/4s of the time.
  • in ecosystems, where an environment is so harsh because one of the four elements of fire, land, water and air dominates the three others. resulting in desert, tundra, flooding or windstorms.
  • in sex, it would be an encounter where one person is responsible for three quarters of the foreplay.

When these things happen, they are extreme occurrences of imbalanced arrangements. Interactions that are unnatural, awkward and coerced. It is necessary to be so unattuned to what is happening outside of ourselves in order to assert our own way.

having a taste for raw onions / onions as life

Ah yes. From the book that i finished earlier this week:

Remember what the old man said? His faec brimmed with laughtere as he turned to you and answered in a serious manner. ‘The secret is raw onions. I eat raw onions and I survive.’

And then, over your head, his eyes met mine and we understood each other. What he told you that day is the secret of life itself. One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things. We, you and I, and our people shall live because there are only a few among us who do not love raw onions.”

– The General. in The Wandering Falcon, by Jamil Ahmad (2011).

Dukan sees where food + politics/Econ/society mix

Article in the UK Guardian about the Dukan Diet. Addresses obesity as culture, obesity as economic model, obesity as product of economic growth (and capitalism’s mktg + advertising)

“the economic model of the west is based on obesity” — food companies, pharma.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2012/jan/07/saturday-interview-pierre-dukan-diet

Later he says, “[US and UK] are addicted to sweetness.” differing cultures — on food, meals, flavors.

Later, “obesity … corresponds with economic growth. You can see it in China now. A lot of processed food with sugar, salt and fat combined with advertising and marketing. People don’t move so much.”