Carli Thought Bubble

Word Cloud from Don Carli Interview

Do you wonder how future citizens will get their news? Are you confused by the competing claims coming from marketers of each new digital communication device? Is the internet a more sustainable platform for media than print? No one speaking today, has more brilliant answers to these and other publishing industry questions than leading researcher and author, Don Carli, Executive VP of SustainCommWorld.

In a recent interview with Don Carli, written by Robert Ivan of, he raises many important points about the media platforms delivering the news, the convergence of print and digital technologies, and the need to create more sustainable business models and supply chain business ecologies, not just more cool new products.

My biggest concern about the dramatic loss of newspapers around the country is the impact this will have on democracy. As reported in The Nation, a recent Princeton University study found a decline in voter turn out after the closing of the Cincinnati newspaper. This statement only hints at the serious consequences for democracy if we unsuccessfully address these media industry problems. As Mr. Carli states:

The first tenet of sustainability is having a political system that secures effective participation of its citizens in decision making. That is the role served by journalists and the media channels that deliver and store their content.

Even if you are unconcerned with the loss of local newspapers, see no benefit of having the Fourth Estate, and think all citizens are well-served by the inexhaustible supply of news and information on the Internet then consider this: how sustainable is it for 6.7 billion people of the world to get their news from an electronic device? Mr. Carli sees the issues clearly when he points out:

We need to recognize that our current digital media supply chains and media types are unsustainable before we kick print media to the curb and entrust our future to an ephemeral and uncertain digital media monoculture.

Today’s print vs. digital media debates are a zero sum game. Regardless of which media wins the war of words we all lose. The fact is we will need both print and digital media for many years to come and we need them to both become far more sustainable than they are today.

I signed up to follow Don Carli on Twitter. He seems like someone capable of leading the way?

Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls

LAST WEEKEND I went with my friend, Bill, to Yosemite National Park. The awesome beauty and grandeur of this natural wonder in the Sierras is so astounding that it almost hurts. It wasn’t the first visit for either of us, but like everyone else who has traveled here more than once knows, each visit produces its own astonishment.

I love to take photographs here, as is true of nearly all visitors since Ansel Adams and this weekend in early March was especially generous to those of us who made the trek into the wilderness.

Standing awe-struck at the edge of Mirror Lake I heard the sounds of three more photographers beginning to set up behind us. They hoisted tripods with heavy cameras and long lens, along with bulging bags of more equipment on their shoulders as they hiked up the trail to this scenic point.

Rock in Mirror Lake

Rock in Mirror Lake

I had just snapped a few shots of my own with my Canon A80, a 5 year old digital point and shoot, so it was with great humility that I spoke with a straight face to these determined outdoors men.

“Hey guys, don’t worry. I already got a great picture of that rock.”

I waited a moment for a laugh, or a smile even. Alas, my dry humor, lost apparently, in the serious undertaking that is photography at Yosemite.

Later, on Sunday afternoon as we reluctantly headed home we drove around a corner and saw a small crowd at the pull out, the last scenic view of the valley before the exit. Of course we jumped out too, and soon realized the photographer’s dream that we had stumbled upon.

I lamented only for a moment the fact that I was ill-equipped for the scene. The full moon rising, perfectly aligned over the Bridalveil Fall, was a glorious accent to the sun’s last stoke of light, glowing on the wall of granite above us. As I steadied my so-called camera the best I could, I took my picture and felt again the ache of ephemeral beauty.

Full Moon over Bridalveil Falls

Full Moon over the 620 foot Bridalveil Fall

Follow this link for more “great pictures” of Yosemite on my Flickr page.

Sufficient: of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement but without being abundant; “sufficient food“. [WordNet – Princeton University]

AS I EXPLORE the concept of sustainability I find myself wondering what does it mean to live within sufficient means? Sufficiency is an elusive concept. We talk a great deal about moving towards carbon neutrality, of setting cap and trade emission standards, and reducing the ecological footprint of industries, but these concepts demand very complex calculations of human behavior and our use of natural resources and energy consumption. It requires a sophisticated understanding  to even guess at what is sufficient to fulfill everyone’s basic needs.

Sufficiency requires determining what constitutes a fair share. When I answer the questions put to me on the carbon footprint calculators that pepper the Internet, it is clear that just by living in the Untied States, I consume more than my fair share. In other words, there is no way that the world’s population can live as I do. To be fair, or to share the resources of the planet equitably, we need to clarify the idea of what is sufficient.

I am committed to reduce, reuse and recycle but the global solutions we seek must go further. It means Americans will have to go way beyond what is comfortable and easy and learn to accept a much deeper cut into our idea of sufficient. As painful as the current global crisis is now to so many, it is bound to get even more difficult. This is a balancing act, and part of the healing necessary to shed the excessive consumption in our way of living. It is the price we pay for a more equitable world.

In thinking about the move toward sufficiency I share the ideas of two courageous women who help me appreciate the challenges that lay ahead and accept the bold changes necessary to weather these trying times.

THE STORY OF STUFF with Annie Leonard
Sponsored by Tides Foundation & Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption

PAYBACK: Debt the Shadow Side of Wealth, by Margaret Atwood

THERE IS A MOMENT when you suddenly realize there is no turning back, when you realize conditions on the planet are such that to forestall dire environmental consequences, you and everyone you know, must make significant and immediate changes in how you live.

I call that singular flash of consciousness the Polar Bear Moment. For many, that first glance of the polar bear floating on ice, had an emotional impact that seemed at once to foretell the fate of the whole species and then command we take action. Consequences for us humans will follow as the once powerful bear stares out, helpless in the face of the human factors we know are responsible for their disappearing habitat, now only tiny islands floating towards extinction.

The Polar Bear Moment may have struck when seeing this iconic image or hearing an astounding fact or some other environmental calamity shaking you to your core with the sheer magnitude of the global predicament.

What was your Polar Bear Moment?

For me, that flash of consciousness came when I read about the largest garbage dump on the planet, which happens not to be on land, but in the Pacific Ocean. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation has documented a floating island of discarded plastic waste that has been accumulating for over 50 years in the currents of the central Pacific gyre. This estimated 3.5 million tons of toxic flotsam that oceanographers refer to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not a patch after all, but the size of a continent. There are no obvious or easy solutions to this environmental dilemma that is poisoning the food chain and strangling ocean life.

What is heartbreaking in the moments that follow the shock is our own responsibility. The unbridled human activity on our over-populated planet along with our propensity for distraction and our disconnection with nature has hastened the end for the polar bear, and by extension, perhaps our own.

What I hope can be sustained from this flash of consciousness is the determination to change how we live, identify what we deem important to conserve, and to strongly commit to combine our efforts with others to save our threatened habitat.

What was your Polar Bear Moment? How has it motivated you to change?

This summer I planned a “Sta-cation” for two weeks in July. That is, a stay-at-home vacation. Taking some much needed time off from work but instead of traveling to some exotic place using up a few year’s worth of carbon credits, I decided to spend my vacation at home. After all, Berkeley is a delightful place. The Bay Area is many people’s idea of an exotic destination, so it seemed the perfect gift to give to myself.

Besides, with my son home from college for only two short months before going  off on a five-week backpacking adventure of his own, staying close to home gives me more opportunities to share in the rare moments I have with him. My brother and father who live in Houston also called to say they would come for a short visit during that time. I was more than happy with this low-key stay close to home summer vacation.

As it turns out, it is really fortuitous I didn’t run off to New York City and spend lots of money like I thought I might earlier in the year. Without notice, on July 2nd, two days before my relax-at-home vacation, my job was down-sized. I suddenly had an extended summer vacation. The publishing business has been hit really hard by falling ad dollars during this most recent recession. The Bush years have not been great for many citizens but the yoga magazine I worked on seemed to be doing better than most. Who doesn’t need unity and stress reduction and a great deal of hope during these times.

Of course I saw the signs. I was looking for a change anyway. I was just hopping I had a little more time. It was a shock nonetheless, and being laid-off is rarely a pleasant thing. I have been in this situation before. Several times before. In fact, in 2002, they called it a reduction-in-force (RIF). After the “work-force” in the internet search company I worked for was eliminated it took me 10 months to climb out of that situation and get a suitable position. I expect it will take a considerable effort this time around too.

Truthfully, I have to thank my former employers for giving me a kick in the pants. I needed to go. It was time for something new. If one is going to be laid off, summer is really the best season to be off work, IMHO. It is even better timing when, like me, I just started a new relationship with a really wonderful man who has significantly brightened up my life. Like I said, it was time for something new.

I feel I really am the lucky one. The one who got away. It reminds me of an old African American folktale series about Br’er Rabbit (Brother Rabbit) who was the trickster prone to much trouble-making, often matching wits with Br’er Fox he always found a clever way to win in the end. In the story I was thinking of “Br’er Rabbit meets a Tar Baby” Br’er Rabbit gets snagged in a sticky trap set by Br’er Fox. I first heard this story as a young child in Pennsylvania and its lesson has stayed with me. I can hear Br’er Rabbit now, plead mournfully with his captor…

“Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

“Maybe I should roast you over a fire and eat you,” mused Brer Fox. “No, that’s too much trouble. Maybe I’ll hang you instead.”

“Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

“If I’m going to hang you, I’ll need some string,” said Brer Fox. “And I don’t have any string handy. But the stream’s not far away, so maybe I’ll drown you instead.”

“Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

“The briar patch, eh?” said Brer Fox. “What a wonderful idea! You’ll be torn into little pieces!” Grabbing up the tar-covered rabbit, Brer Fox swung him around and around and then flung him head over heels into the briar patch. Brer Rabbit let out such a scream as he fell that all of Brer Fox’s fur stood straight up. Brer Rabbit fell into the briar bushes with a crash and a mighty thump. Then there was silence. Brer Fox cocked one ear toward the briar patch, listening for whimpers of pain. But he heard nothing. Brer Fox cocked the other ear toward the briar patch, listening for Brer Rabbit’s death rattle. He heard nothing. Then Brer Fox heard someone calling his name. He turned around and looked up the hill. Brer Rabbit was sitting on a log combing the tar out of his fur with a wood chip and looking smug.

“I was bred and born in the briar patch, Brer Fox,” he called. “Born and bred in the briar patch.” And Brer Rabbit skipped away as merry as a cricket while Brer Fox ground his teeth in rage and went home.

Yes, I reckon I got the better deal. While I skip off enjoying my extended summer vacation getting on with a new and improved life, my colleagues are left to take on my old duties and suffer through the down turn with a kind of survival guilt. I wish my friends the very best. This wasn’t the way I wanted it to end. Autumn is not far away and its a fine season for change too. Be a clever rabbit. There are many tricks yet to play.

The Chalice and the BladeI drove to across town to the far side of San Francisco recently for the opportunity to speak with one of the most exciting activists writing today.

In a crowded bookstore tucked away in Building C at Fort Mason I met Dr. Riane Eisler, a scholar, author, activist and founder of the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS). On this evening, I joined several dozen other people interested in CPS, who had gathered to learn more about partnership and other objectives of this visionary organization.

Riane Eisler is the author of the international bestseller, The Chalice and The Blade. In this ground-breaking book she describes a way of life based on equality, nonviolence, and harmony with nature. The Partnership Way is explored in each of her books with revolutionary ideas making their way into art, politics, business, personal relationships, education and public policy. Most recently in, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics she charts a new course for economics and social policy that seeks to correct the flawed systems that misallocate our human and natural resources.

For two decades Dr Eisler’s research has explored the most fundamental questions about human society and our true nature as caring human beings. Why are we so violent? Has it always been this way? What perpetuates the pain and violence we see even in our most intimate relations? How can this be stopped? How can we avoid the mass extinction that is made ever more possible and perhaps inevitable with today’s advanced technology?

She admits her quest for cultural transformation is deeply rooted in her experience as a small child. Riane Eisler fled Europe with her family in 1938 on Crystal Night, the date terrorism exploded across Germany ushering in a madness that gripped the world. Nearly losing her life to Nazi violence has driven her to a passionate search for the answers that her caring heart knew existed. She had to discover the antidote to the holocaust.

Find out how you can join the partnership movement and create a new future on this planet that celebrates pleasure instead of pain, equality and creativity instead of domination and oppression. Help ensure the stories our children tell their children will be different. Read. Act. Donate.

The summer of 2008 will begin soon. Howard’s May 3rd departure for Israel is chapter one. Here, Eli snaps a bon voyage pic on his cameraphone. LAX shines in the spectacles and the promise of adventure looms behind the smiles.

UPDATE: See the blog that Eli wrote regarding his 5 week trip through Europe and the Middle East at EliandaBackpack.

Howard returned to Israel in January 2009 for an even longer stay. He continues to share the curious, bizarre, and the mundane thoughts he has while living in Jerusalem at his Blog: HowardIsrael.