VTS_01_5In speaking with someone I had just met, I mentioned that my current creative work was focused on environmental issues—including both iterations of Pig Tales, which juxtaposed excerpts from children’s stories with greedy short-term approaches to fracking, and Cooking with Gas, the project I am currently developing.

He asked if I were also active with these issues in the rest of my life. My response was a description of co-organizing a small contingent for The People’s Climate March this past September, which included my leading Chi Kung/Qi Gong practice in Central Park before marching.

Later, as I thought more about his question, I realized that my involvement with environmental issues goes back decades and that in one way or another, it usually related to food and nutrition.

Biodynamic Agriculture Project I recalled attempting to organize a biodynamic farming project for Tibetan refugees in India in the late ′90s and early ′0s. Although it did not work out as expected, I did get in touch with Peter Proctor, a highly respected biodynamic specialist from New Zealand who was spending at least half the year teaching workshops and supervising projects in India. He was proud of teaching Indians and Pakistanis and Bangladeshi farmers in the same workshop, and was happy to include the Tibetan and American sent to attend one of his workshops. Later, he connected with Tibetan refugee farmers in a different community and they were glad to learn methods for improving the soil and increasing crop yields.


Preserving Homeland and Livelihood I also remembered receiving an urgent letter from the US Tibet Committee around that time, which explained that the World Bank was preparing to fund a dam for China that would destroy the land and livelihood of thousands of traditional Tibetan nomads. I drove to Washington, D.C. with a friend to join the rally in front of the World Bank and then, while the others marched to the Chinese Embassy, because my friend had a broken toe, we drove from the World Bank to the Chinese Embassy and rejoined the group.

At the time, Working Assets was my long-distance company and on every bill they wrote about an issue that customers could respond to without charge, by phone or fax. When I returned home, from D.C., it occurred to me that this issue would make an excellent Citizen Letter, and I sat down and wrote a letter to the president of the company. The next month, this issue was described. Almost 40,000 people faxed or made phone calls to the World Bank against the project, and it was tabled.

gas-cookingRecently As per a previous blog post, “Beginning New Piece,” this past year my focus has been much closer to home or, rather, in my home without cooking-gas service for several months, the only silver lining being that during those months I was not exposed to radon from gas from the Spectra pipeline. Now, while I am grateful to be able to cook, I do keep my kitchen window cracked open, even when it is very cold outside.