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10 Unexpected Ways to Take Back Your Political Power

With our current political climate, it is easy to adopt a mindset of fear and panic. You may feel powerless against the system and feel like the future is bleak for generations to come. Rather than hoping someone will save the day, remember that we have more power than we realize and can take matters into our own hands if we work together.

We can have a hugely positive impact on our planet even from our bedroom, in our pajamas. Why? Because the inner revolution IS the revolution. And what we do, no matter how small it may seem matters. 

SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU, HERE ARE 10 UNEXPECTED WAYS YOU CAN TAKE BACK YOUR POLITICAL POWER:

1. Hack your brain back

In what ways have we been programmed to sit up straight, listen to authority, not critically think or ask questions about the way our system functions? In what ways have we been brain-washed into thinking that the public education we received was sufficient to reach our fullest potential or that the only way to success was to take out a fat student loan?

Ask yourself: What is it that we need to unlearn to regain our autonomy and ask critical questions that challenge the status quo if we see it isn’t effective?

Ask yourself: WHY do you believe what you believe? Is it strictly based on how your parents raised you, or how the media raised you?

Question everything: Set aside time to reflect on your habits, beliefs and stories that you tell yourself. Are they serving you? Are they true for you? Where did they come from?

Awareness is power. When we know who we are and what we believe, we have the “oomph” to go after what we want, live our truth and inspire others from a place of authentic alignment. It’s helpful to revisit your values and stick with friends, work and play that share the same values. It’s up to each individual to snap out of a zombified media-obsessed pack of sheep and learn about what matters on our own accord.

2. Vote with your dollar

The earth has finite resources yet corporations have goals of unlimited growth and manufacturing. So you know what we could put the brakes on just a little? Buying new and cheaply manufactured products. Most products in the US are produced overseas and this contributes massively to negative human and environmental impact and they usually break quickly and end up in landfills. You may not being getting such a good deal as you think you are. Why not try giving something used a home? There are treasures to be found everywhere, especially in the second-hand world. Everything from clothes to electronics, to furniture, to, well, everything.

Our political power extends way beyond the voting booth. As consumers we have a magical secret weapon: our wallets. Companies will follow trends informed by our buying habits, so the more we favor responsible supply chains, the better. Buying local and seasonal means less fossil fuels are burned to get what you need. Buying organic means that less toxic sprays are used on your food and blow into neighboring properties. Buying fair trade or from a trusted source means that an effort was made to make sure those producing the product are not being exploited. Keeping your money in a local and community owned credit union keeps your money away from big banks that are funding big oil pipelines. By supporting companies that are aligned with our values we are creating a seriously positive ripple in the world of business which spills out into our communities and our planet. As the saying goes, money talks and there is power in numbers. Even if you don’t think you can afford this shift, really look at where your money is going and consider giving up any guilty pleasures for higher quality and more sustainable choices.

3. Use gratitude as a revolutionary act

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, (and we are constantly getting messages from the media are our society that we are NOT good enough) we seek to fill that void through external possessions and experiences. This is great for corporations that actually profit off of all of these things that we buy, but not so good for us or the earth. But the good news is, we can fight back with our choice to be satisfied with what we have. When we are grateful and satisfied, we don’t need to fill our voids with being consumers. Instead we can find happiness and joy in the simple things in life.  

By consciously choosing to focus on what is good and positive in our lives, we are actually re-wiring our brains. There is a reason many spiritual teachers and even scientists have claimed that gratitude goes hand in hand with happiness. This means that we can be consumers of quality time spent with friends and family as opposed to video games. That we can be consumers and creators of storytelling and music around a campfire instead of a night out at the club. When we are full of simplistic joy, we are satisfied and we don’t need alcohol, fancy toys or a house-full of material possessions. Gratitude acts as a powerful antidote to the pitfalls of constant dissatisfaction and neediness that comes with capitalism and consumerism. In other words, ‘take control and flip the switch on the happiness vacuum’. Thanks to Joanna Macy for bringing “gratitude as a revolutionary act” to our awareness. Leading by example is powerful and those around you notice this energetic shift. It takes just one match to start a wildfire, so by igniting that fire of gratitude, you are reclaiming your power and stoking the fires of others.

4. Start a talking circle in your neighborhood

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

You know what really empowers people? Connection. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous is so effective, it brings people together who are isolated and creates community. Love is contagious. And so many of us walk around feeling cut off from ourselves and from each other. We are social creatures and need each other to survive. So much of creating positive change is reliant on the connections that we build. It allows us to feel safe and valued in our community and it allows us to expand our minds and band together.

Getting together with your community not only encourages love and connection but it is also an ancient practice that can facilitate the creation and implementation of solutions to major societal challenges. Host a World Cafe with your neighborhood to harvest collective wisdom and create a plan of action for how to tackle issues in your community.

5. Flex Collective Voting Power

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of how to change policy, it really comes down to two things: money or votes. If you’re not a billionaire who is willing to use “creative” methods to influence decision makers, then it comes down to showing voting power. How do our communities flex our voting power? We organize. Politicians want to stay in office and can be swayed if they know that voters care about a specific issue. If their real mailbox is flooded with handwritten letters, this speaks volumes to what matters to those who actually vote. Using this method, 6,000 letters were written in Ojai, CA to protect the wetlands and natural habitat there. This is just one small example and creativity can be used in full effect- maybe you throw a party where everyone calls their local representatives around an issue that matters. What’s important is to show that real people spent actual time to show they want change.

6. Grow Your Own Food

There are many great reasons why growing your own food is important. One of them being is it creates independence. The key to political empowerment? Self-sufficiency. When we can stand on our own feet and produce our own food, we are taking our power back from large scale food corporations that use harmful chemicals and negatively impact our earth through shipping in produce that is not local. Starting our own garden fuels us to make change on our own instead of relying on outside sources that may not have our best interests at heart. Not only will this be a superhero surge of confidence knowing that we can provide healthy food for ourselves, but it is incredibly rewarding and soul-nourishing. Growing your own food is also a fantastic way to connect with your neighbors in a community garden. Read about 6 steps to starting a community garden here.

 

7. Feed Your Brain with Truth and Knowledge

Earth Journeys: Sustainable Living Tour 2016

Ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is power and the more we learn the less easily we will be swayed by the influence of others. Since the dawn of the internet, we literally have a universe of information at our fingertips and it is the easiest it has ever been to take our education into our own hands. There are tons of free educational resources out there just waiting for us! Sift through topics that you are interested in and want to know more of and form your own views about the world. YouTube will always surprise you. 😉  

One reason why our political system, our food system, our health and consumerism (amongst many other things) are in shambles is because we have been following our leaders blindly and accepting what we are told when the mainstream media is controlled by wealthy groups who put their own spin on stories. Fact check to the best of your ability from primary sources. 

8. Connect with other changemakers and inspired individuals

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

There is a saying: what is kept to oneself diminishes and what is shared expands.  Join local sustainability/health/wellness/personal development meetups in your area to learn something new and to share perspectives. When we have a support system of like-minded individuals, we feel that much more empowered to move forward. Think of it as your own personal cheerleading squad encouraging you and holding your hand along the way. Through collective efforts, we can come up with solutions to social, business, educational and environmental issues and reinvent  what it means to be a citizen of planet earth. In fact, join one of Earth Journeys, Uniting Changemakers meet-ups in Southern California. The next one is August 20th in San Diego area!

9. Take Back Your Health: Food is Medicine

Earth Journeys: Sustainable Living Tour 2016

As we know, what we eat has a tremendous impact on our well-being. Diseases thrive in acidic environments. This is why acidic foods such as sodas, sugary snacks, alcohol and chips wreak havoc on our health and cause us to fall ill. Not to mention toxic chemicals in our food and the use of pesticides. It really is true that we are what we eat and in this day and age our society is plagued with chronic illness and disease.

When we take control and invest in our health and well-being we are taking a political act to prevent giving our money to big pharma and doctors who are trained to treat symptoms as opposed to spend long periods of time looking at the root. It is a sovereign act to choose to learn to harvest and make our own natural medicines, to eat whole-food diets, to forage highly medicinal and nutritional “weeds” for salads and avoid eating as many processed foods as we can. It is also a sovereign act to keep your immune system and body healthy by exercising daily, drinking plenty of water and finding personal wellness practices that resonate with you.

When we feel our best we feel lighter, happier, our minds feel sharper and we have more clarity to empower future generations to do the same. Food is medicine y’all! A truly healthy population is an autonomous independently thinking one.

10. Make Your City Your Canvas with Guerrilla Gardening

Permaculture Action Network

Do you dream of a greener, healthier city? Guerilla gardening to the rescue. Guerilla gardening is gardening without borders, no backyard? No problem. The entire city is yours.  Not only is this a way to revive and beautify overlooked abandoned spaces with lush plant-life, but it is a way to make the vision of regenerative living come to life. Not to mention a seriously creative way to provide healthy and organic food to the masses. Creative techniques like this can cause ripples in communities and open people up to a new way of thinking.

Guerrilla gardening is also a way to plant food on the earth without having to own land. It is a way of creating access to food for anyone who walks by. More green in our cities only encourages our communities to appreciate the beauty and value of plants, therefore inspiring further autonomous action.

“Our thoughts shape our spaces and our spaces return the favor” – Alain de Botton

If we consider our attitude, the way we live our lives, our buying choices, our preventive health practices, and our collaboration with our community as political acts, we will not only feel better and more whole as individuals but also contribute to a paradigm shift. It is a win-win way to take back our political power. When we feel whole, healthy and happy, we have more space in ourselves to give back to the world, to educate the poor, to steward the earth and to feel confident enough to start our own grassroots initiatives or, who knows, maybe even run for office.

It starts from within. One healthy, strong and powerful person can change the world. May we all be the change we wish to see and continue spreading these messages of autonomy and empowerment through acts of self-care and community engagement.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -” Howard Thurman

If you are ready to step into your power as grassroots leaders, we invite you to join our 12-day Sustainable Living Tour, October 1st.

APPLY NOW FOR OUR 12-DAY TRAVELING RETREAT VISITING SUSTAINABLE LIVING CENTERS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

Get on the bus before it fills up, we’re over half-full! www.earthjourneys.org/tour

 

 

5 Urban Village Projects Transforming Communities

Reposted from Shareable.net

The traditional ancestral practice known in the West as “barn raising” is present in village societies on every continent and has its roots in our tribal past. An adapted form of barn raising has recently seen a resurgence in the “urban village,” with grassroots community organizations transforming physical and social landscapes in cities. They do so by adding value to the community, creating bonds of trust and comradeship, and linking neighbors together. There are hundreds of urban village projects around the world. Below are five worth watching.

1. City Repair and the Village-Building Convergence

City Repair is a Portland-based non-profit organization focused on placemaking. According to their website, they facilitate artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world.

The organization’s centerpiece is the Village-Building Convergence, an annual modern-day urban barn raising event. This event takes places at more than 50 sites simultaneously across Portland, where neighborhoods come together to create new spaces.

The three primary activities are natural building, permaculture, and intersection repair, which often involves painting street intersections with murals. The presence of these murals causes traffic to slow down and has been directly correlated with a decrease in traffic accidents. Physical outcomes of City Repair efforts include beautified intersections, community gardens, naturally built structures such as benches, and an expansion of the commons.

Spin-offs of the convergence have emerged in Santa Barbara and Sebastopol, as well as PLACE for Sustainable Living in Oakland. City Repair created a manual for how to organize a Village Building Convergence and the event has the potential to be replicated globally. City Repair has also achieved success in shifting Portland city policy to give citizens more control over public space.

Share-It Square in Portland. Photo: Happy Travels Blog

City Repair brings people together to reimagine the places they live and to re-create the commons. The organization started its work by reclaiming these spaces through direct action, such as their iconic Share It Square project, where neighbors came together and decided, despite the Portland city government, that their intersection would be improved by a central mural, a tiny library box, a self-serving solar-powered tea station, a community message board, and a children’s play space. They created these features themselves. Now, the City of Portland recognizes the great benefit these common spaces provide and has permitted the process of Intersection Repair.

Through the activities of City Repair, neighbors are skill-sharing and creating new relationships. As the commons are reclaimed and beautified, more public gathering spaces are made available for Portland’s citizens to congregate. Portland’s neighborhoods are forming closer bonds, and fences are coming down to make way for urban wildlife corridors.

2. Permaculture Action Network

Photo: Zac Fabian

The Permaculture Action Network emerged from the Permaculture Action Tour, a collaboration between permaculture designers, community organizers, and electronic music producer David Sugalski (“The Polish Ambassador”). The goal of the tour was “to inspire and empower people with the tools and know-how of co-creating a sustainable and regenerative world.”

The Permaculture Action Network developed a methodology for “Permaculture Action Days,” one-day events designed to co-create a more regenerative world through communities taking action. These events have the feeling of a blitz or flash mob. Permaculture Action Network partners with local community organizations to identify appropriate project sites, mobilize local human and material resources, and facilitate the events. The organization has facilitated 50 successful Permaculture Action Days in more than 40 cities around the United States, mobilizing up to 400 people at a time to build urban farms, natural buildings, and other ecological systems.

Participants come away empowered with new skills and confidence, new relationships with like-minded neighbors, and a community garden, food forest, or greenhouse in their neighborhood.

Photo: Zac Fabian

Permaculture Action teams up with festivals to bring attendees to a Permaculture Action Day before entering the grounds. At these events, festival-goers help with projects. One example is a cob, outdoor classroom made of all natural materials at an elementary school near the Lightning in a Bottle music festival in Southern California.

They also host educational workshop spaces, known as Permaculture Action Hubs, within events. These hubs offer courses in how to design, implement, and take action. They focus on ecologically regenerative design and techniques, community organizing and social change methodology.

3. Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) – Brazil

Art representing the MST Movement

The Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores sen Terra), or MST, is a Brazilian workers’ rights movement dedicated to agrarian reform and social justice. It has 1.5 million members across Brazil.

The MST achieves its mission through three approaches:

  1. Directly: Reclaiming commons by cooperatively organizing, occupying, and utilizing abandoned or unused land.
  2. Legally: Legal reform of land laws
  3. Education: Raising awareness about wealth inequality, racism, sexism, media monopoly, and other social issues. MST provides literacy education to its members, has its own university, and trains primary school teachers across Brazil in partnership with UN agencies and the Catholic Church. MST partnered with the Venezuelan government to create the Latin American School of Agroecology.

The MST is a grandfather in the movement, founded officially in 1984, with ties to Catholic Church organizations and with its roots in the liberation theology movement that emerged across Latin America in the 1950s.

4. NuMundo

NuMundo uses technology to build movements through a platform that catalyzes the transformation of physical spaces on a global scale. This happens by connecting sustainable living education centers with resources, information, students, and skilled practitioners. NuMundo is a network of activists, technologists, and event producers with a multifaceted approach to social action.

During their Earth Odyssey Bus tour in 2013, NuMundo (formerly Project Nuevo Mundo) took a group of skilled builders and permaculture designers across Mexico and Central America to support community projects such as an orphanage, an agroecology education center, an indigenous women’s clothing production cooperative, a community nutrition center, and a primary school.

NuMundo also hosts educational events on various aspects of village-building. Aside from on-the-ground work, NuMundo has a unique approach to movement building: the organization hosts networking spaces to link social activists, nonprofits, and community organizations to add momentum to existing projects.

5. Beacon Food Forest, Seattle

Photo: Jonathan H LeeGrist

The Beacon Food Forest is another beautiful example of an urban community mobilizing to bring the village into the city. According to the group, the goal of Beacon Food Forest is to design, plant and grow an edible urban forest garden that inspires our community to gather together, grow our own food, and rehabilitate our local ecosystem. This citizen-led initiative is building an ethnically and economically diverse community around food.

The forest is in its initial phases of implementation, and is set to include fruits and nuts from around the world, public community spaces for education and gathering, and a community garden following the ancient village tradition of the commons where community members enjoy access to small individual plots of land.

Beacon Food Forest sprang from a student project in a local permaculture design course. It has proven to be just as much a community-building endeavor as a food forest project. Beacon hosts ongoing educational workshops and community work parties, and is looking for more community involvement from Seattle residents.

Social and environmental change is being led by grassroots initiatives like these. What each of these projects has in common is that they create resilient networks of people and projects. Ultimately, they are individual movements empowering anyone who wants to get involved to do so. These movements unite people around ideas of self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, social justice and regenerative living systems to weave a strong web of support.