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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

 

 

How to Get Out of Your Own Way

Photo by Agustin Carri Photo

Most of the time what prevents us from walking a path that fulfills our own passions and values is ourselves. At the border between bringing a healthy new habit into our lives, a vision we’ve held for a long time or integrating practices that bring us joy, our own patterns often get in the way. Breaking the patterns, re-writing the stories we tell ourselves and getting rid of fear that holds us back can often be a life-long process but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to get out of my own way and walk a path that is truly in line with what brings me the most joy, fulfillment and freedom to do what I love.

  • Observe non-serving patterns. This is the first step. We have the choice to notice what tendencies we have that may be putting blocks in the way of stepping into to our most authentic selves. We each have our own quirks that we’ve developed in our life but what I’ve noticed is that the underlying issue is fear. When we can identify our own patterns, we’re already on the way to reversing those patterns that don’t serve our highest good.
  • Change the response. Let’s become truthful with ourselves. Whatever is going on inside of us always reflects in our external environment and situation. Until we take responsibility for our own responses to life’s challenges, we will continue to be tripped up by them. The challenges will always be there but it’s how we respond to life’s challenges that will bring growth, self-reflection and the ability to become resilient among the winds of change.
  • Be Present. Our world today is incredibly full of distractions, from our emails, to texts, to social media, to TV and advertisements. We’re constantly encouraged to go-go-go, produce, and work. We often miss life itself with all of the media to consume. When we’re not present with our own emotions or with other people, it inhibits us from harvesting natural wisdom that comes from observation and presence. Presence is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our relationships and ourselves.
  • Commit. We will never move forward on any goals or aspirations unless we decide on at least one thing to commit to. Even if we have millions of ideas, or none at all, sticking with a life practice will not only immediately allow us to get out of our own way but it will also give us the self-confidence to continue committing to other aspirations.
  • Be Fearless. This may sound scary. That’s the point. One of my favorite quotes is “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.” Being fearless opens up gigantic doors of opportunity for our dreams to come true. We all have fear but we can choose to either say “hello, thank you, and see you later” or to allow it to crumble us. I believe that fear is one of the ultimate lessons in life to conquer AND one of the most rewarding.
  • Stick with values. Ask yourself: Do my decisions reflect what’s truly important to me? What IS truly important to me? How can I take small steps to align my daily life with what’s meaningful to me?
  • Be reborn with the sun. As the sun sets each evening, the day dies and as the sun rises each morning the day is born. We can consciously choose to apply this idea to ourselves. Every morning can be a new opportunity to try again towards the goals you have for yourself. We must not get discouraged by the past but allow the past to die and choose in this moment to be born again. With this, we have the opportunity to get out of our own way every single sunrise!

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Co-Inspiration: Ignite Experience empowers international entrepreneurs and rural community in Elqui Valley

Valle Del Elqui, Chile’s mellow toned, mystical and tranquil gem received 13 international entrepreneurs from Startup Chile. The Ignite Experience was a weekend of exchanging knowledge, inspiring and being inspired by the community and the children of Tierra y Valle. Tierra y Valle is a cultural and sustainability education center  connecting children to nature and fosters leadership, creation of culture, development of the family, neighborhood and society.

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Weaving our superpowers into a collective web! Photo by Evoluzion

My partner Bryan (Untos) and I (Dream Activation), NuMundo and Evoluzion co-designed the very first “Ignite Experience” with the purpose of hosting engaging activities to cross-empower children, community and international entrepreneurs alike.

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Bryan and I sharing the call and response that we would use throughout to refocus attention. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

Day 1 – The Intergenecultural Exchange

After a lengthy 10 hour journey to Valle del Elqui, we were all exhausted but ignited with excitement for the action. We filled almost every room in a hostel that overlooked gorgeous mountains and had regenerative systems in place like grey water purification and composting.

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The entrepreneurs just arrived to Elqui Valley and are learning the background and history about the land. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

After a few hours of settling in, resting and practicing for the cultural exchange, we were off to meet the children and give presentations to inspire the kids. For many of them, it was the very first time ever getting to know leaders from India, Philippines or Germany. Laughs, knowledge, wide-eyes and new cultural perspectives were shared.

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Vishwanath, an entrepreneur from India is shares culture with the kids! Photo by Evoluzion

We all skipped over to Tierra y Valle to see that the children were all preparing Churrascas, a traditional Chilean bread as a gift to us! The kids taught some of us how to make Churrascas while other entrepreneurs were receiving a lesson about worm composting from one of the boys. For some of the entrepreneurs it was the first time learning about transforming food waste into soil! Our team scattered about the land taking in their innocent wisdom as we toured their personal little garden plots each of them were tending. The day closed in awe as we said our “hasta mañana’s” to the kids.

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Nessim, an entrepreneur from France learns how to make Churrascas from the kids. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

Day 2 – The Superheros

Fresh and ready for our biggest day of the weekend to engage with the kids and community, we gathered to discuss our roles as “superheroes”. Programmed and facilitated both Bryan and myself, we led a 3 hour leadership activation activity that interweaved the entrepreneurs (superheroes). The entrepreneurs represented a team of changemakers who were there to invite the children to “join us”. We helped the kids identify their superpowers, led them on a meditation to vision their community in the future and asked them to draw what they imagined. The entrepreneurs worked one-on-one with the children helping them to come up with ideas for their passions and motivations.

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The children are drawing and entrepreneurs drawing their vision of Pisco Elqui and themselves in 5 years. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

Creativity, imagination and sharing were ignited for everyone. We then rolled into a yarn game to interweave a network of each of our superpowers with the kids as a representation  of our gifts, and the purpose was to instill that we are all part of a unique ecosystem that depends on each other. Once everyone shared, we asked the kids to shout out challenges they identified in their community. The answers of these 6-13 year olds were brilliant. They identified, drought, use of pesticides, pollution, garbage and fighting to be the most prominent.

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Merle, sharing her list of the things that she’s passionate about. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

We split into teams based on each of the identified challenges mixed with parents, entrepreneurs and children. To our amazement, we witnessed incredible solutions crafted by the children. During the next 30 minutes, the entrepreneurs guided the kids combining their superpowers and visions for the future to work together on coming up with solutions for these challenges. The entrepreneurs were essential role models who kept everyone having fun while discussing important topics.

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Children drawing a picture of their future vision for the community and themselves. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

Finally, each group presented the children’s incredibly insightful solutions. The garbage team, had the idea of building a bottle bricking and recycling center out of bottle-bricks and adobe complete with a campaign to get their town’s people to bring the trash to the site. A 10 year old girl came up with the idea of using plastic bottles cut in half for drip irrigation (an ancient aztec technique). The drought group came up with recycling water using a greywater system and having a tree planting party on the hills to retain water. With the support of Tierra y Valle and Evoluzion, the kids plan on working on these ideas long-term.

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Angela, Bryan and Matias helping the girls to present their ideas of projects they want to do in their community. Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

The second half of the day, the entrepreneurs worked in Tierra y Valle helping to make improvements to the site and having a mentorship session with two Tierra y Valle, local eco-hostels, and Arropa.

Day 3 – The Fulfillment

The final day of the Ignite Experience was spent biking down a wavy valley highway to the oldest Pisco distillery in Chile that’s still producing with traditional, organic methods where we sampled their sweet wine and orange trees. We closed out the weekend with a circle under willow trees by a river to share our gratitude, love and feedback about everything. It was apparent that this was a heart-opening and bonding experience for the entrepreneurs after hearing all of their reflections.

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Group photo of most of the entrepreneurs who attended the Ignite Experience! Photo by Lukas Sommer of Good Things Everywhere

The Ignite Experience was truly a cross-beneficial, rewarding and innovative transformational tourism adventure into the heart of culture, youth and wisdom exchange.  Although this was the first and has room for improvement, this has ignited a new flame within my heart to continue this type of work. It was a beautiful reminder that simple actions like these can have infinite ripple effects on the lives of children.

Co-written by Bryan Arturo

10 Ways to Empower Youth Leadership

According to the Knight Foundation, statistics also show a gap. ‘Often that energy, that desire to contribute or lead, is going unsupported and untapped, they said.’ Teens and young adults don’t always see a place for their voice and their work.’ They feel unwelcome, perhaps a result of negative messages about youth coming from adults and even the media.

We are running out of time to solve the climate crisis. Every day it seems more people are calling out for climate action, but still, every time global leaders meet they fail to reach binding agreements to curb greenhouse gasses.

Youth around the world feel fear and despair when they think about what climate change could mean for their future. While this generation has the most at stake when it comes to preventing climate chaos, many young people don’t know where to start in addressing this huge issue. Many youth are looking for ways to be a part of the solution, but need the training and support to take the next step.

In light of the issue we are facing, here is a list of 10 ways that you can start empowering your children to be positive youth leaders NOW:

1. Give the youth tools to collaborate and problem solve, brainstorm and reflect.

Providing youth with the information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments will help them become strong strategizers on ways to act as change agents in their communities.

2. Encourage them to use their passions for good.

Guiding youth to use what their passions and creativity to share positive messages or bring attention to issues they care about will allow them to find purpose within their passion and use the power of their joy to share important messages.

3. Guide them to believe that their voice matters without judging or criticizing their ideas.

Empowering youth to understand that their voice makes a huge difference in this world and that all ideas are worth exploring will only give them more motivation and fuel to continue strengthening their own power for change.

4. Guide them to understand that people will not always want to listen, just because we would like them to but to not take it personally.

Helping youth to understand that not everyone is going to respond the way you hope they would and that some people may not be ready to hear what you want to share will support their confidence. It’s important to let youth know that when someone doesn’t listen to them, allow that to only make them stronger.

5. Help them learn that sometimes even the most fabulous idea may need a bit more logistical planning.

Guiding youth to help them understand that all visions and ideas take time to make sure they are realistic and well thought through. Help them to know that there are different stages to a project and the first stage is having an idea but there are many stages after that. This will help them understand the full process and not get stuck on one idea.

6. Help youth develop habits, that in the end, they can sustain without ‘suggestions’ or prodding.

Good habits produce sustainable leaders. Youth that have good habits for their own well-being and constant personal progression that they enjoy will help them become strong leaders on their own.

7. Give youth a chance for them to fail but help them to learn to succeed.

Let youth know that failing is not a bad thing to happen, it’s actually important to find out what went wrong so they can improve and make it better the next time they try. Often the way to success is through failure.

8. Employ storytelling of successful youth leadership to counteract negative messages about young people.

Encourage youth to speak about to their triumphs often, to share their victories across all media platforms to reinforce the positive change that has occurred. This will empower more positive action to continue and give youth more foundation and support to work from.

9. Invite the youth to launch a project or idea and support their progress.

Support youth in implementing their project once they feel they have come up with a good strategy and support them along the way. Allowing them to carry out their vision with the encouragement and coaching support will be an empowering experience and let them feel supported in their process.

10. Help them become involved with a youth sustainability program.

Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth (RYSE) is a collective of youth-led groups that envision a greener and healthier earth through empowerment through education and re-creating our relationships with nature. It’s time for each of us to support the leadership of generations to come who will be most affected by the global crisis of climate change.