Washington D.C. Farm Grows More than Food

Little kids aren’t the only ones reaping benefits from a new farm in the heart of the Nation’s Capital.

Because he likes to cook, 16 year old Daniel Martinez has been appointed “executive chef” at the Farm at Walker Jones. Whenever he volunteers, he whips up dishes in the farm stand with whatever is picked that day. “It’s really neat to see plants and herbs I’d never heard of before like swiss chard – in the middle of D.C.” Daniel walks to the farm from a nearby private high school where he is a sophomore.

The half-acre plot primarily serves students, families and neighbors of a D.C. Public School called the Walker Jones Education Campus.Last year, even though groundbreaking wasn’t until early summer, the farm managed to raise 3,000 pounds of food which went to residents, a retirement community and a kitchen which serves the homeless. Continue reading

Active Vacation has an Accent on Nature

In pre-digital times, parents were the ones who craved time off to recharge their batteries.  But in today’s switched-on world, entire families are in need of unplugged rest and relaxation. A spot within easy driving distance from Washington helps everyone get back on a healthier beat.

“Non-ado” is a sweet term I learned from Martin Ogle, longtime Chief Naturalist at Potomac Overlook Regional Park in Arlington, Virginia. He was invited recently to speak to the outdoor education advocacy group, NoVA Outside.  Martin says nature proceeds at its own unrushed, regular rhythm. Non-ado, and the Taoist concept of Wu-weirefer to one’s ability to exist in harmony with that age-old cadence.

Martin joins spiritualist Thomas Merton  and author Walter Kerr, who contend that our hyper-busy, high-tech society is out of sync with the rhythm of nature, causing us maladies ranging from anxiety to depression. In other words, we are suffering because we no longer go with Nature’s flow. Spending time outside helps rectify new-age angst. Or, in Martin’s words, “there are a lot of questions that being outdoors helps answer.” Continue reading

Lester Brown’s Plan B Movie

In President Obama’s address last night about US military action in Libya, he said that the US and its allies should “mobilize for collective action.”  Esteemed Big Thinker Lester Brown knows exactly what they should do.

Step One would be to watch the documentary “Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization” streaming now on PBS. The movie is based on Brown’s new book, World on the Edge.  They will soon learn that so many of the world’s vital natural support systems have been damaged or destroyed that the future of civilization is now in jeopardy. The founder of the Earth Policy Institute says dwindling water supplies, soil erosion, deforestation and over-reliance on disappearing energy sources have become the world’s most pressing security concerns. Among the measures in Brown’s ambitious vision: reducing carbon emissions by 80% within the next 8 years, stabilizing world population at 8 billion, converting to renewable sources of energy, and retooling US security and defense.

I spoke with Lester after Plan B premiered at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C.  He says the changes sweeping north Africa and the Middle East are comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall and present a critical opportunity to offer a new kind of assistance to states in need: Continue reading

A New Plan for Global Security

Terrifying nuclear crises, ominous cyber-wars, oil and food prices in a race to the top – if there is a Plan A for saving us from simultaneous global catastrophies, it’s not working. But there is another option.

Enter Lester Brown, esteemed Big Thinker and founder of the Earth Policy Institute. In his new book, World on the Edge, Brown unveils “Plan B” – a sweeping vision to retool the world economy and re-balance earth’s ecosystems so its people can survive. For Plan B to come to the rescue in time, he proposes an immediate about-face in U.S. security policy. Struggles in the Middle East are what could catapult America into action.

Brown calls his plan “the new defense budget, the one that addresses the most serious threats to both national and global security.”  It costs $187 billion, or about one-fourth of the current U.S. Defense budget.

These are the basic building blocks of Plan B: Continue reading

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