The People's Climate March – To Bend the Course of History
People around the world are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change with cataclysmic storms, droughts, floods, wildfires, and sea-level rise taking lives, destroying homes, impacting food security, and reducing access to fresh water. Desperate to bring world leaders together in commitments of concrete action on climate, the UN Secretary General has called a summit for September 23rd, to be held in New York City. In solidarity and support, organizations and individuals by the tens of thousands from across the US are planning to converge on New York on the weekend of September 20th and 21st for The People's Climate March, which will be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. Those traveling from the West Coast to New York can come on The People's Climate Train, where there will be presentations, discussions, inspiring stories, and networking. Buddhist Global Relief will be a participating organization in the People's Climate March and a sponsor of the People's Climate Train. In such capacity, BGR urges everyone who can join the march to do so, and for those along the train route, to get on board. Everyone's help is needed.
As our Dharma practice deepens, it begins to inform and influence everything we do, including how we engage with the important moral and social issues of our times. At this moment in human history, the unrestrained extraction and burning of fossil fuels has brought us, in the industrialized nations, to a point where we are contaminating and pillaging the earth to such an extreme that we are endangering all life on this planet. Nothing could be further from the intention and practice of Dharma.
The Dharma encourages us to take a hard look at what is happening, mindfully experience the feelings that arise, and seek out appropriate action to extract ourselves from these destructive practices. We need to set a new course for our society towards wholesome, sustainable, and compassionate living. We cannot accomplish this through individual action, no matter how hard we try. The systems themselves must be changed. We need to come together in massive numbers to exert enough influence to make the systemic changes that are needed.
As the people of planet Earth join in this common task, Dharma practitioners have a special gift to offer by bringing our practice into this extremely important undertaking. We come with a quiet dignity, a depth of calm, and all the mindfulness and compassion we can muster. We certainly won't be the only ones. Serious practitioners of all faiths will be there to support this process towards a powerful, positive conclusion.
The People's Climate March is intended to be for everyone. As the description of the event says, "This will be a family-friendly event. The tone and tenor will be dignified, fun, impactful and empowering, and we are committed to making sure that it is permitted, peaceful and safe for all who come." There is nothing intended here that goes against our principles as practitioners. In fact, what would go against those principles would be to sit idling by as the world burns in the flames of our destructive practices.
So now we have this opportunity to act, to make a real difference, to lend our moral voice to this great movement. This is a movement for the benefit of all beings, like nothing that has ever happened on this planet before. We are all in this together. Every living being on Earth faces the same danger. As we act by participating in this march, we are taking up the care and protection of every species on Earth, both those of the present and those of future generations. Mark the weekend of September 20th and 21st on your calender now. This is Dharma in action.
When Breaking with Tradition Fills Bellies
It's that time of year when many of us roll up our sleeves, don our gloves, and get dirty for the sake of our gardens. Chances are, while we work, we'll be thinking of our mothers, fathers, grandparents, or neighbors — whoever taught us how to garden. Our tips and tricks—coffee grounds and crushed eggshells under our tomato plants or banana peels under rosebushes—often come from those we love. And that's why we're reluctant to give them up, even after learning they're not scientifically sound.
It's a similar story in many of the world's farm fields, where rural farming families use the same methods generation after generation to grow their crops. Unlike the average suburban gardener, they aren't risking a rose-less rosebush or a few split tomatoes if they aren't following best practices. They're risking their livelihood.
That's where organizations like Oxfam America come in. With a grant from BGR, Oxfam is working with farmers in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti to teach them how to increase their rice yields and manage their profits. At the beginning of the planting season of 2013, BGR's grant allowed Oxfam and local partners AILA and MAFLPV to facilitate local credit for 400 farmers and train 300 of them in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a method that increases yields and decreases input of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizer.
It isn't easy to convince farmers to switch from traditional farming techniques to a newer one, particularly when at first the newer one is more difficult. SRI requires labor-intensive land preparation in order to be effective. To ease the burden, Oxfam helped AILA and MAEFLPV purchase basic agricultural tools to loan to farmers.
The switch paid off. The 141 farmers who adopted SRI last year produced between one and two metric tons per hectare more than those who continued traditional farming techniques.
Necker Aristilde is one of the farmers who adopted SRI and benefited from his ability to take low-interest loans. Caring for seven people, including his daughter and her five children, Mr. Aristilde was often stretched too thin, suffering from malnutrition and vertigo. Before this project, he had tried to take the steps necessary to improve his rice cultivation, but he could not borrow money because he had nothing to offer as a guarantee. He recalls a day when, after being denied a loan, he sat at the gate of the bank, so hungry he had no energy to stand.
Thanks to this project, Mr. Aristilde received agricultural credit and support, and he has increased his yield enough to ensure that he and his family are able to eat every day, for the first time in a long time. He was also able to purchase four goats, three chickens, and a turkey.
Even farmers in the region who did not adopt SRI reported a yield increase, suggesting that they benefited from the support of Oxfam and its partners. The result is more than just food for farmers and their families. Dieuta Robert, a mother of two teenagers, is finally able to send her children to school with her extra income. The lessons in farming and financial management she passes along to her children will turn into traditions worth keeping.
News: BGR and Amazon Smile Program
Buddhist Global Relief is now participating in the Smile program on Amazon.com! By going to the AmazonSmile website the shopper will find exactly the same products and prices as on the regular Amazon website, but 0.5% of each purchase will be donated to the charity of their choice. When you login to shop at the Smile site, you will be prompted to select a charity from a preset list, or search for another charity… MORE>