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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Our soon to be Commander in Chief made today a day of national service, even pitching in to show us the way:

Obama volunteering at Sasha Bruce House

Obama volunteering at Sasha Bruce House

I just wonder how long this renewed enthusiasm for doing good will last, and would like to revisit a post I wrote a few weeks ago, about “The Future of Doing Good”.

Sure, there is no harm in joining Obama’s volunteering initiative, USA Service. I would just like to mention another option, one that was suggested to me by my friend Sam Bower, and one that may be more sustainable in the long run. Time banking introduces mutuality and fairness in the volunteering equation:

For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It’s that simple. Yet it also has profound effects. Time Banks change neighborhoods and whole communities. Time Banking is a social change movement in 22 countries and six continents.

Sounds like a winner to me, and one concept that could be easily folded into President Obama’s USA Service initiative.

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A mail this morning from my friend Lynn Miller, at OrganicMania, made me realize I failed to properly close the chapter on all work that took place here on this blog, on critical issue of climate change:

I read your blog post on La M about the new direction, and really wanted to respond but felt like I should run this by you first….I am happy for you that you are on a path that excites you….but at the same time, I do really miss the old global warming focused La Marguerite. You were my main source of information and inspiration on global warming, and I felt a part of your community. I thought you were the top female voice on global warming, bar none, and one of the very top in the world (Ok, I really like Friedman, but you were up there!)   

Will you still be writing about global warming under “social issues?” I felt like in your post you were a bit dismissive of the incredible work you did in global warming. I’m sure I’m not the only one  who feels this way…

First, let me apologize for my haste and for appearing ‘dismissive’ of all the work that took place on La Marguerite, regarding raising awareness and looking for behavioral solutions to global warming. It is one thing for me to decide to take a turn. It is another to not properly acknowledge the community that formed and contributed so much. There has been many ripples from the discussions held at La Marguerite. Sharing of information that would not otherwise have made it into the mainstream media. Connections formed that led to enduring collaborations outside the scope of this blog. Acts of activism. Personal awakenings . . . Lynn is right. 

Still, I am closing the climate change chapter for good. After eighteen months of being a voice and a community organizer for climate solutions, it is time for me to move on, and leave it to others to carry the torch. With the election of Barack Obama, I feel the stakes are different, and the path is more clear. What is needed now, more than ever, are new policies, quick, and the support of the people to pass these new policies. 

I am very much looking forward to the opening of  the next chapter on La Marguerite, as discussed in earlier post. My professional interests are now gravitating towards social media and social change ventures, and it is only natural for my blog to follow. 

Let me end with a big thanks to all who contributed to the climate change chapter on La Marguerite. I wish you to continue your awesome work in the many venues available to you, both online and in the outer world. 

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One casual comment made by a girlfriend during a recent dinner at my house, got me thinking, deep, about women, and food, and politics. “You mean, you made the crust? From scratch?” My friend could not believe I had spent the time, and thought I was “too much”. No big deal, I assured her, it had only taken me a few minutes to mix in the flour, salt and butter, and to roll the dough. That’s when I realized how far we have strayed from our womanly ways with food.

Somewhere in the midst of first wave feminism, we, women made a bargain with the devil. Tired of being kept in the kitchen, we welcomed with open arms, promises from the food industry to make life more convenient for us. Put away your apron, and your pots and pans, we were told, and get out instead. Take your family  to Mc Donald’s, for a complete dinner, or if you are courageous enough, go to the stores for some half baked alternatives. Pre-cut salads, frozen dinners, bottled dressing, whole roasted chicken, canned soups, cake mixes, potato flakes, . . . Open the package, mix it up and you are all set. That felt like progress, and the perfect solution for a hurried evening after a whole day at the office.

Of course there were compromises to be made, such as paying more for our food, and  jeopardizing our health and that of our family. Products loaded with too much salt, too much sugar, too much fat, and too many empty calories. Paragraph long labels with ingredients more fit for a science lab than our stomach. Foods purified from their natural vitamins and nutrition. Further compounding the problem, manufacturers conspired to confuse us with misleading claims that we were only too happy to believe. I know firsthand. I spent a good part of my early advertising career trying to convince moms of the wholesomeness of granola bars . . . what a spin that was!

The truth has been catching up with us, however, in the form of record highs in obesity and associated illnesses such as  diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. The personal and national costs are astronomical, and demand an overhaul of our entire food system, such as proposed by pioneers of the natural food movement. First was California food’s priestess, Alice Waters, then Omnivore  Dilemma‘s Michael Pollan, and now Slow Food‘s Carlo Petrini. Each time, the green, intellectual elite has responded with ardor. Some of that enthusiasm has trickled down to the mainstream, as evidenced by the spread of organics in supermarkets. Deep down, though, not much has changed.

Inspired from the success of Obama’s movement, I would like to suggest a different strategy, one that does not come from a few tenors, but that  recognizes women as the beholders of the nurturing instinct, and the ones still in charge of most of the food decisions. Let’s call it The Women’s Food Movement, an effort at organizing the community of women all over, to help them regain confidence in their innate ability to nourish, using simple recipes and affordable, high quality, natural ingredients. Shifting the power away from manufacturers and retailers, back into the hands of women. No fancy words needed. Instead, a narrative anchored in their every day food activities and concerns, e.g. shopping for groceries,  deciding on what to make for dinner, exchanging recipes, looking for deals and clipping coupons, worrying about feeding their family healthy food, having limited time for cooking, making ends meet . . .

Most importantly, The Women’s Food Movement is about trusting women to hold the answers, collectively, and simply providing them with an organizing community and some tools to turn that knowledge into constructive action. This approach requires a deeper understanding of women’s food psychology, than currently displayed in existing solutions. For a beginning of food conversations with women, you may follow the Twitter stream here

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Today, Barack Obama, delivered his most comprehensive Energy Policy Speech to date.

I am pleased, and here’s why. For a change, here is a candidate who proposes a realistic plan to address the complex challenges of energy dependence and climate change. A candidate who is taking into account political realities and the need to compromise sometimes. A candidate who is incorporating all the good solutions that are available so far. A candidate who embraces Tom Friedman‘s view of a Green Revolution. A candidate who knows Americans have it in them to weather the storm. A candidate who is not afraid to confront our addiction to oil

Yes, he did change his mind on offshore drilling and tapping into oil reserves. Some say, Obama does not know what he wants. To which I respond, great policy is an organic process that requires constant adjustment to circumstances and people. What matters is that the vision, and the leadership remain constant. 

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I was so pleased yesterday. Not only was Obama visiting France, my home country, but he also made more exciting declarations regarding his vision of American climate policy:

“The United States is a very powerful country. But, as I said before, an issue like climate change is not one we can solve by ourselves. It’s going to require an international effort.

Not only are we going to have to look at what countries like France and Germany are already doing and making some very difficult choices to deal with their carbon emissions and to make energy more efficient, but we’re also going to have to talk to countries like China and India, and it’s going to be very hard for us to ask them to take seriously these issues if they see that wealthy nations are not taking them seriously.

And that’s an example of where we have to present a common front and a common agenda in order to get all the countries in the nation — all the countries in the world involved in what is going to be an enormous undertaking.

My goal is just to make sure that, whether it’s our European allies, whether it’s Muslim countries, whether it’s our friends in Asia, that people feel as if the United States is taking their interests, their concerns into account, and that we are interested in the prosperity and peace of ordinary people, and not just seeing our foreign policy only through the lens of our own security.” 

Absolutely. It is up to the US to take the lead. No more, ‘we are not making any move, unless you – China, India – go first’. 

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Full length video of Barack Obama‘s Berlin speech:

Because, you need to watch him to fully get the power of his words. I know some of you question his ability to deliver on his promises. I don’t.

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Today, in Berlin, Barack Obama delivered another historic speech, “A Word that Stands as One“. 

Michael Dalder, Reuters

Obama's Berlin Speech - Credit: Michael Dalder, Reuters

Three times, he shared his sense of urgency about the need for the world to ‘stand as one‘, regarding climate change:

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya…

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them… 

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one…

At this point, just words, but such a welcome relief from the kindergarten squabbles at the last G8 Summit, and on the Senate floor.  My heart was touched. And I feel hope again. How about you?

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