Visionaries In Our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World

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Simplified graphics accompany the story, explaining just how the fourteen-year project came to life. Inspired by Sen. Elizabeth Warren viral "She Persisted" moment, Chelsea Clinton shares stories about 13 American women who changed the world. Like Warren, they each decided to keep moving forward despite challenges — whether that meant organizing strikes, refusing to give up a seat on the bus, or going to an all-white elementary school in the South. Through poems and collage illustrations, you'll learn about Fannie Lou Hamer, who Minister Malcolm X called, "the country's number one freedom-fighting woman.

Johnson's dismay , and her efforts to march alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. What Is the Women's Rights Movement? This book is a primer on women's rights for young readers. It begins with the story of how Abigail Adams wrote to her husband about the possibility of a women-led rebellion. The book then goes on to cover the time when Susan B. Anthony broke the law by voting, as well as recent events, such as the creation of Title IX, which among other things, allows high school girls to join sports teams.

It's digestible and interesting, perfect for a middle school reader. Image: Henry Holt and Co. Image: Bloomsbury USA. Image: Penguin Young Readers Group. And the foundational frame is that we need to restructure our economic institutions so that the structures and dynamics of our human economies align with and engage in integral partnership with the biosphere, so that our economies work in a similar pattern.

This recognizes that the biosphere as a system is locally rooted everywhere, and it has this extraordinary capacity to self organize, to capture water, nutrients, and energy locally and continuously recycle, repurpose, share, to maintain healthy living systems. We basically created a global economy that is a totally oppositional system model to that in terms of hauling our energy and our nutrients from huge distances, depending on a fossil fuel subsidy, stripping the local of its capacity to self organize using its own resources to meet its own needs, and leaving us dependent on global supply chains that are inherently inefficient and unstable.

Liberal parties like the Greens and Independents, seem to have had such a struggle making inroads in the larger political discussion in this country and just in the last couple years we see this tiny group, this small percentage of people seeming to have such a great influence on the political debate. So that makes a huge difference.

Ordinary People who are Changing our World

They also have a very clear ideology and policy framework. Very very simple. Starve it to death; no taxes. The deep changes involve a three-part strategy. One is change the cultural story. Two is create the new reality from the bottom up. And three is change the rules. In terms of my life and work, YES! The basic idea is to create the frame of what is necessary in terms of an economic system that will lead us to a positive human future, and we believe it has to have three defining characteristics.

Towards the Splendid City

The second is shared prosperity. Essentially it has to provide an opportunity for everyone to meet their essential needs. And a third characteristic of a new economy: Living democracy, which means really deep democracy—not just voting—through active engagement and community life and decision making on the basis of one person, one voice. The key to that economy is essentially shifting the rules so that the power resides in Main Street economic institutions rather than Wall Street economic institutions.

The money system report grew out of those conversations. You know, bringing into the conversation the experts that are working on each of the elements of the redesigned financial system that I laid out in that report. Then, a session on messaging. A session on redistribution of wealth. Through these conversations [we begin] to lodge in the minds of a much larger segment of the progressive community these foundational ideas of what a truly new economy that deals with the environmental, social, and political issues can and should look like.

I perhaps need to explain that statement. When I said that realistically we may be finished, that was not a political statement. That relates to our environmental reality. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So we have to simply maintain our courage. Now, in terms of positives, the fact that at YES! You know, the theme of the latest Yes! One of our Yes! The other thing is that politically, again, while the national politics are in a disaster—and we keep picking up things from these out-of-control, far right governors—the positive action in terms of energy and limiting waste, of rebuilding local food systems is coming from local government.

I mentioned our Seattle city council president. The goal is to absolutely eliminate all landfill waste in Seattle. Similar things are happening in other cities and communities. This seems to be where the energy is. Again, it does not get the attention of the media, which is focused on the crazies.

I think we need to get frameworks into the people working on the national level, on national policy. Hopefully, at some point, we can get a break through. But I have no illusions about the Obama administration or the Democratic party at the national level. Is it just a matter of working with these other progressive groups to build from the ground up? What are those institutions?

Those are not a given, they define a system of power and where that power flows is where prosperity flows, so we need to think systematically about changing the whole system. Yeah, absolutely. Exactly what you said—it focuses attention on Wall Street and the money system in a way that creates an opening for this conversation. The framework is key. But the conversation was never framed in terms of—you know, we used to have a system of local banks that provided real financial services for the community and were engaged in creating community wealth.

That conversation was never there, was never engaged, because no one had the framework to do it. But even with all the focus on money in our society there is just not a conversation about those most foundational issues. Even just the basic frames: recognizing that money is not real wealth, money is just a number, and it has no intrinsic value, and that to essentially mine and destroy the real living wealth of nature and community to grow the numbers on computer hard drives is an act of collective insanity.

That, to me, is the thing that is most discouraging in terms of, are we an intelligent species? These are not complex ideas. And of course the system does work beautifully for an awful lot of people in the short term. What can someone do if they are looking to get out of this economy, but still try to plan for their future? What are some practical steps that we can take now?

That is an extraordinarily difficult question. There is no individual answer to that question. Of course it starts with the idea that at 65 you should retire and go away, no matter how healthy you are. And you should expect to be supported, either with Social Security or with your individual savings.

The key here is recognizing that it is an insurance problem that has to be solved collectively, it cannot be solved individually. Another person may live to or They may be healthy all the way up, they could work all the way up to the end. Or, they may have ten or 20 years of significant disability or huge expenses that are way beyond the ability of even multi-millionaires to cover.

And, as traditionally happened, societies figured out various ways to organize to care for the elderly. At least coherent societies. Now, as you get into a more fragmented, individualistic society, in which the family breaks up and we are not caring for our own elders, then you have to have some kind of solution like Social Security that covers everyone. Thanks again for giving me the time. The wonderful thing is that once people get the truth, it tends to stick. Over and over and over.


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The paperback version of her previous book, The Global Forest , comes out in November. Utne Reader : What initially led you to become interested in studying trees? I was orphaned. I come from a family in Ireland. And I was orphaned at Everybody was wiped out by the time I was 11; as the child of a fairly prestigious family I was the only one left. It was extraordinary to put a single child in the custody of a man.

Have you ever heard of the Brehon law? I was given all the ancient knowledge of the Druidic world. I was brought from house to house to house, and [each one] taught me all that they knew. I was told that I would be their last voice, the last voice of the ancient Gaelic world, and that I had to carry this knowledge into the new world. I studied at university, and I was very advanced in math and all different kinds of stuff, and as I got older, I started to see the wisdom of the old, ancient things that they told me. And I think it all went together.

Then, when I came to North America, I looked back and saw that the society of humanity was losing its memory. That the wisdoms of the ancient world were being lost. That we as a people within our souls were losing our compassion, that we were losing things that would endear one to the other. Then I started to think, and I saw what was happening to the forests here. And the forest is really—it is the basic unit of life.

The tree is the basic unit of something which is quite extraordinary. He was brought up with Werner Von Braun, and I know a great deal of the Apollo scientists, and they help me with my heart research. I decided that I was going to, myself, initiate some research using all the old knowledge I had for the good of humanity.

Well, I saw that they were being cut down. Here in Canada, we have a phenomenon going on—and actually, you do in the states, too. In California … all of your redwoods are on the cusp. They are in the hands of greedy people, and it is really quite unbelievable. Without that reaction, without that phenomenon, we would not have an oxygenated planet. We would not have you and me speaking to one another.

All of the creatures that require oxygen, and the vast majority of them do, we would not have them. He never knew what the sine wave was. He could never quite fathom what the blazes that was doing coming in through the atmosphere and to the earth. I have a living laboratory here. So everything that I write about, I work with, with a shovel.

Everything that I write, all my research, all of the things that I do, I do by myself, with my own observations, with my own science, with my own ability to think, with my own ability to question. My research area has been in artificial blood, and in the hemodynamics of the heart, the sheer rate of blood flow within the heart, and all kinds of arenas … within biochemistry. Because there is serotonin in a tree; there is serotonin in a body.

There are all the proteins. All the sophistication that we have within our systems, are in fact within trees and within living systems, and then some. And the medicine people would say, no, no, we have never understood botany. But in the old Renaissance, in the olden times, all of these things were put together.

I think we should all work as a team. I would love to work with physicists. Because the questions I would ask of a physicist would be a different type of question, and we need to ask those questions.

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It becomes clear in reading your book The Global Forest just how very interconnected trees are with all life, and how humans among many species depend on them for their survival. But we rarely treat them with the reverence this view seems to call for. How can we foster a greater sense of awareness about the importance of trees in more people? Well, how I think about this is: Your local tree, wherever you live, is your tree.

And then when you hear that the large corporations are coming into your area to cut them down, which they may, object to it. I mean, really, that is all you have to do. Right now, in Canada, there is a big yoo-hoo going on about protecting 4. That means that 95 percent of it is open for cutting. You, in the United States, have your boreal forest in Alaska, quite a substantial one.

But as a matter of fact, it matters greatly. It matters greatly to all of the people on the planet. Right now, as you and I are talking, one hectare of forest oxygenates the air for one breathing person. So you start cutting the forest down, and the aeration gets less and the carbon dioxide gets more. And when you have an increase in carbon dioxide, you can jolly well expect the Caribbean area to whip up storms like we have never, ever seen in our lives. Can you explain what a bioplan is and how your conception of a bioplan would work?

Some of the aboriginal people have some of the larger trees; General Sherman is not actually the biggest tree. I would say to people, plant them. Protect them, plant them. Muir Wood: Expand Muir Wood. Take it from the 4 acres and make it into acres. All of the Hollywood people who are living along the great shore, you get your land into Monterey pines, into redwoods: You start planting your trees. We have very, very, very few hickories left. The hickories would be the shagbark hickories, the seeding species of eastern North America—this is your history.

This is how the people in eastern North America lived, the aboriginal people. They made nut milks, nut creams and nut cheeses out of these trees, which were called antifamine trees, and there are very few left. So everybody starts planting some trees.

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Be aware. It is no longer good enough to sell your house, cut down a tree, and give the house to somebody else. It behooves us now to look after nature around us. If you speak for the trees, you speak for all of nature.


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  • You know, we have a huge amount of pesticides that are being used now in North America. And in fact, 97 percent of all possible water in North America, in where we are living, is contaminated with pesticides of some shape, sort, or another. Birds are not just birds.

    BUILDING A VISIONARY ORGANIZATION IS A DO-IT-YOURSELF PROJECT

    They are patrolling insects for all of the diseases of the planet. They go up and down the tree, forward, backward, upside down, and they eat all the grubs, all the insects, right off the trees. They groom the trees to live. Yes, you can put in two-tier agriculture. The farmer can put in a two-tier form of agriculture, which means that his hedgerows get replaced by nut trees. Our nut fruits are first-class protein: One pound of nut fruit is equal to one pound of angus beef. But that one pound will stop diabetes, will give you good circulation, and will enable your brain to work.

    And people, too. And you know, the only way I can think of doing it, to be honest with you, is writing—first of all, writing and books. I wrote The Global Forest in a mantra. So you have to write, la-la, la-la, la-la-la. If you write into that onomatopoeia i n the mind, then you have memory for a long, long time. I wrote it on purpose in that way.

    The first one is The Global Forest. Another one is based on Arboretum Borealis. And the third one is a series of short pieces that are going to be united into a film. You seem equally at home in the worlds of science and art. Art captures the dream. But they capture the dream. And so do scientists, as a matter of fact. Art has always captured the dream, and science followed the dream. We have no other dream other than our art. I mean, the cave paintings gave the dream of what they were doing, and now we are giving the dream of what we are doing.

    If you track art from very early times to now, you actually see the dream; you actually see what has emerged in science. All good scientists who have decent, functioning, thinking brains always have art on the side. In science, you run with a hunch and you think, ah, maybe this will work. And you know, you do the same thing in art. So I have a great respect for art. I have a great respect for all of the people who are out there on a limb doing their art.

    Because science is out there on another limb, doing its form of art, which is a mental art. So yes, I follow art all over the world. He taught himself how to paint at night, sometimes using the illumination of a candle. I mean, you read what this man did and you think, Oh my God, oh my God.

    You are working with the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to store the genetic material from tough, long-lived trees. What is the value of saving this genetic heritage? The ancient trees of North America and the world—and some of them are 4, years old—these trees have what is known as the epigenetics in their genome to withstand extraordinary events. They have the ability to withstand drought, and they have a proven ability to withstand disease.

    In normal circumstances, in a normal forest about a hundred million years ago—the forest has been growing for more than million years—you and I would go around the world and we would see extraordinary trees, huge trees. I measured one ancient redwood down on the West Coast, and it was 55 feet in circumference. Now that was an old tree and a big tree. So these trees have the ability to withstand climate change.

    And the genome of those trees had always been put back into the forest. In other words, the old trees continued lasting for a long time, and they continued fruiting, and their genetic DNA pollinated and got crossed and was always spilt back into the forest, for that genome to be replicated and replicated and replicated. We stopped doing that. Now what happens is that the number people go in and cut the best, so the best can no longer spill out its genome.

    And so my idea is that we will go around the world and we will do somatic cloning of all of the trees—10 percent of them have already been done—and hold them in a living library and make them available for all the people on earth to actually plant and have around their own homes and have in their gardens—and replant native into native areas.

    It will actually be the cheapest, easiest, smartest way of grabbing carbon dioxide out of the air, of sequestering carbon dioxide. It is the only way we know. Trees are money. Nobody has thought about it. I can do this, and I am doing it. What are some healing properties that people may not even be aware of? The pines produce a compound called alpha pinene … and the pine actually acts as an anesthetic on the brain, affecting the neural sheath of the brain itself, and the thinking capacity of a child. If a child is having a problem learning, it helps the child to focus their brain.

    So you take your kids into the woods for a picnic, or a walk, or something like that for half an hour, and the child comes out functioning better. Another one would be in the birch family, and all over the world there are birch species. You go into the birch, and you get betulinic acid, which is produced by the birch, as an aerosol in the air, and it actually helps to maintain the integrity of the body by stopping the growth of certain types of cancers.

    Betulinic acid is an extraordinary compound. So men need to go—I call it birch bathing—and just be around a birch for a short period of time to help the prostate. How about you: Are you a tree hugger? In some senses I understand trees have to be used for civilization. I am a tree respecter. I respect trees. But personally, I have hugged a tree.

    My favorite tree is the copper beech. I love them. My God. It would be very, very tough to live in a world without trees. I admire their beauty, their serenity, their silence. You go into a forest, and you come out with something added to you. You go in with a scattered mind, and you always come out in a good mood. John Warner: Green Chemist A successful industrial chemist, John Warner helped found the field of green chemistry when he became concerned about artificial toxins in our environment, and in our bodies.

    Resources: Read about green chemistry and green chemists including John Warner in a feature story in OnEarth magazine. See a video of John Warner speaking at the Bioneers conference. Warner is the co-author of Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice , an influential book that lays out the 12 principles of green chemistry. Here is the transcript :. How did chemistry get to this place, and how can it get out?

    People kind of wrap themselves around biology. They think they know what a plant it, they know what a bumblebee is, they know what a dog is, and they feel that they can understand. But sadly, that early childhood education experience is usually so bad that people kind of shun it. Industry is evil, only motivated by greed, and the people fighting industry are the good guys. We have this epic battle syndrome going on, and it polarizes everything.

    It really is a science problem. We need to invent new materials that are safer. And in fact it has to be; it should be number one, because we need safe products to be invented. And if we have no one going into that field, oh my God. Well, a couple different things. I started initially at a kind of corporate-intellectual level. I was an industrial chemist who worked at Polaroid, invented a bunch of things that were profoundly good for the environment, but the existing structure of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] made any change in the manufacturing process so difficult that it was almost rewarding companies to stick with the nasty, because they put so many hoops in front of changes, good or bad.

    It was so difficult and expensive that it actually motivated people to never change a process. So that started the whole concept of green chemistry. Then, oh my God, when I really got into it, the cost savings—you know, companies just making something that was a little bit safer for the regulatory fees, all the cost structure, all of that—it just became such a no-brainer.

    Then, the second chapter of my life was that I, as probably the most prolific industrial chemist on the planet for my age—super successful—ended up losing a 2-year-old son to a birth defect. And it kind of stunned me to say for a minute, well, how can I be such a successful chemist? So after writing the book, after doing all the principles of green chemistry, I came to a second epiphany that, well, wait a minute: Here I am, an Ivy League PhD chemist, given a piece of paper, sent into the world to invent the next generation of molecules, and I never had a course in toxicology.

    I never had a course in environmental mechanisms. Come to think of it, not one university on the planet sees that as a requirement. It is nothing short of stunning and shocking. So when we ask ourselves, why would a chemist in industry invent a toxic material, the answer is, how could they not? You think about it—doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, architects—so many professions have licensure to make sure they can do things safely.

    Yet in chemistry, anyone can make a molecule that has never existed before, potentially making the most potent neurotoxin in history, and never in their education were they ever required to demonstrate any ability to anticipate it. Until we change that, we cannot possibly have a sustainable future. How is it possible that we could think that there is at all an ethical responsibility? So after 10 years in industry I went into academia and started a PhD program in green chemistry—and it was phenomenally successful.

    So education wise, it really started to catch on, and now, you see a lot of colleges and universities are just now starting to offer courses in green chemistry. And companies love it, because they understand that the biggest impediment to success in the commercial marketplace is understanding regulation and toxicity issues. They know that no one in their company has that knowledge, so having chemists actually trained to anticipate this make them even more cost effective. Gee whiz.

    Why are we only beginning to think of this after creating tens of thousands of toxic chemicals that are coursing through our world, causing everything from birth defects to air pollution? I wish I knew. My belief is that three hundred years ago we did not have the word art , we did not have the word science.

    Was Galileo an artist, was da Vinci a scientist? And then what happened was we came up with the institution of academia, and we started to have art and science. We applied the reductionist approach and created academic institutions with the narrowest of narrow focus. So someone who was making a molecule would never encounter someone else in an academic discipline that looked at toxicity.

    And we just kind of went our own separate ways in the ivory tower of making stuff, and we just never interacted with people who actually studied toxicity. They serve their own sub-society. Scientists excel in their fields by impressing those sub-societies, not the outside society. So we, outside, are hoping for safe products, and we think that common sense is part of the process, but in fact it never has been.

    So the revolution here is, well, maybe it should be the first thing we think about. So the solution, in my opinion, is to have a dozen alternatives that are just as good in the marketplace, that are just as inexpensive, that fit that model, and let market forces drive success. Merge people together. Merge biology, physics, and sociology and environment and toxicology. And that is a revolution. Modern chemistry has been around for years. I would love to. Yes, I think that people were in a different place when I started the book in The country was in a different place.

    And now I think people are more aware of how difficult things have gotten and they see that they are vulnerable too. In my speaking engagements I say that this is the time to step up for one another. If it helps one person see that they can step up and do something for another, then that will mean everything. Jane Hess Collins is a retired Air Force colonel who writes to inspire people to contribute. She is also a public speaker, conducts workshops for clients to discover their most intrinsic way to serve, and has established game nights for at-risk families throughout the country.

    You can contact her for speaking engagements or workshops at www. This is account is used by multiple WL contributors. Please don't change or edit this account. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.

    Learn how your comment data is processed. Dads With Capes. Just Fore Fun. Philanthropic Wealth List. By Jane Hess Collins Imagine a dinner party where a history buff, author, film producer, photographer, grantmaker, nonprofit founder, advocate and Capitol Hill staffer decided to write a book on social justice. Silberberg shared her insights over coffee on a Wednesday afternoon: What motivated you to write this book? How did you find the people you profiled? What was your selection process? Why did you limit your heroes to the greater DC area? Why do you call them visionaries?

    Of the 18 people you profiled, who inspired you the most and why? I really love them all. Are you still in touch with the people you profiled? Yes, all of them.