Monthly Archives: March 2009

Earth Hour

It’s as simple as a flick of the switch.

What began as a campaign to get Sydneysiders to turn their lights off, has grown to become one of the world’s biggest climate change initiatives. In 2009, at 8.30pm on March 28, people around the world will turn their lights off for one hour – Earth Hour. We’re aiming to reach one billion people, more than 1000 cities, all joining together in a global effort to show that its possible to take action on global warming.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one hour. Only a year later and this event had become a global sustainability movement with up to 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Earth Hour 2009 is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up, to take responsibility and to get involved in working towards a sustainable future. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to The Americas will stand in darkness. People across the world will turn off their lights and join together in creating the vital conversation about the future of our precious planet.

Over 64 countries and territories are participating in Earth Hour 2009. This number grows every day as people realise how such a simple act, can have such a profound result in affecting change.

Earth Hour is a message of hope and a message of action. Join us for Earth Hour 2009, turn off your lights at 8.30pm Saturday 28 March and sign-up here to be counted.

See the difference you can make.

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World Water Day

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The world water crisis is one of the largest public health issues of our time. Nearly 1.1 billion people (roughly 20% of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water. The lack of clean, safe drinking water is estimated to kill almost 4,500 children per day. In fact, out of the 2.2 million unsafe drinking water deaths in 2004, 90% were children under the age of five. Water is essential to the treatment of diseases, something especially critical for children.

This problem isn’t confined to a particular region of the world. A third of the Earth’s population lives in “water stressed” countries and that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades. The crisis is worst in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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Confessions of a Pilgrim Shopaholic

by Paul Rudnick

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I am Rebecca, the wife of Mister Jonathan Harnsill. We arrived in the New World in 1626 and took up residence in a small cabin in the Plymouth Colony. Toward the end of our first January, I travelled to Boston to purchase a thimbleful of salt. And now, five years later, I have travelled to Boston for a second thimbleful. I am out of control.

During our first winter, I sewed two simple black woollen dresses, which I have alternated wearing in the years since. And yet this morning I find myself thinking about patching the frayed collar on one of the dresses. Have I no shame? My mind has been consumed with nothing but thoughts of spending, purchasing, and the wanton enjoyment of unnecessary goods. On many nights I dream of acquiring a tin milk pail, like our neighbor’s. I picture myself strolling through the town as strangers whisper, “There she goes, the proud lady with the pail.” I imagine myself attending a fancy-dress ball with the pail on my arm, filled with pinecones and soil. I fear that I shall speak these dreams aloud, and beg my husband to bludgeon me.

I have heard tales of another woman, much like myself, in the Virginia colony. It is said that she bartered her second child to a local tradesman for a wooden button. The following Sunday, the preacher railed against the need for additional buttons, calling the woman a spendthrift and a profligate. She then stood and raised her arm high, opening her hand to reveal the button. It is said that the other women surrounded her, staring at the button in adoration, and then they ripped her limbs from her torso and ate them.

I tremble for my influence upon my children. Just this morning, young Abigail came to me and said, “Mother, look. I have made a doll from a small rock. I will call my doll Rockelle.” Of course, I struck her and grabbed the rock from her hand, saying, “Be ye the Queen of the Nile, with such gilded pleasures?” I will confess only to this diary that I have kept the rock for myself, and married it to an acorn, which I have named Mister Joseph Elmsford. Has my evil no limits?

Today I entered the lion’s den, as I went to market. I was dazzled, as if dancing before the Golden Calf! To one side, there was a tray of one-inch straight pins, and beside them a spool of pale-white thread! I was drowning! I turned away, only to see a cart piled with at least three wilted leeks, along with a rusted spoon! Was I at the French court? My mind reeled—I wanted everything! The box of damp matches; the single moth-eaten stocking, removed from a corpse; the tiny empty vial that had once held extract of vanilla! In my mind, I was naked, demanding to be draped in finery, in brittle cornhusks and crumbling bark and the splintering nub of a pencil!

My fever has broken. When I awoke, I was in our minister’s home, surrounded by all the women of our village, who were on their knees in fervent prayer at my bedside. It seems that I have been possessed by the Devil himself, and that I was found in the apothecary shop, speaking in tongues and babbling about something which no colonist has ever heard of: “guest soaps.” Pastor Witherspoon has suggested that I might be hosting a demon from some future century, and he has arranged for an exorcism. I am so grateful, as I was told that, in my frenzy, I had also approached our blacksmith and demanded to know which horseshoes were on sale. I am an abomination.

At the exorcism, I was taken to the barn and placed upon a rough blanket; various plasters and poultices were applied to my flesh. Pastor Witherspoon raised his Bible high over my head and demanded, “Satan, leave this good woman! She is a simple, pious soul, with no wont for luxury goods!” At first, I responded by shrieking in an unearthly wail, “Shoes! More buckled shoes!” As all the villagers began to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, I howled, “Tallow! Scented tallow and beeswax! Tied with a decorative ribbon!” Then, as the people laid their hands upon me, my demon cackled and swore: “A bonnet! Bring me another bonnet! A peaked black bonnet as fine as any widow’s!”

“Satan, begone!” Pastor Witherspoon shouted, and then I lost consciousness.

Now, a day later, as I return to life, I know that my demon is vanished, gone back into his fetid underworld. I am able to walk through the village, with my head bowed modestly, without even a thought of a turnip or the cobbler’s wares. This morning, I almost picked up a pretty yellow leaf from the ground, to press in my hymnal, but then I thought, I have so many leaves, and I returned it to the tall grass.

While I am wholly myself again, I am concerned for my dear husband, who I fear has been o’ertaken by his own demon. Last March, we had intimate relations, and now, although it is only November, he desires them again. ♦

The New Yorker / Shouts & Murmurs / Published: March 16, 2009

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Ocean Bound

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she is my panacea.

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Icelanders Knit Crafty Response to Global Crisis

By Rabeika Messina

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Along Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping lane, one crafts store is thriving in spite of the economic crisis. Well, not in spite of it – because of it.

Yarns, threads, needles, and fabric scraps are flying off the shelves at Nalin. The shop already ran out of the Danish materials it usually carries and is now running on locally manufactured wool products.

The financial crisis has dealt Iceland a devastating blow: unemployment is soaring, the króna has collapsed, and banks have been nationalized. In January, the island nation’s government buckled under the protests of citizens, who say a measure of prudence might have prevented the economy from overinflating.

Icelanders are hardly sitting idle as their country is slammed by the global financial hurricane. In cutting-edge Reykjavik, many are turning to arts and crafts, both to save money and to make it.

“Those who can’t afford to buy presents are making them on their own, and those who can afford them are mostly buying handmade Icelandic items because of the import limitations,” says Nalin’s owner, Helga Jona.

Take Hildur Yeoman. Before the banking crisis, she could make do with her salary as a sales assistant at Trilogia, a clothing store and gallery. Nowadays, the 20-something makes frequent trips across the street to Nalin to buy supplies for her line of crocheted purses that she sells. Ms. Yeoman also sells self-illustrated greeting cards.

Trilogia specialized in high-end British, French, and Spanish designer pieces. Until lately, it carried little Icelandic work. But because the government has prohibited the depositing of money in foreign accounts – the only imports allowed are necessity items, such as food – the store has been forced to stop ordering merchandise from abroad.

KNITTING TO THE RESCUE?

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Environmental Film Festival

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What are you doing this month?

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Crossings

Between forest and field, a threshold
like stepping from a cathedral into the street—
the quality of air alters, an eclipse lifts,

boundlessness opens, earth itself retextured
into weeds where woods once were.
Even planes of motion shift from vertical

navigation to horizontal quiescence:
there’s a standing invitation to lie back
as sky’s unpredictable theater proceeds.

Suspended in this ephemeral moment
after leaving a forest, before entering
a field, the nature of reality is revealed.

-Ravi Shankar

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