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Why Sharing the News of Solutions is a Revolutionary Thing

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Facing unprecedented challenges, we can choose to remain open to possibility and creativity—not mired in despair. Surely, the latter is a luxury that none can afford. We can create and enthusiastically share a solutions story today, every day. It is a revolutionary act.
Silhouette Holding Sun photo by Lenneke Veerbeek

Photo by Lenneke Veerbeek.

“If it bleeds, it leads.” Ever hear that maxim of journalism? If you want readers, go with the scary, gruesome story—that’s what gets hearts pumping and grabs attention. But what grabs our attention can also scare the heck out of us and shut us down.

Remember, what we do and say doesn’t just influence our friends, but also our friends’ friends and our friends’ friends’ friends.

Scary news might “sell,” but we can also feel so bombarded with the negative that our “why bother?” reflex kicks in. Fear stimuli go straight to the brain’s amygdala, Harvard Medical School’s Srinivasan Pillay explains. But, he adds, “because hope seems to travel in the same dungeons [parts of the brain] as fear, it might be a good soldier to employ if we want to meet fear.”

So let’s get better at using hope. It’s a free energy source.

We are building an empowering constructive solutions-based ecosystemfrom the ground up. While most news is the story of disease and dysfunction, we believe that media can empower, inspire, inform, educate and enable healthier outcomes for us all.

We believe that we are collaborators in creation of better together. Stay inspired and Discover how you can get involved with your vision and mission with the Mobilized Network!

Hope isn’t blind optimism. It’s a sense of possibility—delight in the new and joy in creativity that characterizes our species. So let’s break the good-news ban and become storytellers about real breakthroughs. (Below, don’t miss my top ten go-to’s.) I’m convinced that in the process, we will strengthen our capacity to incorporate and act on the bad news as well.

After all, it’s only in changing the small stories that we change the big, dangerous story—the myth of our own powerlessness. Remember, what we do and say doesn’t just influence our friends, but also our friends’ friends and our friends’ friends’ friends (yes, research shows it goes three layers out).
That’s power! Here are some recent items that have made my day.

  1. Renewables ramping up. With news of Keystone and tar sands and coal-crazy China, it’s easy to think that renewable energy is going nowhere, but we’d be wrong. Between 2008 and 2012, the U.S. nearly doubled its renewables capacity. And in the first three months of this year, 82 percent of newly installed domestic electricity-generating capacity was renewable. Plus, installed capacity of new solar units during the first quarter of this year is more than double that of same period last year.Globally, thirteen countries now get 30 percent or more of their electricity from renewable sources. And Germany—with cloud cover worse than Alaska’s—gets 21 percent of its electricity from renewables. In 2010, Germany, which is slightly smaller in size than Montana, produced about half the world’s solar energy. That could depress you, or, it could remind us of the vastness of untapped potential. In April, at the first Pathways to 100% Renewables conference in San Francisco, I heard scientists declare that there’s absolutely no technical obstacle to our planet’s reaching 100 percent renewable energy in a few decades.Abetting the process, the cost of renewables is plummeting worldwide—that of electricity from large solar power plants fell by more than half, from $0.31 per kilowatt-hour in 2009 to $0.14 in 2012.
  2. Wind wows. Denmark’s wind energy alone provides about 30 percent of the country’s electricity, making it the world leader as ranked by the share of a country’s electricity that wind power provides. And U.S. wind power? We’re second only to China among the world’s wind energy producers, with wind power equal to about 10 nuclear power stations or 40 coal-fired power stations.Growing up in oil-centric Texas, I would have been the last person to predict my home state’s leadership. But in the 1990s eight utility companies brought groups of citizens together to learn and to think through options. By the end of the process, they’d ranked efficiency higher than when they began, and the share of those willing to pay for renewables and conservation increased by more than 60 percent. Apparently, the utility companies listened: If Texas were a country, it would now be the world’s sixth ranking wind energy producer.
  3. Cities, states, countries pledge to go clean: Eight countries, 42 cities, and 48 regions have shifted, or are committed to shifting within the next few decades, to 100 percent renewable energy in at least one sector (like electricity, transportation, or heating/cooling). In California, San Francisco, Lancaster, andSan José have officially set their goal at 100 percent renewable electricity within the next decade. And if you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s just California”: Greensburg, Kan., set its goal at 100 percent renewable power for all sectors after the town was wiped out by a tornado in 2007.Colorado’s target is 30 percent renewable electricity by 2020, a standard that’s helped spur success—especially when it comes to wind. And Vermont’s energy plan is set to get the state to 90 percent renewable energy in all sectors by mid-century.And whole countries? Iceland already gets 100 percent of its electricity from renewables—three-quarters from large hydro and 25 percent from geothermal. In Costa Rica, it’s about 95 percent—mainly from hydroelectric (which it’s working to diversify), along with wind, biomass, and geothermal. Costa Rica’s sights are set on becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country in time for its 2021 bicentennial. Absorbing more carbon will speed it along, so Costa Rica’s forestry-financing agency is working with landowners to plant 7 million trees on cattle and coffee farms in the next few years.Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, and Iceland are also shooting to become the first carbon-neutral country. And Ethiopiaunveiled plans to become a middle-income carbon-neutral country by 2025.
  4. Citizens clobber coal. Just since 2005, as part of Sierra Club’sBeyond Coal Campaign, citizens across the country have stopped more than 165 coal plants from opening and successfully pushed for the retirement of more than 100 existing ones. The campaign aims to retire one third of America’s remaining 500 coal plants by 2020. And if you’re not registering how important this is, consider that coal accounts for more than a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Forests forever. In India, ten million families take part in roughly 100,000 “forest-management groups” responsible for protecting nearby woodlands. Motivation is high, especially for women, because firewood still provides three-fourths of the energy used in cooking. Working collaboratively with the Indian government, these groups cover a fifth of India’s forests; and they’re likely a reason that India is one of the few countries in the world to enjoy an increase in forest cover since 2005.

Close to home: Four years ago in Magnolia Springs, Ala., the conservative town government passed the toughest land regulation in the south. It’s spending a quarter million dollars on a comprehensive plan to restore and protect its charming river from agricultural chemical runoff. “I’m a tree-hugging, liberal—I mean a tree-hugging conservative Republican! Which I know some people may say is an oxymoron,” said Mayor Charlie Houser of this small town near Mobile. Brown pelicans are showing up again, says Houser, and he adds: “Cormorants up in the treetops … Beautiful sight!”

Around the world: Three-fourths of Niger is desert, and news headlines focus on hunger there. But over two decades, poor farmers in the country’s south have “regreened” 12.5 million desolate acres. In all, Niger farmers have nurtured the growth of some 200 million trees—discovering that trees and crops are not competitors but are complementary. The trees protect the soil, bringing big crop-yield increases, and they provide fruit, nutritious leaves, fodder, and firewood. Now young people are returning to villages in Niger, and school kids are learning to care for the trees, too.

Are you willing to step up as a solutions-news ban breaker?

Neuroscientists tell us our brains are “plastic,” with new neuronal connections being created all the time, forming new “streambeds” in our brains that shape our responses to life. So isn’t actively choosing what shapes our brains perhaps the most powerful ways to change ourselves, enabling us to change the world?

Facing unprecedented challenges, we can choose to remain open to possibility and creativity—not mired in despair. Surely, the latter is a luxury that none can afford. We can create and enthusiastically share a solutions story today, every day. It is a revolutionary act.

Source; Yes Magazine

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The “Myth” of Independence (When in Reality, We are Interdependent)

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The disastrous burden of exploitation and the plundering of ill-distributed wealth is a historical burden whose influence on backwardness, misery and neglect is an indisputable argument for rejecting the claims of independence and freedom of the ruling castes, who are primarily responsible for the shameful conditions in which the future of the peoples is plunged.

Without sustainable development for all, it is not valid to boast of independence.


The Tale of Independence

Claudia Aranda
(Image by Claudia Aranda)

Independence festivals celebrate the greatest myth in history.

The dates represent only a symbolic reference in the course of history, which is why the Independence festivities, celebrated in these days of September in some countries of the continent, should become a turning point; a turning point in the right direction and the beginning of a new era for the peoples who observe, with a mixture of envy and hope, the advances in other corners of the planet.

Latin America has suffered genocidal dictatorships, foreign invasions marked by economic and geopolitical interests, devaluation and annihilation of its millenary cultures, plundering of its natural wealth and constant intervention in its development plans by financial organisations controlled by the great world powers. However, the moral strength and the yearning for freedom of their peoples are the decisive resources for consolidating that real and concrete independence for which they all yearn.

The examples of economic, industrial and cultural development in some of our nations show how a potential value can become a tangible reality, provided that the political actions of their leaders are underpinned by a firm resolve to fight for their homeland. In this sense, the defense of and respect for the constitutional rule, the consolidation of the rule of law, the recognition of the intrinsic human and cultural values of their communities and the firm purpose of achieving Latin American unity, the only possible way to face the challenges of globalisation, are essential.

To boast of independence when our political castes are capable of negotiating the future of generations with entities whose interests are totally opposed to development – such as the World Bank – and subjected to the arbitrary conditions of powerful governments, focused on making the most of their institutional and political weaknesses, is an insult to intelligence. It is therefore imperative to update concepts and to understand that a country’s freedom to decide on its present and future is a pending issue throughout the third world.

The celebration of national independence has become established as a populist device and needs to be thoroughly revised. Military parades, so typical of the image of strength and power imprinted in the collective imagination, are today one of the most serious offences against peoples who have experienced the cruel repression of military dictatorships, a dark shadow that stains the history of all our countries. Patriotic pride should not rest on weapons or violence, but on culture, traditions and unrestricted respect for human rights.

The disastrous burden of exploitation and the plundering of ill-distributed wealth is a historical burden whose influence on backwardness, misery and neglect is an indisputable argument for rejecting the claims of independence and freedom of the ruling castes, who are primarily responsible for the shameful conditions in which the future of the peoples is plunged.

Without sustainable development for all, it is not valid to boast of independence.

Source: Pressenza

Carolina Vásquez Araya

Journalist and editor with more than 30 years of experience, whose professional achievements in the development of highly successful projects endorse her qualities of leadership, creativity and public relations. She has contributed her knowledge in projects of organizations with interests oriented to the social, cultural and economic development of the country, with special emphasis on the sector of culture and education, entrepreneurship, human rights, justice, environment, women and children. She is Chilean in Guatemala. elquintopatio.wordpress.com

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Scientists: Make it Easier for the Public to Understand Your Reports!

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Carbon neutral? Mitigation? People don’t know the words scientists think they do.

If you’ve ever furrowed your brow trying to remember what “mitigation” meant, you’re not alone.

Many people don’t understand key terms experts use to talk about climate change, according to a recent study from researchers affiliated with the United Nations Foundation and the University of Southern California. Some of the most difficult-to-understand words were mitigation, referring to efforts to reduce emissions to slow down climate change, and carbon-neutral, when there’s no net increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

Experts in a given field might think that technical language is more precise or more efficient than commonplace alternatives. But subjecting normal people to obscure terms can leave them feeling confused and disengaged and can sometimes encourage a head-in-the-sand response. Everyone has heard the advice “know your audience.” That’s easier said than done, especially since many specialists may not even realize what counts as jargon, with their non-expert days long in the past.

“Some of the people in our study were really concerned about climate change,” said Wändi Bruine de Bruin, a professor of psychology and behavioral science at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. “If they don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, you could be missing an opportunity to make a difference.”

The researchers landed on a shortlist of terms for the study by talking with experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of U.N. scientists that released a dire report last month warning that greenhouse gas emissions were quickly destabilizing the climate with devastating and “irreversible” consequences. They picked words and phrases that were important for understanding climate policy but tend to get misinterpreted, like tipping point, carbon dioxide removal, and adaptation. Then the researchers interviewed 20 people, picked to provide a diversity of views, asking them to define these words and rate how easy they were to understand. The takeaway from the study: “many of the terms were unfamiliar or perceived as needlessly complex.”

More than half of the participants turned out to be unfamiliar with the meaning of mitigation in its climate change context, instead associating it with law or insurance, where the term refers to minimizing losses. “Mitigation, oh God I hate this word,” one person said. Another third appeared to conflate it with the similar-sounding “mediation,” where a neutral party helps resolve a conflict through discussion.

An informal survey by Grist of folks around Seattle revealed similar problems. Bud Goodwin, owner of Rising Sun Farms & Produce in Seattle, feels strongly that something needs to be done about climate change. Worsening droughts, wildfires, and heavy rains have hit the farmers who supply his fruits and vegetables. He said he’s heard the terms tipping point, carbon-neutral, and adaptation in the context of climate change. But he was stumped when it came to mitigation. “The only thing I can think of is ‘mitigating circumstances,’” he said. “That’s the only time I’ve heard of that used. And I don’t know if that’s the right context.”

Theo Henderson, who works at Third Place Books in north Seattle, was unsure what to make of the phrase tipping point when it’s used so widely in other contexts, like epidemiology, Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book, and iconic moments in sports. “It’s used in contradictory ways,” he said. “It’s almost like you just don’t want to say it anymore, because it means different things to different people.”

In a bit of irony, even the phrase used to talk about talking about climate change — “climate communication” — confounded some people on the streets of Seattle.

That general sense of confusion was reflected in the study. When asked about tipping point — a point of no return for ice shelves, ocean patterns, rainforests, or other systems central to life on Earth — people didn’t always see the link to the warming planet, instead thinking of a seesaw, a sudden change of mind, or difficulty going back to how things were before. Only 15 percent of those interviewed in the study mentioned climate change in their initial definition.

Another inscrutable phrase for some was carbon neutral, with just under half of people in the study understanding it right off the bat. Some people found the shorthand use of carbon confusing. “I know carbon is used in front of a lot of words, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide … Carbon neutral means – I don’t know,” one participant said.

Even putting the tricky words and phrases in context — the classic vocab-learning trick you learned in school — often failed to help people understand their meanings. The example sentences, pulled from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, were long and wordy and often filled with other jargon. See for yourself. Does the following sentence help you understand what sustainable development means? “Natural hazards, climate change, and societal vulnerability can pose fundamental limits to sustainable development.” (If you’re curious, the study describes sustainable development as “meeting the needs of people living today without compromising the needs of people living in the future.”)

Companies have helped muddy the picture by using buzzwords to tout their sustainability cred. You can buy “carbon-negative” hand sanitizer or a “climate positive” burger. In a recent survey commissioned by Yeo Valley, an organic dairy company in the United Kingdom, 79 percent of people said that eco-friendly jargon should be translated into plainer language.

There are plenty of ways to phrase things more simply, and communication experts have long advised specialists to do so. But the problem is, Bruine de Bruin said, scientists might not even realize which words are coming across as gibberish, having used mitigation for so long that they think it’s a simple, straightforward term. The concrete examples of misunderstandings quoted in the study, she said, and are “more powerful than people coming in saying, ‘Look, don’t use jargon.’”

Source: Grist

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Editorials

Current education systems inhibit identity development

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Current education inhibits identity development

Note from Publisher: When we look at society as a whole, we could take a good look at a dysfunctional education system which is failing children and the whole of society.  If we are to truly evolve and transform as a society, education needs to transform from linear thinking to holistic thinking, seeing all life on the planet as ONE WHOLE SYSTEM, otherwise we are bound to continue the insanity of repeating our problems and crises over and over again.  True transformation begins with a shift in how we view and act in the world.

Education systems have undergone a great change in the last 40 years. Along with the massification of supply, education has become dehumanised, strongly influenced by mercantilist logics that have associated quality only with cognitive learning. The focus on subjects and the neglect of holistic education inhibits the development of identity.

Today’s schools are more like a production line than a community of people in search of human growth and development. Like any production line, the aim is to obtain a “product” that is as homogeneous as possible and that can be evaluated in the successive quality controls that are applied over the years. For example, the SIMCE and the PDT.

A homogeneous product allows comparisons to be made which, in the case of individuals, is always odious and discriminatory. The idea of a “good quality product” in education, measured through standardised tests, has proved to be a perverse incentive for educational communities. Teachers and education professionals have put the education and social-emotional development of their students on the back burner. Mums, dads and parents focus their attention on what they believe will be financial security. And, children and youth see school as a boring, creativity-limiting obligation.

Instead of a “standard product”, at Fundación Semilla we promote the formation of unique individuals through pedagogical support methodologies that open spaces for children and young people to advance in the development of their own individual traits or characteristics that allow them to distinguish themselves from others in a group. In other words, in the development of their identities.

Schools that assume their educational role in a comprehensive manner become protective factors because the development of identity allows one to value oneself and recognise oneself as unique in the group. Without identity there is no sense of belonging. Without identity you are invisible to others.

Whenever I talk about identity and a sense of belonging, I am reminded of heart-wrenching testimonies such as that of a boy: “the first time someone told me I was good at something was when I shot a gun and hit the target” or that of a girl: “having sex makes me feel that he cares about me”.

This is not to dismiss learning in mathematics, reading, writing or other subjects, but to reduce content in order to have more time to humanise education. Having spaces to dream and create, to talk and reflect, to play and sing, to meet other people and to recognise oneself.

Putting children and young people at the centre and the first priority is much more than obtaining good scores in the transition test (ex PSU and ex PAA) and as long as political authorities do not change their educational paradigm, education will continue to inhibit the development of identity and a sense of belonging with the dire consequences that this implies for society as a whole.

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