Tuesday, February 17, 2015

would I do the same with my own children?

Sometimes, people ask what we wanted to be while we are/were growing up, and sometimes we answer/ed with the innocence and undimmed hope of childhood. Sometimes, answers are/were filtered through the desperation and fear of a child abandoned, a child mistreated, a child in pain, or of an adult "schooled" in walking in the time and place of assignment, of requirement, of necessity, rather than of a spirit truly free in hope, potential, openness to learning, sharing, making whole the circles of our lives. Sometimes, we make mistakes when we ask, as well as when we answer, and cannot, for whatever decisions and experiences have brought us to this time, have enough perspective to see what might be boundaries of another's expectations, hopes, fears, sorrows.
Why do we share songs with our children, with students, with more adult communities? Why do we tell stories, write poems, paint, and weave, and sculpt, work with the land, work with learned crafts, try to find some skill to sell, some worth to exchange? Is it all for time, for space, for luxuries in life, or to honor, preserve, perpetuate some learning greater than our own story, our individual walk through life?
Life seems intertwined with aspirations and failings, with obstacles, disappointments, grievous sadness, punctuated by the inexorability of age, of the requirements of government, society, employment, by the more constant beauties of sunrise, season, sea-coast, mountain, valley, and long, winding roads... and some roads seem more winding than others.
I have shared, learned, and worked with indigenous students, with indigenous-arts and indigenous-vocations professionals, in several nations. Yes, some knowledge is proprietary to certain settings, some is sacred--and some, the more I learn, is shared, across and between many cultures and peoples across our great planet, in the seemingly endless collections of stories of our time walking upon this earth. We grow more self-aware with age, it seems, and have, with increased capacity to know ourselves, the possibility of increased capacity to share--to fold stories one into the next, with whispers, and shouts, and songs of realization along the way.
I do not always have knowledge and skills adequate for each new setting. My litmus test for coping, for growing within each new challenge is my capacity to learn, to exchange, to grow with as much reciprocity, respect, and resilience as possible... People speak of knowing the "inner child"--not to become so overwhelmed with the pressures of the adult "world" that the clarity and hope, the joy of a child's heart, a child-like heart, become dimmed, or suppressed forever. There is so much commercialization in the world, it becomes difficult to balance the wonderful aspects of technology, of communications, of "advancements" in comfort, health, safety, security, with the ravenous, profit-motivated, winning-is-expansion perspective so common in so many places today. And how can one bring relevance to the sharing and preservation of indigenous knowledge, life-styles, and values to lives which stretch beyond the haven of family, the familiarity of community, the connection of nationality, across the tumult and strife of our diverse pasts, across the promise and precariousness of our increasingly intertwined present, and across the possibilities of a future thankfully still undefined... A future not absolutely determined by the past, but not guaranteed either.
I think the largest successes, and challenges, in implementing aspects of indigenous learning into our lives and the lives of those learning around us, are all tied to relevance, appreciation, respect, and reciprocity. If there is a situation which would break our hearts if our children were part of it, what, then, would be our choices and actions? If there is a possible future which would fill us with joy at the knowledge that our children could be included, contributing, growing to a perspective and potential greater than we have known, what, then, would be our choices and actions? If we ask our children, our children's children, what they want to be when they grow up, will there come a day when the what, the how, the why, when, where, who... become reconciled with equality of respect, promise, fulfillment, regardless of--and respectful of, origin, tradition, culture, language? I cannot walk for others; I cannot want for others; I cannot choose for others. But if I could do anything, I would try, always, to bring the relevance I hope to gift to my children, and their children, to all learning and interactions, to life shared, with the peoples sharing this planet--because, at some level, most people were once indigenous somewhere, and, in an age of increasing connectivity, we are now all indigenous to this earth, and to our shared walk, our shared stories, as humans.

@ 2015, written for https://courses.edx.org/courses/UBCx/IndEdu200x  Reconciliation through Indigenous Education

Learning and Letting

Some people live within 5 miles of their original home their entire lives; other people may relocate every few years, due to employment, studies, or other circumstances. Whether we stay in a zone made comfortable through its familiarity, or test our abilities to encompass the unknown in unfamiliar locations, we can all encounter new experiences, new languages, new fears and new possibilities, if we take the opportunity to explore our neighborhoods, our shared heritage, responsibilities, and potentials. Exploration can proceed in person, in schools or other groups, online, but without recognizing ourselves, and similarities or differences with others, and respecting those, we will have a difficult time progressing to understanding, sharing, to engaging in a sustainable future of mutual respect and hope. Our lives are intertwined with the history and future of the planet we share, regardless of origins or destinations. But recognizing the shoulders on which we stand, the sources of the lights we carry, can inform and enhance our interdependent future.

@ 2015, written for https://courses.edx.org/courses/UBCx/IndEdu200x  Reconciliation through Indigenous Education

Bound and Boundless

Bound and Boundless on our Interdependent Planet
Bound and Boundless; Interdependence Universal; video created for www.sdsnedu.org/ Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities course (Fall/Winter 2014).
Text, art, vocals, video by Michele Baron

text of video:
There are seven continents, hundreds of nations, thousands of cultures living on our interdependent Earth. One central concept, upheld by the United Nations and other governing bodies, by nations and individuals, is that there are “universal” human rights. That is, every human being is entitled to safe, secure, and sustainable life.

The issues involved include food, water, energy, environment, even habit/living space.

Beyond this, are social justice concepts such as equality, freedom, and the much-alluded-to “pursuit of happiness.”

The right not only to survive, but to thrive.

Balanced with these is one central ecological and ethical reality.

We have, as humans, come to a point in our journey where problems seem as myriad and interchangeable as a mountain of grain—chaff mixed with kernels, all needing sorting, sifting, changing. Grains which could be the source of our sustenance, our life here on Earth, or which could accumulate, deteriorate, suffocate, and extinguish the fragile link to life we share.

Ethical priorities must move beyond concepts of safety, security, sustainability and social justice, to concepts of inclusive/ecocentric ethics, which value diversity of ecosystems and cultures, and are grounded in an awareness of the relative position of human kind within the ecosystems of the Earth.

Out of about 25 million or so species, all are Earthlings.

One is human.

When we move forward, what might be our approach to continuing our lives on this planet?

Within our grasp are solutions to problems of pollution, degradation of our precious air, water, soil; the depredation of resources; the extinction of species of plants, animals, even bacteria which contribute to the chain of life.

What may be our choices, our actions—and what, then, will be our position on this planet of interdependent earth-systems, and Earthlings, when the next day of evolution begins to dawn?

@ 2015   http://renewablelight.blogspot.com/
all rights reserved

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Service, interdependence, infrastructures, Serendipitous beneficiaries/ my papers and presentations for WEEC2013

Social constructs, service and interdependence, and serendipitous beneficiaries

Our lives and livelihoods are interwoven with the ecosystems of the planet we share. The security of our lives: of the foods which we produce and eat; the waters flowing across the globe—sourcing the flow of flora and fauna; the air we breathe, and lands we walk are daily burdened with the discards and pollutants of unsustainable choices and behaviors.

Everywhere, one sees life striving, driven by nature to survive. Of 25 million species, or more, living on this planet, all can be named, and interrelated, as Earthlings. One of these species, only one, is human—capable of remembering and recording history, capable of choice and change… and yet we stand at a cross-roads of our own creating. Can we, together, develop the good governance and sense of individual responsibility and empowerment to ensure the security of our own, and those myriad other lives, those millions of other species, and of those voiceless and underserved among our human brethren, who struggle for access to food, water, to light, and space for life? As depletion of resources becomes measurable, as extinction of species looms ever more inexorably, the social compacts which enable humans to co-exist, to hope for life without war, to strive for the knowledge and freedom which inspire creative solutions to economic, ethical/social, and environmental challenges, must be re-defined.

In an interconnected, interdependent world, the mismatching of needs, opportunities, competition and accountability is undermining the perceived value of education, of labor markets which cannot absorb the vast pools of skilled and unskilled labor, of social infrastructures which cannot maximize the multifaceted resources of human capital, strength and creativity. Inequality of access and value-of-outcome for individual and group efforts and achievements leads too often to poverty, to gender-, ability- or cultural/religious- based deprivation, to exclusion, crime, violence, larger conflicts, and war.

Social infrastructures, regardless of climate, location, or resources, depend upon the investment of participants, individually and as communities, to endure. Poor outcomes which commence with access-based discrimination, geographic exclusion-by-circumstance, or disparities in food, water, energy, or habitat security become progressively imbalanced, diminishing productivity and even viability across classes, and across earth-species and eco-systems. Clear expectations of recompense-for-effort are reinforced by media and crowd influences, yet equitable, durable opportunities for educational, economic, environmental, energy and ethical (“universal” freedoms and rights) security are ever increasingly threatened. At a time crucial to the development of human responsibility and investment in a sustainable, interdependent world, poverty of outcomes is impoverishing, endangering the future of our species, and perhaps of all species, on this planet.

The concept of serendipitous beneficiaries, of responsible development which considers the interconnectedness of humankind, of other earth species, of limited-finite resources, global-renewable resources, and potential for sustainability, is crucial to the “greening” of markets, services, human occupations, and inter-species survival today. The challenge to progress towards sustainability requires the creation of green corporations; green recreation and tourism; secure-and-renewable energy; improved land and waste management; improved security of food and water; elder-and-other inclusion opportunities; educational, vocational, and rehabilitation programs which can all be combined in integrated approaches to preserve resources and ensure better lives for all sharing this Earth.

Three simple projects, scalable locally, but adaptable globally, could combine to produce integrated opportunities to build infrastructure, responsibility and accountability, and to improve environmental, energy, educational, economic, and earth security. When people from all walks of life become stakeholders in infrastructure building and sustaining green-living projects, it becomes possible to preserve, and celebrate, those features of culture, heritage, and environment which are unique to one space or region, and those which are shared by all. It becomes possible to ameliorate those challenges to nature, and of nature, which affect some, or all; it becomes possible to redefine habits of excess to economies of need, care, and serendipitous beneficiaries.

For example, trails connecting destinations predate man’s history; today, networked, sustainable trails can still link real, and virtual, destinations—and can address the competing needs of a modernizing, interdependent world. Trails can be equipped with solar-valent, and piezoelectric, or other energy-harnessing technologies to capture and supply electrical power to local/national grid systems, and provide access, egress, and energy to communities world-wide. Xeriscaped borders, hanging gardens, and shade/sun food forestry along the trailways would diminish heat-bloom and soil erosion, and increase healthy ecosystems available to pollinator- and indigenous- species, and provide food for human loca-vore small-businesses. Precipitation-capture and grey-water recycling along the trails could increase water security. Appreciation of local environments, heritage, artistry and culture could be shared not only through proximity of amenities to the trails, but through various learning opportunities, and online games, which would enable races, learning of local facts and lore, and message exchange between trail-travelers in many, communication-linked/synced, locations.

Similarly, secondly, person-powered energy-grid contribution systems could be installed to amass and donate sustainable/renewable power from participants in airport, train and other transit zones, in play- and waiting- areas, and, especially, in sports stadiums, where fans in stands (and, eventually, fans in their own homes, with synced-in connectivity) can “vote with their feet” and pedal/power to express support for their teams, corporate groups, social or charitable organization, or brand-or-fan-based service or group. Not only would this “wellness play” improve health, but person-powered grid systems (and related learning tools, communication links, and games) can provide inclusion and ownership of individual, family, community, regional or national/international efforts to improve standards of living, and encourage fun, win-win engagements which are environmentally sustainable, and age, gender, ability, social, political, and culturally-inclusive.

Thirdly, every year, storms and floods devastate populations and ecosystems world-wide. If, each year, in frigid, frozen-precipitate zones, snow (and ice) could be collected (estimated to have fallen above calculated-average amounts) into impermeable, re-usable containers. These containers would be partially-submersible/float-able, inter-connectable, equipped with anchorage and GPS tracking/locator devices, and stored above the freeze-lines in mountain and perma-frost zones. Depleting melt-runoff would allow greater flexibility in handling rainy-season water flows, mitigating seasonal down-stream flooding to some extent. Further, when hurricanes or cyclones, or other massive storm systems which feed on warm-water and warm-air currents threaten strategic, economic, or heavily-populated areas, the frozen containers could be air-lifted to storm-path locations, dropped-linked-and-anchored offshore to chill waters enough to slow, stall, or divert a storm, lessening impact and huge tolls in life, environment, and economy. At the completion of the weather event, the containers could be brought to tertiary, drought-impacted location, and the (now-melted) water off-loaded for potable- or irrigation- systems use, and finally, returned to point-of-origin and stored for re-filling the next winter season.

Myriad other projects, including clean oceans, clean skies, resources and regions, exist at least in concept (or still wait to be conceived), which, blended with the goals of serendipitous beneficiaries as a measure and enhancement of social responsibility and sustainability, could add to the flexibility and responsiveness  of infrastructures, education, and the performance, transparency, and accountability of service, commercial, and industrial providers, and of each of us. In an interdependent humanity, on an interdependent planet of limited resources, a “green” approach which includes associated industries, services and ecosystems as serendipitous providers and beneficiaries of planned output can result in alleviation of “poor outcomes” for all strata of society, of species. Ensuring the distribution of adequate, renewable water, food, energy, and habitat, as well as inclusion and education/stewardship in our shared human/inter-species environment and pool of resources can, and must, result in a raised quality of sustainable, responsible lifestyles for humankind, and for our millions of fellow earth-species.

also see:



Internet-synced, sustainable Bike Trails and Motion-powered projects; my papers and presentations for WEEC2013

Internet-synced, sustainable, xeriscaped, solar-canopied-power-grid-contributing bike/walk/transit trails would provide training and employment opportunities to incarcerated, in-need, and skilled populations; on-line/in-the-field learning and vacation/tour opportunities to general/all populations; and begin connecting cities with fertile valley, forest, coastal, mountain, and desert communities in and across borders-- helping protect the environment, bolster economic, energy, and food/water security, increase understanding, appreciation, stewardship and enjoyment of our interdependent world.
The challenge to contribute to the creation of green corporations; green recreation and tourism; secure renewable energy; improved land and waste management; improved security of food and water; educational, vocational, and elder-inclusion opportunities; provision for mainstream, at-risk, and incarcerated/rehabilitated populations—these criteria all combined to produce the concept of an integrated opportunity to build infrastructure while improving environmental, educational, economic, energy, and earth security.

When combined with energy-harnessing technologies to capture and supply electrical power to local/national grid systems, people from all walks of life can become stakeholders in infrastructure building and sustaining green-living projects which improve the health and education of participants, enable low/no-cost entertainment and exercise options, produce renewable energy for use or donation to needy communities world-wide, encourage local-to-global connectivity, interaction and tolerance, and provide opportunities for inclusion of all who wish to participate, regardless of origin, as well as reduce pollution, slow the depletion of resources, and contribute to the health of our shared local and global environments.

Instead of enduring the flight of doctors, intellectual and corporate talent, creativity, and culture to cities or even other nations, globally-linked trails and communities can enable even “remote” local citizenry to offer highly trained specialists (in medicine, education, technologies, industry, arts, culinary arts, services, etc.) the access to dependable, high-quality resources, including energy, internet, peripheral services and supplies needed for excellent care and standards of living.

Networked bicycle/human-powered-transit (roller blades, pedal carts, pedestrian and wind/para-powered) trails would provide multi-tiered opportunities for responsible entrepreneurship, recreation, learning, energy, environment and grey-water/waste management/soil rebuilding among local populations.

Utilizing solar/valent-power canopy (evolving with technology), trails would have photo/motion-sensitive lighting for night treks; connectivity, GPS/SMS-sync capabilities; sync-links to:
  • ·         Local amenities/products/services
  • ·         Traditional arts/culture/education
  • ·         Traditional healing/indigenous plants/medicinal plants, minerals, resources and services
  • ·         Site/climate-specific trekking and survival information
  • ·         Elder and contemporary knowledge speakers/programs
  • ·          Inter-trail races, local-knowledge/history/game programs
  • ·         Inter-school/sister-city, green-education/green-globe projects
  • ·         Linked off-trail, green-key, safe and sustainable tourism activities

Trail-project solar/valent energy-systems could connect with the local/national power grid, enhancing energy access/energy security nation-wide. Wheeled transit vehicles (bicycles, strollers, pedestrian-roll-sticks, rollerblades, etc.) could “link in” by picking up a rechargeable battery/loadable-devices at start of transit on trails, and delivery of the charged battery/loaded-device at departure points (hooked into the larger power grid system) along the trail.

[Note: Similar opportunities for installing and utilizing motion-powered energy systems, utilizing small chargeable batteries on wheeled systems or in-shoe devices, utilized while in waiting areas (airports/transit, medical well-visitor waiting zones, social-services waiting zones, etc), in schools, malls, training centers, hotel exercise zones, in appropriate prison facilities/rehabilitation programs, on mass-transit vehicles (long-route bus, train and subway commuter-transport) and in airplanes and on ships, are also possible. 
Person-powered grid-contribution systems could also be installed to amass and donate sustainable and renewable power from participants in corporate settings, fast-food play (and innovative “adult play”) zones, and, especially, in sports stadiums-- where fans in stadiums (and eventually, those in their homes, with sync-in connectivity) can “vote with their feet” and pedal/power to express support for their teams, donate power, play online team games (if franchises agree), enhance group dynamics, charitable and social inclusivity, and provide ownership of individual, family, community, brand-or-fan-based, regional or national/international efforts to improve standards of living, improve health, and encourage fun, win-win engagements which are environmentally sustainable, and age, gender, ability, social, political, and culturally-inclusive.]

In addition to utilizing solar-canopies and valent-energy collectors (which can also be channeled to “sweep” dust from the solar panels), these trails could incorporate hanging, tiered, and ground-level/border xeriscaped gardens which could provide food and water security for humans, pollinating bees, butterflies, birds, and related flora and fauna living within the improved environmental stability of the trail zones. Trail-zone grey-water and hydro-management programs could also be utilized, to increase water security.

Individuals/groups from trail-adjacent communities would be hired/responsible for the maintainance of local-to-global access/connectivity programs and projects, receiving multi-skill training/vocational/avocational opportunities, including:
  • ·         engineering/design/construction and maintenance
  • ·         agro-ecology/xeriscaping
  • ·         connectivity/communications
  • ·         renewable energy/power-grid establishment/use/maintenance
  • ·         food/water/energy security programs
  • ·         waste/sanitation
  • ·         arts/recreation
  • ·         indigenous-heritage-knowledge/wealth/resource preservation
  • ·         resilient adaptation; youth-elder programs; community representation/planning
  • ·         eco-tourism
  • ·         service-sector planning/management/marketing
  • ·         rest/refreshment/lodging
  • ·         massage/hammam/indigenous-therapies
  • ·         guides, security, translation
  • ·         bike/equipment maintenance, mapping
  • ·         web-page/data-sync design/maintenance

Networked-trails-projects can re-integrate impoverished, migrant, under-served, at-risk, and prison-community citizens-- enabling education, skills, and potential/available employment in all the sectors intersecting with trail use/operations.  At-risk/incarcerated adults and youth joining supervised trail-programs can acquire specific skills/knowledge/training, on-the-job-experience, verifiable performance records, and employment on the trail-systems they help build and/or maintain.

Associate benefits of constructing and utilizing internet linked trails would include possibilities for regional/national/international racing (single location and multi-location or global/synced-start racing events); tourism; continual field-learning cauldrons for those using the trails and for residents; cradle-to-cradle sustainable development collaborations; daily-use transit/portage routes (excluding heavy-vehicle/fuel-burning transport)—networked-trails could enhance connectivity, access, and recognition of the intra-connected, fragile balance between the eco-climates, agro-urban-economies, and food/water/energy-security  and social-inclusion/responsibility issues faced by each nation, region, community, and individual world-wide.

In Morocco, as everywhere, there are microcosms of environment, culture, economy-- and multiple issues directly impacting the survival, stability and sustainability of the kingdom’s citizens. Partnership approaches to community-based projects can improve resilience, celebrate existing heritage/knowledge, encourage more secure food/water/energy/transit practices— and inspire positive transformation within the communities and among all who participate, though tourism, project-participation, and economic involvement.

Although adaptable to any climate/topography, site-specific trail projects in Morocco can decrease erosion, diminish heat-bloom, desertification and vulnerability to drought while increasing available arable land-use, and enhancing access to (without increasing deterioration in) fragile and at-risk eco-environments. Local, migrant, tourist and other populations can utilize the trails as main arteries of connectivity and access, lessening the pollution footprints of erosion, slow/non-biodegradable waste and obsolescence.

The 7th World-Environment-Education Congress, WEEC2013, was hosted in Marrakech, Morocco. Trails, even one prototype, perhaps in Morocco’s southlands, would begin connecting cities with fertile valley, forest, coastal, mountain, and desert communities in Morocco and across borders-- helping protect the environment, bolster economic, energy, and food/water security, increase understanding, appreciation and responsible stewardship and enjoyment of our interdependent world.

Cleaning hypoxic ocean/inland-water zones, clean fuels and arable lands; my papers and presentations for WEEC2013

Micro-screen harvesters and other devices can be used to scoop ocean-hypoxic zone nitrogen-phosphate rich algae into holding tanks, and introduce the nutrient rich matter to the Sahara/other desert zones. Soil building processes—including adding fungii to introduce microbes in soil, composting and balancing with peat, clays and minerals (precipitated from bio-fuel production projects which may also be sourced from hypoxic water-zone bio-population-explosions) can utilize the solids and grey-water byproducts of organic-harvest processing. Introduce low-water-consumption xeriscaped plants, and augment with bio-diverse plantings (including succulents-- ice plant, harvesting fruit to prevent invasion of species; dragon fruit and cactus pear, etc); then vegetable, flowering, fruit and other trees—can decrease heat bloom, desiccation, desertification; and can increase pollinator-support, food and water security.

Dead Zones (hypoxia) are large regions of water so low in oxygen that they cannot support most aquatic life. Algae blooms on the surface of waters block the sun’s rays from reaching underwater plants, and even grow on sea weeds and aquatic plants growing near enough to the surface, further reducing the amount of sunlight they receive. Without sunlight, water plants (sea weeds, kelps, large grasses) cannot grow, and provide critical food, habitat, and even oxygen to oceanic and inland waters.
Leftover algae that are not consumed by fish (and that is another problem, since small fish fry, polyps and other small species which consume algae are consumed by the myriad jellyfish which thrive in low-oxygen, algae-rich waters) fall to the bottom of the water-system, where they are decomposed by bacteria which leaves little or no dissolved oxygen for the shellfish and other bottom-dwelling species in the aquatic environment. Burning fossil fuels continues to pump carbon into the atmosphere, further lowering oceanic/aquatic pH, also ideal conditions for incubating algae blooms, jellyfish, and the
Overfishing and the “throw-away” bycatch  further threatens the well-being of our oceans and waterways, by depleting needed populations of algae- and jellyfish- eaters, and by adding to the decomposition of aquatic life on ocean and deep-water floors. Whales, dolphins, loggerhead and leatherback marine turtles are caught, and die, each year, in commercial fishing gear, while trawling ocean floors kills the kelps, sea grasses, and shellfish which could help keep the world’s waters clean and oxygenated. With 90% of the ocean’s large fish in decline, jellyfish do not have as many predators as they used to. Meahwhile, Pelagia Noctiluca (“Mauve Stingers” plague the Mediterranean seas by the millions; Nomura’s Jelly Fish (echizen kurage in Japanese), which can grow to over 600 pounds, and other species of jellyfish are thriving in the dying waters of the world.
However, we are not without solutions to diminish, and correct, the poisoning and suffocation of our oceans and waterways. Instead of overfishing depleted fish populations, trawlers can be contracted to scoop up surface algae before they die and fall to the waters’ bottom layers, and to remove the huge infestations of jellyfish which currently clog water-zones, and eat much of the fish eggs and small fry that, if left undisturbed, could better repopulate healthy oceans and waters. Catching, and utilizing jellyfish as food, fuel, or compost is a far better solution than chopping them up in the water, since this only causes the butchered jellyfish to release hundreds, even thousands of polyps, which can mature into additional jellyfish needing to be cleaned up.
While some algae and jellyfish can be processed and eaten (various cultures have dined on healthy species for centuries), or (especially if largely dead/decomposing, therefore inedible masses of algae and jellyfish are collected) treated and processed into methane, compost, and recycled grey-water products in anerobic extractors and micro-digester systems, algae and jellyfish can also be utilized as raw materials for building nutrient-rich soils in sand-based or depleted topsoil systems. Whether processed for direct, super-saturated aquatic application to non-arable soil bases (especially efficient in warm/hot zones where decomposition processes are rapid), or utilized in methane-production (“renewable” fuel, which can be further “cleaned and greened” by solar-heated evaporation processes), the compostable materials from jellyfish and algae population explosions can rebuild terrestrial ecosystems, with the addition of fungi and beneficial microbes, processing worms and other digesters, nitrogen-fixing legumes and other plants, and xeriscaped agriculture.
And waterway and oceanic cleanup can similarly progress, by instituting submerged-rope-farming of kelps (e.g. the red kelp Gracilaria) and other filtration-efficient, bio-remediation water grasses and sea weeds (which remove inorganic nutrients from waters, produce oxygen, and provide food and habitat), and the submerged-rope-and-net farming of clams, mussels, and other bivalves filter organically-bound particles, e-coli, and other microbes which would otherwise contribute to the nutrient-rich, acidified, warm waters which lead to algae blooms, algae death/water-floor decomposition, and the spread of hypoxic waterzones and massive populations of jellyfish.
Since sea weeds and shell fish can provide solid nutritional value to human consumers, industries which invest in such bio-remediation measures can reap profits along with their ocean- and water- cleaning harvests. Methane fuel-producers, grey-water extractors, and compost-processors, similarly, can earn living wages while utilizing the algae and jellyfish infestations which are clogging our waterways, to produce clean energy, reusable water, and arable lands to support terrestrial eco- and agri-systems. Whether small/artisanal-sized operations, or scalable to regional, or global water-cleanup efforts supported by industry, NGO, and government investors in a program of serendipitous benefit to oceans, lands, and the humans running the industries and cleanup efforts, bio-extaction of raw materials, and bio-remediation through kelp, water-grasses, and shell-fish farming can improve the chances of sustainable life for many, if not most, of the globe’s millions of species of Earthlings on our shared, interdependent planet.

Games for ecolo-evolution; my papers and presentations for WEEC2013

Human cultures are evolving “universal” concepts of human rights and resilient response to shared challenges. Essential life-priorities must move beyond human centered sustainability and social justice to inclusive/ecocentric ethics, valuing diversity of ecosystems and species-cultures, aware of limited/renewable resources, and of the relative position of human kind within the ecosystems of interdependent Earth.

Multiple Language, interactive online and low/no-tech (board and role-play) learning games and real-world challenges can teach children/adults/communities about sustainability, interdependence, innovation/solution-design, and crisis management (e.g. health, weather, earthquakes, hypoxic ocean zones, food security, water security, etc) in fun and challenging games/forums. A board game version I could demonstrate is “dogs, cats, rats, cockroaches (or relevant regional insects: mosquitos, fleas, spiders, etc), which balances interdependent habitats, waste management and chaos/pest-infestations.

Environmental interaction/habitat games like my “Dogs, Cats, Rats and Cockroaches” help players of all ages explore concepts including:
 (how many times do you rescue the same creatures? Do you maintain the spaces in a sustainable manner, or just dump as many animals as possible, to “own” the ephemeral “value” of head-count?),
shared value (does your play provide healthy shelter and adoption opportunities for the animals; does your play enable interdependent work? is your use of available resources sustainable, or access/power driven? etc),
value differentiation, risk assessment and management, and  future-strategic play in a sustainable-or-win-at-all-costs strategy (many short-term gains with animals repeatedly returning to endangered/feral status, rather than slow, steady progress which improves conditions and expectations for majority of “stakeholders,” etc) and
knowledge-building (the online game should be able to increase the “stakes” of the shared responsibilities/value, enable expansion financial responsibility for older players…)
could be developed through data gathered during game play.

No man is an island, and my games are not “island” concepts, but interdependent games which I hope can add fun and meaningful celebrations of accomplishment to meeting real-life challenges, green, sustainability and resiliency issues. Value-differentiation, Risk/consequence-management, and Future/strategic-sustainability play games focus on building understanding and finding solutions, as well as providing fun– because, logically, stray animals don’t really find their lives to be very play-filled, game-like, or even safe, secure, or sustainable (although arguably, feral and viral populations can manifest a biologic footprint which can overtake many of the other organisms within their path/field-of-affect), nor do the other at-risk and underserved plant, animal, and human populations around the world.

Games can add tolerance, understanding, contribute ideas to the pool of solutions, and increase social interaction and Human/Gaia values as well as provide individualized entertainment and learning platforms, as well as highlight the extreme battles, obstacles, and daily tasks of life in a fun, meaningfully interactive environment. 

Of course, developmental Value-differentiation, Risk/consequence-management and Future/strategic-sustainability games can be challenging, engaging, and lots of fun, on a surface level, as “simple games,” too.  Games, like sports, have, indeed, provided a unifying balm, a focal point for disparate energies and loyalties, throughout the long centuries of our shared history. Sports and other types of games add greatly to the resilience of our lives. And, yes, gaming should be about fun, play, entertainment, and enjoyment. But that does not preclude games from including other benefits and raisons-d’etre, as well.

Some proponents of Edu-gaming tout games as a crucial determinant to the success of global progress into an interdependent 21st Century. Edu-gaming can become a tool for peace, an aid for development, a source of education, well-spring of inclusion, of emergent and indigenous knowledge, skills, and culture. Fred Donaldson, Play Practitioner, has adapted many of his successful healing techniques by decoding play signals, and observing and measuring the concessions pf behavior which overcome asymmetries of power and skill, trust and conflict.

Games can assist with learning or accomplishment, to lighten the drudgery of daily ‘devoirs’ and repetitive tasks. And, actually, I think that if social change or humanitarian groups could incorporate more games into their efforts, it might make charitable involvement and contributions more fun, the work more accessible and understandable, and the leadership/choices more transparent (concomitant to increased awareness).

Games can embrace social awareness, while not requiring huge investments time, affirmations of loyalty, or attempting to dictate mores, culture, or choices. Introductory play among mainstream, differently- and dis-abled children, preliminary liaison between hostile gangs and other groups locked in spiraling lose-lose battles, and other “intervention” meetings frequently exhibit gestures of measured social trust, “permission” to drop stances imposed by conflict, efforts to communicate, interact, and, finally, even to play.

The philosopher Plato said “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” People play games not only to build bonds of understanding and trust, but to break rules, explore old concepts and new opportunities, to feel powerful, have both freedom and control, to create complex or even counter-intuitive solutions and systems to build order from chaos.

Stuart Brown, a physician and clinical researcher who founded the National Institute for Play _
http://www.nifplay.org/vision.html (play+science=transformation) discussed the primal levels at which play exists even in the wild, presenting a photo essay with a polar bear who befriended a husky dog at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHj82otCi7U

Historically, children have had society’s “permission” to play (except in situations of deprivation). Resumption of play, or, better, continuation of play at the adult level has been shown to establish, or re-establish security, balance, and flexibility, enabling individuals and groups, human and animal, across species, and within, to react and adapt positively to the unexpected, to challenges and changes of social/community order, of the environment, of life.

Across the global financial sector, “play” earns billions a year, organized sports billions more. And yet, in urban and rural spaces all around the world, children and adults also play low- and no-tech games, requiring little more than a few sticks, or recycled scraps, a ball or two, and creativity.

Our children’s favorite games reflect this simpler approach. Most of my/our children’s games are born of necessity. Many people work long hours and have very little free time,. Many others have little or no extra income to spend on expensive entertainments. After all, for adults and children alike, life would be pretty harshly boring and inflexible without games and fun to liven things up.

And, in some of the urban and remote places we have lived, my children and I love to invent playground games, like “Octopus” (modified freeze tag, dodgeball and base-stealing game I play with my little guys) and “Lava Vulture” (modified black-swan resilience/emergency-management technique-building qua hide-and-seek, requiring participants to dodge or react to seemingly-impassible “magma” and flood zones, to establish safe habits and safe spaces and codes for run-lanes, large-bouncy-dodge-balls and tag-outs, which is enjoyed by my little guys and willing adult athletes; the game can be as simple or complex as players can handle).

Actually, home-grown sports-games like Octopus, Lava Vulture, hopscotch, musical chairs (which some scholars liken to the survival games which were born of the hunt-hide-survive and plague-eras, and the resilience-building and coping techniques the adults and children of the times developed, hundreds of years ago), and all the other games of children and care-takers worldwide will probably never have the cache, branding, and huge profits of soccer, cricket, football, and stadium sports, or online and board games. But they are fun, require little equipment, cross cultural and language barriers (for example, our children/we seldom live where we speak our mother tongue), give great exercise, challenge, team-building/rapport, and lots of laughing, wherever we play them.

Across species, play is a universal means of building trust, interaction and cooperation, creativity, growth and development. Psychiatrists and zoologists have measured the dangerous, long-term consequences of play deprivation, which include lack of social skills, lack of optimism, perceived lack of alternatives, and tendencies to meet stressful situations with violence. Like the games born of necessity, whether no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech, MMOPG, ARG, or other format–  playing games seems to be beneficial for all moving species (and maybe even plants, for all I know… climbing trees always seem to grow stronger, not weaker, with repeated interactive play from children, or climbing animals…).