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Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Familes Creating Tomorrow's World' Part 2

The second session was facilitated by Sayuri, with focus on environment. Adults and older children participated while little ones played at the basement. Sayuri played beautiful meditational music and invited us to close our eyes and get connected with the Mother Earth. Sayuri's voice was mesmerizing and the sense of connection among all of us through meditation was just incredible.

Sayuri read the Japanese translation of 'Children of the Earth - A Letter from Home' by Schim Schimmel. The book helped us realize how much the earth and its species loved us humans and needed our help, and that we are really one big family reliant on each other.

What many participants found particularly fun and effective was the way Sayuri brought soft toys of many endangered animals and became spokesperson for each of them - like Beluga whales in the Arctic Ocean, lions in the African deserts, and bears in the deteriorating forests. She brought photos of glaciers, one of 30 years ago and now to show us how much of it had melted, one of a disappearing island, and another of deserts that are quickly replacing forests.

After seeing the realities of the world, Sayuri had us discuss what we could each do to stop the further damage to the earth and its species, after she shared a list of things that each household can do to reduce CO2 emission by a Japanese non-profit organization, and invited me to speak about the 10 things that I had recently started doing - like bringing my own towel, grocery bags, and coffee mug when going out, and using recycled paper products if used at all and use a half of what I used before.

Our group came up with many creative and doable ideas like showering less, walking to and from school, driving a hybrid car if we have to drive, composting, drying laundry indoors, using biodegradable products, turning off appliances like jars and computers. Sayuri said that environmentalist David Suzuki's family of four only produced one plastic-bag full of garbage per month, and that really shocked me. I have been doing what I can, and I can do a lot more!

One challenge expressed by a mother was that it was hard for her to convince her Canadian husband to have a more earth-friendly lifestyle - its thriftiness to him seems like one that belonged to poor people. Some suggested ideas like having their children influence their fathers, and showing numbers like hydro bills being effective to encourage awareness in one's spouse.

At the end each family group or individual presented a list of things they can and will do to reduce their impact on the environment. It was impressive how young children were so involved with this exercise, empowering their parents to think differently from what they were used to.

Another wonderful material that Sayuri shared with us was the legendary speech by Severn Suzuki, David Suzuki's daughter at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil (for its text, go to http://gnome24.com/nature/severn/speech_01.html) How far have we come, 15 years later, now that CO2 emission is still increasing at an alarming rate? I am just made aware how oblivious I have been for all these years, being bogged down on micromanagement of family matters and my self-centred business and academic pursuits. I listen to Severn now. We cannot afford not to listen any more.

Thank you Sayuri for doing extensive research on the current situations of the earth and yet having us connect with the nature and the species with love and positive prospects for action. This is only the beginning.

With love and appreciation,

Satoko

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