What Kind of a President Does America Need?

Lets start with what America does NOT need: It does not need a President who is deemed (by the media, the pundits, the chattering classes, the owners of capital, and the mavens of the Democratic and Republican party) “realistic,” “pragmatic,” “knows how government works,” “not too partisan,” or “savvy.”

All these terms are short hand for this: they will accept the existing contours of power (both economic and political) and work within them to accomplish some limited but valuable reforms. In the prophetic tradition of Judaism, we think of “being realistic’ as the functional equivalent of idolatry. Idolatry is: Accepting “That Which Is” as the criterion of “That Which Can Be.”

To believe in God, on the other hand, is to believe that there is something, a force, a being, a reality, an ineffable “no-Thing” or “nothingness” or Ayin or boundarylessness-Eyn Sof, which makes possible at all times the transformation from “That Which Is” to “That Which Ought to Be.” In fact, in my interpretation of Judaism, whatever that is, that is what is meant by YHVH or what in English called God.

That’s why it has always seemed particularly perverse that some Christians call the God of the Jews “Jehovah,” trying to sound out four letters that Jews have always said were unpronounceable. The Hebrew word YHVH is a concept, not a proper name. The root of the concept is HVH, which in Hebrew means approximately what the words “To Be” mean in English-the present tense of the verb to be. And when you put a ‘yud’ (Y) in front of a root of a verb in Hebrew you are indicating future tense. So the word can’t exactly be translated, but it would mean something like “the movement into the future of the Being of the present.” In context, it means the transformative force, that which makes possible the movement from what is to what should be, the force that breaks the repetition compulsion (the tendency in human life to pass on to others the pain and cruelty that has been passed on to us) and allows us to transcend our conditioning history and act freely in accord with our God nature to be loving, peaceful and just.

So we need our next president to be filled with the spirit of God in this sense-that s/he refuses to accept that which is as the framework of that which can be.

Instead of being realistic (an idol-worshipper), we need a president who is unashamed to talk and act from a commitment to that which is best for the planet and that which most advances the capacities of the American people and the peoples of the world to be their most loving and generous and kind selves. And we need a president who can communicate and enthuse the American people and the people of the world with that sensibility.

The central unifying idea of the next president’s campaign and the major focus of his presidency should be a call for a New Bottom Line in American society. Today, institutions and social practices are judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power. That’s the Old Bottom Line. Now Here is the NEW BOTTOM LINE for which he should advocate: Institutions (including corporations and governments), social practices, and even person actions should be judged rational, efficient and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace, and to the extent that they enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and enhances our capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur of creation. .

To make this kind of a focus for his/her presidency, s/he must talk at a far deeper level than merely repeating or reframing the traditional leftist demands for economic and political rights. While s/he should strongly advocate for a Global Marshall Plan, s/he should also acknowledge that these political and economic changes will only be won on a global level when the social change movements are able to address the spiritual consequences of the triumph of corporate globalization: a society-wide depression and repression of what we can variously call the life-force, eros, God-energy or Spirit.

Please note that this is very different from those who talk about spiritual politics but actually mean only this: that it would be politically advantageous and opportune to take the traditional liberal agenda and dress it up with some spiritual or “values” language. So they take the existing liberal/left agenda, with its primary focus on social justice, inclusion of those who have been left out, economic redistribution, and peace-and then they find some Biblical quotes to bolster the case for the pre-existing liberal/progressive agenda. We support all that, but our movement goes much deeper.

I don’t believe that our next president can convince the Congress or the country of the liberal agenda simply by reframing it in spiritual language. For a large section of the American public, the primary source of pain in their lives is not about economic deprivation or non-inclusion, but about the way that the ethos of selfishness and materialism plays out in their personal lives and in the lives of people around them in ways that are destructive and feel terrible. They are wounded and personally despairing about the manipulative, narrowly utilitarian way people treat each other and themselves and the earth. They want a framework of meaning to their lives and to the lives of those around them that speaks of higher meaning to life, shows a path to a life that is not only about maximizing money but about maximizing a meaningful life-in short, they want and need a politics of meaning, and need a meaning-oriented movement that can counter the spiritual depression that surrounds them.

Don’t confuse this with those who simply are trying to put some Biblical quotes in front of the same old Democratic Party or liberal agenda.

The spiritual depression and emotional repression that suffuse contemporary life are the near-universal responses to the globalization of a self-congratulatory individualism, obsessive materialism, and consumption-all provided as compensation for the meaninglessness of our present-day culture. The one-dimensional technocratic consciousness, speed-up of work, perception that we have “no time” to do what we really believe in, and our inability to recognize others in terms that go beyond what they can do for us to advance our own agendas as rational maximizers of self-interest-all these combine to create human beings who, if they don’t explode in violence (like that which we recently saw at Virginia Tech) or self-destructive alcohol and drug abuse, find themselves in varying degrees of disconnection to their inner selves, their feelings, and their capacities to be loving towards others and responding to the universe with joy.

In contrast to this, our next president should encourage the recognition that “there is enough,” that we can afford to share, that the material consumption that drives our destruction of the global environment does not actually yield satisfaction. Such a president should seek a replacement of postmodernist self-alienation with a renewal of Being based on awe, wonder and radical amazement at the mystery of the universe and the mystery of every human being on the planet as a manifestation of the sacred. Our economic, social and political institutions need to be replaced and rethought not only because they are unjust, but because they foster a consciousness that keeps us from connecting to the deepest truths of the universe and make it harder for us to recognize each other as fully free, fully conscious, self-creating, loving beings. In this sense, the globalization of Spirit is the antidote to the globalization of Capital.

Why is it that people who live in the advanced industrial societies of North America, Europe and Japan, the richest societies that history has ever known, believe we “can’t afford” to share what we have with the rest of the world so as to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness? It is partly because of our collective paranoia that no one will be there for us if we should ever really need their help that leads us to think our only security lies in endless accumulation, to protect our isolated self-interest in face of a deep inner certainty that others can’t be counted on. And partly because we have a deep emptiness inside and we have come to believe that only material goods can fill it. We buy things to buy happiness, to compensate ourselves for the alienated work, the disconnection from each other, and the estrangement from our own inner selves that constitute the texture of our daily lives.

In our spiritually impoverished world, acquiring ever more things provides an illusion of fulfillment-and a replacement for the deep connection with each other and to the spiritual realities of the universe for which we both hunger and simultaneously deny to ourselves (lest we re-experience the pain and disappointment we had at earlier points in our lives when we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and then failed to receive the loving and recognition we needed but didn’t fully get).

In addition, almost every child in our culture gets strong messages to focus attention on that which can be useful, and away from the spiritual dimension which has no “practical application.” Indeed, this message has been so deeply ingrained in many of us that we instinctively shy away from the spiritual realm as though it were as dirty as not being toilet trained. We fear that were we to acknowledge to ourselves or others that we actually wish for connection with that which cannot be used or made practical, cannot be subject to empirical observation or turned into a commodity or something that will make us more attractive or salable on the job or relationship marketplace, we would subject us to ridicule and humiliation.

Fearful that we will experience that pain once again, we often build strong external walls to keep us out of touch with this deep yearning for connection to each other and to the universe. Instead of drawing on our own inner resources, we too often find ourselves looking to the media-dominated mass culture for fulfillment and reassurance that our scaled-down sense of possibility is “what everybody else is doing” and hence “the only possible path for us too.” The media is one of the many institutions that speeds up time-protecting us from the quiet moments in which we might doubt the whole way our lives our being lived.

Instead of finding our own pace, we find ourselves rushing about, seeking machines and gadgets that make things go faster, becoming accustomed to media and technology which speed the pace while “shallow-ing” the intellectual and emotional level of our daily consciousness. We learn to forget the past and focus only on the new while devaluing the old, which leads to decreasing literacy and an increasing difficulty in following a complex discussion, sustaining a long-term relationship, or committing to social goals that can’t be accomplished immediately.

Sadly, our social institutions only reinforce this materialist view. Our institutions provide us with the illusion of permanency (pretending we won’t die) and the illusion that the “real world” is the world of power and wealth. Compound this with the patriarchal assumption that we should be tough and ignore our feelings, and we are left with a “common sense” that dismisses the relevance of our inner lives. We are told that spirituality should be left in the home, relegated to the weekend, kept separate from the pragmatic decisions that should shape politics and the business world. On the contrary, the next President should be someone who can help people affirm progressive spiritual values in the public sphere without weakening the separation clause that protects us from allowing any particular religion from becoming “established” as the only legitimate form of spiritual life. I’ve detailed how to do this in my book The Left Hand of God: Healing America’s Political and Spiritual Crisis (paperback, 2007, Harper San Francisco).

This is one reason why our next President should take the Spiritual Covenant with America that we’ve developed in the Network of Spiritual Progressives and make this the center of her/his political agenda. While space here precludes a full presentation, of the idea (you can find it at www.spiritualprogressives.org

- Changing all global and regional trade agreements in which the U.S. is currently involved so that they no longer privilege the most powerful and economically successful Western countries and the elites of other countries at the expense of the poor of the world. Global trade must be both multilateral and equitable. New agreements must provide support and encouragement for working people organizing, being paid a living wage, and providing adequate safety and health conditions and environmental safeguards so that economic growth is encouraged in ways that respect the rights of working people, promotes their well-being, and ensures their dignity and human rights. Trade agreements must also protect farmers, both at home and abroad, encouraging food prices that make it possible for farmers to make a living and poorer people to buy adequate food.

- Ensuring hands-on involvement from peoples of the Western world, starting with the United States. We wish to create an international Peace and Justice Corps which would provide ways for people with useful skills to volunteer two years of their life (at any age of their life) in donating their talents toward the goals of the Global Marshall Plan. To make this viable for professionals and others who have gained valuable skills and who fear losing their jobs, we envision a guaranteed job for anyone volunteering two years in the Peace and Justice Corps at the level of income at which they were working before they entered the program. While participating in the Peace and Justice Corps, people would receive the average salary that they were receiving in the five years before volunteering so that they could continue to help their families (though they would be encouraged to bring with them and spend in the countries in which they were working the same salaries that the people in those countries receive for doing comparable work). For high school graduates, three years of volunteer service in the Global Marshall Plan would be rewarded with a fully paid college or professional school tuition plus student housing and food for four years as long as they were making satisfactory progress in an accredited college or graduate or professional school.

- Using the International Peace and Justice Corps not only to build the capacities of people around the world to ensure their own future economic well-being , but also to deliver certain necessities including emergency food supplies, the building of environmentally-sound housing not only for the millions who are currently homeless but for the hundreds of millions of people soon to be born into poverty before the program can fully succeed, the rebuilding of crumbling city infrastructure, the building and/or rebuilding of dams, levees, roads, bridges, ports, railroads in environmentally sound ways, and the training of hundreds of millions of people with the skills necessary to do well in the economic marketplace and to survive those aspects of environmental collapse that at this point may be impossible to avoid.

- Retraining of the armies of nations around the world to become experts in ecologically sensitive construction of those aspects of their own societies that need relief and reconstruction, including agriculture, health care, housing, infrastructure, education and computers, and other appropriate technology.

- Training for everyone on the planet in techniques of nonviolent communication, respect for ethnic and religious diversity and differences, family and parental support,` stress reduction, child and elderly care, emergency health techniques, diet and exercise, and caring for others who are in need of help.

We estimate that this program, if fully implemented, could cost as much as 3-5% of the GDP of the world. Our commitment is to start with the 1% of US GDP and move from there.

We offer this plan with a commitment to humility and a conviction that it cannot work unless it is understood as deriving from our own commitment to the well-being of everyone on the planet and not primarily as a self-interested plan to advance American power or influence. One of the values of having an international agency to administer the plan is that from the start it will be clear that this plan is not simply another puppet for U.S. power.

We must also insist that the plan be implemented with a clear message that although the West has superior technology and material success, we do not equate that with superior moral or cultural wisdom. On the contrary, our approach must reflect a deep humility and a spirit of repentance for the ways in which Western dominance of the planet has been accompanied by wars, environmental degradation, and a growing materialism and selfishness reflected in a Western- dominated global culture.

Given these distortions, it is central to our mission to convey in the Global Marshall Plan a recognition that we have much to learn from the peoples of the world, their cultures, their spiritual and intellectual heritage, their ways of dealing with human relationships. So part of the program must also include cultural exchanges in which we invite into the cultural and educational systems of Western countries some of the teachers, musicians, artists, religious leaders, authors, poets, and philosophers of the non-Western world. We view this not as a sop thrown to ameliorate possible hurt egos, but as a genuine attempt to recognize that our superior technology and material success has not brought with it a superior ethical or spiritual wisdom, and that there is much to learn from societies that from a material standpoint are “under-developed” but from a spiritual standpoint may have within them teachers and cultures that are far more humanly sensitive than our own.

That is not to say that such a president should be unaware of the Yetzer HaRa, the inclination toward hurtfulness that has been shaped in each of us by our childhoods (as it says in Genesis, God saw that the inclination of people was evil from their childhood). Our president will need a dose of Niebuhr-ian sensibilities. S/he must be aware that all the calls for love, generosity, peace and social justice will face an immediate resistance from the people of the U.S. and the people of the world. And so s/he must take that into account and plan for how to overcome it.

But what such a president should do with that recognition is to develop a public campaign against cynicism that speaks about its roots, and simultaneously a new program for education that seeks to develop in children some of the necessary defenses against the ways that their inclinations toward hurtfulness are fostered in school and in family life.

This is, of course, a hefty agenda. To some it will seem na

Gotham Chopra: $100/tank

Yesterday, Candice and I took our baby boy down from LA to SD to see my dad. We have two cars in our household but when making a long distance trip with the baby, choose to use the bigger (albeit less eco-friendly but safer) SUV. Yesterday, before getting on the road, we filled the empty tank. Price:$100.00.

There was something very symbolic about it landing squarely on 100 dollars even. For months now, we’ve all seen gas prices steadily climb. And we’ve gotten used to seeing spending 70+, 80+, 90+. But crossing that threshold, see all three digits followed two more after the decimal point register on the pump for the first time was a jarring introduction to the summer of 2008, the conclusion of which will send American voters into the booth with a critical decision to make about this nation’s future.

Gas prices and the economic recession we are in (and yes, this is a recession) are just two of the very significant issues we are facing. Now comes news that General Bush has been for months laying the groundwork for a military strike into Iran as a sort of last hoora. And oh yeah, that’s not where uncle Osama is holed up by all reports. Then again, who knows, seems the trail has gone cold since circa 2002, and General Bush’s “dead or alive” hunt is not much of a priority anymore, resulting in what various intelligence agencies are declaring as Al Qaida’s resurgence to pre-9/11 prominence and some sort of imminent attack.

Right – then there’s that pesky Iraq thing which won’t seem to go away. We’re sort of obligated to nation build there after we tore the place apart. Not a liberal rant – it is what it is. We shock and awed the shit out of the place, and all would agree that a hasty pull out won’t stop the unwanted pregnancy that’s already midterm. You think other Islamists haven’t been watching as the US brutally violated Iraq the last few years, building up their venom, rousing their vigilantism? Sorry for the crude descriptions, but sadly they’re apt.

Then again, what difference does it make? Because such scare tactics will likely not work this time around in this election. That and the fact that McCain doesn’t have the same sort of Republican Guard that Generalisimo Bush had in 2004. And truthfully, I think we have some serious nation building that needs to happen here in the home of the brave. There’s an undercurrent of uncertainty and anxiety that is starting to rip through the fault lines of this country. How do I know? Because I am feeling it. I’m not sure where there is a rebound from this scenario we find ourselves in. Pretty sure just buying that Prius won’t do the trick.

And as much as i like to think that that black dude (who speaks so well!!!) is gonna turn this titanic around, I have my doubts he can do it without some Harry Potter-like sorcery.

I had started to write this blog when I started poking around the internet to find some facts to back me up and stumbled upon Tom Friedman’s latest op-ed in the NYTIMES. He says all of the above better than I do, so check it out. Call it a vast left wing conspiracy if you like, but if that’s the case, can I at least submit my gas receipts for reimbursement to the relevant party?

To See the World in a Grain of Sand and Heaven…

How often do we look forward to see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of our hand and eternity in an hour!

William Blake’s view resonates as an eternal song with the spirit! From Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, Blake’s The Lamb & The Tyger (Love & Time) are worth noting as indeed are The Auguries of Innocence which contain the Sand, Heaven, Infinity and Eternity!

And for you… what do you look forward to… what resonates you?

The Ancient of Days: God as Architect – William Blake

[ENDS]

With love and warm wishes to you and family

DK with family

DK Matai

Peace or Right?

What does it take to go beyond the cycle of action and reaction? On a daily basis I see guests at the Chopra Center caught in the trap of emotional turbulence. Boundaries crossed without permission generate pain. The pain provokes a response that is intended to diminish the distress, but often generates a new round of anguish. Over time, conflicted relationships lead to festering emotional wounds, which manifest as physical distress and illness.

Almost always, there is historical validity to the stories we tell that explain our pain and grievance. The question we have to ask is whether the stories are serving us. Sadly, it is often easier to recognize that they are not than it is to write a new chapter.

Changing the plot starts with creating some space and time to allow the beginning of healing. If people cannot interact without an exchange degenerating into an argument, they need to take a time-out. Once some calm is introduced, the parties must decide if they are prepared to transform the relationship into something that provides more comfort than pain. Each person must recognize the need for healthy boundaries. Every of us has core ego needs — to be respected and acknowledged. When we can see through the layers of pain and distrust, we recognize that we all seek similar goals in life

Point of View

My 8 year-old daughter, Sara went to a Padres baseball game the other night, so we watched the game on television, hoping to get a glimpse of her in the crowd of 30,000 (the camera actually focused in on her for 5 seconds!) As I watched the plays, I realized that every action that occurred was interpreted as either desirable (good) or undesirable (bad) depending upon whether you were a San Diego or San Francisco fan.

A homerun was celebrated by one side and mourned by the other. A diving catch was seen as an amazing

How Helping People Helps Your Bottom Line

Our newest venture at Affirmagy is called Positively Fundraising. A division we built dedicated to helping non-profits, primarily youth groups, raise money for their programs.

From a personal perspective, I am so excited about what we’ve created because as a creative type I love to take an idea and give it form.

From a business perspective, I am excited for that reason, and more. Consider why our Positively Fundraising division makes sense for Affirmagy, and see if you can draw some parallels in your business.

1. Help Your Customers Achieve THEIR Goals.

Positively Fundraising is a superb example of helping people get what they want. Organizations need money. We provide a great way for them to make it. As I learned years ago, figure out how to help people get what THEY want and you have a solid foundation to start from.

2. Make It Easy-Squeezy-Lemonezy To Work With You.

Ain’t nobody got time for nothin’ these days. I say, MAKE IT EASY for people to give you money! I swear. Do it.

Step back, look at your business, and figure out how to make it so easy to work with you that it’s like breathing.

With Positively Fundraising, we make it easy in lots of ways:

We provide downloadable order forms that our customers can customize with their contact info.

We provide a secure place to order from us 24/7.

We offer smart and savvy tip sheets that make it easy for folks whether they’ve done a fundraiser or not.

We offer a master order form which consolidates individual orders into one order for placement with us online.

We offer free shipping on orders over $300.

Every single one of these things came from either a direct customer request, or the process of us walking through what we thought our customers would need. Try finding "make it easy" things to infuse into your business. It’s a powerful experience.

3. Seek To Serve and Everything Becomes Easier.

Choosing to contribute to others… that is… choosing to figure out HOW YOU HELP YOUR customers is the secret sauce.

It’s as simple as this: You can quantum leap your business by answering this question ‘How do I help others by solving a problem, making them money, or making them feel good?’. If you want to call me with ways you can tackle any of those three things in my life, I am all ears.

That’s one of the reasons people love PositivelyFundraising.com. We show people easy ways to raise money for their non-profit, so they can get back to doing the things they love for that non-profit.

A New World or No World?

Continuing the list of what we need in terms of awareness to prevail in difficult times:

3 A vision of the future.
When people are asleep, the future is a repetition of the past, because inertia can do little else. Conservation, the party of inertia, represents the impulse in each of us not to wake up –it says “Leave me alone. I like the way I am.” The growth of consciousness never happens until a person overcomes inertia first. All progress occurs first at the level of consciousness and then, as if by magic, a discovery appears in the outer world. A famous example is the discovery of penicillin. In the lab millions of petri dishes had been thrown out because common air-borne Penicillium mold had contaminated the bacteria that a researcher wanted to culture. The mold was a nuisance until Alexander Fleming saw instead that killing bacteria was a positive thing — he was awake to a new possibility. The key was a change of perception.

New discoveries don’t occur because Nature suddenly reveals more of its potential. All of Nature is available all the time. We are the discoverers of hidden dimensions in ourselves, and a tiny flicker of waking up stimulates new revelations. Ultimately, science is a way for mind to speak to itself — it’s an inner exploration that leads to external findings. But at the present moment, with reactionary forces so dominant, there is no viable vision of tomorrow. By definition reactionary forces want to freeze progress, usually by idealizing the past and grossly exaggerating the risk of moving forward.

4. The courage and will to carry out that vision.
The unknown is frightening to contemplate (a fear bolstered by anything that represents losing control over our surroundings — e.g. oil prices, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and a planet made unstable by global warming. But being uncertain is also necessary. Finding a new way means destroying and old way, and nobody can predict what happens when both forces hit each other head on.

It takes courage to discard what we know — the tried and true, the comfortable and reassuring . It takes no courage to enforce “traditional values.” Traditionalism rarely, if ever, advanced the world at large. However, that lesson must be relearned over and over, because fear is ever-present. It must be surmounted every day. Driving fear away doesn’t solve anything; it only sets the stage for what really solves problems: quantum leaps in creativity, new discoveries, liberating insights.

Clearly we are at a point where traditionalism has shown far more negatives than positives. Religious intolerance taints the churches and mosques, homophobia and anti-immigration taint the desire for community. We live at a time when traditional values shouldn’t be allowed to hold consciousness back. After all, it wasn’t long ago that racism was a tradition — the recent Democratic primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky show how enduring that tradition is. Courage is a dynamic quality. It must be seized eery day. Courage is the implementing force of vision, and both begin in consciousness.

5. A viable definition of personal happiness.
In the end, arriving at a new world comes down to what makes us happy. We use oil because driving our own cars and traveling at will makes us happier than being limited to railroads and mass transit. Reformers lament that more people don’t give up their cars and resort to mass transit. When you think about why they don’t, the answer isn’t decades of cheap gas, ingrained American selfishness, or a crass indulgence in personal pleasure over the health of the planet. We don’t change to a new way of life because we are following an old way of happiness. Duty and guilt tell us to save the planet. But another voice speaks louder, and it asks if we would be giving up our happiness. Global warming won’t be solved by lecturing the human race about saving the polar bear.

Here we face the most difficult challenge of all. Our conception of happiness has to move away from materialism. Every wise teacher has declared that external comforts are unreliable and not to be trusted. Christ didn’t say “The Kingdom of God is within a four-bedroom condo.” He said it lies within us. In India, turning inward became a powerful social force because people agreed that the inner path was real and desirable. To back up this conviction, .most ancient people looked around and saw disease, poverty, and violence in all directions. The seductions of money and physical comfort weren’t present. Our situation now teeters on the rink of peril, too. We have reached a crossroads that appears only once or twice a century. Two roads aren’t diverging in a yellow wood, however the divide exists in consciousness. The world’s wisdom traditions inform us which way to go. Only time will tell if waking up was the way we chose. If so, peril will turn into a creative opportunity. The other way surely leads into more inertia, reactionary values, dead habit, and worst of all, deeper and deeper sleep.

Old MacDonald Feeling Young Again

In Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House , one of my favorite children’s books, Judi and Ron Barrett show us that no matter where you live, you can make a difference by growing some of your own food. The book is a wonderful way to get kids excited about gardening and teach them valuable lessons about community, responsibility and self-reliance. From suburban lawns to urban rooftops, people everywhere are beginning to realize that local food is both sustainable and delicious!
Lacking the rural landscape of his sing-along predecessor, this Old MacDonald decides to convert his apartment building (or house, if you will), into an urban farm. As superintendent of the building, he eventually drives his tenants crazy with carrots, cucumbers and cows, forcing them to move. He and his wife quickly expand their penthouse produce until they get a visit from the buildings owner who is rather unpleased with the rustic renovations. Without giving away the ending, I will say that the book encourages people young and “Old” to see how colorful our world can be if each of us is willing to get our hands a little dirty.
Empty rooftops and chemically saturated lawns are beginning to seem as environmentally irresponsible as joy riding a gas-guzzling hummer. Grass has gone the way of gas. At an age when our petroleum-dependant ways are ruining the planet and food shortages are threatening populations the world over, we need to seriously reconsider the extreme distances our food travels. A great way to reconcile these issues is to grow your own. Wherever you live there’s always room for some edible foliage.

To learn more about how you can keep your food really local, check out the book, Food Not Lawns <http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/foodnotlawns> and find out if there is a community garden <http://www.communitygarden.org/learn/faq.php> in your neighborhood.

And call your library and local bookstore and ask them to urge Simon and Schuster to put Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House back into print!