How the Greench Stole Christmas

Jumping on with the trend Maura started, I too decided to write a holiday poem. Finals shminals.

How the Greench Stole Christmas

All the people back home liked Christmas a lot.
But the Greench at Ecohouse had a troubling thought:

She didn't buy Christmas! The whole buying season.
It seemed wrong to her, yet no one quite got the reason.
It could be that the spirit of Christmas is such
that people just love it, no matter how much
Mother Earth may suffer. It's worth Her sacrifice
for this day on which people decide to be nice.

But whatever their reasons, be it family or friends,
The Greench couldn't feel good without making amends.
She grew to dread Christmas, which now starts in October.
She felt so alone. Was no one else sober?
She knew they were shopping at malls everywhere,
not sharing her values, not seeming to care.

"And they're clogging the highways!" she sighed with a moan.
"Their heaters are blasting! They're driving alone!"
Then she sniffled. The engines outside just kept humming.
"But what can I do? Stop Christmas from coming?"

She remembered the joy she once felt on that day,
tearing wrappings on presents she'd just throw away.
And then! Oh, the waste! Oh, the waste, waste, waste, waste!
That's one thing she hated: the waste! Waste! Waste! Waste!
Then all, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast! And they'd feast, feast, feast, feast!
They'd feast on factory meats and non-organic treats
and not care where their food had come from in the least.

But it wasn't all bad. There'd be warmth for a day
in December, a prospect that's more than okay.
The Greench has a father and mother as well,
and cousins to play with, and stories to tell,
and she does like her presents, and the songs are okay
except at the mall where they're all overplayed.

What to do, what to do? And it struck: an idea!
The Greench had a wonderful, brilliant idea!

"I know just what to do!" the Greench shouted with glee.
The first thing she did? Why, she chose a real tree
from a farm, not the wild, and then for her mother
who's allergic to pine, she looked for another -
a fake one this time, for reuse each year.
She reused wreaths too: less damage, same cheer.

She was just getting started! The next thing she did
was pick out a gift for her stepsister's kid.
She found treasure upstairs at a small local shop:
A penguin friend made with sustainable crops!
And in that same store she found fair trade tea,
homemade soaps, local art, and organic coffee.

She looked for the labels and paid the nice lady,
then carpooled down the street going 30 (not 80).
Down the street was a large and abundant thrift store,
which isn't a place that's reserved for the poor.
She found clothes, toys and games, CDs, dishes and books,
electronics and more - used, but you can't tell by looks.

And she still wasn't finished! Back in her Greench lair
she had tons of stuff that was just sitting there.
Would someone else want it? Could she make something new?
"With my old craft supplies, why, that's just what I'll do!"
Then it came time for wrapping. And out from the depths,
she dug up last year's paper and bags that she'd kept.

"Made of recycled paper!" she laughed. For herself,
instead of stuff that would just gather dust on her shelf,
she asked people to give to the Earth that sustains her.
Those buying for her know that injustice pains her.
Planting trees for a shirt, though, why that's the cat's meow!
There are so many options for buying fair now.

But some people still like to do things the old way.
The Greench shrugged and she said, "I think that's okay.
There are things that I've wanted since eight months ago,
but instead of buying them then, I told myself no.
For a lot of that stuff, my wants ceased to exist.
But the stuff I still want, well, that goes on my list!"

The Greench turned off her lights and welcomed the glow
of moonlight reflecting off fresh-fallen snow.
And on the next day she awoke to the smell
of breakfast, organic and healthy as well.
She greeted her family and felt the warmth spread
From her generous heart to her idea-filled head.

The warmth was refreshing and melted the thought
that Christmas consisted of wasting a lot.
"It came without car fumes. It came without stress.
It came without making a big global mess.
"Maybe Christmas," she quoted, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas is something we all can afford."

All people, that is, and all creatures too,
and all cultures can thrive, no matter who
you may worship or pray to or give all your thanks.
It's meaningful "spending", not breaking the bank.
What tradition exists outside of the land?
We all create culture within Nature's hands.

Photo of snow in moonlight taken from http://picasaweb.google.com/Thuleexplorer/BestShotsSept282007#5116606848653722306.


End of the Semester Sonnet

If it isn't the Eco-House blog readers!
The end of the semester is close by,
Due dates are approaching from all teachers,
Yet here is SNOW and vacation seems nigh!

Last Monday of last week of classes,
The prospect of work inspires no joy,
Waiting for the bus we freeze our ... hmmm
Another assignment, "Thanks, oh boy!"

Yet think of all that we have learned thus far,
On sustainability and the earth,
The toil, sweat, and tears seem worth much more,
Together we have seen its and our worth!

So though we're stressed, at the end of our rope,
We are an Eco-Family and share hope!


Best. Leadership Activity. Ever.

Well, at least the best Leadership Activity for Ecohouse I've ever done. (Joke: I've only done this one.)

I spent about 8-10 hours working on setting up this event, Sustainability & the War on Drugs. I would have spent more hours if I hadn't gotten help from my friends in NORML and SSDP. (Disclaimer: Ecohouse does not endorse the politics of NORML and SSDP. I do, though! Officially!)

It was very stressful, even with the help. I had no idea how to go through the rental processes and taking care of the contract for the guest speaker and paying for everything with SSDP's budget (once again, thanks SSDP), so I did a lot of running around and making phone calls and being confused and even crying a little (aww). At some points I thought of some less than savory things to say about the Ecohouse program for putting me through all this, but like a child who finds it is worth it to do the lame thing her parents wanted her to do, I'm now very glad Ecohouse required me to do something like this. (Anyway, you don't have to do 10 hours for your leadership activity. You can earn full credit for anything that lasts up to 5 hours, extra for more.)

I also did a short presentation, about 10 minutes, in the beginning. I just introduced myself as an Ecohouse student working through SSDP and NORML to do my leadership project, introduced Sanho Tree as basically a guy who does great work (he does!), defined sustainability and war on drugs and drug policy reform, and gave some domestic examples of how the war on drugs hurts the environment. Our drug laws prohibit the growth of industrial hemp even though it would be great for the environment and economy, and even though industrial hemp has no psychoactive effects, because apparently some people want to stop the scourge of reefer madness. I think it's madness that marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug. Anyway, not only have current approaches failed to reduce supply, they also hurt the environment. For instance, people will grow drug plants on public property to avoid the danger of having their own property seized. When was the last time people felt the need to hide a cotton farm in the national forest? The last time people ran home drug manufacturing operations was during alcohol prohibition when they made moonshine. Now people are doing it with methamphetamine and other drugs. Such operations have no safety, health, or environmental regulations. Another thing I mentioned is suburban sprawl, and how cities would be more desirable to live in if there were not open air drug markets and gang violence (thanks for the idea, Eric Sterling).

I left the remaining little-over-an-hour to Sanho.

He rocked our socks off.

I am so happy. I heard him speak at the International SSDP Conference in 2006, and he covered some of the same topics here tonight. Here's a video clip from that conference:

And here's a clip of one of the other things he talked about tonight:

He blew people away. NORML members, my friends, and a reporter for the school paper were the first to show up. But then Ecohouse students, students in Maryland for Clean Energy, and some unfamiliar faces filed in. The turnout came out to about 30-35 people. I'm so happy people from green groups came to this event. They enjoyed Sanho's discussion so much that they want to invite him back next semester to talk about the same thing to a wider audience. A couple of them took his card. There was a good amount of questions and like 60% of the people stayed afterwards to chat excitedly. I don't care that I'm getting course credit for this. This is huge because people tend to pass over drug policy reform as a special interest instead of something that really impacts all aspects of society and social justice. All the stress that went into planning and publicizing and fretting over my introduction/presentation when I have so much other stuff on my mind (My Issues: another blog entirely) was totally worth it. I feel all warm and fuzzy. And smarter, even though I've listened to him before, because he talked for much longer than he did at the 2006 conference and added some great facts, ideas, and insights. And oh, did he talk about sustainability and the war on drugs. I love hearing new things about issues I've been learning about for a while.

I mean, even if all the drug policy stuff I did doesn't fly with you, the sustainability aspect is where it's at in Ecohouse and the leadership project is one of the opportunities we get to have meaningful experiences. (Did I mention the experience was meaningful to me?)