Who speaks for the trees today? Greta Thunberg and everyone else who loves Gaia.
Sadly, the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) to write The Lorax in 1971 (a year after the first Earth Day) is dead. The Monterey Cypress fell over last week. Dr. Seuss could see it from his home and called it a Truffula in the book. Named by the National Education Association as one of teachers' "Top 100 Books for Children," the picture book is a heartbreaking tale of environmental disaster where greed ultimately wins. The protagonist is the Lorax who "speaks for the trees," trying to protect them from the Once-ler who wants to cut them down for profit. The Lorax unfortunately fails in the book but leaves the reader with these last words: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. "
Who speaks for the trees today? Greta Thunberg and everyone else who loves Gaia.
What kid in a treehouse has an existential moment? What kid in a treehouse sees the nuclear blast in their future? The collapse of the world all around them through neglect and greed? Unless you're Greta Thunberg, not many.
Sometimes I feel like I'm still that kid in the treehouse, in that tree. I'm happiest there, in trees, in memory. Unfortunately, I'm all grown up now and the trees I once loved and lived in are gone, burned in an Everglades fire, cut down for a new driveway.
Wish Science could do more than pointing out what's ailing Gaia by convincing people that climate crisis is real and our days are numbered. Re Planck's riff on the mystery of nature and how we can't solve the mystery because we are part of nature, I'd add "... and part of the problem."
Maybe that's why Greta is here now, to capture our attention, to turn us away from our smartphones and our next party. Maybe.
If you've read my posts and books, you know when even on the run from Uncle Sam's big bad Army Rangers through the Everglades, I always had a book with me. And that ever since I was a kid my favorite place to read one was up in a tree . So when I saw that Susan Sontag quote in a Brain Pickings post, it struck me like a sucker punch from the cosmos, making me sit upright on the Miccosukee Embassy balcony rail (where I am doing Sanctuary) and nearly falling over the side to a tragic and ironic death. Leave it to the "Susan Epiphany" to make me see what books have done for me: they have made me human in the word's most noble sense, as The Bard once wrote and Ragni and Rado put to music in this song from Hair.
I am a better human being because of the books I've read. Pick one up-- a heartfelt one-- and read. It will do your body good.
My previous post on Climate Vigilantes got me to thinking about Albert Camus. And my father-in-law Busimanolotome Osceola, founder of the New Seminole (NS). But back then before I got hitched to Nokosee in a swamp wedding, if you read my books, you know his dad didn't like me much (to say the least). From the start he didn't like the fact that his only son, the "First of the New Seminole," had fallen for a "leetle white girl"-- which was weird since the Great Chief's wife was a Cuban girl from Hialeah-- unless it had nothing to do with bloodline, ie, he just didn't like me. Ha! Of course, maybe some of his dislike for me was brought on by me since I have a problem with being told what to do and how to do it. I also had a habit of making my thoughts known in heated discussions around the ol' campfire about "The Cause" of the NS and how it was being implemented. That's why I suspect Busimanolotome threw this old paperback up at me when I was reading a book in a gumbo limbo tree.
"What the fu--!" I jumped, never having heard him creeping up on me which I'm sure he loved.
He threw the book up at me and thankfully I caught it-- if I had missed, I'm sure it would have given him one more reason to think I was unworthy of his precious son.
"Read it. You might learn something about--" and this is where he adds air quotes-- "The Cause."
And then he turns and marches off into the swamp. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
"Hey, I'm pregnant, you know! You could have made me fall out of the tree!"
He slowly shook his head and mumbled something that sounded like "Oh, lord" but it could have been something in Muskogee before he told me without turning around to "Read it, leetle girl. They'll be a test next time around the campfire."
The raggedy old book was called The Rebel by Albert Camus. It looked like Busimanolotome had been reading it since it was first published in 1951. The brown and water stained paper was dogeared on nearly every page with notes filling the margins. I looked up from the book at the man disappearing in the hammock, his Seminole jacket the only thing giving away his presence, and thought, "Man, this guy really is a 'riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma'."
And then I read the book because the last thing I wanted was to look bad around the ol' campfire. And, although I'm pretty sure the great French philosopher wouldn't have agreed with the NS tactics used to achieve "The Cause," it was then and is now reassuring that rebelling against a status quo that endangers Gaia has the approval of a Nobel Prize winner.
Just discovered what the New Seminole (NS) really are. We're "climate vigilantes" and didn't know it. That would have made the NS founder-- and my father-in-law-- Busimanolotome Osceola chuckle.
I caught this GQ article online-- hey, I'm a voracious reader who doesn't discriminate-- while doing Sanctuary at the Miccosukee Embassy. Written by Drew Magary it's titled "Climate Vigilantism Is Your Future, Whether You Like It Or Not," Its subtitle is: If governments won't do anything, expect more and more people to take the environment into their own hands. So, you can see why I checked it out.
The article cites an Australian think tank report that says we only have about 30-years left before we're all part of the historical record left to be discovered by the next go-round of "intelligent" beings to evolve a billion years or so down the road (or space aliens). He states "There is neither the proper social incentive nor, more important, the financial incentive for leadership to act," something Busimanolotome Osceola had been saying from the beginning many moons ago.
"Our government is doing virtually nothing to prevent the Apocalypse.
Other governments, though they perhaps mean well, are not doing enough.
As a result of this great vacuum, the future will have more and more ecological vigilantes taking matters into their own hands. All of the ideas to save the world that sound fucking crazy will, in Bruckheimer movie style, be the only ideas left
to try. This isn’t some worst case scenario. This is what will be."
If you read my books, you know the above is us, the NS. Hopefully the endings will be better than ours.
--The picture was taken when Nokosee had "upcycled" a Florida State Seminoles jacket the NS "acquired" on one of its Alligator Alley raids. We took it as ironic commentary and it never fails to bring a smile to our faces.--
When I was younger and an unabashedly proud fashionista I would have thought that was nuts (that's me posing for a picture my mom took before shuffling me off to the Everglades to spend my last summer with my dad, the "Great White Park Ranger of the Everglades." I was 17 at that time and had just graduated from high school). But I'm older now and no longer as fashion conscious as I once way-- although a pair of over-the-top Docs still get my attention.
Today, however, while wiling my way through another boring day of Sanctuary at the Miccosukee Embassy, I happened to catch this Extinction Rebellion Tweet about Royal College of Art Fashion student Laura Karup Frandsen who has chosen not to show her final collection for review for her MA by staging a "die-in" in protest at the "waste and suffering caused by the global fashion industry." Citing waste, water use, deforestation, chemical pollution affecting biodiversity, human and animal rights abuses, and carbon emissions, Ms. Frandsen says, "Thoughtlessly using and discarding resources, in a time of climate emergency and ecological breakdown, shows how far we are from understanding the extent and urgency of the crisis that threatens our existence."
Yikes! Life use to be so simple until Greta made the scene!
Just kidding. I love her and want my daughter Haalie to grow up and be just like her.
That said, I do like Frandsen's use of words to frame her protest as she goes on to say:
"Collecting waste, instead of making a collection,
is my personal protest against a broken system.
We need to decide: is fashion to die for?"
--Laura Karup Frandsen
Borrowing from Greta the Great's lifestyle, Extinction Rebellion has formed a #BoycottFashion team comprised of fashion industry experts who will not buy any new clothing and will support others with ideas for engaging with clothing in different ways, to "inspire people to turn their back on destructive mainstream fashion and to tread a new, environmentally friendly path. For those faced with having to buy necessities new, Extinction Rebellion will be on hand with helpful advice."
Re "helpful advice," since joining up with the New Seminole and living apart from the Outside deep in the Everglades, I've learned to satisfy my lust for "needful things" by... learning how to sew and "upcycling" whatever I can find. By using natural materials and tapping Seminole/Miccosukee traditions, I've discovered a new sense of creativity by melding everything together. The finished product is a mashup of cultures-- like this necklace I made-- like me.
Extinction Rebellion, the youth-led environmental non-violent action group, inspired in part by at that time 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, is publishing a handbook on how to organize to save the world. You can learn more about the book here. Penguin Books will release it next week (June 13th). Pre-orders here.
Made me think about a song my dad introduced me to by Joan Baez. "David" was her then recently married husband serving time for resisting the draft to kill Commies in Viet Nam (which, if you read my books, know my father-in-law, Busimanolotome Osceola, the founder of the New Seminole, was more than happy to do). Remember kids, Choose A, not B.
Recently a mural of Greta Thunberg was unveiled in Bristol, UK. It depicts her warnings re climate crisis, melting of the ice caps, and rising seas. I love it. It caught her fierce and brave spirit so well.
It reminded me of a picture I posted from August 9, 2017. That picture was taken when the New Seminole was still at war with Uncle Sam. Nokosee and I were swimming in Fisheating Creek near Lake Okeechobee and I had my Maybelline grade "war paint" on, my go-to Mo then flattened by the tannic waters. I was angrier then.
Since our devastating losses at Rendezvous Point deep in the Everglades, I learned the best way to save Gaia is Greta's way.
Always choose "A."
For those who read my first book, you know this really happened to me. I was just 17 when my future husband Nokosee, also 17, used me as gator bait to lure his pet 18-foot gator Haalpatee out of a pen my dad, the "Great White Park Ranger of the Everglades," had used to "quarantine" it for future "disposal" (it had made the mistake of following Nokosee and me into a Seminole tourist trap on the edge of the Everglades which, of course, created quite a stir to say the least-- especially when my dad got all Rambo and captured it in front of the gumbo limbos* and their cameras). The pen was in the backyard of the Ranger Station, the place I was forced to live each summer since I was 12 when my parents got divorced. The station was on Seminole land deep in the Everglades and the only thing it had going for it was air-conditioning. No cable. No Internet. Nothing.
Anyway, if you follow the links to the above story, you'll see what even a small gator can do. Haalpatee on the other hand destroyed the Ranger Station as Nokosee coaxed it to follow us through the place and out the front door to our midnight escape back into the Everglades.
*Gumbo Limbos are native trees sometimes referred to as "tourist trees" because of their red, peeling bark, you know, like a tourist with a bad sunburn.
Holatte-Sutv Turwv Osceola.