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Ron Finley: How Urban Gardening Can Change Your Lifestyle

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Ron Finley, the Urban Gardener, isn’t your ordinary gangster, which is well and good for a chat with Marc Angelo. The two share a powerful discussion of the difference between promoting a cause and taking action on it, and there are few people in the world more qualified to have that talk.

Ron’s moniker, the Guerrilla Garden Gangster, sprang up as naturally as the food-bearing plants he started producing in his urban gardens. Green stretch between the sidewalk and the street? Ron turned it into a garden. Tall, fruitless tree? Ron grafted in fruit-bearing branches to take advantage of the growth.

He explains that “soil is everything… it’s where life comes from,” and identifies that as the focal point of a strong community. What he saw in his own life was wasted space, food deserts caused by industrialization and strange policies which failed to take advantage of the actual space in an environment and the many opportunities for urban gardens.

It’s that sort of action that Marc and Ron both promote — getting people out and active in their communities, demanding that corporations be held accountable by not purchasing their goods, and learning how to care for ourselves. Ron exclaims, “I had sixty people putting in an urban garden while you are all are marching. Which do you think is more effective?

The secret, the great trick that both of these men used to achieve their success, is easily underestimated and often ignored by even the most passionate people.

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That secret? Turn every goal into an immediate action.

That secret is only a small part of what makes this urban gardener a ‘new age gangsta,’ so if you want to find out more, tune in to the podcast and hear them discuss what it would take to solve California’s water crisis, design better systems, and inspire communities to grow and work together.

Don’t forget to rate, review, and subscribe this podcast to make sure that others can get in on the action as well!

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[divider]Podcast Highlights[/divider]

Main Questions 

  • What made you decide to really reclaim this land and form your urban gardens? [4:00]
  • Where did you learn urban gardening, and from where did the inspiration come to do this? [6:30]
  • What should people do to fix all of our food supply problems? [39:30]

Key Points Made by Marc Angelo and Ron Finley

  • Ron Finley considers where he lives not just a food desert, but a food prison. His plan was to break those bars by planting urban gardens in place of the grass strips of the parkways. [3:00]
  • In light of the California drought crisis and everything else we’re seeing with climate change, how is it still illegal to enact such simple solutions to problems like this? [13:30]
  • Companies will only work for a greater change — in the health of consumers or the environment, etc. — when they’re blasted for their mishaps and demands are made that they be held accountable. [17:00]
  • So much of our food, including our wine, comes out of California. Thirty plus million people live in that state, so if they run out of water, what do we expect is going to happen? [18:30]
  • We need to begin working with companies to help them and encourage them to pursue better business practices. We can’t just expect them to change of their own volition. [22:30]
  • Revolution doesn’t come from marching and protesting alone, it comes from taking action. If you want to take away Monsanto’s power,  plant an urban garden. [25:00]
  • We don’t realize that fallen leaves, fallen trees — those are natural. Those are the system feeding itself. It’s essential to understand how the system works so we can cooperate with it, and stop fighting against it. [29:30]
  • The challenge for us is to make sustainability sexy. To remove the stigma of the dirty hippies and the crazy activists, and to begin to demonstrate that sustainability is essential to everybody — even gangster gardeners. [30:30]
  • We’re causing devastation on so many fronts at once, through our overuse of chemical antibacterials and antibiotics, that nobody is paying attention to how it all culminates together. [38:00]
  • Nobody is coming into our communities and throwing trash there — it’s us. What’s “gangster” to Ron Finley is coming together to create a better community and break free of that prison of big AG and turning the food deserts into abundant urban gardens. [40:45]
  • Don’t wait for somebody to tell you how to make a change, or to give you permission. Get out there and put your shovel in the ground. Ron Finley is not a saint, he’s just a guy, and so are you. [48:30]

Powerful Quotes

  • “There is no such thing as learning if you’re not doing it.” – Marc Angelo Coppola [13:20]
  • “I had sixty people putting in an urban garden while you all were marching. Now who do you think was more effective?” – Ron Finley [25:20]
  • “If we’re not talking about it, if we’re leaving it as some fringe topic for only the few to talk about, it’s going to start biting us in the ass, and it already is.” -Marc Angel Coppola [34:50]
  • “This shit to me is a form of slavery for everybody. We’re like slaves to big AG. They control our food, all of it.” – Ron Finley [37:20]
  • “Why don’t you churches get together instead of with your ‘my religion is better than yours’ bullshit, and get together and put in a healthy food market… isn’t that doing good business? If your people live longer, don’t you get more money?” – Ron Finley [43:50]

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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Wins Key Court Case In Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A key victory came yesterday for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as a Washington DC court ruled the Army Corps of Engineers must perform an Environmental Impact Statement to show the Dakota Access pipeline will not negatively affect the tribe's land.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we seeing further shifts in the old paradigm of money first and environment second? Are we seeing the power of relentlessly standing up for what you feel will make humanity and nature thrive?

This is a huge victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota. Their relentless energy towards having a full environmental impact statement (EIS) done with regards to the Dakota Access Pipeline that would run through their land and potentially impact their water supply, has finally paid off. This will bring the future of the Dakota Access pipeline into question entirely.

A Washington DC court ruled that the US army corps of engineers must conduct a full EIS given that their existing permits violated the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa).

“After years of commitment to defending our water and earth, we welcome this news of a significant legal win,” said the tribal chairman, Mike Faith. “It’s humbling to see how actions we took to defend our ancestral homeland continue to inspire national conversations about how our choices ultimately affect this planet.”

You may recall from 2016, the Sioux Tribe rallied and inspired millions all over the world to help in getting behind the movement to raise awareness about the environmental impact of this pipeline. People travelled from all over the world to join the tribe on the ‘front lines’ as clashes sometimes became violent between water protectors and police, as well as pipeline workers.

I recall being down in North Dakota covering this story and was amazed by the sheer amount of people coming to support, as well as the efforts police were taking to silence journalists from covering the story. Cell phone jammers were used to stop those on-site from live streaming what was going on. Independent media were the only form of media in Standing Rock for months until eventually, mainstream media showed up. There appeared to be a long-standing solidarity within mainstream media to portray water protectors as violent and to avoid telling their side of the story when it came to the pipeline. This was why independent media was so important at that time.

In December 2016, the Obama administration denied permits for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River and effectively ordered a full EIS to be done in order to determine what alternative routes could be taken as well as what impact the pipeline may have on the tribe’s treaty rights. Yet, during the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency, he signed an executive order to expedite construction of the pipeline. Construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline was completed in June 2017.

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Not long after, the tribe challenged the permits and won. The Army corps of engineers were ordered to redo its environmental analysis, but they did so without taking into consideration tribal concerns or expert analysis. This was likely to allow it’s the transport of oil to continue until they were again sued.

Finally, as this Wednesday, federal judge James Boasberg determined that the environmental analysis by both the companies behind the pipeline and the corps was severely lacking, and the track record of Sunoco when it comes to oil spills is not promising, and “does not inspire confidence”, he added.

The fresh court-mandated EIS will be more in-depth than the assessment already completed by the corps – and could take years to complete. Next, the court will decide if the pipeline will be shut down while the EIS is being completed and until the EIS is approved.

“This validates everything the tribe has been saying all along about the risk of oil spills to the people of Standing Rock,” said Jan Hasselman, an EarthJustice attorney.

The Takeaway

The news of this Standing Rock victory may fall on distracted ears and minds at the moment considering the current global focus on the Coronavirus pandemic, but this is a big victory that shows the power of collective action and moving to stand up to actions of those who do not make the entirety of human ‘thrivability’ a part of their paradigm, but who instead operate from a space of disconnection and capitalization.

This news comes as I recently released my latest film Regenerate to everyone for free. The film re-examines our current mainstream approach to climate change and instead looks at our relationship to land, life, nature, money and each other as a whole. I propose that it is here where we will find the solutions we are looking for to truly allow our environment and each other, to thrive. You can check out the trailer below, and watch the full film here.

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Does Our Recycling Actually Get “Recycled?” (Video)

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The following video from Sky Ocean Rescue shares some more eye-opening information about the truth about our supposed “recycling”...

  • Reflect On:

    Is it time, instead of "recycling" that the production of harmful materials simply be banned across the world?

Everyday we produce waste, in our current society, it’s almost impossible not to. Many of us make an effort to recycle our recyclables, but unfortunately much of that still ends up in the trash. There are also a lot of countries that don’t recycle at all so all of the waste – all of that plastic, effectively ends up in the ground or sadly in our oceans. For those of us who do recycle, we feel good about ourselves, and feel like we are doing our part to reduce our impact on the environment, but do we ever question what actually happens to our recycling and where it ends?

Like many other aspects of our society, our recycling is, for the most part, out of sight out of mind. We don’t actually know what is happening to it, we just drop it off into the appropriate containers and hope for the best. Unfortunately this is not helping and in many cases is making the issue of the global waste epidemic, much worse that we could ever imagine. Whether or not the waste is actually recycled doesn’t really matter, because as soon as it leaves the country it came from and is labeled as recycling it is counted as such, regardless of where that plastic and other waste actually ends up. Often, there is so much un-recyclable garbage and material mixed in with the stuff that actually can be recycled that it all just ends up going to landfills.

This could be avoided if communities and countries became more strict with their recyclable material standards, it could also be avoided if everything we manufactured was made of biodegradable substances, like hemp.

The following video from Sky Ocean Rescue shares some more eye-opening information about the truth about our supposed “recycling”…


Something Needs To Change

It is clear that our current “solution” to all of our plastic waste is not working, as the video says, we need to find a better solution to this epidemic. Recycling standards certainly need to become a lot more strict, and each country should be held responsible for their own recycling and potentially laws should be put in place by the UN that makes it illegal to export plastic waste and recycling, this would then force us to come up with a better option. It is not fair that there is no transparency towards what is really going on with the public. If people really knew, it is likely that they would take a stand against this.

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What Can We Do, Ourselves?

Sometimes, we truly have to take matters into our own hands, we cannot rely on our governments to do the right thing, I’m sure many of us are aware of this by now. If we truly want to make a difference we have to do as Gandhi says and,

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

What does this involve? Taking responsibility for our own actions and dealing with these matters on a personal level. Do you know where your recycling is going? Have you ever actually looked into it? This is a great start, but an even more effective way to deal with this problem is to stop it before it starts. How can you lower your consumption and amount of waste you are producing? Can you choose products that are not packed in plastic? Can you use reusable, glass or stainless steel containers? Could you go back to the old-fashioned bar of soap? The fact of the matter is, we got along just fine without plastic for many years, we have other options and can all make a conscious decision to choose those other options.

We have to remember that as the consumer, we do have a direct say in what the big corporations are manufacturing. By opting out of plastic products, the companies will have no choice but to update their products and materials, or go out of business. We have already seen massive companies like Starbucks & McDonald’s making huge changes in this regard. If you need some ideas on how to reduce your impact, check out 10 Smart Hacks TO Cut Plastic Packaging Out Of Your Life.

Change starts with you!

Much Love

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A European Electric Car That Charges Itself With Sunlight Can Now Be Reserved For A 2021 Delivery

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A Dutch company has unveiled an electric car that charges itself with via solar power.

  • Reflect On:

    How long have solutions to our problems existed? Is finding the solutions the problem, or have they been here for a long time? If we have the solutions readily available, the what's the problem that we need to identify?

A Dutch company from Eindhoven has released a prototype car that has already sold 100 orders to be filled in 2011. What’s special about the car is that it is completely electric as well as solar powered. The prototype car actually won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, and it represents the world’s very first long-range solar car. It’s a four passenger vehicle and it’s called Lightyear One.

According to the company, the car will get to a range of approximately 725 km, and 400 km in the winter at highway speeds with heating on. This is truly amazing, and it represents what humans have had the ability to do for a number of years. Just imagine if every single car was electric and solar powered? You would never need to charge your car, it would always be self charging. It completely takes conventional charging and gas out of the equation, which is amazing.

The car is now available for reservation, with the first deliveries set to begin next year within the European Union. Lease options are restricted to the Netherlands.

Here at Collective Evolution, we’ve always talked about how humanity has many of the solutions to our problems. Often times, the issue isn’t with finding solutions to the world’s problems, it’s with actually implementing them. The systems and all of the red tape and corruption that take place have prevented us from moving forward. Electric and solar technology with regards to transportation could have been implemented a very long time ago, but again, the problem is not with having the solution, it’s with implementation. This problem has plagued our world for a very long time, and it’s something we need to continue to be vocal about.

Although this particular car can be charged using the sun, it also has the option to be plugged into a power outlet. It can charge up to 400 km at night from a normal household electrical outlet.

Some other points about the car include:

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  • The car is constructed from high-tech materials to have the lowest weight possible while maintaining stringent passenger safety.
  • The roof and hood are comprised of five square meters of integrated solar cells in safety glass so strong that a fully-grown adult can walk on them without causing dents.
  • Lightyear One is propelled by four independently driven wheels, so no energy is lost in transit from the engine to the wheel.
  • In addition to solar power, Lightyear One can be charged at a (fast)charging station or a regular outlet.
  • Crash testing has yet to be undertaken, but they’re looking forward to crashing one “for science.”

According to the company’s website:

The optimized aerodynamics and design mean that a fully-charged battery has a range of up to 800km, more than you need to go from Amsterdam to Paris. The integrated solar cells of the 5 m2 hood and roof mean that Lightyear One charges up to 12km/h as it goes. The already superior range continues to extend with every hour of sunlight. So what starts as a drive from Lisbon to Madrid can continue on to Valencia or Barcelona without stopping for anything but food.

Unfortunately, and as expected, the car is unaffordable for most people. Buyers can reserve one of the 500 electric vehicles for a reservation fee of €4000 on their website  as well as find out more information by contacting the company directly with any inquiries. The first deliveries of the car are expected in 2021.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is to ask the question: Why aren’t all cars solar powered and electric? Does humanity have the potential, resources and technology to provide all citizens with ‘abundance’ when it comes to food, shelter and transportation? If we have the potential and the resources, what is it that stops us from doing so? If an electric car was invented decades ago, why are we still driving around in cars that use gas? What’s REALLY going on here on planet Earth?

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