Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter: Spring 2013

Dear Readers,

I finally wrote another newsletter this past December 2012 but didn’t send it. Here’s a summary:

I once was lost but now I’m found. I once had no idea what I was doing with my life, but now I finally have meaning and purpose: climate activism!

 Writing and leading travel tours that would eventually inspire change was going to be my purpose in life. I was very upset when I realized it wasn’t (was upset for a few long years actually). Now I realize we need to take direct action for change. Acting now for climate survival and the changes it will create is now my purpose.

Maybe that sounds heavy and not very sexy and meaningful: “After all that profound searching and world travel, you’re going to be an activist? You’re going to shout at protest rallies, knock on doors, and write to your members of Congress?”

 Okay, let me put it in Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter terms:

We humans are pretty smart. We’re so smart we have the power to destroy our homes, aka our environment, in various ways. Usually, our solution has been to move on to another area of our wider home, aka the planet. We happen to have discovered a new way of destroying our entire planet. We have nowhere else to go.

For the first time in our modern existence the survival of human beings, as a species, is threatened. We are heading toward such high temperatures, such extreme droughts and storms, the extinction of so many plants and animals, so many refugees, so many disrupted farming seasons, so many wars over basic resources…. We, human beings, may cease to be as we are unable to do, what we so love to do: adapt.

 Still, let’s look at the bright side! I think there is one.

 This is our initiation as a species. This is when we are forced to prove whether or not we are willing to face our true selves, change, and grow. Trust me, I know one doesn’t face ones true self until forced! Maybe we would have gone on making human existence worse and worse without really changing anything if it wasn’t for the climate emergency we’re facing. Now is our chance to look at everything and change more than just how we heat our homes and power our cars and factories.

 Thank you greedy, short-sighted fossil fuel CEOs, politicians, and all of us who have enabled this to happen. The climate emergency is something we must face and it’s an opportunity to create something better.

 Actually, in Chinese the word for “crisis” is the same as the word for “over-used-cliche-that-nevertheless-has-a-lot-of truth-to-it”.

 But I must highlight this fact: this is an opportunity to prove ourselves bytaking action. It seems to me, right now, if people have great ideas, positive thoughts, have done amazing inner work, and can write and speak very well, we won’t be addressing the climate emergencyunlesswe are using our assets, strengths, and skills to take real ACTION ON CLIMATE.

 Everyone needs to follow their own journey. I respect that if only because I know I’ve taken a very strange journey myself. But all our journeys will come to an end if not enough of us address climate change, right now.

The strange thing is I’ve believed for many years that climate change is number one. I’ve started to get involved now because I now have hope inspired by the growing, well organized, passionate climate movement.

 Urgency also motivates me. Scientists estimate we have 3 or 4 years to start making significant reductions in green house gases (carbon and methane) or a positive feedback loop will take us over the edge into irreversible climate change.

Some important science:

 As the ice caps melt, less heat from the sun bounces off of them and is instead absorbed in the Earth thus heating the atmosphere more, thus melting more ice… and so on. The melting ice also releases methane hidden underneath it, into the atmosphere. Methane is more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon. That’s also the reason natural gas is actually just as bad: it produces less carbon but through methane leaks in the pipes it warms the planet about as much or possibly more than coal and oil. (You can read a recent study about natural gas here.)

This whole winter I volunteered full-time for 350MA a Better Future Project. Just when I was going to have to go back to landscaping, last week they hired me as their Tar Sands Organizer. I’ve never felt more satisfied and like I was using my gifts to the best of my ability as now.

I feel like after all my searching, I have found my path. You know, that whole: follow your bliss and then realize all the wanderings you did prepared you and led you perfectly to where you needed to go? I had lost faith in that for awhile. But yeah, that happened.

I was in the middle of chanting/meditating in late December and just broke down crying for 5 or 10 minutes. I cried because I was so relieved. It was a relief to realize I had found what I was looking for after all these years.

There’s much more I could write. And I will soon send out that newsletter from December chronicling what I’ve been up to the past few years. But I just want to finally send out a newsletter. It’s good to connect with you Dear Reader. And good to connect with the Stranger in a Strange Land who writes these newsletters.

Happy Season of Rebirth and New Growth everyone!



P.S. Surprisingly, I’ve never brought up “politics” in this newsletter before, let alone asked people to take action. But Dear Readers please send in comments to the State Department against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline: fast, easy, and important! It would mean so much to me personally too. And even if you’ve sent comments before, you can send more!:

You can read more about Keystone XL and the problems with it here.

And if you haven’t heard about the tar sands oil spills in Minnesota and Arkansas just last week, read about them here:

And on March 11th, 2013 I participated in my first act of civil disobedience at the office of TransCanada in Westborough, MA in a Funeral for Our Future. Read about it and see photos here.

And here’s the powerful video that I think really captures the spirit of the action:


One Response to “Stranger in a Strange Land Newsletter: Spring 2013”

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    Eli- I’m so happy for you that you have found your bliss and are truly happy with your work in life. I couldn’t think of anyone better than you to take on a leadership organizing role in 350 MA a Better Future Project. I agree that climate change is the most important issue facing the earth today. We cannot expect to solve any of the other issues of humanity without solving the climate crisis now. Best of luck on this new journey- I will see you along the way!

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