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Opening Thoughts – Issue 16

This issue, Winter '00 - '01, we explore a wide range of subjects that are related to cultural creativity. Becky Kemery's series on sustainable building in the US continues with Christina's House: Earthship and Straw-Bale in Taos, New Mexico. Meet 28 year old Christina Sporrong who designed and built her own home using the most ecologically friendly building designs and materials available. There are not many people in America who could make such a claim, not to mention to make it affordable and build it in only one year. Becky shows that the alternatives to business-as-usual building are beautiful, durable and affordable. There is a sustainable building sub-culture developing in our midst, just in time to answer the questions raised by a shrinking world resource base.

There are certain events that immediately have the power to utterly change everything in one's life. In Fear, Intention & Gratitude: Facing a Cancer Diagnosis, Linda Resca explores her own response to the shattering diagnosis. Beyond the initial shock, she had to "become skilled at not only advocating for my right to have competent professionals assisting me, but also advocating for my right to be treated in the way that we would all want to be treated-with kindness, compassion and empathy." Linda discovers in her illness a "sacred mystery" that has the power to transform all aspects of her life.

Healthcare is a vast and complex issue, and industry, in our society. Colleen Watkins writes about her own experience of a health crisis which leads her to find a health care practitioner who is both an MD and a Naturopath. "He used the primary healing tool of active listening, then evaluated the problem holistically and treated the cause of my symptoms. Causes can be physical, emotional, or nutritional-or all three." In It's My Happy Heart You See, Colleen calls for a "healing between the disciplines of Allopathy and Naturopathy".

In the world's wealthiest country, why do so many of us lack health care insurance? Alternatives medical columnist, Dr. Rick Bayer, takes on the why not? of universal health care in America, pointing out that "the single-payer method of financing universal health care is the most efficient and equitable solution" because it "does not have profit as its goal." Once again, as we've seen in so many other sectors of human enterprise, corporations own the means to profit and we the people get what we can pay for, or worse.

Alternatives welcomes John Borowski, a teacher and social thinker that we have long been fascinated with, to our pages. His eloquent essays have appeared in national magazines and newspapers. In this issue, John examines the corrupting influence of corporations in America's classrooms. He concludes "The time is ripe for parents, teachers and society at large to 'just say no ". We must expose these shills for the calculating opportunists they are. When it comes to corporate freebies, communities must discuss the same type of "review filters" used for adopting textbooks."

Carol Gray, a childbirth consultant who prepares women and men for the rite of passage called childbirth, challenges you to Finding Your Question. "If parents were guided to ask their questions and given time to explore the answers, they would be better prepared to embrace the unexpected and less invested in trying to plan and control the uncontrollable."

Toni Gilbert, in Holism in the Classroom, discusses what constitutes a truly relevant education. Psychology has come a long way since the determinism of Freud and B.F. Skinner, and, she argues, may now legitimately include discussion of values and the ultimately pragmatic issues of "building and strengthening self esteem, healing past hurts, living consciously, changing negative self-fulfilling prophesies and seeking positive relationships." Holistic education may ultimately lead to the hallowed province of self-actualization. But is this a college level curriculum? Toni got fired for it.

In Dreams of Kindness, Love and Grace Carolyn Berry describes the territory of "sacred moments": seeing the ocean for the first time at age15, the births of her children, and more recently, the painful event of her father's death. "Death is the third threshold of the Divine" she writes. "To endure sitting with my father as he died, and to officiate his memorial service, it was essential for me to push past all comfort zones I had known so far in my life."

In Taking Refuge, SarahJoy Marsh views life from the dharmic perspective that flows naturally from the practice of yoga. To those who study these things, the mind is a trickster, yet mindfulness is the way to grace in our lives. In the witnessing practice of this mindfulness, one's "interest moves from the content to the context" of one's life. "Grace comes when I bow, when I release the habits of my mind and open to the flow of the mystery."

Nephyr Jacobsen picks up the dharmic thread in her Contemplation on the Spirituality of Veganism. "Being vegan is simultaneously a layering of knowledge and an unfolding of self," she states in her leadoff sentence. Dharma guides us to know that, in the end, it is precisely that unfolding of self that is what the journey of life is all about, not the winning of debates based on knowledge.

Finally, Mr. fun-tastic himself, Bob Czimbal, recounts 12 great parties, one per month, in the year just past. It isn't about drinking and small talk, it's about consciousness and tribe. Bob's recurring theme is being open to the ecstatic possibilities. We're there.

We too stay open to the ecstatic possibilities even as we keep a vigilant eye open to what's coming down in so many other realms of our world. We hope you enjoy the passage with us.

What is Alternatives?

Alternatives Magazine is taking the American paradigm out to lunch. Alternatives works (and plays) with the ideals and activism of our emerging culture and provides a forum to express and/or locate the holistic ideas, goods and services that support a life well lived.

Alternatives for Cultural Creativity recognizes that our society is in transition and that an integral culture is emerging out of the context of dominant American society. We see this integral culture as concerned with values focused on spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, holistic health, political and economic justice, self-actualization and expression, and enlightened parenting/family relationships.  

Culturally creative people are putting the pieces of the global puzzle together in a dynamic and entirely new way, and coming to a holistic understanding of personal and planetary relations. Alternative people are open to the ecstatic possibilities 

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