Healing Nature by Becoming Mindful Consumers

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Even though we know something is inherently wrong why do we continue to do these things? Finding a cohesive resolution for dealing with humans negative affects on the environment can leave many feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated to take action since the scope is vast. We’ve all seen videos of Arctic ice melting around a baby polar bear left to its demise. We know that this is a result of global warming and that all of those consequences are due to human’s disregard for the environment. Constantly showing people the penalties of their actions often times desensitizes their abilities to see past the issue which in turn will hamper their ability to even begin to deal with resolutions. We must modify the narrative by displaying opportunities for people to take responsibility with simple solutions they can adopt in their daily life. Teaching a dog a new trick through punishment of a whip will leave behind a battered spirit afraid to show affection. Take the same dog and apply a different method involving an incentive such as a treat and you’ll get the same results and an ally for life. Let’s use this in relation to how we speak to people about changing their ways on how they interact with environmental issues to encourage motivation not fear. The United States Environmental Protection Agency coined a motto “ reduce, reuse, and recycle”. This slogan has created a movement that promotes individuals gaining knowledge on how they can take action with simple solutions to help them, their community and the environment by saving money, energy and natural resources.

Here are a few simple choices you can make that lead to a better planet:

  • Do Meatless Monday, you can save 2,400 gallons of water, which would save more water than you can by not showering for six months.
  • Reusing clothing instead of trashing last season’s threads will not only save you money but you’d be happy to know your not supporting an industry that uses 16% of the world’s pesticides.
  • Recycling food waste by using left over scraps to fertilize your garden not only cuts down on your trash bill but also can reduce your carbon footprint and give life to your plants.

There’s a ton of ways that one can alter their day in a positive way to contribute to healing humans stamp on Mother Nature. With the preceding examples I aspire to suggest an alternate to the punishment versus reward method to reframe our approach to how we solicit responses to environmental issues through narratives. Simple actions individuals make can lead to a snowball effect of others adopting the same habits, which can create a vessel for a socially conscious movement towards legislation and regulations supporting environmental healing. To elicit change one must sacrifice the comforts of their privileges. Your individual action directly affects industries that are notoriously costly to the environment. Consumer choices will drive the market in a different direction, which in turn makes companies change their products to ensure they’re meeting the demands of their consumers. Ask for what is right by putting your money where your mouth is and become a Mindful Consumer.

 

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Sunday, Monday… Smonday.

I think it’s fair to say that the above meme expresses a universal feeling.  At least one time or another, if not every single sunday, of every single week, we’ve all felt this exact feeling.  And I don’t know about you, but some smonday’s, it can get pretty dark and depressing.

So, what can we do about it? We must choose to look at Monday differently.  If we want something different, to feel something different, we must DO something different. Easier said than done for sure, BUT, we are the only ones who can do it.  I think sometimes we need to be reminded that we can’t wait for someone else to help change our ways of thinking or of doing.  With that being said, lets get some ideas moving in our heads so we can start thinking different and changing the definition of “Smonday’s:”

https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2016/01/how-to-beat-the-sunday-night-blues.html

Life is hard enough.  The last thing we should be doing is creating anxiety, negative thoughts about things that haven’t even happened yet.  We as humans are wired to worry about what has already happened to us and what has yet to happen to us, instead of living in the N O W.  It’s time.  Let’s focus on the now, while we prepare the what is to come.

https://www.thirteenthoughts.com/sunday-habits-better-week-ahead-beat-sunday-night-blues/

Sunday is coming in 2 days.  Are you going to take control of the day or are you going to let the day control you?

Friends with Benefits

Pets aren’t just our best friends, they are also very beneficial to our health.

After just returning from a week-long ski trip, the one I found myself missing the most was my dog, Gunner.  And with what seems to be a recent “trend” of ESA’s (emotional support animals), I wished I could have taken Gunner with me when I noticed a lady with a cat on the plane on my trip back home.  Unfortunately, another passenger had to move seats due to her allergies.  This caused me to think, where do we draw the line?  Can any animal be a support animal?

It’s definitely not news that animal companionship provides many emotional benefits to humans.  The bond between humans and animals has been proven to reduce depression and anxiety in humans.  Caring for an animal can give people a greater sense of purpose and reduce loneliness, especially for the elderly.  The American Heart Association has also linked pet ownership to reduced risk for heart attack.

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm

Companion animals most often are dogs, but cats and other pets can be companion animals, also, as long as a person has a verifiable physical, emotional or mental disability and a medical professional has determined this to be true, as well as that the animal is in fact beneficial to this condition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_support_animal

Gunner won’t be going on a ski trip with me anytime soon, but I still consider him my emotional support friend (Gunner featured in photo above).

Restorative justice

Restorative justice takes a different approach to justice. Instead of the traditional “do the crime, do the time” approach they want to bring one thing that is not often seen is sentencing, forgiveness.

I first found out about restorative justice in 2013 with a case from Florida. Conor McBride was dating Ann Grosmaire and had been arguing for two days straight, but it ended with McBride shooting Grosmaire point blank in the face while she was on her knees. It was a tragic end to the life of Grosmaire but also for McBride who ended up driving to the police station and turned himself in.

McBride had become apart of the Grosmaire family. He lived there on occasions when he wasn’t getting along with his parents so it was a hard thing to come to grips with for Ann’s parents. While on her death bed, Ann’s father allegedly told him to forgive Conor. While that seemed preposterous at the time, Ann’s father started to think of her words and think of his faith.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make but Ann’s parents did forgive Conor, but also found out about restorative justice and how it takes in to consideration the offenders accountability and if the families of the victims, or the victims themselves, are willing to have a civil face to face it will be arranged and possibly taken in for their sentence.

While this is rare for a murder case, they are often used in misdemeanor offenses. I feel like this would be a great thing to do. In the New York Times article they do say that offenders are less likely to reoffend when offered this program. Being able to be face to face with the person you hurt gives a human emotion to the crime, and because most crimes are “faceless” looking your victims in the face can really have an impact on the criminals.

 

 

Obesity is Contagious?/ BLOG 3

Throughout the world, beauty is defined in numerous ways. In some countries, being heavier is considered healthy and beautiful. But, as we all can tell, in most culture and/or countries, the standard for what is beautiful, sexy, and attractive leans more towards being thin. Because of social media, women in particular are proceeding that in order to be attractive, you need to be a certain size, weight, or have a specific body shape (coco cola, etc.) Even though weight gain is no longer looked down upon, hence the weight gain for body building; there are still cases of obesity and how contagious it is. In the article http://www.newsweek.com/weight-gain-contagious-and-you-could-catch-obesity-your-neighbors-study-finds-789547, researchers found that people were up to 57% likely to be obese if a friend or family did the same during that time. Because of the environment you live in and those you surround yourself with, it would more than likely affect your consumption intake.

Also, you should consider yourself. Just think, when you were in a relationship, did you and your significant other eat out a lot? Consider this, when you were together, you just wanted to do everything together, and when you ran out of things to do, eating out was fun (in it’s own way.) In the article, https://www.livestrong.com/article/130602-people-gain-weight-after-marriage/, it talks about couples who gained weight after marriage (in my argument, you can gain it even while dating.) This correlates with obesity being contagious and how much easier it is to gain weight because of those around you and their influence. Because of weight gain, health conditions can slowly draw it’s way into your life and slowly build up on your insecurities, leading back to what the world/society considers as the standard of what is attractive.

CDC Director and Big Tobacco?

We all know the ill health effects of tobacco. Ad campaigns have drilled images of dead bodies, grandfathers you can walk through and people that have been so severely effected, they now have to communicate from a stoma in their neck.

Ok. So we know tobacco is bad. Really bad.

The government has hiked cigarette prices so high, now when I see people picking up used butts, as grossed out as I may be, I kinda get it. How can you even afford to smoke these days? Well, I guess I spend about as much on my Starbucks, so I can’t be too judgmental.

My point is: IT’S EXPENSIVE! I’ve assumed it’s our government doing its best to deter tobacco sales and promote healthier lifestyles, resulting in lower healthcare costs, etc. All until I saw the resignation of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald.

ICYMI: According to the NY TIMES Dr. Fitzgerald had been invested in big tobacco companies, one being Philip Morris International.

So what’s the big deal? A doctor investing in tobacco? It doesn’t seem like all that ethical of a thing, but we all know it’s a huge profit company… the big deal is she was the DIRECTOR of the CDC! Center for Disease Control, you know the part of the government who are trying to get people to STOP smoking.

Of course, there are two sides to every story, but when she also had stocks in Japan Tobacco, the drug-maker Merck, and Humana, the health insurer. One can’t help but draw their own conclusion of unethical practice by a government leader.

Consensual Health

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As Bemidji State University pushes to revise the Minnesota State’s 37 college and universities’ definition of sexual assault, the focus on ending campus assault has also reached nationwide. Following up on my last post regarding #metoo, some of these issues are highly  contentious and arguably have a gray area for some. Still, the work being done by researchers and students alike to make our campuses safer cannot be ignored.

As a student at a non-traditional institution, I haven’t had to deal with out of control frat parties or dorm room assault at Metropolitan State. But having visited friends at traditional campuses, I have seen this firsthand. Drinks getting drugged. Women realizing the next day that they blacked out and have no idea if they’d been taken advantage of. Guys not thinking that they should think twice about bringing that incoherent girl upstairs. And simply being a woman facing harassment or bias just for being who I am, I can tell you that this is a problem wherever you are. Being a commuter college doesn’t mean that harassment and assault don’t happen. It just happens in a different way.

While Minnesota State tightens up the gray area of “affirmative consent,” two Columbia professors are shifting to a broader view of changing the culture. Jennifer Hirsch and Claude Ann Mellins, at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health are looking for new solutions where other programs have failed. Instead of just focusing on individuals, S.H.I.F.T., or Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation provides a broader examination of sexual assault. As Hirsch puts it, quite bluntly, “We have to stop working one penis at a time!” The program seeks to portray sexual assault prevention as part of sexual health, instead of a topic that most people would like to avoid.

So, tighten up the gray area or broaden the view? I tend to give preference to broader solutions, since tightening up the rules seems to make otherwise unaffected people consider it a taboo issue. At the same time, I do believe that individuals must be accountable for their actions, and for that I applaud the Student’s United group of Minnesota State for giving a clearer definition of “consent.” Sexual assault on campuses is nothing new, but perhaps a new approach is exactly what we need.

Snapchat Updated and…

What the hell Snapchat,

I’m not a fan of this update. The interface has changed. The people I subscribe to are mixed in with advertisements now. Snapchat has separated friends stories from public figures stories. The public figures are now in the mess of big company stories and peoples Snapchats that the algorithm thinks I want to see. It is apparent that they are trying to attract new users and be more advertisement friendly. More advertisers means more money. It is obvious that audience is very important to them, and rightfully so. Although, as a regular user, what the hell Snapchat… and I’m not the only one.

I get it though. Snapchat needs to grow. If they are not growing, stockholders aren’t happy. They would lose big money and have to make budget cuts. It’s a competitive market. I understand.

Speaking as a regular Snapchat user, what makes snapchat great was its simplicity. Take a right swipe and you have friends stories. To the left you have your direct messages. I loved when all the stories were all together in order of what was posted most recently. Snapchat is more personable. With the 24 hour stories it doesn’t feel like a big risk, you post something small and then it’s gone. It’s small daily shots and videos to share with your friends and whoever subscribes. That interaction is the bread and butter of Snapchat. Those type of personable interactions.  As they grow they will continue to push to get more interactions, more users, and so on. The filters, bitmojis, and special event stories are all superlative. They supplement the user and enhance their bread and butter.

This time though… it just doesn’t feel like they took care of their core audience. With that, I hope Snapchat continues to grow, but please don’t forget what makes Snapchat unique from other Social Media.

Art and Social Justice

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 3.08.15 PMAs a creator and consumer of the arts, I recently took a trip to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis with a friend to see some new exhibits. It’s been awhile since I visited a museum and was pleased to see so much variety in the exhibits and art disciplines, which led to my friend and I having a casual conversation about the age-old question, “What is art?”

People have been asking this question for hundreds of years. And despite the fact that the definition can be narrower or broader depending on the respondent, today there are multitudes of artistic disciplines: some are carryovers from our ancient past, such as pottery and painting, and others are newer forms like electronic music and digital video.

Following the trip to the Walker, I went online to see how others are defining the term “art”, and I came across a recent blog on Huffington Post, where the author examines the meaning of “art” from the perspective of various people.

One of the responses that caught my attention was by theater director, Ana Mendelson. In the blog she states:

To me, Art is at its core inclusive. It’s inclusive in form, topic, and, hopefully, in creators and audience. Because art can be anything we want it to be, be about anything we want it to be, and be done for and by anyone, arts at its highest form brings people together and helps us reflect on our own humanity. Through art we can honor what makes us unique and celebrate what makes us all one.

Similar to Ms. Mendelson’s definition, I also see the value art has in bringing people together and its power to positively transform communities.  This definition had me thinking deeper about the question of art, and my current work of leveraging arts for better social equity.

Social justice and equity are not new concepts and have been around since the days of Plato. We generally think of social justice as a fair and equal relationship among members of a community or society. To learn more about social justice and equity, a simple history and explanation of “social justice” is provided in a blog post by The Pachamama Alliance – an organization whose mission is to reach out to the public and inform them of these social inequality issues that plague the globe.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 3.59.49 PMAs a professional filmmaker, media producer, and artist, I have evolved my skills to adapt them for social good and today I apply them in a non-profit setting to help under-served communities and disadvantaged community members. Many of my organization’s programs and projects focus on social justice issues: health equity, arts and cultural access, educational equity, equitable community development, etc. However, our unique methodology is to think about and develop solutions through the arts and culture.

For example, we recently worked on a project with the Minnesota Department of Health and its Center for Health Equity to document and share health equity stories from around the state.  We used storytelling, video production and other art skills to accomplish this work.  One of goals of the project was to help state and community health worker work towards better health equity outcomes. The use of art tools was a successful strategy to engage more people and policies around health equity in Minnesota.

So how to I define art today?

For me, art has always been is a useful tool: a tool for communication, reflection, entertainment, and promotion. But today, I also include art as a tool and vehicle to address and solve social equity issues in our community, which is a way of thinking about art that has expanded my definition of the word.

How do you define art today?

The key to a stress free life

Image result for mind over matter

Feel like you have a lot on your mind? Do you ever feel forgetful?

I believe as college students we need to do what we can to keep our minds sharp but reduce our stress as much as we can at the same time. Lately I have felt like I can’t remember anything. I have been taking 4 classes and training in a new full-time job. I actually forgot my laundry in the community washer for two days last week before remembering I started the load and left them there. I have been forgetting basic words that I use on a daily basic such as washing machine; I just figured my brain was too exhausted to keep going. Then I researched and discovered that strengthening your brain and mind are just as important as getting physical exercise or sleep. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or forgetful like me then I have some exercises for you!

https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/use-it-or-lose-it-your-mind-is-like-a-muscle-12-ways-to-strengthen-your-brain/

Strengthening our mind in different ways can positively impact our lives on so many levels. Not only will it keep our memory but it can aid our body in running more smoothly and keep our body’s systems healthy so we can live longer. From just trying a new shampoo to calling up an old friend, the tips are easy and can be fun!

Our minds recover our bodies and our bodies decreases our psychological pain. Therefore it only makes sense to keep our minds at ease but challenged enough where it has a positive effect on our bodies. This is key to reducing our stress! Sometimes all it takes is perception to trick our minds. My first sign of stress was my forgetful memory followed by headaches and the struggle to sleep. I have found that the more I work on my mental health the more everything else around me improves. One thing in particular was starting a gratitude journal where I found here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201611/7-ways-use-your-mind-strengthen-and-heal-your-body

This has forced me to keep a positive attitude and leaves me in a peaceful mood for bed. I have started waking up in a better state and those optimistic thoughts are the first thing that come to my mind when I start my day.

Keep that stress away by focusing on your mental health and the rest will come. Keep positive!