Apr 10

Food Revolution—Great Concept, Aggressive Approach

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition

Tonight I watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and I have to say, I was taken for a little bit of a loop. The premise of the show is Jamie Oliver leaves his England home to come to Huntington, West Virginia to “save” it from its 2008 diagnosis as the world’s most unhealthy city according to MSNBC. The show follows him as he fights his way into the hearts and stomachs of the sometimes resistant residents.

Overall the show is pretty good. The production value is everything we’ve come to expect in this reality-show culture, and the message is quite possibly one of the most important topics facing American families today. The problem I have with the show is the often preachy, sometimes  condescending approach Jamie takes with the residents of Huntington. I can’t help but compare it to what I call the “Dances with Wolves” syndrome where the purpose driven, privileged outsider feels the necessity to join the natives in order to save them from their inevitable destruction. It’s the same rhetoric echoed time and time again spanning every form from missionaries to politics to relationship counseling. “I have the answer. You don’t. Let me help you.” It’s a bit righteous. (Although I realize I also sound righteous just by making this statement. Unfortunately I think it’s unavoidable.)

What’s the answer then? After all without this approach, we would have to discredit most international and local development initiatives as well as most social and civil changes that’s ever benefited anyone. The fact is people have to be informed in order to make a better decision. The question is how to inform them without coming across as authoritative.

My wife, whom I owe a great deal for relentlessly trying to get me to see more diplomatically, refers to her experience in the Peace Corps. She says to get the village on the path towards change, you have to speak with the chief and convince him. Once you have his vote, then the village will follow. She then takes this further and explains the chief as being more metaphoric. We all have an internal chief, guiding us towards rewards and turning our heads away from danger (well most of the time). When someone comes at us aggressively demanding that our ways our wrong, our internal chief automatically tells us to put our guard up. Aggression triggers a sense of danger, and danger makes us defensive. But if that same person comes to us asking to join us and learn our ways without asking for anything in return, at least at first, then our chief welcomes them in. This establishes a seedling of trust. That seedling then can grow into a full blossom. Only then can that person start to make suggestions and truly invoke change.

Now I don’t mean to harp on what Jamie Oliver’s trying to do. In fact I whole heartedly believe in it. In fact I signed his Food Revolution petition. Obesity is a dangerous and growing trend. Diabetes is sneaking into more and more families’ lives at alarming rates. Schools, fast food, and grocery stores are all marketing food that is unnatural and nutritiously lacking. Something needs to change. I love that between writers like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser and well known chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown, the message of sustainable and healthy eating is being told louder and louder each day. The message needs to be said. It needs to be taught. It needs to be accepted and enforced. The message can and will change lives, but the change has to come from an open heart, and not a defensive one. Alright, I’m done telling you how it is now.

Mar 10

National Day of Unplugging…

Lamp by Clint Bush

© 2008 Clint Bush

So this weekend is the first National Day of Unplugging. A novel idea, but one that I would like to try once a month. There are days I find myself plugged in for 12 hours or more between the computer, the ipod, and the TV. If you throw in the cell phone, then we’re talking all but the hours that I sleep.

It’s not that I’m against technology in any way. Hell I’m a web designer for Pete’s sake. It’s just that I don’t want to be connected all the time. I love the outdoors. I love quiet moments. I love hearing the birds outside. I love playing board games.

Anyways the idea was created by a New York Jewish group called the Rebooters. The overall guidelines are:

1. Avoid technology.
2. Connect with loved ones.
3. Nurture your health.
4. Get outside.
5. Avoid commerce.
6. Light candles.
7. Drink wine.
8. Eat bread.
9. Find silence.
10. Give back.

From CNN.com

Mar 10

Reflecting on looking ahead

Butterfly photo by Clint Bush

©2008 Clint Bush

I sometimes have an issue with the “there and then” philosophy over the “here and now”. I do agree having a plan to work towards not only gives us goals, but hope for something rewarding in the end. However, I strongly believe it’s not just the reward at the end, but rather the journey that teaches us. Buddhists believe you must be in the present to be truly spiritual. If we’re always focused on the end result, we miss the details in life, and remember details are not always bad. The way a butterfly gets carried in a breeze. The way the grass smells after it’s been cut. The way rain sounds on a window. The intricate patterns of a snowflake. The precious giggle of your partner or child. These moments are just as precious as the reward in the end. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the end result, and we want to skip ahead. Then, like reading the end of book first, you miss the context that makes the award truly rewarding.

Mar 10

Hello spring, we’ve missed you.

Sunrise Alexandria, VA

Off our balcony looking towards DC.© 2010 Clint Bush

It’s about 20 min to 7 this morning, and I’m sitting at my laptop trying to to finish up a project that I’ve been working on. I tried doing yoga this morning, but all I want to do is listen to the birds sing and smell the spring air. It’s absolutely beautiful outside although it’s still dark. The air is crisp, there’s a chorus of bird calls mixed with light sounds of a city awakening—delivery trucks making their rounds, occassional chatter of early risers, red eye flights coming in at DCA. The washington area is waking up, and I woke up just a few moments before to catch it’s awakening. The sun has not poked his head out yet, but its energy already fills the eastern sky spilling orange hues onto the capitol and washington monument and mixing with the dark blue sky creating an delicate wash of impressionistic colors. Slowly the sky turns light, slowly the sounds increase in volume and complexity, slowly things come into consciousness. It’s truly amazing.