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Land | La Tierra ( first in a series | primero en una serie )

– Wendy Rockwell Brouillette

Español abajo.

It is my desire to share an understanding that things could be very different, much better for everyone. It is my belief that our creator has set up the universe to provide for all with utmost simplicity.

I would like to help foster a paradigm shift in thinking about economics. Ignorance is not bliss. I think that understanding what is occurring in our community, country and world is important. We cannot fix all of the problems, but we may find ourselves in situations where we can make a difference. If we do not have a clue as to what that solution is, we are not apt to be effective in implementing real change, even given the chance. Having a clear vision of what could be we are all more able to see the way forward and work to make it a reality. This is why Quakers have schools around the globe. Knowledge brings possibilities.

The changes required to bring about a more just society involve a change in our relationship with the earth, the source of life. Our present practices, laws, and perceptions concerning the earth are the causes of many of our present woes.

Land is our mother; it gave us life; without land there is no life. The land was here before we were and will be here after we are gone. Every living being must have access to land to continue life.

Land in classical economics is defined as everything in the universe except for humans and human made products. This definition includes the air, un-extracted minerals, air waves, the oceans, and of course land. All wealth is made from land.

Land is an essential factor of production. The first humans lived with very few tools for thousands of years, living off of the land. Today we have many tools but they all came from the earth. There is not one tool, of the thousands that we take for granted every day, that did not come from the earth.

I ask myself, if humans could survive for thousands of years with rudimentary tools, why is there today such human deprivation when we have countless tools within reach? Everyone with the least bit of effort should be able to obtain all material comforts.

Land has no cost of production and the supply is limited. In fact, as Mark Twain pointed out, “they ain’t making it no more.” But maybe we have all noticed that in order to get access to land, it takes many hours of labor, maybe even a lifetime of work, to gain access to a small patch of land to live and work on. This value that prevents most people from access to land is a community created value. Where there is no community, there is no demand for land, and land has no sale value. As the community develops, infrastructure is invested on the land, and labor becomes more efficient, resulting in land value increases.

Land is not wealth or capital; it has no cost of production. Land value is a reflection of

community demand, not cost of production. Therefore this value should return to the community who produced it, not into private pockets.

We humans are most healthy when we function within a community, but the present state of things makes this very difficult. Competition prevails over cooperation, albeit the latter is much more satisfying.

Social movements, especially Occupy Wall Street, of the past decade have brought to our vocabulary the term “The 1%”. But they have failed to explain how The 1% got their hands on over half of the world’s wealth and neither have they proposed a solution. Most of their discontent was expressed toward the banks, and rightly so, but what enabled the banks to be in that position in the first place?

I would like to continue with thoughts on the effects of different kinds of taxes on society, why speculation in land drives climate change as well as land grabbing around the world.

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Es mi deseo compartir la comprensión de que las cosas podrían ser muy diferentes, mucho mejor para todos. Creo que nuestro creador ha creado el universo para proporcionar a todos con la mayor simplicidad.

Me gustaría ayudar a fomentar un cambio de paradigma en el pensamiento sobre economía. La ignorancia no es felicidad. Creo que comprender lo que está ocurriendo en nuestra comunidad, país y mundo es importante. No podemos solucionar todos los problemas, pero nos podemos encontrar en situaciones en las que podemos hacer una diferencia. Si no tenemos idea de cuál es esa solución, no somos capaces de implementar cambios reales, incluso si tenemos la oportunidad. Teniendo una visión clara de lo que podría ser, todos somos más capaces de ver el camino a seguir y trabajar para que sea una realidad. Esta es la razón por la cual los cuáqueros tienen escuelas en todo el mundo. El conocimiento trae posibilidades.

Los cambios necesarios para lograr una sociedad más justa implican un cambio en nuestra relación con la tierra, la fuente de la vida. Nuestras prácticas, leyes y percepciones actuales sobre la tierra son las causas de muchos de nuestros males actuales.

La tierra es nuestra madre; nos dio vida; sin tierra no hay vida. La tierra estaba aquí antes que nosotros y estará aquí después de que nos hayamos ido. Todo ser viviente debe tener acceso a la tierra para continuar la vida.

La tierra en la economía clásica se define como todo en el universo, excepto los humanos y los productos fabricados por humanos. Esta definición incluye el aire, los minerales no extraídos, las ondas de aire, los océanos y, por supuesto, la tierra. Toda la riqueza está hecha de la tierra.

La tierra es un factor esencial de producción. Los primeros humanos vivieron con muy pocas herramientas durante miles de años, viviendo de la tierra. Hoy tenemos muchas herramientas pero todas vinieron de la tierra. No hay una herramienta, de las miles que damos por sentado todos los días, que no vino de la tierra.

Me pregunto, si los humanos pudieran sobrevivir durante miles de años con herramientas rudimentarias, ¿por qué hoy existe tal privación humana cuando tenemos innumerables herramientas a nuestro alcance? Todos con el mínimo esfuerzo deberían poder obtener todas las comodidades materiales.

La tierra no tiene costo de producción y el suministro es limitado. De hecho, como señaló Mark Twain, “no lo están haciendo más”. Pero tal vez todos hemos notado que para tener acceso a la tierra, se requieren muchas horas de trabajo, tal vez incluso una vida de trabajo, para tener acceso a un pequeño pedazo de tierra donde vivir y trabajar. Este valor que impide que la mayoría de las personas accedan a la tierra es un valor creado por la comunidad. Donde no hay comunidad, no hay demanda de tierra, y la tierra no tiene valor de venta. A medida que la comunidad se desarrolla, la

infraestructura se invierte en la tierra, y la mano de obra se vuelve más eficiente, resultando en un aumento del valor de la tierra.

La tierra no es riqueza o capital; no tiene costo de producción. El valor de la tierra es un reflejo de la demanda de la comunidad, no del costo de producción. Por lo tanto, este valor debería regresar a la comunidad que lo produjo, no a los bolsillos privados.

Los humanos somos más saludables cuando trabajamos dentro de una comunidad, pero el estado actual de las cosas hace que esto sea muy difícil. La competencia prevalece sobre la cooperación, aunque esta última es mucho más satisfactoria.

Los movimientos sociales, especialmente Occupy Wall Street, de la última década han traído a nuestro vocabulario el término “El 1%”. Pero no explicaron cómo el 1% logró obtener más de la mitad de la riqueza mundial y tampoco propusiron una solución. La mayoría de su descontento se expresó hacia los bancos, y con razón, pero ¿qué permitió a los bancos estar en esa posición en primer lugar?

Me gustaría continuar con reflexiones sobre los efectos de los diferentes tipos de impuestos en la sociedad, por qué la especulación en la tierra genera males mundiales inclusive el cambio climático, y también la apropiación de tierras alrededor del planeta.

Update: Transforming our Transportation Use for Quaker Meeting

Español abajo.

Those of you who were in meeting just after Nate (when we were cut off from the rest of the world), might remember that our clerk, Tim Lietzke, announced that we had reached our goal of cutting in half the number of internal combustion engines coming to meeting for worship! Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. We are sad to report that we have not made significant progress toward that goal. If you have any ideas for how we can make this shift fun, easy and achievable, we welcome your input!

We continue to track the ratio of attendees to the number of fossil fuel vehicles. We hope that we can report in the next newsletter that the number of attendees per car has gone up!

Tim Curtis, Tim Lietzke, Katy VanDusen and Mike West
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Las últimas noticias del comité de transporte:

Los de ustedes quienes estaban en el culto inmediatamente después de Nate (cuando estábamos aislados del resto del mundo) tal vez recuerden que nuestro actuario, Tim Lietzke, anunció que ya habíamos logrado nuestra meta de cortar a la mitad el número de vehículos de combustibles fósiles que llegan al culto. Desafortunadamente, ya no es cierto. Estamos tristes que no hemos hecho progreso a esa meta. Si tiene ideas sobre cómo podemos hacer ese cambio en una manera divertida, fácil y alcanzable, ¡les invitamos compartirlos con nosotros!

Seguimos monitorizando el número de gente asistiendo comparado con el número de vehículos de combustibles fósiles. Esperamos poder reportar en el próximo boletín que el número de personas asistiendo por carro haya subido.

Tim Curtis, Tim Lietzke, Katy VanDusen and Mike West

A Spirituality of Walking

by Tim Lietzke

I have a request to make but let me begin with some thoughts about walking. We all know that walking is good for our brains, hearts, other body parts, and sleep. But there’s more to walking than helping our bodies function a little better. I remember watching, years ago, a regular length film with no dialogue, a sort of visual cosmology of the evolutionary development of planet Earth. At the beginning the pace was so slow I felt a little impatient for “something” to happen. Humans came on the scene only at the very end and then shortly the action was so frenzied as to produce anxiety and a complete inability to take it all in. Another image. Thirty-five or forth years ago, I read a theological work entitled “The Two Mile-an-Hour God”. I don’t remember the contents, but the title has stuck with me. To me it suggests that the Spirit is moving more at the pace of evolutionary development than the frenzied pace of much of human activity. Two miles per hour is a slow, meditative walk. Drive at two miles per hour and you’ll probably get a ticket or be honked off the road.

So why do I walk? First, I should say that walking is just one of those things I do every day, like eating, sleeping, reading, and practicing yoga. A day without walking would be as incomplete as a day without thinking or meditating. So there’s an inner necessity to walk. To be sure, I could buy a vehicle of some sort, a bicycle say, if I had no more need than simply to get around. But I don’t want a vehicle. The inner sense of spiritual freedom in being vehicle-less is great. Understand that I’m not against vehicles per say. I do take advantage of them, but I like to do so only when it’s especially necessary. At times when I don’t need to walk very fast, I do walking meditation, that is, putting breath and footsteps in sync, say four steps for every in-breath and four for every out-breath. That centers the mind and body.

Walking provides me the opportunity for reflection, for pondering life questions. When I was studying in England in the late 70s, I went to a week-long theological conference in Bonn and from there to some of the German university towns, including Heidelberg for a week to visit a friend, who was studying philosophy there. We walked along the Philosopher’s Way on the ridge overlooking the town. I have the feeling, partly inspired by that experience, that philosophers throughout the ages have tended to be walkers. There is some logic in thinking that philosophers tend to be walkers since most philosophically minded people agree that living the good life entails balance, one element of which is moving the body.

When walking I tend to notice things around me more than when riding in a car. My communion, my feeling of oneness with the life around me, is deeper. In a car, if I think about it at all, I feel more like an alien–and thus alienated–in an earthship passing through. By contrast, on the sidewalks and pathways I meet people; sometimes we stop to chat. With some there is no verbal connection beyond “hello, how are you?”, but our frequent passing has created a bond. And then if and when the conversation does happen to come, it comes easily because we already have an incipient, unspoken friendship.

In spite of the overabundance of vehicles in the world, great masses of the world’s people are walkers. That’s how the poor especially get around–to fetch water or firewood, to go to the fields to grow food, to travel to the next village. I walk in solidarity with them. By birth and education I may not qualify as a campesino, but at heart I am one. My heart is attracted to the campesinos of the world, even as my mind is attracted to the philosophically inclined. The poor who walk have small environmental footprints. They’re not the ones causing global warming though unjustly they’re generally the first to suffer from it. I don’t want to increase their suffering if I can help it, and so I walk.

Many of us came to Costa Rica partly to flee the way and pace of life in North America. So why don’t we walk more? Is it injury? Being out of shape? Thinking we’re too busy? Still tied to old habits? Injuries can be a serious problem. It was rough going for 6 or 8 months after tearing my Achilles tendon two years ago, and months more to overcome the habit of limping. Being out of shape can usually be reversed, little by little, if there’s the will. I doubt that everything we do is so important as to make us too busy to walk. Old habits are usually best overcome by conscious substitution.

Finally, for my request. I know Friends mean well by the many offers of rides. Much of the time I have accepted just for the opportunity to talk. Sometimes when it’s raining enough to really get wet or when I’m running late for Meeting, rides have been most appreciated. But to be honest, I don’t need a ride just to be relieved of the necessity of walking. The walking part of my humanity is still alive and I want to keep it alive. Walking, for me, is a physical, mental, and spiritual necessity, as I’ve suggested above. So unless it’s raining more than a drizzle or you see I’m running late to Meeting or you just want to talk, don’t waste gas slowing down and stopping. Just smile and wave or give me the thumbs-up as you pass, and I’ll do the same.

Paul’s electric golf cart makes him smile. I appreciate that. It makes me smile, too. But what makes me smile even more is the thought of 50 Friends in groups of two or three walking to Meeting while softly sharing thoughts on vital life questions. Wouldn’t that be a grand preparation for worship and communion in Spirit?

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Una Espiritualidad de Caminar

Escrito por Tim Lietzke

Tengo una solicitud pero antes déjeme empezar con algunos pensamientos sobre el paseo, es decir, el acto de caminar. Todos saben que caminar es bueno para nuestros cerebros, nuestros corazones, otras partes del cuerpo, y para el sueño. Pero el paseo tiene que ver con algo más que ayudar nuestros cuerpos a funcionar un poco mejor. Recuerdo haber mirado, hace muchos años, una película de largo metraje sin diálogo, un tipo de cosmología visual del desarrollo evolutivo del planeta Tierra. Al principio el paso estaba tan lento que me sentía un poco impaciente para ver algo pasar. Los seres humanos vinieron en la escena sólo al cabo y dentro de poco la acción estaba tan frenética como producir ansiedad y una completa incapacidad para comprender lo que pasaba. Otra imagen. Hace 35 o 40 años que leí un libro teológico titulado “El Dios de Dos Millas por Hora”. No recuerdo los contenidos, pero el título se ha pegado. El título sugiere que el Espíritu está moviendo más al paso del desarrollo evolutivo que al paso frenético de muchas de las actividades humanas. Dos millas por hora es una lenta caminata meditabunda. Si dirige el carro a dos millas por hora, probablemente recibirá una boleta por velocidad demasiado lenta o pitarán hasta que salga del camino.

Entonces, por qué camino? Ante todo, quiero decir que el paseo es simplemente una de las cosas que hago cada día, como comer o dormir o leer o practicar el yoga. Un día sin caminar sería tan incompleto como un día sin pensamiento o meditación. Por tanto hay una necesidad interior a caminar. Sin duda podría comprar un vehículo de algun tipo, tal vez una bicicleta, si tuviera ninguna otra necesidad que viajar. Pero no quiero tener un vehículo. El sentido interior de la libertad espiritual en estar sin vehículo es grande. Entiende que no contrapongo vehículos por si mismo. Aprovecho de ellos, pero agrado hacer así solamente cuando está especialmente necesario. A veces cuando no necesito caminar muy rápido, hago meditación de caminar, es decir, poner la respiración y las pisadas en sincronización, por ejemplo, cuatro pisadas por cada aspiración y cuatro pisadas por cada exhalación. Eso centra la mente y el cuerpo.

El paseo me provee la oportunidad de reflexión, para pensar en las cuestiones de la vida.
Cuando estudiaba en Inglaterra en los últimos años de los 70s, fui a Bonn para asistir una conferencia teológica de una semana de duración y desde allá a algunas alemanes ciudades universitarias, incluyendo Heidelberg durante una semana para visitar a un amigo, que estudiaba folosofía en la universidad. Caminábamos en el Camino de los Filósofos, del que miramos abajo a la ciudad. Tengo el sentido, en parte inspirado por esa experiencia, que filósofos a lo largo de los siglos han tendido a ser peatones. Hay alguna lógica en pensar que filósofos tienden a ser peatones ya que mucha gente de mente filósofa acuerdan que vivir la buena vida envuelve equilibrio, del que un elemento es mover el cuerpo.

Cuando camino tiendo a observar cosas a la redonda más que cuando viajo en un carro. Mi comunión, mi sentido de unidad con la vida rodeandome es más profunda. Dentro de un carro, si pienso en lo por casualidad, me siento más como un ser de otro planeta –y por consiguiente enajenado– en una tierranave atravesando. Por contraste en las aceras y las sendas topo con varias personas y a veces paramos para charlar. Con algunas no hay ninguna conexión verbal salvo por “Hola, ¿Cómo está?”, pero nuestra pasada frecuente ha creado una atadura. Entonces, si y cuando la conversación venga, viene fácilmente porque ya tenemos una incipiente amistad tácita.

A pesar de la sobreabundancia de vehículos en el mundo, grandes masas de la gente del mundo son peatones. Es el modo por el cual los pobres en particular viajan–para ir a buscar el agua o la leña, para ir a los campos donde cultivan hortalizas y frutos, para viajar al aldea cercana…Camino por solidaridad con ellos. Por nacimiento y por educación tal vez no califico como un campesino, pero soy uno en el fondo. Mi corazón es atraído a los campesinos del mundo, aun cuando mi mente es atraído a ellos de inclinación filósofa. Los pobres que caminan tienen pequeñas huellas ambientales. Ellos no son la gente causando el calentamiento de la Tierra aunque injustamente sean en general los primeros que sufren como consecuencia. No quiero aumentar sus sufrimientos si puedo evitarlo, y por lo tanto camino.

Muchos de nosotros vinieron a Costa Rica, en parte, para fugarnos del modo y el paso de la vida en Norteamérica. ¿Así por qué no caminamos más? ¿Es porque tenemos heridas? ¿No estamos en forma? ¿Sentimonos demasiado ocupados? ¿Estamos habituados a no caminar? Las heridas pueden estar un problema serio. Estaba duro durante 6 o 8 meses después de distender el tendón Aquiles hace dos años, y unos cuantos meses más para superar el hábito de cojear. No estar en forma se puede invertir, poco a poco, si hay la voluntad. Dudo que todo lo que hacemos esté tan importante que a la verdad no tenemos el tiempo para caminar. Usualmente los hábitos viejos y inútiles son superado por substitución deliberada.

Por fin, perteneciente a mi solicitud. Sé que los Amigos tienen buenas intenciones cuando me ofrecen un aventón. Muchas veces he aceptado simplemente por la oportunidad de hablar. A veces cuando está lloviendo bastante para mojarme o cuando ando atrasado al Mitin un aventón es muy apreciado. Pero francamente no necesito un aventón para liberarme de la necesidad de caminar. La parte de mi humanidad concerniendo con caminar es todavía viva y quiero mantenerla viva. Para mi, caminar es una necesidad física y mental y espiritual, como he sugerido más arriba. Por consiguiente al menos que esté lloviendo más que una llovizna o vea que estaré tarde al Mitin o quiera hablar, no gaste el gas por reducir la marcha de su carro y parar. En cambio, sonría y agite la mano o deme la buena suerte cuando me pasa y haré lo mismo.

El carro eléctrico de Paulo lo hace sonreír. Aprecio eso. Me hace sonreír también. Pero lo que me hace sonreír aun más es el pensamiento de 50 Amigos en grupos de dos o tres caminando al Mitin mientras compartan bajamente sus pensamientos sobre vitales cuestiones de vida. ¿No sería una grande preparación para el culto y la comunión en Espíritu?

A Moment to Pause

by Sue Gabrielson

Often the best moments of our lives arise within the pauses.” – The Elephant Journal

Each day, as part of my own spiritual practice, I write a quote on the board in my office. I find these inspiring words here and there, in books, on-line, from past sermons I have preached. This quote, I left displayed for several days. It struck me as what is often most important to remember.

At a busy school like ours, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the day. Morning assembly precedes a day of interesting classes and assignments punctuated by mini-courses, study hall or extra test preparation sessions. Teachers are consumed with worry for their struggling students and with keeping the high achievers appropriately challenged while they wrestle with broken copy machines and intermittent internet. They have arrived early sacrificing sleep and family only to discover their prep time consumed by an unexpected challenge. Other staff are holding the multiple responsibilities of educating, community building, organizing, keeping the vision and tending to the everyday business of running a school, while they juggle their million diverse responsibilities.

Then, students arrive in various states of disrepair: hungry, drenched from the rain, tired from the hike from San Luis, needing the nurture of their chosen MFS family. We join in embracing a new day often fraught with chaos and demands. BUT, what we know, what we re-learn each day is that it is true that the best moments of our lives arise within the pauses. And, how amazing it is that we live and work and learn in a place that is willing to stop and live the pauses.

Students console each other, offer compassionate care across every grade and extend their love to the greater community and to the forest and flowers. We take time to eat together (often sharing our food with those who have less), to follow the butterflies, to watch the insects (and scary reptiles) that call school their home, to greet each other with authentic concern, to share our joys and sorrows, to gaze at the guans or mot mots that have graced us with their presence and to play together. From the outside, our days may appear busy and scheduled, consumed with the objective we all hold of “being a great school.” But, I think that it is in the pauses, that we are learning to be our best selves and what it means to be beautiful humans in a world that seems to move too fast to recognize the spaces in between where miracles happen. How fortunate we are to live, teach and learn in this amazing community we call MFS.

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Un momento de pausa

escrito por Sue Gabrielson

A menudo los mejores momentos de nuestras vidas surgen dentro de las pausas.” El Diario del Elefante

Cada día, como parte de mi propia práctica espiritual, escribo una cita en la pizarra en mi oficina. Encuentro estas palabras inspiradoras aquí y allá, en libros, en línea, en sermones que he predicado en el pasado. Esta cita, la dejé expuesta durante varios días. Me impresionó como lo que a menudo es más importante recordar.

En una escuela tan concurrida como la nuestra, es fácil quedar atrapado en el caos del día.

La Asamblea de la mañana precede a un día de clases y asignaciones interesantes acentuada por mini-cursos, sala de estudio o sesiones de preparación de pruebas extras.

Los maestros son consumidos con preocupación por sus estudiantes con necesidades y con mantener a los estudiantes de alto rendimiento debidamente desafiados mientras luchan con máquinas copiadoras descompuestas e Internet interrumpida. Han llegado temprano sacrificando el sueño y la familia sólo para descubrir que su tiempo de preparación ha sido consumido por un desafío inesperado. El resto del personal tiene las múltiples responsabilidades de educación, construcción de la comunidad, organización, mantenimiento de la visión y la administración cotidiana de dirigir una escuela, mientras que hacen malabares con sus millones de responsabilidades.

Luego, los estudiantes llegan en varios estados de deterioro; hambrientos, empapados de la lluvia, cansados ​​de la caminata de San Luis, necesitando el sustento de su familia elegida en MFS. Nos unimos aceptando un nuevo día a menudo lleno de caos y exigencias. PERO, lo que sabemos, lo que reaprendemos cada día es que es cierto que los mejores momentos de nuestras vidas surgen dentro de las pausas. Y, qué asombroso es vivir y trabajar y aprender en un lugar que está dispuesto a detenerse y vivir las pausas.

Los estudiantes se consuelan, ofrecen cuidado compasivo a través de cada grado y extienden su amor a la comunidad mayor y a los bosques y a flores. Nosotros nos tomamos tiempo para comer juntos (a menudo compartir nuestra comida con los que tienen menos), para seguir las mariposas, observar a los insectos (y reptiles que dan miedo) que llaman a la escuela su casa, para saludarnos con auténtica preocupación, para compartir nuestras alegrías y penas, mirar las pavas o pájaros bobos que nos han honrado con su presencia y jugar juntos. Desde el exterior, nuestros días pueden parecer ocupados y consumidos por horarios con el objetivo que todos tenemos de “ser una gran escuela”.

Pero, creo que es en las pausas, que estamos aprendiendo a ser nuestro mejor yo y lo que significa ser bellos seres humanos en un mundo que parece moverse rápido para reconocer los espacios entre los que suceden los milagros. Cuan afortunados somos de vivir, enseñar y aprender en esta increíble comunidad que llamamos MFS.

Getting From Here To There With A Smaller Footprint

by Tim Curtis

In the March meeting for business, School Committee brought a proposal for modifications to the parking lot area, in order to address school parent concerns about safety. We approved most, but not all, of the proposal, but there was some reluctance. Some felt that we should not accommodate to the dramatic increase in car use to bring students and staff to and from school, without addressing the environmental impact of so many gasoline and diesel-powered cars going to and from school daily, and making some effort to reverse this trend. Tim Lietzke and I volunteered to initiate a community-wide discussion to explore ways to fulfill our transportation needs with less traffic.

On July 30th, after meeting for worship, Tim L. and Katy Van Dusen facilitated a brainstorming session on transportation for meeting members and attenders. With twenty-some people in attendance, everyone began by filling out a questionnaire about our transportation needs and practices. Then, together we compiled a composite list of our needs, and brainstormed a long wish list of solutions, none of course without many complications – perhaps explaining why they haven’t happened yet. Finally, we divided into three working groups, each focused on one of the possible solutions to plan actions to be taken.

The three working groups focused on shared shopping, ride-sharing both locally and to and from the Central Valley, and institutionalized shared vehicles. One concrete action that came out of the session was the formation of groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as a telephone network, for people both needing and offering rides. The shared shopping group made plans to put up signs for interested people and to explore possibilities for making group orders.
We purposely began our discussions with the Meeting because (1) it is always a good practice to begin a change with one’s self (or in this case, our selves), and (2) if school parents saw the Meeting leading by example they would be more inspired to explore new possibilities themselves. With this in mind, and using the results of the surveys filled out on July 30th to identify possibilities for ride-sharing to and from the meetinghouse, we drafted a proposal to the September meeting for business. We proposed setting a goal of halving the number of fossil-fueled vehicles traveling to meeting, by consistent ride-sharing, walking or biking, or replacement of fossil-fuel vehicles with electric ones. The proposal was adopted, but not without airing some of the complications which make car-pooling challenging.

On September 21, at the monthly MFS Parent-Teacher meeting, I briefly reported on the initiatives taken by the Meeting and invited the school community to think of ways to also reduce their vehicle use to and from school. A sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in joining the ride-share group on Facebook and WhatsApp, and for interest in forming a parent committee to explore possibilities. I’m hoping this committee can come up with some ideas that could be proposed at a future parent meeting.

Looking at the challenges and the possibilities in this transportation issue presents many of the same dilemmas we face when trying to effect other changes in in our lifestyles. To coordinate with others, we lose some flexibility, some independence. If we wait to go to the hardware store until it coincides with another’s needs, it may delay fixing the sink or planting the garden. Or we may have two hours of unscheduled time (to “kill”, if we choose to look at it that way) in town between commitments, if we want to avoid two trips in the same day. So we have a tension between our desire to reduce our negative impact on our planet and our desire to make the most of our time. How to deal with that tension is worthy of our reflection, and could easily be a topic for another article.

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Trasladarse Desde Aquí Hasta Allá Con Una Huella Más Pequeña

Escrito Por Tim Curtis

En la reunión de acuerdos de marzo, el Comité Escolar trajo una propuesta para modificaciones al parqueo, en respuesta a las preocupaciones de los padres y madres de los estudiantes sobre la seguridad. Aprobamos la mayoría, pero no todos los elementos de la propuesta, pero hubo alguna renuencia. Algunos sentían que no debemos acomodarnos al aumento dramático de uso de carros para traer a los estudiantes y personal a la escuela, sin enfrentar el impacto ambiental de tantos carros de propulsión petrolera viajando diariamente entre la escuela y los hogares y hacer algún esfuerzo para revertir esta tendencia. Tim Lietzke y yo nos ofrecimos para iniciar una discusión a nivel de comunidad para explorar formas de satisfacer nuestras necesidades de transporte con menos tránsito.

El 30 de julio, después de la reunión de adoración, Tim L. y Katy Van Dusen facilitaron una lluvia de ideas sobre el transporte para los miembros y asistentes del Meeting (la Junta Cuáquera). Con veinte y resto en asistencia, todos empezamos con llenar un cuestionario sobre nuestras necesidades y prácticas de transporte. Luego, recopilamos juntos una lista colectiva de nuestras necesidades de transporte e hicimos una larga lista de deseos para soluciones, ningunos sin sus complicaciones – que podría explicar por qué no se hayan hecho realidad hasta la fecha. Finalmente, dividimos en tres grupos de trabajo, cada uno enfocado en una de las soluciones posibles para planear acciones para tomar.

Los tres grupos de trabajo fueron enfocados en viajes compartidos para compras, transporte compartido tanto local como al Valle Central, y los vehículos compartidos institucionalizados. Una acción concreta que salió de la sesión fue la formación de grupos en Facebook y WhatsApp, junto con una red telefónica, tanto para personas que necesitan transporte como para las que lo ofrecen. El grupo trabajando en los viajes compartidos para compras hizo planes para fijar rótulos para personas interesadas y explorar las posibilidades para hacer pedidas en grupo.

A propósito iniciamos nuestras discusiones con el Meeting, por qué (1) siempre es buena práctica
comenzar un cambio con uno mismo (o en este caso, nosotros mismos) y (2) si los padres y madres de la Escuela vieran el Meeting liderando con el ejemplo, se inspirarían más a explorar nuevas posibilidades ellos mismos. Pensando en esto, y utilizando los resultados de los cuestionarios llenados el 30 de julio, se identificaron las posibilidades para transporte compartido entre las casas y el culto y otras actividades en la Escuela, y redactamos una propuesta para la reunión de acuerdos de septiembre. Propusimos ponernos una meta de reducir el número de vehículos de combustible fósil viajando al culto a la mitad, por medio de consistentemente compartir el transporte, caminar o andar en bicicleta, o reemplazar nuestros vehículos de combustible fósil con los eléctricos. La propuesta se aprobó, pero no sin expresar algunas de las complicaciones que nos desafían en tratar de compartir el transporte.

El 21 de septiembre, en la reunión mensual de familias y maestros de la escuela, informé brevemente sobre las iniciativas tomadas por el Meeting y invité a la comunidad escolar pensar también en formas de reducir su uso de vehículos entre la casa y la escuela. Se circuló una hoja para que los interesados se apuntaran para el grupo de Facebook y WhatsApp y para formar un comité de padres y madres para explorar las posibilidades. Estoy esperando que este comité pueda traer unas ideas a una futura reunión de madres y padres de familia.

Contemplar los retos y las posibilidades de este tema del transporte presenta muchos de los mismos dilemas que enfrentamos cuando tratamos de efectuar otros cambios a nuestros estilos de vida. Para coordinar con otros, perdemos algo de flexibilidad, algo de independencia. Esperar para ir a la ferretería hasta que coincida con la necesidad de otra persona podrá atrasarnos en arreglar la fregadera o sembrar la huerta. O podremos tener dos horas de tiempo libre (para “matar” si queremos verlo así) en el pueblo entre dos compromisos, si queremos evitar dos viajes en el mismo día. Así hay una tensión entre el deseo de reducir nuestro impacto negativo a nuestro planeta y el deseo de aprovechar al máximo nuestro tiempo. Cómo manejar esa tensión es digno de nuestra reflexión y bien podría ser tema de otro artículo.

Transforming our Transportation Use for Quaker Meeting

Goal: To halve the number of internal combustion engines that we drive to meeting by 1 Jan 2018.

The baseline data as of 24 September 2017 (number of families):

21 Always walks
8 Does not own car. Walks, sometimes gets rides
4 Electric car
3 Sometimes eBikes, sometimes drives
1 Moto
13 Sometimes drives. Sometimes walks, motos, or gets rides.
0 Usually carpools with people with cars, leaving at least one car at home
18 Usually drives

Let’s cut the number of “usually drives” to 9 and the “sometimes drives” to 6!

Another way to measure our progress is by counting the number of people, the number of electric vehicles and the number of internal combustion cars in the parking lot. On the first of October there were 69 people in meeting, 3 electric vehicles, and 10 internal combustion vehicles, 6.9 people for every fossil fuel car. We encourage people who live farther away to give rides to people who live closer. See the list on the meeting room bulletin board to see who you can carpool with. It is a great opportunity to connect with your neighbors.

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Meta: Reducir a la mitad el número de motores de combustión interna que conduciremos hasta el 1 de enero de 2018.

Los datos de referencia al 24 de septiembre de 2017 (número de familias):

21 Siempre camina
8 No tiene carro. A veces coge ride.
4 Carro eléctrico
3 A veces anda en eBike, a veces maneja
1 Moto
13 A veces maneja. A veces camina, coge ride, o anda en moto.
0 Por lo general comparta transporte con gente con carro, dejando por lo menos un carro en casa.
18 Por lo general, conduce.

Vamos a reducir el número de “Por lo general concude” a 9 y las “a veces maneja” a 6!

Otra manera de medir nuestro progreso es contar el número de personas en el culto, el número de vehículos en el parqueo.. El 1 de octubre habían 69 personas en el culto, 3 vehículos eléctricos y 10 carros, 6.9 personas por cada vehículo de combustible fósil.

Animamos a las personas que viven más lejos a dar ride a las personas que viven más cerca. Vea la lista en el el salon del culto para ver con quién puede compartir transporte. Es una gran oportunidad para conectar con sus vecinos.

Business as usual / Aquí no pasa nada

by Paul Smith

I have never met a climate change sceptic in the Monteverde area. Our claim to fame is creating large private reserves and promoting conservation through our institutions. But all is not well.

Like most parts of the world, we have been slow to confront a principle reason for climate warming, our transportation system based on fossil fuels. As we in Costa Rica become steadily more affluent, each year 5 percent more cars are added to our congested roads and parking lots. There seems to be no way to stop this trend.

In western society a personally owned car gives us status, the newer the car the better. The car is well promoted by our financial institutions. It is our sacred cow. Traffic jams and gridlock do not seem to reduce its popularity.

Most of our commutes are less than ten miles. What is the problem with a bicycle? Culture again. What I hear is “Oh, it’s not cool. That is what children do. I am not strong enough; it’s too dangerous”. Yes, our hills in Monteverde can be a challenge for an octogenarian like myself. But as I have discovered, adding a small electric motor and battery to my bike makes going up hill as easy as going down.

Three values in our culture, I think, explain our addiction to the automobile and why that addiction is the last thing car lovers want to think about.

Convenience: Cars give us greater freedom. Fill the tank and we are off to the city or beach with the family on an impulse. No bus schedules to consult.

Comfort: Role up the window, set the temperature control, put on the radio, and enjoy the scenery.

Speed: Step on the gas. The only limitations are traffic jams, bumps in the road, speeding tickets, and pesky walkers and bikers getting in the way.

If, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, we would have to conclude that having a personal car is a higher priority than the world we are leaving to our grandchildren. We are affluent. We have the money. Why not spend it on a car? I would call this a serious moral dilemma.

Survival of our species is dependent on humanity learning to live in harmony with nature. Will “business as usual” prevail or can we become more aware and chose a road to survival?

When the car was invented over a hundred years ago it was powered by either an electric motor and batteries or a gas motor. In time the latter won because of its superior range. Unfortunately the gas motor has helped creat humanity’s greatest crisis, global warming. In spite of the Paris Accord and hearing about global warming in the news every day, the dominant response continues to be “business as usual”. Is there any hope? Fortunately science and technology give humanity new options and hope for a promising future if we move forward quickly.

Technologies such as solar panels, smart grids, and batteries make it possible for renewable sources–solar, wind, hydro, and tidal– to meet our energy needs. And improvements are being made almost daily. Sustainable energy along with improved motors and batteries can eliminate the need for dirty fuel, a phenomenal innovation. This has the potential to revolutionize all forms of transportation, public and private.

Tesla Company’s innovations have changed history and initiated the demise of the dirty internal combustion engine. Understanding “car culture” they exceeded all expectations by making their first electric automobile surpass the gas car in convenience, comfort, and speed. At present only the rich can afford the price tag. So for now the fossil fuel industry is still in the driver’s seat with low fuel prices, and they’re putting up a good fight to survive. Manufacturing of EVs on a commercial scale and creating the necessary infrastructure, such as charging stations and services, are the present challenges. Convenience, comfort, and speed based on clean energy at a competitive price is in sight.

So the game is over for fossil fuels. We just don’t know the date. Country after country is passing legislation to stimulate the transition, with Norway leading the way. Two years after Norway passed legislation to favor EVs, more than 40% of its new vehicles are electric. In spite of Costa Rica’s ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by the year 2021, due to vested interests stimulus legislation still waits in committee and it is “business as usual”. We are lagging behind in leading the way to a bright new future.

Until EVs become readily available, the adoption of simpler modes of mobility, particularly in Monteverde, including the electric bike and the electric golf cart, move us in the right direction. These EVs have a twenty to fifty mile range without recharging, can climb the steepest hills, use only rain water for their batteries, and with few moving parts are easy to maintain.

With my electric bike I get my exercise, and with my electric car I transport my family. I love to slow down as I pass a walker and invite them to hop on. Few decline, but all say thank you. Tourists and I get acquainted. I am your free taxi if you’re going my way. All are winners.

How can we make a difference?

If you are not a walker, you can explore electric bikes or electric golf carts. Information is available from present users. You can carpool or initiate ride-sharing groups.

A few people are already having success with solar panels. Even with the new regulations of ICE the future of solar is bright. You can find out some developments from me. At the moment we are waiting for the leadership of the Belmar Hotel, Los Pinos Hotel and the MV Institute to determine the best provider and get on board. There are about 35 business to choose from. Getting the right one is important.

Letters to and contact with politicians in support of stimulus legislation for renewable energy and electric transport will help.

Phone numbers of Diputados in Puntarenas:
Laura Garro. 2010 8390 2010 8391. Fax 2010 892
Karla Prendes. 2010 8490. 2010 8491
Gerardo Vargas Rojas. 2010 8570. 2010 8571
Carlos Hernandes. 2010 8415. 2010 8416. Fax 2010 8417

In summary, thanks to science and technology the future for a shift to renewable energy and electric mobility is bright. The main obstacle to change is the mind set of the “business as usual” culture. The choice is ours.

So the moral dilemma is this. Do we wait for change to come, knowing that it may not come in time and it may not be what is really good for us, or do we make personal changes now? The ultimate question will be can we learn to live in harmony with nature, even through all the upheavals and trials humanity will face.

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Aquí no pasa nada

Escrito por Paul W. Smith

Nunca he conocido a nadie en el área de Monteverde que dude del cambio climático. Nuestra fama viene de crear reservas forestales y de promover la conservación ambiental por medio de nuestras instituciones. Pero no todo está bien.

Como muchas otras partes del mundo nos hemos demorado en hacer frente a una de las causas principales del calentamiento global: nuestro sistema de transporte basado en combustibles fósiles. A medida que Costa Rica se hace más próspera, cada año se añade un 5% más de carros a nuestras ya congestionadas calles y estacionamientos. No parece haber forma de frenar esta tendencia.

En la sociedad occidental tener un vehículo personal nos da estatus –mientras más reciente el modelo, mejor. El automóvil es promovido por nuestras instituciones financieras. Es nuestra vaca sagrada. Las presas y los congestionamientos no parecen disminuir su popularidad.

La mayoría de nuestros viajes al trabajo son de menos de 15 kilómetros. ¿Cúal es el problema con la bicicleta? De nuevo, la cultura. Lo que escucho es “Ay, es que no es atractivo”, o “es cosa de niños”, o “no soy lo suficientemente fuerte”, o “es muy peligroso”. Es verdad que las colinas de Monteverde pueden ser un desafío para un octogenario como yo, pero lo que he descubierto es que añadir un pequeño motor y una batería hacen que subir una colina sea tan fácil como bajarla.

Hay tres valores en nuestra cultura, pienso yo, que explican nuestra adicción a los automóviles y por qué esa adicción es lo último en lo que quiere pensar un amante de los carros.

Es conveniente: Los autos nos dan mayor libertad. Llene el tanque y ya puede irse a la ciudad o a la playa con la familia cuando quiera. No hay que consultar los horarios del bus.
Es cómodo: Suba la ventana, ponga el aire acondicionado, prenda la radio y disfrute el paisaje.
Es rápido: Pise el acelerador. Las únicas limitaciones son las presas, los reductores de velocidad, los policías de tránsito, y los molestos ciclistas y peatones que se meten en el camino.

Si, como va el dicho, las acciones dicen más que las palabras, tendríamos que concluir que tener un carro personal es una mayor prioridad para nosotros que el mundo que le vamos a dejar a nuestros nietos. Nosotros somos prósperos. Nosotros tenemos el dinero. ¿Por qué no gastarlo en un carro? Yo llamaría a esto un grave dilema moral.

La supervivencia de nuestra especie depende de que la humanidad aprenda a vivir en armonía con la naturaleza. ¿Prevalecerá la actitud de que “aquí no pasa nada” o lograremos ser más conscientes y escoger un camino que conduzca a la supervivencia?

Cuando se inventó el automóvil hace más de un siglo, éste era impulsado por un motor eléctrico y baterías o por un motor de gasolina. Con el tiempo el segundo salió victorioso gracias a que podía recorrer mayores distancias. Desafortunadamente, el motor de gasolina ha ayudado a crear la crisis más grande de la humanidad: el calentamiento global. A pesar del Acuerdo de París y de que todos los días se habla en las noticias sobre el cambio climático, la respuesta dominante sigue siendo “aquí no pasa nada”. ¿Hay alguna esperanza? Afortunadamente, la ciencia y la tecnología le han dado a la humanidad nuevas opciones y la esperanza de un futuro prometedor, si avanzamos con rapidez.

Tecnologías como los paneles solares, las redes de distribución eléctrica “inteligentes” y las baterías hacen posible que las fuentes de energía renovable –solar, eólica, hidroeléctrica y oceánica– puedan satisfacer nuestras necesidades energéticas. Y se están haciendo mejoras todos los días. La energía sostenible y los motores y baterías mejoradas pueden eliminar la necesidad de consumir combustibles sucios, lo cual es una innovación fenomenal. Esto tiene el potencial de revolucionar todos los medios de transporte, tanto públicos como privados.

Las innovaciones de la compañía Tesla han cambiado la historia y han sido el principio del fin del motor de combustión interna. Con una comprensión de la “cultura del carro”, ellos sobrepasaron todas las expectativas al hacer que su primer automóvil eléctrico superara a un automóvil de gasolina en términos de conveniencia, comodidad y velocidad. Por el momento sólo los ricos pueden costear un carro de estos. Así que por ahora la industria de los combustibles fósiles sigue estando en el asiento delantero con sus combustibles baratos y está luchando con todas sus fuerzas para sobrevivir. Los principales retos del momento son la manufactura a escala comercial de los carros eléctricos y la creación de infraestructura necesaria, tales como las estaciones de recarga y otros servicios. La conveniencia, la comodidad y la velocidad basadas en energía limpia a un precio competitivo están al alcance.

Se le está agotando el tiempo a los combustibles fósiles. Sólo nos queda por conocer la fecha exacta en que esto sucederá. Un país tras otro están pasando legislaciones para estimular la transición, con Noruega a la cabeza de este movimiento. Dos años después de que Noruega aprobó una ley para favorecer los carros eléctricos, más del 40% de sus vehículos nuevos son eléctricos. A pesar de la meta ambiciosa de Costa Rica de alcanzar la carbono neutralidad en el año 2021, debido a intereses externos la legislación aún está en espera y seguimos con el “aquí no pasa nada”.

Hasta el día en que los vehículos eléctricos estén fácilmente disponibles, la adopción de un modo más simple de transporte, particularmente en Monteverde, puede incluir las bicicletas eléctricas y los carritos de golf eléctricos, los cuales son un paso en la dirección correcta. Estos vehículos eléctricos pueden recorrer entre 30 y 75 kilómetros sin tener que ser recargados, pueden subir colinas empinadas, sólo usan agua de lluvia para las baterías, y con pocas partes móviles son fáciles de mantener.

Con mi bicicleta eléctrica me puedo ejercitar cuando quiera y con mi carrito eléctrico puedo transportar a mi familia. Me encanta darle aventones a personas que pasan caminando. Pocos dicen que no, pero todos me lo agradecen. De esta manera, conozco a muchas personas y soy el taxi eléctrico de los peatones que van en la misma dirección que yo. De esta forma, todos ganamos.

¿Cómo podemos hacer una diferencia?

Si usted no camina habitualmente, pruebe con una bicicleta o con un carrito de golf eléctrico. Puede hablar conmigo o con otros usuarios de estos vehículos para más información. También puede compartir su vehículo o hacer grupos que sirvan para coordinar aventones. Algunas personas ya están teniendo éxito con la instalación de paneles solares. Aun con las nuevas regulaciones del ICE, el futuro de la energía solar es brillante. Puede pedirme información sobre algunos avances recientes. Actualmente estamos a la espera de que los administradores del Hotel Belmar, del Hotel Los Pinos y del Instituto Monteverde determinen quién es el proveedor más confiable de vehículos eléctricos y se suban a bordo. Hay unos 35 proveedores de donde escoger. Es importante tomar bien la decisión.

También puede ayudar poniéndose en contacto con sus representantes políticos e instándolos a que apoyen legislación de estímulo para las energías renovables y para el transporte eléctrico.

Números telefónicos de diputados en Puntarenas –

Laura Garro – 2010 8390 ó al 2010 8391. Fax 2010 892
Karla Prendas – 2010 8490 ó al 2010 8491
Gerardo Vargas Rojas – 2010 8570 ó al 2010 8571
Carlos Hernández – 2010 8415 ó al 2010 8416. Fax 2010 8417

En resumen, gracias a la ciencia y a la tecnología podemos esperar un buen futuro para la energía renovable y el transporte eléctrico. El principal obstáculo es cambiar la mentalidad de la cultura del “aquí no pasa nada”. La decisión es nuestra.

Entonces, el dilema moral es este: ¿esperamos a que vengan los cambios, sabiendo que tal vez no lleguen a tiempo y que puede que no sean lo mejor para nosotros, o empezamos a hacer cambios personales ahora mismo? La pregunta definitiva será ¿podrá la humanidad vivir en armonía con la naturaleza, a pesar de todos los conflictos y dificultades por las que atravesará?

Susie goes to the other side of the quebrada

Dear all:

Well, it has not been a particularly quiet week in Monteverde.

What follows is a little photo vignette of the stroll Susie made this morning to the other side of the impassible chasm in the road, to pay bills and pick up a few things after the hurricane.

“But Susie”, said I to my dear landlady (who had an early-to-mid 70’s birthdsy 2 weeks ago), “it’s steep and muddy and slippery on the footpath down by the Quebrada Maquina” (<-Gringo Translation: stream-cum-raging-torrent, which has since quieted down just a bit). “You sure you want to go?- maybe I can pay it for you….”

“_I have to pay my Caja_, David, just.., , I have to pay my Caja.” (<-GT: Costa-Rican Public Health Care, huzzah – $50 a month, keeps me alive, eat your hearts out, U.S.)

She finds repetition useful sometimes in order to penetrate my thick skull. She’s going to go pay her Caja. I get it now.

Bob (77 six days ago) is going along for Coke and other necessities. I can’t always keep up with Bob’s walking pace, but decide on short notice to tag along anyway. I do have time for a quick cup of coffee and a boiled egg (such a luxury, being able to cook again). I need to pay my Caja too, after all. Perhaps pick up a usb keyboard (the ‘A’ key has just gone out on my laptop, in honor of the utilities’ return; it’s more work than you’d think typing all the ‘A’s on-screen with a mouse. If you see an occasionl missing “A”, tht’s why :-). Besides, nothing like looking for yourself to see how things are going and getting good information (especially in situations like this). Good information is priceless these days.

It’s a 1/2 mile at most to the other side, a walk in the park (literally). Besides, with luck we’ll find Paco, whose car very fortunately was trapped on the other side, and who’s been ranging back and forth on Missions From God and For All Mankind ever since. If we find him he might could give us a lift the rest of the way to the bank and the Mega-Super?…

So off we go. “Take a hat”, said Susie. I hardly ever wear hats. I reflected 3 seconds, unlocked the door, went back in and got my hat.

Chasm looms in the near distance. One hundred 80-lb. sacks of hog feed have made it to this side, brought over no doubt across the same steep muddy foot trail we’re about to cross, by men like the one on the left, who was now proceeding to the dairy’s Home for Hundreds of Hungry Pigs, a further mile down the road.

 

Susie surveys the Chasm; Bob and Tarcicio (sp?) look on and discuss.

 

La Cascada’s kiosk building in the drink. Backhoe vigorously on the job. Costa Rica’s Noble Bandera, foreground.

The Chasm in all its glory, with (5′ diameter) culvert (blocked at the other end)..

.

…and what remains of the house built just a _leetle too close_ to the mighty Quebrada Maquina.

18. So, back 50 meters and down the Garden Path, until…

22. Susie peers into the muddy jungle leading to the Mighty Maquina, 50 meters downstream from The Chasm…

28. Where friendly helpful folks from the Municipalidad helped us down the mudslide, across the puente…

30. …and up the mud on the other side…

35. …to emerge between the House-Half-Gone and the luckier one next door.

36, 38, 39. …from whence Susie proceeded onto the muddy road, and on into the distance, to pay her caja and pick up a little oatmeal.

(1980-09 Whitney summit -see below (“no u dint.” “yes I did too….”))

Of course your intrepid photojournalist made it as far as the pictures go too, and even up into the sun, the dry road and the flat sidewalk just beyond. But no further just right now, please. Susie was already far gone, out of sight; Bob was even farther off. (Bob walked the extra mile clear into Sta. Elena, and then back, a walk he’s made for decades. Bob and Susie got here in the mid-60s, when this was still pretty much the exclusive preserve of pioneers. By the time I got here in ’87, it was more than half settled down, the biologists had moved in, and tourism was just beginning its rise. A lot has changed since 1987. Bob drove here in the 60s, but he doesn’t drive now.)

“I think I’d like to sit down a minute”, I said to myself. “Or no, on second thought, _lying_ down, for, say, 5 minutes, would be even nicer”. Easier on the neck, which has been aching. My pack with its water bag inside made a comfy pillow. Two days ago, I was hauling 5-gallon water jugs uphill. I enjoyed eating very little that day too – a half plate of wonderful high-quality food at Sarah and Rick’s phenomenal Canadian Hurricane Thanksgiving. I believe I’ve dropped 8 lbs. in the last 4 days, and by inclination. (I’ve experienced that before, in those Gatherings of 1000s in the woods that I go on about sometimes).

But yesterday, the hill up to the meeting house was also a bit of a problem for me. Half my life ago, believe it or not, I used to hike 60 miles, off-trail and over steep passes, above timberline, by compass (the Sierra Nevada are 3-D enough to make such navigation easy and fun). Now my lack of stamina appalls me sometimes (enough to change my habits? – probably not…). But I’m a math major, so I know what the ‘4’ in F=1/D^4 means: it means half the arterial diameter yields 1/16 the blood flow. I suspect those puppies are shot, my friends. But, so far at least, no ticker problems, gracias a dios….

A bit light in the skin and head trying to continue walking today, is all. I felt just fine lying down. Rest (and a knowledge of my limits) are all I need, mostly, I think.

People and police passed by; I waved to them from my comfortable reclining position on the sidewalk. The sun beat down on yesterday’s incipient sunburn; I pulled my hat comfortably over my face (what foresight I have at times).

Mirav walked by, and we agreed that we would be even more comfortable on the cool shaded cement of the driveway by (formerly) Bill’s (former) Rock. The dirt was fine – 4 days of it already in these tough old pants. More friendly Muni people summoned friendly Cruz Roja to confirm (as I was pretty sure myself) that my blood pressure and glucose were fine. I suspected my blood oxygen might be low, but I was wrong; it was fine too.

I plotted my 1/2 mile return journey, with its second helping of mud, and the rest stops I planned to enjoy along the way. I had an extra unplanned but welcome rest when the policeman told me no one was allowed through, and to sit on that man’s porch please and wait for Bob and Susie, who might arrive shortly and who apparently were then also not to be allowed to pass.

I understand the pressures this young man’s been under, trying daily to keep people safe. It is about as easy for him to block that flow of people and supplies as it was for the road to block the river.

Seriously folks, that path is getting muddier and slipperier hourly. Someone _could_ break an ankle or fall in. You really don’t want that to happen, especially now. Don’t use the footpath unless you’re _quite competent_ in rough country (like Susie), _and_ unless your mission is _absolutely essential_. Think it out _carefully_ (more carefully than I did, apparently). The road is expected to be passable very soon in any case, even tomorrow, most likely, according to Paco. Ticos, are you ever getting it done. Hats off to you.

I sat for another 15 minutes. Martha Campbell (nearly my age, and born here) and companero came up the path going from Monteverde to Sta. Elena. I mentioned that the police might not want them to be able to return. She noted that the policeman was no longer here, and it occurred to one or both of us that this was probably the time to go home if I was going, which was where I (and the Cruz Roja) knew I belonged.

So, back down into the mud. Why am I not wearing boots? “Want a hand?” asked another friendly guy in a day-glo vest. “Yes, thank you”, said I. I’m not proud; that hand was welcome. I notice in the last couple years that I have passed (hopefully with grace) into the realm of those Seniors who occasionally get a helping hand.

Furthur On, then. One more nice rest at Bajo Tigre, lying in the soft grass this time, and then I was home.

I worried a little about leaving Susie back there. She usually gets a helping hand herself, for example in crossing the ditch by Margaret’s path in the dark. But it was not in the cards for me to go back and help her across the Mighty Maquina today. “Actually, you know, she’s gonna be back any minute”, I said to myself, and she was. Caja paid, oatmeal in hand. “Everyone was so helpful, gave me rides, helped me across the Rio….”

But then what about Bob? A final thing to worry about; I’m a worrier, sometimes. Susie and I were still on the porch talking when Bob came back. He had located and purchased not only his 2-litre Cokes, but .750 litre of Botran Oro Reserve 5 Anos to go with it (a fine Product of Guatemala which I can heartily recommend, if you can find it).

Paco came back too, and mentioned that police had been forbidding anyone at all to cross the Mighty Maquina since day one, which is also before the Miracle of the Manifestation of the 8000 pounds of pig food on our side of the river. Also, that he was heading right back into Sta. Elena and of course would be glad to pay my caja for me and also find me a usb keyboard if one was to be found anywhere in the zone. “Wireless if possible, please”, I said.

He had to wait forever with his number in hand (as one always does in the Banco Nacional) and then another hour when his number came up and the system came down, but that caja got paid. Also the last half of this missive has been written on my brand-new wireless keyboard, which misses nary an ‘A’. I do have to translate this Spanish keyboard into English, but I have taken a little Spanish, and I know that right paren really means left paren, for example.

Chicken noodle soup now warms my comfortable though formerly somewhat chilly frame. It’s from a package, but, man, it hits the spot.

Well, that’s the News from Monteverde, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children, are above average. (<-guess what I’ve been reading for comfort-in-the-dark these last few days).

Be Well, Do Good Work, and Keep In Touch.

-David King

Nate in Monteverde

At two am on Thursday morning I tried to detect where each of the sounds of rain came from – windows, skylight, roof, river. At about the same time in Los Altos de San Luis a landslide smashed into Shannon Smith and Jorge Hincapie’s home in the early hours of the morning.

They were able to crawl out with their young son Matias. At the same time in Cuajiniquil, the river overflowed. There, everyone’s homes flooded. Frank’s rental house was a meter deep. Many boats filled with water and then smashed to pieces in the current. Sometime that morning, the La Presa bridge in Guacimal washed out. All this I learned from Frank, who was in San José with 31 newly-arrived EAP students.

At 7 am there was 275 mm (almost 11 inches) of water in our rain gauge.

This has been a wet rainy season in Monteverde. Between Monteverde Day (19 April) and the end of September, over two meters of rain had fallen. In September, some intense storms went beyond the capacity of our culverts. Roads turned to streams. The road to Mary Rockwell’s was washed out. People swept water out of their houses and repaired leaks in their roofs.

Nate began to pound Costa Rica on Wednesday 4 October. The local emergency commission was meeting at the muni when I passed by on Wednesday. Most of Costa Rica was on red alert. Thursday schools throughout the country were closed.

Thursday morning, when everything else in the country had been cancelled, I had a meeting at the dairy plant with the head of sustainability at Sigma Alimentos. He had flown in from Mexico to talk about how they can engage in CORCLIMA’s efforts to locally mitigate climate change. It had taken him 8 hours to get here from San Jose.

Thursday, we hunkered down in our homes, texting to check in on each other. Electricity went out, then the landlines. As night fell, cellphones went out. Rain continued to fall hard. It was cozy by my wood stove.

Friday morning seemed especially quiet. Monteverde was wrapped in clouds. The rain gauge held 290 mm. Over 11 inches more. Twenty-two inches in two days.

We emerged from our homes and encountered each other on the road, heading to inspect the Quebrada Maquina that had washed away Charlie’s house and left only parts of Rufina’s and Oldemar’s. The cabin where David Rodriguez was living was gone. (All had been evacuated ahead of time.) A chasm separated us from Cerro Plano and Santa Elena.

People picked up supplies at Whole Foods where Pax and Claudia made lists of what people were taking, letting us pay later. Word spread about a community meeting at 11 am. Others said it was at noon.

Water systems were out, but clear water flowed from new springs and in the ditches along the side of the road. An especially pretty spring gushed out from below the path below the Trostles driveway.

Most gathered at eleven at Monteverde Centro. Maricella Solis, logistical whiz, was the member of the local Emergency Commission in charge. Earlier that morning she had shouted with members of the commission on the other side of the Maquina, agreeing to meet again at noon so that we could throw them a message with a rock. At the meeting, we pulled together information and questions for those on the other side. We wrote our names on a list, whether we had enough food for 24 hours, if we urgently needed any medications. A mini-commission of volunteers was formed. We agreed to meet again at 3 pm at the Institute.

Cut off from the outside, we connected with each other on the road, liberated from our screens, talking with neighbors some of us didn’t even know lived here. Eager for news, we shared the bits that we had: a landslide took out 300 meters of road and an electric line in front of the Bello house with the cement animals at the Las Juntas/Tilarán cruce. No roads were open from Santa Elena to the pan am highway. A big landslide on the trocha blocked our way to San Luis. San Luis was also cut off from Santa Elena, many staying in the Centro Comunitario or one of the schools.

At home at 2:40 I heard a landslide. At least I didn’t feel it, not like I had during hurricane Mitch.

The 3 pm meeting was packed and started very promptly. Maricella rushed in with her green hard hat to report that the commission had been attending to other emergencies and so she and Jorge Torres had crossed the quebrada to find them in Santa Elena. She and others shared information: A landslide came down into the Porras house and more might come down. Pass at your own risk. Sign in, if you hadn’t already. ICT is trying to help tourists evacuate. Two Brazilians were especially eager to go. Still no way to go. Drinking water was available at the Bosque and the dairy pant and some farms with their own springs. Use the water from ditches for toilets and bathing. Water is also available from the rainwater catchment tanks at the new teacher house. People without a way to cook at home were invited to use the Institute kitchen or Caburé. Joe had milk for those that needed it. Check on your neighbors. Make sure that animals aren’t stuck in houses. Did anyone need a little solar light (Luci Light)? There is cell signal at Mary Rockwell’s, the trocha and the Campbells. Soon some sections of the roads would not be passable as springs would erupt.

On my way home, I looked for the Friday afternoon scrabble game – which spontaneously happened at Margaret’s with peanut butter sandwiches, candlelight and Luci Lights.

Saturday the sun made us squint, it was bright. Only 4.3 mm in the rain gauge. Phew.

I started looking for the landslide that those of us in the Bajo had heard the day before. I peeked around Frank’s old office toward the 1998 Hurricane Mitch slide. Yikes! There it was. The side of the office opposite the porch was half exposed. Indeed, there were cracks in the soil on the porch side. The office will go any time. Can’t see below the leaves on the upper side. Orange flagging is serving as caution tape.

Hiking toward cell phone signal, I run into Sabine outside the new teacher house. People are crossing the Maquina over a log. She and Tara have walked 17 kms from Los Tornos through slides and mud so that Tara can take the SAT as scheduled. They cannot stay in Sabine’s TreeTop House by the Maquina.

While walking back down from calling Frank from John and Doris Campbell’s, a helicopter circles and lands at the Monteverde History Museum – the Brazilian tourists have paid to leave.

Farther down the road, word is spreading that the police are mandating we all evacuate. I now understand why people would resist evacuation orders.

Three people from the Santa Elena Emergency Commission were at the meeting: Oscar Muñoz (INS), Felipe Quesada (head doctor at the clinic), and a policeman. The meeting started early, as the mandate was provoking much discussion. Names of priority people to evacuate were on the white board… including older people, those with medical needs and those that live near the river. My name was up there. I was assured it was because of the river, not my age.

The three officials explained that they had changed course and decided that evacuation was voluntary, but that if you were to evacuate, “go now”. There were landslides above the Cascada that had caused water to pool and another landslide could come down. Better to go while the sun was out and the bomberos were there to help. Some of the 200 or so people in Monteverde went right home to gather things to go. Most don’t want to go. We have our basic needs: food and water. We agreed to meet at 3 to organize community kitchens and other basic needs for those staying. Medicines were distributed. Lists of needs taken. I give away more Luci Lights. I request a visit from Olman Quesada, architect of our house – and member of the emergency commission most qualified to evaluate the safety of our house.

Susana and Bob come over to pick up the generator and fish from my freezer to boot up the Caburé freezer full of perishables. Olman doesn’t come.

The Saturday afternoon meeting is smaller, and darker. Glenda has brought bread from Stella’s bakery for people to eat. Sarah Juliusson brought food as well. We take stock of who is here by neighborhood, who has left, who has food. We are concerned about security. A few suspicious people from “the other side” have been snooping around empty houses. The road is now impassable below Howard’s driveway. Only walking is possible across the bridge over the Cuecha. People volunteer to work on roads, water. Requests are put in for food for animals, especially cows. Joe says he will be giving away good milk for people, spoiled for animals. I reiterate my request for a visit from Olman.

We disperse to our homes. At 7 pm, I struggle to stay awake by looking at photo albums so that I won’t wake up in the middle of the night.

Sunday morning was partly cloudy. My cell phone had signal. I paid my cell phone bill which would have expired that day.

Thanks to neighbors who encouraged him, Olman arrived and we traipsed on the hillside below the house. We saw new landslides on the office side, but nothing problematic below the house. He said if it were his house, he would stay…. but if it starts to rain a lot, perhaps sleep somewhere else. Gratefully, I have many generous offers of places to go to choose from.

Carol Evans called as Olman and I were in the woods. “Electricity was back in San Luis! The road was open to Puntarenas! The trocha was still blocked. All the rumors about people dying in San Luis were false. All are well. Shannon’s solar panels are working… lights are on there.” …. I said “No, the solar panels are not working!!! Turn off the switch at the meter!” But indeed, we would all be better off with solar power with batteries.

People gathered at the meetinghouse for singing and meeting for worship. “Life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentations…. How can I keep from singing?” No visitors. Lucky advised us on how to use the minimum amount of water to effectively flush our toilets. Teen meeting made cards for how to give to the International Red Cross for relief to Costa Rica. Sue Gabrielson, the school director, asked people to seek for financial support for the school as this storm is hitting school families hard. There would be vacation camp for any kids in the community at the school from 9-12. A break for parents. Tim Lietzke congratulated us on already meeting our goal of cutting the number of internal combustion vehicles in half. I announced that the definition of yoga is finding the calm within the storm and that all are welcome at practice. Many wrote notes on appeal letters.

Sunday’s community meeting was more relaxed and we had only one. A team of Red Cross people were coming to evaluate the risks and needs on Monday. Electricity came on as we met. No one needed a community kitchen yet. Animal food had been delivered by pulley. Cross on the lower trail below Elieth’s and Humberto’s at your own risk. Work was happening on the water lines. Jose Luis reported that there was discussion of fixing the Maquina road in the next few days by either putting the culverts back in place and filling with rock or maybe with a Bailey bridge. Either would be a temporary solution. Susana emphasized that this was climate change and urged us all to follow up on what we had learned at Monica Araya’s talk by getting our legislators to exonerate taxes on electric vehicles. (You can watch Monica’s Monteverde talk on CORCLIMA Moneverde’s Facebook page and google her Ted talk, too.) I explained that Monica had arranged for Mitsubishi to bring up a plug-in Outlander for us to test drive on Monday, but I didn’t think they would make it. Laughter

We feel very, very fortunate. No one in our isolated community has been hurt. We are comfortable and united. We have enjoyed the time without being glued to our screens enjoying each other’s company. Others in Central America have not been so lucky.

Most, but not all, now have water, electricity, landlines, internet. We can wash our hair and our clothes. Not worry about more food going bad. Not worry about our families elsewhere worrying about us.

A helicopter is just leaving now. Soon I will go to the meetinghouse to teach my yoga class and then go to the afternoon community meeting.

This has been a reset. As the new normal evolves, certain things have not changed: the beauty of the natural world around us, the warmth and unity of our community.

Katy VanDusen
9 October 2017

Entering into the Silence

by Tim Lietzke

Recently during worship Lucky offered a message in which she distinguished between “being silent” and “entering into the silence”. I have pondered the difference, and especially the meaning of the latter. Being silent seems clear enough–to stop talking, and perhaps also to stop thinking, and thus to stay attentively open to what is. Entering into the silence is another matter. First, it seems necessary to acknowledge that the one entering into the silence must have been either out of the silence beforehand or not consciously there. Being silent is the preliminary step to entering into the silence. Perhaps “the silence” is one way of expressing the Ground of all being, the creative force of the universe, the presence of God or at least the medium through which the divine presence is known. The silence is what was before all we know was, before the unfolding of the creation from the quantum dimension, beyond time and space. Taken as such, to enter into the silence is to enter the primordial, undifferentiated state of pure Being, if only briefly, leaving behind, as it were, our contingent beings. Let me not be presumptuous here; maybe this state is only that of the brain wave patterns of deep meditation or sleep.

In any case, we grope inadequately, and perhaps mistakenly, for language to describe spiritual states. I won’t try to dilate further on this, but simply recommend entering into the silence ever and again throughout our daily lives. There is so much in the world that is disconcerting, so much to throw us off center. Note how in the course of conversations and events we can easily become emotionally distraught. Entering into the silence anew re-centers us and enables the loving response to what is.

This latter assertion does need elaboration. Augustine suggests that humans are by nature good (and so too is the rest of creation) but fall into evil by virtue of our wills causing us to desire inordinately something (It can be anything.) that is less than the supreme good, that is to say, God. This turning from the supreme good to lesser goods others call idolatry, a more subtle form than the old idolatry of worship of images. Inordinate attachment robs us of our freedom and leads us into ways of living–some habitual, some sporadic, most of seemingly insignificant consequence from the individualistic point of view, others of obviously destructive consequence–that conduce to the sort of world in which we live today. If this be true, it is incumbent upon us to ponder from time to time whether our desires and attachments have become misplaced or inordinate, and thus harmful to ourselves and to the life community of planet Earth. In the silence then we may find ourselves accepted and being made whole and the freedom-robbing power of thoughts, actions, and ways of living based on inordinate desires and attachments loosened. Freedom comes in entering into the silence again and again until it becomes habitual in our daily lives and is experienced as nothing less than coming home.

*****************

Entrar en el Silencio

Escrito por Tim Lietzke

Recientemente durante el culto Lucky ofreció un mensaje en el cual distinguió entre “estar silencioso” y “entrar en el silencio”. He pensado en la diferencia, y especialmente en el significado del último. “Estar silencioso” parece bastante claro–dejar de hablar, y tal vez también dejar de pensar, y por eso quedarse atentativamente abierto a lo que esté. “Entrar en el silencio” es cosa aparte. Primero, parece necessario admitir que uno que está entrando en el silencio tenía que haber estado afuera del silencio antes o no conscientemente allá. “Estar silencioso” es la etapa preliminar para entrar en el silencio. Acaso “el silencio” es un modo de expresar la fundación de toda existencia, la fuerza creativa del universo, la presencia de Dios o al menos el medio a través de que la presencia divina está conocida. El silencio es lo que fue antes de todas las cosas que conocemos fueran, antes del despliegue de la creación desde la dimensión quantum, fuera del tiempo y espacio. Tomado así, “entrar en el silencio” es entrar en el estado primordial y indiferenciado de existencia pura, aun si sólo brevemente, dejando atrás, por así decirlo, nuestras existencias contingentes. Déjame no estar presuntuoso en este; quizá este estado es sólo eso de los patrones de las ondulaciones cerebrales de la meditación fonda o de súeño.

En todo caso, andamos a tientas inadecuadamente, y acaso equivocadamente, para las palabras que pueda describir los estados espirituales. No trataré de dilatar más sobre esto, pero simplemente recomendar que entremos en el silencio de nuevo y de nuevo durante todo el día. Hay tan mucho en el mundo que está desconcertante, tan mucho que nos lanza de nuestros centros. Note cómo en el curso de las conversaciones and acontecimientos podamos fácilmente llegar a ser turbados. Entrar en el silencio de nuevo nos recentra y capacita la respuesta amorosa a que esté.

Esta última aseveración necessita explicación. Augustino sugiere que los humanos son por naturaleza buenos (y así también es el resto de la creación) pero caen en la maldad en virtud de que nuestras voluntades nos causan a desear inmoderadamente alguno (Puede ser cualquier cosa.) que es menos que el bueno supremo, es decir, Dios. Este viraje del bueno supremo a los buenos menores otras personas llaman idolatria, una forma más sutil que la idolatria vieja del culto de imagenes. El apego inmoderado nos roba nuestra libertad y nos induce en vias de vida–algunas habituales, algunas esporádicas, la mayoría de consecuencias aparentemente insignificantes del punto de vista individual, otras de consecuencia obviamente destructiva–que conducen al tipo de mundo en el cual vivimos ahora. Si esto es verdadero, es necessario que examinemos de vez en cuando si nuestros deseos y apegos han llegado a ser otorgados indebitamente o inmoderados, y por consiguiente perjudiciales a nosotros y a la comunidad de la vida de la Tierra. En el silencio, entonces, podemos encontrarnos aceptados y estando hecho enteros mientras el libertad-robando poder de pensamientos, acciones, y vias de vida basadas en inmoderados deseos y apegos se aflojan. La libertad viene por medio de entrar en el silencio de nuevo y de nuevo hasta que llegue a ser habitual en nuestras vidas diarias y es experimentado como nada menos que venir a hogar.

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