Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Bi-Sexual Judges Only, No Gays and No Heterosexuals (Roger Ingalls)

Gay marriage had a huge victory last week with the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in New York State. With a fair number of Republicans voting for the bill, the tide may be turning.

California, on the other hand, has been in a legal gay marriage mess – yes we can, no we can’t, yes again but we’re in a holding pattern – the saga plays on.

The California Marriage Protection Act ( Prop 8 ) passed in the November 2008 state elections, eliminating the rights of gays to marry. On appeal, United States district court Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Prop 8 on August 4, 2010, ruling that it violated both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution.

The pro-Prop 8ers appealed Judge Walker’s ruling on the grounds that he was in a long term gay relationship. “He may someday want to marry his partner so his judgment could be biased”, they argued. From my point of view, their argument is flawed because that sword cuts both ways.

If a gay judge should recuse himself from a gay-issue case for reasons of potential bias, then a heterosexual judge should also disqualify himself for potential non-gay bias. So, what now? Do we run around asking all sorts of personal questions until we find a bi-sexual judge? This sounds a little silly and it is a slippery slope; white judges can’t rule on non-white cases, black judges can’t rule on non-black cases, a judge with a particular religious view can’t rule on a case involving a different religion and so on. Maybe we should ask the judge if he has an innie or outtie belly-button just in case that has some relevance.

What pissed me off most about the pro-Prop 8ers’ gay bias argument was the lack of intelligent commentary on major media sources about bias working both ways. If a non-gay judge made a ruling on this case would we be discussing the sexual orientation of that judge? The answer is no. Why is that?

Perhaps we’re not as accepting as we think.

Let’s end this on some positive notes. On June 14, 2011, Chief US District Judge James Ware rejected the pro-Prop 8ers’ appeal regarding Judge Walkers’ sexual orientation. Today, June 29, 2011, Rhode Island’s Senate and House passed a civil union bill and the Governor indicated that he would sign it – it’s not a gay marriage bill but it is a progressive step.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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Nuclear Power – Taking It To The Streets

I am spending a lot of time reading up on nuclear power. It would not be worthy of this blog to just say that I have a strong gut feeling that this is simply too risky to use, that it feels wrong, or that every disaster up until now has been, well relatively lucky for us, and the next one might not be so. The reality is that my lack of scientific understanding makes me a poor candidate to offer a ‘factual’ analysis. I have another post or two to share on the topic and I will then move on.

In the meantime, if I cannot glean anything from the scientific front, perhaps there is something to learn from the car bumpers that are in front of me for a couple of hours each day. I have seen a number of variations on the bumper sticker below. It seems that there are a significant number of environmentalists who support nuclear energy. If you are one of these people, I would love to hear from you.

Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, I want to (to quote Stephen Colbert who stole it from my country of birth) tip my hat to them. I appreciate when people take a label but do not then blindly support everything that the label is supposed to encapsulate. To quote Monty Python’s Life of Brian: “You are all individuals,” Brian cried to a crowd. “I’m not,” one replied.

Now I understand that quoting from bumper stickers, Stephen Colbert and Monty Python, all in one post, is probably not extolling my image as a grassroots activist. I suspect that it is a knee jerk reaction to not being able to understand the issue of nuclear power. So I shall leave you with the words of one of our Presidents.

Maybe your desk, Mr. President, but I need to check my renter's insurance is okay with this.

Finally, I would like to finish with one friend’s words of encouragement.  He told me it would be easier to persuade him to stop supporting nuclear power (or oil for that matter) if I can come up with a cheap and sustainable alternative. Thank you, sir. You have given me the strength to continue blogging.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Yesterday, Alon asked for responses to his post about statistics that make it appear that coal is worse than nuclear when it comes to radiation emissions and health risks. Here are my views.

Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.” I have taken a year of graduate-level stats and I can verify that you can choose your methods to show almost whatever it is you want from a given set of numbers. This is what people do who have an agenda to forward other than just getting the truth out.

Back in the days when George H.W. Bush was president, he said in a speech: “More low income people will benefit from these tax cuts than high income people.” Well, that was technically true. It’s just that the “low income” people benefited by about ten dollars, while the “high income” people benefited by the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a lot like how a magician uses misdirection – making you look over here at this hand while the other hand slips a pigeon out of a pocket.


Death stats are often used to downplay some danger or another. The reason more people have not died from radiation (lately) is that nuclear accidents are still seen as serious and people get the hell away from them. If the Japanese government had not evacuated the area around Fukushima, the stats would look a whole lot worse.

Plus, nuclear advocates (who seem inexplicably to have some hold over our news media) just love to point out that the reason that a person died could have been anything – not necessarily radiation. It’s actually somewhat difficult to “prove” that someone died of radiation poisoning, unless it was a severe and obvious case.

Another important fact is that radiation is essentially forever. If you were to pee in a lake, the urine would not only dissipate, but biological processes would act on the urine to essentially make it really go away – change form, etc. Radiation does dissipate, but it’s still there, at least until well beyond its half-life.

Accidents like Fukushima are the gifts that keep on giving for a long time. Fukushima is FAR from over and the radiation coming out of there is not slowing down but is in fact probably speeding up. It’s flowing into the air and the ocean.

Nukeys also love to tell you about how you get more radiation from sunbathing or whatever. But it’s the TYPE of radiation that matters. Here’s a hint, nuclear accident release the bad type.

Furthermore, compared to coal-fired plants, nuclear power plants don’t release much radiation on site when everything is working properly and no mistakes are made. But mistakes and accidents happen much too often for my comfort. The latest accident, Fukushima, has released thousands of times the radiation from any pile of coal sludge.

As I’ve said before, nuclear is not cost efficient, nor is it safe. Nukeys love to tell you that, with the development of new technology, nuclear will get safer and safer. This, of course, will happen given time and lots of money. And in the process, there will be some accidents, radiation leakage, health issues and possibly lives lost.

What would happen if we instead took that time and money and put it into developing solar, wind, wave, and geothermal energy? I guarantee that, at the end of the same time period and with the same expense, we would be many times better off by going the renewable energy route.

But there is a danger with, specifically, solar power. The most efficient way to utilize solar power is to produce it yourself, at your own house (and in reality the old-fashioned solar water heater roof units are the best thing you can do). This means that you would buy the equipment, which is manufactured by companies competing for business – largely on price. Then, your energy would be pretty much free. So there is a  danger…

…to corporate profits.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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Nuclear Energy – still safe?

You would think, given my blog post on Friday that the era of nuclear power is over. Actually, according to a recent poll, more people think that nuclear power is safe after what happened in Japan than a few years ago. In fact, only 40% of Americans believe that nuclear energy is unsafe.

All Smiles Despite Japan's Disaster

A few more interesting titbits from this survey: 60% of men believe in nuclear power, while only 40% of women. Also, the older you get, the more willing you are to accept nuclear power. What about the grandchildren, paps?

One brave columnist decided to take the 1986 meltdown of Chernobyl, Reactor 4, as the worse example in history. He honestly accepts that:

“Thirty-one people died soon after the accident, most of acute radiation exposure, with perhaps a few more in the years since. More than 100 others suffered radiation injuries. Some 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been diagnosed in Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians who were under 18 at the time, many likely stemming from radiation exposure via milk contaminated with radioactive iodine. However, only 15 deaths had been reported as of 2005 — thyroid cancer is readily treated.

“There’s evidence of increased leukemia and cataracts among recovery workers who received higher doses, but no health effects otherwise. (Experts project an eventual 4,000 additional cancer deaths among the 600,000 people most exposed — i.e., an increase of a few percent beyond the 100,000 cancer deaths you’d expect for this group.) An irregularly shaped “exclusion zone” of about 1,700 square miles around the plant remains off-limits to human habitation, 220,000 people had to be permanently relocated, and agriculture is restricted, but vegetation and wildlife for the most part have thrived.”(source)

…but then goes on to point out that: “Look, here was a five-star fiasco and the confirmed death toll is about the same as from 12 hours of U.S. traffic accidents. Is that an outstanding safety record or what?” (source).

If Homer can live with it...

Now I have to admit, the amount of fatalities from traffic accidents and drunk driving is astounding and there is no reason in the world to belittle it, but his comparison is chilling.

He then makes the comparison to coal. “Each year, on average, 35 U.S. coal miners are killed and 4,000 are injured. In China, 2,600 coal miners were killed in 2009, following 3,200 dead in 2008. (Recent U.S. uranium mining deaths: zero.) Coal-burning power plants release close to three times as much radioactivity as nuclear plants.” (source)

Sometimes I just hate statistics! How would you respond to this?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Happy Pride Day

June is Gay Pride month and, not surprisingly, San Francisco knows how to celebrate.  All of June down Market Street, flags have been flying in the breeze, adding color to the majestic buildings. Most of the people who walk past and notice the flags are probably straight and the flags serve as the only reminder of Gay Pride Month.

Flags Fly on Market Street

The first time that I went to the Pride Parade was during the height of the Prop 8 battle (not sure ‘height’ works here as the struggle continues). I was worried about just being a gawking onlooker even though I marched with the Jewish community’s float in support of gay marriage. While I am sure that I probably did my share of gawking, I felt every part of the celebration.

so cool!

So I want to give a shout out to those of my friends and colleagues who are celebrating today and highlight four areas.

1. Same Sex Parents – I am honored to have met many friends who are parents of children that my sons are friends with. It would be wrong to suggest that they and their children will not face issues and have discussions that my family unit won’t have to deal with. But there is nothing stronger than a family who base their relationship as a family unit on commitment, cohesiveness and communication.

Proud Parents

2. The San Francisco Giants – I talked in a previous post about our baseball team being the first professional sports team to make a video highlighting the issue of young gay people who face bullying.

3. The SowerKemble Scott. This is a great novel, based in San Francisco, that has a strong gay, ethical theme. Kemble has also written another great novel, SOMA, that also illustrates a certain gay lifestyle.

The Sower and SOMA - Kemble Scott

4. Finally, Fernando and Greg – They host a morning radio show on 99.7FM. My eldest son and I listen and laugh when I drive him to school. We’ve had many conversations because of some of the things you guys said and I really appreciate it.

Fernando & Greg - the perfect wake up without the caffeine or calories

So whatever you are doing today – parading, parenting, watching a game, or reading a book – Happy Pride Day – and maybe this open celebration is something we can all be proud to be a part of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Being Gay – Rhondajo Boomington

As a former fundamentalist, who grew up continually hearing – from the pulpit at church – that “homosexuals make God vomit,” I have a true appreciation for Pride Weekend – and for living in my beloved Berkeley.

Here, people are more likely to judge me for being overweight or for not being independently wealthy than because I am a lesbian. That’s a huge relief.

Yes, of course, there’s still tons of homophobia here in the Bay Area. But at least the norm is not to express it openly.

When I go to North Carolina, people stare at me a lot. When I walk into a restaurant, heads turn, people glance at each other, staring disapprovingly. My hair is too short. I’m not wearing make-up. I’m not dressed in frilly clothes. And I’m not bashing my eye lashes at anyone. Often when I order, the wait staff will say “you’re not from around here – are you?”

My brother has warned me that when I visit, I need to stay within about a 20 mile radius of their town. Else “you won’t be safe if you go any further out.”

I came out to my Mom about eleven years ago, and left it up to her to share – or not share – that information with people in her world.

When I flew home, alone, five years ago on a red-eye,  my brother and my Mom picked me up at the airport. We went directly to my favorite restaurant for breakfast. I almost choked on my country ham when my brother said “well – Daddy told me ‘go pick her up at the airport. If she’s alone – bring her back here. But if she’s got anybody with her, she’s not coming under my roof.'” My Mom’s eyes got big – but she remained silent.

I  took a deep breath. Practiced all that fancy breathing I learned at those Buddhist retreats in Berkeley. I announced that would be staying with my friends, 60 miles away, rather than with my parents. I could see the pain in my Mom’s eyes.

My brother – honestly being earnest said “Now Rhondajo, just calm down. You’re getting worked up over nothing. You know how Daddy is with his dog. He loves that dog. More than anything. But that dog is an outdoor dog – and he is never coming into Daddy’s house.”

I was livid. I did more of that breathing – and practicing non-attachment.  I had flown 3,000 miles to see my family, and didn’t know when – or if – I would be back. By the end of the meal, I told my brother “while I am here, we’re talking about two things. And two things only. Country music and food.” And he took me to my parents’ house.

Given that having a gay child is the ultimate shame, I was more surprised that someone had told my father that I was gay – than I was with his reaction.

So – here in the Bay Area, we will be inundated by Gay Pride this weekend. But, remember, there’s still a lot of prejudice out there. Right now.

When you hear a homophobic  joke, please don’t just pretend you didn’t hear it.

If you have a gay person in your life, give her or him an extra big, warm hug this weekend.

And if you don’t have a gay person in your personal circle of friends – it’s a great time to embrace a bit more diversity.

Happy Pride Weekend!

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RhondaJo Boomington is a Southern transplant from North Carolina. She landed in the haven of Berkeley six years ago and never plans to leave. Formerly a fundamentalist who voted for Jesse Helms many times, she now relishes her liberal lesbian life in the Bay Area and is frustrated that Obama is not liberal enough. She has earned a J.D. and a Masters of Divinity, and  enjoys performing in the Bay Area as a stand up comedian and solo performance artist. Contact her at rhondajoboomington@yahoo.com

Nuclear Power – Really?

So there I was, having drinks with some friends, and telling them about my recent blog posts regarding Germany’s decision to stop using nuclear power and the role of Chancellor Angela Merkel. I threw out the comment: “how many nuclear power disasters will it take until we give it up as an energy source?”

A friend’s boyfriend turned round and remarked: “And how many earthquakes do you need before you move your family out of the Bay Area?”

Cutting. Incisive. And I was just about to offer to buy him a drink.

1989 Bay Bridge split by earthquake

Now, the validity of his point notwithstanding, I think there is a huge difference between natural and man-made disasters. In my radical teenage years, my friends and I planned to disrupt the movement of nuclear waste through the English countryside. I remember one woman asking how we would feel if we did something that created a radioactive leakage right there in the village where the demonstration was planned? I probably wouldn’t have bought her a drink either, even if I was underage back then.

The LA Times recently published the transcripts of a Q&A with Elmer E. Lewis, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University. Professor Lewis has authored two textbooks on nuclear power, answered questions regarding the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the damage and consequences on the environment. He has conducted considerable research on the physics, safety and reliability of nuclear systems.

Professor Lewis

“The combination of an earthquake of unprecedented intensity followed immediately by a tsunami of historical proportions in Japan has resulted in the most serious nuclear reactor accidents in decades,” Professor Lewis said. “Understandably, the uncertainty associated with the further progression of the partial melting of the reactor cores has engendered a great deal of psychological trauma as well as media attention.

“However, it appears that loss of life to the public — if any — caused by the radiation releases from these accidents will be minuscule when compared to the thousands of deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami.”

You can click on the LA Times link to read the entire transcript. While I don’t want to take Professor Lewis out of context – he is an academic researcher, not an emotional, frustrated blogger – I am mystified enough to write a few posts about nuclear power. I do plan to move from there to alternative sources because I don’t subscribe to the naysayers when they do not provide alternative solutions.

As I read the transcript, I became increasingly lost in the technical side of it. But then one caller’s comment (identified as Morgan) stood out. “From the beginning of this disaster the Japanese government and the plant operators have been quoted as saying there is little risk of the situation becoming more critical, and yet that’s what has been happening with each passing day. It makes it difficult to trust anything they say, as it seems they’re not being up front with the public about the present situation. These kinds of events call for complete transparency. This is part of the reason for the rising public distrust over nuclear power.”

Too cool not to use!

I also have no intention of leaving the Bay Area despite the reality that at some point in my lifetime I will probably have to deal with an earthquake. I just hope we know where the ‘off” switch is at the nuclear plants when the earth moves.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Desperate for Health Care, Try The Verone Plan – Roger Ingalls

When you’re sick, out of work and have depleted all financial resources, how do you get health care in the world’s richest country? If you don’t know, take a little advice from James Richard Verone. He may have it all figured out.

So, what did Mr. Verone do? On June 9th, he robbed a bank. He’s already been seen by a few nurses, is scheduled to see a doctor for his painful ailments and all this occurs less than ten days after committing the crime. His needs will be met faster than someone paying for an HMO health care plan. Does crime pay even when you get caught? Maybe yes.

James Richard Verone doesn’t appear to be a bad man. The 59 year old was never in trouble with the law until he reached a point of desperation two weeks ago. Needing medical care, he gave notice to the landlord, sold and gave away his possessions and then checked into a motel. After showering and ironing his shirt, he mailed a letter to the local newspaper outlining his coming crime and then hailed a cab to a nearby RBC Bank. Once inside, he made the $1 robbery demand and waited in a chair until the police came. He was arrested, received needed medical attention and has a place to stay while healing and awaiting trial – it was that simple. Mr. Verone is looking to spend time in jail until he can collect social security and then move near the beach. This is probably a reasonable plan for someone in his position and age.

What does the mini crime spree by Mr. Verone say about the state of health care in this country? The US health care system absolutely sucks! Health is one area where unbridled capitalism does not work. Private insurance equates to lack of affordability because of its inefficient administration costs, needed profit margins to satisfy investors and the $300 million dollars each company needs for CEO pay. Not to mention, they make more profit by rejecting medical claims.

The Verone Health Care Plan is obviously unrealistic except for a few desperate people and, maybe, a few brave activists trying to prove a point. Is there an easy answer for far-reaching health care, probably not but America, the richest and most powerful country, can do better. Experiment! Open Medicare to all ages and let the infusion of money help pay for the elderly and disabled. The expanded pool of participants will lower costs through economies of scale.

Oh, but wait, that’s a single payer system and not the American way.

Isn’t it sad when the Incarceration Nation is more comfortable throwing someone in jail to receive medical attention than it is accepting a health care system affordable to all?

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Riots… In Canada?

I’ve been on a vicarious high this week. The Boston Bruins, last Wednesday night, won their first Stanley Cup since 1972 – the days of the legendary Bobby Orr.

Of course since I’m a fan of the Bruins, their winning makes me a winner, right? OK, I’ve already pointed out how stupid that is. But I’m still happy. And I have to admit I have cheated a little. Because of my complex hockey history, I’m a fan of three teams, the Boston Bruins, the L.A. Kings, and the Colorado Avalanche (formerly the Quebec Nordiques). But I’m much more a fan of the game than any team.

Relax, this hasn’t changed to a sports column. What happened after the Bruins glorious victory provides quite an insight into human nature.

Hockey is perceived as a violent game. For those of you unfamiliar, the game is full of what is called, “checking”, where the player is run into, sometimes VERY hard, by a player on the opposing team. This is generally completely within the rules and not a big deal until someone goes beyond good sportsmanship and just tries to hurt the other player.

It’s also true that you see a lot of fights on the ice in hockey, but outside of the pros, the rest of us usually end up having a beer afterwards and saying things like, “You got me pretty good with that one punch, there.”

Up until now, I have had two views of Canadians. Since I was once a part of the world of hockey (at a relatively low level) I have known a lot of Canadians and I have heard a lot of their stories of fights. I also knew a guy from way out in the farm-land boondocks of Saskatchewan who had worked at a bar where there were some very serious fights.

But my view of the typical Canadian was exemplified the other night by a guy I bumped into – who happened to be from Vancouver. It was the night after Boston’s game 7 victory and I was proudly wearing my Bruins Jersey while hanging out in San Francisco. He spotted me and he smiled and said something like, “I’ll bet you’re pretty happy!” I said, “You bet! Great series, eh?” Funny that I’m the one who said, “eh.”

Anyway, he told me that he was from Vancouver and I immediately said that his team had played really well and nobody should be ashamed about it. He agreed and we talked for a while about the riots that erupted in the streets of Vancouver after their loss. He was certainly ashamed about that. I said, “That’s not at all my image of Canada.” He said, “Mine neither.” I said that this wouldn’t have happened in Montreal because people would be afraid of messing up their suits and ties. He laughed. Montreal fans used to dress up for the games.

Even while the riots had started, inside the rink the real Canucks fans were cheering for their great team – even though they had lost:

That’s class.

So how does a riot happen when there’s really no great injustice as motivation? The answer (if it is an answer) is “mob mentality.” People in a crowd, especially when they are already emotionally worked up about something (and even more if they’ve been drinking), can all of a sudden start to follow and imitate the crowd’s most rebellious and active members. They can participate in or accept others’ criminal behavior. They can act in ways that they would never act on their own.

It’s just a theory of mine, but I think that these situations are opportunities for our imprisoned, inner-selves to finally cry out – even if it’s in completely inappropriate ways. The life of the modern human being is essentially an all-too-well-defined cage, even when it seems a pleasant cage. Many books, TV shows, and movies have explored the idea that humans value freedom above all else. But modern life is about stability, predictability, indebtedness, and strict rules of behavior for thousands of situations. Any release from this cage, no matter how stupid, unproductive, or even harmful can sometimes be welcomed.

Uh oh. It seems I’ve bitten off a huge bite to chew again. Maybe I’ll have to come back to this in a future post.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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The Summer Solstice The Longest Book

The summer solstice is a day of great power in the pagan religions. There was a time when I would gather a few friends and celebrate this festival. I’m not sure if I could really call myself a pagan, definitely not a Wiccan (literally ‘wise one’), but I was fascinated by the religion.

Earth spirituality seemed a natural fusion of my desire for spirituality and a passion for environmentalism. I enjoyed the creative ceremonies that I participated in and the people who gravitated to these circles. They were Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, atheists and more. What we all had in common was a desire to elevate our own spiritual consciousness and energy together with the energy of the earth.

Exploring the Pagan year and life-cycle became a powerful thread in my first novel, A Gardener’s Tale (2000), which covers the festivals over a two-year period. The novel is also a social commentary on the breaking down of the British urban lifestyle and the demise of the British landed classes, as well as a criticism of how we treat people who are not necessarily gifted academically or ‘fit in.”.

A Gardener’s Tale was a wonderful journey for me. While the writing is rough, as reflects a first novel, it is a passionate description of a world that we are rapidly losing. Our world is vastly different today than it was when the book was written a decade ago, but I still believe that we must chart our destiny based upon a value-based spirituality that is inclusive and welcoming.

A Gardener's Tale - Alon Shalev

Shortly before she passed away, Vivianne Crowley, the famous Wicca leader and then High Priestess of Britain, wrote about A Gardener’s Tale.

“A beautiful and elegiac evocation of a timeless Britain and of a man of the ancient ways of the earth who brings peace and healing where the flames of persecution once burned.”

Though I look back nostalgically on the characters of A Gardener’s Tale with great affection, I cannot help feeling that the need to understand and bond with the world we live in, is as important today as it ever was. Perhaps, even more so.

Happy Solstice to everyone.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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