As most of you will be aware, Saoirse sets off at the end of the month for his pilgrimage to India.
While he is away promoting this community, it would be great to get as much media attention as possible. Through this we can attract new members and build local Freeconomy communities across the world.
To do this, I'm looking for some stories to support magazine and newspaper articles. If any of you have had any amazing sharing experiences through the Freeconomy community and would like to have your story printed in your local newspaper (or maybe even the national press!), please email me.
I cannot promise to answer you all individually, but you can be assured I will read every story and use many of them. However if we do decide to use yours you will definitely be contacted beforehand.
If you could put the area you live in as part of the subject line, I would be grateful (i.e. Manchester Freeconomy Story).
Please include your story, along with details of any local newspapers so that I can build up a database of potential publications to contact.
Alternatively, if any of you have ideas for magazines and newspapers to contact then please share them with me too. Any help with this is valued and appreciated.
Have a wonderful week and I look forward to reading your uplifting stories.
LIVE "sex shows" of bulls mounting a simulated cow have become a big attraction at an agricultural exhibition taking place in New Zealand.
The fake 'cow' – a small go-kart with natural cowhide on its roof – was developed by Ambreed New Zealand Ltd to collect semen from bulls more safely and efficiently and improve artificial breeding of cows.
Similar machines are widely used in Europe but have yet to be introduced in New Zealand, where dairy products are its largest export.
The go-kart, driven by a human operator, draws close to a bull and adjusts to the proper height.
The experience can be a little alarming.
"It's quite a daunting feeling when you consider you've got a bull there that weighs a thousand kilograms sitting on top of you and is in quite an aggressive mood," Andrew Medley, production manager at Ambreed, said.
Bull semen is commonly obtained using a rubber device which is put in place manually by two handlers.
This report was published at dailytelegraph.news.com.au
What did you eat yesterday? Bradley Saul, a former pro-cyclist and founder of Organic Athlete, stopped in Tucson last week to talk about his organization and told me what he had munched on that day: half of a case of strawberries, two heads of lettuce chopped into a salad, some oranges and about 50 small dates.
The tall and lean but strong-looking cyclist is a vegan, and a raw foodist. He promotes organic living for athletes to ensure personal and environmental health. (Being a raw foodist who eats only whole foods, he doesn't touch things like whole wheat bread or tofu, but will eat some brown rice in a pinch, he says.)
Chowing down on a few heads of lettuce for lunch and avoiding all cooked and processed foods sounds a little extreme, but the principles of his vegan raw food diet are based on eating whole, organic foods that provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber that we all strive for in our diets.
Everyone's first question: Where do you get your protein?
"Where don't you get protein if you're eating whole foods?" said Saul, who started Organic Athlete when he was living in Tucson in 2003 and now resides in California.
"Human mother's milk has only 5 to 6 percent of its calories from protein. And that's for babies growing at a much more rapid rate than we are. We get enough protein if we eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables." He eats nuts and seeds in small amounts because they're high in fat.
Fruits and vegetables have a bit of protein per calorie — some more than others — so as long as you're eating whole foods, you can't not get enough protein, Saul says. These foods aren't as high in protein as meat, of course, but that protein is more difficult to digest, according to Saul.
But this guy isn't just munching on heads of lettuce and lounging on the couch — he's an athlete. Doesn't he need supplements or a chicken breast once in awhile?
He doesn't use supplements when he races, and when he recently ran a marathon he just ate dates for fuel during the 26.2-mile race. "I was fine."
I can't even imagine a long run without chocolate energy gel, but Saul's minimalism is inspiring.
Celery blended up in water provides the precious electrolytes athletes are always fretting over, although Saul says he really doesn't worry about whether he gets enough electrolytes.
"I used to come out of a race all covered in salt. I'm not like that anymore," he said. "Since I've started this, I can say my recovery times are better. I wake up in the morning ready for the day, and I don't need stimulants or caffeine to keep me going."
He says he went through a transition period for a few months, moving from vegetarianism to veganism (no animal products at all), to eating raw, organic foods.
"I had always known fruits and vegetables were the healthiest food and I ate a lot of them, but I had never heard of people that just ate them," Saul said with a laugh.
Now he does, although he was raised on "traditional American food — but all made from scratch," and his mother still eats the way she did when he was growing up.
"We had homemade birthday cakes, meat and potatoes. His friends were eating a lot of processed foods, but I just made everything from scratch. It wasn't necessarily healthy, though," said Molly Savitz.
"I'm surprised at how simple what he does is," said Savitz, of South Carolina, who will prepare food for as many as 700 cyclists at one of the Tour d'Organics race, put on by her son, this year.
I'm a vegetarian, and Saul's principles of eating lots of fruit and veggies appeal to me — but I'm not giving up my organic tofu any time soon. What I am going to glean from his purist lifestyle is a focus on organic produce, locally grown foods and choosing nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables over processed snacks.
Today`s Christmas is sometimes referred to as a consumerist orgy — an annual festival of unbridled commodity purchases aimed at expressing how much we care for others. But there are fundamental contradictions in the "tradition". Indeed, today`s Christmas (wouldn`t be what it is had it not been for the power of both the Church and, much more recently, corporations to tame and shape another, more traditional, kind of orgy.
The origins of Christmas can be traced back to the 3rd century AD, when the emerging religion Christianity and the Church hierarchy sought to eclipse remaining cultural influences of the Romans and snuff out an annual pagan festival called Saturnalia. Saturnalia took place every year to signify the end of the growing season, a time to enjoy a final taste of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats before they were dried and stored for the winter. It also marked an annual orgy; a week of drinking, over-indulgence and sinful excess; a remarkable surge in childbirths followed nine months later.
The Church hoped to end the debauchery by falsely declaring December 25th as the day of Christ`s birth. Villagers and peasants throughout Europe subsequently were expected to worship the Virgin Birth at the end of the year, instead of celebrating nature`s produce and one another.
Unfortunately for the Church, cultural change tends to be slow, especially when trying to transform those aspects of culture that most enjoy. Centuries later, for a few decades preceding the American Revolution, leaders of various Protestant sects in New England gave up even trying to change public behavior on December 25th and banned Christmas altogether.
However, about 150 years ago, another group of powerful interests sought to change the meaning and celebration of Christmas. Just as the Church tried to reform the cultural norms of the Romans, an emerging corporate elite sought to transform how people behaved at the end of December. Rather than a time of communal debauchery or, subsequently, a period in which all were expected to worship Christ, corporate interests looked for opportunities to change Christmas into a time for individuals to purchase and exchange commodities.
Unlike the Church`s efforts, the corporate transformation proved incredibly successful, probably because it involves a way of celebrating that many, at least to some level, find hard to resist. For thousands of years people found meaning in their lives, a sense of identity and, pleasure through their relations with others; and Saturnalia, was certainly one of most exciting of these communal events.
Alongside industrialization came the fragmentation of communities into individualized contract workers. And with urbanization and its displacement of millions from their villages and traditional extended families came a kind of social-psychological vacuum. Accompanying this growing culture of isolation and emptiness was a broad range of "inventions" primarily developed to serve the interests of corporations, including electricity, the telegraph, and the Department Store. Together, they facilitated further urbanization, more efficiency, and importantly, more potential sales. The Department Store, for example, became a central gathering place in most cities; people were free to browse and, for the first time, were not expected to buy anything. Through the magic of electrical illuminations, potential customers now could see all the goods and potential lifestyles available to those hard-working individuals with money.
For Department Stores and the capitalists behind the production, Christmas soon became an opportunity to sell more goods by associating these commodities with social-psychological needs emerging in people`s lives. As urbanization and industrialization proceeded, corporations successfully associated Christmas with what we now take for granted; December 25th became a time for individuals and families to re-unite and, in the absence of truly intimate relationships, familial bonds were expressed through an exchange of purchased clothes, toys and innumerable other products.
Quite suddenly Christmas had become a family holiday, something quite different from what the Church originally intended when it labeled the day as Christ`s birth. Also, through the mystical re-manufacturing of Christmas by corporations as a day - and now a "season" - for buying and exchanging gifts, the emerging world of atomized relations and fragmented communities could them-selves be exploited as a social-psychological vacuum in which the selling of commodities could be perpetuated.
Today, through the twists, turns and power interests shaping history, Christmas again has become a time of debauchery. From its roots as an agrarian pagan orgy, followed by the attempt to transform it into a religious holiday for the community, it`s now become another kind of orgy, this time a capitalist one.
In our economic system, this faith in Christmas as a celebration of love through consumption has become so deeply entrenched, it exists in the very marrow of our cultural existence. But more significantly, and paradoxically, its ascendancy has paralleled the near collapse of the bases of life and love itself the environment in which we all live.
Over these past 150 years, humanity has consumed more of the earth`s resources and has caused more ecological damage than all the generations, living tens of thousands of years before the mid-19th century, combined. Now, the "developing" world is being told about the wonders of our consumerist religion, and Christmas is being used as a core means of promulgating the faith; a faith being promoted even in non-Christian cultures.
During this annual period of mass manipulation and worship of consumption that is ever-more tenuously disguised as a Christian holiday, I think we might want to peel back the mythologies surrounding this particular celebration. The holiday`s superficial embrace of the family and exploitation of humanity`s search for meaning and identity, in the name of selling, cannot survive if we strip away its veneer and refuse to play the games associated with its mystical, commodities-equals-love` equation.
Instead, let us celebrate Christmas in the spirit of the original Roman festival let`s have a really good time as members of a community rather than just individuals and fragmented families. Even better, give everyone you know (warning: here comes a Madison Ave clich) "the gift that really matters." Refuse to use cash as an expression of your feelings. By not taking part in our religious celebration of commodity exchange, not only will we make a tiny dent in the capitalist machine that eats away at our ecological existence, we`ll also remind ourselves (and others) that time and community need to be embraced more than money and isolation.
Above all else, by taking even a small step in challenging our culture`s latest version of Christmas, we begin the process of collectively realizing that, as human beings, we manufacture our own existence. Indeed, we`ve even manufactured something as seemingly timeless and sacred as Christmas.
Instead of an orgy of consumption, I`d like to think that we can apply our faith and mystical resources towards cultural vibrancy, the nourishment of community, and a belief system based not on happiness through consumption but, instead, on happiness through creativity and environmental sustainability.
On December 25th let`s toast the beginning of yet another re-invention of Christmas, this time with an emphasis on savoring the joys of being part of a community with an emphasis on an emerging ecological peace on earth.
Let the new orgiastic Christmas tradition begin!
Edward Comor is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.
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