Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sangha-palooza II – the Next Buddha is Sangha!

Bay Area Meditation Gathering.  Saturday, September 29, 11:30 am – 5:00 pm, Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, 94606

Meditation • dharma talks • lunch • music • mindful movement

Join us for a uniquely inspirational, free and historic community event — members and leaders from various dharma communities throughout the Bay Area will gather to cultivate present moment awareness and enjoy the day!

A light lunch will be served.  Event is open to all, no charge.

11:30 – 1:15  Morning session Drew Dellinger, Larry Yang, Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, introductions, meditation, music.

1:15 – 2:30  Lunch – Public lunch, by donation

2:30 – 5:00  Afternoon session Drew Dellinger, Dorothy Hunt, Wes Nisker, Shauna Shapiro, Sheldon Callahan (Qi Gong), James Baraz, meditation, music.

Our venue is a short walk from two BART stations and bus routes in downtown Oakland. We encourage carpooling, using public transportation, biking and walking. Limited parking is available on-site.

For more information visit us on Facebook:  Sanghapalooza II (tps://, or call 510-495-7511.

Participants include: Bay Area Integral, Bay Area Ananda Marga, Awakening 360, Bay Area Open Sangha, Berkeley Shambhala Meditation Center, Bay Area Young Adult Sangha, Berkeley Zen Center, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Buddhist Church of SF–Mindfulness Sangha, Casa de Paz at Canticle Farm, Clearwater Sangha Center for Transformative Change, Center for a Culture of Empathy, Connection Action Project, Dharmata Foundation, Contra Costa Zen Group, Drew Dellinger, East Bay Meditation Center, Earth Sangha East Bay, Healing Collective, East Bay Open Circle, Empty Gate Zen Center, Everyday Zen Foundation, Fellowship of the Heart, Foundation of the Sacred Stream, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley, Hayward Compassion Meditation Center, Infinite Smile Sangha, The Golden Sufi Center, Integral Awakening Center, Integrative Restoration Institute, Green Sangha, Marin Open Circle, Mettadharma Foundation, Mindfulness Care Center, Moon Mountain Sangha, Mission Dharma, Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Mount Diablo Zen Group, Pacific Zen Institute, San Francisco Buddhist Center, San Francisco Zen Center, San Rafael Meditation, Rick Hanson School of Yogic Buddhism, Saraha Kadampa Buddhist Center, Science and Nonduality Service Space, Shaolin Buddhist Temple and Education Foundation, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Shauna Shapiro/Santa Clara University, This Sacred Space, Urban Dharma, Vallejo Zen Center, WEpractice Community, Wes Nisker, Yoga Tree, Young Dharma SF.



Labelling GMO food

Green Sangha endorses California proposition 37, the “right-to-know” initiative. Why does the labelling of genetically modified food matter? The following article, published by Common Dreams, tells a bit of the story. You may also want to look over the facts page assembled by one of the leading organizations on this campaign:

Make sure that you’re registered, and vote yes on Proposition 37!

California’s Prop 37: Monsanto, GMO Labelling and the Public Interest, by Charlotte Silver

While the initiative merely seeks to add a few words to nutrition labels, it has incurred the wrath and moneyed opposition of biotech and food giants – no doubt because they fear the initiative might herald actual regulations on an industry that has long been allowed to experiment willy-nilly with the food  people consume in the United States.  If Proposition 37 passes, California will be the first state to require GMO labelling. (EPA)

Nationwide polls have indicated a bipartisan, nearly unanimous support for labelling GMOs (genetically modified organisms). At the end of August, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and the California Business Roundtable released the most recent survey assessing the viability of California’s ballot initiatives. The poll showed 65 per cent in favour of Proposition 37 compared to 24 per cent in opposition.

Faced with those bleak odds, Monsanto, the biotech Goliath, threw in another $2.89 million on September 14 in an effort to defeat the measure – nearly doubling its total contributions heading into the homestretch of the election.

Monsanto, the single largest contributor to the effort to defeat the measure, was one of the first producers of the toxic pest control substances, DDT and PCB, both now banned in the US.

However, over the past two decades, Monsanto has attempted to transform its image from a purveyor of poisons to that of a food producer and bioengineering champion -being required to label their products threatens to undo the corporation’s careful PR work.

Monsanto seems determined to quash the Right to Know campaign, already successfully intimidating the very progressive state of Vermont from even proposing similar legislation to Prop 37.

Proposition 37 is one of 11 sundry measures that will appear on California’s November 6 ballot, but it leads the pack in attracting financial heavyweights determined to defeat it. As of mid-September, opponents to the proposition had contributed a total of $32 million.

Currently unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, genetically modified ingredients are found in up to 70 per cent of food on the shelves of supermarkets across the US, including the omnipresent foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (85 per cent of US corn is genetically engineered) or traces of soybean (91 per cent of soy is GE).

Genetically engineered food

On September 19, French researcher Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at Caen University in France, published a groundbreaking study that, for the first time, demonstrates the long-term health effects on rats of eating genetically engineered corn and being exposed to Roundup.

Roundup is a ubiquitous pesticide that is used in conjunction with “roundup ready” seeds – seeds that produce crops designed to survive being sprayed by Roundup.

“The results were alarming,” Professor Séralini told reporters during a telephone press conference held on the day the findings were announced.

According to Professor Séralini, the new study, which was conducted over the course of two years, examined the effects of feeding rats an amount of GE corn that is “comparable to what the American public eats every day”.

After four months, female rats developed mammary and kidney tumours; male rats developed liver and kidney damage. Rats exposed to the chemicals were also more likely to die prematurely.

“We think it’s criminal that there is this much laxness in reviewing these products,” said Professor Séralini.

Michael R Taylor is the current Deputy Commissioner of the US FDA and was appointed by President Obama. Taylor’s career has seesawed between Monsanto and the FDA – the agency that ought to be tasked with regulating Monsanto. But in 1991, when Taylor returned to work for the government after a decade with the biochemical corporation, he oversaw the agency’s relinquishing any responsibility for regulation of chemically altered foods, i.e., GMOs.

If Prop 37 passes, California will be the first state to require GMO labelling. The US’ current lackadaisical approach to regulating GMOs contrasts sharply with its counterparts in Europe, where labelling of all foods with genetically engineered ingredients is required and there is a relatively low yield of GE crops.

Spokesperson for the No on 37 Coalition, Kathy Fairbanks, told me that the Coalition represents, “the entire agricultural industry of California.”

However, an examination of the campaign contributions made public on the website of the California Secretary of State reveals that over half of the staggering sum spent on defeating the measure comes from pesticide, chemical and biotechnology firms, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Syngenta.

“It is completely inaccurate to say the No on 37 Coalition is being funded by the California agricultural industry. Most of their funders are out-of-state corporations and the largest pesticide corporations,” said Stacy Malkan, spokesperson for the Yes on 37 campaign, based in Oakland, California.

In fact, fewer than 50 discreet donors have contributed to the no-camp. Not surprising, opponents are trying to redefine the debate from one about consumers’ fundamental right to know what is in their food to a manipulative attack on the wording of the measure and the man who wrote it.

“We’re not opposed to providing fact-based information to consumers. The problem we have is with the measure. The problem is the particular lawyer who wrote the law itself,” Fairbanks says.

Fairbanks asserts that “small and large businesses and ethnic convenience stores will be hit the hardest” by lawsuits enabled by the proposition. “We oppose the proposition because it will cause higher grocery bills and lead to meritless, shakedown lawsuits,” Fairbanks says.

The lawyer who wrote the bill is James Wheaton, a public interest lawyer who teaches journalism law at Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley. Wheaton founded the First Amendment Project and serves as president of the Environmental Law Foundation.

Wheaton dismisses Fairbanks’ concerns: “First, we expect companies will simply comply – how much does it cost to add a few words to labels several years after this passes? Nothing.”

And perhaps more important, as Wheaton point out: “There’s no money in meritless lawsuits.”

Wheaton drafted the measure because, as he says, “Since 50 countries around the world already require labelling of genetically engineered foods, it seemed time Americans get the same right. But we know big agribusiness will work tirelessly with government bureaucrats to deny that to Americans.” (emphasis mine)

Grassroots support for Prop 37

Malkan explains that Proposition 37 represents California farm owners and workers, small businesses and organic companies, including Strauss Family Creamery and Amy’s Kitchen. Proponents have raised just under $3 million from over 1,000 donors.

Support for Proposition 37 has galvanised a long-standing opposition to Monsanto. On September 17, the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement, activists protested outside Monsanto’s office in Davis, California, a place where vast expanses of farmland and food production exist next to biotechnology research. Around the state, supporters of the labelling initiative staged similar rallies.

© 2012 Al-Jazeera

Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in San Francisco and the West Bank, Palestine.  She is a graduate of Stanford University.

Article printed from

Source URL:

Plastics in the Ocean


By Chris Pincetich, Ph.D., Turtle Island Restoration Network
Tuesday, Sept. 25th 6:30 pm
Marin TV Comcast Channel 26/AT&T 99

Watch a captivating talk, recorded at the Plastics 360: Impacts & Possibilities conference this March, on the effects of plastics in our oceans.

The weight of plastic produced annually in the United States is more than twice the weight of our entire population.  Plastic waste is accumulating not only in our landfills, but also in our streets, parks, and waterways.  A 2001trawl of surface waters of the northern Pacific Ocean by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) recovered six pounds of plastic pieces for every pound of zooplankton.  In 2008, the ratio had climbed to 48:1.  In this section of the ocean, the North Pacific Gyre, AMRF reports one million plastic particles were found floating near the surface for every square kilometer, up three times since the early 1990s.

Learn about the latest data and steps being taken to protect and restore endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity worldwide.  Become informed and join us in taking action, from reducing our plastic footprint at home to persuading our offices to give up disposable plastics, to advocating for a statewide producer take-back law.

Plastics 360: Impact & Possibilities is co-sponsored by and the Environmental Forum of Marin.

Video Producer/Director: Cynthia Abbott

Stuart Moody, program director

Director profile:  Stuart Moody, M.A., R.Y.T.

Roots.  My family grew up in the Berkeley Hills, one block from the Rose Garden and a child’s wonderland called Codornices Park.  Tilden Regional Park was a quick ride up the hill, and Pt. Reyes was not too far on a leisurely weekend.  Every summer we spent weeks in the Sierra Nevada, hiking, swimming, and playing on the shores of Lake Tahoe and Union Lake in Stanislaus National Forest.

What got me going in conservation.  Pure love of nature.  I couldn’t bear the thought of so much smoke in the sky that we couldn’t see the ridges of the Marin Headlands clearly, or the fact that San Francisco Bay was 2/3 its original size due to filling.  My first sense of environmental injustice came the day my friend Bill Swartz had to go home from Codornices because the smog was making it hard for him to breathe.

How I met Green Sangha.  Our family went to Fairfax for an Earth Day exhibit.  At an unstaffed table we found an action sheet on water conservation, some free faucet aerators, and a flyer describing spiritually-based activism.  “Meditation and the environment,” my wife said, “that sounds just like you.”

What I like about Green Sangha.  The people, the programs, the vision.  The Board’s commitment to working together makes planning and implementing a joy.  Green Sangha gets things done on the ground – restoring habitat, educating citizens, testifying to government agencies – in ways that are positive, pleasant, and persuasive.

What’s got me excited.  Implementing proven models for social change such as Eco-teams in the Low Carbon Diet and Resilient Neighborhoods.  Exploring deep ecology in our campaigns and retreats.  Bringing up the next generation of leaders through the Teen Environmental Leadership Academy.  Sharing the most amazing technology of all – somatic awareness and meditation – with eco-leaders, citizen activists, and civic officials from aides to city planners to state legislators.

Plug in, take off!

National Plug-In Day, Sunday, September 23, 8 am – 2 pm at Marin Civic Center

Imagine if you didn’t have to pay volatile gasoline prices, rarely returned to your auto dealer for service, and could re-charge your car at home overnight like a cell phone.  Want to have the speed and amenities of a gasoline-powered car but not pollute the air while driving?  Drive electric!  It’s easier and cheaper than many think.

Learn how simple it is to drive and charge an electric vehicle:

  • See electric cars and motorcycles, including the BMW Active E, Brammo Electric Motorcycles, Chevrolet Volt, Coda, Fisker Karma, Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Tesla, Toyota’s RAV 4 EV and Plug In Prius . . . and electric bicycles, too!
  • Talk to local EV owners about their experiences
  • Test drive an electric vehicle
  • Assess your yearly cost-savings, and state and federal purchase incentives possible

“Electric vehicles are a win-win for Marin drivers,” says Dale Miller, president of GGEVA.  “They cost less to own and drive than gas cars.  Switching to an electric car is the most effective step that Marin residents can take to reduce their carbon footprints.  GGEVA is proud to co-sponsor this opportunity for Marin drivers to see how much fun it is to drive an electric car.”

Marin National Plug In Day 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2012. 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
In the parking lot across from the Marin Farmers Market, Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael.  Free admission.  Open to the public.

Organized by Transportation Authority of Marin and Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association
National Plug In Day 2012 will be celebrated in more than 60 cities “to draw global attention to the environmental, economic, and other benefits of plug in electric vehicles,” according to national organizers Plug In America, Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association.

About the Organizers
Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) is the congestion management agency and sales tax authority for Marin County. TAM manages a variety of transportation projects and programs in Marin County, receiving federal, state, regional, and local funds, and working closely with all eleven cities and towns as well as the county.
Golden Gate Electric Vehicle Association (GGEVA) is a not-for-profit, volunteer educational, support and advocacy organization that promotes electric vehicles:

To learn more:
National Plug in Day
Plug In America
Plug In America- Facebook Page
Sierra Club
Electric Auto Association

Coastal Cleanup success!

Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday September 15, 2012:

At McNear’s Beach in San Rafael we had a great turnout for the largest volunteer event in California:  80 volunteers, breaking last year’s record of 55 by a wide margin!  Participants included Cub Scout pack 53, the Tam 4-H Club, whole families, and lots of other local folks who care about their beaches and Bay and the wildlife they are home to.

McNear’s is a popular and pretty well-cared-for beach and picnic area, but our dogged volunteers still managed to find 41 pounds of trash (about four large trash bags’ worth) and 6 pounds of recyclables.  When Ranger Jim showed up in his motorized cart with a 50-pound piece of dumped cyclone gate, the grand total came to 91 pounds!

Some of the more distinctive items among the 1790 individual bits collected:

– Eight-inch drill bit
– Easter egg
– Candle
– Nail file
– Cassette tape
– Plastic flower
– Ear bud

Shay Jensen on his way to clean the beach

The remaining litter tally:

408 food wrappers/containers
288 pieces of fishing line
212 plastic bags/pieces
135 cigarettes and filters
87 plastic eating utensils
75 caps or lids
58 paper bags/pieces
51 unidentifiable bits of plastic
49 glass beverage bottles/pieces
43 glass fragments
34 pieces of rope
27 plastic beverage bottles
27 metal beverage cans
27 pieces of polystyrene  foam
25 pull tabs
23 toys
22 pieces of paper
19 pieces of tissue
19 pieces of fishing net
17 balloons
17 straws and stirrers
16 pieces of plastic sheeting/tarp
15 pieces of wire
14 pieces of tape
13 items of clothing
11 strapping bands
10 cigar tips
7 shotgun shells/wadding
7 fishing lures/light sticks
7 pieces of building material
5 condoms
5 medical gloves
4 hair ties
4 pieces of fabric
3 combs
2 each of:
bait containers/packaging
tampons/tampon applicators
cigarette lighters
tobacco packaging/wrappers
dental floss
1 each of:
piece of medical gauze
garden pot
fishing hook

Whew! And let’s not forget the six pounds of recyclables we recovered, which will not end up in landfill.

It was striking how much less Styrofoam (a subset of plastic) was found compared to last year (580 pieces).  Could the increasing number of businesses switching to non-polystyrene food takeout containers be making a very real difference?

Thanks to Rangers Dan and Jim and their colleagues for helpfully supplying buckets and litter pickers, and the other ways they supported our efforts.  And a big thanks to all the volunteers who showed up with buckets, gloves, and their enthusiasm: you helped beautify McNear’s and make it safer for wildlife, while contributing to citizen science.  We salute you!


Working meditation

What better way to restore oneself and the earth than enhancing the beauty of the land that we love?  Last Sunday, Sept 2, Green Sangha’s East Bay members took an afternoon for inner and outer restoration at Green Gulch Farm, and David Nelson took these photos.

Weed collecting

Wood splitting

Eating some muffins, too, made by our hostess and Site Manager, Sukey Parmelee.

Embraced by some sunshine, dirt, and dharma fog, we left in our natural state.

Next date at Green Gulch:  Sunday, November 11.  Watershed Stewardship in the land of sun and water.

Photos 1,2, & 4 by David Nelson:

Photo of Sukey Parmelee:  Stuart Moody