Category Archives: Green Sangha Chapter News

Give a sit for World Toilet Day!

World Toilet Day was November 19Marianna Tubman tells us why this matters all year ’round:

Since I was quite young I have been aware of the importance of public toilets and readily available facilities at work and at home. When I spent 6 months in Mexico, I saw how hard it was for people, especially women, not to have access to a toilet in the city and in the countryside. It was tough for me, too, because I had irritable bowel syndrome and sometimes had to go in a hurry.  But in recent years I’ve come to take my home toilet and restroom at work for granted.

Then I heard about the World Toilet Organization and learned that more than 2.5 billion people around the world don’t have access to any toilet – not even an outhouse or latrine!  They have to hide behind a bush or go in public.  They are more likely to get sick and even die from diseases carried in human waste.

When I saw pictures of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, I realized that there would be thousands of people homeless . . . and huge sanitation problems.  I was excited to learn about S.O.I.L., an innovative non-profit in Haiti building toilets that collect waste and create compost, helping people grow vegetables and trees, providing health and dignity for thousands of people still living in tents.

I try to find time to meditate and practice mindfulness in my daily life. I thought, why not spend an hour or a day meditating in the bathroom or even sitting on the toilet?  That might not be practical, but how about making it a daily practice to be mindful each time I use the bathroom?  I have committed to donating 10 cents to 25 cents to S.O.I.L. for each time I use my home toilet during the month before World Toilet Day.  I made a “jar” from a toilet paper roll and hung a bag of beans to drop in the jar each time I use the toilet.  I got help writing a Toilet Gratitude Meditation and posted it next to the commode.  On November 19 I plan to do an hour-long meditation sitting on the toilet, or perhaps on the floor below on a cushion.  I will reflect on our common humanity and give thanks for our private toilets with wash basins and even plumbing to take the smell away.

On World Toilet Day, and for the rest of this month, won’t you join this movement?  Put a coin jar in your bathroom and ask everyone to put a coin or a counter (such as a bean) in every time they use the toilet.  Then when you have a little more time (or find yourself needing to spend a lot of time on the toilet) why not have a gratitude prayer session on the toilet?  Get someone to sponsor a “sit-a-thon” in the toilet, or ask your housemates to pay for the privilege of interrupting you!

Check out the Facebook page I developed ( for a picture to wrap around your coin jar, photos of my coin jar, and a sample of how you could use stones as counters, and a meditation script to hang on the wall or keep near your toilet. For more information, check out the World Toilet Day Facebook page.  You can “like” the page and post a picture of your toilet or write what you are thankful for, or tell a memorable story about sanitation or toilets.

For Marianna’s Toilet Gratitude script, click here.  For more information on sanitation and toilets, check out the World Toilet Organization, the World Toilet Day Facebook page, or Rose George’s book, “The Big Necessity.”

Haiti was hit by 3 days of rain from Hurricane Sandy and there are still hundreds of thousands of people living in tents and other “temporary” shelters since the 2010 earthquake.  Help S.O.I.L. keep their tent-camp toilets and wash stations open and develop other initiatives.  Make a pledge to this page: or donate directly to  The need is urgent.


Toilet Gratitude Meditation

For World Toilet Day, Monday, November 19, and all times

From Marianna Tubman

Composting toilet by EcoSan

All human beings are the same in this . . .

Every day we need to find a way to relieve the body of its waste.
So, when we have facilities to make this private, easy, clean, and safe, let us wish the same for everyone!
And reflect with gratitude upon our simple blessings.
And give thanks for all those who have helped or help make it possible:

  • For the one who built this toilet, the one who installed it, the one who cleans it;
  • For the plumbing, the water, the paper, the cleaning supplies, the fan to take the smell away, the sewage treatment plants for processing of the waste;
  • For the rivers and fields and soil microbes which accept back whatever we get rid of.

May we be mindful and not take for granted the hard work and kindness of everyone who contributes to our lives.

Vote, Retreat, and Convene!

Vote on Tuesday!
Tuesday is Election Day, our chance to make our voices heard on a number of candidates and issues.  Green Sangha urges you to go to the polls and vote for a sustainable future.  VOTE YES ON PROP 37.  Check our blog for a lengthy, fascinating article by Charlotte Silver.

Better yet, send this page on GMO labelling by California Right to Know to your friends and family.  Let’s spread the word and get Prop 37 passed!

Senator Boxer says Vote YES on Prop 37

Want more information, or an eloquent piece on the topic of GMO’s?  Here’s a reference to Michael Pollan’s article in the New York Times Magazine on GMOs and Prop 37.

Inner & Outer Restoration at Green Gulch, Sun Nov 11
Join us for our autumn afternoon retreat at Green Gulch Farm near Muir Beach, noon to 6 pm.  Lunch begins at 12:15 in their cozy dining hall, with soup, salad, and farm-baked bread.  Gather at 1 pm for orientation and work assignments.

Choose your task from a variety of land-tending, creek-restoring activities, light to vigorous.  After a couple of hours we break for muffins, tea, and conversation.  End the day with silent meditation in the Zendo, adding another stitch to the fabric of community and wholeness.  Bring a hat and other sun protection, layers for changeable weather, gloves if you have, even a favorite gardening tool if you like.  RSVP for lunch reservations and to organize carpools:  Linda Currie at (510) 558-8615.  (Elizabeth will be back in the office on Nov 10.)

Members’ Night
Save the date!  Scott Sampson (“Dr. Scott” on the PBS Kids’ “Dinosaur Train”) will lead us in a conversation on Falling in Love with NatureSat Jan 12, 7:00-9:00 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin:  240 Channing Way, San Rafael.

Free for Green Sangha members.  $25 memberships available in advance or at the door.

Michael Pollan speaks on Prop 37

Here’s a brief post by Tom Fendley for California Right to Know on October 11, 2012:

It’s refreshing to take a break from exposing the deception of our opponents’ TV and radio ads to read a thoughtful analysis of Prop 37. Best-selling author and journalist Michael Pollan provides this respite in his excellent New York Times Magazine piece.

“The [food] industry is happy to boast about genetically engineered crops in the elite precincts of the op-ed and business pages — as a technology needed to feed the world, combat climate change, solve Africa’s problems, etc. — but still would rather not mention it to the consumers who actually eat the stuff,” Pollan writes.

“Presumably that silence owes to the fact that, to date, genetically modified foods don’t offer the eater any benefits whatsoever — only a potential, as yet undetermined risk.  So how irrational would it be, really, to avoid them? Surely this explains why Monsanto and its allies have fought the labeling of genetically modified food so vigorously since 1992.”

Indeed, the pesticide and junk food companies have already poured $35 million into TV ads opposing Prop 37 that are replete with misinformation and discredited spokespeople.

“Next month in California, a few million people will vote with their votes on a food issue,” Pollan writes.  “Already, Prop 37 has ignited precisely the kind of debate — about the risks and benefits of genetically modified food; about transparency and the consumer’s right to know — that Monsanto and its allies have managed to stifle in Washington for nearly two decades.”

Indeed, where our politicians in Washington, D.C. have failed us, California voters have the chance to strike a major blow for consumer rights by voting Yes on 37.

See Michael Pollan’s full piece here.

Meet the board – Bet Muth, MBA

Bet Muth, MA, MBA, certified yoga instructor and organizational consultant

Roots.  My family moved from Baltimore to the Bay Area when I was 14, and I’ve lived most of my life in the East Bay since then.  The Girl Scouts introduced me to camping and I still love hiking in the East Bay Regional Parks.  I’ve studied and taught many mind-body practices, including Qi Gong, Tai Chi, energy-based bodywork, and currently Kundalini Yoga.

What got me going in conservation.  As a student at the University of Creation Spirituality, I was surprised to hear Matthew Fox say:  “Make no mistake about it, the most urgent issue of our time is the environment.”  Studying the New Cosmology enabled me to see and feel that everything in the Universe is connected.  I became a facilitator of the Pachamama Alliance’s Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium.  A journey to the rainforest in Ecuador solidified my commitment to action on behalf of our planet.

Weed with smilesHow I met Green Sangha.  Attending the Environmental Forum of Marin’s 18-week Master Class, I teamed up with some classmates to start the Marin Food Scrap Recycling Task Force.  Our work in the Zero Waste movement made me aware of Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign, and when I moved back to the East Bay I joined the local chapter.

What I like about Green Sangha.  Inspiring Awakened Action!  Being part of a community of citizen activists dedicated to restoring our sense of oneness.

What’s got me excited.  I’m very keen on Mindful Activism Training and the Low Carbon Diet groups.  I also hope to expand Green Sangha’s membership base.

Going solar with Green Sangha

Solar energy is going mainstream, and not a minute too soon!  Alternative energies are not only a big part of our energy future, as President Obama reminded listeners in the first election debate, they are the only way to ensure that we have a future.

Oakland-based Sungevity will donate $750 to Green Sangha every time they install solar panels on a member’s house.  Members will also receive a $750 rebate!  In three minutes, you can get started.  Just click here to get a quote for your home.

Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy has worked on climate and energy issues for more than two decades and was named 2011 “Innovator of the Year” by PBS.   Kennedy founded Sungevity in 2007 to create a more  accessible way for American households to go solar.   He has just published the Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy – and Our Planet – from Dirty Energy, with a foreword by General Wesley Clark.

Kennedy urges businesspeople, policymakers and homeowners to come together to combat “King CONG” – the dirty-energy lobby of Coal, Oil, Nuclear and Gas.  “There is in fact a clear economic imperative for clean energy now, and despite myths and misperceptions,  solar power is already at work creating jobs, saving American households on their utility costs and securing both our workforce and our borders from the ills of dirty energy,” Kennedy says.  “The sun’s reliability, coupled with recent manufacturing efficiencies in our industry, make solar energy a more affordable, cleaner and safer way to power our lives.  It’s not the energy source of the future, it’s the energy source of now.”

Join us in a wave of solar energy installations, using the beautiful power of the sun to power our lives.  Here comes the sun!

Savor Marin

A yummy event with Environmental Forum of Marin (EFM)
Saturday, October 13, 5:00–7:00 p.m
Corte Madera Community Center, 498 Tamalpais Drive
Tickets:  $25 per person on line; $30 at the door.

SAVOR MARIN is a festive afternoon of savoring the seasonal bounty from the fields of Marin County.  We will enjoy local produce, cheeses, wine and beer.  EFM is one of the premier environmental education organizations in Marin County, and Green Sangha members have been students, speakers, and leaders in the Forum.
Wild Onion Catering is creating the afternoon’s fare.  Farms providing the seasonal bounty include Marin Sun Farms, Gospel Flat Farm, Fresh Run Farm, La Tercera, Redhill Farms, Star Route Farms.
Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery and Phyllis Faber, co-founder of Environmental Forum and MALT, will headline a short program highlighting the work of the Forum and its role in preserving the vibrant agricultural production of Marin County.
A raffle of delicious prizes in on the menu as well.
For more information, or to register online, go to:

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

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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.