Monthly Archives July 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019

July 29, 2019
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Every year, the Earth Overshoot Day, i.e, the day when we (on a global scale, all of us, together) will have used more resources from nature than the earth can renew in the whole year. In 2019 that date is July 29. That would be today, as I am writing this.

However.
I live in Sweden. Our national overshoot day occurred April 3rd. To quote overshootday.org, the national overshoot day is the date “on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in this country.”.

April 3rd.
Not a lot to be proud of there.

It’s tricky, though.
To mention something like this, and instill inspiration, hope, drive, and willpower in people – not always the outcome is it? More often it might result in resignation, a sense of impending doom and the common “there’s nothing I can do anyway, so why even try”.

The #movethedate-initiative of the Overshoot organization, a solutions platform intended to share solutions of various kinds as well as connect people with one another, feels especially relevant to counteract that. I hope, more than anything, that this is something that will be looked at by individuals, organizations, businesses, local communities and national governments alike. We need the policy-makers on board, just as we need me, and you, and everyone else on board. Together!

Because this seems true to me: it’s not a matter of One Thing that will “save the planet” as it were (which in and of itself is oxymoronic. It’s not the planet that’s at stake. It’s humanity. Will humans as a species survive, that’s what’s at stake. And a whole bunch of other species, for sure, animals and plants alike.). It’s not a question of either-or, it’s a matter of both and.

What can I do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can you do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can we, together, do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can the society we live in do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?
What can we, humanity at large, do, or stop doing, in order to have an impact?

I don’t know about you, but off the top of my head I can come up with plenty of things to do, or stop doing, many of which I have already implemented, and my friends, neighbors, fellow citizens as well. We need to continue. I need to continue, doing that which I know has an impact. And I need to – but more importantly, want to! – continuously try on new things to do, or stop doing.

Plant trees. That’s one of the things I do and will continue doing because I know what a huge impact it has.

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Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12)

July 28, 2019
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in Tip
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In 2015 I listened to a riff from Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, telling a tale about one of Eric Clapton’s guitars. It must have stuck with me (things have a habit to do just that), because when I stumbled upon a book entitled Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument, by Allen St. John, in a thrift shop in Karlskrona in 2018, I bought it. And now, in 2019, I’ve read it. And what a read it’s been!

There’s this one thing that fascinates me. Professionals. It doesn’t really matter what the profession is, but someone who’s a pro just gets me going. I’ve blogged (and vlogged) about a few of them; massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, train conductors and smartphone salesmen.

This book. It’s about a pro. Or rather, about pros. Not just the one. There are many a professional featured in this book, but more than anything, it’s about Wayne Henderson, a master acoustic guitar builder. A luthier.

“[…] Wayne Henderson is a genius. His brand of genius harks back to the word’s unsullied origins: the Roman term for ‘begetter’. In the days of Ceasar, a genius wasn’t something you were, it was something you had. A genius was a vaguely protective being like a guardian angel, but most of all this Roman version of a genius was a maker, a conjurer, a genie, who could create very real things out of thin air. And in that old-school sense of the word, Wayne Henderson has a certain genius, an ancient forest nymph that sits on his shoulders and whispers directions every time he picks up a piece of wood.”

And I love it. What a joy, a thrill, a treat, to read this book! I don’t understand the half of it, now and again, when it comes to the technical terms for all of the parts and steps that make up building a handcrafted acoustic guitar but it simply doesn’t matter. I am enraptured anyway.

“Every guitar has its own voice, an individual timbre that’s as distinctive as a human voice – there’s no doubt that some techie could program voice recognition software to respond to the idiosyncratic strum of a particular guitar. Where does this voice come from? In a way, it comes from God or Mother Nature or whatever name you choose to apply to those things we can’t quite fathom and can’t quite control.”

Part of what makes this book such a delight to read are the many characters that congregate in Hendersons guitar work shop. Allen St. John paints their portraits beautifully, and except for the lack of smells from working pieces of wood, I feel as if I am perched on a stool in that workshop, watching skilled hands do their thing, all the while the gentle banter flows back and forth, as jokes and stories are being told.

“‘Number 1 is the state of mind of the person building the guitar’.
I was stunned.
In a single sentence, he [T.J. Thompson] had articulated the hypothesis I had been gradually creeping toward. An instrument is the sum total of not only the builder’s experience, but his experiences. You need to be a good man to build a good guitar. 

[…]

‘When people ask me how to build a better guitar, I always think and sometimes say, ‘Be a better person.’ You can’t keep your personality out of the work. It’s impossible.'”

Those paragraphs from pages 224 and 225 (of my hardcover edition from free press) are part of the insight that Jonathan Field riffed about, and when I read it, I remembered that I had actually blogged about this specific thing. Something with it resonated with me, and I think, perhaps, because I’d like for it to be universally true. I am not sure it is, but I would sure like for it to be!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Banker to the poor (book 6 of 12)

July 2, 2019
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in Tip
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Sitting at the airport in Nairobi, having just finished reading Banker to the poor by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize winner in 2006. I selected this book very deliberately as I knew I would be visiting a microfinance bank in Kenya, during my trip to Kenya. I’ve done lots more while in Kenya (visiting tree plantations, partner farmers, the microfinance bank, the headquarters of Better Globe Forestry, as well as doing 24 hours of safari and a short stint at the silver beach of Malindi by the Indian Ocean) but having this book to accompany the visit of the Nguni/Mbuvu financial service association made for an enriched experience. The Better Globe Forestry-funded FSA in Nguni is called a village bank, where ”the locals obtain microfinance loans to improve their living standards and to better their economy”.

In conversation with Godemas Motemje, chairman of the Nguni/Mbuvu FSA and  Isabelle Saternus.

”Each person has tremendous potential. She or he alone can influence the lives of others within the communities, nations, within and beyond her or his own time.
Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us.”

The book was first published in 1998 and a lot has happened since, Yunus himself being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for instance, but even more so, the continued spread of the concept of microfinance loans/banks has truly made a huge difference to the lives of many people across the globe.

Reading Banker to the poor makes me appreciate Yunus himself. He saw something, acted upon it, took notice of the results and their long-term effect, took it to another level – system-wide as well as conceptually – and doggedly kept at it. Did not leave it be, this newfound understanding of his, of the importance of credit. Especially to the poor. Or as he phrases it, to the poorest of the poor even, those without any chance of ever receiving a ”normal loan” from ”a normal bank” as they have absolutely nothing to put in as collateral.

”I also learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.”

There’s a phrase I appreciate. Yes lives in the land of No. And boy, did Yunus ever receive his fair number of No’s, that’s for sure. It takes something special to keep on going, upon receiving No upon No upon No. And he did. So I figure, he must have known that Yes lives right there! Because it did. He did get the necessary amount of Yes:es. It took a while, but actually, the impact of Grameen bank (which is what Yunus micro-finance operations was named. Grumman means village.) has been huge. Much bigger than he started off thinking, I would presume. He did not stop when given excuse upon excuse why what he was proposing simply could not be done. It was ”too simple” in the eyes of many. But he – and those he managed to enroll in his vision – kept at it, kept believing and working for keeping it simple.

Is this ”the answer to all that ails the world”? No. But it sure makes a difference, especially to those who are far far away from ever taking a step into a world that, for me, is the normal one. The world where I can get a loan by walking into a bank. Because I do have collateral as safety. And yet – looking at it from a global perspective, what I deem normal, is far from just that, for a majority of people living on earth. Humbling insight, as the entire week-long visit to Kenya has proven to be for me.

”I now focused on the task of unlearning theory, and on learning instead from the real world. I did not have to travel miles to find the real world. It was just outside the doors of the classroom.
It was everywhere except inside the classroom.”

There will be more reflections on Banker to the poor in relation to what I learned while in Kenya in June of 2019. ”From the real world” as it were. A journey of eye-opening insights, as well as a deep appreciation for what I have, along with massive awe at the potential of humans.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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