Heart to Heart Parenting seminars returning to New Zealand! May-June 2014

imagesVery excited to announce this workshop-and-seminar series that brings me back to Aotearoa New Zealand. I love working in New Zealand!

South Island:      Queenstown and Wanaka, from Friday 30th May 2014 till Monday 2nd June. Details to be announced soon, contact Debbie at: debzmunchkin@yahoo.com

North Island:  Thames and Auckland, Wednesday 4th June till Saturday 7th June. For all details and bookings, CLICK HERE. 

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Air pollution linked to autism

imagesHarvard university researchers have been studying over 100,000 mothers since 1989. Mothers who are exposed to air pollutants from high traffic or heavy industry while pregnant in their third trimester are ‘up to twice as likely’ to have a child on the autism spectrum. No wonder autism has been rising steeply. This is tragic. Alternative technologies abound today, and they are economically very attractive. Why are we still belching these horrible fumes?

It’s time. We need to bring the fossil fuel era to an end, to stand up for all children.  To read more about the study, CLICK!

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Your Child and Climate Change – free video

kidsCCRuss(1)Concerned about how your children feel each time they hear about effects that global warming has begun to have? It’s frightening stuff, that’s for sure. So, how can we help them to be empowered in the face of this fear? In fact, how do we reassure ourselves, in the process? I just made this film, with some practical suggestions. Here it is, I hope you enjoy it. 

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Become a Certified Prenatal Bonding Facilitator – online

UnknownHey, check this out! Here is a course you can take online to become a Certified Prenatal Bonding Facilitator, with the two Directors of the world’s largest Childbirth Education school.

A fantastic social-evolutionary advancement.

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A new civilization two steps closer today…

Gay WeddingOne step at a time, maybe, just maybe, social evolution inches the human family closer to a harmonious and just global village.

One: the UK just allowed gay marriage.

 

Humpback_stellwagen_editTwo: the International Court of Justice just declared Japan’s whale hunting illegal.

As we keep paying more attention to children’s emotional health around the world, what else might this produce in our collective evolution?

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Beyond the ‘Logan’s Run’ solution (snuffing all people over 30 unless they are rich and powerful).

LogansRun_scene_01(Part 6 of a 6-part series)

So, is there really an ‘overpopulation’ problem? Sure, some places are way too crowded, but that hardly means we have a global overpopulation problem. ‘Overpopulation’ is the wrong way to frame the nature of our shared dilemma.

If we continue to behave in the same mindless ways – using fossil fuels, over-eating to the gills, creating plastic islands in the Pacific – then I’m afraid we were already overpopulated decades ago and we are as good as fried.

But, since world population is set to peak at 9 billion, stabilize or even decline thereafter, we can definitely feed everyone and meet everybody’s basic needs if we merely continue to accelerate the behavioural changes that have already begun in many places around the world. Here is a summary of some of the most effective solutions that I know of, which have already begun to reduce the impact of our population on the biosphere. I am sure you are aware of more wonderful initiatives.

  1. Increase economic equality and gender equality. Fertility rates (as well as crime and conflict) will spiral down.
  2. Increase the proportion of bio-diverse, small-farm agriculture, especially organic permaculture. Yields will skyrocket. Transport and pesticide costs will drop sharply. Deserts will shrink. Global warming will reverse.
  3. Eat a little less red meat. There are far more efficient uses of land! And global warming will reverse.
  4. Complete the transition to renewable energy sources. Wind and solar are already on par with or cheaper than fossil fuels. Global warming will reverse.
  5. Several brands of fully electric cars are already here. The recyclable car is already here. Fast-track our adoption of these technologies, and global warming will reverse.
  6. Convert sewage treatment plants to complete water recycling centres, producing potable water plus phosphate-rich fertilizers for sale.
  7. Use the high population numbers to our advantage (more hands on deck), and replant bio-diverse native forests. These are carbon sinks and sources of sustainably harvested timber and medicines, as well as permaculture havens. Not to mention: global warming will reverse!
  8. Embrace and support the circular economy revolution; totally recyclable and biodegradable and renewable products. Favour Cradle to Cradle certified products.

More than likely, by the time you read this blog, newer, bigger and better solutions will have already appeared. I bet that some of those solutions yet to come are inconceivable to me as I write, in what is now your past: March 2014. Such is the state of flux and dynamism that humanity has entered into – a crowd-sourced, wiki-consciousness, creative hyper-drive.

Why do so many people believe in ‘overpopulation’? And who stands to benefit from this myth?

If you are the sort of person who believes that a fundamental paradigm shift is urgently needed in our age, but you feel disheartened, hopeless and resigned – then you are no threat at all. And those who wish to preserve the status quo want you to stay that way. Your confidence is inconvenient, but your despair makes you manageable.

You will ruffle fewer feathers if you accept an ‘obvious’ need for GM foods, the ‘inevitability’ of fossil fuels, the ‘certainty’ of warfare and the supremacy of business-as-usual.

‘Overpopulation’ is a magic word. It works as an instant dialogue-suppressor, a diversionary ploy, declared as an incontestable post-modern reality. The favoured dernier mot for the neoconservative. ‘There are simply too many of us, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Sustainability is for hippies; pointless and idealistic!’ Game over. How very pragmatic. To those in favour of weak government, regulatory vacuums and open-slather for mega-corporations, public inertia is a tactical master-stroke. When those who gain from clinging to tradition cry out: ‘It’s futile!’, too many of us fall into the futility-trance.

So, what can you do? For one: don’t buy into the myth. Understand what can be done, and what is already being done, to keep our populations at sustainable levels. Don’t put up with anyone telling you that violence is logical, that war is a natural way to trim populations ‘down to size’.

For many people, however, the horror at our swelling numbers is genuinely believed and a legitimate cause for fear. When people frame our global problems in ‘overpopulation’ terms, what they are really saying is that human behaviour is immutable. To these individuals, information such as I have shared in this blog may bring some welcome relief and encouragement. It should also be uplifting to remember that one of the most pervasive characteristics of human behaviour is its plasticity. The myriad and ever-changing cultures that we have produced should be testament enough to the human capacity for social invention and re-invention.

Accelerated by modern communications and mobility, the era we now live in is ushering an international uprising of radically new cultural patterns and new scientific approaches to living on this planet. The knowhow that would make us a sustainable species is already here and it keeps being improved. This means that excuses for non-transition are sounding ever-thinner and are diminishing fast.

Culturally speaking, we are living in an age of rapidly expanding frontiers; with every year bringing us new benchmarks for what is ‘normal’. Societies now evolve faster than ever. If you have any doubts about this, consider for instance how modern nations gallop towards marriage equality, prohibition of corporal punishment of children, land-rights for indigenous peoples, anti-vilification laws and more – and then check out a day in the life of 1950s societies. There is nothing in human history to rival or even resemble this lightning-fast transformative wave, and it is picking up speed.

What can you do to add your muscle to our shared, transitional imperative? Too many of us are possessed by a sense of the bleak and of insuperable obstacles. Based on what I have shown here and much more, that state of resignation is entirely unwarranted. It can be hard to feel energized by a sense of the possible, a sense of what has already been accomplished, and sense of direction grounded in concrete reality – until we actually hear about the mounting triumphs in the realm of positive social and industrial change. These triumphs are so rarely highlighted in the mainstream media. Share these news far and wide. In live conversation, via social media, whatever your means; share this empowering information in your world, celebrate with your friends and family, and use it to fuel the personal commitments you have made to co-creating a better civilization.

As for me, I do not consider myself an optimist nor a pessimist. My beliefs about humanity’s future viability are entirely conditional. I have no way of knowing whether we as a global family can change our hearts and alter our behaviours quickly enough to avert the unthinkable. A call to action should not wait for a guarantee of success. But I suspect we are a long way yet from manifesting humanity’s fullest potential.  So as we deepen our connection as one human family, I would love to know how the information I have shared has touched you, and if this has inspired you in some way. Have my words in any way added to your commitment, the pledges you make, your mobilization – or perhaps just your enjoyment of living on this earth?

Blessings

Robin Grille

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Overpopulation Myth Number Four: “If we all have less babies, then the old people will overwhelm us and blow economies to smithereens. So, either way we are all screwed. I mean, really reeeeeeeeeeeally screwed”!

images(Part 5 of a 6–part series)

OK, sorry grandma and grandpa. We like you and your cute purple hairdos and fluffy slippers and everything, but we think you are, well… useless. Sorry! But where are we going to put you all, as you keep getting older and unhealthier? I don’t know how to tell you, dear grandparents, but you are just another bunch of mouths to feed; a huge drain on the economy.

Not that we don’t appreciate your funny inability to use computers properly and the endearing way you keep forgetting our names. So entertaining! But who is going to pay for all the mashed pumpkin and bingo cards?

OK. Let me come clean here. I am tired of hearing all this moaning and groaning about the ageing population. As people get older and they live longer, they get wiser – don’t they? Even their mistakes are a potential source of learning – let alone their vast archives of experience and memory. Our elders are a treasure. Maybe if we stop treating old people like burdens, if they feel more valued, a lot of them would begin to feel healthier, and even act healthier. I am willing to bet all the purple hair-dye in the world on that. Want to destroy someone’s health, brain function, digestive function and cardiovascular health in a jiffy? Tell them they are a drain on the economy and treat them like they are in your way. This babble about the ‘ageing population problem’ is self-fulfilling prophecy par excellence.

Is the solution to cull old people perhaps? Should we call the Paint-ball fanatic we mentioned earlier and ask for a quote?

I know plenty of people who love their work, who never want to retire until they croak. If societies invest in the human right for work to be enjoyable and safe, then an increase in the retirement age is natural. Later retirement might then be tolerable at worst, a boon to health and wellbeing at best.  Want to eliminate the ‘ageing population problem’ in two generations? Tell your children to do what they love when they grow up and leave school, not what you think will give them ‘status’, a McMansion and a couple of HumVees in the shed. Loving the work you do should be a self-evident human right.

Is longevity extending while peak health remains static? If not, then of course retirement must come later, especially for those who still enjoy some measure of work. But what about those elders who prefer to – or for reasons beyond their control – retire with grace when the time comes? Beyond paid work, is there any other benefit that our elders bring to society?

Tragically, the Western world seems to need a little reminder about the value of its seniors. Elders constitute a huge pool of loving hands to support and guide young families – we need our grandparents in order to thrive.

Somewhere along the line, evolution decided to give women an early menopause, that is, while they are still young and fit. This peculiar trait is rare in the animal kingdom; humans share it with rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees, elephants and short-finned pilot whales. The ‘Grandmother Hypothesis’, in a nutshell, goes something like this: menopause evolved in humans because it promotes the survival of grandchildren.

Since we climbed down from the trees, for over 95% of human history, each child could count on the love and support of about 4 adults. Our success as a species pivots on parents who can rely on grandparents for backup.  Lets face it. The in-laws might be a bit irritating – but we can’t do without them. Maybe we should be a bit less cavalier about the so-called ‘ageing population problem’.

In my work as a psychologist, author and parent educator, one lesson I have learned is that children need multiple attachment figures. The nuclear family is inherently dysfunctional and a risk zone for high stress, premature divorce and post-natal depression. Bring on the ageing population, I say! It is the best news imaginable for the sake of children’s wellbeing and health. As we reach new and unchartered age-brackets, humanity is reaching new depths of wisdom and experience unknown in history. This is likely to advance social evolution to new heights.

Old people pump millions of hours into the ‘invisible economy’, by volunteering, child-minding or mentoring. Our elders can be an invaluable community asset if they get the support they need to contribute within their limits.

This is what the Australia Institute said, in a recent report:

“Far from being net receivers of help and support, older people are, in fact, net providers, at least up to the age of 75 years. They provide childcare, financial, practical and emotional assistance to family members including helping people outside the household with the tasks of daily living. Such unpaid caring and voluntary work adds up to a significant proportion of GDP, around seven per cent on some measures (Ranzijn et al. 2002; De Vaus et al. 2003).

Grandparenting has become an important social role in an age when people tend to have more living parents than children. Not only does it benefit grandparents themselves who find that grandparenthood is an important aspect of their lives, but it also appears to benefit grandchildren substantially.” CLICK!

 

Modern fears about an ageing population are based on two rather bizarre assumptions:

Bizarre assumption number one: “Even though people are living longer, they are getting senile and frail at the same age as before. It’s just an extended vulnerability. Medicine has prolonged life without doing anything to prolong health”.

Bizarre assumption number two: “As soon as people reach retirement age all they care about is stopping work even if they live to 95. That’s all old people want to do. Play golf at your expense, for 30 years.”

People with white hair do not subtract from our communities. We could well do with more of them. By the way, I feel obligated to disclose this conflict of interests: I am finding more snowflakes on my head and chin these days. That’s going to be me, complaining that someone stole my bathrobe, not long from now. Am I biased? You decide!

OK, so: we don’t have an ‘overpopulation’ problem. But we do have a problem. Unless we make the transition fast enough and soon enough, from being dominators of Nature to partners with it, our future looks very grim.  Solutions abound and each year there are more and better ones. The question remains: can we move quickly enough to reinvent ourselves culturally and industrially, so we can meet the global challenges of our era?

In next week’s post (Part 6), we’ll review and celebrate some of the most exciting solutions already unfolding, and touch upon what everyone of us can do to bring forth a new sustainable and harmonious society.

 

 

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Overpopulation Myth Number Three: “Unless the whole world gets tough and enforces a one-child policy as they do in China, we are all screwed. Population growth will keep accelerating until we completely gobble up the entire planet, regardless of how ‘sustainably’ we live”

(Part 4 of a 6–part series)

11chinaYeah. People actually say that. Only…that is one big load of donkey shyte. In fact, not long from now, folks will start fretting about population shrinkage.

Around the world, as millions continue to climb from poverty into a ‘middle class’ lifestyle, fertility rates go into reverse. Not long from now, we won’t even be replacing ourselves. At the current rate of slowdown, we will peak at 9 billion (less than it takes to eat all the food we already make!) by around 2050 – then our numbers will level off or perhaps even decline.

Hans Rosling explains this beautifully in his fascinating Ted.com talk: CLICK!

As religious fundamentalism continues to retreat (thank God!) and modernisation transforms old and mouldy patriarchal cultures, the genders become more power-balanced. Women gain more access to education, employment and political participation.  Wherever this happens, birth rates nosedive. Empowered women who have choices and are not subservient to men, rarely allow themselves to have more children than they can have time for, give attention to, and actually enjoy. With every extra year of education, the average fertility rate drops by 0.23 births. Have a look at this brief report (its mostly power point slides with diagrams): CLICK!

Have you ever wondered why so many people brood about overpopulation while in developed countries, people agonize about shrinking birth-rates?  CLICK!

In authoritarian China the one-child policy is brutally enforced, because that is how authoritarians do everything. Typical and predictable: the sledge-hammer approach. How have other nations (such as Sweden) arrested population growth without using iron-fist tactics, in fact without even trying? Just a little prosperity, fair distribution, and some egalitarian safeguards, and the injunction to  ‘go forth and multiply’ just vaporizes. Perhaps more accurately; we still seem to like ‘going forth’ – we just multiply by about 1.8 these days.

Now, there is one of these guys in every neighbourhood: the guy that loves to pontificate that war is, and has always been, the natural method of family planning. Oh, and, by the way; we are well overdue for another Big One. This guy talks about the ‘need’ to cull people with the same tone you use when you say you are due for a haircut. I’m sure you have met him. I have. He is everywhere. OK, maybe he just needs to go play Paint-ball, or something.  Come to think of it, he might own shares in weapons manufacturing. Next time I meet one of these guys I must remember to ask.

So: what if population growth stalls as predicted? What will happen to our demographics? With less young people in the mix, who will look after all those extra old people? That brings me to the fourth myth about population. Coming up next week, in Part 5.

 

 

 

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Cultural Resistance to the Attachment Message

467772049_150New video just released! Thanks to Lisa Reagan and Keith Reagan from Kindred Community. We made this short film in Virginia USA in December 2013. In fact, check out the new Vimeo channel, where all the film clips we made in USA 2013 have been posted, and there are plenty more to come yet! CLICK!

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Parenting for a Peaceful World in South Africa!

A South African football baby fan wears the team's colours.Check out this new video/slide show, based on the themes of ‘Parenting for a Peaceful World’. It was made by Gauri Lowe to promote an upcoming Natural Baby Fair and the launch of the new Conscious Parenting Magazine. It’s really quite amazing – and how wonderful to see these things unfold and grow in South Africa. CLICK!

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