THE BEAST GETS CLOSER…IT GROWS BIGGER

Originally written on Sunday, May 5, 2013

4:43 p.m.

A Much Needed Change of Pace

I’ve just returned from a small, personal excursion to the London Museum of Archeology and the Medway Valley Heritage Forest, IMG_20130503_205244 which seems to surround the former. Despite the Museum’s small size (it was just a bit bigger than my apartment, minus the separate/divided rooms) it held a few interesting artifacts and facts about the First Nations that settled in and around Canada. These included the tribes that settled at the Lawson Site, which apparently bordered the edge of what now is the Museum; at the back, past the parking lot, a re-creation of that village had been propped up, displaying a Longhouse (and a smaller Longhouse), Tents and a few other landmarks that created a vague, though palpable resemblance of what those pre-modern times of hunting and gathering must’ve looked like. But more inviting that the Museum itself, at least to me, were both the forest behind the recreated Lawson Village and the Heritage Forest, the latter of which I traversed until I found a nice, quiet place by a stream that seemed to flow with crystal-clear water, and where I sat alone with my thoughts as I tried to return to those simpler times, traveling inside a cloud of smoke that seemed to linger in the air for just a few moments before entirely vanishing, just like those figures in my mind…Yes, it was among all that nature that I felt the most free.

The path was long and sinuous, resembling a snake that stood still. The sun was beaming with full force, though its strength diminished a bit since it had to poke through the foliage that rested so very high above my head, at the very tips of awesomely huge trees which seemed to, indeed, scrape the sky. At my sides, through the intricate web of trees and branches that separated the darkness and bowels of the forest from my apparently forsaken path, an orchestra formed and carried me along with its tune: a marvelous melody of birds’ songs that repeated their beautiful pattern with clock-like precision every four seconds or so, and then the response from their aviary comrades which would come shortly thereafter, extending and fulfilling a melody that uttered a love story. The shrubs shrouded from time to time, and twigs snapped as little but lightning-fast feet scurried around the floral-maze…It almost felt like eyes were peering at me from behind the bushes, but they were kind eyes – at least they felt as such – which made the path no longer feel deserted and forsaken, but rather like a live, breathing organism that accompanied me. The Snake, it seemed, had regained its life…And perhaps, I felt, it was my presence that had had something to do with it.

As I continued walking, enjoying that serenade emanating from within the very Soul of the Forest, the peculiarity of being alone in a new place – though not really alone – became apparent to me again, just as it had on those now long-gone days when I had traveled the Venezuelan streets alone, armed with nothing but my recorder, my pen and enough money to refuel on ice-cold beers. Yes, the magnificently impactful experience of being alone in a new city, or country, or forest, or house, will never leave me…I’m not sure if that is an experience that most travelers share; I have met so many experienced travelers from all over the world and with so many IMG_20130505_142025different personalities, goals, vices and stories, that a really focused conversation or analysis of their feelings at being alone once again has never materialized. But, as in many things in life, and without at all descending into that banal “individualism,” which really is egoism (and, sometimes, border-line anti-social tendencies), that plagues most of the world, if not all of it, I must admit that in this case, the feelings of other travelers on the matter is really of no concern to me, at least in regards to my purposes, which focus on deep and critical self-analyzing and on the creation/implementation of a revolutionary process for self-evolution.

Into the Grinder

What I mean by all of that, is that I’ve realized that it is when I’m thrown head-first into the Grinder that I feel most alive, most free, most useful. I wither with routine; I find myself rotting, both from the inside and the outside, whenever I have (or choose) to do the exact same thing every day…and that includes the things that my eyes see, that my ears hear and which, thus, create the images and ideas that my brain propels. It is the excitement and panic that I feel – the Fear and Loathing, in the words of the Good Doctor – that seem so wild and pleasing at the same time. It is knowing that things have changed, that the walls have morphed, that the ground has gained life. It is knowing that at any given time, I may find the Stairs that Lead Straight Up, just as likely as I may find the Elevator that Plunges Downwards. It is knowing that happiness and utter despair are both new friends and foes that wait for and lurk behind me, and that I may come out all the better at the other side precisely because of them. It is knowing that I am taking steps nearing either the Head or the Tail of Snake…but that I am, indeed, taking them.

As a matter of fact, I will never forget the steps I already had the pleasure of taking in Mexico, or Cuba, or Venezuela.

Particularly in the latter – in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – I experienced some of the most amazing things in my life, including, in its own way, a desolation of the soul that blinded me from any reason and which nearly destroyed my sanity and my health…Yes, for some odd reason – and certainly without being a masochist, for I abhor unnecessary pain (and likewise, cherish the opposite) – even those depressing experiences taught me something; they made my brain and my thoughts react a certain way which, sooner or later, would come to form some of the most powerful convictions in me. Of course, in retrospect, if I could choose to do things differently – to have taken a different path among the Long Snake that was that trip – I certainly would do so; but, for that, I’d need to think like I do now, which is physically/metaphysically/mentally and any other kind of degree of impossible, given that it was precisely those experiences from which I learned and eventually evolved into the Beast that I am today…Indeed, as a Wise Fool once said, He who makes a Beast of Himself, gets rid of the Pain of Being a Man….And pain, there is!

And it is in this way that my experiences here in London thus far, and those to come over the course of the next year, are surely to teach me something…For much more than just becoming a Journalist – a profession which I admire with all the Integrity in me, and which I’ve devoted myself to entirely – my time here will be used more like narcotics for an addled brain: uppers, downers, herbs, medicines, whatever you want to call it, the experiences will all cause new chemical reactions, feelings, thoughts and behaviours to go along with it. And all of this will accumulate to a Refined Me; to an individual that, much like the Snake, has Shed its Old Skin. The essence remains – the soul is intact – but the Ideas Grow.

The Individual who Propels the Great Wheel

I remember thinking at some point today – as I rode the bus through what I could only describe as one of the quaintest towns/cities wherein I’ve had the pleasure of residing, however briefly – that while it is very true that Ideas Never Die – a maxim not only true and widely known, but which has regained its fervour after the unfortunate death of Commander Hugo Chavez – they are insufficient to really Propel the Great Wheel forward. As important and powerful as they are, it’d be a sin (to put a religious twist in there) to allow the Idea to remain static and to eventually become sedentary, if not regressive, within the context of the ever-changing societies and conditions around the world. I had in mind, at that moment, the aforementioned events of Chavez’s death, and the subsequent battle between the two opposing (political) sides.

Though it is very true, again, that the Movement and Revolutionary Fervour that he revived in Latin America will continue – for, as we’ve agreed, Ideas Never Die – the Greatness and the Supremacy (not in terms of class or any other such exclusionary terms, but rather in a sense of greater preparedness, both physically and ideologically), of the Individual (now in the true sense of the word) is vital…Nay, Unforgivably Necessary!

Indeed, to conclude with the Venezuelan example and the political implications for the Latin American continent, if we allow the ideas that Chavez left as his legacy – what we could, to use his own term, call 21st Century Socialism – to stagnate, to become an unchanging model, then it only becomes dogmatic; worst, it becomes antagonistic to the context of the society. My faith resides fully with President Maduro, for he’s proven himself capable – at least thus far, in his short terms as both interim- and elected-president – to not only continue Chavez’s legacy, but to nourish it and allow it to Grow and Evolve. Nevertheless, new Individuals must be born and moulded with the Revolutionary Ideas that are overtaking the Continent, so that they may lead said Ideas towards their Ideal – so that they may continue to nourish them and perfect them.

And it was with that thought, as I rode the bus, that I regained the consciousness of being, once again, alone in a new place…and with all the tools that are therefore necessary and available  to Mould a New Man out of myself…To pry deeper into my Real Self; into all my “Wild Dogs,” as Nietzsche would say. For my ideas and convictions, as ingrained and solid as I know they are, hunger for Change and Evolution and Progress

Alas, I am getting Closer to the Head of the Beast!!IMG_20130503_202245

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Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Patria, Socialismo o Muerte!

THE CARBON FARMER (Arbitrage Magazine article)

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.arbitragemagazine.com/topics/carbon-farmer012/2/

How many times has your future stared at you outside an elevator door? Well, it happened to Brad and Rebecca Rabiey, who met outside an elevator at the University of Alberta some 10 years ago as they went to check their grades for a criminology class. She was arriving; he was just about to leave.

“It was one of the best examples of serendipity,” says Rebecca. “We just kind of small-talked and it just went on from there.”

It’s a cute story, that’s for sure; but this isn’t a love story … at least not all of it. Today, Brad and Rebecca are so much more than just another couple with a cute story—they are the founders and leading forces behind The Carbon Farmer, one of the newest businesses to have entered and slayed their way through the CBC’s theDragons’ Den earlier this year.

“It was the right time to really grow the business,” said Brad of the whole Dragon experience, who is only 29 years old, same as Rebecca. “And it was a great way to do that both from a publicity standpoint, as well as from an investment and strategic perspective.”

Like many other Canadians, this whimsical couple from Northern Alberta became big fans of the show, but they took it a step further, seeing the opportunity there was for eco-friendly businesses to really take off. They grew their business till the right point—taking in “as much experience and expertise as you can have in [the] industry,” said Rebecca, before finally attending the show earlier in 2012, after mock-rounds staged within their community. The couple went in front of the five Dragons intent on slaying the beasts. And indeed they did.

Bruce Croxon and Arlene Dickinson both were immediately engaged by the product, and they even got down and nasty in a tree-planting demonstration. At the end of battle, the couple ended up receiving $40,000 for 40 percent of their business.

TREES AND CARBON CREDITS

The Carbon Farmer benefits its clients, which includes virtually anyone and any company, in two different ways.

“One is through our Create Your Forest Website,” says Brad, “which enables people to have a tree planted and cared for in their behalf to restore habitat in the Boreal region or other areas of Canada.” Their pilot project back in 2007 resulted in 3,000 species planted personally by Rebecca and Brad in a matter of two days.

“We were total newbies at it,” says Rebecca, unable to contain her laughter. “We did so much research including watching Youtube foresting clips of how you actually plant a tree and talked to nurseries and things like that.” By the end of this summer, they gained some major clients who are requesting 120,000 trees planted for the fall. “But there’s no way Brad and I could do that on our own. So we have acquired crews that help us do that and now we have sort of become project managers.”

This aspect of their business focuses on the importance of bringing back a beautifully unique but vital habitat in the Canadian landscape, which has been affected by conventional farming practices and industrial development over the years.

Braid explained that their efforts were aimed at “restoring the places for wildlife to live and to grow healthy, and do things like filter the water,” praising the “purifying effects which forests are so good at doing in a natural way.” People have the option of buying a personalized tree for $1.99 each, and they can visit that tree in the virtual forest through The Carbon Farmer website. They are also continuing to grow food-crops on the best of their family’s land-base (an effort dubbed the Grain Perspective), which is born out of the realization that not all land should only be filled with trees. “We realize that we need food production,” he said. So the “rest of the land in our family farm is being transitioned to organic grain production.”

The second benefit offered by The Carbon Farmer is found in the carbon that those trees offset.

“We work with individual businesses and special events to ensure that they can offset their carbon footprint from things like driving or flying or heating their homes and offices,” Brad said. “Some businesses are regulated by the government to reduce their footprint or offset the remainder. And then there are people that just do it for corporate social responsibility.”

“It’s actually been really reaffirming,” said Rebecca, speaking about the surging pattern among Canadians (individuals and companies) eager to contribute to their vision. “There are a lot of people out there that are ecologically minded. And there’s also the small business uptake that we’ve had since being on the Den.”

Brad agreed, happily pointing out that many companies are also doing it voluntarily. “Our client-base at this point is made up of people who aren’t being told by the government to do it, but just because it’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely been a sign of how progressive Canadians are.”

This part of the business works by taking advantage of the carbon credits created by the trees planted. “We plant trees, which create habitat,” says Brad. “And in comparison to the life cycle of tilling the land, we are creating carbon storage as well, which we can sell as carbon credits.”

THE FAMILY AND THE FARM

The first land the couple began to work on was the third generation family farm Brad had tilled. “I think I probably dragged Rebecca in a little bit, being as how it was mainly a family farm,” Brad chuckled. “We also had land that probably should have never been cleared right along the river and wetlands, and maybe some poorer quality land as well. So we kind of looked at solutions to problems that we were facing on the farm so as to ensure that it stays in the family for future generations.”

Since then, their project has gotten bigger, featuring such major clients like Edmonton’s Wheaton Honda (formerly Millwoods Honda) who at one point came out to plant trees themselves. The couple has moved on to working with “landowners, conservation groups, land trusts, and municipalities that hold land that they acquire to protect but don’t necessarily have the resources to restore in terms of their former grandeur or ecosystem.”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the business is its very own profit model. “We came at this from the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit,” Rebecca explained. “Brad with his sciencebackground and me with my social background, has allowed the business to be very holistic because we are not just considering the dollars and cents but the wild-life behind it; the environmental impact behind it; as well as the community and people that are impacted.” Rebecca is a social worker by profession, and says that “these things … are of value in our business.”

And indeed they are. In the past, Brad told me, they’ve done “various things in terms of educational outreach events.” Right now they are donating $2551 out of their Community Fund, which receives a dollar of every carbon credit (tonne) they sell, to anyone that has a community project that will reduce their carbon footprint.

The Carbon Farmer certainly seems like it’s on its way to success. But the road hasn’t been all smooth, particularly because they’ve rattled the cages of conventional farming and introduced a revolutionary shift.

Rebecca explained one of the hurdles. “[Brad’s] dad had spent his early days helping his dad clear the land. So to have us begging him to plant it all back in the very field that he cleared has been, as you can imagine, a huge paradigm shift for all of us. It’s now at a point where we have much more understanding and work together. But at the beginning, it was really hard to get the full support and understanding from Brad’s dad that this is indeed a business and a concept that can go somewhere.”

“I think with my dad, at the end of the day, it was the belief in what we’re doing,” Brad added. “And we saw that from the Dragons and from most of the people that we’ve talked to—that they see a genuine care for the land and the environment and a genuine belief in what we’re doing. And I think that definitely engages.” Not farming conventionally also means that there won’t be any use of pesticides or herbicides, allowing them to be certified organic.

Currently, The Carbon Farmer is selling internationally, with clients in the US, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. By 2013, they hope to have projects in four different provinces in Canada, ultimately aiming, down the road, to have boots on the ground in Africa and Australia.

If everything goes right, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t, this couple will grow together, waking up side by side in the glory of a third generation family farm, doing what they love. “As long as that spark remains,” said Brad, “I hope we keep planting till we’re old and gray for sure.”

RESOURCES:

“WHAT HAVE I BECOME?” ASKED THE BROKEN MAN

October 7, 2012

A Call to Action is one of those almost-legendary Callings that most of us may go a lifetime without ever hearing. And I mean a “CALL TO ACTION” – a real chance to be an integral part of something big, perhaps even bigger than ourselves. And the reason why most of us may never hear it is because those Causes are so radical and revolutionary by their very nature, that calling people into action often doesn’t happen with banners and fire-works, in public-squares, so as to gather all the Revolutionaries en masse.Just think about the cornerstones of our history that revolutionized the way of life for generations to come, often times, lamentably, through Violent and Armed Rebellions and Wars – and always with spilled blood from both Combatant and Innocent, who are always victims of even the most Just Causes. We’re talking about examples such as (among others) the French, Bolshevik, and Cuban Revolutions; not to mention the necessity for clandestine operations surrounding the birth and growth of Socialism itself. And not all these “cornerstones” have had to be benevolent – let us never forget Nazi Germany!

Life for people that lived through such momentous times as the few examples I’ve just given, must certainly have not come without tension and daily fear. But for those who were balls-deep within The Cause – not just the People, the common citizen, but the intellectuals, revolutionaries, thinkers, scientists, organized laborers, unionists, and even the parts of the People that had prepared either intellectually or by taking up arms in order to actively further or defend each one of those causes mentioned, which because they were so revolutionary and obviously critical of the status-quo were feared and always repressed, mostly violently – for those people, life mostly consisted of clandestine meetings in uncomfortable places, often distanced from their families and with the looming threat of imprisonment or death hanging over their heads with their every move like a Noose. When the Calling came for these people, they didn’t hesitate and at once they packed their things and left everything behind in search of their destiny. I’ve met many people of the opinion that these revolutionaries are “heartless” for leaving children behind to be raised without Fathers and without Mothers (because the reality is that Strong Women have always been behind Revolutionary Movements, even if it weren’t publicly known or accepted). But the True Revolutionaries knew, in their hearts, that the Cause is above all, and that the true and unconditional love they had for their children could most aptly be expressed through their own death for a Future of Hope and Freedom for not only their offspring but for those of the world…Or so I’d like to believe, anyway. I can’t, in good faith, ascertain that every Revolutionary and Comrade of The Cause never trembled when the Calling came; or that he never hesitated in leaving his/her family behind, possibly forever; or that they never waited for the “next Calling” so that they may go at it accompanied…But I’d like to believe that it weren’t so…

Today, with The Cause apparently reaching a Momentous Crest atop a Rising Wave, the need for clandestine operations among comrades just doesn’t seem essential anymore. I’m remembering an article I wrote for the magazine not too long ago where I cited something similar: streets flooded with Occupy Movements across world; Protests against tuition hikes, austerity measures and rampant unemployment by students, labourers and the working and lower classes almost quite literally in every corner of the world; Rebellion in the Middle East against tyrants and economic oppression (although the authenticity of all the movements and events that have transpired over the last few years in that Region must be analyzed closely and case by case, because they are not all Popular in the socio-political sense of the word – think Libya!); and finally, the 21st Century Socialism that is sweeping Latin America. Yes, these are all signs that The Cause is indeed on its way! And because of that, I think the need for activities of a subversive nature to be carried out clandestinely is simply not there anymore.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that it doesn’t happen and, more importantly, I certainly don’t mean to say that it shouldn’t happen. In fact, in many places around the world, such as in Colombia, for example, where the Revolutionary FARC-EP still operates, somewhat clandestine operations are still necessary in the face of the strong counter-revolutionary forces at work. But in the general sense – in terms of what the public has access to and freedom to do and even legal leverages to utilize if one is serious enough – today, there is no major fear of imprisonment for attending rallies or peaceful demonstrations. Actually, as I write this I realize that I have to be extremely careful with my words, because the only thing that doesn’t seem to happen anymore is the Open and Blatant Persecution of people of different Ideologies by purging homes, institutions and public places. Because as far as repression, imprisonment and illegal tactics used to quiet or discredit peaceful protests go, even Canada – supposedly the fair and less abusive cousin of The Empire (in this case I mean the USA, but in the rest of the paper, by The Empire I’m referring to all those countries, institutions, bodies, etc., that support and further Capitalism, including The United Nations) – has fallen into that hole. Let us not forget the very recent imprisonment of hundreds of people due to Protests in front of the White House stemming from Environmental Opposition to the Keystone XL Pipelines; and the legislative bullying the Conservative Stranglehold in Canada has demonstrated by passing such ridiculously insulting and unconstitutional pieces of legislation like Bill-C38 to strip independent Environmental Review Bodies of their authorities and powers to oppose Pipeline Deal in order to give those same powers to the Federal Government while masquerading them as “Budget Omnibus Bills.” Yes…I can’t believe I had already begun to forget this when I was typing, a few lines up, that there isn’t major political repression today. GODDAMN, I MUST BE LOSING MY MIND!

But that is beside the point, to be quite honest; a digression. What I wanted to get to was that today, the Communist Party in a place like Canada, regardless of the fact that it may be a bit weak in numbers, has full rights to demonstrate in the streets for causes it holds dear to its ideology, like for example The Empire’s Belligerency towards the rest of the world in an attempt to secure various resources – Oil, among the most important. And on Saturday October 6, 2012, The Party had organized a rally in Queen’s Park in Opposition to The Empire’s involvement in Syria, and to call for Peace and Solidarity with the Syrian people. There was to be a march for about an hour or so and then a Public Speaking at Trinity Square, I believe, or something along those lines. The Young Communist League was also to attend. Well, as a subscriber to the Communist Party, I received an e-mail on Friday making me aware of the event the next day. My Calling, as it were.

My first reaction was positive: I was thinking that I would pack a camera, a pen and a pad of paper, my voice recorder, a few beers and a couple of joints in my bag early the next day and head downtown. Since I live a bit far I’d have to take the bus, so I’d have to wake up a bit early, but nothing out of the ordinary, so none of that bothered me. But then, I’m sad to say, I felt that I would function better accompanied, so I texted a cousin of mine to see if he wanted to go. He told me that he would get back to me, because he had a date that night and did not know exactly where he would end up the following day. Well, of course, no problem at all, I thought; I would never get in the way of that pursuit…after all, even the Greats like Marx and ‘Che’ took time off from writing their critiques and fomenting their Revolutions to pursue the Other Great Cause: Tail. But he called early on Saturday and said that he’d come with, and so things seemed to fall right into place.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, as I was getting ready, he texted me again, telling me that his sister had woken up extremely sick, and that they were heading over to the hospital. My first reaction was obviously to ask how she was or if they knew what the deal was, because she is my cousin, after all, and we are all a Very Tight Unit. But they didn’t know; they were just heading to the hospital at that very moment, so we all agreed that they would keep me updated. After a few minutes, when the initial shock from hearing something like that about a family member had begun to subdue, I realized that I was set to go to the Rally alone…and then – just like the Worms and Vermin that I criticize for being Spineless and only doing that which is convenient to them, completely divorced from any Conviction that could move them to act in the Face of Personal Physical and Emotional Turmoil and Discomfort – I also folded and I stopped getting ready. I simply didn’t want to go alone.

I tried consoling myself by telling myself that it was better that I didn’t go anyway since we were going to have family over, including a few aunts and uncles and a little cousin, which all arrived not more than an hour later. And that since my mom was preparing a nice dinner for everyone, it would be better to stay here rather than go to the Rally, since afterwards, when it would all be over, the plan was to hit a strip joint and kill some brain cells with excessive amounts of alcohol and god knows what else (that’s why I was taking paper and pen to takes notes and a voice recorder to account for EVERYTHING when garbled memories and crude flashbacks would be all we had to help us piece that disjointed night together). So I told myself that it was a good thing that I wasn’t going; that it was better to stay here with the family, especially since my Father was so keen on me staying to talk with the adults and participate with the Family. Yes, I told myself all of this…but in the end I kept feeling like a Scumbag.

And I still do…somewhat. My opportunity to “Foment Revolution,” as I proudly state I want to do in my profile, came and went yesterday in the flutter of a bird’s wings…and I let it waft over me. All because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable; because I didn’t want to go to it alone….But in the end, I regret nothing!

I remember that many people close to me and whose opinions really matter to me have, on more than one occasion, repeated those words (regardless of the fact that every half-wit and imbecile in the world can repeat it and pretend that they really believe in it and that they live their life accordingly). But the message isn’t lost in me. And although I did allow a moment of weakness to drown me in the Mud with the Worms and Vermin, my Convictions remain strong. I have myself to beat myself up for that transgression and violation of my Ideals. If my grandfather were alive, he’d be livid with indignation at such pusillanimity as I showed. But he would just as soon recover the color in his face and he would stop yelling and tell me, “Well, there’s one solution only…you stop your bitching and next time you GO!…THE CAUSE ISN’T DEAD BECAUSE OF ONE MOMENT OF WEAKNESS, SOPENCO!”

So here I sit, a bit disillusioned with myself because I thought I’d be stronger than that, but certain that my Convictions and Ideals have not faltered or even budged; that the only thing that I need to do is put on my big-boy pants, one Huge Testicle at the time, and continue Trudging Ahead for The Cause. And next time I receive the Calling, I will not think twice before Answering, even if it means I must Die Alone – or, less dramatically, just attend a goddamn Rally Alone!

That’s where I will leave it; with High Hopes for the Future…

SHALOM!

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HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE!

PATRIA, SOCIALISMO O MUERTE!