Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Does Your Company Think About Transportation and Marketing in the Same Context?

Today, only 5% of Americans use public transit. 77% of us drive to work and only 10% share rides. According to the US Census Bureau, we were doing a lot better in the 20's when 20% of us shared rides.

On average, commuters loses 34 hours to traffic congestion each year. Deloitte reports that we waste 4.76 billion hours per year. Translating that into dollar value, that's $429 million per day. It's about $160 billion worth of productivity each year cycled through the exhaust pipe and turned into polluted air.

That cost is only on the individuals. The government pays a certain amount as part of its public service obligations. We, in turn, pay for that through our taxes.

Companies offering a transportation solution to their workers encourages a pattern of consequences improving their bottom lines. Google, for example, found by providing shuttle services to its employees it lowered worker stress, increased talent pool, and eliminated some cost of building parking infrastructures. This also help reduce the fuel demand, emissions, and vehicle traffic.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Speak to the World.

We have come to identify the norms of social hierarchy with the professional paraphernalia of social control. Justice, is not exclusively vested in the formal institutions of the law or political intrigue. But we insist there is a world of difference. The conventions of a social order are important but they are only conventions of our choosing.The authority of power is subject to our common human experience. No social, legal or political institutions exists apart from the normative narratives that give meaning. 
Once the narrative is properly communicated and understood in context, the legal and social political institutions becomes not merely a system of order to be observed, but a world in which we live happily.

We are now
not in the nostalgia of a chance for better politics,
induced by the early successes of conquering,
but in a rather grisly dawn,
when it has become apparent that
what triumphant laws have done
is to merely mask the real danger,
painted over by
the dull broken walls,
or actually deteriorated

Adaptation from Aldous Huxley

Yes. we support a civil Umbrella Revolution. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cultivate Your Ecosystem

“The most indicative metric of a community’s health is the cross-pollination of stakeholders.” – Brian Watson, AVC.com

Our society is perfectly willing to break down everything into its parts, analyze the gears, and then put them back together to see if they work better. Somewhere in the process, we forget the purpose is to put the parts back together with better arrangements so they will work more effectively as the whole.

But we are obsessed with the parts, aren’t we?

Since our ingenious human mind went to work to deconstruct reality into metaphysical planks, we misplaced that grander purpose of recognizing the whole. We see a clock in its parts and are marveled by the intricate gears and details; but a clock in its parts does not tell time. Society in its parts does not succeed. The metaphysical planks are not ideas in motion. Seeing things broken down into parts does not facilitate change. It merely perpetuates the glorified “busy” that permeates modern society.

And so we stay busy to be in separate parts of this grandiose idea of a universe.


For further reading, please visit: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/cultivate_your_ecosystem 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Case for Oath Keepers by Moises Medina

(We are reposting this blog in response to the uproar and outrage occurring in Ferguson, MO. This post, written by Moises Medina in 2011, highlights many of the problems associated with the militarization of the police force in the U.S. While this topic is (finally) getting some much needed mainstream media attention, it is important to remember that many individuals sensed this problem on their radar long before this incident. We here at The Green Elephant hope that more people recognize the necessity for writers, artists, advocates and the like in our society. These individuals help bring to light issues that many of us do not see until it is too late.   -- Lauren Campbell Kong) 

"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would.....would do this, it would change the earth."
                                                                       --William Faulkner

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." -Barrack Obama

Local law enforcement agencies have been receiving federal funds for some time now. The additional money provides better equipment for officer safety and additional inter agency training. Fusion Centers are now common throughout the country. One police department can now patrol in other jurisdictions. Another trend now observed is the increased use of SWAT teams for tasks that a regular officer could accomplish.

On May 5th 2011, a Pima county SWAT team shot an IRAQ war veteran 61 times while serving a multi house search warrant. The Pima co. Sheriff had to admit the 26yro, husband and father, did not shoot at the SWAT team and no drugs were found in the home. Really, SWAT serving a search warrant and shooting a guy 61 times without ever being shot at!?!?

In Stockton California a man's door was busted down by SWAT. The man was arrested, in front of his kids, and dragged out of his home in his underwear. The warrant, from the Department of Education, was for the man's estranged wife. No local law enforcement agencies were involved. When did the Department of Education begin to command SWAT teams? Where did this SWAT team come from, if no local law enforcement was used?!?! A simple Google search will turn up case after case were SWAT teams go into a home and kill pets (in front of kids even) and in some cases don't end up pressing charges on their suspected targets.

Let me get this right. A group of soldiers in Iraq, mostly ranging in ages between 17 and 25, can go into the home of armed Al-Qaida members and acquire 3 high profile targets (alive) without harming women, children, or pets (a real example from personal experience, so don't tell me I don't know what its like). Yet, the above mentioned SWAT teams (the elite of law enforcement) cannot go into an American home without being “trigger happy”, killing people or pets, and terrorizing children!?!? B.S. Technical skills and lack of discipline aside, why is this happening? It’s a simple matter of budgeting and funds allocation. Law enforcement agencies can continue to allocate federal funds to their SWAT teams due to their increased use. The same for inter agency cooperation and Fusion Center participation.

This is how Obama's paramilitarized "civilian security force" is created. Yey... About the only training on constitutional law or rights they receive is geared towards keeping the officers out of trouble. Example: When an officer wants to use force against a person the standard line is: "Stop resisting!" even if the person is not resisting.

What happens when the federal government uses these poorly disciplined agencies against (I mean) to help the American people during a national emergency? Will they act with in their constitutional bounds? Or will they only PROTECT their funds (paychecks) AND SERVE only the system? Perhaps its time, for every community, to demand that law enforcement re-affirm the oath each officer and deputy swore. With the new paramilitary civilian security force being expanded, its time for everyone to listen to what the Oath Keepers have been warning about all along.

I've known Moises Medina for about 10 years now. He and I served together as medics in Iraq. Recently he started his own blog at Doc Medina's Soapbox.  -- jin

Friday, July 11, 2014

Coveted Sustainability - Part Zero, the Ebb and Flow of a Beginning in Art.

(My wife is looking to write a press release about a local "coveted sustainability" event. The idea intrigued me. It had reminded me of my days wondering aimlessly studying aesthetics. What followed is a rant and ramble of my usual best or worst depending who you are and how you see me. Cheers.)

Art, is in part being introspective, being aware of our own feelings towards something that we recognize as universally evoking. It is about being aware of our state of mind in the creation of others.

Something in the art guides us, imagines us to be its voice, directs us to feel a certain way in the ebb and flow of time as it forever flows.

Art by itself has no inherent meaning or cultural significance without the audience’s emotional reaction. Often, that emotional reaction is primed by certain political and economic functions. There is rarely a linear casual connection between the art itself and the social and political factors without the audience asking the direct and interpretative questions about its meaning and significance in which the audience finds context for the expression of emotion.

Art is therefore a relational being. It is both a categorical expression of ourselves, whether we are the artist or the audience, and a phenomenon of our relationship with others, whether that other being is the artist or the audience. The artist and the audience are therefore as diametrically opposed as the social and economic expression is with the artist expression the art is presumably aimed to express. One finds the context in the other as black finds context in its white, and void finds its context in existence.

That is, my friends, the beauty of being aware of our emotions and introspects in art isn’t it?

The mere fact that we are aware of art invokes something in us that says—yes, I do exist and it is recognized in this object the artist has successfully created to relate to my own existence. I do not live in a void of imagination where reality is obscure. This world of mine is real, and this world of the artist justifies my existence.

Art, then, is the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner of our being on a metaphysical level, isn’t it?

Yet as members of capitalist society in all forms (libertarian or communitarian alike), we are only politically and economically engaged in art itself through the delusion of recognizing our emotions. The mainstream “art”, under the condition of capital effectiveness, works out its own internal contradictions that society can no longer ignore—our existence, the existence of Art itself, no longer finds the ebb and flow of time as it flows for some meaning or purpose. Rather, it is defined by what is arbitrarily defined as “beautiful” and valuable. By the mere fact of valuing art for its political or economic message, emblematic of our consumption behavior patterns, we covet art for its namesake. Art in this modern age, as sustainably as art has been for the last few thousand years, resemble its truth in the illusions of something more or less ambiguous—only a shadow of existence.

So we covet art in its mere reflection of who we are—the empty, soul-less, choice driven, cocktail party attending, pontificating, deconstructive, rational being that we are.

And we forget, ART, as it was intended to be and justly reminds us in troubled and emotional times, is coveted as forever becoming something more than our mere existence. ART is in part introspection, but in part a direct line of communication between our introspection with the grander existence of a human condition.

Through ART, our souls speak to each other and we find reasons to live a century more to perpetuate something truly amazing. What it is that we are prepetuating, however, must be first decided by each of us . . .


Ebb and Flow,
That's the way the river goes.
Water for the rich,
Art for the poor,
Wealth well distributed and
Death reborn.
You look up, and I look down;
I look up, and you look down.
What do we see?
What do we hear?

Never eachother.
Because we are too busy,
Glorified busy.
Figuring out what it is that we live for.

Ebb and Flow,
That's the way things goes.

- jin, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Unexpected Happy Place -- by Lauren Campbell Kong

(This post is dedicated to Mandy, Missy, Sheila, Steven, James, Bill, Rich and the rest of the crew that came out and busted their asses to clean the Ohio River on Saturday, June 21st 2014.)

I haven’t been too inspired to write for a while and have been in my own head busy adjusting to life here in Cincinnati. One would think moving only 2 hours away from home meant that the people, culture, and the environment wouldn’t be so different. But things are very different here and it has required some serious adjusting on my part. It’s been hard to make new friends and to meet people who have passion about the environment.
Thank You Mandy from KCB for the photo
This past Saturday was finally a moment when all things I love converged, creating a trifecta of acceptance, passion, and activism for me in this city.

I was active in the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Indianapolis. Since I moved to Cincinnati, I was a little disappointed in the Sierra Club here. Both the Northern Kentucky group and the Miami Valley group don’t have much of a ‘politicking’ presence. The members here enjoy hiking together or walking on trails. Once a month they will invite a speaker into town to put on a presentation about a crusade. Otherwise, there was no way for me to get directly involved and be active in the way that I am accustomed.

I got involved in Environment Ohio when we first moved here, but their campaign disbanded in January of 2014 and finding something else has been difficult. I did eventually discover the River Sweep 2014 through the Sierra Club’s Northern Kentucky chapter's monthly e-newsletters.

River Sweep is an annual event organized by the Ohio RiverValley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). It took place this year on Saturday June 21st.

The River Sweep began in 1989 and it spans the entire Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cairo, IL. During the event, thousands of volunteers descend onto the Ohio River to pick up trash and debris. It is a multi-organizational effort to help clean the Ohio River and to create awareness about how polluted and dirty the river is.

In addition to the Sierra Club being in attendance, there was also Keep Covington Beautiful (KCB), and volunteers from the City of Covington municipality. It was rejuvenating to see all the wonderful, friendly people coming together to help keep this beautiful river clean.
Thank you Mandy from KCB for the photo
I was the most surprised by KCB. This group truly does what it can for the city of Covington, keeping trash and pollution from entering the water ways. They have a good relationship with the municipality and they work diligently together to address many environmental issues here. Anytime I see a government agency and a non-profit working together productively and holistically to address environmental issues, I get inspired.

It was a hot day and there were some seriously gross stuff down by the river bank that needed picked up: doors, buried tires, a broken kitchen sink, an old fence, nasty insulation that had been there for months if not longer, deteriorating and probably contaminated with asbestos, more Milwaukee’s Best beer cans than I ever knew existed, shoes, clothes, a pair of old underwear, and so, SO much more.

That’s just the stuff I saw in the quarter of a mile I traversed through. When you think about the entire river spanning the border of 6 states, I can't begin to imagine what else was found.

Thankfully we had a decent turnout at our location. We managed to clean a good chunk of the river bank. I have faith that other parts of the Ohio River were cleaned too by equally passionate people. At times it was overwhelming, disgusting, and depressing to see so much trash, to think there are still so many people who don’t think twice about throwing their garbage out of their cars, boats, and homes.

But that's not important now. What is important, is the truly inspiring people I met, people who care about this city and about our environment. These people volunteered their time to come out and make a difference; people of all different colors, sexual orientation, social economic status, and backgrounds, converging on the river as one to make it a better place for everyone. It is a selfless act that made me forget how difficult it is to adjust to a new city and new people I don't know; it made me forget just how many people don't care about this river and their city. 

Thank you Mandy from KCB for the photo
At the end of the day, I realized how much is left to do. Not just the trash, but how much educating, motivating, and inspiring that must be done for others to see the importance of our waterways and the value they add to our eco-system. My back pain proves it and the irony rings loud and clear.

So to leave you with something to ponder, there are multiple river clean up events that happen along the Ohio River and I for one hope to participate regularly as my schedule permits. If something is stopping you from coming to support us, you are underestimating the possibility of these good people, people that you would want to get to know.

After all, we will make a bit of difference and together, I've found my new happy place, I found it down by the river, I found it in the people I met there and in the hard work we did together. I hope you find yours as well, on this planet, in this place we all call home.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherish the Day and Believe -- This is Not A Dream.

(yes, I'm in one of my weird crazy mood. This one is for the believers, not the dreamers. This one is for my wife, my best friend, and my constant companion on this quest to change the world--Lauren Campbell Kong. The believers steps over the dreamers and actually DO!  - jin)

To all you sleepers,
Coming from the speaker.
Be prepared to liftoff,

To know fear and
To love experimentation.
To all you sleepers then.

This is the century,
This is the day,
This is the imaginary time that we know to be real,
Probabilistically not sealed.

Travel then,
Friends, to be asleep but know that you control a dream,
Have faith in waking to find your soul.

Hear yourself sing,
Taste the delight and the bitter rain drops of yesterday’s tomorrow.

To all you sleepers,
Coming from the master of disaster, the Maharishi mediator, the salted chew free from concerns,
Be prepared to be lifted,
To abandon fear,
To love LOVE.

This is the color of your faith.
Be kind to paint it as tall and deep as you dare.

Because this is YOUR FAITH. It is not a hope.



(I wrote this one a long time ago. . . funny how things have a way of singing back to me in time)

No matter how long, how high, how grim,
If I can sweep, nearly free, let my mind be tricked and story be told.
My life too precious, but it never leaves;
On solid ground, I let my words flow.

I am here, I am rotting, I am illness-stained;
I listen without pity, hear me not;
I bury without a shovel, smell of garbage, but it really don’t matter no more.

A different sound I hear, like milk and honey;
I asked myself if I am made for this world.

Golden roads, fixed, crumbled, fixed again,
A different taste, like spring freshness at the end of autumn;
Winter is here again, smelling and tasting cost the grown man his patience.

Play that song again, lock up them folks in the cells again;
But it really don’t matter no more.

All my life, cycles cooked onions in dreadful tears,
Cutting with a smile, square fits a few short years.

No matter how long, how high, how grim,
Let me sleep, nearly free, let my mind drift into the thicket plot untold.

Any day now, late night shadow remembers where the path leads.

Convince me to walk into the sun again,
The future is just that part of history.
Think sharp and preach slow,
Remembering but it don’t really matter no more.

Because this is the dreamer's dream and I'm a believer and I BELIEVE.

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