Posted by: Michael D. Austin | July 24, 2010

Bruce Rich, Mick Quinn and Eric Herm. Pick a Rock and Throw It.

Here’s the playbill for this coming Monday’s Blue Planet Almanac radio show at 8 AM Los Angeles time on HealthyLife.net. There, you’ll click, “Listen Live.”

Sustainability is cross-disciplinary. From anywhere you stand you could pick up a figurative pebble or rock, toss it as lightly or hard and you like, and strike a subject which involves environmentalism, its law, policy, farming, food, water or a myriad other important things. Environmental lawyer Bruce Rich, American farmer Eric Herm, and personal development wizard Mick Quinn will explain the interactions of those things for us. And modern humanity weren’t the ones who first thought of these interdependencies.

“To Uphold the World” by Bruce Rich

Bruce Rich – Man Across Time

It wasn’t John Muir, Gifford Pinchot or Rachel Carson. At least 2,000 years before the 1973 United States Endangered Species Act, before 1970’s first Earth Day – two widely feared and respected characters, Ashoka and Kautilya were conservationists who recognized what the Earth had going for them. Although they were respectively conqueror and politician, Asoka and Kautilya were also east Indian conservationists who laid down laws with stiff penalties and state policies to preserve natural resources.

That kind’a puts what we thought we were doing in a different perspective, eh? And in a story arc that exceeds the wildest expectations of any movie mogul or American consumer, Ashoka arrived at his moment of power and fame in an especially bloodthirsty fashion. But then he converted himself to Buddhism! Kautilya was Ashoka’s architect of state, and is said to have made Machiavelli look like he’d not yet graduated from the sandbox into realpolitik.

Bruce Rich

So what does this mean for us today? How can we use what Ashoka and Kautilya did in today creating our means to live? Bruce Rich answers, “In many ways.” Rich is widely recognized for his role as a senior attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council. That should be good enough for you to get your own copy of this excellent reflection on economics, history and current environmental concerns. But if you’d like the usual superlatives that many people crave, the fact that The 14th Dalai Lama wrote Rich’s afterword and the Nobel Prize winning, “Mother Teresa of economics” Amartya Sen wrote its forward, now you have your recommendations.

Wikipedia says Rich is: “…an American writer and lawyer who has published extensively on the environment in developing countries and development in general… was awarded the United Nations Global 500 Award for environmental achievement for his research and advocacy… Since the 1980s Rich worked as an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. He has also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Environment Program, the World Resources Institute, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment and the World Bank…”

Rich also: “…testified in Congressional hearings on U.S. participation in international financial institutions… has written numerous articles and opeds on international development and environment in publications such as The Nation, The Financial Times, The Ecologist, and Environmental Forum, the policy journal of the Environmental Law Institute. He has lectured widely at universities and colleges around the U.S.”

Mick Quinn, serial CEO who now teaches personal growth

Mick Quinn – Why We Do or Don’t in Sustainability

Personal development expert Mick Quinn is someone I’ve been interested in talking with for some time, after his wife, Debora Prieto suggested the idea through a Facebook connection. Mick understands the fundamental imperatives of consciousness toward healthy lives. Personal values are absolutely key to sustainability, and nothing on Earth will ever change until we change ourselves through our daily habits. Mick is an expert in habitual behaviour.

By our nature, we never do things that others tell us to do, especially as a species. We all try and do things in the easiest fashion conceivable. Enter personal development and growth, or how Blue Planet Almanac’s April 2009 guest and NY Times best-selling author Thomas Kostigen would ask you to, “Care.”

Although there are many important topics we bring to you in Blue Planet Almanac, personal choices are the most critical to positive change in sustainability. Don’t let the succinct brevity of this little post lull you into thinking there will ever be anything more important. Consider for one instructive example, that The 14th Dalai Lama wrote the afterword to Bruce Rich’s book about the application of sustainable economic ethos to modern life. Everyone needs good tools to make decisions about their values. Mick’s work is basically in the same kind of field as the Dalai Lama’s and they both specialize in the means to create your own happiness.

The Uncommon Path by Mick Quinn

The Irish Quinn has penned an Amazon best-seller, The Uncommon Path of Awakening Authentic Joy. In this era of lightning fast information, a bestseller on Amazon is as good in my book as the waning signature-bound tradition. I find that people who matured in other countries often have perspectives on American behavior which are often fresh and unusual.

In a little digression – I must also admit some pride in hearing this about Quinn because I’ve plenty of Irish blood. Before I grew sick of pickle jokes my surname was Dill. As a nation the Irish have a reputation which involves liberal rock ‘n roll, elbow exercise and quick tempers. Some of that’s deserved, but no more or less than the notion that the United States is a resource-rich nation of spoiled environmental usurpers. Touche. ;)

There are likely to be some surprising things Mick will say to you about your values in sustainability and environmentalism. For a preview of his personal energy, take a look at this vid:

Think of the positive change Mick’s work could bring you as your filling of choice between the bread of Bruce Rich’s and Eric Herm’s means. If instead of just listening to a pleasant radio show about sustainability, you want to move your own growth in different directions which you choose, Mick’s methods are among the best. Many will find that his methods suit them in a manner that others haven’t. Mick is also experienced in the black and white world of business, which will assist and appeal to those of us involved in it.

Eric Herm -Farming Smart

If you pay attention to what’s happening in the world of sustainability right now, you’ll often hear experts discussing the most critical “limiting factors” to environmental health. Many of these factors arise from common sense, but arriving at solutions for them takes time, considerable thought and energy. Geopolitical consultants and most American thinkers often cite food and water as the two most important factors every nation will face, now and in coming millenia. If your people are hungry or thirsty, there will at least be unrest and very often war. Lester R. Brown’s Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization discusses this if you’d like a primer.

Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth, by Eric Herm

But if we move our focus to an American level as an example of what affects us directly, you wouldn’t find information that’s more accessible and understandable than from Eric Herm, author of Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth. Eric’s understanding of American agriculture – and what’s put on your table each and every night – is second to none. He backs up his claims with facts, charts and tables, which is pretty unusual for someone of his experience. One of the most interesting things about Eric is although he’s an expert young farmer, he completely understands commerce, corporate profit motives and our government’s incestuous relationship with modern agriculture.

Eric Herm. Men (and women) grow your food. This one’s just smart.

Eric’s got experience in the close examination of the massive, unsustainable scale of commercial American farming. He shows us the many ways in which large companies and even our federal government have turned agriculture into a completely chemical, commoditized enterprise which is now hurting us. And we’ve let them do it because we thought it was O.K. and that someone else would take care of it for us.

The book’s Foreword by Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow of the ‘Take No Prisoners’ Post Carbon Institute, tells us what’s really in store if we are to succeed in sustainability: “America needs enormous numbers of new farmers to follow in Herm’s footsteps. The 20th century saw the replacement of farmers with machines running on oil, and with chemicals made from fossil fuels. In this century, as oil and other resources dwindle, we will need generations of children of the Earth to take up once again the venerable occupation that feeds us all. That means we require a revival not just of the many skills that farmers need, but a renewal of rural farming culture, and the creation of an economic system what rewards what really matters – healthy food and healthy planet – more than it does speculation in imaginary claims on ill-defined wealth.”

If you want to find out what this means on a practical basis, and what to do to help your family and everyone else, tune-in and also read his book. This vid below gives you the underpinnings of Herm’s philosophy, while his book and interview with Blue Planet Almanac will give you specific examples you can use in conversation.

Blue Planet Almanac radio airs live with host Mike Austin on HealthyLife.net on the 4th Monday of each month at 8:00 A.M. Pacific Time. Blue Planet Almanac is also re-broadcast later in the week and shows are archived three days after airtime at that same site. HealthyLife.net is an all-positive talk station and has over 3 million listeners monthly in 104 countries and all 50 United States.

Blue Planet Almanac offers thoughtful perspectives on conscious, green living on Earth. With fascinating interviews, breaking news and product reviews, caller participation about Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability are encouraged, including science and policy of importance to Earthlings. Listeners can have their say in an environment that matters or simply listen to leaders in their field.


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  1. […] the second time he has called from his tractor. The first was when I interviewed him on Blue Planet Almanac talk radio. […]

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