Issue #10




Spring 1996, Number 10

 

IN THIS ISSUE:


SEN On The Move
The Changing Cast Of Characters

E-Tip Opens The Internet For New E-Mail Users
Central Asia Now "Eco-Linked"
Ecoline Environmental Server Established At The SEU
Stories From The Field
For The Earth And Her Daughters
The Deep Ecology Page
The Deep Ecology Clearinghouse

Earthstory, Our Story
Book Review: Soul Of Nature

In this newsletter, as in many others, the Editor's Introduction weaves together the various articles into a thematic whole. The focus for any particular issue begins to emerge many months in advance of publication with a query to our staff. I ask for topics they would like to see featured or new developments with their own projects. For this issue the "theme" that emerged from the various ideas suggested was "tell me more."
Our last issue (Autumn, 1995) introduced a number of topics that both our staff and several readers wanted to learn more about. Accessing the Internet is a good case in point. This new medium has caught the fascination of many of us on both sides of the globe and we want to know more about how to use it for environmental protection. A visit to our Petersham office by ECOLOGIA staffers gave us the material to share in E-Tip Opens The Internet For New E-Users.
Developments in Central Asia, and further information about deep ecology and eco feminism are other topics that carry forward from our last edition. Women and Earth was the title of an article in the fall issue. Woman &;Earth is the name of an organization whose work in Eurasia is described in this issue's For The Earth And Her Daughters. Similarly, two of SEN's special initiatives introduced last fall are elaborated herein. Our Central Asia project, EcoLink, is up and running and the Deep Ecology Page provides access to materials and ideas for feeding our hearts and souls.
So this issue, my first as primary editor, tells you more about topics important to you and to us here at SEN. It carries forward the theme introduced by Executive Director, Bill Pfeiffer last fall when he wrote " For a future that is positive and sustainable there needs to be harmonious interaction between humans and Earth than can embrace a diversity of ideas and culture." Celebrating diversity is the call of lifeŠtell us more. -Diane DePuydt, Editor


SEN ON THE MOVE

In February, the SEN Moscow staff acquired an office of our very own, near Profsoyuznaya metro station, on Krzhizhanovskovo Street (say that 5 times fast!). The actual move was relatively smooth. Installing telephone lines, however, turned out to be a bit of a melodrama.

As those who have set up offices in Russia well know, there is always an extensive bureaucracy one must go through to install a telephone line. For us it was a bureaucratic nightmare that produced an interesting dilemma. The local telephone station sold us a line from our neighbor's building. This happened to be the FSB (Federal Security Service- Russian version of the FBI), and "for security reasons" the telephone company employees are not permitted to access these lines to turn them on. With much persistent diplomacy, SEN staffer, Dmitri Tolmatsky managed to convince the FSB employees to activate the line for us. In the process, they somehow managed to give our new line to a man on the 3rd floor and we got his phone number. Our arrival ruffled a few feathers, but within a week or so, all was in order.

Two months later we are now pretty well settled in our new location and the telephone works fine, most of the time. To reach us, write, call or e-mail:

SEN-Moscow Office P.O. Box 91 Moscow, Russia 11728 Tel: (095) 719-0150 Tel/Fax : 124-0760 E-mail: sen@glas.apc.org

 

THE CHANGING CAST OF CHARACTERS

Staff changes are a normal part of any organization and when one grows as quickly as SEN the changes seem to happen with greater frequency. Both our Moscow and Petersham offices have recently filled staff openings and we want to welcome and introduce them to you here.

Sergei Smekhov <sergsm@glas.apc.org> joined the SEN Moscow team on March 4th as our new Moscow Technical Coordinator. Sergei has technical expertise in computer hard- and soft-ware. He's studied information systems on the graduate school level and served as Technical Director for 5 years at a computer consulting firm. Great to have you on-board, Sergei!

Since April 1st, Oxana Barkalova <senmos@glas.apc.org> has been working with Susan Cutting in Moscow as our new In-Country Co-Coordinator. For the past ten years, she worked at the Institute for Global Climate and Ecology, studying the effects of heavy metal pollution on the environment. She primarily monitored background atmospheric heavy metal levels in the mountain nature reserves of Kirghizia and Uzbekistan. Oxana loves the mountains and is particularly interested in deep ecology. Welcome, Oxana.

April 1st was also the first work day for Joe Roche <jroche@igc.org> who is assisting Davis Chapman with technical support from our Petersham office. Joe is a graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology and has worked as a computer and technical consultant for various firms as well as a canvasser for several environmental organizations. Joe spent most of 1995 as a Peace Pilgrim, walking with an international group of like minded people from Auschwitz to Hiroshima stopping in places like Bosnia, Iraq, Cambodia and Vietnam to bear witness for people's desire to end war and violence.

 

CENTRAL ASIA NOW "ECO-LINKED"

Between China and the Caspian Sea lies Central Asia, a vast expanse of land including the republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgizstan, and Tadjikistan. Although each republic is emerging from the Soviet era with a distinct identity, scientists and environmentalists throughout the region are interested in cooperating on their shared environmental crises. The Aral Sea, biodiversity, and public health are a few of the issues that are rallying people together within the region.

SEN's interest in Central Asia has led to collaboration with Catena, a local environmental group, to seek funding for establishing a regional communications center in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan. In October, ISAR accepted our grant proposal and we are happy to report that this project, which we have titled "Ecolink Central Asia," is now well under way.

Our partners, Andrei Aranbeev <catena@cat.glasnet.ru> and Vagif Zeynalov <vagif@cat.glasnet.ru>, are enthusiastically coordinating the implementation of Ecolink. A host-server is now installed in Ashgabad, expanding the possibilities for NGO cooperation and environmental problem-solving in the region through utilizing telecommunications technologies.

In addition, two of three recipients have been chosen to receive computers, modems and technical training, under the auspices of a region-wide competition. These recipients are Emil Shukurov, Director of the Kyrgyzstan organization Aleyne, and Tatiana Bragina, Vice-Director of the Naurzumskii Zapovednik and leader of the local conservation group Naurzum, in the Kostanay region of Kazakhstan. Shukurov, Bragina and a third recipient will soon participate in a training seminar and be on-line, collaborating with their colleagues in Central Asia and beyond. For more information contact SEN at info@sacredearthnetwork.org>

 

E-TIP OPENS THE INTERNET FOR NEW E-USERS

When Oleg Cherp needed information on hazardous chemicals polluting a river for a press conference in Moscow last May, his colleagues in the United States were able to find the information within minutes using the Internet. The chemical standards were easy to find because they were on E-TIP, ECOLOGIA's Environmental Technical Information Project.

ECOLOGIA, an international non-profit organization, designed E-TIP to allow inexperienced Internet users to locate and understand professional quality environmental information from a single, centralized site. One common problem in using the World Wide Web (WWW) has been finding the one or two information sources that you need among the thousands of environmental databases that are out there in cyberspace. E-TIP brings the useful needles in the Internet haystack together at one location by using WWW to provide carefully selected links to useful environmental databases that ECOLOGIA has evaluated.

E-TIP provides information in seven major categories: Toxic Chemicals, Radiation, Waste Management and Pollution Prevention, Environmental Legislation and Treaties, Energy, Global Issues, and Environmental Education. To make E-TIP truly user-friendly, ECOLOGIA developed online User Guides for each information resource on the E-TIP Web site. Each User Guide provides instructions for using the database, summarizes the information, and notes the strengths, weaknesses, and biases of the information.

The WWW address is: http://ecologia.nier.org/

E-TIP was originally designed primarily to serve the Former Soviet Union (FSU), but the Web site can be accessed by users around the world.

For Oleg Cherp, E-TIP means facing the Moscow press corps armed with reliable information from organizations like the United States Environmental Protection Agency or the United Nations.

For users in the FSU, ECOLOGIA's Moscow and Minsk offices provide free consulting services to help grassroots organizations in locating and interpreting the information on the Web. The goal is to train environmentalists to use E-TIP and the WWW to find vital information on their own.

E-TIP began in January 1995 with a grant from ISAR (formerly the Institute for Soviet American Relations) and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Additional support has been provided by the W. Alton Jones Foundation and the National Institute for Environmental Renewal.

ECOLOGIA hopes to expand the project to provide technical information access and support to environmental groups in Central and Eastern Europe and in the United States. ECOLOGIA's Executive Director, Randy Kritkausky, asserts that users in the United States need the same easy access to information and help in using it, which surprises most people.

"The Web is still relatively young and unfamiliar to most people, Americans. And let's face it, most Americans don't have much scientific training beyond the high school level. Like environmentally concerned citizens around the world, Americans need help interpreting complicated technical information."

 

ECOLINE ENVIRONMENTAL SERVER ESTABLISHED AT THE SEU

Ecoline is an environmental server at the offices of the Center for Coordination and Information of the Socio-Ecological Union (SEU-CCI) in Moscow. The server (http//: cci.glasnet.ru) offers a range of new services available to the environmental community, including: on-line access to SEU-CCI and Ecoline databases, World Wide Web page editing and placement for environmental NGOs, automatic mass-E-mailing service (similar to list-servers), and free e-mail accounts with internet access to SEU-CCI program staff (SEU Press Center, Anti-Nuclear Campaign, Open Environmental Library, and others).

The home page provides access to information (mostly in Russian) on SEU member and other environmental organizations, environmentally oriented newsletters, articles and lists of publications available and also on foundations, funding opportunities and links to foundation home pages. In addition, Ecoline plans to post information on ECOLOGIA's E TIP project, fundraising guides and instructions and deadlines for funding programs.

For further information contact Alexander Georgievsky <alg@cci.glasnet.ru>

 

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

We are always hearing stories about the many ways SEN has helped organizations put their e-mail connections into use. Sometimes these include tales of technical mystery and sometimes they are reports of victories won on the environmental battlefield. Here are a few accounts we share with our readers.

Windows To The World
In many small towns across Eurasia, when one NGO gets electronically connected it opens opportunities for many others to access information and communications. The town of Baikal'sk, on the edge of Lake Baikal, is a good example as recounted by Victor Khotilovich of the Center for Environmental Education and Information <ceei@cetin.irkutsk.su>

In our small town, Baikal'sk, only two organizations have electronic communications. They are BtsBK ["Baikalsk Tselulozno-Bumazhniy Kombinat" the infamous Baikal pulp and paper plant that is responsible for emitting toxic wastes into that amazing lake ed.] and the Center for Environmental Education and Information (CEEI). This communications link has become a free "environmental" window into the informational world for a great many people in the town. Here are four samples:

1. This summer there will be a joint environmental camp for children between the sister cities of Baikal'sk and Tahoe. First, five children and one teacher from the U.S. will come to Baikal'sk, and then they and six more Russian children and two teachers will go to Lake Tahoe. Electronic mail made possible the timely exchange of all the communication for selecting the children and teachers and determining the program of study.

2. CEEI, as well as the scientific-methodological environmental center at the town's department of education, the Baikal Institute for Environmental Toxicology and the town educational establishment are all using our address to quickly exchange data and messages with colleagues throughout the world.

3 We are also helping the city administration and private parties send messages and letters in which they are offering to develop environmental tourism and educational and medical programs. This is also an investment of electronic mail into the creation of an open world.

4. During the last month, children who have been attending environmental classes and circles had the opportunity to set up electronic communications with their contemporaries, so far only in Tahoe. But we hope that the geography of friends through correspondence will become wider.

If At First You Don't SucceedŠ
Aleksey Shumilo's organization "EcoPravo" <alex@eco.kharkov.ua> is based in Kharkov, Ukraine and focus' on environmental law. Initially Shumilo encountered "technical difficulties" in getting on-line but, as this letter to In-Country Coordinator Susan Cutting illustrates, has now incorporated e-mail into virtually all his activities.

Hello Susan!

When we got the computer and e-mail from your organization, we returned to Kharkov radiating happiness. We quickly set the computer up and began to look for a company that could offer us connection services. Finding such a company was very complicated. But that was not so bad; then Susan calls and says, "Where are your messages?"

But there couldn't be any messages because the modem couldn't connect to the communications gate! Why? Well, when we were given instructions for installing the modem we were told to test the phone jack for the modem. But we were not told that we have to check ALL the phone jacks in the place. Unfortunately, there was one other jack in our residence and no one figured out that we had to look at that one too. Six months later we finally found a telephone worker who checked out the second jack and got rid of the problem!

After getting through all the adversities, we have become actively involved in the work! We subscribe to a whole bunch of electronic magazines and have started our own column in them! We have also started to give free consultations on legal rights to social organizations by electronic mail. Yesterday a message arrived from our colleagues from Artumovsk. With our help they have achieved a great success.

The Artumovsk City Council passed a resolution prohibiting the burial of toxic wastes of Class I through III and radioactive wastes in the saltworks of the Artemsol industrial plant. This was accomplished not only thanks to our consultations on rights that we gave by electronic mail, but thanks also to the fact that we logged onto the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide network and asked our colleagues to help us. The answer came promptly and we forwarded it to Artumovsk.

During the year we have achieved many successes with the help of electronic mail. Thanks to it our activities have become more effective! Susan! Our deepest thanks to your organization! You are doing a necessary and useful thing!

Respectfully and gratefully, Aleksey Shumilo.

Insulin Elated
Andrei Rudomakha from the SEU of Adygei <maikop@glas.apc.org> is one of many voluminous e-mail users. Electronic communication plays a role in almost all their activities, keeping them connected with other SEU groups, allowing them to have input into an upcoming SEU conference, assisting in grant fundraising, and networking with other groups and activists who are extremely important to their work. We asked him recently if he would share some specific examples of how e-mail has helped them in their activities. He gave us this little "story."

"Thanks to e-mail informational help from the organization "Ecologia," we were able to have a significant impact on the process of the government's environmental investigation into the design of the insulin plant in Makop. The information we got on the practice of insulin production in America ("Novo Nordisk") turned out to be extremely important for many experts.

Email access has radically strengthened our ability to address social and ecological problems in Adygei. [see related article about using E-TIP, ed]

 

FOR THE EARTH AND HER DAUGHTERS

The last issue of our newsletter carried an article by Heather Email titled" Women and Earth" which argued that equal rights and voice for women are necessary for the success of the environmental movement. The title for that article, and for the larger report from which is was extracted, was inspired by a New York City-based organization bearing a similar name. The Woman and Earth Global Eco-Network is an committed to eco-feminist principles and seeks to coordinate information exchange among women internationally. Heather describes their work here.

Woman and Earth (WE) was born out of the work of Tatyana Mamonova before she was exiled from the former Soviet Union in 1980 for her feminist writings and organizing. Today, the work of WE is coordinated by Tatyana and Carmella (Millie) Didio, a U.S. attorney in private practice. Among other projects, WE publishes the Woman and Earth Almanac, an independent eco-feminist magazine in Russian and English. This is the international continuation of the samizdat "Woman and Russia Almanac," the underground publication which prompted Tatyana's exile. It is distributed free to individual women and women's groups in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe and is supported by western subscribers.

Another recent WE undertaking is a video documentary project. Their first film is an interview with Jenny Cacharieva, a chamber music professor and Director of the Eco Music Competition and Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. This is part of a series of interviews with women environmental leaders from around the world that are now being compiled.

WE recognizes the power of women. Through their "Environmental Know-How Project," global environmental models are being used to train women to become local community based environmental leaders. This project has been introduced successfully in New York City, Turkey and Bulgaria and will be developed in St. Petersburg, Russia starting early this fall. In an exciting technological step, WE's St. Petersburg office will soon join the growing on-line network of NGOs working on environmental issues in the former Soviet Union. A recently grant from the Dorsai Embassy, a New York City nonprofit organization, provided Tatyana and Millie with a computer, modem and printer to help facilitate better global networking and cooperation.

If you are interested in learning more about Woman and Earth or if you would like to subscribe to the Woman and Earth Almanac, they can be contacted at <womearth@dorsai.org> or Woman and Earth/467 Central Park West, Suite 7F/ New York, NY 10025, USA/ TEL or FAX: (212)866-8130. (Submitted by Heather Holt)

 

The DEEP ECOLOGY PAGE

THE DEEP ECOLOGY CLEARINGHOUSE

The Deep Ecology Initiative is the name given to a multi-faceted collection of SEN- sponsored activities and events that foster understanding and practice of a deep ecology worldview. In the autumn newsletter we spoke briefly about our workshops and educational events. These activities are in turn supported by the services and materials of a resource clearinghouse.

The Deep Ecology Clearinghouse (DEC) is a new project designed to facilitate referral, communication, and networking to bring deep ecology into greater awareness and practice. It serves both people who are simply interested in exploring deep ecology as well as those who are actively engaged in advocating deep ecology practice. Some of the services that the clearinghouse provides include:
€access to a database of individuals and organizations facilitating deep ecology practice.
€an events calendar and information about speakers, workshops, training programs, retreats, conferences, and special deep ecology events.
€a reference library of books, magazines, videos, and teaching materials on deep ecology and related topics and a selection of materials for sale at workshops or by mail order.

Members of SEN, as well as the public, can call the DEC to find out about upcoming workshops and events or get referrals to people who are doing various forms of deep ecology work in their area. For example, we recently had an inquiry from a yoga center seeking a guest speaker for an upcoming conference on "Eco-Yoga." Our database of practitioners provided several suggestions. Similarly, we received a letter from a woman looking for sources for deep ecology exercises. We recommended several books and people in her region that she could network with.

Networking is the most important aspect of the DEC, as more and more people explore the ideas and practices of deep ecology and related fields such as creation spirituality, eco feminism, and indigenous people's wisdom. It is a growing community that needs to be nurtured and supported. The clearinghouse serves as a networking node for deep ecology in New England with links across the country and around the world.

We are excited by the growth and development of our Deep Ecology Initiative and the clearinghouse. And we encourage you to share in its future development. As a member of the Sacred Earth Network you have access to clearinghouse resources and priority registration for our educational events. If you are interested in exploring this part of our work please drop us a note <ddepuydt@igc.org> so we can add that information to our database.

 

EARTHSTORY, OUR STORY

In 1991 a small group of eco-activists gathered on a beautiful piece of land in the hills of Virginia. Frustrated, fatigued, burnt-out, they sought renewed energy and inspiration. They came together to find support and sustenance, to laugh and play, to cry and rage, to share their victories and defeats.

"It is our hope that in joining together in this sacred haven nurtured by Mother Earth, our truest and highest natures will emerge to assist us in the healing of ourselves/our planet. In this way we create the EarthStory of the future human." (from the first EarthStory announcement)

Six years later EarthStory has grown to be an annual gathering for celebration, healing and renewal for activists and others who are dedicated to a deep ecological way of living. It is a primary part of SEN's Deep Ecology Initiative.

This year the week-long EarthStory encampment will be held August 16-22nd at the Earthlands Community in Petersham. Mini-workshops, sharing circles, earth ritual, and just being with the land are part of the "agenda." Great vegan food is provided, bring your tent. The sliding scale fee is $75-160 for the first two days and $25/day if you stay longer. For information contact Diane at SEN <ddepuydt@igc.org>

Opening the Global Heart: Empowering Compassionate Action A Special Outdoor Weekend with John Seed Deep Ecologist and Rainforest Activist August 9-11, 1996 at the Earthlands Community Petersham, MA Sliding Scale Fee $180 up for information contact Diane at SEN

 

SOULFUL SONG

The Soul Of Nature: Visions of a Living Earth, Michael Tobias and Georgianne Cowan, editors. New York, NY: Continuum , 1994 The Soul of Nature brings together a myriad of voices which are at the forefront of the Deep Ecology Movement. Through a series of 32 essays, letters, poems and stories authors such as Joanna Macy, Joseph Bruchac, Thich Nhat Hanh, Wendell Berry and John Seed address issues of the current environmental crises and offer a range of ideas for improving our relationship to Nature and to each other.

The passionate, heart-felt commitment of these writers is heard throughout. Whether it is Linda Hasseltrom speaking of a cherished homeland in "Nighthawks;" Joanna Macy telling the story of the people of Novozybkov recovering from the devastation of radiation poisoning in "The Way to the Forest: a Story from Chernobyl;"or Rick Bass' poignant description of an endangered stretch of pristine wilderness in "A Letter for the Montana Wilderness;" it is clear that there is a profound awareness of the depth of our interconnection and interdependence with a living Planet.

Soul Of Nature is more than an anthology of nature writing. It is a yearning for humanity to rediscover our connection to the vast web of life that encompasses all aspects of our world (see Georgianne Cowan's, "The Sacred Womb,"), and to create ways for us to sustain the web as a whole ("Creating an Ecological Economy," by Petra Kelly.) This message prevails through the rich images that fill the pages of this book. It doesn't preach. It simply unfolds.

The book is presented in four parts: Part I, Earth Sapiens looks at how the land speaks to us and how it is loved by some and abused by others. Part II, For the Love of all Animals shows us how to listen to the voices of all beings Part III, Living Every Day shows us Earth as a living entity and some of the ways we can deepen our own connection to her and all of her creatures. Part IV, The Future of Nature is the empowerment and action section, focusing on creating a sustainable world. This is beautifully articulated by Miriam Therese MacGillis in her essay, "The Fate of the Earth", which also reflects the overall theme of this book when she says:

In talking about the fate of the earth, we know that it is really up for grabsŠ It is a question of our own critical choices. Perhaps what we need most is a transforming vision, a vision that is deep enough, one that can take us to a new place; one that opens up a future of hope."

The pain and the beauty, the hope and despair, the life and the death presented in this book are a reflection of that which is happening in the world around us as we work together to create that vision of hope and transformation. The Soul of Nature gives voice to that struggle with a candor that provides the reader with a wide range of visions of the living Earth. (reviewed by Amy Hyson)


The purpose of the SEN NEWSLETTER is to provide a forum for emerging ideas and solutions to environmental problems. Our particular focus is on collaborative efforts with environmentalists in the former Soviet Union. We rely on electronic telecommunications because it has proven to be the most efficient and inexpensive method of encouraging international cooperation. Whenever possible we publish the electronic mail addresses of groups and individuals with whom we work.

The SACRED EARTH NETWORK is an international organization of environmentalists who believe humanity must quickly restructure its relationship with the Earth. We strive to deepen ecological awareness and empower people to work in defense of the biosphere. SEN provides training and support in the use of inexpensive, decentralized communication systems, information and professional exchanges to strengthen organizations, and educational programs in deep ecology.

We are united by a common belief that the Earth is a miraculous, interconnected living system. May our efforts help awaken this sense of awe in all people.

A special thanks to Gaia Trust for their generous support in publishing this newsletter.

Issue #10 was produced by Diane Depuydt, Bill Pfeiffer and Joe Roche. A special thanks to the following individuals for their contributions: Susan Cutting, Heather Holt, Amy Hyson, Sergei Smekhov, and Peter Benson. This newsletter has been printed on paper recycled from 100% post-consumer waste and has not been rebleached.

Subscriptions: The SEN Newsletter is published twice a year in both English and Russian. A subscription is included with membership in SEN and costs $25 per year. Send a check payable to "Sacred Earth Network." SEN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.


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Revised July 16, 1997