There are tremendous changes happening on Earth as the millennium approaches. Every day they become more apparent as human society impacts the biosphere on a ecological scale. In 100,000 years, humans have gone from flint axe to space travel, becoming the dominant form of life on this planet. Unfortunately, this dominance is not benign.
As population pressure increases - with more individuals acquiring ever more material possessions produced by polluting technology - the majority of these changes have a catastrophic effect on the quality of life of all beings. Accelerating environmental degradation and social breakdown appear to be the norm rather than the exception.
Many environmentalists are beginning to realize that the root of the problem is not "out there" but begins inside our minds - in our attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions. We modem humans have cut ourselves off from the Earth and the wisdom accumulated over millions of years of evolution. How else would we be capable of causing in Edward O, Wilson's words the "greatest extinction spasm since the Cretaceous period" (65 million years ago) unless there was some pathological condition at work?
John Seed in his article "Beyond Anthropocentrism" states: "the change that is required of us is not some new resistance to radiation but a change in consciousness" and Lester Brown reiter ates, "humanity has a crisis of values."
One of the places where the evoIutionary pressure to change is most acute is in the former Soviet Union (increasingly called Eurasia). Their society is being stretched to the breaking point by political, economic, and ecological stresses difficult for most North Americans to imagine. Sacred Earth Network (SEN) not only provides technical assistance to the most talented environmental NGO's and Eurasia but also facilitates the integration of earth-centered values and behaviors into both the environmental movement and the public at large. This perceptual change is very much underway. (see page 8)
Cooperation and networking is at the heart of this dual focus. Everything in this issue speaks to these inner and outer dimensions.
- The Editors
"It is as if you were sitting in a ravine and now you have climbed a high hill and see that you are not alone ... Back in the 18th century it was said that founding St. Petersburg was like creating a 'port to Europe.' I would say that computers and modems are ports to the world." - Ivan Timofeev, Russian-American Humanitarian Initiative/Golubka
Thanks to generous support from Eurasia Foundation, Apple Computer, and ISAR, SEN's Environmental Telecommunications Project for the former Soviet Union (ETP) is expanding rapidly. In the last six months the ETP has concentrated its energies on the geographical extremes of vast Eurasia.
In May of 1993 SEN was awarded an equipment grant from Apple Computer Corporation to establish a toxic monitoring network on the western edge of Eurasia, This area of the former Soviet Union has earned itself the unfortunate reputation of having some of the highest levels of pollution on Earth.
The most immediate objective of the toxic monitoring network project was to ensure reliable communications between the beneficiaries of the equipment; four environmental NGO's already combating pollution problems in the region, and their main partner organization in the US - Ecologia.
Over the longer term, the goal of the project will be to make available a central database allowing all regions of Eurasia, however remote, access to critical tories information. This proposed database to be located in Eurasia will be similar to the widely used US systems of RACHEL (Remote Access Chemical Hazards Electronic Library) and the RTKNet (the Right to Know Network).
Ecologia was chosen to be a co-facilitator of this project because of their extensive experience in the area of toxins, pollution control and grassroots environmental issues in the FSU.
They had already donated chemical analysis equipment to the recipient groups in 1992.
Originally Ecologia proposed equipment and training for groups in three cities including: Minsk, Belarus; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Kishinev, Moldova. The three cities share persistent air and water pollution problems caused by heavy industrialization and the situation is further aggravated by fallout from the Chernobyl catastrophe. In early September, Randy Kritkausky, director of Ecologia, recommended a fourth group, Mama-86 of Kiev, Ukraine. After hearing impressive stories about Mama-86, a group of mothers whose children were born after the Chernobyl accident, SEN decided to include them in the monitoring network and donated an additional Apple computer to them.
The nature of the project and SEN's experience working in Eurasia suggested that group training, as opposed to delivering the equipment to each city separately, would be the most efficient way to teach the recipients electronic mail, data base management, word processing, etc. Oleg Cherp, at 25, considered to be one of the best environmental activists in Eurasia, took on the role of coordinating this training at his hometown of Minsk.
SEN's technical coordinator, Davis Chapman and I left for Eurasia in early October. Getting to Minsk was an adventure. First, the Apple equipment, especially designed for Russia, arrived at our office in Massachusetts the evening before we left! Then we had to "hand-carry" 12 boxes of equipment and our personal belongings from Boston to Minsk by way of NYC and Moscow. The last leg of the trip by night train almost ended in disaster when we were told by train authorities that we could not board with so much equipment. "Of course" the conductor said as the train was about to leave, "an extra $30.00 would get the equipment on board with no problem at all." (For some context, a one way ticket at that time cost approximately US $1.80).
After arriving in Minsk and carrying the equipment to the fourth floor of the administration building of the Minsk Botanical Gardens, all 14 participants were informed that there was to be no heat in the building over the weekend. To make matters worse, upon setting up the equipment, the Macintosh we donated to the project had been damaged in transit. As is often the case in the former Soviet Union when things seem to be going downhill fast something extraordinary will occur which makes working there so rewarding.
Amazingly, there was a Macintosh exhibition in Minsk happening at the very same time as our training and we were able to purchase a superior replacement for the Mac Classic (an LCII) the following day. Apple equipment is virtually unknown outside of Moscow so we considered this to be quite an omen.
For the next 4 days we hammered away at the most important aspects of information management and dissemination.
We began with the overall context and general goals of the project, spent the middle period on technical specifics, and ended with the critical need for constant cooperation in order to maximize the project's effectiveness. Training the entire group gave the participants an opportunity to build the trust and teamwork so necessary to make a project like this succeed. In addition, by having four expert trainers available, three Russian and one US, each of the nine student groups was able to receive intensive "one-on-one" assistance.
We left Minsk with a warm feeling. Anna Syomina, director of Mama-86, commented, "I have never worked together with such motivated, committed people. I've learned enough to last for years." For activists like Oleg Cherp, the toxic monitoring network's computer equipment and training were a long awaited necessity to making a difference in his world, "Finally we have the equipment necessary to manage and distribute the information we've been gathering for years."
With ethnic tensions and nationalist separatism on the rise, bringing together environmentalists in the western FSU working on trans-boundary issues has been a hopeful, satisfying task.
A few months later with Spring nowhere in sight the SEN team set out for the Russian Far East (RFE) to sponsor another training with a very different environmental agenda. As readers of the SEN newsletter know we are deeply committed to helping RFE activists protect their very unique ecosystems ones which possess the most complex biodiversity in Russia. To do this effectively they must have the ability to communicate reliably among themselves and their international counterparts. Previous trips by SEN staff and numerous recommendations from Russian and American NGO's working in the region helped us locate five ideal candidates for training and equipment.
Because of ISAR's ability to quickly pass on the necessary funding to fuel this initiative we were able to purchase most of the computer equipment in Vladivostok saving time and money (shipping costs and customs duty in Russia make moderately priced USA-purchased equipment very costly to bring to Russia).
Working together, Sergei Krasnopeyev, SEN's RFE coordinator, and Davis Chapman, SEN's technical coordinator, researched the optimal systems for the recipients as well as "wireless" technology for the Far Eastern Leopard Fund. (see article)
Between March 25 to 28 Natasha Proskurina from Magadan, Yuri Darman from Blagoveshchensk, Victor Korkishko from the nature reserve Kedrovaya Pahd, Dmitri Melnikov from Komsomolsk-Na-Amur, and Radik Sulyandziga from Krasni Yar, and their assistants, participated in the training in Vladivostok. They were given preliminary materials and a detailed agenda in the Russian language covering the various software and hardware knowledge needed to achieve electronic mail fluency. In addition, SEN brought in two of its best ETP technical consultants, Alexander Georgievsky from Moscow and Evgenny Mitrofanov from Chita to maximize individual attention during the course of the training.
All recipients successfully completed the training and are in the process of opening different types of e-mail accounts (i.e., Sovam, GlasNet, Relcom, Sprint) and two recipients have started using e-mail. (Victor Korkishko "/S=LEOPROJ/O= VLA D.WOOD ! "@sov mail.sprint.com and Natasha Proskurina email@example.com). Sergei will be following up with on-site visits to the remaining recipients to get them reliably on-line. Three of the sites, Krasni Yar, Blagoveshchensk, and Kedrovaya Pahd are in locations where technical difficulties related to phone line quality will be a recurring problem.
There were other beneficiaries of the Russian Far East Initiative besides the designated recipients. The training turned into a "mini-conference", providing a conduit for numerous groups to compare information and plan for the future. Valery Zograf of Sovietskaya Gavan and Fyodor Kronokovsky of Roshchino returned home with equipment and information enabling them to be more effective in their work.
-Bill Pfeiffer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sergei Krasnopeyev (above right) giving instructions to participants during SEN's E-mail training in Vladivostok
Oleg and Valentin Cherp
valik@by. glas.apc. Org
Russia and Belarus
Sacred Earth Network is extremely fortunate to have Susan Cutting (email@example.com) on staff as the ETP's new In-Country Coordinator. She is fluent in Russian, adept with personal computers and has a Master's degree in environmental policy. After researching, writing and editing "The Directory" (see pages 6-7) in SEN's Massachusetts office, Susan moved to Russia to begin her in-country responsibilities in mid-March. In addition to updating the directory, interviewing prospective recipients, and providing follow-up assistance, one of her main tasks will be to put together a technical support team. When this team of native Eurasians with a high level of computer networking expertise is fully active, we will be able to readily provide on-site support to any region that requires that level of help. Currently there are, on average, 8 sites a week that request some form of technical assistance.
- Bill Pfeiffer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Davis, Susan, and Bill outside the SEN office right before leaving for the Russian Far East
Survival International is a worldwide movement to support tribal peoples. It stands for their right to decide their own future and helps them protect their lands, environment and way of life. Founded in 1969, it received the Right Livelihood Award in 1989. Their new report, "Guardians of the Sacred Land", sketches the beliefs of the Hopi and Arhuaco peoples, and finishes with an urgent plea to contribute to their campaigns for tribal peoples everywhere.
310 Edgeware Road
London W2 1DY
Tel: 071-723 5535.
TRANET - A Bi-Monthly Digest for the Alternative and Transformational Movement(s) - "is a transnational network of, by, and for people who are creating the new social paradigm people who are changing the world by changing their own lives - people who are adopting appropriate technologies and lifestyles". If the SEN newsletter had space to review most of the transformational movements and events in the world... it would be just like TRANET. Membership/ subscription starts at $30.
P.O. Box 567
Rangely, ME 04970-0567
Wild Earth is a quarterly magazine published by the non-profit Cenozoic Society. Beautifully illustrated with drawings of unique flora and fauna from around the planet, it focuses on grassroots efforts to preserve and restore wilderness, especially in North America. They also sponsor The Wildlands Project, a grassroots plan for wildland recovery in every region of North America. Articles consistently articulate the biocentric worldview and its application to the preservation of biodiversity. Membership/subscription starts at $25.
P.O. Box 455
Richmond, VT 05477
The need is clear. Many of the nature reserves and prime locations for biodiversity protection are in areas of Eurasia with poor or non-existent telephone access. Take Kedrovaya Pahd reserve near Vladivostok for example. Its only telephone required manual routing through two village operators and the train station in Vladivostok to reach the outside world. Or the newly formed Muriovka Park near Blagaveshchensk where the nearest electricity is five kilometers and phone 30 kilometers. How can the scientists and researchers in theses places collaborate with their peers in other regions and internationally?
Certainly there are very high technology solutions to this problem such as satellite relay and high powered transmitters, but these kinds of solutions are priced well out of the range of all but the most well funded projects.
Our interest has been to try to put together a radio-relay system priced under $3,000 which would at least allow for sending and receiving e-mail messages. It quickly became clear that two methods hold promise although a packaged solution has yet to be found.
One method is to set up an automated radio system which would function basically as a radio-telephone. One station would be wired to the telephone system and the remote station could be located in an automobile or remote site. Cellular phone technology is a common, though low powered, example of such a system. Cellular's main disadvantage is the requirement of a network of repeater antennas to compensate for its short distance.
The US has a strong cellular antenna network and several parts of Russia are developing an equivalent network because of the lower cost of building antennas verses laying new wire. For our needs we looked at higher powered radios which could reach distances of nearly 75 kilometers with good antennas and few obstructing hills. Such a system allows for both voice and computer access to the telephone system, but suffers from noise from atmospheric conditions and other people using the same radio frequencies.
The other method is one developed by the amateur radio hobbyists in the US. Known as packet radio, it functions very similar to the Fidonet model of relaying packets of information from relay to relay until it reaches its destination. The basic equipment required is a computer (I saw it demonstrated on an ancient Commodore 64!), a radio system, and a packet radio modem. The advantage of this method is that many computers can converse over the same frequency. The disadvantage is that it does not permit an interactive login to a phone based e-mail system.
In the US the development of packet radio has mirrored the evolution of e-mail. A hobbyist network of packet radio relay systems has sprouted across the US and grown to the point that it is possible to relay radio packets to other countries.
The difficulty of using packet radio for e-mail appears to be the interface between the radio world and the telephone world, a key element for being able to use radios to connect to traditional electronic mail networks.
I have heard of several systems put together by hobbyists to solve this problem. The best route seems to be to set up a computer bulletin board system with access to both the radio and telephone. That system could then store the radio packets and then at preset intervals, call the e-mail system and exchange messages.
There are two important considerations when playing with either of these two methods. One is that radio communications are heavily regulated worldwide because of the number of demands for radio frequencies (TV, commercial radio, military, etc). At minimum each country has very specific frequencies which can be used for this kind of communication and a licensing process to be able to use the equipment. The second consideration is that the amateur radio frequencies in US land I expect worldwide) are governed by a stringent code of ethics which prohibit any kind of commercial or business use of those frequencies. This means for example that a nature reserve could not discuss ecotourism possibilities over such a system.
So what does this all mean? In the case of Kedrovaya Pahd reserve, a radiotelephone system was installed which gave full telephone access to the reserve. Regular computers and modems worked fine over the system. Total cost in Vladivostok, Siberia was about $4,000 for the two radios, two antennas (relatively fancy),and the installation. I have not put together a working packet radio system yet, but the total cost for a radio, packet modem, and antenna is probably under $1,000 for second hand equipment in the US. However, this method would also require a computer running a computer bulletin board system which would add another $2,000 for computer and software and $1,000 for another radio station. This brings the total cost to $4,000 for a complete system which would only allow for e-mail communication. Any cost savings would come from being able to share the computer bulletin board system with several users.
In summary, the technology exists for making an e-mail link over radio waves, but there are no simple solutions. So far, no system has crossed under our magic $3,000 target. Creativity and patience are certainly in order to attain that goal.
-Davis Chapman (email@example.com)
Vladimir Kuchmin smiling at Davis Chapman after SEN's first wireless E mail connection inside a car!
The Russian Biodiversity Project (RBP) is SEN's new initiative to help
Russian conservationists protect biodiversity and strengthen the management
of important natural areas. In July, thanks to generous funding from the
Trust For Mutual Understanding, a group of conservationists from
Siberia and the Russian Far East - relatively neglected regions of high
ecological significance - will visit the United States to examine various
nature protection efforts by U.S. colleagues. Tour highlights include Yosemite
National Park (CA), White Mountains National Forest (NH), Quabbin Watershed
(MA) and a number of State parks and privately managed nature reserves.
Project director Ivan Ussach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
will then spend the remainder of the year in Russia, working directly with
project participants to enhance their nature protection and organizational
management efforts. Ivan, a SEN board member, brings extensive environmental
and organizational experience to the project. We are excited about this
opportunity for increased collaboration with our Russian friends and colleagues!
The circulatory system of European Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine has always been its rivers. These rivers continue to provide sorely needed economic and spiritual vitality to the regions they flow through. Countless poems, songs, and books have been written about them. The Don, Dneiper, and Volga are perhaps the most prominent. Unfortunately they have been under an industrial assault of enormously destructive proportions for the past 75 years. At a recent environmental conference in Nizhny Novgorod (formerly Gorky) there were many activists living and working along the banks of these rivers who requested SEN's assistance. They asked us firstly, to publicize the plight of these noble arteries- highlighting the urgent need for the introduction of clean, appropriate technologies - and secondly, for SEN to assist them in acquiring computers and modems critical to the rivers' defense. The ETP has already assisted many of the users shown below. On the map we have put an asterisk on sites where we have received proposals for future assistance.
email@example.com Sb: for Kharkov
Maxim Odintsev, Mikhail Sablin
environmental education, urban ecology
environmental policy and law
environmental networking, chemical weapons
Tatyana Artemkina, Mikhail Panov
ecological monitoring, ecojournalism
nature reserves, environmental education
industrial pollution, ecojournalism
Andrei Saltykov, Farit Zeleev
nuclear issues, environmental education, forests
Yulia Erlashova, Nadezhda Bedina
industrial pollution, ecojournalism
environmental education, GIS
Anna Syomina, Andrei Arkhipets
environmental education, nuclear issues
School Envir. Center
environmental education, parks
Reductionist.....................Holistic Linear...........................Multi-dimensional Nature as instrument.............Intrinsic values Observer outside nature..........Participant oberver Dead matter......................Living energy Growth...........................Sustainable development Quantitative.....................Qualitative Discrete things..................Systems, Processes Knowledge as power...............Wisdom/Understanding No spiritual dimensions..........Spiritual practices Technology as power..............Appropriate technology Having...........................Being Mastery of nature................Self mastery Subject/object separation........S/O reciprocity Centralization...................Decentralization Design as only technique.........Design as art Specialist.......................Generalist Training for technical skills....Balanced education Anthropocentric..................Biocentric Corporation and association......Community and friendship Competition......................Cooperation Uniformity.......................Diversity Earth as object..................Living Earth No sacred ground or place........Sacred ground and place Narrowly historical..............Transhistorical Surface, ego self................Deep self
Appropriate Technology criteria
2. Suitable to problem context
3. Ecologically sound
4. Economically and socially equitable and sustainable
5. Facilitates human development-
Adapted from Shifting Paradigms, Lightstar.
"...there can be no health for humans and cities that by-passes the rest of nature. A properly radical environmentalist position is in no way anti-human. We grasp the pain of the human condition in its full complexity, and add the awareness of how desperately endangered certain key species and habitats have become... The critical argument now within environmental circles is between those who operate from a human-centered resource management mentality and those whose values reflect an awareness of the integrity of the whole of nature. The latter position, that of Deep Ecology, is politically livelier, more courageous, more convivial, riskier, and more scientific." - Gary Snyder, in "Survival and Sacrament"
"The earth's vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are intimate and essential relations between plants and the earth, between plants and other plants, between plants and animals. Sometimes we have no choice but to disturb these relationships, but we should do so thoughtfully, with full awareness that what we do may have consequences remote in time and place." - Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, p.64.
Much cleaner than coal, and perhaps not as far off as once thought, is
the use of solar power to generate electricity on a commercial scale. This
year Alpha Solarco Inc., Cincinnati (tel. 513-771-1690), announced test
results on a 15-kilowatt/hr solar electric power generator, which it claims
will be viable for utilities. The tests, conducted at a facility in Pahrump,
Nevada, confirmed that the unit, when mass-produced, will be "cost-competitive
with coal," reports Edward Schmidt, president of Alpha Solarco. The
4l-ft-tall unit uses special-focus lenses and silicon cells to intensify
the amount of sunlight entering the 24 solar cells, thus maximizing the
conversion of light to electricity. Alpha Solarco estimates that solar arrays
covering a 12-square-mile area of desert could generate enough electricity
to supply the city of Los Angeles, with enough power left over to run a
desalinization plant to convert saltwater into fresh water.
-from industry Week, April 4, 1994
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion
Like eagles that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe out knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
These statues commemorate the members of the mythical village of Kitezh (near Kaluga) who gave up their physical form to become guardians of the land.
"Far from leaving microorganisms behind on an evolutionary ladder, we more complex creatures are both surrounded by them and composed of them. New knowledge of biology alters our view of evolution as a chronic, bloody competition among individuals and species. Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking." -Carla Cole (based on the work of Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan) in In Context, 34.
Editing: Bill Pfeiffer, Davis Chapman, Ben Robin, Diane DePuydt, and Susan Cutting
Russian Translation: Roman and Irina Yakub
The SEN Newsletter is published twice a year in both English and Russian. A subscription includes membership in SEN and costs $25. Send a check payable to "Sacred Earth Network." SEN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
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Please send any questions or comments regarding the information contained in this page to firstname.lastname@example.org All contents are copyright © 1998 by The Sacred Earth Network, a 501(c)(3) organization. All rights reserved. Revised July 16, 1997