Eight Timely Celebrations of Our INTERdependence

Swiss Army Creating a Telephone Line Connection in the Alps During WWI

Ever have one of those months where you experience a repeated theme in your life, or a certain idea or concept arrives at your door over and over, to the point you just can’t ignore it? Well, the month of June was that for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt. The theme? The thought that we are all connected, inextricably linked, interdependent. So today, I’m celebrating INTERdependence Day with a post sharing these bits and pieces that have come up for me lately, all in a nice, handy list.

Here, in no particular order, are the things that have moved me to believe wholeheartedly in our inter-connectedness this past month:

1. “Life Rules” by Ellen La Conte - The author was on one of my favorite podcasts recently, and I listened to it in early June with a friend while sipping tea at my house. The stories she tells of “organic democracy” – even amongst bacteria – are riveting.

2. The Plant a Wish trailer – Joe and I edited this trailer for a Cinereach filmmaker’s grant application due in early June. For those of you who don’t know about Plant a Wish yet, it’s a 50-state native tree planting event tour that I launched last year with my husband Joe. We’re currently up to 41 states, and getting ready to head out on one last road trip. (We’re raising funds for that, by the way.) From the 160 hours of footage we’ve filmed so far in 41 states, we were challenged with boiling the theme of our film into a trailer that’s just over 3 minutes long. After days and days of brainstorming, browsing footage, listening to our many interviews, the clear story that rose to the surface was one of our connectedness with nature and how fully realizing this union is the key to our well-being.

3. “I AM” the Film – As Social Media Director for the Maui Film Festival, I was exposed to a wonderful array of excellent films last month. One that was a clear favorite from my perspective – and that of the incredible audience at the festival’s al fresco “Celestial Cinema” under the stars – was a film from Tom Shadyac, director of Jim Carrey blockbusters “Ace Ventura”, “Liar Liar” and others. After an accident led him on a quest to enlightenment, Tom turned the cameras on himself – and on many spiritual teachers and leaders – to make an ambitious documentary seeking knowledge about the nature of humanity. The result was a film he titled “I AM”. A HUGE theme of this film is that we are kinned with all things on the Earth. To quote Shadyac from this Esquire articlea,

“Nature is an incredible cooperative. When things operate outside of that cooperative, they die off. “

4. “Connected” by Tiffany Shlain – another doc that showed at the 2011 Maui Film Festival was a beautiful film essay by Webby Awards founder and thought-provoking filmmaker Tiffany Shlain. Tiffany’s father, surgeon Dr. Leonard Shlain, was a known “connector” who studied the brain, and worked to merge seemingly opposing ideas (in his book “Art and Physics”, for example). Taking her late father’s torch in the award-winning documentary “Connected”, Tiffany turns the idea of our independence on its head. Today she has launched a participatory campaign – inviting everyone to work together on her next film, a crowd-sourced mashed-up recital of her “Declaration of Interdependence”. I’m sure we’ll see plenty more greatness from Ms. Shlain in the future!

5. Staycation 2011 – In June, I took a break from the internet, social media, cellphones, and computers for three solid days, inspired by Tiffany Shlain’s self-prescribed “Technology Shabbat” (where she takes a weekly break from all things “wired”). Joe and I spent three days at the Napili Kai Beach Resort on Napili Bay, and enjoyed spending time connecting with each other, with the beautiful ocean, and with our own natural pace. We enjoyed the rest, the peace and quiet, and found ourselves communing with a variety of gorgeous sunrises, sunsets, dolphins, rainbows and excellent food. The only technology I used was a digital camera. Flickr photo set is here.

6. “Sand County Almanac”, by Aldo Leopold – This book came up as a repeated suggestion, a reference, and even brought one of our interview subjects to tears while we were on the most recent Plant a Wish tour, and now it’s coming back into the memosphere because of a documentary recently released about the author’s life. According to the project’s website, Green Firehighlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement.” One quote from the legendary book’s forward sums it all up:

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold

7. Articles popping up in the media about “staying connected” – Aside from personal occurrences of the concept of our connectedness, it seems that many other blogs, newspapers, and magazines are approaching the topic right now, as well. From so many people discussing the NY Times article stating that one can only have a certain number of “meaningful friendships” (aka “Dunbar’s Number), to a statistical study saying that we can only have a certain number of “true fans”, to this blog post offering insights on how we can stay connected when our number of connections is growing…it seems the idea of our connectivity is at the forefront of our minds these days.

8. My cat Gordon’s near-death experience – While we were away on our Staycation, our awesome orange tabby cat Gordon got into a horrible fight with a neighbor’s cat. By the time we returned home, the puncture wounds he received had grown to be highly infected, he was running a fever of 105 degrees and was unable to eat, care for himself, or move around. For over 48 hours, I positioned myself right next to him, trying to heal him. I was a mess and it felt as if my child or my brother was on his death bed. It took two vet visits, IV fluids and a strong anti-biotic, but he is much better now. The whole experience taught me that even animals are our family, and their well-being is connected to our own.

We are all so connected its just silly to think otherwise.

My question now is: if we were all aware of how connected all living things are to one another, would we treat each other – and the Earth – differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts, let’s start some dialogue.

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