Most parents arriving at school on Wednesday morning were greeted by a group of community activists collecting signatures. The intention of the petition is to stop a huge project in the vicinity of the Seed that will involved heavy truck traffic. The project is right across the street from a school and has the potential to be both a safety and environmental hazard to many children and their families. I’m happy to hear that the group https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofSouthMountain?ref=hl collected a high percentage of signatures from parents who are Phoenix residents.
I’ve always touted myself as a non-political person. I have my personal opinions about people and issues, but try to stick to middle ground outwardly because I am, after all, a school director and want to be honoring of the variety of perspectives that come into my life on a daily basis. As time goes on, though, I’m finding it harder and harder to remain mostly quiet on certain issues. This began changing two years ago after I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and then a year later with thyroid cancer. I’ve been health conscious for most of my adult life, so it was somewhat surprising to both myself and those around me that cancer was showing up in my body. Having cancer made me take a closer look at my life practices, my diet and the environment.
As I looked closer at anti-cancer foods, my interest grew in learning more about food in general. This translated into reviewing and revising our food practices and policies at the Seed, trying to understand GMOs and how they are infiltrating our food systems, and exploring the organic vs. non-organic produce discussion. I am more and more convinced that the environment is a strong contributing factor not only to my own cancer experiences, but to many other maladies affecting our children, ourselves and our planet. Not being a scientist myself, I have turned to others with more expertise to answer my questions. I’ve been reading Sandra Steingraber’s book Living Downstream, which raises considerable questions about the effect of chemicals and toxins that have been and continue to be spewed into our environment. Last Friday I sat with four other women, three of whom have strong science backgrounds, to gather their perspectives on issues related to the Seed’s food policy. Toward the end of our conversation I posed the question, “So in light of this, how do we create a sound policy for the Seed regarding food?” One member of the conversation provided an answer to my question with one simple word: ahimsa.
Ahimsa is a term from yoga philosophy that means non-violence or to cause no harm. As we talked further, I realized that whatever our policy evolves into, we must always keep in mind practices that cause the least harm to the air we breath, the soil that grows our food, our oceans, and our physical bodies. Being reminded of ahimsa has inspired me to use my voice to speak up on issues that affect all of us, especially the most vulnerable among us, our children. Whether it’s heavy truck traffic or pesticides entering our bloodstreams through our food, it’s time to be more vocal, keeping ahimsa close to our hearts and minds.