Tag Archives: diversity

Flash to Fallow: Mother Nature’s 5 Financial Lessons

4 Oct

This post originally appeared on blogher’s ‘Diary of a Single Professional Woman’

Nature is rich – in resources – just like I want to be.

I often say ‘Everything I need to know about the economy and life I learned from Mother Nature’.   As fall sends nature’s flash into fallow (or dormancy), it’s the perfect time to learn from her (save, spend, grow) sustainability plan.   After all, she’s been around a long time – so what does she know that we don’t?  And more importantly what can we learn so we spring open along with the crocuses come April?   Here’s my simplistic, and metaphoric thoughts on ‘environmental economics’ to kick around along with the leaves.

seedling

Fall may feel like an end rather than a start – look out the window and nature looks like it is dying.  Ha!  Mother Nature is transitioning from her extroverted spring/summer flash to a well-deserved introverted fall/winter recovery time.  Her withdrawal of energy allows time to reflect, rejuvenate, and save for spring’s big bloom roll-out.

Shorter days likely darken our mood.  Especially as color leaves our external environment.   Green, in particular colors our thoughts – and the U.S. dollar or greenback, that universal currency.  Simply:

Lush, rich, life = Green

Green = Money

Green = Nature

Nature = Resources

Resources = Money

Money = Nature

Nature = Resources = Life

Yet, when it comes to linking the economy with the environment, it seems we are colorblind, too often living in the red.  I think we need to ask: which resources are needed for life?

For a brief period of time, I thought it was a ‘red handbag’.  As you’ve read,  it was a temporary want.  Sure, I love ‘stuff’ that makes my apartment home.  But honestly, I don’t need it – I just want it.   The only resources any of us really need for life are oxygen, water, and food.  Resources only nature can provide contrary to food package’ ingredient listings.

I say our challenge is working with Mother Nature for our needs while satisfying our human nature with our wants.

It’s asking:  What Would Mother Nature Do (WWMND) for economic success?   She’d say begin with her 5 steps:

1.  Balance:    Mother Nature has obviously spent plenty of time on a playground seesaw.  She understands the need to maintain balance even while going up and down.   She uses what she has – while saving a little for the future.    Mother Nature foregoes debt, once her bottom line turns from green to red, she catapults into endangerment/extinction.

Lesson:   We may become morally, emotionally, financially bankrupt overusing resources, causing our internal peace (balance) to become extinct.  Live under your means to keep your personal seesaw going.   Debt drives your energy, emotions, finances and goodwill into the red.  And remember: There is no plastic – no credit cards – found in nature.

Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child's play.
Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child’s play.

2.  Save:   Mother Nature saves everything including those piles of leaves in your yard.   This is not hoarding.  She reduces those dead leaves/blooms by recycling (decomposers de-clutter causing decaying leaves to smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning) and reusing (notice those leaves are gone by spring – broken up and back into the soil like using old clothes to make a quilt).  All this saving leads to new blooms – and a reminder that the future is no predictor of the past.

Lesson:  use what you have to grow your future – like with an IRA.    And don’t bother raking those leaves in your yard!

3.  Spew seeds:  Seeds are nature’s C.D.’s (certificates of deposit), little packets of possibility to ensure future growth.   They even sound similar!   Seeds, like C.D.’s only open at the right time, in the right place, and the right conditions – and they are supported by all those unused seeds and leaves that ‘die’.  There are even special seeds that open during a forest fire to ensure that tree species survival.  Kinda like emergency C.D.’s/funds.  

Lesson:  save for emergencies as well as the future – though the stock market provides better returns than C.D.’s.

Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already  open (like all CD's should be!)
Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already open (like all CD’s should be!)

4.  Diversification: The healthiest forest and gardens are filled with diverse trees that play host to lots of different bugs, and are called home by lots of birds.   Having only one species like Dutch Elm (on decorative paths) found one ‘sick’ tree caused them all to die.

Lesson:  Diversification of your holdings maintains balance and growth so even if your ‘Dutch Elm’-like stock tanks/dies, other stock species survive.

5.  Be sustainable:  Mother Nature thrives because everything she has is used and supports everything else, even though it may seem to be in conflict.

Lesson:  Invest in things that feed your future.  Material things that overwhelm you and end up in landfills throw you off-balance and leave nothing to decompose – unlike the leaves left in your yard that will decompose to nurture spewed seeds.  Experiential investments always leave you with seeds or kernels of thought and growth.

Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium
Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium

 Mother Nature’s 5 lessons keep you blooming in all seasons:

  • This holiday season, stay green and out of the red by matching  spending with your values (http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/) and keep you growing.
  • Make every day is your special Valentine’s Day by making black the new red.  Love yourself by loving your finances and living under your means to live fully in the future.

And really, just one more thing to think about:  We may say money is the root of all evil, and we should add, resources are the cause for conflicts personally and globally...

Meanwhile, what steps will you take to support your spring blooms?

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Hurricane Sandy’s Global Warming WARNing

4 Nov

Horrific devastation of a flooded then burned Breezy Point, Queens after Sandy struck – and compared to a bombed WWII city.
Are we at War?
If we are, we are losing – and we’ve been warned.
photo from: cnbc.com

A week ago we were preparing for Sandy.  Now, many parts of the city are dealing with unbelievable devastation.  Sitting in a Starbucks  close to Central Park, there’s an eerie sense of normalcy.

Runners from around the world limp by in their brightly colored shirts.  They’ve  run their 26 miles without the help of the cancelled NYC marathon.

At the southern tip of Brooklyn, the Atlantic Ocean nips the beaches of Coney Island and the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach.

Subtle.  We’ve all been transfixed by dramatic images of floods and fires.

Here are subtle but real images of the storm.

Starbucks on Brighton, a block from Brighton Beach’s boardwalk, still shuttered on Thursday, 10/31 after Sandy.

Normalcy is Starbucks where on the most ordinary of days is filled with chatterers and writers.  This particular Starbucks a block from Brighton Beach was shuttered as of last Thursday.  A small reminder.

Life will never be the same.  Or will it?  Memory is fleeting: our strength and challenge as humans.

Post-Sandy, I took a walk down Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn.  Ocean Parkway is Central Park’ architects (Vaux and Olmstead) tree-lined grand promenade, linking Prospect Park  and Coney Island.

Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s landscaped park courtesy of Vaux and Olmstead – and the park they preferred!

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg and NY Governor Cuomo murmur loud enough to be heard over election babble:  Sandy’s vengeance  is the face of disasters to come.

And is the result of global climate change.

This is NYC’s third natural disaster in two years.

A killer 2010 snowstorm buried buses and cars for days on end, devastating holiday plans and shopping

Maybe we are at war?  Maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us something?  If we are at war, who are our allies?  Our enemies?

A casualty!  This tree-crushed car must have horrified it’s owner. Luckily for the owner, this neighborhood suffered no power loss, flooding, or fires.

Luck is in the eyes of the beholder, especially after a disaster.  My neighbor complained about the lack of milk and eggs in the stores.  And of course no gas.

It seems the less we have to complain about, the more we complain.  I bet a week ago, people in Staten Island would have focused on this complaint.   Things change – like the climate.  And what we complain about.

Uprooted trees fell to their death, united with chunks of the earth which had kept them stable and solid for so long. What will we do without them? How will we live?

Thousands of trees were killed during the hurricane. Sadly, these fallen trees now block streets, damaged houses, cars, and, even killed people.
(If you look carefully…)
I guess someone realized this dead tree could no longer feed herself (photosynthesis) SO LEFT A BOTTLE OF JUICE on her fallen trunk. For the tree to drink.

Irony:

Killed trees = less absorbed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Less trees = more carbon dioxide  = increased temperature.

Increased temperature = warmer ocean.

Warmer ocean = more hurricanes.

But we all know this.

Attack of the killer tree? Tree suicide? It almost looks like the tree attacked this car. She knows killing cars is one way to fight climate change.

Environmentalists have been crying ‘global warming’ for years, going back centuries.  Remember singing:  ‘they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’ (Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi)

No Gas! Every gas station I saw was closed and lineless.
One more reason I am thankful and thrilled with a great public transportation system which IS up and running!
It’s as if the cars not crushed by trees were silenced by lack of gas. Coincidence?

Close to where Ocean Parkway meets the boardwalk,  the ocean’s surge took action on cars:

Cars were nudged out-of-place, not as dramatic as pictures of piles of boats in people’s yard. Disquieting. Like the ‘clean’ sidewalks and ‘dust’ in the air the closer one got to the ocean.

Sandy turned the entrance to the boardwalk into a sand dune!

Piles of sand, rearranged from one side of the boardwalk to the other – not major, not dramatic, subtle. Kind of like climate change so far. Kind of like small islands disappearing. Unless you live there. Or unless your car becomes buried in sand.

The ocean was apologetically quiet post hurricane. While I passed over a dozen wanderers, only one fisherman sat patiently waiting for signs of life to emerge on the end of his line.

There’s a ‘neutral zone’ between the energy of Coney Island’s amusement park and the calm, European flavor of ‘Little Odessa’, the Russian neighborhood of Brighton Beach.  In that zone is the NY Aquarium.

NYC’s diversity is its strength. We’ve survived 9/11, we’ll survive this. Diversity adds dimension and as perspective, the planet loses way too many species every year no thanks to human actions. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine how this loss of diversity will impact life as we know it.

Please donate to the victims of this natural disaster and for those who will suffer from disasters to come.

And vote:  remember only one candidate has spoken about climate change.  Climate change alone will focus our jobs and needs in years to come!

What do you think?  How can we save the planet?  What can each of us do?