Fellow southern California environmentalists, if you’re looking for a fun-filled day of learning how you and your family can help better the environment and become a more eco-conscious muslims, check out the Earth Day Festival at the Islamic Institute of Orange County!

(Click on here to register, click here to enlarge eflyer)

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What in blazes is going on with the world’s bees? I keep reading all these stories about how a significant percentage of the world’s beehives are failing and that all the bees are dying.

A phenomenon attributed to everything from global warming to insecticides to radiation from cell phone towers have seen a resurgence in repetitions of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, citations claiming the noted scientist once said “ if the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.  YIKES!

Perhaps you think of bees simply as a summertime nuisance. But these small and hard-working insects actually make it possible for many of your favorite foods to reach your table. From apples to almonds to the pumpkin in our pumpkin pies, we have bees to thank.

More than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees.  Bees Keep Our Economy Humming!

 The Bee has continued through the millennia as a symbol of the soul’s survival after death and limitless existence in the harmony of the Golden age of the World.

The remarkable service that Bees provide as pollinators of plants and trees and producers of life-affirming nectar has largely been taken for granted. It’s only when Bees started to disappear and actually die in alarming numbers did popular culture take notice, and only then out of a morbid sort of curiosity. But it has not always been this way. In fact, Bees were venerated in prehistory and revered in ancient cultures far and wide, especially in Egypt.

In ancient Egypt, the bee was an insignia of kingship associated particularly with Lower Egypt.  Honey bees, signifying immortality and resurrection, were royal emblems of the Merovingians, revived by Napoleon.

Bees were portrayed on the walls of Egyptian tombs and offerings of honey were routinely presented to the most important Egyptian deities. Indeed, honey was the ‘nectar of the gods’, and Egyptian physicians valued its medicinal value in many important procedures.

Today we can observe that in the Quran, the honey bee is mentioned more specifically than other animals.

 (Surat an-Nahl (The Bee), 68-69)

“And your Lord taught the honey bee ….”

“And your Lord taught the honey bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.

It is noteworthy that the amount of honey stored by the bees is much more than their actual need. The question which comes to the mind is why this “excessive production”, which seems to be a waste of time and energy is not stopped? The answer to this question is hidden in the verse which states that the bee is “taught” so by the Lord.

Actually, the Bee is the only insect that communicates through dance, yet this largely forgotten trait is one of the reasons why Bee imagery from antiquity is often lost on the untrained eye.

Bees innately produce honey not only for themselves but also for the human beings. As a matter of fact, bees, like many other beings in nature, are offered to the service of man.

It is generally known that honey is a fundamental food source for the human body. A basic foodstuff, but which can also be a drink – like milk with which it is often associated, honey is a symbol of richness and sweetness in all traditions. In the sacred texts of East and West, milk and honey flow like a stream through the promised land.

All the great prophets refer to honey in the Scriptures. Speech is honey, it represents softness, justice, virtue and divine goodness. The Koran uses holy terms to talk of bees and honey :”Honey is the first blessing that God gave the earth”.

For the Egyptians, honey was the tears of the god Râ and was a part of all the religious offerings in pharaonic Egypt. In Islam, according to the Prophet, it restores sight, preserves health and resuscitates the dead.

In modern psychoanalytical thinking, honey symbolizes the “higher self” , the ultimate consequence of work on one’s inner self. As the result of the transmutation of ephemeral pollen into a delicious food of immortality, honey symbolizes the transformation by initiation, the conversion of the soul, and the complete integration of the person.

The Bee Hive is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile in the dust. It teaches us that we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down content while our fellow creatures around us are in want, especially when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves.

A community of honey bees has often been employed by political theorists as a model of human society. This metaphor occurs in Aristotle and Plato.

It is estimated that in North America around 30% of the food humans consume is produced from bee pollinated plant life. The value of pollination by bees is estimated around $16 billion in the US alone. We would be unable to enjoy most of our favorite fruits, vegetables, or nuts without these pollinators. Bees also pollinate crops such as clover and alfalfa that cattle feed on, making bees important to our production and consumption of meat and dairy.

When we look deeply enough, we discover a disturbing force that is fundamental in generating our dilemmas and crises, a force that is not actually hidden at all but is staring up at us every day from our plates! It has been lying undiscovered all along in the most obvious of places: It is our food.

Food is not only a fundamental necessity; it is also a primary symbol in the shared inner life of every human culture, including our own. It is not hard to see that food is a source and metaphor of life, love, generosity, celebration, pleasure, reassurance, acquisition, and consumption.

When we practice eating for spiritual health and social harmony, we practice making certain essential connections that our culturally induced food rituals normally require us to block from awareness.

Food is actually our most intimate and telling connection both with the natural order and with our living cultural heritage. Through eating the plants and animals of this earth we literally incorporate them, and it is also through this act of eating that we partake of our culture’s values and paradigms at the most primal and unconscious levels. As children, through constant exposure to the complex patterns of belief surrounding our most elaborate group ritual, eating food, we ingested our culture’s values and invisible assumptions. Like sponges, we learned, we noticed, we partook, and we became acculturated. Now, as adults, finding our lives beset with stress and a range of daunting problems of our own making, we rightly yearn to understand the source of our frustrating inability to live in harmony on this earth.

Forefathers of the American Revolution incorporated the symbolism of the Bee into the very fabric of our government. This should not be regarded as unusual.  Early American statesmen shared a bond with other more time-honored nations that enabled Bee symbolism to be transmitted across the globe and into a new era.

The Bee remains an important symbol to the Egyptians – as well as other ancient civilizations – before being adopted by the United States of America. The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century

Live and Learn. We All Do.

Thanks for reading. Please pass this on to someone who means something to you.

In 2006, a group of twelve college presidents became founding signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  It is an effort to address the issue of climate change via a network of colleges and universities.  It attempts to bring positive social changes toward more sustainable community through educational and research activities that institutions of higher education provides.  To this date, over 650 signatories — public and private universities and community colleges — have signed up for this commitment.

Signatories are expected to set an institutional-level plan to implement a carbon-neutral agenda on-campus.  Among many things, that includes, setting a target and achieving reduced carbon emission of an institution, committing to achieve at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard for all future buildings on campus, encourage and provide incentives for campus employees to reduce their carbon footprints, as well as, incorporating ideas and actions to reach climate neutrality and sustainability into students’ educational experience.

Some colleges and universities, without becoming a signatory, may already have implemented or be in process of implementing the most of what is required by Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  Signing of this document itself is neither an absolute pre-requisite for colleges and universities to make a commitment to sustainability, nor a capstone of efforts to achieve a climate neutral community.  But, some campuses may need some guidance in outlining their plans to become more climate neutral community.  Even at campuses that have already implemented many sustainability and climate neutral measures, those efforts may not be widely known to campus communities.  In either case, talking about Presidents’ Climate Commitment at college campus can start-up a dialogue about how university communities can be an agent of positive social change.

For active student leaders (… and readers, as well, I suppose), this is the challenge for you.  Does your campus have an open forum for sustainability and climate neutrality?  Does your college/university tells you how you can save energy?  Is your student government addressing ways that students can help reduce carbon emission and energy consumption?  Are you a part of those dialogues?  Are you sharing your good ideas with other students?

So my challenge for active student leaders is to be agents of social change toward climate neutral campus community.  I am sure you already are leading many of your classmates by examples, but are you taking advantage of your leadership roles enough?  Hopefully, I will be able to stimulate some thoughts in how you utilize your involvement at your college campus to advance the green way of life with ideas for student actions, which I intend to introduce time-to-time in this blog.

Hironao Okahana is a graduate student in higher education policy and finance.  He also serves as a staff adviser for student advocacy programs at a college student government association.

American Muslim Health Professionals and the Islamic Institute of Orange County present:
A Community Discussion onHealth Reform

Sunday, March 22nd | 2 – 4pm

at the
Islamic Institute of Orange County

1220 North State College
Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

As part of the national, “Cover the Uninsured” week, we will be holding an interfaith community

discussion on health care reform. The intent of the forum is to hear the voices of those suffering from the health care crisis, and allow the community an opportunity to discuss health care affordability and accessibility. The forum will be moderated by a health care reform expert.


Speaker: Dr. Don McCanne
Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program

Don McCanne is a retired family physician now serving as Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization dedicated to affordable, quality health care for everyone through a single payer national health program. He writes a Quote of the Day on current health policy issues that can be accessed at www.pnhp.org.

For more information please contact:

Asma Mana, Event Coordinator | (562) 810-1836 or

Nazia Khan, AMHP-LA Office Coordinator | LAsecretary@ amhp.us

Please also visit the following websites for further information:

www.amhp.us

http://covertheunin sured.org

American Muslim Health Professionals and the Islamic Institute of Orange County present:
A Community Discussion onHealth Reform

Sunday, March 22nd | 2 – 4pm

at the
Islamic Institute of Orange County

1220 North State College
Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92806

As part of the national, “Cover the Uninsured” week, we will be holding an interfaith community

discussion on health care reform. The intent of the forum is to hear the voices of those suffering from the health care crisis, and allow the community an opportunity to discuss health care affordability and accessibility. The forum will be moderated by a health care reform expert.


Speaker: Dr. Don McCanne
Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program

Don McCanne is a retired family physician now serving as Senior Health Policy Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization dedicated to affordable, quality health care for everyone through a single payer national health program. He writes a Quote of the Day on current health policy issues that can be accessed at www.pnhp.org.

For more information please contact:

Asma Mana, Event Coordinator | (562) 810-1836 or

Nazia Khan, AMHP-LA Office Coordinator | LAsecretary@ amhp.us

Please also visit the following websites for further information:

www.amhp.us

http://covertheunin sured.org

Aerosol Arabic – Free Gaza Graffiti Mural in Birmingham

a
The latest mural from Mohammed Ali (aka Aerosol Arabic) is a public graffiti mural for the people of Gaza in the streets of Birmingham, England on January 4th 2009.

ATTENTION COLLEGE STUDENTS!

National Geographic Channel has launched the 2nd annual Preserve Our Planet College Film + PSA Contest. The contest continues the Emmy Award-winning National Geographic initiative “Preserve Our Planet,” inspiring and empowering each of us to work together to preserve the world around us for future generations.

WHAT YOU DO COUNTS

This year’s criteria include a new core idea — “Together We Can Make a Difference” — that the entries should reflect in some way. Preserve Our Planet is about working together to preserve the animals and wild places that make our world so spectacular. These living habitats can be found in your own backyard, in cities big and small, in the middle of our oceans or anywhere in the world. Films and PSAs should reflect this core idea, but how students do so is up to them. Most important, students should be creative and have fun!

PRIZES & CATEGORIES

Short Film – up to 5 minutes in length

  • First-place winners will receive $5,000
  • Audience Award winner to receive $1,500
  • Both winners will receive an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in June 2009 to have their work screened at the kick-off event of the annual world-wide gathering of NationalGeographic Explorers.

PSA – up to 30 seconds in length

  • First-place winners will receive $3,000
  • Audience Award winner to receive $1,000
  • Both first and second place winners will receive an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. in June 2009 to have their work screened at the kick-off event of the annual world-wide gathering of National Geographic Explorers. Winning PSAs may air during National Geographic Channel’s Earth Day programming in April 2009.

JUDGING

  • A panel of judges, including top National Geographic Explorers and representatives from National Geographic Channel, ecoAmerica and MonsterTRAK, will select the winners based on three criteria: creativity (50%); reflection of this year’s core idea, “Together We Can Make a Difference” (25%); and production value — visual and story strength (25%). The judges will select a first place winner for each category, and three runner-ups, who will then be eligible for the Audience Award, determined by online voting.

RULES, ENTRY FORM, AND MORE INFORMATION

To download the rules, entry form and find out more information go to
PreserveOurPlanet.com

Also, check out our facebook group where you can chat with other entrants and last year’s winners!


Enjoy this “How to green” list, from treehugger.com, filled with practical steps to becoming green:

1. Reconnect

To help green your community, you first need to be part of it. Start talking to your neighbors, find out what’s going on around you, and get involved. It sounds obvious, but busy days often don’t include time for keeping in touch with the community.

Also by emailing socal.greendeen@gmail.com to get involved in local Green Deen projects in your community.

2. Buy local

Not only does shopping locally reduce food miles, it also keeps resources circulating in the community. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors. When did you last chat with the person who grew your tomatoes? Sites like Local Harvest in the US or Big Barn in the UK can help you locate suppliers, and farmers markets are increasing in number all the time. There may even be a city farm or community garden in your neighborhood. If there isn’t, you might consider sparking one.

Eat local. Eat sustainable. Eat Organic. Search by Zip Code at www.eatwellguide.org.

3. Rethink travel

Limiting car use can be an great way of reducing your individual carbon footprint, but it doesn’t end there. When we walk, cycle, or take the train or bus, we also help make it easier for others to do the same, and it can be a great way of meeting people. It’s much easier to catch a stranger’s eye and say “hey” when you are not surrounded by a ton of metal and moving at 70 mph. More tips on redefining travel can be found here. You can even help others by setting up projects that support alternatives — could you set up a car club or a walking bus to get the kids to school?

Check out this
list of public transportation in Southern California.

4. Spread the word

People are increasingly curious about living ‘green.’ If you bike to work, compost, or buy organic, tell people why. If people are interested in trying it themselves, show them how. You could even take it a step further and organize educational evenings such as film screenings, workshops, or discussion groups. Or follow the lead of this project and start asking questions in your town — if you can get people thinking about their impact, they’re more likely to start looking for answers. Remember though, there’s a fine line between talking and preaching, so know when it’s time to drop it and get back to talking about baseball.

Spread the word about this blog and other local efforts in your community!

5. Join in

It can be lonely going it alone. Why not find out about environmental groups in your area? Many national conservation groups have local chapters — the Sierra Club’s website offers a local ‘zoomer’ for US residents to find out what’s going on in their area. Increasingly, there are specialist local groups dedicating themselves to specific aspects of sustainability, like this owner’s club for electric vehicles in Bristol, UK . But you shouldn’t just think in terms of green clubs. As sustainability goes mainstream, more and more local organizations are including environmentalism as part of their focus. The Evangelical Climate Initiative is a prime example. So if you’re a member of a faith group, a parent-teacher committee, or even a sports club, why not look at steps that you can take together. From energy efficiency measures to local community action, there are countless ways to get your fellow club or congregation members involved.

Local MSA/U’s, youth groups and mosques should get involved! Contact us if you want to help your community out!


6. Plan for change

We are never going to achieve our goals if we don’t know what they are. If you can create an alternative vision or plan for your community it becomes much easier to inspire action. Check out these UK villagers’ 25 year plan to reforest their valley to protect against future flooding, this North Carolina project offering collaborative planning for walkable communities, or this community’s attempts to become the greenest village in Britain.

7. Get political

National and international politics can be frustrating. How can you influence the massive institutions that wield the power? Local politics can be much less intimidating. It’s a whole lot easier to make connections, exert pressure, and get involved when you live among the people you are trying to influence. Whether you’re campaigning against unwelcome development, like these LA residents campaigning to save their city farm, or seeking to influence local policy in a more positive direction, like these Portland citizens helping their city government plan for an oil-free future, it is vital that you make your voice heard. And don’t forget that environmental ills often fall disproportionately on the poor and marginalized. Check out environmental justice organizations like Environmental Community Action for ways to make your community better, greener, and fairer.

8. Spread the love (and unwanted electronics)

So you don’t want that item of clothing, record, book, or printer anymore? The chances are good that someone else does. Obviously there is the usual route of donating items to your local thrift store or charity shop, but there are also resources like the trusty Freecycle, Craigslist, or Really, Really Free Markets that help match demand with the supply. If there isn’t such a group in your community, there should be.

I’ve used some of the above services before and they’re awesome, ma sha’ Allah.

9. Healthy competition

Cooperation is great, but it’s not the only way. A little friendly rivalry can get a lot done to spark community action. Sites like 18Seconds.org are playing a key role in pitting town against town in the battle to get greener. If you can’t get your neighbors to change in order to save the polar bears, maybe they’ll change to “beat those losers from down the road!” Keep it legal though, please…

10. The revolution will be televised

Just as local politics can be easier to influence than national, so can the local media. Regional newspapers, radio, and TV are always looking for interesting community-related stories, and as we noted here, it can be relatively easy to put a green spin on things. If local media outlets are unresponsive, it’s no holds barred on the internet, so get cracking.

Source: www.treehugger.com