So far this week:
New York, New York
I am a Jivamukti Yoga teacher, an animal rights/environmental activist, and a creative director/ design professor based in NYC. In January 2011, I participated in the No Impact Project’s first Eco-Leader training with Colin Beavan in upstate New York. Since then I have lead four No Impact Weeks in New York City, and continue to learn and be inspired by No Impact Week participants.
Live a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff.
This is my sixth time doing No Impact Week. It gets a little easier every time, because in between weeks I slowly integrate more environmentally conscious habits.
The first No Impact Week I did was over a year ago and part of a pilot that Colin Beavan and the No Impact Project were running in New York City. I loved it! I loved the game-like quality of the challenge, but also the moments of introspection it inspired.
I loved No Impact Week so much, that I wanted to share it with everyone I knew. Last January, I participated in the Eco-leadership training offered by the No Impact Project. The training taught how to facilitate No Impact Weeks, and I have lead 4 weeks since then, mostly at yoga studios in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
This No Impact Week’s Give Back Day coincides with the worldwide Moving Planet event on September 24. I decided I wanted the Give Back Day to be my main focus this time. Though my personal habits are not zero impact, I’d like to challenge myself to engage in public action on a larger scale. I believe that individual action and public action are equally important, and that individual action creates the awareness needed to become politically active. Yoga practice can be a form of activism, or a way of cultivating the courage to be an activist and to go against the norm.
For the past few weeks I’ve been working on organizing a short yoga event to take place at the Moving Planet rally, near the United Nations.
Yoga is an ancient form of movement that is self-propelled and inspired by the natural world. Yoga philosophy proposes a respectful, sustainable relationship with the earth. In this short yoga class at the United Nations, we’ll move together, to make a statement with our bodies, about reverence for the earth and its resources.
This morning, I spent a few hours working on publicity for the event, through yoga blogs, Facebook and Twitter. If you’re in New York on Saturday, I hope you can make it. Here’s the link to the event info on the Moving Planet website.
I’m lucky to live in NYC. Public transportation is plentiful and it’s pretty easy to walk everywhere. My personal challenge is resisting hailing cabs when I’m running late.
Today was overscheduled as usual, and there were two moments when it was raining and I was very late to an appointment. I considered taking a cab, but managed to resist the urge both times. I walked or took the subway instead. There’s something relaxing in letting go of superhuman expectations that I can leap across midtown in 5 minutes like Hanuman, the monkey deity in the Ramayana. It’s more peaceful to accept that I’ll be late, rather than rush and stress.
When I arrived at the Moving Planet organizers meeting 45 minutes late it didn’t seem to matter at all.
The organizers had gathered in a small, borrowed office near 34th Street. There were about 12 people at the meeting. Our hosts, the Environmental Action Association, had provided donuts and coffee. Everyone introduced themselves and what they’re doing for Moving Planet. Some were bike captains leading groups to the rally at the United Nations from different locations around New York City. The city revoked the permit to march to the rally. So people marching or riding to the UN have to stay in groups under 50 people, in order to avoid unwanted police attention for congregating. The Williamsburg team captain, Hunter P, has been ticketed by the police for posting tiny flyers in public places.
Everyone liked the yoga action idea. I’m hoping that the sheer weirdness of people doing yoga in the midst of a political rally will draw media attention to the issue of moving away from fossil fuels. We discussed the weather—there’s a 50 percent chance of rain for Saturday, but as the 8-year-old son of one of the organizers pointed out, there’s also a 50 percent chance of sun. We exchanged emails and flyers, so that we can promote each other’s initiatives. It’s inspiring to see what a small group of passionate people is able to do with a small budget, little time, and lots of setbacks.
If you’re in NYC and want to join one of the bike rides to the rally, you can join Hunter’s team, leaving from the Williamsburg bridge at 12:30pm on Saturday, or check out the Moving Planet website for a complete list of bike teams and marches.
I did my first No Impact Week in January, almost two years ago, and it was rough! The local food challenge, combined with my vegan diet and New York winter weather, left me feeing a bit disgruntled and starved, with nothing to eat but onions, potatoes, yams, and carrots. The challenge forced me to cook, which I usually avoid.
In contrast, July through October is an abundant time at the Union Square Greenmarket. Here’s what’s in season now: potatoes, onions, cabbage, beets, carrots, rutabaga, turnips, shallots winter squash, broccoli, bok choy, collards, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, radishes, chard, summer squash, zucchini, leeks, tomatoes, kale, green beans, scallions, snap peas, celery, corn, eggplant, cauliflower, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, apples, raspberries, plums, pears, and more!
Having done No Impact Week at different times of year, I now have a deeper appreciation and awareness of seasonal, local food. Although I’ve been vegan for a while, I was a ‘junk food vegan’ when I started out. I ate mostly packaged foods. When I eat fresh, local, unprocessed, plant foods, I feel the difference in my body. After eating a salad or drinking a green juice, I can literally feel the flow of nutrients in my bloodstream; my arms tingle as the nutrients absorb. Every time I do No Impact Week, I recommit to this healthier, more sustainable way of eating. Cheaper too.
I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for five years. The longer I live, my commitment to being vegan deepens. It started as a simple aversion to the taste and texture of meat; but now veganism is an essential aspect of my life. By choosing this way of eating, my intent is to do the least amount of harm to others and to the environment.
Many people don’t know that one third of all fossil fuels consumed in the U.S. go to raise animals for food. If we all stopped eating animals or even just reduced the amount of meat in our diets, we could significantly lessen our reliance on fossil fuels, and simultaneously improve our health.
This week has been busy and I haven’t had much time to go shopping. I’ve been finishing up food that I have at home, supplementing with local fruit, and eating out at the vegan café at the yoga center where I work—they cook with a lot of local foods from the farmers market.
Here’s a recipe for a delicious raw bok choy salad, from my friend Martha in Amangansett. I’m going to get some bok choy at the farmers’ market this morning and make it for dinner. You can swap out ingredients based on what’s local in your area.
Raw Bok Choy Salad
Slice bok choy or baby bok choy thinly, about 6-8 cups (it will shrink as it marinates). Add 2-3 finely chopped green onions, and dried cranberries (substitute local, seasonal berries).
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon agave/ other local sweetener
Put dressing on salad to taste. Let salad sit for a couple of hours to marinate. It will be good the next day too. Toss in local seeds/nuts right before serving.
Yesterday was the soggiest, rainiest day New York has seen for a while, and the forecast predicted rain for today as well. A lot of the Moving Planet NYC organizers, myself included, were concerned about how this would affect attendance at the Moving Planet rally. There was a flurry of activity last night on Facebook, Twitter, and email reiterating that the events would go on rain or shine.
In the end, the weather held out, the sun came out, and it stayed dry. The yoga action began as planned at 1:30 p.m. with only a few people, but as time went on, we had more people gradually join in. My co-teacher, Jessica Stickler, had planned a yoga sequence that created an almost 360-degree turn, kind of like a moving planet. Some people had brought mats and yoga clothes and some just practiced as they were. There was one particularly striking man in a yellow shirt that despite his dress pants and dress shoes, practiced tree pose with great ease and poise!
Yoga is a practice of showing respect to the earth and everyone seemed to get that. We had a lot of cameras on us, though none were press, I think. You can watch a short video of the class here.
After yoga we stayed to hear the speakers. Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) spoke words of encouragement and optimism to the rally. He said: “We are here not because of what we think, but because of what we feel." He reminded us that hundreds of thousands of compassionate citizens around the world, just like us, want to do something about the climate crisis; they want to fill the world with love and compassion.
It was great to see all the Moving Planet organizers that I had met earlier in the week—everyone was in good spirits and radiating a sense of accomplishment.
See more pictures from today’s Giving Back Day here.