Have you ever thought that growing a native plant garden or nurturing a few container plants on the balcony of your apartment would actually be a way to love your neighbors? Close your eyes and imagine your “happy place”–somewhere you experience peace, calm, and feel most connected to God. For most of us, that happy place is directly connected to God’s creation, whether it be a secluded beach, a forest, a mountain vista, or underneath a big oak tree. Plenty of studies help explain what we already intuitively know: green spaces of nature are places where people let go of their stress and slow down from the busyness of today’s hectic lifestyles. And the more diverse the number and kinds of species (biodiversity), the more beneficial the environment is on the mental health of people utilizing that space¹. Your landscaping or mini container garden contributes to the health and well-being of your neighbors.Continue reading →
“Half of the apartments in New York City are occupied by single individuals.”
Listening to To the Best of our Knowledge on NPR this morning, that phrase jumped out at me. The topic for the morning was loneliness and solitude, and for the most part, the comments were interesting if predictable. Yes, our culture has made us lonelier than we’ve been in the past. No, there is no difference between men and women – both genders are equally lonely, though (again, predictably) men tend to be less likely Continue reading →
Does the idea of bicycling to your workplace strike fear into your heart? Perhaps you imagine the aftermath of encountering an angry driver: they honk at you, causing you to swerve off the road, tumble pell-mell down an embankment, and land in a briar of buckthorns and raspberry bushes. Or, less dramatically, you imagine showing up to work in total disarray, with sweat under your armpits and a severe case of helmet hair.
This is one of my favorite columns, even five years later. And quite appropriate for this long holiday weekend. Enjoy! (Originally published July 24, 2009)
I ‘ve had several opportunities this summer to enjoy some quiet moments on porches. Not too long ago, I sampled my brother – -in-law’s porch in Bethesda, Maryland, not far from Washington DC. The day was just right – not too hot, not cold, not very humid. The porch furniture was just right – lovely couches that allowed me to sit up or lie back, tall glass of sweet-tea close to the elbow. The surround-sound soundtrack gave me birds, lawnmowers, airplanes, and an occasional car wandering down the street on the outdoor channel, while the murmur of voices reminded me of family members busy at various tasks inside the house. Light patterns shifted with alternating clouds and sun, punctuated by an occasional summer rain shower that left almost as soon as it came.
It was a perfect place and a perfect time for reading – and I made the most of it. Continue reading →
I flew into Dubai early yesterday morning from a two week stint in Kenya and Tanzania. Coming from one of the least developed areas of the world – I spent a week without electricity and running water – into one of the most developed cities on earth and home to the world’s tallest building, I was reminded of this article which I wrote for The Other Journal three years ago after a similar trip. Enjoy…
There are few air hops that will give you a greater contrast than the four-hour trip from Nairobi to Dubai.
Nairobi is the capital of one of the poorer nations in the world, the home of the infamous Kibera slum, and a textbook case of how population growth, rapid unplanned development, and massive environmental degradation result in poverty and human suffering. Flying out of Nairobi, you can see signs of distress in every direction just by looking out of the plane window.
Dubai is one of the wealthiest cities on earth. Flying into Dubai, evidence of prosperity is as obvious as the poverty of Nairobi. High-rise buildings grow out of desert sands, massive highways clog with traffic. The terminal itself is more of a shopping mall with jetways than an airport: a temple to consumerism. Every imaginable gadget, garment, and trinket is on offer at prices that may be as low as anywhere else in the world.
But there’s another way to look at these cities. Let’s rewind and put on a different set of glasses:
[This is part II of an extended post of observations gleaned during my current visit to Singapore. See part I here.]
We left off with this statement: “this [Singaporean] miracle is more fragile than it appears. It’s economic, ecological and political foundations are crumbling. It would be surprising, to say the least, if the Singapore of 50 or 100 years from now was the same miraculous place it is today.”