Monday, October 31, 2016

Celebrating One Year of Growing Together


It has been a wonderful first year together. We began our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle, sharing our adventures on our blog, and becoming members of a community that is working tirelessly to restore Tucson’s ground water and get our rivers flowing again. As the world seems to have gone crazy around us, we find strength in each other and our community.


In honor of our 1st anniversary we would like to share our hand fasting ceremony with you.

[Dan’s mother Beth presided] Dan and Jana will be joined together with the traditional Celtic handfasting ceremony, a symbolic binding of the hands.

Jana and Dan, I ask you now to take one another's hands in yours.


Dan and Jana have chosen the Celtic Tree of Life as the symbol of their relationship. The Tree of Life is dear to them because it represents their eternal connection with each other, their connection with the earth and their community through spirit.

Dan and Jana, taking inspiration from the Tree of Life, may your relationship be deeply rooted in a foundation of love, growing in the light.

As the symbolism of each of the ribbons is explained, Jana’s mother Lorna will drape the ribbons around Dan and Jana’s wrists.

The first ribbon is brown. The color Brown is symbolic of your shared connection with the earth, the home you are creating together, and being grounded in shared values and goals. With this brown ribbon, do you promise to share your lives as partners, always striving for what is best for your relationship?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.


The second ribbon is blue. Blue stands for the water of understanding, caring, and kindness, so that your love will flow to fill you to your depths, nourishing your roots. With this blue ribbon, do you promise that your heart will always be open to each other, to treat each other with kindness, tenderness, and respect, to strive to understand each other, to consider each other’s feelings when making decisions, to remember and express what you love about your partner, and show them love through words and actions?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

And so the binding is made. 


The next ribbon is gray. So that your union may weather the storms. May the gray water, or the runoff from the storm, nurture your relationship so it grows stronger still. With this Gray ribbon, do you promise to stand by each other through hardships, trials and disagreements? Do you promise to fight for the relationship, rather than to be “right?” After a disagreement, do you promise to forgive and reconnect, to use the confrontation to learn more about each other, to love and communicate better, so that in overcoming the conflict your bond may grow even stronger?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.

Inspired by the Tree of Life, may your love be ever-changing like leaves through the seasons.


The next ribbon is green. Green, like budding leaves, symbolizes trust in new beginnings, growth, generosity, sharing freely of yourselves. With this green ribbon, do you promise to communicate as clearly as you are able, to share your thoughts with each other, to share your hopes and dreams, as well as your fears and insecurities? Do you promise to listen openly whether the words be good news or bad? Do you promise to always look for the good in your partner’s words? And choose to love each other anew every day?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.

The next ribbon is orange. Oh, the joy of watching leaves turn yellow and orange, and the happy memory of jumping into piles of autumn foliage. Orange represents sharing the daily joys of life, warmth and light. With this orange ribbon, do you promise to take the time to be playful and happy, to share in and celebrate each other’s achievements, and enjoy life’s moments together? 


[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.

The next ribbon is red. The color red symbolizes power and passion in your relationship. May your passion always burn bright. With this red ribbon, do you promise to always feed the fire of your physical passion, to never take each other for granted, to treat your spouse as your lover, to freely express your love and admiration, and always be open to their expressions of passion and love?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.


The next ribbon is white, adorned with a rose. The rose symbolizes the cherished moment you opened your hearts to each other and discovered your spiritual connection. With this special ribbon, do you promise to nurture your connection with love and light, and not allow walls of fear, guilt, or blame to block your hearts and souls?

[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.

The final ribbon is violet – one of the many striking colors of our Tucson sunrises. Violet symbolizes your choice to use your talents and creativity for good. Securely rooted in trust, stems entwined in love, your branches are free to reach to the sky, extending out to the community, sowing seeds for the future. With this violet ribbon, do you promise to support each other’s talents and goals, while working towards your common vision as a couple?




[Dan and Jana] We do.

So the binding is made.

This cord represents the marital bond. It is strong enough to hold you together during times of struggle yet flexible enough to allow for individuality and personal growth. As your hands are now bound together, so shall your lives be bound as one. The binding of your lives are not formed by these cords but rather with the promises that you just made. 

Lorna, please tie all the ribbons together. 


Now Dan and Jana will exchange rings. Jana’s ring features the tree of life. It is inspired by the Tombstone rose bush with its branches forming a Celtic knot and its tiny white roses recalling how they first opened their hearts to each other.


Your two lives are now joined in love and trust into one life. By the exchange of these tokens of your love for one another, so are your lives interlaced. What one experiences, so shall the other; as honesty and love build, so will your bond strengthen and grow. Like your chosen symbol - the Tree of Life - may your relationship always grow towards light and love.

With the power vested in me, I pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Think Global, Act Local: The 50 Year Program

The news lately has been depressing. Very depressing. A presidential election that becomes increasingly surreal with every passing day, even though it felt like we'd fallen down the rabbit hole months ago. The seemingly endless string of bad news from North Dakota as the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters fight to protect their land and, especially, our water from exploitation in the name of greed. And, speaking of greed, here in Arizona we have Nestlé colluding with corruptible local officials to buy our Central Arizona Project water, which is brought here from the dwindling Colorado River at a high environmental and economic cost, just so they can bottle it and resell it to us. Sadly, the Arizona Department of Water Resources doesn't find the fact that a company is putting tap water paid for by all of us as taxpayers into unsustainable and polluting plastic bottles to then sell it back to us at all ironic. It's hard not to get discouraged in a world that seems to have gone mad.

What keeps me sane is the realization that the one place we can really have an impact is locally. Here in Tucson we may not be able change national policy, no matter who we vote for. It seems like we can't even affect decisions made 120 miles away in Phoenix. What we can do is implement change at the local level and hope that people will be inspired by our example. Change always comes from the bottom up, not top down. Think Global, Act Local.


What can we do locally? Advocate for better mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian safe streets, and put an end to this madness of building and widening more roads, which has the counter-intuitive effect of increasing the amount of traffic. In another bizarre irony, we face an uphill struggle to encourage more solar power here in sun-drenched Arizona.

One of the simplest things we can all do at the local level is to protect our water. Water is essential to all of us, and must be preserved - especially here in the desert southwest. Less than 1% of the world's water is fresh and accessible. There will inevitably be cuts to the Colorado River water that Tucson relies on for all of its water needs. Why wait for things to get bad? Watershed Management Group has a 50 year plan to restore our perennial river flows in the Santa Cruz basin. Did you know that our major rivers (and many of the streams that feed them) used to flow year round? Some of them still do, like this stretch of Sabino Creek.


Even farther downstream, the apparently dry streambed of Sabino Creek actually has running water just under the surface.














This is because the Sabino Creek and Tanque Verde watersheds are very shallow. As Catlow Shipek, Policy and Technical Director for Watershed Management Group, points out, those blue areas on the map of Tucson are shallow watersheds. We can raise the level of the water in those areas through some very simple steps that all of us can do.


You don't need to install an expensive cistern system to store rainwater or build a composting toilet (although you may be glad you did). Envision coal smoke coming out of the faucet every time you turn it on (since all of the CAP water we get here in Tucson is provided by one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation) and you might find yourself running the tap far less often.  We started by turning the shower off while we were soaping up or not running the water while brushing our teeth. We pour our clear sink rinse water on non-food plants in our garden. There are lots of simple ways to reduce water use. Any water we don't use is water that Tucson Water doesn't have to pump from our aquifer or import from the Colorado River.

Can you think of any water-saving habits you can incorporate into your everyday life? After that simple start, you may find yourself wanting to do more. You can enjoy the free Living Lab tour at Watershed Management Group and start thinking about other ways to save more water - like installing catchment basins or a laundry-to-landscape greywater system. You just have to start somewhere.