April 2016 cover of Common Ground magazine featuring a sea turtle swimming in clear water with headlines about environmental topics and an interview with Michael Brun.

April 2016

April Green Issue

Our April Green issues have been challenging to my psyche. All the reminders of the sad state of our environment leave me blue instead of green. I brought this up with Michael Brune, the head of the Sierra Club, whom I interviewed for this issue. He understood. He’s on the frontlines of the struggle. But he also reassured me that there’s plenty to be optimistic about. The Paris climate talks were an unprecedented success—not a total success, but something to celebrate. He told me that in the last few years, he’s seen a dramatic global sentiment shift toward renewable energy. It makes sense from every point of view. Sadly, the environment is not the key factor. But it makes economic sense to go with renewable energy, notably solar and wind. It’s cheaper than fossil fuels and creates jobs.

The other thing he reminded me of is that there are so many people willing to fight for eco and social justice—and that is heartwarming. On that note, we’ve a mix of terrific stories you’ll enjoy. “The Environmentalism of the Future: Giving Attention and Beauty to Wounded Places” by Trebbe Johnson is a winner, as is “Why the Buddha Touched the Earth” by John Stanley and David Loy. I am happy we’ve the sophisticated voice of Annika Jackson, the 16-year-old Marin high school sophomore, who together with her mom is scraping by financially. When offered the opportunity to pen something, Annika wrote about her commitment to vegetarianism, which is in part to preserve the planet. This is her first published essay and likely not her last. We welcome young writers.

Annika’s story reminds me of interviewee Delaney Ruston, who grew up on welfare in Berkeley. Now she’s a doctor and the popular maker of the documentary Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age. For anyone with kids hooked on videogames and cell phones, I recommend watching Screenagers with them. There are solutions.

Thank you, Jeromy Johnson, for another update on electromagnetic frequencies. Thank you, Bryce Gerritsen, for reminding business owners about the importance of creating a sustainable brand. People care, especially around here. On a lighter note, thank you, Alexandra Shenpen, for your essay “Ikebana: The Art of Flower Arranging.”

I am proud of the pictorial “Ode to the Oceans: Pictures and Prayers,” which was put together in part as a soulful response to Linda Summersea’s essay “By 2050, Our Oceans Will Hold More Plastic Than Fish.” The oceans and their inhabitants are as beautiful as they are essential. We need to act, but start by praying.

May-June is our Creativity issue, with our festival roundup. July-August is our Summer issue, with our popular Burning Man preview. The year is moving quickly. Thankfully, El Niño has brought much-needed rain. Hopefully, the worst of the drought is behind us.

We look forward to seeing you at all the Earth Day events this month, as well as at the New Living Expo in San Mateo.

As ever, please show your appreciation of this magazine by supporting its advertisers. And if you know of a business that would benefit from reaching the sophisticated Bay Area crowd that reads Common Ground, please encourage them to consider us an advertising partner. Your support of locally produced grassroots independent media is vital.

To greener pastures,


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