Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rise Up - Climate Change Education Initiative

Rise Up is an IDB climate change education initiative that seeks to encourage children and youth to use their creativity and energy to come up with feasible, sustainable, long-term strategies to mitigate climate change.

Explore Rise Up themes 

We present instruction videos, a Green School Tool Kit and Videogames. These are all materials that teachers and students will be able to use in schools to turn children into brave superheroes with the mission of saving the planet!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happy Schools

What Makes a School Happy? Perspectives from Six Schools

What are the criteria for a Happy School? As part of the Happy Schools Project, an initial criteria was formed based on a desk study and analysis of more than 650 survey responses.
The criteria outlines three major themes: People – relating to relationships and engagement of school community stakeholders, Process – relating to the various aspects of the teaching and learning process and Place – relating to both the physical environment and atmosphere of the school.
With the aim of creating a Happy Schools Framework, UNESCO Bangkok held the Happy Schools Seminar from 4-5 June 2015 in order to enrich this initial criteria. Six different schools from five countries of the region (chosen based on their fulfilment of the initial criteria) participated  and shared their perspectives on how such a framework could be applied in different contexts in their respective countries, irrespective of socio-economic, religious, ethnic or cultural differences.
Although the schools came from diverse countries, backgrounds and perspectives, they reached consensus on what criteria is important to make a school happy, highlighting some key reoccurring themes. The importance of relationships was seen as crucial, whether relating to the importance of friendship between students, the relationship between students and teachers, but also the engagement of the wider school community such as parents and administrators among others. At the heart of these relationships, a number of values were cited as crucial, including mutual respect, understanding, equality, love and care, whereby all members of the school community contribute and collaborate equally without segregation or differentiation.

The importance of learning beyond the classroom was also highlighted, where students are given the freedom to learn outdoors and through a number of different clubs or activities that can boost creativity and movement such as the arts and sports. They felt that this, along with reduced stress and a more reasonable workload for students and teachers alike, would mean better recognition and celebration of talents and achievements beyond mere ‘grades’ or test results.

Finally, the school environment was recognized as important for creating a positive atmosphere in schools. This relates in particular to having green areas, a safe environment free of bullying as well as good nutrition. Overall, these elements arguably reflect the three broad categories of ‘People, Process and Place’ as illustrated in the initial criteria.

In order to look more in depth at these aspects, promising practices and initiatives from the six participating schools provide inspiring examples that could be applied in various contexts:

Pemagatshel Middle Secondary School, Bhutan
In order to reduce student stress and create a peaceful and positive atmosphere, students practice daily mindfulness meditation for just two minutes three times per day, in addition to a longer guided meditation which takes place during the school assembly every Monday. This is part of a wider initiative to preserve and promote local culture, with other activities also including traditional games, spiritual activities and the practicing of ‘values’ such as volunteering in the local community. The school also promotes a green atmosphere through flower gardening, a school agricultural programme and by involving the local community for environment-related activities or occasions such as earth hour.

Vidyashilp Academy, India
At Vidyashilp Academy, a great emphasis is placed on keeping a reasonable workload and reducing student stress with regard to exams. To this end, there are no exams from Grades 1-5, and instead students conduct activities with worksheets as a basis for assessment. There are also no textbooks. Instead teachers create lesson plans as part of a collaborative process, providing a significant opportunity for relevance of the content. Each lesson plan is created by a teacher and must include an aim, objective, activity and outcome. These are then uploaded online to be reviewed by two other teachers who may offer suggestions, as well as allowing the opportunity for including student input.

Daegu Gachang Elementary School, Republic of Korea
Designated as a ‘Happy School’ in 2012 by the metropolitan office of education, this school strives to be a ‘happy school that nurtures dreams and talents’, one of the elements of the Ministry of Education’s national policy on ‘Happy Education For All’. The school works to build this vision and create a positive mindset in the school community through an emphasis on relationships, fun and enjoyable activities and a green and safe environment. Through the Gachang Masters Programme for instance, the school aims to help students dream about their future through practicing a variety of activities beyond academics, ranging from foreign languages, computer skills, martial arts, violin or jump roping to name but a few. Students are then awarded with certificates as an important form of recognition. 

NIST International School, Thailand
NIST International school works to promote a positive atmosphere in the school environment in a number of ways. The use of visual displays are used to promote child health and nutrition, for instance by labelling calories burned in climbing staircases and posters on maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, the school canteen provides healthy meals and snacks, including special discounts on salads for students. Great value is also placed on student-teacher relationships based on support and acceptance, in an environment where students’ individuality is encouraged through the freedom to grow, make mistakes and be themselves by learning in a variety of ways.

Chulalongkorn Demonstration Secondary School, Thailand
Central to this school’s vision is the emphasis on relationships. Given that most students stay enrolled over 12 years, they see their classmates, teachers and school staff as their family, complimented by strong ties with parents and alumni. This is encouraged through a number of school clubs which are organized by either students or teachers based on the idea that the easiest way to form such relationships is through engaging in activities together. For instance, the school has a ‘friendship building programme’ dedicated to fostering such positive relationships. 

Thuc Nghiem VNIES Lower Secondary School, Viet Nam
The school’s vision statement itself (‘Every school day is a happy day’) recognizes the importance of promoting happiness. Promising practices include various ways of learning including through extracurricular activities. This includes the use of electronic books to encourage research skills rather than memorization, as well as learning lessons outside the classroom, for instance in museums for subjects such as history and biology. In addition, students are encouraged to learn by making mistakes and without fear of punishment. For instance when marking a student’s homework, teachers aim to reduce pressure by providing useful comments, advice and constructive feedback, rather than using marks or crosses to highlight errors.

The Happy Schools Project was launched in June 2014 aiming to promote happiness in schools in the Asia-Pacific region and share proven practices that enhance learner well-being and holistic development at school level, placing particular importance on the socio-emotional aspects of learning. One of the main objectives of the project is to develop a Happy Schools Framework, consisting of the criteria required for a happy school, as well as the strategies in order to meet the criteria at school or policy level.
For more information, please contact Ramya Vivekanandan [r.vivekanandan(at)]

Written by Aliénor Salmon [a.salmon(at)]

Related Links:
• Happy School Seminar
• Happy Schools Seminar Held in Bangkok!
• Do We Measure What We Treasure?
• Happy Schools Project

Happy Schools: Panel on Policies and Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region

UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) launched the Happy Schools Project in June 2014 in the aim of promoting learner well-being and holistic development in schools. Following a series of research activities, the report Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific was published in March 2016 to coincide with the International Day of Happiness. Based on school voices and perspectives in the region, the report proposes a framework consisting of 22 criteria for a happy school and highlights promising and innovative practices in schools for reaching the criteria, as well as reflections and next steps to promote learner well-being in policy and practice. In light of today’s competitive, stress-fueled and test-focused world, the Happy Schools Project aims to offer an alternative notion of the quality of education that values and nurtures learners’ diverse talents and strengths.

This panel offered various perspectives from policymakers, experts and school-level stakeholders on how the Happy Schools framework can be promoted and implemented in education systems in the region and beyond.


As one of the major activities of the Happy Schools Project, the Happy Schools Seminar took place from 4-5 June, 2015 at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. The seminar brought together a selected number of schools from the Asia-Pacific region to share their experiences, perspectives and proven practices in ensuring learner wellbeing and holistic development. More specifically, the objective of the seminar was to build a ‘Happy Schools Framework’ that can help implement the concept of ‘Happy Schools’ in a diversity of contexts through:

1)  Discussion and shared understanding of the criteria that promote the concept of ‘Happy Schools’, and

2)  Discussion on the strategies, as well as the ways and means for schools to meet each criteria.

 Presentation Files

UNESCO Bangkok:
School Presentations:
       Akita Prefecture Schools, Japan.
Pemagatshel Middle Secondary School, Bhutan.
Vidyashilp Academy, India.
Daegu Gachang Elementary School, Republic of Korea.
Chulalongkorn Demonstration Secondary School, Thailand. 
Thuc Nghiem VNIES Experimental Lower Secondary School, Viet Nam.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Introduction to Internet of Things (IoT)

What is IoT?
IoT is here. It's real. It's inevitable. We are just at the beginning of the Internet of Things and it will be huge.

Infographic - What exactly is the Internet of Things?

"The possible applications of the Internet of Things are more or less endless. Basically any device or product can be made ‘smart’ when several sensors are added and the device can connect to the Internet. Throw in some smart algorithms and the data can be analyzed and provide insights to the user as well as the device itself. With so many possibilities, cheap infrastructure and high demand it is very likely that we will see an explosion of IoT startups in the coming years" ~ Mark van Rijmenam.

“Internet of Things (IoT) enables the objects in our environment to become active participants, i.e., they share information with other members of the network or with any other stakeholder and they are capable of recognizing events and changes in their surroundings and of acting and reacting autonomously in an appropriate manner. In this context the research and development challenges to create a smart world are enormous. A world where the real, digital and the virtual are converging to create smart environments that make energy, transport, cities and many other areas more intelligent.

The concept goal of the Internet of Things is to enable things to be connected anytime, anyplace, with anything and anyone ideally using any path/ network and any service. Internet of Things is a new revolution of the Internet. Objects make themselves recognizable and they obtain intelligence thanks to the fact that they can communicate information about themselves and they can access information that has been aggregated by other things. For example - alarm clocks will go off early if there’s traffic; plants will communicate to the sprinkler system when it’s time for them to be watered; running shoes communicate time, speed and distance so that the wearer can compete in real time with people on the other side of the world; medicine containers tell your family members if you forget to take the medicine. All objects can play an active role thanks to their connection to the Internet." ~ Ovidiu Vermesan et al.

Enabling technologies for the Internet of Things such as sensor networks, RFID, M2M, mobile Internet, semantic data integration, semantic search, IPv6, etc. are considered in and can be grouped into three categories (DuPress):

(i) technologies that enable “things” to acquire contextual information,
(ii) technologies that enable “things” to process contextual information, and
(iii) technologies to improve security and privacy.

Internet of Things - History:

Turning Data into Wisdom 

Credit: Karim Vaes 2013

From Data to Wisdom
Credit: Gene Bellinger, Durval Castro and Anthony Mills -
Redrawn by Peter James Thomas

IoT, Industry 4.0, Web 3.0 and IoE

Four phases of Industrialization (IoT and Industry 4.0)
Figure credit: SapHanaTutorial

Source: IoE CISCO

IoT Applications

The sky is the limit in terms of IoT applications.

Battling urban gridlock
Figure credit: Dupress

 Key feature of digital age transportation systems
Figure credit: Dupress

Potential applications of the IoT are numerous and diverse, permeating into practically all areas of every-day life of individuals, enterprises, and society as a whole (Source: IoT Cluster Book).

Smart Cities
  • Smart Parking: Monitoring of parking spaces availability in the city.
  • Structural health: Monitoring of vibrations and material conditions in buildings, bridges and historical monuments.
  • Noise Urban Maps: Sound monitoring in bar areas and centric zones in real time.
  • Traffic Congestion: Monitoring of vehicles and pedestrian levels to optimize driving and walking routes.
  • Smart Lightning: Intelligent and weather adaptive lighting in street lights.
  • Waste Management: Detection of rubbish levels in containers to optimize the trash collection routes.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems: Smart Roads and Intelligent
  • Highways with warning messages and diversions according to climate conditions and unexpected events like accidents or traffic jams.
Smart Environment
  • Forest Fire Detection: Monitoring of combustion gases and preemptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air Pollution: Control of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated in farms.
  • Landslide and Avalanche Prevention: Monitoring of soil moisture,vibrations and earth density to detect dangerous patterns in landconditions.
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Distributed control in specific places of tremors.
Smart Water
  • Water Quality: Study of water suitability in rivers and the sea for fauna and eligibility for drinkable use.
  • Water Leakages: Detection of liquid presence outside tanks and pressure variations along pipes.
  • River Floods: Monitoring of water level variations in rivers, dams and reservoirs.
Smart Metering
  • Smart Grid: Energy consumption monitoring and management.
  • Tank level: Monitoring of water, oil and gas levels in storage tanks and cisterns.
  • Photovoltaic Installations: Monitoring and optimization of performance in solar energy plants.
  • Water Flow: Measurement of water pressure in water transportation systems.
  • Silos Stock Calculation: Measurement of emptiness level and weight of the goods.
Security & Emergencies
  • Perimeter Access Control: Access control to restricted areas and detection of people in non-authorized areas.
  • Liquid Presence: Liquid detection in data centers, warehouses and sensitive building grounds to prevent break downs and corrosion.
  • Radiation Levels: Distributed measurement of radiation levels in nuclear power stations surroundings to generate leakage alerts.
  • Explosive and Hazardous Gases: Detection of gas levels and leakages in industrial environments, surroundings of chemical factories and inside mines.
  • Supply Chain Control: Monitoring of storage conditions along the supply chain and product tracking for traceability purposes.
  • NFC Payment: Payment processing based in location or activity duration for public transport, gyms, theme parks, etc.
  • Intelligent Shopping Applications: Getting advice at the point of sale according to customer habits, preferences, presence of allergic components for them or expiring dates.
  • Smart Product Management: Control of rotation of products in shelves and warehouses to automate restocking processes
  • Quality of Shipment Conditions: Monitoring of vibrations, strokes,container openings or cold chain maintenance for insurance purposes.
  • Item Location: Search of individual items in big surfaces like warehouses or harbours.
  • Storage Incompatibility Detection: Warning emission on containers storing inflammable goods closed to others containing explosive material.
  • Fleet Tracking: Control of routes followed for delicate goods like medical drugs, jewels or dangerous merchandises.
  • M2M Applications: Machine auto-diagnosis and assets control.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Monitoring of toxic gas and oxygen levels inside chemical plants to ensure workers and goods safety.
  • Temperature Monitoring: Control of temperature inside industrial and medical fridges with sensitive merchandise.
  • Ozone Presence: Monitoring of ozone levels during the drying meat process in food factories.
  • Indoor Location: Asset indoor location by using active (ZigBee) and passive tags (RFID/NFC).
  • Vehicle Auto-diagnosis: Information collection from CanBus to send real time alarms to emergencies or provide advice to drivers.
Smart Agriculture
  • Wine Quality Enhancing: Monitoring soil moisture and trunk diameter in vineyards to control the amount of sugar in grapes and grapevine health.
  • Green Houses: Control micro-climate conditions to maximize the production of fruits and vegetables and its quality.
  • Meteorological Station Network: Study of weather conditions in fields to forecast ice formation, rain, drought, snow or wind changes.
  • Compost: Control of humidity and temperature levels in alfalfa, hay, straw, etc. to prevent fungus and other microbial contaminants.
Domotic & Home Automation
  • Energy and Water Use: Energy and water supply consumption monitoring to obtain advice on how to save cost and resources.
  • Remote Control Appliances: Switching on and off remotely appliances to avoid accidents and save energy.
  • Intrusion Detection Systems: Detection of window and door openings and violations to prevent intruders.
  • Art and Goods Preservation: Monitoring of conditions inside museums and art warehouses.
  • Fall Detection: Assistance for elderly or disabled people living independent.
  • Medical Fridges: Control of conditions inside freezers storing vaccines, medicines and organic elements.
  • Sportsmen Care: Vital signs monitoring in high performance centers andfields.
  • Patients Surveillance: Monitoring of conditions of patients inside hospitals and in old people's home.
  • Ultraviolet Radiation: Measurement of UV sun rays to warn people not to be exposed in certain hours.
IoT and Community Wisdom (Source: IoT Cluster Book)

People live in communities and rely on each other in everyday activities. Recommendations for a good restaurant, car mechanic, movie, phone plan etc. were and still are some of the things where community knowledge helps us in determining our actions.

While in the past this community wisdom was difficult to access and often based on inputs from a handful of people, with the proliferation of the web and more recently social networks, the community knowledge has become readily available - just a click away.

Today, the community wisdom is based on conscious input from people, primarily based on opinions of individuals. With the development of IoT technology and ICT in general, it is becoming interesting to expand the concept of community knowledge to automated observation of events in the real world.

IoT Challenges

While ICT offers opportunities like a platform for freedom of speech, social contact and enhanced democratic accountability, there are also ethical problems online: for example important questions like privacy and data protection. As ICT becomes ever more important, pervasive and useful, we need to raise and discuss these ethical question.

The Internet of Things promises to bring smart devices everywhere, from the fridge in your home, to sensors in your car; even in your body. Those applications offer significant benefits: helping users save energy, enhance comfort, get better healthcare and increased independence: in short meaning happier, healthier lives. But they also collect huge amounts of data, raising privacy and identity issues.” ~ Neelie Kroes

"ICT revolutions since the invention of the first single-chip microprocessor in 1971 have transformed the way we live, work and do business. By giving autonomy to objects, and by blurring the line between bits and atoms, the Internet of Things will produce another quantum leap forward on both the technological and societal levels by erasing boundaries between information entities and moving the reality across traditional legal, business, social and cultural concepts towards a single  environment. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented." ~ Gérald Santucci
Some Research Challenges

  • Absolutely safe and secure communication with elements at the network edge
  • Energy saving robust and reliable smart sensors/actuators
  • Technologies for data anonymity addressing privacy concerns
  • Dealing with critical latencies, e.g. in control loops
  • System partitioning (local/cloud based intelligence)
  • Mass data processing, filtering and mining; avoid flooding of communication network
  • Real-time Models and design methods describing reliable interworking of heterogeneous systems (e.g. technical / economical/ social / environmental systems).
  • Identifying and monitoring critical system elements
  • Detecting critical overall system states in due time
  • System concepts which support self-healing and containment of damage; strategies for failure contingency management
  • Technologies supporting self-organisation and dynamic formation of structures / re-structuring


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ready for a New Way of Thinking?

By Christopher Chase
“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”  ~Albert Einstein

If you turn on the news, the human species seems to be at a crisis point. Poverty, racism, political division, ecological destruction, social instability and other seemingly “unsolvable” problems appear to be getting worse. And yet, when walking in a forest or looking up at the night sky there is a sense that we live in a Universe of great balance, mystery and beauty.

The wise among our species have repeatedly offered very simple solutions to humanity’s difficulties. Walt Whitman and Van Gogh were overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds us, and sought to share that in their poetry and paintings. The Dalai Lama has often said that we just need to prioritise peace, gratitude, love and wisdom. That the human family’s problems are caused by closed hearts and minds, and will be solved as more and more of us open them. Could it be that simple?
“If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” ~Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s advice aligns with what Jesus taught, what Charlie Chaplin spoke of in the 1930s (see video below) as Hitler’s popularity was rising in Germany. At that time, both Chaplin and Einstein stressed our need for more compassion, imagination and kindness, less of an emphasis on technology, materialism and knowledge.

They believed that humanity’s problems stem from a lack of love rooted in a crisis of thinking, the dominant world view of warrior civilizations that promote fear, aggression and attention to problems instead of gratitude, love and attention to creative solutions.

The sad truth is that modern people see the world in simplistic ways, much as our ancestors did 2000 years ago. Our secular institutions (media, government, education) train us to categorise and compartmentalise reality, to focus on differences, rather than relationships and connections.

We seem to see life as a struggle, identifying ourselves (and others) by race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, gender, sexual preference (gay/straight), education level and/or career status. We separate the world in our minds, setting ourselves into constant battle with each other.

The recent election in the United States shows how such thinking can feed polarisation, anger and conflict. These distinctions and comparisons keep us boxed in “us vs. them” narratives of nationalism, racism, elitism and identity politics. This feeds a perpetual warrior mentality, political conflict, militarism, a sense of competition, fear and division.


To become wiser as a species, Einstein believed that we need to develop a broader and deeper sense of identity, one that focuses on our relationship with the Universe (and one another) rather than cultural differences. He encouraged us to transcend our human identifications (of race, politics, gender, nationality, religion), focusing on our connection to the Cosmos and the planet. Understanding ourselves to be Earth residents, children of Nature (or God) and the Universe, points us in the right direction. He said:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
What is missing in mainstream consciousness is an awareness of ourselves as members of the human family, the Universe and the Earth community. We tend to ignore that our cells and bodies are part of the creative history of evolution. That our atoms are part of the history of the Cosmos.


Peace and gratitude arise naturally in our hearts when we take time to celebrate and reflect upon how we are each a part of a much greater whole. Such awareness dawned on a wide scale for humanity during the 1960’s, and we need it to rise again. As Alan Watts expressed:
“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that.”

What Einstein, Watts, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama and many others believed is that our species has the potential to grow wiser, more creative and loving as a species. We just need to be mindful of our connection to the rest of humanity, to Nature and the Cosmos. We need to be more rooted in a spiritual view, rather than a materialistic one.

Most modern people are so preoccupied with economic status, social ranks and cultural identities that we ignore the Universe that brought us into being, the systems of Nature that we belong to, and that sustain our lives. Because of this we get caught up in petty human dramas, militarism, nationalism, economics and global games of politics.

Our species needs to understand how we are a living part of Nature, to stop us from falling into the deluded thinking patterns and emotional dramas we create. We need to see how our compartmentalised world views create conflict (both inner and outer), limiting our ability to cooperate with those who think differently than we do, suppressing our potential for deeper peace, balance, wisdom, compassion and joy.


Spiritual traditions (together with a more unified vision of science) can help remind us that we belong to the greater community of life. That we live in a creative Universe, and belong to the natural world.
“Who would deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” ― D.T. Suzuki
Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching and the Dharma of the Buddha point in this direction. It’s there in the mystic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Zen and Islam as well. Abraham Isaac Kook describes this view (below) from the perspective of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism:
“An epiphany enables you to sense creation not as something completed, but as constantly becoming, evolving, ascending. This transports you from a place where there is nothing new to a place where there is nothing old, where everything renews itself, where heaven and earth rejoice as at the moment of creation.”   
Many Indigenous cultures identify daily with the Source of Life, with Nature and the Earth community. This identification is important, understanding the greater whole (and feeling gratitude in their hearts) guides the community with problem-solving and decision making.

care earth

Indigenous cultures have practices to help them stay conscious of their Earth identity and responsibility to the planet, as well as human generations into the future. Because of this native cultures have lived more in balance and harmony with the Earth.
“Growth comes with an increasing awareness of and respect for Great Mystery in all people and things, with an awareness that this force of mystery is at work in all events. Growth comes through tolerance for the infinite variety of ways in which Great Spirit, the Infinite,may express itself in this Universe.” ~Ed McGaa, Oglala Lakota
Can civilization’s people grow wiser and more aware of our connection to the Earth, more compassionate to other creatures and fellow human beings?  We must, because the Earth really is at a crisis point. The struggle now of Native Americans trying to stop an oil pipeline at Standing Rock, is indicative of the challenge we face, as a species. We need to come together and challenge those still caught up in mindsets of fear, materialism and greed. But will be more successful if our efforts are grounded in a different way of thinking, guided by wisdom, gratitude and love.

If we don’t learn to live in harmony with Nature (and be generous with each other) all future generations will suffer. The future will be dystopian, violent, poverty stricken and sorrowful, as it already is in ghetto communities around the planet, in places like Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Iraq.
We need to understand how cultural narratives and scientific paradigms influence our world views. How beliefs shape our thinking, how thoughts influence feelings, how emotions regulate our actions, the way we view problems and experience our lives.

As we grow wiser, and learn to love more deeply, the human community will be in a better position to solve our problems. Because we’ll have identified and corrected (in our hearts and minds) the source of our difficulties, our disconnection with wisdom and love (within us), Nature, Life and the Universe (all around us).

Understanding how rare and beautiful our planet is (and how precious our lives are) can open our hearts, fill us with gratitude, guide our creativity, lead us to new ways of thinking, and more humane ways of being.
By Christopher Chase, December 2016
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson


“Over the course of the last hundred years, Western scientists have given us a deeper view of the Universe, of Life & Nature as a creative and unified self-organizing process. Unfortunately, most modern societies are still operating with outdated ideas and assumptions, that do not reflect this new paradigm. Albert Einstein understood this, as have many others. In order to survive as a species, it is essential that we shift paradigms, developing ways of thinking (and behaving) that are more aligned with how human life and Nature’s systems actually work.” ~Paradigms are Made for Shifting

“What is needed to launch our societies along the humanistic path is some sort of evolutionary compass. Some way of guiding our efforts so that they are in tune with, aligned with, the general evolutionary processes of which we are a part… So rather than seek to dominate the planet, the quest becomes one of dynamic harmonization, of evolutionary consonance, in short, of syntony. The evolutionary compass, then, would be one that points our way toward syntonious pathways for future creation.” ~Alexander Laszlo


“The greatest revolution of our time is in the way we see the world. The mechanistic paradigm underlying the Industrial Growth Society gives way to the realization that we belong to a living, self-organizing cosmos.” ~Joanna Macy

“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle


The Global Butterfly Effect

By Christopher Chase
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” ―Richard Bach, Illusions
We are living now during one of the most important time periods in human history. Our global species is at a turning point, the actions and decisions we take collectively over the next few decades will determine the path humanity (and all life on our planet) takes far into the future― towards either greater harmony or chaos, stability or destruction.
If one turns on the television, the news does not sound good. The mass media feeds our fears, warning of global warming, terrorism, racism, wealth inequality, economic instability and ecological collapse.
While most of these problems are real, what the media (and our leaders) do not understand is how these issues are ALL symptoms of the destructive ways so-called “advanced” civilizations see the world and behave. That the way to solve these problems requires that we grow up (as a species), cultivating a deeper level of wisdom, compassion and creativity.
“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels…” ~Albert Einstein
Our children and grandchildren’s future depends upon our species become less materialistic, fearful and violent, more generous, peaceful and caring. It requires that billions of people “wake up” to a deeper sense of unity and love for our human family and the Natural world that supports us.
Mother Earth needs us to mature, to transform ourselves from a selfish caterpillar-like species (that consumes resources mindlessly), to more spiritual butterfly-like beings, who behave wisely, dance among the flowers and take joy from living lightly.
The time has come for our species to evolve our consciousness, to open our hearts, to question the predatory behaviors and mechanistic thinking of our more technologically advanced warrior civilizations.
For thousands of years people in Western cultures have been wrestling with the illusions we’ve spun from our dualistic “us vs. them” mindsets and belief systems. It’s like we’ve been dreaming a shared nightmare together, grounded in the predatory and feudalistic ways our societies have been organized, rooted in how we live and think.
Across the centuries, the very foundation of Western civilization has been based on ideas of separation and superiority- men above, women below; kings above, peasants below; humans above, Nature below; etc. We’ve built walls of separation in our hearts and minds, a sense of sin and abandonment, believing that our entire species was “thrown out of Eden” by a sky God that lives far far away.
With dualistic thinking came an emphasis on linear time, our consciousnesses locked into mental projections of a feared or desired future, an imagined and idealized history.
When lost in these linear projections we became less aware of the magical nature of each moment, blind to the beauty, value and mystery of the HERE and NOW. This is how schools teach our children to think and feel, how our ancestors were dazed and hypnotized.
From this mindset grew civilized humanity’s mad circus of history, the hostile cultures of race and nationalism as identity, religion as truth, militarism as method, acquisition of wealth and power (by a ruling elite) as the organizing goals of our economic and political systems, the unquestioned materialistic paradigm guiding our way of life.
It manifested with the rise of wealth obsessed empires seeking power and dominance in the Middle East and Europe. Dualistic thinking led to the Witch Hunts during the Renaissance, to Europeans coming to conquer the “New World” – thinking themselves superior to the Natives, stealing their land. Then going to Africa where they kidnaped and enslaved the people, robbing their resources and dragging them across the oceans.
Over the centuries reductionistic and compartmentalized thinking has given rise to all our most difficult problems- to racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, human trafficking, organized crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, prostitution, genocide and all our wars.
For thousands of years now, individual artists, poets, prophets and sages have been trying to help “civilized” humans to wake up from our delusions, to let love and wisdom guide us, instead of materialism and fear.
From Jesus to Buddha, from Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” to Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” Whitman & Blake’s poems, Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Van Gogh’s paintings and forward thru time to the “Wizard of Oz,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and James Cameron’s “Avatar”… the message of love has been clear.
“Yes,there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ―Led Zeppelin
There was a great creative burst of realization and vision in the 1960s, but still the spirit crushing institutions, materialistic lifestyles and unquestioned mechanistic assumptions of the past continued to exert a powerful hypnotic force.
With the rise of new technologies and global industrialization our consumer lifestyles have overpowered the rivers, mountains and forests that surround us. Over the last five decades we have been destroying Nature’s ecosystems at an astounding rate.
Why has it been so difficult for humans to change?
In part, I think, it is because the “Civilized” Matrix will do whatever it can to avoid a shutdown. Our dominant institutions are designed to acquire wealth for those with power, to maintain control, to defend, expand and perpetuate their existence. Like the immune system of a body, attacking these systems directly only strengthens them, leads to hostility and violence.
Mostly however, I believe that we have not changed as a species because too many of us are still hypnotized. Primarily identifying our sense of self with names, career, race, religion, gender, political perspective or nationality.
Seeking pleasurable experiences, wealth, status and material possessions; mistakenly believing that these will bring us happiness and that the only way to solve complex problems is to “defeat the opposition.”
What most of us have failed to see is that we are not these social and cultural roles we imagine ourselves to be. And that the historical systems that have constrained us- the darkness and creative suppression- may have been exactly what we needed, to transform our minds, let go of our fears and transcend our limited cultural ideas of identity. “You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle
We are Life, in human form. Descendants of the stars and galaxies, children of the oceans and forests, creative expressions of Nature. As much a part of this planet as the rivers, trees, mountains and butterflies.
As more and more of us wake up to that deeper sense of identity we will be more easily able to transcend old thought patterns and beliefs. Observing Nature’s Systems closely, studying her ways, we can re-write and delete old programming.
To truly bring an end to the destructiveness of humanity- to really transform the world- a deeper wisdom has to first arise from within. As individuals, we must each “be the change” as Gandhi put it. We have to free ourselves first, transform our ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Then join with others who have awakened, taking the wisdom of our wholeness and applying it creatively to everything we say and do, to all fields of human activity. Economics, entertainment, technology, education, art, music, poetry, law, medicine, farming, politics, transportation, energy- they all can (and must) be transformed.
What is dawning now is the realization that we are not the solitary individuals we had believed ourselves to be. We are expressions of Universal life, Children of the Earth. We are the “leaves of grass” Walt Whitman spoke of – the Awakening voices of Eden, instruments of the great turning.
Nature’s Agents of Transformation- The Global Butterfly Effect.
~Christopher Chase~
“See simplicity in the complicated, Seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy.” ~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching