Monday, April 29, 2013

When We Fight for Indigenous, We Fight for All of Life

Those who consider themselves to be a part of civilization, the general approach or view (if any) towards native peoples is at best facile. The disappearance of indigenous peoples is extremely complex and the ramifications widespread; beyond the emic. A vast majority of humans today are disconnected from the natural world, but there are still those who have profound ecological knowledge and display a collective stewardship towards the earth. That stewardship comes from deep attachment with the spiritual realm; everything is connected and there is no taking without giving. For good reason, “…ideas from indigenous, or native peoples-communities whose relations to nature originated before the current mode of the domination of the earth…” (Gottlieb, ¶ 15, pg.11, 2004). With the Industrial Revolution and subsequent technology, humans are now global. The present paradigm is the development of many indigenous people’s land and the result is loss of livelihoods, loss of ecosystems and subsequently loss of species; many of which have yet to be discovered, displacement and in many cases acculturation. Along with acculturation comes the forfeiture of vast ecological knowledge and the remaining few who hold a deep sacred connection to the earth and its inhabitants.

Whether residing in an affluent or developing nation, indigenous people, also called natives which are “distinct from their country‘s dominant language, culture, religion and racial communities” are the least influential politically and economically as well as the most neglected. Far too often the descendants of the original inhabitants of an area are dominated by outsiders. The disregard of indigenous people would be better than fine as they are more affluent than all other societies. Monetarily speaking, these peoples want not and have all they need with a straightforward ecological approach and simple functionalism. An example of this simplicity is displayed with the most threatened tribe of recent, “If my children are hungry, I just go into the forest and I can find them food” states Peccary Awa and yet another from Survival International, “The forest provides its bounty, but not everything is taken. Some animals, such as the capybara and the harpy eagle, are taboo and no Awá will eat them. Eating a bat is said to cause a headache. The large opossum? Bad-smelling. Hummingbirds? Just too small. Other animals are hunted only at certain times of the year. In this way the Awá ensure the survival of the entire forest, themselves included” ( (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.survivalinternational.org/awa, 2012). Their simple functionalism and the interdependentness of indigenous with their natural surroundings, however effective in their survival, is futile when it comes to defense against more powerful societies who would exploit the native’s way of life as well as the surrounding lands. By comparison, many people do not know nor care where and how needs and wants are obtained, yet there remains that innate curiosity of the natural world within all humans. What survival has come down to for most is “no longer dependent on the forest, but simply cashing a paycheck” (Gupta & Madhusudan, n.d.).

There are around 6,000 recognized cultures in the world. Of these, 5,000 are indigenous, but this only makes up for about 10% of the world’s population. Indigenous peoples generally do not follow a state system which is the current dominant paradigm today and because of this, they are repressed and their unique way of life is being destroyed. A great deal of the destruction is due to Western culture’s influence. As modern society moves forward, the native’s language is not being passed on to future generations. Within that language is an irreplaceable ecological knowledge that most, if not all, of the remaining 90% of the population does not hold. Only 12 countries account for 60% of all human language and seven of those comprise countries that have “mega diversity” or biodiversity (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2009). We can ask why it is important to save these people and their way of life and the answer is simple. As with all else, cultural diversity and biological diversity are connected. Those countries with the highest amount of cultural diversity are those with the highest amount of rare biological organisms (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2009). Biodiversity is the mainstay for all of life and ensures ecosystems bounce back from disturbance which today is mostly development. There is also the ever important intrinsic value of the diversity nature holds. E.O. Wilson in his book The Future of Life, insists rightly so “that the cheapest and most effective way to preserve species is to protect the natural ecosystems in which they now live” (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2009).
What is to become of indigenous peoples who were once marginalized, but now are in contact with influential societies many of which are only looking to profit from exploitation of the land and its people? The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) mandate is to provide expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the council, as well as to programmes, funds and agencies of the United Nations and through the council, raise awareness, promote the integration and coordination of activities related to indigenous issues within the UN system and prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues (UNPFII, 2011).

The UNPFII convene yearly. In 2007, the United Nation’s general assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNPFII, 2011). However profound in declaration, actual practice of and enforcement of is subject to individual states in relation to international laws. In addition to the UNPFII, there are many non-governmental organizations which work tirelessly to promote public awareness. It is paramount to acknowledge native land rights and facilitate political pluralism in order to save ecological processes, endangered species, and life as we know it. Unfortunately, in many of the cultural and biological diverse countries, this is not the case. Pressure, in whatever form, must be placed to ensure the protection of indigenous cultures.


~Written by RMOG Manager, Jessica Nuckles-Wright

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Get to Know the Team Behind the RMOG

The RMOG started in May 2010 as a Facebook page and eventually expanded to a blog and Pinterest.  RMOG has over 1700 followers on Facebook (or as we like to call them, “RMOG Advocates”).

The team behind the RMOG includes Kristin McGinnis-Salazar, Jessica Nuckles-Wright, and Sage Ashcroft - three intelligent and savvy ladies that are compassionate about sustainability and making this a better world for us all.

Kristin McGinnis-Salazar

Kristin McGinnis-Salazar is the Creator, Founder, and President of The Real Meaning of GREEN (RMOG).

Kristin’s passions in sustainability began at a young age. With concerns of depleting rainforests, recycling, endangered animals, and hunger in Africa when only in grade school, Kristin began to do what she could with volunteer work, fundraising, and charity work through her church.  These passions continued into her adult life.

Kristin has an MBA in Business Sustainability with a concentration in Natural & Organic Resources and a BS in Hospitality Management. Being in the hospitality and restaurant industry for over 10 years, Kristin’s primary expertise and GREEN motivations are on healthy/sustainable eating and sustainable food production. Interconnected, she also has strong interests in animal welfare and the overall health of our soil and other natural resources. Kristin also keeps up to date with the progress of the energy industry, including oil dependence and alternative energy sources.

Kristin’s believes in promoting sustainability on a practical level for all – from businesses to homemakers to low-income families to average individuals. Sustainable practices can and should be applied by everyone as a holistic goal of protecting the planet for future generations.

When Kristin is not at her full-time job or managing RMOG, she works as a Marketing Intern/Consultant for Green Seal, a non-profit green certification company based out of Washington D.C.  

Visit Kristin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kmcginnis1026

Jessica Nuckles-Wright

Jessica became a manager for the RMOG in December of 2010 after befriending Kristin through the social network, Facebook. Reluctant at first, she thought even if her contribution was minor, it could possibly make an impact somewhere or with someone causing a change in daily practices or pressure against the status quo.

Jessica’s primary passions include her four children and protecting indigenous cultures as cultural diversity is directly linked to biodiversity along with all this encompasses. She takes an ecocentric approach in which humans are only one part of the complicated system that is the earth and everything has intrinsic value, nothing is autonomous and everything is connected. She can be considered a modern day hippie that lives in suburbia without a vehicle or a cell phone.

Jessica is finishing her bachelors in Environmental Studies and hopes to continue on in environmental law eventually focusing on environmental anthropology.  Jessica believes that fear, ignorance, and apathy are the greatest plagues of modern humans and does all she can to fight against these.

Sage Ashcroft

Sage became a manager for the RMOG in 2011 after her and Jessica became friends through Facebook; at the time Sage was in her senior year working on the same degree Jessica is currently finishing. Sage has a BA in Environmental Studies and plans on continuing in either environmental policy and public affairs or sustainability science. She has been an avid advocate for animals and nature since she was a child; her natural instincts have always been to protect this planet and live in harmony with the natural world, she's never felt a disconnection with nature like most people do. Sage has always understood that each one of us has a responsibility to take care of this planet, and also understands that humans share the Earth with millions of other species.

Sage is an active member of the animal rights community focusing on educating people about modern, ethical non-animal based research as well as anti-fur/anti-poaching and the benefits of a primarily plant-based diet. She is particularly focused on species preservation and is an active member of organizations fighting to save endangered species.  Locally, Sage volunteers with various non-profit organizations working on issues which include pet overpopulation, water conservation, and sustainable living.

Sage has recently become the founder of her own non-profit organization, Sir Simon Donovan's Gleaming Auctions, after hosting her first major fundraising event last year which proved to be highly successful.

Like Jessica and Kristin, Sage holds the same core values, believing each individual can make a positive difference in the world. She hopes through the combined efforts of all three of us, we can not only educate people, but also inspire them in taking an active role to help keep this beautiful planet healthy, so in turn we can all live a healthy life; every species included.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Friends of The RMOG

The three managers of The Real Meaning of GREEN conduct a whole lot of research in order to provide you with comprehensive information on sustainability related issues and initiatives.  We keep up with what other GREEN organizations around the world are doing to make this world a better place and we love to share their achievements with you.

Our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Real-Meaning-of-GREEN/114056485299075) is a great way to see what organizations we follow.  By using the "Likes" feature on Facebook you can browse through these organizations. See the image below for what it looks like on the main RMOG page. 

 You may wonder why The RMOG has many hotels and resorts listed here.  All of these hotels & resorts are Green Seal Certified.  Green Seal is one of the most reputable GREEN certifications in the country and in the world.  They are completely non-profit and are based out of Washington D.C.  They use science based standards to certify products and services.  So, if you see the Green Seal on a product or service (such as these hotels) you know that they have practices in place that support the environment and social matters to the utmost level. Read more about their certification processes by visiting their website: www.greenseal.org

On Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/rmogreen), you can find hotels pinned as well, along with other GREEN services and products.  Peruse through the "GREEN Products" board and the "GREEN Travel" board and click on the pictures to link directly to the source of the image.

The RMOG is happy to support and promote hotels, products, and other services that do well to protect and heal our world.  We hope you find these sections helpful.

If you have any organizations, products, or services that you feel we should be following please leave comments below or you can send us your suggestions using the private message feature on our Facebook page or by emailing us at rmogreen@gmail.com

Blogs Topics Coming Up Soon....(stay tuned and check back)
  • The Best Travel Booking Sites for Sustainability
  • Water & The Tragedy of the Commons