Another Year Gone By

Flowers on the Inca Trail, Peru, November 2011.
Photo for Recycled Minds by dooglas carl.
by douglas reeser on December 31, 2011
It's hard to believe that another year has passed and we've finally reached the infamous 2012. Here at Recycled Minds, we've typically compiled a year-end post that highlights what we've talked about over the last 12 months. This year, that tradition slipped through the cracks. The end of 2011 finds the two of our editors and primary contributors either out of the country or extremely busy with other commitments (dooglas is busy trying to make sense of his life in Belize, while lana is consumed by a New Years business venture). Still, we wanted to leave our readers and fans with something to chew on here at the end of the year.

With this in mind, we've decided to spread the love to a few of the closest of the many friends of Recycled Minds. These are good friends who have helped and supported us over the years, and to who we hope we have reciprocated in some small way. For us, Recycled Minds is a labor of love. We put long, hard hours into the site in our attempt to provide a space for our friends and colleagues to spread our many messages. These messages seek to inform our readers of injustice in the world while simultaneously providing a space for creativity and ultimately dialogue that could lead to reconciliation and peace among our world's peoples. Big dreams for a small site, but we only hope to contribute to a better and brighter world. And the people who have shared through and with us deserve some further credit. So without further ado (and in no particular order) please check out and show some support for...

Artist and brewer Kevin Margitich. Kevin creates some of the finest contemporary wildlife paintings being produced in the US, while also brewing some the most creative beers you could think of. His art has been shown from coast to coast, but his brews have so far been exclusive to Philadelphia. Thanks Kevin for supporting us over the years and good luck in 2012!

Our good fiends Jonathan and Leigh at the Slingluff Gallery. The gallery shows some amazing artists culled from an international list of up and coming and established artists. They also produce the Pinecone Gentleman, a virtual creation that shares artistically inclined news and information from around the world. Jonathan has contributed some of his photos for our November First Friday Picture Show, while Leigh will share some of hers for an upcoming Picture Show in 2012. Thanks to the two of them for their continued support, and may they know greater success in 2012!

Anthropologist Federico CintrĂ³n-Moscoso. Federico currently teaches students at the University of Puerto Rico while producing the online-site, Cultura de Papel. An aspiring photographer, he shared photos from a summer 2011 trip to Haiti for our September Picture Show. Fede has an insatiable mind, and can relate his experience and knowledge in a clear and understandable way, so be sure to check out his work. We look forward to further contributions, and wish him the greatest success in the coming year!

Food Creator Tender Branson. Tender, who also teaches the youth of south-central Florida, has created the wonderful food-centric site, The site combines his love of food and music and shares recipes, restaurant reviews, music-mixes, musician interviews and more. We have shared many a night with Tender, concert-going, and food-enjoying. He shared some of his food pictures for our October Picture Show, and we always look forward to his delicious vegetarian recipes. May Tender continue to enjoy his love of food and music in 2012!

Music lover, photographer and chemist, Btreotch. Btreotch has loved music for the last 6 months, but has somehow managed to contribute for some years at Coventry Music. For some reason he has joined the land of the Mormons for a post-doc position in Chemistry, but he has maintained a bit of sanity through his production of his photoblog, Bitches in Trees. We hope to one day again experience live music with Btreotch, and know that he will continue to do so in 2012 - enjoy!

And finally, the Occupiers. We have had some wonderful contributions to Recycled Minds in 2011. Some of them have been related to the Occupy Movement, like the great posts by Cyrus Kleege and the food tent manager from Occupy LA. The energy and excitement created by Occupy across the US and world has given us renewed faith that humanity will some day find peace and equilibrium. To the movement we give our ultimate thanks, and may Occupy continue to grow and find success in 2012!

To our readers and friends, happy new year! Stay in touch and keep reading!

Views from the ANThill: Extraction from Immersion

A local bush food, ch'i kaai flower buds, fried and ready to eat in the month
of August, while Tuli looks on hopefully. Photo courtesy of Kristina Baines.
This edition of “Viewss from the ANThill” comes to you from guest contributor, Kristina Baines. 

As I begin the last weeks of my dissertation fieldwork, the preferred topic of conversation during my final encounters is my imminent departure. Thanks to my (extensive) anthropological training, I felt well prepared to enter my study community and immerse myself in a version of the tried and tested ethnographic methodology, however, I never gave much thought to the idea that the time and care spent entering would or should be mirrored in the leaving process. Again, as a practitioner of this traditional methodology, I figured I would always come back. Forever. The members of my study community, however, are eager for more details than “I will always come” and it has become clear that my extraction is requiring as much emotional honesty and practical finesse as my immersion.

While my field experience, immersed in a Mopan Maya subsistence farming community in southern Belize, has certainly borne some hallmarks of the ethnographers of yore, in reality I have spent the better part of this past year about an hour’s drive from a cold soda and an internet connection. Keeping this tangible link to life beyond my firehearth may have served to make departing easier. Instead, my easy access to information, coupled with my passable tortilla making skills, has made me an asset to community members. I have a clear role in the community beyond “anthropological researcher.” I am “helping” as well as “learning.” This reciprocal arrangement works well in this community where traditional Maya practices of work exchange or “helping each other” are the norm and wage labor is much less common. It is this system, and my interest in the connection between these traditional work practices and the wellness of community members, that has strengthened my bonds.

Protest: Keeping up the Spirit of the Season

An old holiday card showing protestors.
Courtesy of BBC News.
by douglas reeser on December 24, 2011
It's that time of year again. Solstice. The New Year. Holidays of the religious persuasion. Around the globe people are gathering with family and friends to celebrate the passing of time. This is a time of reflection and a time of hope. It may be argued that it's the time of year when people are perhaps most in the moment. And these times remain difficult for many, but the spirit of the season seems to alleviate much of the pain.
People are gathering in a different way as well. Protests that have brought together people from all persuasions continue throughout the world, most with the aim of making the world more just. Protest movements perhaps best embody the spirit of this time of year. They represent the struggle from those that have not against the those that have. Power, wealth, health, and well-being are all attainable for those that have. These things do not come quite as easy for those that have not. And the have-nots represent a larger proportion of the planet's population than we have experienced in a long time. Years, decades, centuries.... much time has passed since the wealth of the planet has been concentrated in such a small proportion of the total population. Such times call out for our protest. Such action is keeping within the spirit of the holidays.

Here at Recycled Minds, we offer our support to all of the people in the world who are standing up to power, who are fighting the struggle against injustice. Happy Holidays. Keep up the Struggle!

The US: Land of the Poor and Low Income

The Income Gap is Here - and getting bigger.
by douglas reeser on December 14, 2011
The last few years in the US have certainly been economically tough for many people. Throughout the country, high unemployment rates coupled with the housing crisis exposed how vulnerable many families actually are. This issue was brought to my immediate attention today, when, during my morning perusal through the news, two articles in particular caught my attention.

The first, an AP report on some of the economics of the 2010 census, is headlined "Census: 1 In 2 Americans Are Poor Or Low-Income."
About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population.
The article credits government "safety nets" such as food stamps and some tax credits for keeping those numbers down. In other words, without the social programs that are in place (and that are continually threatened through federal and state budget cuts), it is likely that more than half of all people in the United States would be "Low-Income" or worse. Suddenly it's looking like the land of promise is no longer. No wonder migration flows from Mexico have slowed considerably

The second article that caught my eye drives home the point that these troubling economic times are not necessarily being felt equally across the population. In this Forbes piece, it is revealed that six members of the Walton family - the family that started WalMart - have more wealth than the bottom 30% of the US population combined. This is evidence that we live in times not much different from the days of serfdom in medieval Europe when the few nobility held the majority of wealth, while the majority worked in subservience. The possibility that one family could have the wealth of 75 million people would be mind boggling if it were not such an open display of greed and inequality. And remember, the income gap continues to widen to levels never before seen in the history of the country. 

Just some food for thought... 

Picture Show: Antarctica by Btreotch

Our December First Friday Picture Show comes to you courtesy of our good friend, Btreotch. A natural products chemist, Btreotch has traveled to the far corners of the world to research the medicinal potential of various sea plants and sea creatures. These photos come from one such journey to the far south of the planet, Antarctica. Btreotch is also a lover of music and art, and he works on a number of creative ventures. Check out some more of his photography and video work at Alan Takes Trips. Find out more about his research at his personal site here>>>