Event Circle
    Interview with Writer, Public Speaker, and Community Educator Patricia Dines by Willi Paul

    Please see Ms. Dines' Portfolio:

    How do you think the sustainability work in your area is dispersing into the heartland? How would you describe the outreach and messaging?

    After working on eco-issues for so many years, it's wonderful to see these concerns and solutions reach the mainstream at another level. The more that people are taking action, the more likely that we'll create positive scenarios for our shared future.

    There are many ways that those concerned about the earth are reaching various audiences. And, while I think some approaches are more successful than others, I value the diversity overall, because different people are going to respond to different messages. Eco-action is delightfully diverse!

    What values / programs are state-of-the-art in your view?

    While I love watching and studying other approaches, I can really best talk about my own. Fifteen years ago, when I started focusing my writing and public speaking on environmental topics, I felt that the tone in this domain too often tended to be lecturing, depressing, overwhelming, and superficial. I think it really turned a lot of people away. So I've been innovating different ways of relating to people - by being inspiring, empowering, and useful - and getting people excited about being part of the solution!

    Do you ever run intro ethical hassles with your dual role as writer / designer for hire and your community work?

    No, not really. I look for clients that have eco-values or that I can be enthusiastic about supporting and that appreciate my knowledge and skills.

    "Ask EcoGirl is a syndicated eco-advice column - with a superhero spin!" Who are your readers? How do you measure their satisfaction?

    My premise, in both my writing and public speaking, is that most people care about the earth and want to be part of the solution -- they just need help and encouragement. So my approach with Ask EcoGirl -- and my writing in general -- is to meet those needs by giving useful accurate action-oriented information, and presenting it in an enthusiastic way.

    It's really thrilled me to see how many people do in fact value this approach, often telling me in various ways that my writing has helped them understand the issues better -- and that they took action as a result. That makes me so happy!

    Now that I'm feeling that I have something that really works for people, my current goal is to increase the publications that carry the Ask EcoGirl column. My vision is that EcoGirl will fly across the country, spreading her eco-empowerment to all!

    What cartoons did you watch as a girl?

    I didn't really watch cartoons growing up.

    My idea for EcoGirl came from noticing that we all have an inner superhero wanting to come out - and that the world needs that from us right now. Hence I came up with EcoGirl's tagline "Encouraging the eco-hero in everybody." I really like the cartoon logo of her - sincere and with glasses - because I think it sets an playful tone, which surely helps around these issues.

    Do you play computer games?
    Not really.

    Who are your heroes? Who are your villains?

    There are many people that I admire, too many to list! In general, I value people who keep growing, seeking to improve themselves, giving their gifts, and helping the world and their communities. When we all do that, we can all blossom and support the blossoming of others.

    In terms of villains -- I try not to frame people that way. Instead, I seek to understand people's different needs, gifts, and perspectives, while understanding that we're all "works in progress"! What I think is more useful is to encourage constructive conversations where we can listen to each others' offerings and work together to craft solutions that will accomplish our shared goals. Because, ultimately, most of us want similar things at heart. We just have different ideas about how to get there.

    Are you helping to create a new mythology of sustainability?
    (see: http://www.planetshifter.com/node/359)

    Perhaps, but not intentionally. I see myself as giving my offerings to the circle and encouraging others to do the same. I focus first on staying present with the gifts I'm crafting and the conversations that I'm nurturing. I hope that, through that process, my ideas and information can serve humanity in finding a path that highlights the beautiful caring intelligent creatures that we are, at heart.

    What symbols are emerging from the green movement?

    This isn't something I've really studied. I think that the green movement is as diverse as people are, and when the movement is successful in its task, eco-consciousness will just be integrated into our everyday lives, as it once was. So there will then be many ways that we speak -- and illustrate -- our connection to the earth. It'll just become normal.

    What listervs do you belong to?

    I belong to too many to list. Some are general, to keep up with political and environmental issues, while others are specific to certain specialty topics that I track.

    What is your track record on social justice issues?

    I've participated in social issues in various ways along the years - in my writing, public speaking, and community work. I see social justice as inherently tied to environmental healing. Harming the earth harms the people on it; we are not separate and our survival is inter-twined. I actually have an article about this connection coming out in the August Peace Press!

    Do you shop at WholeFoods? Do you have a garden? How do you create a balance between corporate and home grown eats?

    I grow some items on my patio in pots -- herbs, fruits, and some veggies; I'm experimenting. I shop first at the farmers' market and farms, then at various grocery stores for my other needs, including yes the local Whole Foods, as it's the only natural foods store in my closest town. I eat very little that's packaged, except of course my organic chocolate!

    One of the joys of my week is going to the farmers' market. Fresh organic local food is such a delight! When you start with alive food, the preparation becomes simpler, the food more tasty, and my body just feels so good. This to me is a great example of how doing good for the earth is also joyful for us. It's not about suffering!

    Can localization bring about a 100% organic food supply?

    We'll get what we support. Local and organic are not inherently tied, so I encourage people to support both and understand the specific benefits that each brings. Local generally increases freshness, reduces food transportation pollution, and encourages a local food supply; organic stops the poisoning of our earth and its people, and helps farmers return to working with nature. Both are valuable outcomes to nurture!

    Please give us some examples of how you work the "cradle to cradle" philosophy in your home.

    What comes to mind first is the small-scale composting setup I have on my patio. I wanted to see if this could be done in a small space, and it can be -- with containers and worms! So my food scraps get munched by the worms, making rich soil for the plants that I grow, and thus the food that I eat. It's a mini-cycle in my home. I also do many other eco-practices in my life, mostly based around Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - minimizing what I buy, seeking to make full use of anything I do buy, then passing items along for further use or proper disposal. As a result, I have a low flow of products in and trash out, which I think is a key component of scaling back our actions to what the earth can sustain - and treating mother nature well!

    Patricia Dines
    PD [at] PatriciaDines.info
    (707) 829-2999
    708 Gravenstein Hwy N
    Suite 104
    Sebastopol, CA 95472