News & Culture

(Dis)connected: Overcoming Distraction, Isolation, and Separation with Connective Technology

apple-mobile-phone-149689-hIncreasingly, our connectedness is mediated by technology. I know I’m guilty of being an email and Facebook addict; this is how I connect with my parents, relatives, and friends abroad. But what about the relationships we cultivate face to face? Are they suffering? Are we tuning out of life as we flit from our smart phone to the next gadget?

Research suggests yes. And Professor David M. Levy is on a mission to do something about it. He wants to get his students to do one thing at a time, as a way of becoming more present.

Levy’s goal is to reverse the connective technology paradox. The current dilemma is that in our desire to be connected to distant people and events, we use technologies that distract us from connecting with the present moment and the people around us. Levy is using those same technologies with meditation to help his students be more present, and focus on one task at a time, even if that task uses technology. For instance, one of his assignments is to do only email for 15 minutes. For those of us who check email constantly (yes, I mean me), this is an important shift. He also has his students practice meditation in class, which, although at first awkward, eventually helps them mentally declutter.

Says Levy, “A good deal of my focus in recent years has been on exploring how to use our digital tools differently, to connect us to one another and to sources of information in deeper and healthier ways.” Amen to that!

Source: NPR Blog

Image credit: blakespot via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Doug Kreitzer: A Musician And His Music

Doug KreitzerDoug Kreitzer is a singer songwriter living in Cincinnati, OH.  He has been writing songs for over 16 years and has performed all along the east coast and in California.

I feel it is my destiny to create music and share it with the world, and for my music to uplift people and help us all to realize our oneness. All wish to be Happy and Free. – Doug Kreitzer

Describe Dream, Love Life, Consciousness. Actually the album is called Dream Life Consciousness, and it basically is a reminder for me to always keep my dream life in mind. Its sort of a way of manifesting the reality I wish to see, to believe that I am already living my dreams and on my way to seeing more of them fulfilled. The album is mostly inspired by encounters of love with magical people and expressing my spirituality subtly through each song. So is not over the top spiritual, but is tied into each song a little bit, kind of like my life, physically based with moments of divine intervention here and there.

Is Dream, Love Life, Consciousness your first album? If not, which other ones exist and where can we find them? DLC is the first album that I made entirely on my own. I used to be in a band called Rookie that produced three CD’s where I wrote a majority of the lyrics and sang. They were more of the pop-punk rock n roll genre. You can hear one of them for free on spotify under Rookie, and the album is A Lot to Live.

You play all the instruments and sing. How long did it take you put this album together? This album took me a couple years to completely finish, and there are plenty of parts I would love to redo in a nice studio, so it’s a little unfinished. But I recorded it all on my computer using garageband and tons of time listening and re-listening. The drums are all digital beats which I had to find and arrange, but other than that I played all the guitar parts, bass parts and vocal harmonies. Though my girlfriend sang with me on the song Shine Through Me, which has been one of my favorite bass lines I’ve ever written. It was so fun to play.

Where do you find your inspiration for writing songs? My inspiration comes from myself and from friends and animals. I like talking with other musicians and music lovers about what they love to hear in songs and I try to apply them to my music. But when it comes to writing I just start strumming a few chords and then start singing and a melody comes out, then I attach a few words to the melody. Then from those few words a theme for the song starts to develop. Then before you know it a whole song comes together from just one idea. A lot of ideas lately come from the image of creating heaven on earth and seeing all being living freely and in harmony.

Which track do you think is the best, technically speaking? Technically speaking, I don’t know which song is the best, maybe Heaven on Earth, but my self-criticizing mind says they’re all a little sloppy, but I had to let go at some point and say, ‘that’s the album.” There’s only so much I could do with my producing experience.

What is your favorite track? Why? I think the first song is the best, Flashbulb Memory. There’s just something about the imagery and the places that it takes me to mentally. It means a lot to me. I really enjoy listening to all of the songs, but there are a lot of different feeling songs throughout. A little country rock song, a little reggae, tribal sounding drums on Heaven on Earth which is another favorite of mine due to the lyrics and all the vocal harmonies I did. A few of the harmonies really hit me in the gut, so I was really satisfied with the performance when a lot of times I’m very hard on my self.

You decided to release DLC under a “pay-what-you-want” model. How did you decide on this and would you recommend it for other musicians? I did a pay-what you want model because I wanted people to hear it no matter what they could afford. I still don’t feel like many people have heard it though. I was burning copies and giving a lot out for free just to spread the music. Most music is free these days through digital streaming sites and I just want to be out there, too. But if people want to pay for it they can, and I’m totally into that! Thanks to those who have.

Music is not your full time job, right? So, what do you do when you are not making music? I work full time now at Whole Foods. I was teaching yoga full time when I made this cd, but it was hard to keep it up financially and energetically, so I just teach a couple of classes a week and play live music in a yoga class every two weeks with my new band mate, guitarist, Danny Schneider. Other than that I love to work out, lift weights, practice yoga and walk my Jack Russell Terrier friend Mardi.

What’s next? Are you working on a new album? I am playing with a full band now called The Peace and we are working on recording our album soon. I’m really looking forward to finishing it. We are working with one of the top producers in Cincinnati, grammy nominated and very experienced. The Peace plays songs that are very intentionally driven with the purpose of liberating all beings and uplifting all. So keep an eye and ear out for The Peace. We plan to play at a lot of Veg Fests and rock the animal rights crowds.

Lastly, which non-human animal species is your favorite? Why? I’m definitely most connected to dogs, because I have one curled up in front of my legs as I sit cross legged here on the couch, but that answer just seems too easy. I always find inspiration from sea turtles and dolphins. Sea turtles live so long and breathe so slowly. Its a nice reminder to breathe slow and live long, and dolphins are just badass….though there’s something to learn from every animal so I really can’t play favorites.

Editor’s note: My apologies to Doug for getting the name of his album wrong. Check out his album, Dream Life Consciousness, on Bandcamp to listen and download for free. If like what you hear, please consider purchasing it for yourself or a loved one for any price you see fit.

Vegan: The New Mainstream?

food-vegan-gourmet-47127-hThe plant-based lifestyle is increasingly in the news. Whether it’s Al Gore announcing he’ll be vegan for life, or Kathy Stevens predicting that America will be vegan by 2050, there’s new evidence everyday that more and more of us humans are drawn to a plant-based lifestyle.

Stevens lays out four reasons for her bold prediction: Americans are eating less meat, supermarkets are carrying more vegan options; so are restaurants, and mainstream philanthropists like Bill Gates are funding vegan startups.

Oh, and Hampton Creek Foods is going to take over the world—and with a mission to make food healthy for everyone, everywhere—well, why not?

The trend is not just that people are opting for vegan choices. The trend is that vegan options are becoming the new mainstream.

As badass music producer and Really Fresh Vegan entrepreneur Mickey Davis put it, “”We want to reach anybody who likes food, not just people who think of it as vegan food.” Because vegans are foodies too,  and set a high bar for flavor and quality (well some of us set a high bar for addressing climate change, lifestyle diseases, land degradation, water scarcity, and animal cruelty, but all that aside), the vegan trend is starting to catch on as cool, climate pun intended.

And the best part? The benefits are truly awesome. According to Davis, who spoke to Beyoncé and Jay-Z about vegan eating, “Even if you don’t do it the whole way, you can still see benefits.” Nuff said.

Image credit: Geoff Peters 604 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Using 3D Printers To Save Lives

3D PrinterThere is a medical revolution happening using 3D printers that could have barely been imagined a few years ago. Printers are being used to build human organs and tissue to replace those that may have become damaged or those that were flawed from the beginning. So far, 3D printers have been used to print 75% of a man’s skull, prosthetic nose and ears, and a splint to help a baby breathe. It has also been used to model a baby’s heart to help doctors determine the proper treat for multiple heart defects. Body parts built using 3D printers typically don’t have the issue of rejection by the human body because it is not seen as foreign bio-material. In some instances, stem cells from the patient themselves can be used to regrow organs and tissue.

The first 3D printer was built in 1984 by Charles Hull. However, it wasn’t until recently that the technology has become affordable enough for the average DIYer to start playing with it and unleashing its true potential.

3D printers work by precisely laying down raw materials in a configuration specified by a 3D model made in a computer. Each product is printed layer by layer from the bottom up.

While there are many recreational uses for 3D printers, such as creating sculptures, there are also beneficial uses. Most 3D printers are used to quickly and efficiently build prototypes. This cuts down on energy use and waste that would be created using conventional methods. This method has been used to build simple things like cellphone cases, and more more complex items like spare parts for the International Space Station. A Dutch company has even built a 6-meter (20-foot) 3D printer that can be used to build houses.

As 3D printer technology advances, it will only become more useful. In addition to the things that can be created using 3D printers, their benefits will also lie in the things that are eliminated, like waste and excessive energy use.

Perhaps, most importantly, they will eliminate the need to breed and kill non-human animals, many of whom are genetically modified, to provide spare body parts and tissue for human use.

YEAR 33: Overcoming Darkness With The Arts In Cambodia

KJ4lyfe cropKathryn Lejeune and Janna Watkins are West Coast natives who are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary they are making. The duo is interested in water conservation and other environmental issues, including composting, recycling, biodiversity, and permaculture. Their documentary, however, is a cultural one, revealing the dark and violent history of Cambodia and how it might be healed through the arts. Life, Love, V caught up with the two ladies recently to learn more.

What led you to want to make a documentary? And, why Cambodia?

One of our goals in life is to encourage people to break out of their routines and see how small the world really is. By opening minds and hearts to other ways of doing things, we think the world will be a better place. Documentaries can be an intimate way to bring someone’s personal story into the living rooms of anyone.

Kathryn has a background in film, while Janna got her degree in Chemistry. We had known each other for a while, but had never really hung out one on one. As soon as we spent some quality time together, a spark was lit and we knew we wanted to work as a team on something big. Our friendship is about mutual respect, cheerleading each other’s goals, similar work ethics, and knowing how to have fun through it all. Kathryn had been itching to make a documentary, Janna has a passion for clean water initiatives, and both wanted to discover something new about the world. Casting the net wide, we settled on Cambodia, which has a very interesting water situation, with the capital boasting some of the best access in the world, while rural areas experience some of the worst.

However, as we got deep into our research, we learned about Cambodia’s genocide under the Khmer Rouge that left 1/3 of the population- and 90% of artists and intellectuals—dead. This floored us. Then we heard rumors of a growing art scene and knew we had to rethink our angle completely.  We reached out to galleries, dance companies, and textile designers, and found our artists. Hearing their stories was enough for us to spend the past 2 years working without pay to bring YEAR 33 to the world. Continue reading

Turning Farms From Feed Crops To Food Crops

Apple FarmlandThe amount of food grown to feed farm animals in the U.S. could feed about 840 million people, more than two and a half times the country’s population. The use of farmland to grow animal feed is inefficient and wasteful yet farm subsidies make the economics of growing food directly for people vs farm animals very unattractive. However, as we’ve seen with other businesses, there is a shift happening among farmers towards healthier and sustainable business practices, which may also prove to be more profitable.

The New York Times reports of a farmer, John D. Jackson, doing just that and makes the point that several others are headed in the same direction. While he is not converting all of his farmland, he has set aside 10 acres to grow apples instead of corn.

Other farmers are using greenhouses called high tunnels to extend the season and increase their production of vegetables. The motivations for this transition are manifold; health guidelines being recommended by local and federal government are encouraging people to eat a healthier diet, people are actually demanding more healthy foods and a shift towards more sustainable foods, and perhaps the biggest incentive of all, profitability.

Food crop analysts have calculated that farmers growing apples can make a net profit of $2000 acre vs $284 for growing corn. If Mr. Jackson realizes even half of the potential profits of growing apples over corn, he and others like him will find a strong motivation to convert the rest of their farmlands to growing healthy, sustainable foods for people.

Source: New York Times

Maya 4 The World

MayaEvery once in a while we come across an exceptional story. Meet Maya Shea Penn.

Her story starts off in a pretty simple way: Maya decided to do something about a common problem that often goes unnoticed, namely the fact that our clothing typically contains harsh chemicals and toxins.  But, when we look at what Maya actually did, the story becomes remarkable.

At the tender age of eight, Maya started her own clothing line. An innovative entrepreneur, Maya uses fruit, vegetable and herbal tea-based dyes and organic fabrics for her products.

At thirteen now, she is the CEO of her clothing company, Maya’s Ideas, author of a children’s book on sustainable practices called Lucy and Sammy Save the Environment, and executive director of Maya’s Ideas 4 the Planet, her nonprofit.

In a personal communication with Life, Love, V, Maya mentioned that she puts the environment and animals first, and while she may on occasion reuse vintage animal-based materials such as wool, she does not use new leather or wool. Her actions speak of her depth of care for the planet: she will reuse materials, which is better than discarding them, and she will avoid exploiting animals for her products whenever possible.

Through her prolific enterprising nature, Maya eloquently demonstrates the true meaning of sustainability: offering planet-friendly products so that all of life may thrive now and in the future. She is a stellar example of the paradigm shift currently underway, from destructive, greedy, and short-sighted business, toward nurturing, chic, and sustainable enterprises. Bravo!

Image credit: Maya’s Ideas.

Source: Inhabitots

Welcome To Life, Love, V! Good News For A New Generation

Welcome to Life, Love, VSo, you are living a healthier, more compassionate and sustainable lifestyle and you want a news website that reflects those values? We created Life, Love, V to bring you the latest in tech, fashion, culture, travel and other news to supplement that positive, upbeat lifestyle every week.

As we approach the spring of 2014, the trend towards a new norm of smart, beautiful, and progressive lifestyles that embraces a virtuous and harmonizing relationship with the planet is becoming more and more clear. We offer you good reads as you live, work and play in world that you are changing for the better.

You’ve already made the choice to live a cruelty-free life that minimizes your environmental footprint, so you won’t be seeing the bazillion different reasons for choosing a plant-based lifestyle as there are already multitudes of websites with that kind of information.

Instead, we’ll bring you news about all the wonderful things that are happening in the world because you and an increasing number of others are making a conscious choice to live well. Of course, there will be interesting news that will get you to think differently and excite your senses that have nothing to do with what you eat, wear or how you are entertained but they will be aligned with your values of a compassionate and sustainable lifestyle.

We are just starting out so please bear with us as we settle into our rhythm. For starters, we will be publishing a new article once a day, Monday through Thursday, starting next week on the 3rd. Our first article will feature a young entrepreneur,  philanthropist, designer, artist, animator, illustrator, and author.

We hope that you enjoy reading our articles, and share the ones you think your friends and family would want to know about. If, for any reason, you feel we are not giving you the kind of news you’d like, we want to hear about it. What are we missing? How can we do better? Let us know; we’re always interested in improving Life, Love, V for you.

If there is a story you think we should cover, send us a tip. If you’d like to submit a guest post, hey, that’s even better. We’ll publish a short bio with your guest post. It’ll be win-win.

There you have it. Our greetings and promise to you. Before you go, please be sure to Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and join us on Google Plus; whichever social media you prefer. We will be posting interesting bits of information on those social media sites that do not call for a full story here on Life, Love, V.

Thank you for finding us and we hope you share Life, Love, V with others. Your healthier, compassionate and sustainable choices have started humanity on a journey to build a better world for all. We hope to show you many of the different ways we are getting there.

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