The BackStory

This is a shitty story. So I suggest we remain calm. (And the whole reason why The CalmPost plays on the word compost, in fact!)

 

Everything grows out of the mud. 

 

In the year 2013, still young and somewhat pure, I was acting as a "media trainer" in Ghana, West Africa, with a Toronto-based organization known as jhr: Journalists for Human Rights. 

 

In the pit of my stomach, I knew. I was boarding my flight from Canada sensing that I was about to land an important story. I just didn't know what or how. 

 

Within 48-hours of arriving, I randomly met a man, "Mr. Sunesson," who shared with me some shitty news. For the past 20-years, the local government had been sending about 150 dump trucks to dispose of human liquid waste into the ocean every day, making the designated dumping grounds one of Africa's most damaged wetlands, according to UNESCO. 

 

I repeat: shitty news!

 

If that wasn't crappy enough, I was told by Dzido Tawiah-Yirenya, University of Ghana fish and water specialist, about 40 per cent of the country's heath issues were linked to fecal born diseases. What was of immediate urgency was to keep our (global) human waste and our (shared) waterbodies separate. 

 

We all bleed the same blood, ya know?! (A Ghanaian taught me that!)

 

I covered the story and sent it to The Toronto Star, one of Canada's most circulated newspapers. At the same time, however, the Toronto city mayor had been allegedly caught smoking crack cocaine...

 

Pardon?

 

Despite the fact the article highlights certain novel and innovative methods turning waste into not only fertilizers, but biodiesel as well, it took the paper months before publishing the story. 

 

The Wake Up Call 

 

What became apparent throughout the process was how low of a priority our earth's sustainability and health of all people really was (and perhaps remains!) from across the globe.

 

In the midst of this awakening, still in Ghana, I met a man, yoga practitioner, living in Western Africa from India. He introduced me to the word "consciousness," as well as the practice of meditation.  

 

"The day journalism meets psychology," he wisely said to me, "The world will be a different place." 

 

It was through this friendship I began to shift my focus inwards, taking responsibility for my own actions asking, "How is my lifestyle affecting the overall health and well-being of others?"

 

Today, as a former professional journalist, now counseling psychology master's student in California at Santa Clara University, collaborating with Stanford University's Zero Degree Project, The CalmPost is a modest experiment testing the power of meditation & mindfulness-based storytelling as a means of global environmental preservation. 

 

I ask... 

 

If our inner environments reflect our outer, maybe we must first start from within? 

 

Here's to an ever-evolving, flowering process. Even if it does require looking at how to deal with all aspects of our shit...

 

Together. 

 

akaravibe@gmail.com

 

#thisshitmatters

 

 

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

For about 20-years, about 150 dump trucks were visiting this site to unload the country's waste into the ocean. (Photo taken by Jessica Campbell in 2013)

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

For about 20-years, about 150 dump trucks were visiting this site to unload the country's waste into the ocean. (Photo taken by Jessica Campbell in 2013)

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Waste being dumped into the ocean by Ghanaian authorities, 2013.

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Dumping Grounds in Ghana

Waste being dumped into the ocean by Ghanaian authorities, 2013.

Waste Runoff

Waste Runoff

Treatment Plant, Ghana

Treatment Plant, Ghana

This method of waste management separates solid waste from liquid waste. The solid waste is heated at such high temperatures, pathogens are killed, allowing the waste to be used as a fertilizer. The liquid waste, when treated, can be used for fish farming.

Lagoon, Ghana

Lagoon, Ghana

UNESCO rates this as one of Africa's most damaged wetlands, located right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Lagoon, Ghana

Lagoon, Ghana

UNESCO rates this as one of Africa's most damaged wetlands, located right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Lagoon, Ghana

Lagoon, Ghana

UNESCO rates this as one of Africa's most damaged wetlands, located right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sewers, Ghana

Sewers, Ghana

When rainy season comes in Accra, Ghana, these sewers overflow, spreading garbage around the city.