Helping Refugees In Poland

The situation between Belarus and Poland is a complicated one, and the conditions of migrants from Belarus trying to enter the EU via Poland is even more so. Yet this complex political chess game forms the background for what I want to share,  an example of human courage and solidarity. In this case one where poles are risking their lives to help the migrants. The article in The Guardian  used fake names to protect them. Jakub, 38 has helped and hidden about 200 migrants. Others have too. They do not compare it to the Holocaust, but are aware of the parallels and inspired by the fact that many poles hid Jewish children. Jakub’s uncle was among those, so to him doing what he does is personal. The Polish authorities could arrest them because helping migrants is illegal. Regardless, people like Jakub roam the woods looking for signs of life such as discarded nappies or huts made from tree branches, bringing water, food, the offer of shelter. It’s dangerous for the migrants too. If caught they are sent back to the sub- zero temperature forest.  They are all courageous, and show us that courage is not only for heroes.

We have  come to have this negative picture of human nature, and of course we are all flawed. Still, because this picture is reinforced by so many films, computer games, cartoons and the like, we forget the other side, our better angels or whatever terms anyone wants to use. But it is that other side that helps us go forward, so when I encounter it I want to highlight it.  That’s why what Jakub and those like him are doing in Poland is worth knowing about. They remind us that humans are more than their down side.

Happy Holidays

I‘m beginning these weekly posts again! this time it’s about GGID–Giving Good Its Due. Each week I’ll share something that to me contributes to understanding good or about what’s good in the society. I also have a podcast with that name, available on Spotify, iTunes etc… If you think these posts worthwhile, I hope you will share them. And should you want to unsubscribe, just send an email to with the word. I’ll begin where I left off by wishing you Happy Holidays. Some of you I know personally may have received this message. If so, it is still heartfelt this time around. I’m also including the transcript of the last podcast.

It’s been a hard year. Problems are in front of us,  difficult issues are all around us , and it’s easy to get lost in them and feel the society and the world are  just being swallowed. Yet in all my decades of living and surviving traumas and problems, I have learned that good cannot die. It is overshadowed, but only for a while, even when that while seems too long. I can’t promise that the clouds will lift in this next year, I can however promise that somehow, at some time in the future, good will prevail. So let’s see how many steps towards this progress we can take in 2022! Meanwhile let’s make sure we notice all that’s good out there and enjoy every bit of it!

Phytomining and the Environment

Phytomining means extracting minerals from plants. Some plants it turns out can suck up metals from the earth, 700 of them as it turns out. It is usually done through their roots which absorb the metal from the soil. Nickel is the one metal that has proven to be effectively harvested in this way, but others it is hoped can also be, such as zinc and rare earth minerals. Mining nickel in a traditional way is hard on the environment, as all mining is. It is also expensive and requires equipment. Growing plants as has been done in Malaysia and Indonesia is not. The plants take about 6 months to grow, and then the neon blue green sap  that oozes can be harvested. Nickel is used in making steel, and increasingly in the making of batteries for electric vehicles and for renewable energies. Nickel is expensive and harvesting instead of mining it reduces the cost. More importantly it provides livelihood for many farmers. It can not only help the environment by avoiding mining, it can also help clean up areas harmed by the deposits of mining and other industries. The plants can extract the minerals from that soil and in time make that soil usable again. Unlike the devastation of the rain forests in Borneo or the Amazon, the plants which extract the minerals grow in grassy areas, so the consequence of destroying natural resources can be avoided. The idea of Phytomining is actually 500 years old but it took a while for it to be rediscovered and for it to become practical,  and as can be expected, it took many years for the patents to be obtained. Now that all that is behind, the process can go forward. It’s promising and it’s fascinating.  For one, the whole notion that plants can extract minerals from the soil is one of nature’s amazing  traits.

Happy Holidays

The pandemic has colored our lives with shades of discontent. Yet somehow we are—no doubt in various degrees—living up to the challenges. That’s because consciously or not we are using our innate strengths and resources. In doing so it’s easy to forget we become individual examples of the very qualities that make us better humans. Some call it the nobility of the human spirit, some call it better angels. Fact is  no matter what we call it our resilience, our capacity to make adjustments, our ability to help each other, our joy despite the difficulties are carrying us through this.

May these strengths continue to grace our lives with renewed depths!

Wishing you  Happy Holidays.