You never know where Open Roads will take you…

A collaborative effort by Becky Allen, Brenda Sistrom, and Matthew Bain

 The evolution of our consciousness and our culture is an awe-inspiring task, but I believe it is possible for anyone who cares deeply enough about it. Those of us who feel compelled by the evolutionary impulse must be willing to embrace the dramatic scale at which the life-process is operating. When we awaken to the fact that we are part of a fourteen-billion-year process that is going somewhere, we begin to see our own day-to-day, moment-to-moment choices in a literally cosmic context. We see our own presence here on earth in relationship to the evolution of the cosmos itself. —Andrew Cohen


     Even if you haven’t read this publication very often, chances are good you’ve encountered my personal bias towards the school of thought that says:

A)  We’re all in this together

B)  An evolutionary shift in individual and collective consciousness into that awareness is where we’re headed

C)  It is from that consciousness that we create a world in which “all men are created equal.”

Truly equal. As in, the world becomes a place where our spiritual DNA—peace, love, and joy expresses as abundance, acceptance, and freedom.

     We’re outgrowing the old models based on the idea that the mind—knowledge, intelligence, and reason are the keys to the kingdom. Please hear me; I’m not advocating for ignorance, stupidity, and irrationality. I’m saying that the mind is a tool used by consciousness and every outcome (idea, invention, work of art, scientific discovery, piece of technology) of the mind derives its value from the consciousness it serves.

     The ego lays claim to the mind and uses it mercilessly to push its agenda of conflict, judgment, blame, separation, fear, and lack. Mystics through the ages have understood that the path to peace begins with seeing the ego for what it is; the short-sighted, self-serving, defensive, isolated little “i.”

     All of the world’s major religions have a mystical sect based in the recognition that our true nature is divine. Though we may appear separate to the physical senses, we are more that that—as individuations of Divine Creative Source, we are all connected. We are, quite literally, ONE. Just as a wave can’t be separated from the ocean, nor a sunbeam separated from the sun, our divinity is inherent and can’t be stripped from us. The more aware, or conscious, we become of this truth, the more possible it is to use the mind to serve the agenda of the heart, which is ALWAYS love.

     Regardless of what one thinks about Jesus, for the last couple thousand years, He’s been recognized as the foremost authority on love. His teachings on the subject all lead to a consciousness of unity, Christ-consciousness, if you will. The principles, when practiced, center us in the heart. When we learn to “think” with our hearts (and perhaps “feel” with our minds) we can begin to truly understand our connection with all things.

     On my personal journey of awakening fully into Oneness consciousness, I’m continually brought back to whatever is my highest understanding at the moment. I use the word highest, though it may be more accurate to speak in terms of the broadest points or “biggest picture” perception. Every time I reach what feels like a limit, I’ve learned there’s always more. That’s the nature of divine love energy; increase and creation are its assurance.

     All this is preface to sharing about a story that’s unfolding in the far-away land of Florida, where my sister lives, and the considered response of a man with a profound understanding of the power of consciousness and a flair for cogent, concise analysis. Though the man lives here in Central Virginia, he eloquently identifies the universal nature of the impact of the practices described in the story.


     Here’s the short version of the Florida story: a Canadian-based businessman, Frank Stronach, who recently sold his interest in a car parts company (for a purported 1 billion dollars) is buying up a bunch of Florida farmland. How much, you ask? More than 60,000 acres in two counties (he now owns 29,000 acres in Marion County, making him the largest landowner in the county—a chunk of land larger than Walt Disney World, which sits on 24,000 acres.) Fred Hiers, staff writer for writes, “Behind the land grab are plans for a sprawling cattle ranch with tens of thousands of grass-feed, hormone-free cattle for beef production…the price tag for the land in both counties and beef processing operation: $80 million.” Oh, and then there’s the ‘world-class 420-acre golf course.’ There will be 120 homes on one-acre lots clustered throughout the links, as well as another 800 acres adjacent to the north for more home development.”

And, oh by the way, Stronach will be needing permission to “pump as much as 13.27 million gallons of water per day [from the St. John’s Water Management District] to irrigate his fields, cool his proposed power plant and operate his 61,000-square-foot beef processing operation. But most of that water will be used to grow grass, especially in the drier winter months, “to feed cattle,” according to Rick Moyer, who oversees Stronach’s Marion county operation. Never mind that the residents in the St. John’s Water Management District, which is responsible for managing ground and surface water supplies in all or part of 19 counties in northeast and east-central Florida are being restricted to once-a-week watering of their lawns due to drought.

The other talking points of the article include County Commissioner’s assessment of the economic impact; the creation of new jobs at the meat processing plant as well as other “indirect” jobs—lumber, transportation, sales, etc. If you want to read the article, I’ll post the link on the Open Roads website ( and you can just click on it.

So…that’s the story. My sister expressed her concerns to Matthew Bain (regular Open Roads contributor), aware of his interest in identifying the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we are complicit in maintaining a status quo that best serves, shall we say, the now infamous 1% while raising awareness of alternatives that best serve the 100%.

Their interchange was as follows:

B: Matthew, I’m forwarding to you since you’re [one of] the people I best know connected with the “eating real food/locavore” movement. It makes me ill to see how this is planned to play out, yet so typical of business as usual in Florida. I want to file a comment w/the governing board of the water district (the same water district as mine).

Any suggestions as to what might be effective appreciated. Even posting on your Facebook page might be helpful, I don’t know. In any case, give us a blessing!

M: I’m not sure what would be effective to say, Brennie, as really it is the consciousness of people which must change in order for change to arrive in the external. And that is, as you indubitably know, typically an inside job.

This is an interesting story to me because it shines light on the way consciousness comes into play with issues. Here we have a man who wants to raise grass-fed beef. What could be bad about that, right? That is the healthy thing to feed cows, after all. This is a parallel example to why “organic” is a term with no substantive meaning.  Or, more correctly, the substance of the meaning of the term “organic,” just like the term “grass-fed,” is that the term has become a tool that allows producers, distributors, and consumers to continue in their conspiracy to maintain their own lacks of consciousness together.

“Organic” is the kool-aid of the food world. If it’s labeled organic I don’t need to worry about where it’s from. Just like if I recycle my newspapers and glass bottles and plastic containers, I’ve done my part to “save the planet.” And if I buy something labeled “grass-fed beef,” I’m actually ahead of the curve –I can educate my friends on how important it is to feed cows grass instead of corn. Of course, all of this is pure cowshit.

Local trumps organic AND grass-fed. Consciousness trumps unconsciousness. Grass-fed beef is only valuable if I buy it from a farmer I know, one whose farming practices are transparent and known to me. In that way I am taking responsibility for the way the land is used to raise my food. If I go to Whole Foods Market and buy “grass-fed beef” (which in Charlottesville is far more likely to be from Florida than Virginia, even though there are half a dozen small, independent, healthy, environmentally responsible operations within 75 miles of the C’vil Whole Foods Mart) then I am supporting business as usual. I am supporting the existing model which invests in maintaining market share by maintaining a flow of product uninterrupted by anything resembling consciousness. People in C’vil shop at WFM because they have established in their minds that WFM is a responsible retailer (not unlike Starbucks coffee establishing themselves as serving strong coffee, never mind it be on the backs and at the expense of small farmers the world around).

My path with this is guided once again by the Buckminster Fuller maxim that remains my email signature by no coincidence: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”  This path is also informed by the 12Step program’s Eleventh Tradition concept of “attraction rather than promotion” as I consider change to be an inside job.

So I am at work rendering the existing model obsolete by participating in the building of the new model, arising from new paradigm consciousness, heart based living in place of the traditional western rational mentalism. I am at work growing my own food, processing my own food, eating more and more consciously every day, meeting and developing relationships with the producers in my area, sourcing more and more food more and more locally, shifting my spending from nonlocal chains to local, independent businesses who are also building relationships with local producers.

I am finding that the most powerful action I can take is to produce. When we all become producers, the FDA is outnumbered. And these days the FDA is the biggest teacher that producers and thus consumers have in the realm of food. Food is the primary medicine, and my food bill long ago replaced my financial support for the health insurance industry and the unconscious practices and culture it supports.

But I am also very open and vocal about what I am doing on all of these fronts. Education is highly important, but I really find the program model to be the most suitable for how I go about this. I want to help others who are unconsciously imbibing the toxins of the food industry, and that also helps me in my own process, but attraction is far more effective than promotion.

Promotion is also old paradigm whereas attraction is new. Attraction demonstrates my faith in all things and in divine right timing. I know all is well right now everywhere. And I know it’s getting better and stands to be much, much better than it is. Crisis is, for many, the path to the light. Food allergies, environmental toxins, and autism in progeny is becoming as populated a path to higher consciousness as addiction has been for others. I see these all as parallel.

Your water board may lack the consciousness to hear anything meaningful you have to say, but feel free to use my words if they resonate. And often it is worth saying these things as you might be the first one to vocalize what others are feeling already. Perhaps something will shift.  Sometimes this is how it happens. Sometimes being the sober, dispassionate voice of superior reason is the most powerful path.

Thanks for passing on the article – I’m going to post it on Facebook because it is an excellent illustration of why local food is important. As a small time farmer friend of mine in Berryville, VA (who feeds his cows grass) said, and I paraphrase, “people always ask why local food is so expensive. But they never ask the more important question:  why is all the other cheap, nationally distributed processed food so cheap?” In fact, that food is not cheap, not even monetarily. It’s just that the cost has been hidden in subsidies and the like. And that’s just the production of it. There are also the costs of health care for everyone who gets sick eating that food. There are the environmental costs of transporting it, processing it, even producing it – like you are seeing with this proposed farming endeavor.

Local food is supportive of life, ecology, health, community, local economy; agribusiness, even disguised as “organic” is destructive of these same things, especially on the local level. But it takes a certain consciousness to recognize this. Mostly people are stuck in unconscious patterns. This is why crisis is so valuable – it forces people out of patterns.

Whether you believe the world is going to hell in a hand basket or that we’ll not only survive, but be better for it, the reality is that we’re at the “something’s gotta give” point. This is one story about one man’s intentions and practices unfolding 800 miles and 4 states away, but it represents the prevailing consciousness that underlies similar stories unfolding all over our own state, our country, continent, and planet. By contrast, there is a growing shift in consciousness; there are people (again—close by and far away) who are conceiving of and implementing alternative systems that support the well-being of everyone, including our Mother Earth. From unity consciousness springs new models for living and working together. When I hear someone yell “socialism” I hear the ego’s fearful interpretation of how we treat each other when we understand that this planet and everything on it is one living, breathing entity, part of an ever larger unified field. Then we behave as if all life matters. Then we begin (to repeat the Buckminster Fuller idea) to stop fighting to change the existing reality and begin creating new models that make the old ones obsolete. The good news is that this becomes do-able when we’re working together.

This cosmic orientation is essential if we are to succeed in taking the next evolutionary step. If our orientation is not that big, we are always going to fall short. Our habitual ways of thinking are just too small-minded, petty, and personal. In order for authentic, profound, and meaningful transformation to occur, we have to make the effort to see all of our choices in this cosmic context. And that, in itself, is evolution. That’s what our next step is: awakening to a cosmic orientation to being a human being, here on earth, right now. —Andrew Cohen


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