Monday, March 31, 2008

It's not easy being green

My friend Kermit the Frog has a message for all of you, from the bottom of my heart.

"It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be"

Recently I've been invited to share with a group of students on how being "green" and environmental is easy and convenient. Something that wouldn't infringe of our lifestyles and easy to do.

That is the message that many environmental proselytizers are trying to sell to every one of us because we would love to think that without changing out lifestyles, without inconveniencing ourselves, we would still be able to be green. Unfortunately, no change is ever easy. Kermit got it right when he said it's not easy being green. There is no shortcut and there's never an easy way out. There is no easy way being green. There will be moral dilemmas and battles with yourself over little conveniences that we are oh-so-used to. But at the end of the day, "when green is all there is to be", it'll do fine and it's all you'll want to be.

When I first started Daily Green Actions, all I wanted to do was inspire every one with how little things we do each day makes a difference. There are green actions we can adopt in our daily lives that everyone can do. It can be as simple as taking a minute to look up in the sky at the brilliant sunrise on your way to work and school and appreciate the natural environment around you. Listen to the birds sing and smell the dew in the morning air. Nothing extreme like suffering in the heat or sitting in the dark. I still eat meat and take taxis.

But why do I make it sound like it's such a torture?

Well many times, it's a battle of conscience and the lure of modern conveniences and temptations are just too much to bear. Yesterday, I was torn between eating MOS Burger or Thai Express. Cheap or expensive? My favourite ice tea with milk or should I have find ethically produced food instead? Should I be taking taxis because I'm late or should I simply stop being late and never have to worry about taking taxis. While agonizing over these, I said those classic words, "it's not easy being green". Thanks to Ivan the music guru, here's Kermit, singing my secret confessions to you.

I admit, I am no saint. I am just like you and everybody else, I enjoy air conditioning, fast cars and good food. I consume large amounts of electricity with all my gadgets just like every other tech geek out there. However, I made the decision to audit my lifestyle. I wanted to show that it's not that difficult being green. But I was wrong. It's not easy being green. I had to fight with my parents because I want to turn off the TV instead of putting it on standby because it's the "right thing to do". Instead, it became a war over the TV. Because of my wanting to green my own actions, I imposed on others. As such, I came under even greater scrutiny. My hitching a ride home with my parents became unacceptable. Not green enough. People I knew, people who were nature lovers, called me extreme when they found out I practiced "lights out" everyday from 7-9pm. But that only came about because I thought of the Lights Out movement in USA which was akin to Earth Hour but what's the point of switching off for just one day a year. I thought to do it for 365 days so it'll be as good as 365 people doing it. Again, I couldn't bear being called "extreme" just as Kermit couldn't bear being "green".

People get asked why people are not allowed to fish or bring shells home or catch crabs or keep hermit crabs as pets. It's just the same as why people "shouldn't" drive fossil fuel vehicles, use styrofoam or use plastic bags. Why should being green be limited to halting climate change or conserving nature? Should we then forget about the poor and underprivileged? The list never end. But if we can do it all, we'll all be saints by now. There is no right or wrong, only if it matters to you or not. Like Kermit, why would I want to be green when I can be a star?

In the course of "being green", you may or may not encounter what I encountered. But at the end of the day, there is no shortcut and there is no easy way to answer that dilemma. It's doing whatever that you can live with for the rest of your lives. Momentary convenience or a moment of agony before the rainbow over the horizon. Your decisions will always be questioned by others and your determination will falter every so often.

Yes, it is easy being green but no (hu)man is an island. As we green our lifestyles, we'll have to green the lifestyle and choices of our parents, our spouses, our friends, our household decision-makers, our children, our families, our government, our neighbors, our drivers, our teachers, our bosses, our coworkers and even our pets. You will be questioned and no one will make it easy for you. It's easy to change yourself but what happens when your change affects others as well?

Choosing to take on a green lifestyle is easy. But the rest of the world will not make it easy for you.

If you are one of those lucky ones who find complete support from all those around you, congratulate yourself and give thanks and support to those who support you.

Yes you, that's right, you, thank you.

Remember, nobody can live a perfect, 100% "green" lifestyle. As long as we continue to be urban folks living in a city, we are making an impact on our environment. Nobody needs to deprive themselves but do you live a life of mindless conveniences or do you try to be "green"? Once you know the answer, it's not so difficult at all.

It's may not always be quite so easy being green, but remember, as Kermit says, sometimes being green can be small like a leaf or big like a tree but it's really all you want to be.

Read full article here

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rouge Monkey

Michael Switow (co-founder, One Singapore), Lois Ng (Studio You), Eunice Olsen, Monkey, Ivan, Vernetta Lopez (President, One Singapore)

Wanna know how this photo came about?

Here are your 5 options:
1) Watch Eunice Olsen's talk show, Rouge, on Channel 5, 20 April 2008, 10pm
2) Read the Naked Hermit Crab's blog entry by Ivan (in green)
3) See my photos and Leykun's photos from today
4) Read my adventure with the film crew at Semakau last week!
4) Wait for my review of the episode a week before the episode airs.

Read full article here

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Filmed at Semakau

Pardon me for my prolonged silence on this blog. As many of you may know, I am currently up to my neck in juggling graduate research, paperwork, teaching, 2 new paid jobs, classes and all my many blogs. While I've been silent on this one, I have been writing here, here, here, here and here where I recently gave some tips of things to do on Earth Hour 2008.

On top of that, together with Ivan, I will be appearing in all my glorious nakedhermitcrabbiness on Eunice Olsen's new talk show, Rouge, that airs every Sunday at 10pm on Mediacorp Channel 5. The studio filming will be this Sunday and the episode will air on April 20, 2008 as part of an Earth Day special.

Yesterday, together with a group of other crabbies, this monkey had a glorious morning at Pulau Semakau with a group of Commonwealth Youths and a group of students from Duke University led by Dr Dan and Dr Stan. On top of that, I had the film crew from Rouge following my group around while we explore the shores. It was my first time at Semakau but it was fun anyways. We saw lots of fan worms, jellyfish, nudibranch (Jorunna funebris), anemones (no nemos!), and lots of sponges, corals and what nots. Unfortunately I didn't have the good fortune to see the shark, stingray or knobby sea star.

Images taken from the Naked Hermit Crabs.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to use my camera much while I was trying to juggle the group, the crew and trying to enjoy my first time at Semakau. I am also pleased to say that I only got 1 sandfly bite out of the whole adventure! woohoo!

At the end of the day, as mentioned in my Daily Green Actions, "my favorite green action today was addressing 30 people at once, asking them to share their thoughts for the shore with us on paper". And of course getting the opportunity to confer upon Dr Dan, the first honorary crab membership ever! I felt I could have done it better since the gesture was kinda lost on most people. Ah, must improve my public speaking abilities. *sheepish*

If you have been wondering why there are no more Daily Green Actions update on this blog or if you are following the blog only via RSS reader, you may have not realized I've added the Daily Green Actions as a feed on the top of this blog. Alternative, for RSS subscribers, you can subscribe to this feed instead for Daily Green Actions update. You can also add Leafmonkey as a friend on Twitter. I am still looking for a better way to integrate the two instead of spamming my own blog. Please bear with me and know that I have not given up... yet!

Read full article here

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

History & Heritage Talks

For those interested in the history and heritage of Singapore, there are a series of upcoming talks which you may find interesting.

The National Museum of Singapore is organizing a series of talks over 6 saturdays which will provide an introduction to the history of Singapore.

Click on image for full size

On 24 March 2008, a Master candidate from the Department of History will be talking about the management of Kusu Island, focusing primarily on the temple and visitorship to the island. More information in the full article.

Managing The Tortoise Island:
Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, and Social Change in Pulau Kusu, 1965-2007

Chia Meng Tat Jack,
Department of History,
National University of Singapore

Tan Shiling Cheryl,
Department of Sociology,
National University of Singapore

Monday, 24 March 2008

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Blk AS7, Level 6
Research Clusters Meeting Room A
Time: 3.00 – 4.30pm

This essay examines the Guiyu Fushangong Tua Pek Kong Temple龟屿福善宫大伯公庙and religious activities in Pulau Kusu as they intersect with the larger forces of social change, state management, and development of the Southern Islands since the independence of Singapore for the period from 1965 to the present. It contends that the state’s interest in the economic potential of the Tua Pek Kong Temple, and the attempt to seek profit from its religious activities in particular over the last two decades, has very much affected the temple and contributed to the commercialization and “touristization” of the island. The state authorities have tried to reduce the autonomy of Pulau Kusu, exerting more control over the temple, and management of the island. They also sought to profit from the religious activities, as seen from their monopoly of goods and services, promotion of commercial activities, and their attempt to transform the island into a tourist site.

About the Speaker:
Chia Meng Tat Jack is a MA Candidate in history at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include Buddhism, Chinese popular religions, and the Chinese diaspora in Malaysia and Singapore. He is currently researching on the transnational temple-association networks connecting the Nanan community in Singapore with China and Malaysia

Light refreshments will be provided!

We gratefully request that you RSVP with your name, affiliation, contact details, to Jack Chia at:

Read full article here

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Video from the Singapore Flyer capsule

Because I have nothing better to do, here's the video I took on the night of 1st March 2008, the first day the singapore flyer was open to public.

Read full article here

Monday, March 03, 2008

On the Singapore Flyer

1 March 2008 was the first day of public rides for the observatory wheel, Singapore Flyer. What more, the birthdate of the singapore flyer also coincided with my mom's birthday. As such, the whole family celebrated her birthday on the flyer. Unfortunately, it was only till later that we realized that others did the same but even got cake and fanfare from the media. Alas my mother has to make do with a "signature cocktail" and a souvenir which we paid dearly for.

While I'm not a fan of its mere existence, I must say the singapore flyer does provide a spectacular vantage view of the city. You are able to keep track of quite a bit of things on the top of the world. Although I was corrected by my equally excited nephew that this is hardly the top of the world *grin*

For one, I definitely appreciate the fact that I managed to get one last glimpse of the Kallang Stadium before it gives way to the new "sports hub". I will miss those overpowering stadium lights.

The experience dealing with the Singapore Flyer has been painful to say to least for me. I blame it on birthing hiccups but the line at the flyer was painful for those waiting for a chance on the flyer. We were just glad we paid through our teeth to get the express line. I did take a video which I will blog about once I get over the fatigue of the weekend's activities.

Photos on flickr

Read full article here