“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
10 Ways to Become Self-Sufficient Before the Doomsday Clock Hits Midnight
"It is now two minutes to midnight"
In 1947, following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a group of atomic scientists created the Doomsday Clock.
The clock represents how close we are to a hypothetical global catastrophe as determined by the members of the Science and Security Board, the group that publishes the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
"Midnight" is when the nuclear armageddon hits and the minutes leading up to midnight symbolizes how close we are to it. Theoretically, of course. The largest time period came in 1991 at seventeen minutes, the shortest is two minutes, in 1953 (when the Soviet Union exploded its first hydrogen bomb), and as of late January, 2018.
Here are a few choice excerpts from a recent post "It's now two minutes to midnight:"
In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.
The greatest risks last year arose in the nuclear realm. North Korea's nuclear weapons program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to North Korea itself, other countries in the region, and the United States. Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions by both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation.
To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger—and its immediacy.
The Doomsday Clock is in a lot of ways, a gimmick. Midnight is a metaphor, minutes aren't actual measurements of time, and there isn't even an actual clock. However, the premise is based on the expertise of atomic scientists, so the clock has gravitas in ways apocalyptic preachers don't. As Popular Science writer Rachel Feltman puts it, the Doomsday Clock is neither art or science, it's in the middle.
In that spirit, let's split the difference between going full off-the-grid ""prepper," and whistling past the nuclear graveyard. At two minutes to midnight, it's important to at least know where the late-night snacks are being stored. Here are ten easy ways to become more self-sufficient in the event of… Well, it's good to be self-sufficient no matter what, right?
1.) Green Up Your Thumbs:
Gardens don't require big backyards. You can grow fruits and veggies anywhere. Window boxes work so long as there's water, soil, and sunlight. Make sure the box is deep enough for 7-inches of potting soil and an inch of water on top with holes in the bottom for drainage to preserve the roots. Particularly sunny spots are great for cherry tomatoes, small peppers, beans, strawberries, short carrots, and mini squash. Lettuce, spinach, chard, and cabbage can flourish in shadier confines. Use organic fertilizer throughout the season and water frequently, more that you think in the hot summer months.
2.) Trade Your Lawn Mower for Salad Tongs:
The well-manicured lawn is a staple of American homes, which is silly, because it could be a giant salad. Edible lawns are a way to have greens for weeks while helping the environment by using way less water. There are all manner of herbs, plants, shrubs, leaves, and even weeds to fortify your body if say zombies come knocking. Lawns aren't natural, gardens are. Here's a starter kit on your way to a lush thick yard of eerily-named roughage like Creeping Rosemary and Lamb's Quarters.
Instead of a lawn, try a vegetable gardenPhoto by Kenan Kitchen
3.) Become an Apiculturist:
No, you won't need to go to a fancy school, all you need to do is learn how to get a buzz on. Apiculture is the technical term for beekeeping, which is inexpensive, doesn't take a lot of time or space, and provides beeswax for candles and delicious honey that doesn't require any processing for consumption. There are cave drawings of honey going back to 6,000 B.C. so trust the little workaholics for survival. All you need is a few healthy hives. Here's a handy-dandy how-to guide to building your own Langstroth Hive from Bee Culture magazine. Will you get stung? Definitely. But bee venom builds up an immunity to stings, so it's a win-win.
4.) Rain on Your Parade:
Rain barrels collect and store runoff from a roof through the gutter. It's a great way to water your edible lawn in the dry months. It can be a basic plastic cistern, or a huge tank that stores enough water for months on end. Great for washing, flushing, watering, and rinsing. Drinking water is even a possibility if you put in a proper filtration system, it depends on the levels of air pollution in your area.
5.) Fire Away:
When it goes down, you're going to need fire for warmth, cooking, and boiling the rain water you've collected. Here's a basic method to start a fire without matches. First, you need to collect tinder (small, dry, flammable material), kindling (a little bigger organic material like wood chips or twigs), and firewood (self-explanatory.) Get a hard piece of wood as a fireboard, make a notch in it with a knife, and put a two-foot stick in the notch. Rapidly twist the stick in your palms. It's sweaty tiresome work, but it will produce enough friction to start smoking and generate tiny embers, which will get the tinder lit. Blow on the fire, add kindling, and then firewood. If this way is too difficult, keep a condom in your pocket. Fill it with water and use it like a magnifying glass. C'mon baby, light my fire indeed.
6.) Stay Fresh and So Clean:
Doomsday may lead to a dirty wars spanning the globe, but you don't need to be dirty to fight in them. Making a simple soap at home is a lot easier than one might think, here's a recipe from DIY Natural that only calls for three types of oil, lye, and cold water. (Lye is no joke, use the utmost precaution.) Soapmaking also offers a perfect way to use leftover herbs and honey in the name of smelling nice.
Soap making is skill you'll need to keep clean Photo by Jennifer Burk
7.) Get Coop-ed Up:
A home-raised chicken offers a lot: Truly tasty eggs, nutrient-rich manure for vegetable gardens, a personal bug and worm exterminator, a recycler of biodegradable garbage, and a goofy friend to entertain the kids. Backyard (or rooftop) chicken coops are popular among adherents to the "eat local" movement, even in densely packed New York City. Chickens need about 3-4-feet of space each, so the smaller the quarters the fewer chickens you'll want to keep, but once you buy or build a coop with a roost, run, and nesting area, the upkeep isn't any more time-consuming than a garden. Make sure to check local laws --cock-a-doodling-roosters are often a no-go-- and win over your neighbors with the best bunker omelettes around.
8.) Harness the Sun:
The power grid could go down but there's no way to block out the sun...Yet. A small home solar kit can be of great use in doses, keeping the lights on during the blackout periods. A writer at EarthEasy built a DIY system with four components (a solar panel, a charge controller, two 6-volt golf cart batteries, and a small inverter) for under $1,000. It powers his laptop, a freezer, a cordless drill, and even an iPod. Being off-the-grid doesn't mean you can't get down. In a broad everyday sense, adding solar power to your home's daily energy requirements will save money in the long run. Use this solar calculator to see how you could add a few dollars to the "Emergency Coffee Can Fund," which you totally have, right?
9.) Pack Your Bag:
The "Bug Out Bag" (or "BOB" if you're in a hurry) is a kit with the proper supplies to survive for 72-hours following a disaster. The staples of the BOB are: Water, purification tablets, food like MRE's or energy bars, cash, flashlight, firestarter, waterproof clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, medical records, a Swiss Army Knife, etc. You get the point. The basic BOB is for three days, but if it really is armageddon, you might want to pack a bag like this former counterintelligence special agent. He could take on midnight no problem.
10.) Downsize, Downsize, Downsize:
If you're at home, open a closet, any closet, and make a mental note of what you actually use or need in certain situations. If you hate to part with things and need some prodding, here's a handy checklist of crap you can lose. Being self-sufficient doesn't just mean being able to stalk and kill your own dinner, in fact for most of us urban-suburban-ites its doesn't mean that at all. It means living smarter and simpler, so if it is the end of the world as we know it, we'll all feel fine.