Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Part I - You MIGHT be an Environmentalist...

Holiday Wreath made from discarded sheet music.

Part I --You MIGHT be an Environmentalist….

..if you insist on your coffee being organic, shade grown (to protect the songbird habitat) and labeled “fair trade”.

..if you tote your rotten apple core 74 miles home to put it in your compost pile rather than pitch it in a trash can.

..if you limp when you walk because you recently darned the holes in your socks, and it is a new skill, so they are lumpy!

..if the only cleaning supplies in your house are salt, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax.

..if you haven’t used a chemical on your lawn since you read the ingredients and knew the dandelions and butterflies wouldn’t like it.

..if every time you see a child having an asthma attack and silently cuss out makers, sellers and drivers of SUV’s.

..if you only want to go to the food store when you have four items left in your refrigerator and none of them are tofu or fresh fruit.

..if you count down the days to Household Hazardous Waste Day to dispose of your used batteries, paints, solvents, household chemicals and computers and parts.

..if you think that Julia “Butterfly” Hill should have been Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for the two years she tree-sat in Luna.

..if you always cheer for the Indians in the old westerns—and you still regularly want to defend native peoples.

..if you watched 3 people on your block die of the same rare disease and begin to study eco justice issues.

..if you use leftover water in glasses from meals to water your houseplants instead of dumping in down the drain.

..if you can describe the difference in mission of Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund and Audubon Society.

..if you struggle with the issue of living sustainably in a consumer world.

..if you’ve held a child in your arms as you read about degraded air and water quality and whispered, “How can we do this to you?”

..if your favorite “good clothes” came off the Final Clearance rack at Goodwill.

..if you’ve ever asked a loved one to save their bath water so you can use it next, knowing aquatic life downstream need the next tub full more than you do.

..if you’ve read about sustainability successes Kerala, Curitiba, and Gaviotos and thought: "Why can't we do this in more communities?"

..if your jewelry collection is made mostly from rocks, string and dried mushrooms.   

..if you shopped your entire Christmas list while only buying things from groups that are committed to Earth restoration.

..if your friends can recite by heart your speech about the dangers of pesticides to children.

..if you’ve ever saved all your dryer lint to stuff a pillow.

..if you hang wet clothes all over the house, rather than use the dryer, because besides saving power it humidifies your dry winter house.

..if you’ve ever called the hotel desk and asked them to leave the same sheets on the bed  for the 4 days you’ll be in the room.

..if you’ve ever stood in your backyard in the rain in your skivvies laughing at how good it felt.

..if you wretch every time you hear the word disposable.

..if you compost because you know that  “a rind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Women Should Vote

Standing with the Courageous at Seneca Falls, NY   Women's Rights National Historical Park
In less than four years, we in the US will celebrate the centennial of women winning the right to vote. I wish I had been able to ask my grandmothers what they felt the first time they could cast their votes in 1920. Since first reading the biographies of our American suffragists, I have been fascinated by the stories of their willingness to sacrifice great time and trials, many of them working for decades, to push a boulder up a mountain for the right to vote.  Many of them did not live long enough to vote themselves, but wanted women in the future to have rights they were denied.

I hope you will identify or create celebrations in your own communities to honor this glorious marking of significance in some special way.  For inspiration to get started, please see this anonymous blog post below. If you know who should be credited for it, please let me know.

And please study the positions of your candidates and VOTE!

The following photo essay appeared several years ago, without authorship credit attached.  It is still timely.  How far have we come since these photographs?  

Blessings and EarthPeace, Joyce

*Other recommended films and resources can be found following the essay.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.  Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis)

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul)

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn. ' The right to vote', she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse.  Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for ‘insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.

History is being made.

Films and video:
Iron-Jawed Angels, HBO films
The Suffragette Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep
Forward Into Light, Inez Millholland martyr suffragist, new film http://inezmilholland.org/
Standing on the Shoulders of Courageous Women music video:
               YouTube StandingontheShoulders

The Perfect 36, Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage  the dramatic story of Tennessee’s struggle to ratify the 19th Amendment, reaching the required number of states for women’s suffrage to become federal law.   Book and video  www.theperfect36.com

Websites for Centennial events and resources:
National Women’s History Project,   www.NWHP.org  for lots of information and great resources, including for Women’s Equality Day

Women's Rights National Historical Park

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stop the Pipelines, Stop the Maddness

With yet another major pipeline break this past week, it seemed timely to post this piece I wrote during the controversy fighting to stop the Keystone Pipeline. 

 (Photos from Washington DC march to stop the Keystone LX pipeline. )

 It worked!

Building and opening the Keystone XL pipeline would have been nothing less than suicidal madness for the human race.  ALL pipelines leak.

With recent massive poisonous spills in my neighboring states might happen anywhere massive pipelines to transport dirty, toxic petroleum sludge.

There are a thousand reason NOT TO build these monsters, but only one reason TO build it.
Greed, pure and simple.

Not energy independence, because the figures do not add up to anything but worsening drought and climate destruction.

 Please stop the madness. Tell the EPA and your elected representatives to tune out the paid lobby and listen to the citizens who know that a few jobs are not worth the health of our ecosystem.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Where Did This Come From? Link to song

Where did that come from? 
Where has it been? In what other forms?

I love to play “Where does this come from?”, picking any item in a room and tracing the path of a book or chair, iPad, or cookie all the way back to it’s basic components.  A tree in Asia, sugar grown in Florida? Rare Earth element from Africa for an electronic component?  What kind of energy transported it to each step of its making? How many times did it need to be handled. What was the cost in air and water quality? 

This is a wonderful car game for families. It helps us see in our possessions just how interconnected we are on this planet.

First Law of Ecology: You can’t do just ONE thing. Everything is connected.


My love of planet Earth comes from such a deep spiritual place, that it has no words. When I play “Where does this come from?”  it inevitably goes back to the beginning of the Universe.

Surely along the way of Where Did This Come From, you will find a song to sing about a place or resource, so Sing Out!

Songs connect the whole world in weaving wonderful way!

My work has taken me from schools in the Hawaiian Islands to cathedrals and concert halls throughout North America. Nature centers and converted barns have been favorite places to sing and share the joy of wonders of Earth.  Whether at a University or a House Concert hosted in someone’s home, there is no sweeter music to me than when people join in and sing along.  Pete Seeger used to say that “Singing together strengthens the bonds of community.”  I think we can sense that power when we join together in song.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Well, This is Nice...Reviews!

Sometimes the Universe sees you need a little boost and just sends you a present. Don't you love it when that happens? Recently the Earth Mama CDs got these unexpected great reviews for Midwest Book Reviews, a specialty house that refers media materials to libraries and schools. 

Reviewer's Bookwatch: July 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

Andrea's Bookshelf

Rouse House Music
PO Box 450, Independence, VA 24348

Joyce "EarthMama" Rouse has created a grand variety of music albums over the course of decades, all with the common themes of promoting eco-literacy and good stewardship, appreciation for nature's splendor, the manifold joys of love and kindness, and everyday nobility in thoughts and actions (such as the moral principle encapsulated in the song "Only Take What You Need"). Her music is a treasure the whole family can enjoy, and makes excellent addition to school and public library CD collections. A selection of her uplifting, ecology-themed music albums include "A Sense of Place" ($14.99 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Pay Attention" ($15.00 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Around the World" ($14.97 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Love Large" ($15.00 CD/$11.00 MP3), "Grass Roots!" ($15.00 CD/$9.00 MP3), and "Under the Rainbow" ($15.00 CD/$9.00 MP3).

Andrea Kay

Library Bookwatch: July 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

The Multimedia Shelf

Virginia Beauty: A Love Song for the Commonwealth
Joyce Johnson Rouse
Rouse House Music
PO Box 450, Independence, VA 24348
$12.00 CD / $9.99 download cdbaby.com

Since Virginia has no official state song, composer Joyce Johnson Rouse (a.k.a. "EarthMama") created Virginia Beauty: A Love Song for the Commonwealth as a tribute to Virginia's natural beauty, hardworking people, and rich history. A medley of expert musicians perform Virginia Beauty in standard, bluegrass, abbreviated, and instrumental versions. Virginia Beauty is also enriched with bonus materials; when the CD inserted into a computer, the user gains access to printable documents and suggestions for using the song in performance and education. Highly recommended! The audio tracks are "Long Version", "Bluegrass Version - Featuring Dale Ann Bradley", "Short Version", and "Instrumental Track".

Children's Bookwatch: June 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

The Holiday Shelf

Christmas Heart
Joyce Johnson Rouse
Rouse House Music
PO Box 450, Independence, VA 24348
$15.00 CD / $10.00 MP3 cdbaby.com

Joyce "EarthMama" Rouse presents Christmas Heart, a holiday-themed music CD for the whole family. Some of the songs have religious themes that celebrate God's love and the birth of Jesus Christ; all are shining with the universal joy and camaraderie of the season. An included lyric booklet makes Christmas Heart ideal for sharing and singing aloud, especially at Christmas caroling or parties. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Christmas Heart" (3:18), "Close To The Earth" (4:26), "Baby Child, Baby King" (2:34), "The Angel Tree" (3:49), "First Christmas Waltz" (3:27), "Christmas Candles" (2:52), "Quaker Christmas Medley" (5:03), "For Christmas" (3:25), "Fear Not (in the Stile Nacht)" (5:20), and "Green Christmas" (4:57).

Full reviews here:


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tree Polka



I wrote this after working with middle school kids who could only name 4 types of trees! There are over 60 tree species listed in this song, including the whole second verse filled with pine trees. Can you smell the forest pines?

Earth Literacy, the art and science of knowing this planet we call Home, the knowing and naming by species and biome, by taste and smell, by season and climate add to the richness of our lives. Earth Literacy is also the key to a sustainable future on our Amazing Earth!

   Learn to dance the polka for great exercise and co-ordination.

Tree Polka by Joyce Johnson Rouse

Oak, elm and poplar
Alder, magnolia and ash
Redbud and linden
Persimmon, apple, sumac
Walnut and hickory
Sweet gum and sycamore, yew
Maple, cherry, pear and myrtle
Cottonwood and spruce

(A verse of pines)
Digger and Jeffrey
Torrey and bristle cone
Lodgepole and bishop
Limber, Apache, knobcone
Sugar, Chihuahua
Whitebark and Monterey
Austrian, Scotch and Coulter
Western, white, Foxtail

Ginkgo and hemlock
Locust and chestnut and birch
Buckeye and laurel
Olive and aspen and fir
Basswood and dogwood
Butternut, cedar and beech
Tulip, chinkopin, mimosa
Willow, palm and peach
©2002 Rouse House Music, ASCAP. All rights reserved. http://www.earthmama.org/home
This Tree Polka blog written by Joyce Rouse was first published in the Children's Music Network blog in December, 2014. Reposted here with their permission.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

If You Need a Chair— Act Locally for stronger communities


Happy Chairmaker by Todd Price ©2013 Original oil painting. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This song is on my CD  “A Sense of Place” by Earth Mama. One of the main themes of the album is to honor whatever place you chose to live in. I love our local farmers market and meeting the people who grow our food.  As we discover more local products, I have greater respect for the artisans, growers, crafters, and creators of useful items we have right here in my community. And probably in yours! I wanted this song to have a global musical feel and honor many cultures, with humor, fun rhymes and places to sing along with “la la la” syllables.  I hope people will get up and dance around and sing harmony when they hear this song. And perhaps inspire people to make stronger communities by shopping for locally made goods. Maybe it will even promote supporting local music...  La La La La LA!

For music and lyrics click here: If You Need a Chair

This was first posted on the Children's music network blog in september 2015. reposted here with their permission