Read this Editor’s Note titled American Psychosis in the May/June edition of the Utne Reader please. Editor David Schimke demands: what does it take to confront our collective denial concerning climate change and all that ails our planet?!
Coal mine disasters, a devastating oil spill, hydrofracking in my own backyard, obesity epidemics, rampant stress, out-of-wack food and values systems. Enough.
I’m taking the Schimke challenge: I don’t have the choice to become overwhelmed by this stuff anymore. And merely recycling my plastic jugs just doesn’t cut it.
My approach to this needs to get way more radical – way more systemic.
First, I’m listening to modern-day prophets – Colin Beavan tried to go “no impact” in New York for an entire year – an adventure documented in a film and on his blog. Annie Leonard created The Story of Stuff – an animated video and website about our insane system of consumerism and waste.
My pals Tom Benevento and Robb Davis pulled back from fat international consulting careers when they realized the problems they were hired to fix overseas stemmed from U.S. dependence on oil and THINGS we buy – right here. Tom and Robb are both community advocates.
What I like about each of these prophets is that they aren’t telling me what I need to do. They are all challenging me to locate my own responsibility, my own piece of this massive problem and then DO THAT. DO SOMETHING.
We all risk looking ridiculous when we try to envision a new reality.
Today I felt a little foolish posting this on Facebook:
hey h-burgers and berry-villers – i’m plantin’ and paintin’ – if you have plants you want to split off or leftover indoor paint you’d like to clear out of your basement – just let me know. i’m headed to the cabin wednesday (july 7) morn for a few weeks of hard labor and would be thrilled to not buy new.
Why did I feel foolish? Because being consumers is what we as Americans know how to DO so incredibly well. We’re rewarded for having the capability to buy, the independence and “freedom” and grooviness that brings us. Being collective, being community – the messages we get is that community is messy, it’s dependent, it’s inefficient. Some think downright un-American.
Here is where this becomes radical.
My friend Lisa offered up some paint and some plants. I’m going to go see her late this eve.
We’ll probably have some tea.
Laugh a bit.
Her leftover paint will end up on my walls.
Her lovely plants in my garden.
I’ll bond with my friend, be surrounded by her at my cabin and save a little cash in the process.
Way more interesting and rewarding than a trip to Home Depot.
Enough for now. But more on this soon. I have to do this in small doses or I lose my brain.
Meanwhile – here are the prophets:
1) No Impact Man Trailer – but PLEASE see the entire movie as an instant download on Netflix or wherever you can get your hands on it.
2) Click here for Voluntary Gas Tax Club in Harrisonburg.
3) The Story of Stuff animated film with Annie Leonard (20 minutes):
4) Click here for a thoughtful Penn State interview with Annie Leonard. She’s fantastic.
5) Interview with David Holgrem – co-originator of permaculture:
6) Click here for 31 Tips to Reduce Your Impact While Saving Money. But don’t stop there. Figure out how to look really foolish around saving yourself and the planet. Then let’s compare notes.
7) And click here to figure out what the heck is a Wittgensteinian Essay.