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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.
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.
Where: Court Square Theater, Harrisonburg, VA
When: Saturday, April 24th, 7:30pm
Come to Court Square Theatre this Saturday night to watch the premiere of the 2010 Documentary Production Class film entitled, “Pathways to Whole – Stories from the Journey” as well as a slide show of photos from the photographers in the class.
Admission is free. Donations accepted.
This documentary focuses on the lives of 4 main characters and how each one has found a way to address the smaller and larger issues within the systems they live in through biking, gardening, art and peace building, among other things.
Tom Benevento is from Harrisonburg, Virginia and an active member of Our Community Place (OCP) and New Community Project. He loves to garden and bike and is involved in a bike movement project that is starting up. Recently Tom traveled to Davis, California with others from Harrisonburg, including Mayor Kai Degner, to learn about how they’ve made biking a sustainable system in their town. Tom and the others hope to make Harrisonburg more bike-friendly and incorporate a similar system here.
Skip Bracelin, member of Our Community Farm in Harrisonburg, Va, has done and seen a lot of things in his lifetime. Skip spent over half a year traveling the Appalachian Trail with his wife and two dogs. He currently lives and works on Our Community Farm and is an active participant in the daily activities there. He is a talented gardener and loves taking care of plants and animals, as they are all connected to us and each other in some way.
Cyndi Gusler is chair of the Visual and Communication Arts department at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Cyndi has been studying and creating art since her undergraduate studies at EMU. She considers using found materials her main art form. Cyndi recently went on a trip to Guatemala to learn about and study permaculture and how it relates to art. She currently works and lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with her husband Chad and two kids Aaron and Lily.
Titus Peachey currently works for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as the director of Peace Education. An EMU alum, Titus has spent time living and serving overseas in Laos with MCC after serving in Vietnam as a conscientious objector during the war there. In Laos he became interested in working at removing cluster bombs that were left in the ground from the silent air war over 40 years ago. He currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but continues to work at peace building and speaking out against the dangers and harm of cluster bombs in Laos and other countries. He is also a member of the board for the group Legacies of War, based in D.C. and works closely with the director, Channapha Khamvongsa.
Tomorrow I join Harrisonburg citizens traveling to Davis, California to study how to make a town bike friendly and other mutually beneficial concepts. Tom Benevento is an urban farmer, a bike activist in H-Burg and one of my fellow travelers. EMU Visual and Communication Arts students Steve Kniss, Lance Miller and I followed Tom around town with a camera the other day as we prepped for the trip. Here’s the movie:
Bike activist, public health/population and development guru Robb Davis is our host and organizer in Davis. Here is his post about the visit including an audio clip from his blog Traveling at the Speed of Bike. See you on the other side, Robb!
Lyrics for The Empty Chair by Talco – Licensed under Creative Commons – Share Alike, Non-Commercial, Attribution
Ladies and gentlemen
I have a story to tell you
I mourn in indignant dreams
But fear me not
Skies never write history
I wish to tell you of a true dream
Look in these streets of yours
And you’ll find out why.
A StoryDoula CC Original
SInspiredq by our AE class field trip to visit Jeff, Joey and Ryan at Digico yesterday, I carved out just an hour this afternoon to make a fast, fast After Effects comp. Used a different light for each bit of text, a null object, a camera – in the end I think I might have been moving the null object not the camera around whoops and I probably should have gone a little heavier on the Easy Ease feature. No, Jeff. That’s not a lens flare. It’s a strobe.
FYI. According to Jeff – we are the only After Effects class in the Shenandoah Valley. I think we should make T-Shirts!