The other day a few of us were asking ourselves how we might redefine our lives, personally and in our communities, to respond to the many crises of the planet. That’s what we need–a redefinition. It’s not happening fast enough. Sometimes I look around in a public place and wonder how in the world we’re going to get all those people to get off their butts and make their lives more sustainable. Is it possible to build a movement that captures the hearts of millions as happened in the Civil Rights Movement? Can we somehow motivate the masses to consume and drive less, eat local, live more frugally, and un-plug? What will motivate them?
Even though I know of the looming disasters ahead of us which could send me to hide under my bed covers, I get up each day with hope. Why? Because I regularly join with others in my town, my faith community, and my state to try to make a difference. Because just last week Transition Town Charlotte held a workshop about keeping poultry and more that forty people showed up, right here in our little town. And it was a lively and fun event and maybe it motivated more people to think about developing a strong local economy. Because last week at my Friends Meeting some of us were discussing Bill McKibben’s book, Eaarth, and it led to exploring ways to make significant heart-based changes within our Meeting community. Because last week I participated in a board meeting of the Vermont Interfaith Power and Light and learned of how so many faith communities are making significant changes in their energy use.
The only way I get up in the morning and face the day with hope and a smile is because I know that my examples are multiplied a million times around the world and that there is a movement, just as Paul Hawken has documented, that may help turn the tide of our self-destruction. But in the meantime I believe that efforts such as the Transition Town movement, which is spreading around the globe, and Interfaith Power and Lights are where we need to put our energy. We must work in our communities to educate, re-skill, and energize everyone around us.
More people, like Bill McKibben, Peter Sawtell, and George Lakoff are advocating civil disobedience, and I’m recognizing that this may be our next step. I did take my risks in the eighties when many were rising up against the injustices in Central America. I did get arrested and I did get sentenced to some jail terms, the longest being 3 months. I did feel like I was doing all that I could and was filled with hope that I might be an agent for change.
Today I want to be an agent for change for the planet, for the future, for my life, for my grandchildren. My oldest granddaughter is about to graduate from college and is really scared about the job scene and her future prospects for a healthy and fulfilling life. It breaks my heart to hear of her fears. It makes me feel like I MUST make a difference!
What are you doing? How do you continue with the knowledge of what is happening and what is to come?
Congratulations on your new blog! I am looking forward to following your activities.
You will be pleased to know that these rumblings about non-violent direct action and “mass demonstrations” on behalf of the planet are widespread. I know of someone now doing his PhD thesis on applying the methods of the Civil Rights movement to the plight of the Earth. Josh Fox, whose provocative Academy Award-nominated documentary GASLAND, about hydraulic fracturing (a means of gas extraction that’s poisoning water worldwide) let an audience in NYC know recently that mass demonstrations are being planned this summer to culminate in a march on Washington to demand renewable energy. At this same event, he called for an amendment to the Constitution to protect Nature (and I did not miss the opportunity to send him a copy of Marshall Massey’s Nature Amendment!). We not only need to build a movement as you rightly propose to lighten our ecological footprint (like a world-wide bus boycott), but we need to agitate for change. The Quaker group EQAT is using these tools to get PNC bank to divest from Massey Energy, the company that’s doing mountaintop removal. The Civil Rights movement would have gone nowhere without people putting themselves physically where the practice of segregation was taking place. Modern western civilization has segregated the planet from our consciousness! But that’s going to change.
Films like GASLAND, Plastic Planet (a must see, Friends), The End of the Line and exhibitions like “Landscapes of Extraction: the Collateral Damage of the Fossil Fuels Industry” and “Fracking: Art and Activism Against the Drill” (in which my artwork is included), are now on view in NYC. Landscapes of Extraction was just reviewed in this month’s Smithsonian magazine. These works of art inform the public, evoke powerful emotions and are moving people to action. The perception that it’s not happening fast enough is like watching a pot boil. The heat is on, but you cannot see evidence of it. But one day soon, it’s going to reach the boiling point (in a good way). The new condition and new consciousness will be everywhere. I like to remember the quote of Teilhard de Chardin that inspired my painting “Chain Reaction”:
“Everywhere, at this moment, in the new spiritual atmosphere created by the idea of evolution, there float, in a state of extreme mutual sensitivity, love of God and faith in the world, the two essential components of the Ultrahuman. These two components are everywhere “in the air” – sooner or later there will be a chain reaction.”
Everything is needed: Confrontation, Legislation, Consciousness-changing and Creating new patterns of living on the Earth. And people are working on all these fronts, though I believe the Confrontational approach needs to be lifted up most. Your community of like minded people is diffused everywhere, like the “imaginal” cells in the transforming chrysalis. This summer we will see signs of what you are envisioning — a redefinition of our situation, public awareness and irreversible societal change.
Yes, everything is needed. I am so inspired by those who through themselves fully into life, living with integrity and spirit. I’ll link arms with you as we resist the forces of the corporate structure!
Another small step – my son is seriously growing mushrooms in his tiny urban farm, and people are constantly asking him to do more workshops. And the neighbors have come to admire the chickens that provide eggs and the occasional soup for him and his wife.
I want to do that too. Do you know how cold it gets where he grows them? Our root cellar was 36 F this morning. I’m wondering whether that’s too cold? Where does he live? If it’s near Burlington, Vermont I’d love to book him for a workshop for our Transition Town.
My son lives in Minneapolis; not exactly tropical. Too far from Burlington for a workshop, no doubt, but I can give you his contact information. That’s awfully cold for a root cellar! I think they did something new to insulate theirs, because they were concerned about the glass jars freezing, but I don’t know what it was.
Is it secure for me to give you his email address here, or should I email?
I am reading your early blogs so I can catch up with all you have experienced on your journey to date. I know what you mean about continuing to get up each day with hope and wondering how others who as yet just don’t get it or know there is an “it” to get will ever be engaged in the process. But you doing your bit inspires me to put more into doing my bit, and hopefully my bit inspires someone else to do a bit more and perhaps in the end we all get there.
All the best
I’m so glad you’re inspired to give it some more. If you look like you’re having a great life filled with fun and friends and are still living simply, it will inspire others to make changes. People are afraid of losing what material things they’ve got, thinking they will be unhappy without them. It’s up to us to show the world how much richer life is without the burden of the stuff.