I have to tell you something. First of all, I just plain loved the conversation we’ve been having about the things we are having a tough time surmounting on our path toward sustainability. Loved it. Thank you thank you thank you all for being open and honest. And I would say that maybe for some of us, admitting it was half the problem? Am I right??! So I hope that it helped. It sure helped me get a few things out in the open so that I can be held accountable. I’m going to work on those things I listed. The cat litter is the toughest, but I’m not giving up!!
There were certainly some patterns in those comments, so I plan to address some of what came up in great detail, to see if we can’t help one another find ways to tackle our next steps. And that brings me to the topic at hand…
We Can’t Do This Alone
I began writing about my journey because I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others, to make it a little easier for them – for you. I’ve found that writing has actually helped me immeasurably as well. I’ve learned as much from you all as you learned from me, if not much more.
When Matt and I were in Geyserville, one of the things we realized is how important community is in our lives, and in living a sustainable life. We need one another. We can’t do everything ourselves.
Alan wrote the other day:
For me the biggest challenge is getting past the idea that I can do it all myself. Sustainability has to be a community effort. There are things I can do that others in my community can’t and things that they can do that I can’t. Building that network is Key.
This is the conclusion that Matt and I came to as well: sustainability is not the same as self-sufficiency. Truly, we don’t have to be completely self-sufficient – we don’t have to do everything – we just have to do our part in society. Making our community stronger makes our family more resilient and adaptable. We can be more sustainable when we all work together.
But there are even greater benefits. We work on building our communities – both online and at large – not just because we need our communities to be strong so that we can adapt to a changing world. But also, so that we can bring new people into a level of awareness that leads to a sustainable existence.
The whole world needs to live sustainably in order to preserve our planet. Not just me, not just you, not just our families and friends, but everyone we know, and everyone they know, and so on… across the entire planet.
A year ago I didn’t own Baggalinis, two years ago I showered every day, three years ago I wasn’t eating seasonally or locally, four years ago I had lived in a city for 10 years without once riding public transportation, five years ago I was working on films with hundreds of lights where each one of those lights used more electricity than my entire apartment does now. Six years ago, I dyed my hair with horrible chemicals (and five years ago, and four years ago, and three years ago, and two even).
Every year I make great strides. Every year I learn more. Just a year and a half ago I grew fruits and vegetables from seeds for the first time, and now I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve done it – too many to count.
Almost all of us were sustainability babies once. Some of us still are. And most of the people around us are.
But guess what? We can’t do this alone. We need them. We need the people who aren’t living sustainably to start doing so.
And so we have to bring them in. Nicely, respectfully – remembering that we were there once, too. That every change is relative. Just as babies grow and learn differently, so do adults. Some people arrive here early in life, others come much later. Some are faster at change, and some are slower.
We are all at different levels here. And we are all at different levels in the world at large. What we must do – must, must, must – is to put aside our judgments. Embrace what we can in others, and bring them into our worlds. Teach them, inspire them, and respectfully change their thinking.
It requires patience. It requires working hard at it. It requires putting our egos aside.
But our planet is in peril. Our world is in peril. There is a lot that we must change as soon as we can – sooner, really. So we must do this now.
Discuss vs. Lecture, Show vs. Tell
There is a saying in the film world: “show don’t tell.” We don’t want to be told what to do. We want to be inspired, moved, and shown the merit of changing our ways. We must believe in the change ourselves or it will not happen.
Shame doesn’t work. Intolerance doesn’t work. Lecturing doesn’t work. Proven time and time again, these don’t work. What works are human stories, human emotions, human love and respect and inspiration.
There have been a few comments and emails here lately about posts discussing ideas that are “too easy.” I would challenge each of you to rethink this notion every time it comes to mind. Because what is too easy to you may be incredibly difficult for someone else, and vice versa. I may have a great deal of gardening experience (I can’t remember when I didn’t grow something, though it wasn’t always edible). But I am new – green – when it comes to baking and sewing, things that come natural to many of you.
What I love about this community is its diversity. And the strength of this community is that we all have the same central goals: to lower our impact on the planet, to make changes we want and need to make, to live a simple, healthy, green, frugal, and sustainable life.
Let’s use that to our advantage. The world is headed in the wrong direction, and we need to get it going in the right direction. So I will ask each of you to offer your support and expertise, so that others can use it to move to their next level of change.
Nobody is perfect, nobody knows everything. But together, we are almost completely perfect and we know a whole heck of a lot.
So let’s change the world one person at a time. Both online and in our neighborhoods. Together.