Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Climbing Back Into My Happy Bubble

Thanks to those of you who commented on my last post, it really helped to hear I'm not alone going through these feelings! I know I read an article a couple of years ago about how the suicide rate is higher among those who consider themselves environmentalists, and I believe it. It is easy to get sucked down into hopelessness, to be overwhelmed by fear or anger, to lose sight of the things that are truly important: family, friends, beauty around us, living in this moment. And I really don't want to become that kind of environmentalist. You know, the doom-and-gloomer who turns all but the most dedicated tree-huggers completely off by preaching, ranting, and railing at the current scenario or at what other people are doing. For one thing, I know that with as much as we do try to do, we're still having a huge impact on the earth. We still drive a car, though so much less than we used to, we haven't given it up. Haven't moved off the grid, haven't eaten a 100 mile diet (though we've eaten plenty of 100 mile meals, and trying to do more all the time.) So I don't feel like I can really be pointing fingers, and I know that's not the path I want to take anyways.

So here and now, I'm going to try to climb back into that happy bubble. After all, the positive energy we put out also has an effect, I really believe that. So I weeded in the garden today and fed the weeds to the chickens, who like to peck through them. I went by our farmer's market and got fresh local strawberries, honey, carrots, and picked some lettuce from our garden for supper. We biked on our tandems to the park and picnicked with friends in the evening hours. Life is good here in the happy bubble

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reconciling Discouragement With Hope

For some reason, it has been really hard for me to write about sustainability since we got back from Southern California a couple of weeks ago. I guess it was just so disheartening being in the land of 12-lane freeways and drive-thru everything, my little happy bubble got popped for awhile. It's easy, when you live where I do, to believe that most people are interested in and striving for sustainability, that people really do think about the consequences of their actions, that change is starting to happen. And perhaps it is, still. I know things have to start at the grassroots level, and I know that every little bit helps and as those little bits join together, real change can happen.

The irony, of course, is not lost on me. We went to Southern California to do the whole Disney thing. The kids love it, I love it, my mom has just retired and hasn't been to Disneyland since I was ten, so she has really been looking forward to going there with the kids. And we totally had a blast. It's almost blasphemy around here to admit that you like Disneyland, but despite the fact that it is a wholly commercialized mecca, I still check my sense of reality at the gate every single time and have a great time. So we were there to soak up the total commercial experience, I don't know why it would be so shocking to encounter everything that goes with that.

I guess it's strange to think how far outside the mainstream norm your everyday life is. We went by a McDonald's one day for lack of time and opportunity to find a different restaurant. Got a meal to go and went down to the beach to eat. I was just shocked when we were done by how much garbage there was left over. Big plastic clamshells from the salads and napkins and boxes and plastic forks and all. And of course not even any recycling to put it in to mitigate even a fraction of it. Taking that big bag of stuff and throwing it in a trashcan felt so awful. It was about as much garbage as our family generates in a week - seriously! And then thinking of that multiplied by all the fast food meals sold in an hour in this country, well, I felt like crying.

So right now I'm trying not to feel hopeless, trying to get back into that happy bubble and do what I know I need to do: change the things I can, work towards bringing change to the world around me, walk on the path I want to be walking on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Connecting the Dots

The people we buy our goat's milk from let us come out for a visit since the baby goats have been arriving. Of course, the kids jumped at the chance to go out and see the little goats, and it was great to have the opportunity to meet the goats who supply our wonderful milk. I feel so lucky that we made this connection, more or less by an accidental encounter of a friend of ours. The milk from these goats is really a huge step above what we can get in the store, the taste is really amazing and also it's raw and not homogenized and all of that, and to have a connection directly between what you're eating and the people and animals who produce it is something that's somehow greater than I can express. It's such a simple thing, a pattern of connectedness that's much older than our present society, which is perhaps why it feels so right.

The little kids (of the goat variety, not human) ran around and played king of the haystack, and Miss A. had a great time picking up each and every one of them. The farm is at a beautiful place on the river, so peaceful and lovely in the spring sunshine. The kids (human, not goat) engaged in that timeless activity: throwing rocks in the water while I soaked up the late afternoon light. As the day drew to a close and we headed home, I mused that at least for our kids (the human ones, not the goats), food is not an abstraction. We grow it, we buy it from the farmers and beekeepers at the farmer's market, we pick the eggs up from our chickens, and now we get to see and appreciate the goats whose milk graces our table. Food, animals, human connections, it's all a part of re-connecting the dots of an integrated community food web. Just as a side bonus, it's more sustainable and a healthy way to eat and live as well.