Category Archives: blessed unrest

Days 339-345: MLwC, a Can-Do Attitude and Hope

We democrats are lucky this time around: we’ve got two awesome candidates and I’ll be happy when either one of them wins in November–as I’m certain one of them will. Whoever gets the nod in the run-up, I just hope they have the good sense to step back and let the Repugnicans tear each other apart–I’m also pretty sure that will happen. What goes around comes around.

I’m disappointed that Edwards dropped out. I had my enviro and anti-big-corpo-madness hopes pinned on him, but I wasn’t heart sick to see him leave the race…we have such an excellent choice with Hillary and Barack. Except for one thing…that environment issue. Oh, and the big-corpo-madness issue. I don’t think either of the candidates raises my pulse on those issues and for that, I’m truly hoping for a miracle once they get in office. I’m hoping for some enlightenment, as neither one has a strong track record or seems a strong champion for issues that are big for me. Still and all, as a country, we can only do better, and we have only to put the past eight years where they belong–behind us–and move on in a better direction.

Rosie the Riveter and Hillary Clinton

I’m rooting for Hillary because I think she’s a woman with a can-do attitude. She’s an incredibly hard worker–and like so many women who have had to fight hard to get half the respect they deserve, she’s got some rough edges. I understand that, and I even appreciate that. I understand her demeanor, which at times can be brusk–it doesn’t sway my sense that she has the experience, knowledge and passion to lead us in a direction I wholeheartedly support. I would love Hillary to be a resoundingly successful first woman president of the United States.

But this morning I was thinking about something. I was thinking about how hopeful I was when Bill Clinton was first running for office back in ’92. 15 freaking years ago–I can hardly believe it. Bill Clinton was incredibly hopeful and inspiring and he came from virtually nowhere to win the nomination, and he played music I could relate to, and he was simply the voice of the same section of my generation that wanted a progressive force in the white house after so many dismal years of Bush 1 and Reagan (no, I don’t think Reagan walked on water–I’m from California and witnessed his cold-hearted elitist governing style first hand).

Bill Clinton offered hope that things could be different, and I was swept along with it. All in all I think it was a good presidency, though there are some things I still wish he’d done differently (that’s an understatement). Clinton, both Hillary and Bill, wear the scars of that time.

If Barack gets the nomination, I know he’ll win the presidency, and I’ll help. He’s not my first choice, not even my second choice–but I get the draw. I get the pull of hope, the resonance of a generation chomping at the bit to do things differently, and I hope he’s able to change things, if that’s how the nomination shakes out. More than anything, I’m looking forward to a healing, forward looking president. I remember the allure of hope–it can move mountains.

Daily Stats: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Car: 88 miles (a lot of biz and 14 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 5
Bus: 0

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Days 332-338: MLwC and The Story of Stuff

When I started this year long project to examine and change my transportation habits, I had a sneaking suspicion that no matter what I did–ride a bike, take a bus, walk, drive my car–one fundamental thing had to change: driving less means using less. Driving is about Consuming, pure and simple, and what I’ve learned is that as I’ve driven less, I’ve consumed less in all kinds of ways. And using less is good. It’s  anathema to our culture, but it’s good…and I keep coming back to it, again and again.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonardson

Writer, researcher and activist Annie Leonard has been spending the last 10 years thinking about and researching our material-based culture. She’s been talking about it too, but has not been able to gain traction…until she put together a truly brilliant 20 minute film that’s easy on the eyes and brain, but still packs a punch. She also changed the name of her focus from material usage to Stuff.

Watch The Story of Stuff–watch it now! it’s so right on, and encouraging too–we can change the way our obsolescent-dependent culture drives us crazy!

Take some time to watch her film, The Story of Stuff. What it’s about: like the title suggests, it’s the story of stuff. And she manages to take a systems approach to our whole way of life, our entire culture to explain just how stuff works…and how we participate in the creation, consumption, and disposal of stuff. It’s an untenable cycle of life, pure and simple.

And the only way out is: use less, consume less, need less. Do less, buy less, create less. Whatever happened to Less is More? We’ve completely lost touch with the concept–and now we are mindlessly buying, using, consuming, trashing more stuff than ever in the history of the world.

I suspect that once my year of transportation evaluation is over I may be turning my personal attention to this issue. And it is incredibly thorny–everything in me wants what it wants and wants it now. I’m as culpable as the next person, sometimes more, in terms of consuming–but I know, I KNOW, this cannot continue and the only thing I can do is change my own habits. I know I can systematically look at how I buy and consume and begin to deconstruct it, bit by bit–and begin to Stop Doing What I’m Doing.

And I also suspect that I will be zeroing in on one area of massive consumption that nearly epitomizes all that’s wrong with corporate supply-and-demand: processed food.

Now that I’ve said that, do watch this film and consider the role of Corporations in her explanation. And again, I point to John Edwards as the only candidate in the field who has strongly addressed dual issues regarding Corporations, the environment, and the cycle of greed that drives the growth of corporations.

Not endorsing, I’m just sayin’….

On my transportation front: I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t been able to post on a regular basis. On the other hand, I’m starting to think about weekly transportation caps–I haven’t gotten my route to Poulsbo figured out yet, ie, bus use. I’ve got too much to juggle right now and things haven’t calmed down. So I’m still successfully keeping my car usage down, but have also targeted a 75 mile a week cap. I’m well under that this week with 51 miles, so that’s all good. Is 75 miles a week too much? Does that seem reasonable? Any thoughts out there?

Daily Stats: (Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 51 miles
Bike: 7.0
Ped: 5
Bus: 2 miles

Oh yeah! It’s Blog Action Day!

La Marguerite reminded me this afternoon that it’s Blog Action Day!

And for Blog Action Day, beyond my post this morning, I want to cede my time to a most excellent and profound post that reminds us to reach beyond our own circle of like minded friends now and again, when the opportunity arises.  Thanks to GroovyGreen for pointing me in this direction, and thanks to Celsias for an unbelievable story.  It’s long, well told, and worth it.

Day 195-197: MLwC and more on Green Christians

tomato.jpg My neighbor Susan, from whom I learn so much and with whom I have a deadly serious tomato growing competition, recently dropped me a note regarding her evolving thoughts re the environment and Christianity. But first, let’s get back to that deadly serious tomato competition (Lower Cloverdale Tomato Wars). For those who are interested in such things, I believe Susan is the Big Winna this year, both in Quantity and Quality. We have a stunning selection of tomatoes–French salad, black Italian plums, an heirloom and a Japanese variety. All good but because of work earlier in the year, we neglected to properly prune our apple and pear trees and only too late did we notice that our tomato bed was in shade most the day. Anyway, right now, the Japanese variety–the Momotaro–is the run-away favorite, while the French salad are monster big and impressive, but not as snappy tart as the others.

But I digress. Susan mentioned to me that she’s noticing the presence of Earth Ministry at her college, SPU, and will be checking in with them to see what they’re up to. Earth Ministry is primarily Northwest based and is currently celebrating its 15th year anniversary–good for them! They have a quarterly publication called Earth Letter with contributions by such luminaries as Wendell Berry, Bill Moyers, Barry Lopez, Pattiann Rogers, and others. They’ve celebrated previous events such as the Celebration of St. Francis (even I know that St. Francis is the nature-guy in the constellation of saints) with talks by Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibbon, and others. It seems like an outstanding organization and a proud offering from this beautiful neck of the woods.

She also pointed to an article in the latest Sojourner magazine that includes three articles on the green movement and what it means (or should mean) to Christians and Christian leaders.

Here’s a funny thing: when I went to the Sojourner site, I found the articles and clicked through. The magazine is more than willing to let me read the article for free, but predictably asked that I give info on who I am, etc in order to get it. I could lie (Mary Brown/111 Brown St./Brownsville, OK) but I tend to not do that so often; giving them my real info wasn’t an option…because I don’t consider myself a christian (or anything else, to be honest).

See? That’s why I don’t like these artificial boundaries like religion and politics and what not. They lock people in ideologically and block others out. Well, I won’t get on that rant. It just struck me that I didn’t want to give my name to an organization with a strong religious identity to which I didn’t belong. I dream of an open source world.

Last but not least, I ran across a Blog for Green Christians, by Sander Chan out of the Netherlands. It’s interesting, you may want to check it out if this topic intrigues you.

Daily Stats: (Tue, Wed, Thur)
Car: 28 miles (trip to Eastside, 3 tasks)
Bike: 16 miles
Ped: 1 or 2 miles
Bus: 5 miles

Day 172: MLwC plus the Sherlock Holmes formula

I love the Sherlock Holmes formula:

“It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Andrew Mason notes in his blog on Global Climate Change, that a similar situation is arising in the ongoing argument over whether climate change is due to human impact or not. He doesn’t site Sherlock (I’m not sure that would win him any rhetorical points), but the gist of his argument is the same.

We observe that the earth is getting warmer ….Scientist offer plausible explanations. Some suggest it is caused by non-anthropogenic factors such as natural solar cycle increasing solar radiation, volcanos belching green-house gases, the tilt of the earth’s axis, reduced cloud cover due to natural factors. Some suggest it is caused by green-house gases resulting from burning of fossil fuels and the loss of forests and other CO2 sinks due to human activity.

One by one, scientists uncover evidence that falsifies the proposed explanations. They succeed in falsifying all theories but one: the increase in greenhouse gases, principally CO2, due to human activity….until someone proposes another theory, or is able to show that the evidence which destroys an alternative theory is wrong, we are left with the anthropogenic model. And that is as close to ‘proof’ as anyone can get.

I’ve been perusing stories about weather anomolies and discussion of global climate change around the world and note that African nations such as Ghana and Nairobi are entering the global conversation, as climate changes become more apparent. When all of us have observed the same thing, everywhere, will the naysayers still be claiming it’s not happening or it’s solar flares?

Daily Stats (Monday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3.5 miles
Bus: 0

Day 152: MLwC and Christian Environmentalism

I was raised Southern Californian, which back then meant something more along the lines of west coast new-age power-thinking. Sometimes my mom went to an Episcopal church but I rarely attended and am basically a clean slate when it comes to dogma. In my adult life I’ve veered off towards american Buddhism via yoga and meditation and that, truly, has made me a nicer person to be around–including to myself.

Yesterday as I took a walk through Lincoln Park after work, I got to thinking about a stat I’d seen, that something less than 7% of bloggers include opposing perspectives on their blogs–and I’m not talking about including opposing perspectives only to trash them. I would fall into that category, for sure. On the other hand, I feel that much of mainstream news is based on divisive headline grabbing, so I don’t exactly feel like “opposing views” is getting short shrift in the world.

That said, the notion of Christian Environmentalism wafted into my head. I’ve heard some mention of the “movement” in the last 6 months or so but nothing recently. I realized this was an opportunity to include viewpoints that are more challenging to me in my thinking–and I like that a lot.

A quick search on Google blogs reveals a lot of Christian Environmental discussion wherein lefty liberals are trashed for making up the whole issue of global warming–false science, global warming as the new lefty “idol.” Whatever. Global warming is kind of like God–if it’s true, you can’t escape it. Time will tell.  Wikipedia has an entry for Green Christianity which seems a bit more charitable than the cursory view I gave the blogosphere–that entry is worth reading.

I’d wanted to find a more reasoned, reasonable discussion of environmentalism and was a little disappointed, until I stumbled on the Chrysalis blog by Tim Keyes. Here was a calm discussion of the various concerns of this planet we inhabit and our spiritual/religious relationship to it. I was relieved. Here’s a nice quote from the entry:

Long ago, when a clergyman asked British naturalist J. Haldane what can be learned of God through the study of creation, he replied, “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” God has an inordinate fondness for life, too, which is all around those who have eyes to see it.


What I like about this post is that it tries to understand our relationship with the amazing gift of life that is the natural world all around us. I didn’t do an exhaustive search by any stretch, but I did peek into a lot of posts and too many of them focus on the “man in god’s image” therefore what I do must be godly and good and dominion over the rest of nature means I get to use it for my own ends–which of course are God’s own ends too, since we are made in God’s image. There is a real, live tautology there.

I welcome any readers out there to send me to other sites, because I really want to know: is there a Christian Environmental movement? Or is it more rhetorical maneuvering to maintain the status quo? I want to be introduced to some of that good old fashioned Christian fury that Christ was famous for when he spoke out against injustice and big business.

And finally, Look at me, Ma! I managed to find opposing viewpoints that more closely reflect my own!

Daily Stats: Monday
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3 miles
Bus: 0
Desk: sitting nearly all day! 😦

Day 138: MLwC and who’s afraid of Big Green?

In my other life, I work with companies on issues that usually involve change. Sometimes the change is big, such as introducing wikis and blogs as alternatives to KBs and KM systems. While these alternatives are of significant interest and use to frontline tech help agents and online customers, they are not viewed in a welcoming light by IT or, often, by the owners of the existing KM infrastructure. Why? Because the new stuff means the end of the old stuff and the old stuff has a million built-in benefits that those teams would like to hang onto.

Why do I bring this up? Because the same problem can be seen in the case of our current administration and e-pluribus-unum (that would be us, you and me).

So, for example, you’ve got a post out today on postcarboncities that discusses the amount of money–good old money!–that can be saved by instituting changes that also, at the same time, all together now, reduce pollution and the collective carbon footprint. He’s pretty detailed and specific about changes that could be made. And he has some good examples of changes that have been made that not only make systems more efficient but also are good for the planet:

  • In 2005 the city of Stamford (CT) earned a Climate Champion Award at CA-CP’s New York City conference following the release of their emissions inventory. The award celebrated actions that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent — curbing global warming and saving the city more than $1.1 million in annual energy costs.
  • In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Local Law #86 of 2005, which sets green building standards for certain capital projects. The law affects approximately $12 billion in construction, including $5 billion in new schools, over the City’s 10-year capital plan. It requires most new and substantially renovated City buildings costing more than $2 million to be built according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standard or other equally stringent standard.
  • Keene (NH) is looking into hiring an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to retrofit city buildings using a performance contract in which the ESCO is paid solely through the resulting energy savings. Keene expects to save a minimum of $30,000 a year through the retrofits.
  • In 2006 the City of Pittsburgh (PA) was awarded $300,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to integrate biodiesel in its entire diesel fleet. The City’s plan, developed in partnership with Steel City Biofuels, will displace 30% of Pittsburgh’s petroleum diesel with locally-produced biodiesel .

The list could undoubtedly go on but here’s the thing: the people are now clearly leading the leaders and the leaders are not budging and will not budge because it is not in their interest to budge. Utilizing all these new systems and applications means less business for the old school, the boys in the back room, Big Oil, Big Industry and the like.

Protectionism runs deep. But here we are, the people leading the leaders, and we will continue to demand change because the change makes sense. And here’s the most important thing–it’s like some companies I know of that have thousands of active wiki internally but officially have none, yet–when we make changes in our own small circle of influence, that change ripples outward. It cannot help but be so. It is what Hawken’s is talking about when he talks about our global immune system. Interesting times, indeed.

Daily Stats for MLwC: (Monday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bus: 0
other: 0

Day 136 & 137: MLwC, here’s a sign of change…

Saturday, we used my my car to go to the beach in the afternoon for a read and some people watching. We took the car because we have these beach-chairs-with-backpack-functionality that we love and were made for that very activity… and they’re a little bulky.

beach-chairs.jpg
Summer time and the livin is easy!

So we hopped in the car and I sort of unconsciously checked the gas. Half a tank, cool. In that moment, I realized I didn’t remember the last time I put gas in my car. It could be two months, it could even be more–I simply don’t recall. That, to me, is amazing. And a real sign of change in my habits. And I’m happy as a clam at how much money I’ve saved without realizing it! cool!

Speaking of Cool, NoImpactMan completely redefines cool on a regular basis and his recent addition of Ultra-cool drinking devices was a LOL moment–not that he isn’t totally serious–he is. But rather because his idea for water carrying devices just makes me giggle, it’s so…I don’t know…so what-they-would-have-done-50-years-ago and not given it another thought. We’ve come a long way, baby, or maybe not. Check it out here.

Also, it seems in the arena of personal action, we have a newish blogger, LaMarguerite whose blog name is a hoot: “My Inconvenient Truth: the Daily Sins of a Green Girl Wannabe.” What’s cool about this blog is how she chronicles this growing awareness around how we live and what the impact is. The post called “Why” is so interesting–it’s an earlier one where she wonders what I’m sure just about everyone wonders when starting to change how they live; in her case she sees a fractal in the way she forgets to bring her own bags to the store:

What happens when I choose the lazy way? What makes me go for “Plastic please”? My first thought is, why bother, such a small thing, it will not make a difference. The global warming problem is so huge. One little extra plastic bag, I can get away with it. Leave it up to the powers in charge, the heads of States, the big businesses, to come up with the big solutions.

I am very attached to my life as I have known it in America. Things I do not really want to give up: long hot showers, letting water running while I work at the kitchen sink, using the dryer to dry our clothes, the convenience of plastic bags, shopping for clothes whenever I feel like it, plane travel, printing indiscriminately on one side of the paper, our two daily papers, not having to unplug and restart my computer each time, paying my bills using snail mail, living in my big house, being a dilettante recycler. It all boils down to a short term personal balance sheet. What am I willing to give up in terms of personal comfort, in return for a relatively minuscule, and mostly unacknowledged, contribution to the larger pie?

The very fact that LaMaguerite is asking these questions makes my day. For the most part, we’re living unconsciously. Waking up, seeing the potential for change in the smallest choices is a huge step. All the product engineers, the marketing gurus and the bean counters have made this lifestyle of ours very easy–waaaay easier than doing otherwise. It’s waaay easier to just use the bag at the store than to remember to bring your own. But bringing your own is one small part of a larger frame of mind, and the larger frame of mind can maybe move mountains. You are my hero today, LaMarguerite!

Daily stats: Saturday and Sunday
Car: approx 7 miles (2 people, 2 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 3 miles
Bus: 0
other: 0

Day 133: MLwC, food and the 4th

Here’s what the 4th of July looks, smells and sounds like in my neck of the woods:

seattle fireworks pic

Wall-to-wall people camped out at the beach from early morning on in order to have a good spot to watch the fireworks over Elliott Bay and Queen Anne.

Traffic backed up from the bridge all the way to and from the beach all day and until the very early morning hours.

The twin smells of barbecue and wood fires, combined later with sulpher from the fireworks themselves.

Boom boxes blaring, kids running around laughing, squealing, adults talking over too much beer and sun…but all having a pretty good holiday.

And food. Chips, hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, take-out chicken, store-bought cherry pie…a cornucopia of processed american food.

Which brings me to the Slow Food, an international organization with over 80,000 members started in 1986 as a reaction to McDonald’s and other american fast food enterprises. They focus on the intersection of community, farming, food production, taste, health, and the pure enjoyment of real, unprocessed food. Their mission statement:

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.

Anyone who gets their food at a local farmer’s market is part of the slow food movement, whether they realize it or not. Anyone who takes the time to prepare their meals, who cares about what goes in their body, or who enjoys real, unprocessed food, or prefers restaurants that use local fresh and organic produce is part of the slow food movement. Because in our culture, it is much easier to just buy a bag of chips, pick up some hot dogs or burgers, grab a mass-produced pizza and knock back a six pack of fast-brewed beer.

We have come to expect so little from our food. In a fast food world, it’s all about quantity, not quality. In a slow food world, those values are reversed.

So, anyway, I spent the day with pals (so great to hang with your girl gang, Di!) and had lunch at the Pike Place Market. Later I rode home to spend the evening with some more friends; we had slow cooked spicy black beans, rice, guacamole, corn tortillas, salad, and a fresh fruit crisp with cherries from our own pie-cherry tree in the backyard…and man, was it good! How was your 4th?

Daily stats: (Wednesday)
Car: 0
Bike: 15 miles
Bus: 1.5 miles
Water taxi: 2 miles
Ped: approx 2 miles

Day 132: MLwC and the growing web of organizations

rooted_substrate.jpg

 Michael Spalding, one of the editors at WiserEarth commented on Hawken’s seminar noted here earlier. I thought his comment was worth highlighting as the wordsmithing captures the ideal and mission of WiserEarth so well:

That long list of grassroots organizations that scroll on and on, is actually a part of WiserEarth (www.wiserearth.org), an online tool to improve the quality of connections between anyone interested in social justice, environmental restoration or indigenous rights. If the unnamed movement is analogous to the immune system, as Paul suggests, then its success does not depend on the strength of any one organization or individual, but on the quality of the connections between them. WiserEarth was designed to all the community develop the connections that they need to better do their work.

We live in an age when “quality of connections” has a meaning its never had before, and WiserEarth is creating a space to leverage the potential of our connectedness.  Will this change how the world works? Early days, but I have no doubt whatsoever.

Thanks Michael!

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Ped: 0
Desk: about 15 hours worth.

Day 126: MLwC, more on The Biggest Movement

For those who are interested, Mytechvision sent me a link to another Paul Hawken discussion, the MP3 file of which you can find here. Much longer than the previously mentioned video, and more complete in terms of his entire working theory that he writes about in Blessed Unrest. Some good clarification of the global immunity theory, and clarification on why he calls this a Movement–even though it doesn’t have (as he puts it) a white male charismatic leader in charge of it. It’s a mass movement because large swaths of the global population are experiencing climate change, corporate activity, disease, social change and saying collectively, no, this isn’t right. We are agreeing on that single thing: this isn’t right. And that is what unites us.

One cool thing about this seminar is how you really get a hit of how funny Hawken is, and how huge his thinking is. An amazing fact: he has compiled a list of grass roots organizations around the world that are actively involved in making changes. The list scrolls across the screen and scrolls and scrolls…and he calculates that you would in fact have to watch this list scroll for an entire month, 24 hours a day before you would reach the end. That is a lot of grass roots.

It’s a good seminar where he covers most of the stuff he covers in his book in a very conversational way–but it’s long. I hope you have the chance to listen.

Daily Stats: Wednesday
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 5.5 miles
Bus: approx 15 miles
air: 0

Day 124: MLwC, the hundredth monkey and a global immune system

I’m into the second half of Hawken’s book in which he discusses the varied organizations that in hundredth-monkey ways are tackling the many issues of our day: poverty, corporate abuse, pollution, disease, and dozens of other concerns. Through the interconnectedness of the wired world today, these organizations can share best practices, learnings, energy, inspiration and sweat equity to move en masse towards a more equitable, safe, healthy future.

He suggests that these organizations can be seen as the antibody response of our planet to the threatening disease of pollution and environmental degradation. It’s really a cool idea, and it makes sense too: a growing number of us sense the threat we face, understand the very personal toll that pollution and diminishing resources are taking on us, and we are making choices that correspond to the way the body wards off infection and viruses. It’s the Gaia philosophy expanded out even further…and it makes sense to me. We are an organic part of an organic system–as much as we often like to think the real world really is composed of the shiny new products we create. I welcome the idea that a growing majority might be compelled to respond to the potential crisis we face in a naturally evolving fashion–albeit with urgency.

Some examples of the localized antibodies that are collecting at the margins of our global culture (Hawken’s names names in his book, a list that is too lengthy for me to go in to here but I suggest you watch the video for more, if you can’t get the book):

the list goes on and on, and includes very powerful, very well known billionaires , ex-presidents, and celebrities, as well. It is a coalition of every level–from the margins of our society, working like antibodies to fight the many threats to our environment. There are more of us all the time.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all over the place

Day 119 thru 121: MLwC and WiserEarth.com

Traveling again this week, and really rushed for time. Time is a critical factor in selection of transportation modes. I elected to drive to the airport and park rather than risk not getting picked up by the shuttle again….Anyway, I was thinking about how much I travel over the course of the year and how much this impacts my carbon footprint. I’m a consultant and this travel issue won’t likely change a whole lot in the near future which makes my activities while at home even more important–walk, bike, bus, etc.

On Sunday, I hung out a while at Paul Hawken’s site WiserEarth, trying to figure out how it works. I heard back from Michael regarding the beta site re my sense that it wasn’t targeted well; I couldn’t figure out if it was for professional .org people or for regular people like me. He confirmed that they are still working out some aspects of the site (it’s beta) but:

“In a nutshell, it is definitely for people like you. I encourage you to check it out and make sure your favorite organizations are represented in there. And we are always looking for feedback on usability and for ideas on future enhancements to make the site more useful for your line of work. We can’t guarantee everything will be implemented (we have constraints on tech support and funding of course), but we do value community feedback.”

So , I went back to the site and created an account, and then went for a run.

alkilincolnpark.jpg

During the run I began to think about all the stuff rolling around in my head and realized (this may be a Doh! moment for some of you but it was sort of exciting for me): The Compact, my own MLwC project, Wildlife Alliance, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Critical Mass, the Backyard Wildlife movement here in Seattle and a hundred other things that I personally take an interest in, are all part of a much, much bigger movement that as Hawken puts, is as yet un-named and is potentially the biggest movement in the history of the planet. People like you and me–perhaps not doing big global projects, but doing things we care about, passionately, and that contribute to a larger common good.

And it’s the combination of all those things that is creating this massive global movement that Paul Hawken is writing about.

When I returned from my run, I went to the site and entered my first organization. I’ll follow up with others. I’m no expert on so many things out there, but I know about my own life and interests, and that’s what I can share. How the site will evolve, how it will utilize my interests, network us all, remains to be seen. How I will use it remains to be seen.

Participating is sort of a leap of faith. Take The Compact, for example. You use your big car to go shopping and buy things, much more than you really need, without thinking about alternate paths, and it’s all so easy, so fast, who really thinks about it. So the Compact has groups all over the planet finding different ways to live outside the planned path of consumerism. Once that habit is busted, these people like Rachel in SF, or myself here with my own habit-busting project, we find ourselves connecting to our city, our community, our planet in a whole new way. Rachel, just like me, just like you, is one little atom bouncing around out there amidst a gazillion atoms, changing the way atoms bounce here in Seattle, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and who knows where else.

And that, I believe, is what Paul Hawken is talking about. Bring what you have, share it, find your community, find energy, find a different path and share your map. And Hawken clearly understands the internet has made the path to sharing your map possible.

Daily stats: (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Car: 25 miles
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.0
Bus: 0
Air: 2400

Blessed Unrest video

take some time, if you can, and watch this.

Day 116 thru 118: MLwC and the way things are interconnected

I’m old enough to remember when the term built-in obsolescence began to gain currency. Apparently, the movement on the part of manufacturers to create goods that would have a shorter, definitive life-span started in the 30’s (I wasn’t around then 🙂 ) and really became part of our culture in the 60’s (I was around then) and is now so common we rarely think twice before trashing something we bought a week ago, year ago, two years ago, whatever.

There was a time, really, when you bought things and expected them to last. And last a long time.

This built-in obsolescence or planned obsolescence is, in many ways, at the root of our collective carbon footprint now and I find myself thinking about it with relation to My 30 Days of consumer celibacy and how The Compact works, that was mentioned here the other day. The author, Wendee Holtcamp spent 30 days not buying anything new and chronicled the adventure. According to the Compact, the goal is to wean oneself from our consumer addicted society….

What happens in an experiment like this, I imagine, is similar to what has happened in my own experiment with urban transportation: once you break a pattern of behavior, you begin to view everything in relation to that pattern differently.

So, now I’m starting to wonder about this buy-nothing-new project that started in San Francisco by Rachel and others. It’s not some anti-corporation, self-punishing hard-core movement–it’s smart people who understand that the more new stuff we buy, the more landfill we create and the more we put into motion this global supply chain that is at the heart of an unsustainable consumer culture.

When we first bought the house we’re living in now, we had to do a lot of very necessary repairs right off the bat. Some of them involved new wood siding on the house to repair dry-rot, etc., and I remember thinking, “what would it be like to follow the production of this lumber from the forest all the way to our house?” Because it’s not just the lumber yard where you purchase it, it’s the trucks, trains, ships that get the wood from the forest (sustainable or otherwise); it’s the rubber in the tires, the steel in the chassis, the hardhats, the gloves, the dock with its hauling equipment and cranes; it’s the computerized programs that track inventory, the reports, the finance and banking; it’s the plastic ties, the labeling, the marketing and the packaging…it goes on and on.

Marley’s ghost

For some reason, it makes me think of the Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol who shows up to haunt Scrooge dragging a long line of chains and money boxes rattling behind him.

Basically, that’s what buy-nothing-new is getting at: recognizing that the mass of stuff we buy new involves a greater participation in this completely unsustainable pitch of manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sales–unsustainable because it takes resources to create and distribute stuff, but the model doesn’t put stuff back in.

So, the Compact is focused on not introducing more new stuff into the world, borrowing or buying used, and thereby perhaps driving a market demand that items be built better to last longer. That then got me to thinking about Seth Godin’s post commented on here a while ago that he will know we’re actually gaining ground in the environmental movement when cars have LED readers on their bumpers that advertise the mileage–encouraging longevity over new, new, new.

I’m not ready to do the compact quite yet, and when I do, I’ll definitely do a 30 day trial first; but I’m really captured by the thought of reducing the massive global supply chain that goes into our consumerism–making things last longer, repairing, recycling, borrowing, lending. There’s also a wonderful network and community aspect to the Compact that is attractive.

Daily Stats (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Car: 8 (2 tasks)
Bike:7 miles
Ped: 3.5 miles
Bus:0
air: 0

PS. I have a confession to make. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on whether or not to include other people’s cars in my daily stats. I’ve been incredibly ambivalent about it but have this last week decided: No. This project is about My Car, not all cars. So, I’m really only looking at ways I use my car…and the possibility of living without a “my car” in the future. Thoughts?