Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Making a Difference

We are tired of leaders who rather than asking what we can do for our country, ask nothing of us at all.

This is a line from Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius's response to Bush's State of the Union Address last night, and it represents a recurring criticism of the Bush administration since 9/11. In times of crisis from 9/11 to Katrina, Bush's mantra has been to consume more, a response that has caused many folks to long for the leadership of a Kennedy or FDR.

The rising cost of fuel and food has victory garden back on the lips of many Americans, focusing personal, grassroots energy into a simple pinpoint of bright light for hope and change. "What can I do to help?" can be answered quite simply by the response, "Plant a garden." People are creating their own ways of making a difference and finding leadership in example where they can.

One such example is Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, who directly links her project to peak oil in an interview with Heifer International:
I felt like this is the time to write this book. Most of us understand the world is at peak oil production. We are looking at a future in which cheap fossil fuel and all the things it can buy are running out.

This one place—eating locally, even just one day a week—was a point of intervention that could easily be implemented by anyone with the mind to do it. The local foods movement is a groundswell, as disillusioned Americans seek out opportunities to make a difference without an administration bold enough to lead the way.

There are grassroots support circles popping up all over the country, focused on creating community, facilitating discussion, and finding ways to implement change at the individual level. The Northwest Earth Institute has spearheaded just such an organization and has compiled several different discussion guides on topics ranging from carbon reduction to voluntary simplicity to deep ecology. Similar organizations are popping up all over the country, in Canada, and elsewhere in the world. Click here to see if there's one in your area or consider starting your own.

I'm in the process of starting a Simplicity-Matters discussion circle here in our area, a DC-Maryland regional sister organization to the Northwest Earth Institute. Our discussion circle starts February 7th, and we'll be discussing the book Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds. I hope to track my own process of working through the book here at Touch the Earth Farm blog, and I'd like to invite folks to follow along and to offer encouragement and suggestions along the way.


Gina said...

I, too, joined/help create a new simplicity circle in my area and it has been helpful in finding people that want to discuss these issues and our own personal accountability. Recently, after telling my sister about it, she decided to join. To me this is amazing because she has never had an interest in these areas (unlike me who has always gravitated toward sustainability and eco-matters).

I can't wait to hear about the process!!

Christy said...

I'd be interested in joining you in a virtual way.

Danielle said...

That's great to hear, Gina. I've been trying to get this circle going since spring, and it's finally off the ground. Woohoo!

Christy, you're welcome to join virtually if you'd like to get the book. I think much of it can be self directed, particularly with the online calculators.

With our group, the diet itself will be optional, allowing folks to participate as strictly or loosely as works for them. I'd encourage anyone here to do the same.

If you do decide to "participate," leave a link to your posts in my comments so others can follow it. That'd be fun.

Ren said...

It's really cool that you posted about the Victory Gardens. That's been a topic around here lately. I was reallly surprised to find out that 40% (or was it more?) of the food being eaten at that time was being grown in backyards. Amazing!

When I was googling around to learn about growing lentils I came across the Victory seed company: http://www.victoryseeds.com/

Can't wait to order some stuff...

Shauna said...

Fabulous post! I am also living more simply for this reason, and eating locally as much as possible. Good food for thought!