You and Your Neighbours Can!

I really like talking with eager, talented neighbors about social change. Maybe, too much. Conversation, discussion, debate, brainstorming, ideation, evaluation, analysis are all great tools but without action and disruption, it is only empty rhetoric or worse self-absolution.

I heard Mark Lakeman speak last night at a Resilient Community event. He made many provocative statements and offered dozens of actions that he and his village have taken in Portland, Oregon. My paraphrase of the one that stuck with me was ” We don’t deserve to talk about sustainability if we can’t solve issues of abuse and injustice towards women.” I would add that we don’t have the right or reason to survive as a species if we can’t solve abuse of children, women, and seniors.

Action

I recognize that issues can be wickedly complicated. But when we use the complexity as an excuse for inaction, we become complicit in the issue and its impact. When we delay our action, hoping to find the best options, we leave people struggling and in danger. Many readers know that I have a significant action bias and that I have made hundreds of decisions that later need adaptation and improvement. But by acting, the ball started rolling and its momentum, direction, and scale could be altered.

I recall seeing a sign in the airport in San Francisco, a number of years ago. ” If you see something, say something”, resonates with my action focus and I would amend it to read ” If you see something, say something, and do something”. Do anything, do the best that you can in the moment, do the least that you can do in the moment, just do something.

You/I may not be able to solve the issue for all sufferers or even solve the problem completely for one person, but we can act. And we can surround ourselves with like-minded, willing and able, neighbours. What if four concerned citizens all agreed that there should be no child hunger at their community school? Or that the two children from their block would always have lunch. Or that the senior, living alone, would have someone to have a cup of tea with and talk with, every afternoon. Or the woman from the house where there is always shouting would have a safe place? If you look at your world and see something amiss, can you ask ” what can I do?” And then can you imagine you and your ‘team’ taking some meaningful action?

Every day in thousands of communities, millions of neighbours have come together to make it their problem. Their ‘it’ is different from yours, their response isn’t the same each time, but they are all acting and in their action they are making themselves and their villages a better place.

Make Today Remarkable, by beginning a conversation with a commitment to act together,
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5 Benefits of Choosing Sustainibility

What is the argument for a sustainable life? Are you learning to make your world and your choices more sustainable? Practicing sustainability has at least 5 personal and collective benefits.

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1. Save money – yes living a more viable life will save you money, potentially a lot of money. If you consider all of your purchases with a lens of supportability, you will likely make fewer purchases, wiser purchases and hold onto what you purchase longer. How many ‘anything’ do we really need?
If you decide to forgo a wee bit of convenience for a different and beneficial transportation alternative you can save $thousands. I have used Car2Go almost 400 times since 2012 at a total cost of less than $1500. The C2G choice allowed us to not purchase a second vehicle ($50 -$30,000), not insure a second vehicle ($7500 to $10,000) not maintain a second vehicle ($2000 to $3000), not pay to park a second vehicle (because of our lifestyle and work this is a big savings but might not be as much for others $10,000) not pay to fuel a second vehicle ($4000) and I don’t need to worry about tires, ammortization, depreciation and am not stressed about a car. Over 4 years I trade convenience ( there is some inconvenience and planning needed) for more than $60,000. Carshare stats indicate that for every shared vehicle on the road 8-11 aren’t need which reduces CO2 output, congestion, and improves health.

2. Improved health – my physical well being has been improved through the creation of higher order habits. By opting to buy more real food, more local food, more organic food I have improved the nutrition of my weekly diet and in turn my body mass has become healthier. With a better diet I am more able and interested in more physical activity which lead me to running ( now clocking about 1500k a year) for recreation and hiking, biking for leisure. Supporting local goods means less transportation and less chemicals needed to hold food like veggies in an unnatural state. I also get the placebo effect of feeling better because I feel better about myself.

3. More time – Even though I confessed that my C2G choice has reduced convenience, I have chosen to make healthier, saner uses of the time getting to shared transportation (public/private). I also plan my outings better and am much more efficient with the travel than the haphazard way I used a personal vehicle. Convenience breeds complacency and if I don’t need to think about my destination and my goals I can turn a single round trip into 5 or 6 excursions.
This has helped me think about how I use time generally and my limited consciousness that I am developing has helped me ask ” do I really need to do that/go there/buy that?” and when the answer is no I get minutes in my relationship, recreation bank to use in a healthier less stressful way.

4. More space – Recognizing that we have too much, too many material possessions that clutter our lives and space was a revelation. I can borrow books from the library and not spend money and space on new additions (this is a difficult one because as I am reading a borrowed book I am thinking about wanting it for future reference). We are fortunate to have a tool library near us and my membership allows me to not purchase and store tools and gadgets that I might only us once. This has lead to some purging, thus creating space, of books, clothes, gadgets, tools, technology that I don’t use or need. Some was donated, some shared, some sold. We live in a apartment condo (built on brownscape) and so the additional few square feet that was created is appreciated.

5. Independence, interdependence and self sufficiency – we haven’t reaped all the benefits in these categories yet but we are working on it. I get to celebrate every opportunity that I don’t need to surrender to the mediocrity of materialism ( I don’t beat myself up when I play into the game). I like the idea and practice of being in a shred relationship with people I know and people I will never meet. The understanding that we are in this together, even when we don’t acknowledge it is inspiring. Everything that we do to live more sustainably is like that rock which, when thrown into a pond, creates ripples that disperse in all directions.

Some self sufficiency goals are a ways off but every day that we make better choices, we get closer to a garden plot, a beehive, and a solar system.

Make Today Remarkable by becoming more sustainable,
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