Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Voluntary Simplicity + Building Community = Saving Our Children

["Building Sandcastles" Originally uploaded by the(?) on Flickr]

Posted by Melinda
One Green Generation

I haven't written much lately and I apologize!  We have had a ground-breaking election here in the US, where emotions and activity have been very high.  And I have also spent a lot of time lately working within my community.  

I have been on a personal quest for many years now to reduce my carbon output, to reduce my reliance on oil and other non-renewable resources, to simplify my lifestyle, and to reduce the toxins going into my body and those of my family members (including my pets).  I believe it has helped my family become happier and healthier, and we have a much lighter impact on our planet.  And for that, I am very proud.

But I look at the incredible environmental destruction occurring on our planet, I think about the insurmountable consequences of climate change, the horrifying inequalities throughout our planet, the suffering, the pain, the damage... and I wonder if my own lifestyle changes are enough to change the world.

Do you wonder this?

And, well, is it our job to save the world?

I would love to know your answers.

I think about my beautiful cousins on both sides of this country, I think about the young children of my good friends, I think about my sister in 65 years, when she is 98 years old like my grandfather is now... and I feel responsible for their future.  I fear we are destroying their future.  I think we may be devastating our planet with our way of life.  

Sure, not my way of life, because I have made significant changes to my lifestyle.  But I look around me, and I am one person among thousands.  Among millions.  How is my one lifestyle going to make enough of an impact on the planet, to thwart irreversible climate change, to save our oil for much needed medical supplies, to preserve our forests and save their millions of species, to prevent poverty and terribly destructive wars?  I am afraid to say, I cannot imagine that my lifestyle changes are enough to change this sea of problems.

And so... what do you do when you come to this realization?

Well, here is what I've done.

I've created more time in my life, by not watching television, by having some of our produce delivered from local farms, by living in a neighborhood where I don't have to commute, by working from home or near home, and by many other smaller changes.  (For more ideas about saving time, read Julie's post here.)

This has given me time to volunteer.   Time to write.  Time to learn more and think more, and time to talk with others who are thinking about similar things.  

There are several things we can do at a large scale within our communities, where we can make significant change:

  • We can help make people aware of the issues, by sharing our knowledge through writing, filmmaking, speaking, putting on workshops and seminars, and all sorts of other things.
  • We can help change policies at the local and national level.  Because it is with laws and bylaws where many people change.  That means go become involved in politics:  sit in on city council meetings and make your voice heard on important issues, gather signatures for initiatives you truly believe in, campaign for politicians or ballot measures aligned with your views, or even become a politician yourself!
  • We can get people like us - who are aware - excited about doing more, and organized to do it!  This is not preaching to the converted, it is harnessing the energy of the converted to do greater good.  To go out in your community and do stuff, act on your beliefs, create widespread change.

We have a lot of work to do do make our planet safe and livable for our children and grandchildren.  We have a lot of work to do to make our communities safe and adaptable.  And each of us can make a difference.  Together, we can create real change in this world.  But we must go out and do it.  Now.

If you'd like more information about how to go about this, please visit these posts at One Green Generation: