Friday, April 29, 2011
Saturday, February 27, 2010
This idea, of excitement and possibility is at the heart of the Transition Movement started in 2005 by Rob Hopkins. Unlike the general environmental movement, which cues visions of Al Gore, I think this system may have a framework to propel people into action. There is a 12-step process (which a community may follow in any order) that though general, at least provides enough direction for group leaders to organize and actual begin to "relocalize" their community with tangible, visible changes to be self-sustainable in a post-carbon world. Places such as Portland, Maine, Boulder, Colorado and Newburyport, Massachusetts are buying in.
I am completely on board with the goals of local self reliance, appropriate technology, decentralization, localization, relocalization, and life in a certain post carbon, post petroleum world. You can deny global warming all you want but its a fact that there is a limited supply of fossil fuels and that one day, very soon, we will face a future without them. It is also true that we are completely unprepared for this not so distant future.
My main complaint about local environmental groups that I've been involved with is that there is a lot of talk and little action. Time will tell if this movement brings something different. Given the local, community building aspect, I have hope that it will. It seems the best area to begin is in food. Food is something any community can tackle with very little money. Local community gardens and CSAs are a great start to becoming a community which can sustain itself without the use of fossil fuels. Living in New England though, we must solve the problem of year-round food growth by implementing fossil fuel free greenhouses.
I've always been a "homebody". Traveling is great, don't get me wrong. I've learned so much through international travels but I don't think a return to local is a bad thing. Playing out a paradigm shift in which we once again live in villages, creating our own goods and traveling only as far as we can on human powered transport systems is radical in our postindustrial society. But radical times call for radical measures. Is there a middle ground here? I'm not so sure. I don't think we can carry on as we have been and think that bringing our own cloth bags to the grocery store is going to solve the problem.
I'm looking forward to delving into the local food systems as a member of a "Food Visionary" group extending from Transition Newburyport. Book review of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience by Rob Hopkins soon to follow!
Friday, January 29, 2010
How often do we find a new home for or recycle our belongings? Flea markets and antique stores frequently dot the landscape of New England but how many people actually furnish and decorate their home with pre-owned goods? Personally, I find my old furnishings bring a bit of history into my home. They have a character that a pressboard cabinet from China just doesn’t have. Not only made from a whole natural substance (wood, glass), they are often sturdier after 50 yrs. than their contemporary counterparts are after 2 yrs.
You don’t have to spend big bucks to buy so called antiques. Look at local flea markets (Todd Farm, Rowley), yard sales and online marketplaces such as craigslist.com or freecycle.com or to your friends who may be updating their outdated kitchen. UPcycle. Clean it up, add a little paint or if you are blessed with carpentry skills, modify the piece to fit your needs. The time you invest will be more rewarding than the time spent walking through the fluorescent-lit aisles of Home Depot. Wouldn’t you rather spend a sunny Sunday morning strolling an open-air flea market?
This method definitely requires patience. If you are looking for the perfect bookshelf it may take you a few weeks to find it…maybe even a few months. The American attitude of instant gratification has caused us to be a wasteful society. We want it and we want it now. It doesn’t matter if it’s an import that isn’t helping our economy, it doesn’t matter if it’s made of cheap materials and will fall apart in 5 years with no other future but to be landfill.
Of course, there are items you won’t be able to find what you need and will have to purchase new but you can do this responsibly and consciously. Ask yourself, where was it made? Is there a company, which manufactures the product in the good ol’ USA? Is the packaging recyclable and easy enough to recycle that you will actually do it? How long is the warranty? Does it seem sturdy or cheaply made? What do the reviews say (epinions.com)? Is it energy star rated? Is there an alternate option made of sustainable resources (bamboo flooring vs. linoleum)?
Let’s remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.