Mindful Metropolis April 2010 : Page 21

A lot of times people stop themselves from taking some sort of action in their community or in their personal lives because they don’t believe they can make a difference. I often say that, the question is not whether or not you can make a difference, the questions is wheth- er you want to be the type of person who tries to make a difference. are you really suggesting hard-core avoidance and having less? I don’t talk about having less. I think that it goes against the human spirit. Really what I’m interested in is having more, but it’s a matter of more what? Our economy is predicated on the idea that if we have more stuff then we’ll be happier. But because we’re working so hard, so many of us don’t get to spend enough time with our loved ones; we don’t get to use the talents that we care most about; we don’t get to work in ser- vice of any sort of higher calling, so we lack meaning and purpose. So the question becomes, is the way we’re living actually making us happy or is it possible that we could emphasize having stuff a little less and emphasize community and relation- ships a little bit more? should we be putting money into the economy to make it better? I would ask, can we make the economy bet- ter? The economy as it presently stands is all about the consumption of resources; moving goods and materials from one place to another. We throw them away as quickly as possible and buy more goods. It’s somewhat crazy because it’s destroying the habitat that we depend upon for our health and our happiness and our se- curity. It’s also crazy because we’re working so hard to buy the same thing over and over and over again, and the whole system can turn around and bite you. Maybe we should be thinking bigger. Maybe we should be thinking of ways of living, and asking our politicians to think of ways of living, that actually serve us better. There’s no ques- tion, as we move from a fossil fuel-based econ- omy to a renewable energy economy, that it’s going to be a difficult transition but I think that there’s a good chance that when we get to the other side we can discover something better. What do you say to people who believe that our carbon emissions have a negli- gible effect on global temperature? It doesn’t matter, because the solution to global warming is a renewable energy econ- omy. It’s an economy based on solar, wind, geothermal and what we believe here in the United States about global warming is neither here nor there because the rest of the world be- lieves very firmly that there is global warming and the results of global warming are already devastating lots of people around the world, and they believe that it is anthropogenic—that is to say that it is manmade—and because of that, they want to buy renewable energy. They want technology. So here in the United States, whether we believe in global warming or not, it makes sense for us to develop a renewable energy economy because then we can take the tech- nology that we’ve developed and we can sell it around the world and renew our own econo- my and create jobs here. How do you find an ecological balance? When you first start to become aware, then you kind of are in this place where you’re flicking on and off the lights, right. And that’s kind of the hard part because you’re in this quandary, but it’s actually really exciting and an important place to be because it shows that you’re awake. You know and you’re measur- ing and you’re deciding and figuring it out, and you’re aware that you are turning the light on. So many of us are using resources, and we don’t even know that we’re doing it. Eventually what happens is you kind of dis- cover the balance for yourself. I kind of fig- ured out my way forward so I’m not in this should I, shouldn’t I, should I, shouldn’t I place anymore. But, it’s an important place to be—it’s part of the process. What’s your vision for where we’re headed as a country? My book, No Impact Man, really is about a process of me waking up to the possibility that I can make a difference in my community, in my own life, in my country. Here in these United States, although we have a great de- mocracy, we have a great crisis because so few people are involved in our democracy. What I’m hoping is that people will wake up to their own concerns about how we live; about what’s good for us; about what’s good for our planet and let their politicians—be they Democratic or Republican—know that these are issues that we really care about. So my vision is a democracy where we’re en- gaged. The reward of participating in our civic society in that way is that we also get to feel like we’re in charge and we’re not victims. And that’s a wonderful way to live. if there’s one thing that you could tell people who want to make a difference, what would that be? Trust your capacity to make change. Trust your capacity to make a difference. We often talk about the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but we never talk about the thousands of straws that are already there. What we have to remember is that the reason why a straw breaks the cam- el’s back is that there’s already thousands upon thousands of other straws already there and it’s that last straw that’s just one too much. So every time one of us decides that we’re going to live differently, that we’re going to engage with our politicians differently, that we’re going to talk to our neighbors about our problems differently—we may not get to see the impact of what we’re doing but we have to trust that it’s working and that we’re another straw on the camel’s back. We may not have the privilege of being that last straw that breaks the camel’s back, but that last straw can’t do the trick without the rest of us already being there. Read more about this topic at mindful metropolis.com/blog. Renee Jablonski is a Chicago-based freelance writer living her beliefs through environmental action. She is co-founder of the GCC Career Net- work and also works in business and healthcare. Get invoLved see the difference no-impact living can make in your life—try it for a week with the support of others from around the world. to sign up visit noimpactproject. org/experiment Join mindful metropolis for an intimate, entertaining and truly inspirational look at Beavan’s year-long adventure on april 8 at the mindfuLive! showing of the documentary “no impact man.” For more information, please visit mindfulmetropolis.com/noimpactman view the extended interview with colin Beavan produced by anya traisman of natropolis at mindfulmetropolis.com/ blog mindfulmetropolis.com 21

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