I bought my dream reusable mug from Patagonia (no more single use coffee cups!) and red bean chili that I think is sourced from regenerative sources. I watched An Inconvenient Sequel. And I got whole food groceries at the Santa Monica Co-Op.
I did these things in the wake of the horrific news in Charlottesville (the town where I went to college), and paused hard before posting about what feels like the most bougey white people shit ever: Patagonia, Al Gore, and the Santa Monica Co-Op.
In the face of abject racial violence, that feels pretty pathetic.
But it's not. It's not because, 1) I took my shitty feelings and turned them into ANY positive action for the world and the people in it (I'm doing what I can today), 2) all of this is connected.
I watched Chasing Coral two nights ago, Chasing Ice last night, and An Inconvenient Sequel today, all back-to-back-to-back.
One thing is clear: violence against nature is violence against ourselves is violence against each other.
The same fear that voted Trump into office is the fear that fuels Neo-Nazis is the fear that threatens the Paris Accord is the same fear that threatens care of our health. The biggest drought in recorded history in Syria is connected to the war, which is connected to climate change, which is connected to what WE in the "developed" world choose to eat each day.
And I know. Many days I have not even come close to doing all the bougey white people save-the-earth things. Even though people expect that of me. Many, many days. I've used many, many single-use coffee cups because I so wanted that damn coffee because I was exhausted and just needed fuel to keep going.
So, so many of us are lost and do not know the answers. Even people who want to do much better feel stuck in this web of systems that feels impossible to break free from and do better.
Nobody actually knows, and nobody is going to give us a downloadable guidebook on how to get this right.
There's a moment in the movie where Al Gore says he's working to affect policy change and policymakers because "that's what he knows how to do." The photographer in Chasing Ice hiked and photographed on glaciers through knee surgeries, so he can answer his children when they ask: what did he do when he knew? He did everything he knew how to do.
I'm sitting down and writing this tonight because it's one thing I know how to do. And I'm recommitting to get a whole hell of a lot louder every day, for the rest of my life. I'm not stopping. I'm not backing down. I'm leaning in harder and harder, into the face of the most seemingly intractable problems the world has ever known.
25 years until the oceans are so hot the coral reefs will be completely dead. Humanity will not be ok if the coral reefs are dead, FYI. I'll be 62. It'll be on my watch. If I have a child in the next 5 years, that child will be in their early 20's. Early. 20's.
What the F do we do? I believe we engage the new(ish) economy with both hands and build and build and build. Build everything we can within our reach and beyond it. I believe any answers that come from the top will be demanded or created to keep up with what we build. This includes our democracy. This includes our agricultural system.
We get to build into the parts that are failing us.
And each of us gets to figure out what that means to us and what it is that is everything we know how to do.
We start by reigniting our spirits so we can imagine what's possible.
Here's one place to start: Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark. She writes:
"Mushroomed: after a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largely unknown. What we call mushrooms mycologists call the fruiting body of the larger, less visible fungus. Uprisings and revolutions are often considered to be spontaneous, but less visible long-term organizing and groundwork -- or underground work -- often laid the foundation. Changes in ideas and values also result from work done by writers, scholars, public intellectuals, social activists, and participants in social media. It seems insignificant or peripheral until very different outcomes emerge from transformed assumptions about who and what matters, who should be heard and believed, who has rights.
Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they have always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it's compromising: it recalls the mainstream when the mainstream was, say rabidly homophobic or racist in a way it no longer is; it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power."
Now that I think of it, I've done more than 3 good things today. I also visited a friend I haven't seen in a long time, I reached out to a friend who was struggling yesterday, I gave 10 bucks to a young homeless woman, and I wrote this.
Small acts. All imperfect. Building into bigger acts. Bit by bit, decision by decision, I'm working to to transmute the darkness to light.