Giving things up when no one else does {Part 3}

Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 16:45:30 -0500
From: Nan Hildreth 
To: positive-futures@igc.org [no longer hosted there.  D.]
Subject: Re: [pf] Re: Giving things up when no one else does
At 05:18 PM 08/21/1999 -0400, tully wrote:
>What a grand idea, Rob.  Like a magazine of sustainability which has been a 
>dream of mine for some time.  
A list is a wonderful idea. But do, please a web search on permaculture. That's exactly what you guys are working on. Very nicely developed idea including solar, gardening, sustainable building, community.
> In discussing some of this with my mother, she 
>expressed the strongest opposition to the idea of smaller living space 
>saying how claustrophic she felt in smaller spaces.  How do we address that 
>particular rejection of our ideas?
Go outside? That's a shocking idea in August, but ...
> Peanuts, peppers, 
>tomatoes, peas, potatoes, spinach, lettuces, all can be combined in lovely 
>ways to add to the beauty of the yard. 
Dayflowers, chives, purslane, sweet potatoes, violets, are, I think, more interesting edible greens that spinach, yuk!

Nan Hildreth, Houston, USA

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Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 17:39:54 -0400
From: Bob Ewing 
To: positive-futures@igc.org
Subject: [pf] Pedal Power
Greetings. Looking for human powered cooling systems?

http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/pedgen.html

Bob Ewing

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Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 13:18:43 -0400
From: Bob Ewing 
To: positive-futures@igc.org
Subject: Re: [pf] Pedal Power
tully wrote:
> I could build this!  BTW Rob, I'm an engineer, too, and stuff like this 
> intrigues me no end.  I'm mainly thinking how great it would be as a water
> pump to fill a gravity feed system from a well.
>
> Bob, your message goes directly to my reference folder.  Thank you very
> much for thinking to send it.
Greetings, I'm thinking about building something like this myself, just to do it. I believe there are always alternatives, you just need to pay attention. Anybody here know anything about furnaces?

Bob Ewing

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Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 11:49:49 -0400
From: Molly Williams 
To: positive-futures@igc.org
Subject: Re: [pf] Re: Giving things up when no one else does
Betsy,

I wanted to say I appreciate your long reply to tully and your thoughts in general about living along the continuum of the sustainable life, the ambivalencies and complexities of choices, and your attempts to get at people's thoughts and feelings about all this.

I share tully's feelings of frustration, too. Lately I've been very frustrated with family members who don't seem to consider consequences to their wasteful actions, who seem to me very enmeshed in the dominant culture and the media (hobbies like frequent TV-watching and Mall-shopping will do that to a person) and who don't seem the least bit interested in the impact of their choices on anyone but themselves. "The cow's already been killed, so why not eat the beef? It would be wasteful not to." "McDonald's is cheap and convenient and when you have kids, that's essential." "Why waste time separating recyclables? I've got enough to do as it is and no one's going to miss my contribution." Etc. And teaching their kids the same "principles" -- convenience, ease, denial, "me" first, whatever's cheapest. As you said, Betsy: "This is one of the missing pieces in modern life, an awareness that actions have consequences, and I think there is a deliberate effort on the part of corporate consumer culture to blur this, especially when the consequences aren't immediate and local but far away and fall on someone else." I see my sister "teaching" impulsive behaviour that doesn't see or disregards consequences to my nephews, my friends teaching it to their kids, mostly by modelling but also by comments that reveal faulty logic or justifications. Unlike tully, I guess I would almost be happy if they preached simplicity and sustainability but were very inconsistent in acting on the principles involved. As least that would indicate to me that they were thinking, even if they weren't yet able to follow through. I don't consider it hypocritical to be moving towards more consistency and to be struggling to achieve lofty goals.

I myself have a long way to go to living a sustainable or simple lifestyle. I've been listening to the 6-cassette tape reading of the Nearings' book on the good life in Vermont; it's detailed, inspiring, and humbling. My husband and I have progressed over the last 10 years but we're not living in a tipi and we're not going to live in a tipi.

In fact, while tully is frustrated at people's slow movement towards lightening their load on the earth, at their persistently wasteful behaviours, I'm much more frustrated at the kinds of things you, Betsy, were getting at -- the way people THINK, or DON'T, about the earth, about resources, about choices and their consequences on other people and the future. I'm frustrated at the complete lack of struggle I see in most of the people I know. Whether to buy organic, recycled, recyclable, local, etc., never makes it to their radar screen. Whether to NOT buy something the kids are clamoring for is not a choice for them; of course they'll buy it. And of course they'll get it at the convenient Mall or the cheap Wal-Mart, and if I mention that there are other alternatives, like buying second-hand, I'm obviously just a fringe weirdo. Being vegetarian is still considered ridiculously healthful (!) and strict, a "sacrifice" deemed too great or just completely unneccesary by most people. The dominant culture is very dominant and reinforced all the time by the media, most celebrities, and so-called leaders. You quoted the Mall of America's old slogan, "Who told you you can't have it all?", which pretty well sums up the message most people are getting loud and clear, and acting on.

You said that people have to "unlearn the [cultural] messages of individualism and consumerism and competition;" I look at family members and some acquaintances and think that the only way for this to happen is to remove them completely and permanently from the culture. They seem so much a part of the culture that making a U-turn and starting along the path in the other direction would require exactly the kind of effort that the culture saps them of. First, how do we make people THINK independently? That seems very difficult to teach, especially to adults. And second, how do we make them act in ways that will at first be counter to their own desires and primary concerns (themselves -- their stress level, their lack of time, their perceived lack of money, etc.)?

~ Molly

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