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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still Excited

Yes, I did open Sharon Astyk's Depletion and Abundance at various points yesterday, sampling from pages throughout the book, browsing and nibbling hungrily as if I’d arrived "starving" at a dinner buffet table after skipping lunch. Now it’s the next day, and I’ve settled down to begin at the beginning. Here is one of the author’s recurring themes, as stated on page 10:
When I realized that everything was going to change, I was at first afraid. Because I thought, if my government or public policy of other choices weren’t going to fix everything, what could I possibly do? What hope was there, if I had to take care of myself, if my community had to take care of itself?

But when I started looking for solutions that could be applied on the ordinary level of human lives, that involved changes in perspective and pulling together, the reclamation of abandoned ideas and the restoration of strong communities, I began to feel hopeful, even excited. Because I realized that when large institutions cease to be powerful, sometimes that means that people can start being powerful again.

This is a book about the sustainable good life, about priorities that can and deserve to endure, about a positive scenario for our children’s and grandchildren’s future on earth, and I’m dizzy with excitement about this book. Here’s an astonishing statement to answer anyone who thinks only large-scale public projects can make a dent in energy savings: “More than 70 percent of our emissions are tied directly or indirectly to home life and purchasing….(Astyk, 29). Compare that broccoli from California, grown with chemicals, transported cross-country, kept refrigerated until bought, and transported to a private home, usually by automobile, to broccoli from your own or a neighbor’s garden, and the difference is striking.

Another point made early in the book is the way gender, race and economic status affect the way possible changes in energy use and conservation are imagined, making almost invisible what takes place in the traditionally female realm of domesticity and subsistence gardening, as well as the reality of poor people around the world, not only those who live “on the land” but also those in large urban areas.
Peak oil is a women’s issue. Climate change is a racial issue. Justice is everyone’s issue. And so is the Home Front.

There was a book a while back, The Philosopher’s Diet: How to Lose Weight and Change the World, or how you can make changes in your individual “private” life that contribute to the wellbeing of the entire planet? That’s part of Sharon Astyk’s message, too.

I can't write more tonight. I need to read instead.

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