What I want to say at the #PeoplesClimate March
I have been invited to share my perspective as a student activist at the regional #PeoplesClimate event in Nanaimo, British Columbia. In case you can’t be there or attending one of 2400 worldwide satellite events, this is (perhaps more poetically) what I want to say:
One of the most comforting things about a social movement based in uncomfortable truths is knowing that you are not alone in recognizing the incongruity. Something (ok, a lot of somethings) is not jivin’ in the way we’re going about being Earth-dwellers, and we know it. We feel it. We are dissatisfied with “more” and bewilderedly yearning for a version of “better” that didn’t come from a big box store.
We have to craft our new “better” cautiously, against the grain. The good news? We have the tools, the team, and the motivation to get’er done.
I know I am not alone in this. I have listened to, hugged, and built ideas with the leaders and new thinkers of my generation. We have celebrated together the bravery of trying to find a new “better”, and we continue to support each other another on this crazy new journey.
The obstacles in the way of our new “better” are best overcome by a diverse team, and, thankfully, allies are not sparse. Virtual communities are coming together to form tangible resilience. From pop-up camps (thank you Occupy!) to full-fledged global demonstrations like the People’s Climate March, the ball is rolling.
In my efforts to incite enthusiasm about a new “better”, I have come up against uncertainty and doubt. Generally hopeful, optimistic people have expressed concerns about the impact of individual action. While it’s true that our societal structures don’t leave us with a lot of options (and hey, I like bacon and driving to the beach), and our efforts seem like small potatoes in the face of corporate action, the amount of time we have left to flippantly use a brontosaurus-worth of oil per day to supercharge our existences… well, we probably should have stopped yesterday.
It’s pretty simple. When it comes to changing our system, I don’t think we have a choice. It is imperative that we shake things up and reconstitute new ideas of “value”, “satisfaction” and “indulgence”.
Don’t be scared. Change might be a challenge, but it will also be fun (no, really). The aim is not to fight a system of greed with swords, or bullets, or fear. The goal is to increase quality of life rather than quantity of stuff, and to respect mama Earth along the way. Our active resistance to the steak-and-potatoes-2-car-driveway comes from resilient communities where people have fun (yes, really) and do what they enjoy, together, in places that are naturally and culturally rich.
In my dream everyone grows tomatoes… and peas, basil, carrots, and apples. Even on balconies; even it’s just watering a community plot; even if you only planted the seed accidentally. We’ll develop cultural stories that reflect what feeds our souls.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a dedicated collective to nurture these new ideas. We are already building up a “better” in the rekindling of local food, place-making events, open mics and buy nothing days. In the moments we take to unplug (on a beach, in a forest, or on your living room floor cocooned in a blanket with the lights off) we remember why we’re making the effort to change our ways.
What would you rather do: sit on the top of a mountain (I’m sorry if you’re afraid of heights), filling your lungs with in crisp autumn air… or keep squinting at this screen? I know which one sounds better.