Archive for responsibility

A Current Conundrum

Posted in Big Questions, Desires, Dilemma's and Solutions, Feelings with tags , , , on November 26, 2011 by matthewstruth


Yesterday, I drove my Subaru 15 miles to listen to a wonderful talk by a climate researcher and author. Indeed a profound dissertation.

Early on in the presentation he inquired of the audience, “How many of you think that humans are responsible for climate change?” Startling to him, everyone in this group on the coast of Maine raised their hand for “Yes, we are”. Usually he said it’s 50/50.

The roadways leading to the library where the talk was to be held were completely filled with auto’s clothed in the greatest colorful array of progressive bumper stickers imaginable, mine too……….and not a parking space for blocks.

At the talks conclusion, he stated that from his perspective it will take a new discovery of an alternative energy source to stem the tide of runaway carbon dioxide increases.

I am beyond perplexed, saddened and disheartened.

Here we were in this room, all in agreement to our role in harming the current stability of Earth, and what behaviors are any of us actually changing? In the face of overwhelming research, I feel powerless. And yet as he stated, we are more powerful that can be understood, we’ve been putting these forces at work for a while now, us, probably you and me, and everyone that we know. And yet, we’re not going to change, but just wait for some new source of energy??

Why is it that our current way of life, with all of its entitled comforts is not negotiable? These alleged comforts have only been around for a relatively short while. Why does it seem that we aren’t willing to modify our behavior all that much? And what would this look like if indeed we did modify ourselves? Why are automobiles, which from the perspective of a pedestrian are violent contraptions for inducing a lazy apathetic consumer culture, deemed to be a prerequisite for life within this nation?

I am dumbfounded. We in this room all drove, something that we know is inherently wasteful, harmful, on so many distinct levels, dangerous. Are we not capable of imagining a society without these things, and the multitudes of other dastardly conveniences? Can we get beyond the “I want it now syndrome?”

If we know that we a part of the problem, what will have to evolve in us in order to change course? What will we be willing to let go of? Isn’t this the greatest conundrum?—What will have to evolve in “us“?

While I live here now in this society, I do envision a vastly different one, and that one does not have automobiles at the center of our neighborhoods. It has us, working together for the things that matter dearly to us. This “working together” seems like the crucial point and something that many have lost the ability to accomplish. Some of our individual actions will not change the big picture, but we can choose which influence we’ll exert.

May we answer these questions, and even more importantly, share with each other what we discover. I know deep within me, and you probably do too, that our lives can be so much richer than we’ve been currently accustomed too. Even though I have not yet physically experienced this new way, I do feel its presence getting closer. And for that I am extremely grateful.


A Community Vision

Posted in Not your normal letter to the editor, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 21, 2011 by matthewstruth
Another letter to this small community, but please manifest this in your own too!
To the Editor, the Town Council, and everyone else still here,
VISION, isn’t this crucial? When we have vision, our lives have additional meaning and purpose. Without vision we are capable of floundering or worse. I’ve moved in and out of each of these states often. So it was that a couple of weeks ago while on an early morning stroll, it just happened. The light was about  to appear, there was no one in sight, and the vision just became manifest within my mind. The strength of it was palpable and I knew that soon I’d share these words. The next morning there was Mr. Reamen inviting us to do this very thing.
So where is our culture right now? What vision is paramount and currently offered and espoused within our town? And why is this on the agenda now, when town has essentially been abandoned? On an important cultural property is a sign stating, “See you in Moab”. Really? The fact that many people have bolted is unsettling to me. While the reasons are vast and noteworthy, the ramifications are troubling. What does this say about our town that once the tourists leave, the residents do as well. And how does this relate to vision? This is spring. In most cultures, spring is a time of rebirth, new beginnings and there is boatloads of work to be done. In ours, what are we doing? Well today, here, shoveling more snow, still.
The vision that appeared became one of living in a responsible culture, a culture that provided for its own sustenance, a culture that provided every citizen with a job that dearly mattered. We are small and dense enough that so much is possible. Could we become a model society here? Could we develop systems of living that fostered deeper community connections and healthier citizens? Could we take more of what is needed for daily living into our own hands? 
Instantly, my mind formulated the possibility that we could do this with food, literally. Instead of waiting for corporate trucks to arrive offering us less than stellar options, we could build many large greenhouses, greenhouses that were whole integrated systems, in the way and model of Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For much of the year we’d raise our own produce and fish. We’d compost everything, right here. We’d all work in these spaces, jobs would be prevalent, but not in the old paradigm way of solely amassing money. Vast solar arrays would also be another necessary component. With this much sun, we could power the entire town.
The following questions are asked by one who’s been an architect/builder/artist/potter/musician/curler, so please take these queries in stride. While we desire a roof over an ice arena for games, can we develop the vision and will to adapt the look of town to accommodate more basic human needs? And instead of longing to build the next 8000sf home, or venue’s for listening to the plucking of strings, can we long, as a community to create structures that matter for everyone, and truly impact our most basic survival needs? This would be quite a shift in personal and cultural responsibility. And we are capable of pulling it off.
A culture that knows what it needs to live, and provides this is a healthy culture. It’s citizens would be happier internally than a culture that provides for none of its real needs, while expecting others, elsewhere, to do all of the work.
I don’t have any idea how to physically or financially accomplish this. I do know though that it has to happen. Sometimes the “what” is needed first, then the “how”comes to fruition with mass input. Remaining tied to outdated visions for why we exist is probably not the way forward. Can we add new elements to the puzzle? Much work is already being put forth regarding food in the valley, and has been for almost the past two decades. Is it possible that now, with the town councilors asking for visionary input, that this is a new moment to coalesce a truly visionary approach to why we exist?
My belly is hungry, I sure hope so.

“Carbon Conundrum” Indeed

Posted in Big Questions, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , on February 4, 2011 by matthewstruth


(Originally posted on a separate page earlier in the week, now moved to its new category)

I read with alarm the opening three paragraphs of last weeks otherwise excellent article “The Carbon Conundrum”. The author is portraying our entitled citizenry as caring about our environmental challenges in word only, while he writes that no one seems to be willing to personally do a darn thing differently and heck, why should we, this is after all a resort playground. This is indeed the crux of a severely disturbing problem. Can the behaviors listed in this article’s paragraphs really be sacrosanct? While I don’t believe that we can lump everyone in the same boat, taking a good hard look around town it is easy to see why the author began his piece as he did–there is wastefulness just about everywhere. Our current US way of life can be labeled as arrogant and is in no way sustainable. And if this is so, what does it say about us that many just don’t care? Where are our scruples?

The agitation in me kept saying “it doesn’t have to be this way, we can transform these attitudes”. Thankfully around here there have been, and are, many people striving to make a difference. Bucking the trend of this cultures misguided misuse of resources, both finite carbon varieties and personal inner ones certainly is difficult, but it is also becoming mandatory. Do things really have to remain the way they have been for these past decades?

Focusing on what governments and large entities could potentially accomplish as part one of this article states is important, but each of us as individuals have the first responsibility to clean up our own act. This begins with awareness, education, and a sense of fairness–essentially expanding our consciousness to question every element of our existence, how we think about it and what we take for granted. And then changing. Colin Beavon’s No Impact Man Project is a great primer for just what one person can accomplish. Regarding our impact, Bill McKibben’s 2010 book Eaarth– that’s the correct spelling because his thesis states that we are in fact living on a new earth, the old one is gone, and that we are going to have to very quickly adapt. Rain in CB South in December is a harbinger for what this new planet might look like.

Pondering any of this might lead to questions such as–Is it really my God given right to squander everything in sight? Do resources, including animals and plants really exist solely for my benefit? Is huddling together, in tiny nuclear family units, within single family boxes really conducive to societal health? Is outright disregard for the consequences of our actions bringing about a saner, more peaceful, open hearted society? Does pumping ourselves up with substances of any kind that are inherently addictive create a connected loving world? Isn’t this the moment in our species’ evolution when we can grow into our hearts and leave behind our adolescent cultural inebriations?

We here have so very much to cherish, we can look out any window or be walking anywhere and gaze around us and witness and experience the splendor absolutely everywhere. The sky’s majesty and ethereal lighting upon our neighborly peaks is enough to bring us to our knees. What would happen if every one of us knelt down?

This valley offers such a richness for potentially re-visioning what we can be. Several others recently in this paper have lamented about either the wishywashyness of, or lack of clear vision. This is certainly understandable if the former visioning was seen through the eyes of money, exploitation and our unquestioned entitlements.

What would happen though if we saw ourselves as inherently connected and deeply blessed? Where might these feelings lead us and what kinds of visions might manifest? We could become an incubator as a community, willing to learn or relearn how to live within the finite limits of reality. We’d recognize the problems with becoming, as the PA governor said, wussies. We’d live with vastly lower indoor temperature’s, more of us would bicycle, as many in this town already do. We’d produce, in an ethical manner items that are truly necessities, right here. We’d gather together to really learn about our dormant capacities as human beings, namely our underdeveloped spiritual selves, and how this leads to an awareness of love, that until this moment was only thought to reside with “the enlightened ones”. We could be a place where “friendliness” was never again questioned. People would arrive here and recognize something much, much deeper about us, think Findhorn in Scotland, or Damanhur in Italy. We could become a “Transition Town”, modeling something other than greed, and not with green washing, but with actual behavioral transformation.

This will take so much deliberation, dedication and action, both external and internal. People have been gathering, having been drawn to this place, and are in fact beginning the move towards healthier aspects of being that are truly the antithesis of the article’s first paragraphs. We can care, we can learn, we can change, we can evolve. We are.