Friday, January 05, 2007

Budding Magnolias

The trip to Chicago was very good. However it was also very depressing. Before we left for our trip I was full of hope. I was thinking about all of the wonderful things I could do to aid our world. What I could do personally to help create a livable world for my children. I had been thinking about all of the things that I could personally do which would be good for our world. It is very easy to think about and do environmental things when I am in my small town in Minnesota.

Then I entered Chicago. First of all, I am not used to big cities. Secondly the traffic, the people, the stores.... There is just so much of everything - except for snow. People complain about the warm winter. The Magnolia trees are budding. People are concerned about global warming and what is happening. However, people aren't willing to do anything. It seems hopeless.

While in Chicago we visited with relatives. Most of whom would say that they like global warming - as it is easier on their aging bodies. What? What about the future? Other relatives didn't care about the warming as it made it easier for them to shop. I left Chicago in such a serious state of depression.

I drove home looking over the green pastures and discussing the state of the the world. I was sad. I realized that although I have all of these hopeful ideals and am doing a lot to reduce my footprint, most other people are not. Most people feel entitled to buy and waste to their heart's content. The last 4 weeks have been about 20 degrees above normal, yet people don't see the problem in it. They don't seem to care about what tomorrow may bring - only what they can purchase with that dollar bill. I was so sad that I could not bring myself to write until today. I was even thinking about giving up blogging entirely. What is the point?

Since that time I found Garden Girl (see the previous post) and feel slightly invigorated. I am helping her build a website (I put a mock-up online for review). I have a hope that if we can mainstream this way of thinking then there might be a ray of hope for the future generations. I am also starting to think that we really need to localize efforts. So, I have decided to start a local group for urban sustainability. I will let you all know how that goes.

Until my next post, Take one step to reduce your footprint.

30 comments:

edenz713 said...

Poot. I had written a great comment about how your blog has really inspired me and then blogger went and ate it.

Anyway - Don't give up to discouragement! Your blog has been a great source of inspiration for me and I'm sure many others.

tracey said...

Emme - remember - planting the seed, the ripple effect. It is important. Today I took two pairs of shoes into get the soles repaired instead of purchasing new shoes. I am not "saving" a lot of money by doing this, but I am saving something more intangible and more important.

Bit by bit...it all makes a difference.

I am excited to hear how your plan on starting a new group goes. I admire your persistance. We often have to vary what we do to keep motivated.

Kim said...

I know it's depressing. So many people just don't care. Others just don't realize how serious it is.
You can't give up. Our earth depends on our voices. Our children and grandchildren depend on us..........
blessings,
Kim in IN

Bellen said...

Emme - I totally agree with you and I have been 'doing it' since -birth? Well, back in the late 40's - early 50's My parents had to. Graduated college 1968 educated in Home Economics to help with Pres. Johnson's War on Poverty, which ended as soon as he left office. Entered 70s & 80s, right along with the back to the land group. Still fighting the good fight.
Try looking at MotherEarthNews.com archives. Same stuff being said and done. BUT - I have influenced my 3 boys and possibly 2 daughters-in-law. Again, the ripple effect and you have 5 to influence! Just think of the possiblities.
Hang in there, do as much as you can, influence as many as you can locally. Have you considered writing a once a month local newspaper article? Sort of on the line of 'what I'm doing'?
Have you seen the new HGTV show with Ed Begley Jr, a Hollywood environmentalist? How about Julia Lewis-Dreyfus, she has a green house. Paul Newman and Daughter do a lot. There are those big name people who get lots of recognition, but there are lots more little people out there who don't. Anyway, don't give up and don't be depressed, every little bit helps.

Cheryl said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling low right now. I occasionally go through phases where it all seems hopeless, but it does seem to be changing slowly. My mother recently watched An Inconvenient Truth and has been asking me questions about things that at one time only served to make me a more of a treehugger in my family's eyes.
I totally agree that it has to be made more mainstream. People need to see that they can reduce their impact and still live a "normal" life.
I'm very excited about the Garden Girl thing!

Laurie said...

Last night John and I were discussing you over dinner and trying to psyche ourselves up to stop buying so much crap. I came to your site today to help brainstorm some ideas for the green committee I am starting here at work. SO your little footprint has had an affect here in the urban nightmare that is Chicago! My husband and I have been affected, the 120 employees here at work will be affected...
So keep up the good work!

Megan D. Crow said...

I know how you feel, I just posted something along those lines too.

This quote pretty much sums it up:

"One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds." - Aldo Leopold

But when I start thinking maybe I shouldn't even bother 'being green' - because my families consumption is enough to trump whatever I am doing - but then I realize, because of my 'education' I can't ever go back to my old ways. So no matter how hard it seems, its in my blood now, I can't go back.

Chelee said...

I too get the same feeling as you. It passes though. Way to stick to it and please don't stop blogging.

Andy in San Diego said...

Yes, don't stop blogging. I learn so much from you and others (and then tell those around me as if they were my ideas - no, just kidding - see, humor to cheer you up :-). I don't know what your blog traffic looks like, but if I'm reading, I imagine there are many, many others reading. Also, I see more and more coverage in mainstream media.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Emme:
I have always beleived that God puts all people on earth for a reason. Maybe you aren't meant to be the scientist that "saves the world" but what if just one thing you say sets someone down the path to that very goal? Don't give up. I too get worried about it but I truely believe everyone is here for some reason. If you quit now---it might be right before you were suppose to make your biggest impact on someone. Who knows? Not I---so why quit? Besides---that would just let all the others win.
Whether you believe in God or not---you can surely see the point of my "ripple" effect. And there are lots of children coming along that are going to be believers. We just have to get rid of most of the brainwashed baby boomers (sorry to any non brainwashed boomer that reads this)
Monica

Evan said...

Emme: You can't give up now, you have a real impact on so many people. I, too, have felt as you do and just want to chuck it all and move to Alaska, but then I remember that my mother and mother-in-law are now buying organic food and my husband refuses to go shopping without his shopping bags, and for the first time in I don't know how long we don't have any plastic bags in our house. We gave copies of "An Inconvenient Truth" this holiday and one of our friends sent me links to several sites "disproving" the theories about global warming. It was 82 degrees here in Texas today, folks. I think I believe in global warming. The point I am trying to make is that someone crucial is going to be influenced by your example. You are raising five global warriors right now. I truly believe that our children are our only hope for the next seven generations. I think they are going to look at our generation's excesses and wonder why the craziness was tolerated. Also, I depend on you to pick me up when I 've been knocked to the mat or when my efforts feel futile. It's good to know that you are a kindred spirit. Thanks for all that you do and for sharing it all with us.

M said...

You sharing your experiences has inspired me to try things I never in a million years thought I could or would ever do. As someone else said, I don't want to go back to how I was living three months ago. All the changes I've made have been wonderful and I can't wait to see what else I will learn. I hope you continue blogging as you are one of the people who keep me going with this major lifestyle change.
I was so excited when I went to work yesterday and one of my co-workers had the article in our local paper about the Compacters waiting for me.
Thank you.

RAS said...

Emme,
As with all the others, you've been an inspiration to me. If you can do this with 5 kids and a job than so can I!

Here's an exercise that might help you. Set down with a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Write down all the good things that have come from your lifestyle changes. One by one, list them all. Everything you can think of. Don't censor yourself. Write it down. Then turn the paper over (or get another sheet) and make a list of all the negative things that have come from it. I'm willing to bet you won't have much on that list, if anything.

Another similar exercise can help with your despair over the future of humanity. Take another sheet of paper and a pen and start writing down all the things that will never change or go away, no matter how bad things get. Babies, a child's happy laugh, music, art, love, weddings, warm cookies, etc. Remember, no matter how dark times may be there are some things that can't be taken from us!

Anonymous said...

I know it gets overwhelming.. and veryyyyy depressing.. thats why you don't do it alone.. and this blog helps me and you know that there are folks out there that feel the same way...

You have been a blessing..getting me to kick start myself,family and friends to wake and do something..

Just wanted you to know that you and your blog are needed :)

Denise in TN
Ldyrdwulf@aol.com

Emme said...

Oh my! I didn't not expect this type of response. Thank you all so much! It is good to know that I am not on this journey alone. It is good to know that there are others who are as passionate about the environment as I am. It is good to know that there are so many others who desire to be 'the change.'

I was feeling very down after being in Chicago. I had thought about stopping blogging - but I definitely will not! Venting about my trip helped get it out of my system. I still feel sad, but now realize that there can be an inkling of hope. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh, please do no not stop blogging! You have made such a difference in my motivation to do better for this world. I take the inspiration I get from this site and share it with my friends and family. We are reducing our consumption, taking cloth bags to the store, bought a more efficient car to drive and I am so motivated that I know pretty soon we will be using cloth TP!! Coming to this site keeps me going...you are making a difference! I just need to tell you more often. Thank you so much for all that you share with us.

PeakEngineer said...

Emme,
You have one of the best blogs out there on transistioning to a sustainable life -- you portray the real struggle it is to reduce our impact to the environment. Just know that though the world hasn't changed yet, you're definitely doing good to help it along. I finally remembered to update my blogroll to include this great site -- don't let it disappear! :)

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Emme, I'm amazed still when I realize how few people have a clue.

But when I hear staunch Republicans talking about global warming and the importance of globl warming, that amazes me, too.

I don't know if, collectively, we're getting where we need to go at a fast enough rate, but all we can do is try.

Moonwaves said...

I can empathise with how you felt in Chicago I think. I spent a week in Florida visiting my sister this Christmas. It was only my second time in the U.S. (and the last time was very much a tourist-y, sightseeing kind of holiday with really only one shopping adventure in Century 21 in New York). This time I was absolutely amazed at the total bombardment all the time, on television especially. My sister couldn't wait to bring me to Wal-Mart and kept telling me how much I'd love it. Despite me telling her over and over how much I've changed towards a simpler life over the last few months and explaining to her some of the things I've found out about Wal-Mart since I started this journey. I did buy some clothes when I was there, nothing I didn't need anyway but I knew in the back of my head that I probably wouldn't even have bothered if she hadn't been so obviously hoping I'd like it. It's much easier to live a simple life when you don't have to take other people into account!

I'm grateful that although Ireland is getting more and more like the States in a lot of ways, it's not quite there yet. And I think the idea of frugality, eco-friendliness and so on is taking off here quite well so hopefully we'll have a halt to some of the worse excesses of consumer society.

My trip to the States combined with general winter blues has left me pretty despressed but I'm trying to pull myself out of it. Reading other people's blogs does really help and makes me feel much less alone in my endeavours.

Don't forget that you've already influenced a huge number of people and as a teacher (not to mention as a mother, friend, neighbour etc. etc. etc.) will undoubtedly continue to do so.

M said...

I think people deserve more credit than they're getting here. The changes you've made/are making are amazing, but because some people are where you yourself might have been not too long ago, or just have different concerns and lives than you, does not mean they just don't care or all they are superficial and materialistic, wasteful and not concerned about the world or future.

The environment and the future matter, but so do people and so do their current lives. Older people are affected by things like weather more than others, and many people have so many other troubles in their lives that global warming is, and in my opinion, not unreasonably so, the last thing on their minds.

And some people, despite their difficult lives, still do what they can. I think they attitude of why aren't "they" getting it is not constructive. Not everyone is the same and not every can and will do the same things. Judging people so harshly and expecting everyone to be and feel similarly to you is in my opinion unrealistic and offputting.

All these changes you talk about are important but so are many other concerns. Concerns about the welfare of people right now and the societal causes that make it difficult or impossible for many to make changes in regard to these issues to the degree that you have, or at all.

I also think there is much more of a middleground than seems to presented here. Not everyone is either actively doing the types of things you are or else shopping and wasting to their heart's content. I just can't agree with the statement that most "don't seem to care about what tomorrow may bring - only what they can purchase with that dollar bill," and that "people aren't willing to do anything."

I also find that many people do respond well and change when they are educated about issues they may not be aware of. That is not always obvious from the outside, nor does it always happen immediately.

Additonally, many changes are not easy or possible for individuals to make. Society itself needs change. How can for example someone not pollute by driving when they have a job that is not accessible by public transportation or on foot or bike or carpool? Many are in that position. (And many are just lucky to have a job at all, so if they have to pollute to get to it, they have to and they will.) Rather than berate them for driving, it is more productive to work for change in public transportation. And that is just one example.

I think individual change is important, but we are a product of our society. Most people do not have the luxury of changing a ton of things in their lives--many just struggle to live their lives at all. Until change occurs on a societal level (as well as individual), this cause will not move forward as it should.

Nat said...

If it is of any consolation, there are some of us here in Chicago trying to make positive changes and influence others. Some friends and i are going in on a CSA this year, and i am expanding my vegetable garden. In fact, to make a point about the harmful gardening practices people employ in order to keep their carpet lawns, i am going to tear up my front lawn, and plant my vegetable garden there, for all the neighbors to see. When they ask, i can tell them why.
I know how you feel though, i work in downtown Chicago, and the x-mas season makes me depressed, so much wasteful consuming without a care in the world, while stepping over homeless people.
If and when you do come back to Chicago, if you can, check out some of the community gardens and farmers markets, along with the neighborhood parks. There is still hope, but there is a long way to go.
Thank you for your thoughtful and informative blog, it means the world to me, and many others.

David said...

I was wondering...

Do you think that there is a connection between global warming and human over population?

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