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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Random Environmental Thoughts of the latest buzzwords.  I just got back from the 'Tri-County Sustainable Communities Forum' that was hosted by Sustainable Cherry Hill and Sustainable Jersey.  I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone on several levels to attend this event:  First, I had to drive on some really big highways (Ok, I'll admit, anything more than 3 lanes in each direction gets my heart beating a little faster - and these were 4 lanes!  With 'roundabouts'!  And I'm more of a backroads kinda' gal, but I did it!!  One hurdle down!).  Then I had to walk into a huge room full of people who I did not know and mingle.  Talk.  Meet people.  OK, this wasn't as hard as I thought thanks to the many kind and accepting people that the event drew.  So I came away with a few more friends who are walking the walk with me, adding up our footsteps to make a bigger impression in the world.  I reached out.  It wasn't easy, but I did it......and it wasn't as hard as I thought - I actually enjoyed it!  One of my favorite things about sustainability is community - we're all in this together.

Which led me here and then I caught up with one of my favorite blogs, from another fellow friend who is walking the walk and talking the talk, and I'm so honored to read that he includes me among his inspiration - Thanks, Dave!!!:

 And it truly brings me full-circle, because I see that these connections are part of the bigger picture.  It reminds me of the Cheers song:  "Sometimes you wanna' go...where everybody knows your name.  And they're always glad you came."  That's how I feel among all of you and that's how I know that I'm in the right place, doing the right thing.

Because I'm not always among friends.  This week, I went to a screening of a documentary entitled 'Crude' at our local library.  It tells the story of the indigenous people of Ecuador's battle against Texaco/Chevron for environmental and health devastation that has taken place in Ecuador.  It was eye-opening for me since I didn't know much about that struggle, but it was a familiar struggle that I've seen in several documentaries that I've watched recently.  David vs. Goliath in the war on the environment.  So at the end of the movie, I grab a chocolate chip cookie and turn around with a man, much taller than myself, standing less than 6 inches in front of my face.  He proceeds to tell me how much I scare him.  Me and all of the environmentalists like me.  (I know some of you have never seen me, but at 5'4" and with the voice of a 1st grader, I'm hardly a threat!).  This man was about 20 years older than me and was singing the praises of drilling in Marcellus Shale (a local fracking site) and telling me that reusable bags spread e-coli.  I opened my mouth to speak, but he immediately filled the air with more reasons why environmentalists are 'dangerous'.  The library received angry e-mails saying that they had a 'pro-green conspiracy' for even showing the film.  "What exactly is a 'pro-green conspiracy' anyway?", I wanted to ask.  "You non-environmentalists scare me!" I wanted to say....but never got the chance.  There would have been an opportunity for real discussion here if the man stuck around to hear what I had to say.  But I guess I was too scary, so he told his side and left.

Leaving.....why do we leave?  Why do we turn a blind eye?  Thankfully, I have met many, many people who do not want to turn away.  They want to know more.  They want to find out what they can do.  They come to me, because I know some things and they want me to know everything.  Sadly, I don't.  I started a Terracycle program at our school.  It's doing very well.  People want to Terracycle everything.  I asked for e-waste and put out a detailed letter stating that we could only take cell phones, mp3 players, cameras and laptops.  The first day, I got a Cuisinart coffee bean grinder.....that still works!  It's been very interesting collecting trash for Terracycle.  People trust me.  They trust that I will do the right thing with their discarded items.  They know that even if it can't be Terracycled or recycled, I will try to find a responsible thing to do with it.  Sometimes I can, as is the case with the coffee bean grinder, and sometimes I can't, as is the case with MOST plastic items that people give me with the hope that I can make it disappear.  How I wish I could wave that magic wand, click my heels and make it all go away.  How my husband wishes this, too (so he could get all of these hopeful items out of our garage)!  I can't.  But I think we ALL can...working together, piece by piece, until we are truly living in a society that is sustainable.  The path isn't always easy (and many times it feels like 'the long and winding road').  It usually isn't a profitable path.  I know many, like myself, who volunteer a lot of time to this cause, never seeking compensation.

To all of these friends, I offer one of my favorite poems of all time, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20