I think I spent much of 2020 trying to figure out the idea of this ecologically conscientious consumption; and although I think I "get it" now, I suspect I'll spend 2021 and on trying to figure out how to live it. But this in particular was very, very well said (not surprising):
Also, this struck a chord:It is possible to work to produce enough for a life time of ecologically conscientious consumption in just five years. This should be possible for any productive environmentalist that walks the talk.To change and improve a culture we must change the individuals in the culture. To change the individuals we must first change ourself. I am generally opposed to telling people what to do and what not to do be decree. Instead I am trying to show that it is possible by setting example which is hopefully worth emulating.It all starts by reducing one’s ecological footprint.
We live in a modest townhome complex across the street from our church, which is where our kids go to school, and a 10-minute walk to my office. DW and I are active participants in several relatively healthy communities, including our neighborhood (I'm on the HOA board), our kids' school (we have both spent time on the PTA, among other activities), my church (too many participation roles to list), and within the small but densely populated streetcar suburb where we live (I've served on a couple of strategic planning committees).How about I move 20 miles away from the place where I work and my colleague moves 20 miles in the opposite direction. Then we will both build large houses in the middle of the forrest. And we will build roads and cars, and each day we will get into our cars and spend 2 hours each day driving in order to go back to work. We could build an entire economy around this concept and thus create more employment.
Now, there is some overlap between these different communities, especially between the church and the kids' parochial school, naturally, and to a much lesser extent there are a couple other church parishioners who live in our townhome neighborhood, and of course in our broader town. BUT, every day, when I walk my kids to school and then head to the office, I wave at all my friends and acquaintenances who are all doing the same thing (drop kids off, then off to work), but they are doing it by car, some driving in from significant distances to the school, and driving significant distances to get to work. And it makes me sad, because I think of how much stronger my various communities would necessarily be if some small fraction of those folks lived within walking distance of our kids' school and our church, as I do. The result would be that rather than having 4 distinct community groups (neighborhood, church, kids' school, town), those 4 groups would begin to merge into one, making it bullet proof.
I think it's an unfortunate unintended side effect of the modern, industrial, globalized, consumerist, whatever world we live in that these various communities have become so separated (or, if I put on my tin foil hat, perhaps I say that weakening community ties was in fact intended by "them"). There's something that's just not quite right about compartmentalizing all these different aspects of our lives. Also, I'll admit that I'm fully immersed in Wendell Berry's essays right now, and the idea of "real" and local community is definitely one of his consistent themes. And Berry I suspect holds that the wheels started to fall off as soon as we started wholesale removing from the home sphere the kids' education and the family's food production, manufacturing, and income generation.
But, to Jacob's point, all I can do is continue to make better community/ecological-positive choices myself (and I have a LOT of work still to do). Folks comment on the smile they see on my face in the mornings, as I chat up the crossing guards and wave to friends as they drive by, as I breathe in the morning air on my walk to school/work, getting some precious minutes with DD, DS, and DW at my side. Perhaps that's something, as friends in their cars impatiently wait their turn in the car dropoff line at school, with feigned smiles for the teachers waiting on the sidewalks who will be taking custody of their kids for the day, as they stress about which of their 20 different commute route options will get them to their offices on the other side of the metro area in the shortest amount of time this morning.
ETA: From a Wheaton Level perspective, I suspect the home-school folks think the idea of dropping your kids off for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to be educated by others, is absurd; even if those "others" work for the church that is at the center of our lives. It's still a form of outsourcing responsibilities that were really intended to be handled by the parents, or at most by fellow members of a very small and tight community--not by paid employees, many of whom you only know in their roles as your kids' teachers.