My Three Muses of Sustainability

On Monday night I met 3 highly engaged people participating in the SLOCentre Inspiring Actions towards Sustainability meeting.

AMBER – who decided to buy nothing new for one year and blogged about her experience. She is now succeeding at being an Urban Homesteader – growing a great deal of her own food in 4 allotment gardens, canning and preserving it for eating year-round. She is always looking for ways to reduce her carbon footprint.

ERIN – Works for Just Food -She is very interested in improving local farmers access to consumers in Ottawa. She worked in the International Development field for 25 years and then left it to find a more sustainable way to make a living.

Raul – A filmmaker who wishes to use his video skills in publicizing sustainable food issues and in spreading the word about Transition Ottawa.

These muses of sustainability are lending their skills and taking action in turning Ottawa into a more sustainable place to live.

The Whole is Greater

I went to a meeting last night called “Inspiring Action towards Sustainability”. This was a kickoff meeting hosted by Sustainable Living Ottawa Centre (SLOCentre) to begin its move towards being a more sustainable community. I went because I want to start making my community, Vars,  more sustainable too; but I’ve been hesitant to turn my passion and intent into actions.

So I went to try to find out if there is a clear formula to follow, if there is a step by step guide or even a magic incantation that they might want to share with me.

Kaia Nightingale set the context for the meeting by using some slides and video from the Awakening the Dreamer symposium and played an excerpt from the Story of Stuff video produced by Annie Leonard. These materials identified some of the problems that we are trying to address: climate change; pollution; over-consumption; and our fossil fuel dependency.

But the most powerful part of the evening was when we separated into small groups. I met three other people who have radically changed their lives in the last 3 or 4 years in order to bring sustainability into their lives – all in very different ways. (More on them in a later post).

I came away from the meeting inspired, humbled, full of great new ideas – and depressed. I am an optimist by nature, but obviously, I was not getting anywhere. I need to take action but I haven’t – why not? In discussing the evening’s happenings with my husband “Liam”, a pessimist by nature, he further discouraged me – indicating that nothing will ever happen until the federal government sees the light (Unlikely, since they’re enamoured of the tar sands – tar-coloured glasses?).

A good night’s sleep restored my optimism and I realized that I had gotten some answers of value from the meeting.  There is no magic incantation – there is just persistence. Becoming sustainable needs to happen, the sooner the better. However, it cannot be done in isolation – we need to collaborate.That way, someone else can spell us off when we lose heart.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the mantra for those who collaborate – who get groups to work together; because together we can accomplish more than striving to do things by ourselves.

Hello Sustainers!

This is my first post on this blog. I am interested in exchanging ideas on making our communities more welcoming and supportive of all who live in them; more vibrant and more protective of the environment.

Our species increasing dependence on fossil fuels over the last 100 years has created huge amounts of pollution, pushed many other species toward extinction and resulted in galloping climate change all over the globe.

It has fostered many myths- one of the most pernicious being that businesses and economies can and must grow – ever expanding towards infinity. The last 2 Western generations expected to do better than their parents, to have more possessions, more vacations, a better education and a better job.

But my spidey sense is telling me that the infinitely expanding economies have gone off the rails, in the brand new year 2011.  You may have noticed examples of how the ever expanding economy and prosperity is not quite happening in your corner of the world. Should we expect that this is just a momentary recession, a slow couple of years that’s all? That we’ll get back into the expansionary mode any day now –  or should we be dreaming up new myths and pictures of a different future?

This blog will be devoted to describing a new future, one where we commit to reining in our consumption and finding beauty and satisfaction in  supportive and  embracing communities.

Francine