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.