Thanksgiving and the Earth at Our Feet
Dinner at American Flatbread in Burlington, VT, Monday was the most delicious and local pizzeria experience of my life. Walk in, catch a waft of heaven, and get greeted by a big, happy crowd, a bar full of yummy beers brewed out back, and a big poster advertizing the 25 bioregional farms that make the meal possible. No turkey. No pumpkin. Not a potato on the menu. But we enthusiastically chowed the melted neighborhood cheese topped with sizzling Vermont yak, ham, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, etc. As "authentic" as Thursday’s traditional victuals might have seemed, the pizza and amazing salads resembled the first Thanksgiving far better than the too-distant baloney that most Americans eat on T-day.
Water, not space, is our next frontier
Like a mythical centaur (half human head, half horse ass), last October NASA’s Centaur rammed the backside of the Moon on a mission to extract water from the heavens. Houston, we have a problem. When nearly one billion earthlings lack clean water supplies, what God-fearing nation would spend a dime on crushed ice for a few astronauts?
What if more tax dollars were spent on down-to-earth programs like Dan Ransom’s? As water conservation director for Sangre de Cristo Water Company, Ransom recently developed a simple rebate program designed to encourage the installation of cisterns throughout Santa Fe. Picture the city’s bygone rain-barrel program on growth hormones.
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Sustainable in many respects, our garden mostly overflows with irony. Sure, we’ve got an underground cistern, a greywater harvesting system, six egg-laying chickens, several fruit tree guilds, a bean teepee, a sunflower house, a cold frame, a bee hive, a plastic lawn, a set of solar hot-water panels, a couple of king-size compost heaps, an armada of bikes, and many dreams of more.
But several times a week my knees buckle at the thought of a fresh, vacuum-packed tub of Mediterranean Humus from Trader Joe’s. Although I’d love to save civilization from itself overnight, like you, I’m human, and I crave all kinds of creature comforts. Plato described this aspect of human nature well at the outset of his Republic when he implied that a community cannot be perfect without the relishes of life.
Of course, we all would prefer to live in a sustainable society, but most of us think we don’t have enough time to make a difference, so why bother? Any voluntary transition from the lavishness of the past to the true pleasures of a sustainable future will be slow.
Shouldn’t we accept this fact and simply decide to move on at a steady pace? In my upcoming book, Harvest the Rain, I describe a steady-paced system called “gradual greening.” It asks for just 10 minutes of your time per day, and in return we all get to live in a sustainable world in 30 years or less. This blog will be an account of our progress.
Please chime in with your stories of gradual greening whenever you would like. I’d love to hear from you!