by Martin Boksenbaum
But what is a person to do? Getting yourself together, of trying to live green to the fullest that you can—turning down the thermostat, growing your own veggies, riding your bike to work—is good, especially if we can somehow get a lot of people to do those things. But given the urgency of the times and the systemic opposition to green changes, we need to go beyond putting it on all us individuals out there to act responsibly. We need to get it together together.
What does that mean? On some level, we all know that we need to get involved in organizations working on these problems and, further, that the organizations need to have linkages between them, that they need to be connected. Certainly, many organizations and individuals have been putting together cooperative efforts for years: organizational sign-ons for water, mercury, climate protection campaigns; multiple co-sponsors of events and projects; ongoing coalitional work.
But, whatever has triggered the united efforts—whether common recognition of some threat to survival, of changes in public consciousness, of grass-roots activism, visionary leadership, small groups of dedicated people—don’t we need to build that togetherness into a more coherent, more powerful force? It would seem to me that we do. That is, if we’re going to have any chance of developing sustainable systems to replace the systems that are now end-angering the world, where seed-saving is a “political act” and “eating well has become an act of civil disobedience” (Sandor Katz, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Undergound Food Movements, 2006).
Alternative systems, whether regional food systems, local economies, alternative approaches to health care, transportation, education, energy production, whatever, will require us to work in sync on the full array of social, economic, and environmental issues that are involved. That’s a large order. It will require our intention, our inventiveness, our will to find ways to work together in constant, ongoing ways:
- To do the hard work of bringing about change;
- To face the urgent issues of our times, from globalization to global climate change;
- To provide the constancy, the support, so people don’t slide back into the status-quo;
- To contend with those who are invested in the entrenched, unsustainable ways of doing things;
- To defend our communities from intrusive, carpet-bagging bottom-feeders who suck our communities dry;
- To build the alternative systems that will sustain us.
Martin is a member of the Alliance Steering Committee