One of the most important things you can do to fight global warming (or to survive it) is to build community. Befriending your neigbors and others in your community you allows you to pool resources and save energy - I'll pick up produce at the farmer's market for you, you can borrow our push lawn mower, I can watch your kid so you don't need to have a sitter drive over. It also makes you feel safer because someone is keeping an eye on you, your family and your home in case anything unfortunate were to happen and it just generally feels right to be on friendly terms with everyone you live near. Don't we all get a little lonely sometime? Doesn't it feel better to have a nice conversation with someone than to sit huddled in our homes in front of the TV?
I have not always been the friendliest of neighbors but I have sworn to make changed. In the last six months, I have focused on establishing relationships with my neighbors. My kids have become good friends with the little boy next door. His parents watched our children so that we could "green" our front planting strip. I brought his family some extra pumpkin soup and some homemade carmel apples. I've started hauling in my other next door neighbor's trash cans on trash day if I get there first. Guess what? If he gets there first, he now brings in my trash can (we're down to 1/2 can a week!). I can't tell you how great it feels to trundle in with a car load full of kids and farmer's market finds only to discover that I don't have to put away my garbage and recycling bins. I've also made an effort to get to know the elderly woman across the street. She is 87 and lives alone. In my pre-green days, I was "too busy" to make time for a lonely old woman. That is just plain wrong. I certainly hope that someone makes time for my grandmothers where they live and for me if I am lucky enough to live that long. Slowing down and realizing the importance of community has me reaching out to her, bringing her homemade strawberry jam and chatting with her about her children and my garden.
Another, equally important reason to build community is to inspire change. While I think individual action is very important in dealing with climate change, one person can really only do so much. When we expose others to recent news about global warming, share the changes we have made and how they make us feel, we increase our impact. Because I enjoyed reading books about the environment and wanted to get to know other moms in the area, I recently started a "Green Book Club". Last week, we had our first discussion - about Plenty: One Man, One Woman and A Raucous Year of Eating Locally. The book club had a lively discussion regarding the book itself, local resources and even sustainable gardening. I think we all learned some new and valuable information about changes we can make. Plus, I met some great women whom I look forward to running into at the farmer's market or our local park.
So get inspired to build community and spread "greenness" in whatever way feels right to you. I feel much happier establishing connections with my neighbors and some other local moms.