Tuesday, July 22, 2008

APLS and Oranges

How great is The Bushel Basket? Overflowing with a variety of wonderfully crunchy apples? Have you picked an apple yet? I've managed to nibble here and there and I look forward to eating my way through the whole darn basket.

Nothing is better than connecting with like-minded folks. I truly believe that, to grow the green movement, preserve our own sanity and find a place of belonging, we need to continue to find ways to connect APLS to APLS. In addition to The Bushel Basket, you can join the APLS Facebook group, the Going Green with Burbanmom Yahoo Group or, if you are in the North West, attend a blogger meet up organized by Crunchy Chicken and Melinda.

Last weekend, I connected with four super APLS, MamaBird from Surely You Nest, Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, Jenn from Tiny Choices and Jennifer from The Smart Mama, at the Blogher conference. We hung out, went to a seminar together, ate lunch (plastic free, of course!). I learned far more in my time with those gals than at the rest of the conference. We shared a hug when we parted and looked forward to our next connection, even if it was only online.

So, when Beth, recounting her experience at the same conference, asked: "Should we get more involved in Blogher greening or create our own green bloggers conference?", I wanted to shout "CREATE OUR OWN GREEN CONFERENCE!"

But I didn't.

Because as wonderful as it is to be surrounded by people like yourself - the validation, the sense of belonging, the feeling of connection and support - it is also nice to toss an orange into the basket.

In Achieving Success Through Social Capital, Wayne Baker wrote:

Generally speaking, people tend to associate with others like themselves. The "similarity principle" is a powerful driver of human interaction. For these and other reasons, networks are prone to form within clumps, not between them. . . . Clumpiness means that networks tend to fold back on themselves. For example, friends of friends tend to be friends. (82)

Many months ago, Charles at Car(bon) Free in California noted essentially the same thing. In exploring how to build an effective platform from which to "spread the word", he noted "I need to comment on other blogs and build traffic. But the risk is that we echo chamber." By adding oranges, we can stretch our words, thoughts and beliefs beyond our own sustainable circle.

More diverse networks - where APLS connect with other apples as well as oranges - "extend out into the world instead of folding back on themselves." (Achieving Success Through Social Capital, 82). By adding the occasional orange, we create a stronger network that is more likely grow. Indeed, no movement ever succeeded without a diversity of viewpoint and dissident voices, without an infusion of new thoughts and connections. In addition, an occasional orange can make life a lot more interesting. As No Impact Man expressed when he met Australian fashionista blogger, Gala Darling, connecting with someone not obviously like yourself and "together looking for and finding . . . commonalities, . . . building human bridges . . . make[s life] . . . a little better by simply being human."

That's why The Bushel Basket, Going Green Yahoo Group and the Facebook Group are open to everyone. To those who say they are new to the movement. To those who are just learning about climate change. To those who have not yet embarked on a more sustainable path. To those who don't write or often think about sustainable living but who are interested. And to everyone in between. Jump in.

There is room in this bushel basket for apples, oranges and even an occasional non-local, organic banana.

UPDATED: to add Burbanmom's Going Green Yahoo Group. Don't know why I blanked on that the first time but Burbs' group is a great way to connect with other APLS and share advice for living lighter.


DramaMama said...

Thanks for expressing your thoughts on this!! Sometimes as a Christian interested in these things, I feel a little like the odd girl out. I don't always agree w/people's reasons or politics, but I believe some of our end results are making an important difference. I enjoy learning from you all...I appreciate the way you are welcoming oranges!

Joyce said...

What Drammamamma said. Only I don't think I'm an orange, exactly. Maybe just a red apple!

Green Bean said...

DramaMama and Joyce: I wouldn't call either of your oranges! Both of your girls are apples to the core (couldn't resist). We just all taste a little different.

For me this post was a way to appreciate diversity on many different levels - "green-ness", level of awareness and/or interest, different connections, viewpoints, experiences. I'll quote my very smart friend, Katrina at Kale for Sale, who wrote in an email, the monoculture of thought is as bad as monoculture in the field. I'd extend that to also say monoculture of networks. It's wonderful to support one another but if we never venture beyond our warm little circle, what an unadventurous life it would be.

I'm so glad that I've met the two of you!

Stephanie said...

Well, these thoughts definitely make me feel better about being a (principally?) knit-blogger and still having interests outside of knitting (like environmentalism).

Fake Plastic Fish said...

A commenter on Fake Plastic Fish suggested that we APLSes commit to seeing that Blogher gets at least one green post per day. That would be a start. Want to get together create a schedule among ourselves to make that happen? Plenty of oranges on Blogher, as we saw this weekend.

Jennifer Taggart said...

I'm in on the BlogHer green post with Beth at Fake Plastic Fish. And while I have to agree that I learned the most hanging out with other APLS, I think that sharing with other not so like minded folk is the best way to spread the word. But can I be a prickly pear instead? Suits me better. Or perhaps at hot pepper? Ha.


Going Crunchy said...

Durn, good food for thought be it an APL or an orange. Shan

knutty knitter said...

I think I'll root for apricots cos I've always felt slightly isolated out here. And where I grew up its mostly apricots.

My networks tend to be a bit diverse.Possibly because I'm interested in practically everything. Some overlap and some don't but they all mostly know where I'm coming from (or think they do!)

Apricot flavoured apl?

viv in nz

Bobbi said...

I think I'm a pear!

Nice post!

Joan said...

Being open to others and respectful is important. I started reading a blog 2 years ago about someone in my town doing a local eating challenge. I felt I had nothing in common with her but I commented on her blog letting her know I read the newspaper article. She knew at the time I wasn't thinking along the same lines but was very nice regardless. If she had been judgmental towards me, I might have been turned off to what she represented.

Green Bean said...

Stephanie: Well they should. I'm principally a green blogger and I have outside interests, including knitting, which I'm not very good at but I keep on trying.

FPF: Let's talk about that. I'll send you and email.

Jennifer: Hello, my little hot pepper - I think that one suits you best. Let's get some emails flowing and figure something out.

Shannon: Why thank you, my darling crunchy apple.

Viv: It is great that you have a diverse network. People like you are said to be the happiest of all. True? Maybe we can all learn from you by expanding our networks into other areas that we are interested in.

Joan: That is so true. I think it is important to remember that we all started somewhere. We should welcome anyone just learning about environmental issues with open arms. We were all there once and we all take a different path. Thank you for the reminder, Joan.

Melissa said...

this is such a great post! If I think about it, I often tend to learn a lot more by talking with somebody who has slightly different experiences and points of view than ours. I hope the network of APLS and other fruits continues to expand!

BerryBird said...

Thanks for this post, Green Bean. I hadn't joined the bushel basket because I wasn't sure I'd yet achieved the magical threshhold of green-ness, or if maybe I had but hadn't blogged enough on that topic to demonstrate it. As long as caring passsionately and trying to make changes is enough, I'm in!

Green Bean said...

Melissa: I hope it continues to expand too! Only good can come of it.

BerryBird: I'm so glad you left that comment. I hate to think that anyone feels they are not green enough (in deed, in writing, or in anyway) to be an APLS. We're all headed for the same destination, no matter where we're coming from, in which direction we're traveling or how far down the path we might be. I'm happily adding you to the bushel basket!

eco 'burban mom said...

It's funny, once you identify yourself as an APLS, you find you gain the confidence in yourself to take those APLS characteristics out into public. Maybe it's knowing that you have friends and compatriots just a laptop away, it makes you feel safe and "not-weird".

Over the weekend I met a bartender at our resort who is very much an APLS, we talked canning, gardening, food, localization and economy. I don't know if I would have felt as comfortable revealing my green tendencies if it wasn't for the support of fellow APLS! There is strength in numbers!

Natalie said...

I'm not exactly sure why I've hesitated to have my name added to your Bushel Basket. ?? Perhaps it's b/c I'm feeling like I don't get enough time to post interesting stuff right now - sad when even the author is bored, huh. And I'm not into Yahoo Groups. Nor do I Facebook. I prefer to make my connections the old fashioned way.

But I'm totally an APLS, working harder at it every day! Also, like EBM said, the numbers matter. My mission is to make environmental awareness AND action, the new "normal". There are so many people who are happy to be sheep or too timid to step out alone or living in complete denial that all of us who do care need to stand up and make lots and lots of noise when we can.

So put me down, baby. I'm all in!!

Stephanie said...

Eco 'Burban Mom is totally right there. I found that since you added me to the Bushel Basket I am thinking less but DOING more. Or rather, taking steps to doing more, instead of just sitting with my computer and thinking all day, and I'm less afraid of voicing my opinions. It's probably just what I needed to make some change of my own.

Green Bean said...

EcoBurbs: You are so right. There is strength in numbers. In knowing others believe as we do, live life with the same values and practices - even if we've not met those "others" in person. That is part of my idea with the whole green social movement thing. We gather together, we support each other, we share ideas, we move forward, we eventually are a force to be reckoned with and bring about the changes we want to see in this world.

Natalie: I'm so glad you have joined the Bushel Basket. I understand where you are coming from. To me, the Bushel Basket, the yahoo and Facebook groups are just a starting point. As EcoBurbs says, there is strength in knowing that we are not alone. But beyond that, we'll be organizing more physical get togethers, banding together by region. And, yes, we need to make noise. Desparately! But there is strength in numbers and our numbers are growing.

Stephanie: I definitely agree with you. For me, blogging has motivated me, held me accountable and propelled me to make many changes and take action when I otherwise wouldn't. I'm so glad you are being inspired and motivated too!

Yael said...

would you mind adding me to the APLS list?
my blog is: crunchystudent.blogspot.com I dont update that often--but Im trying to do so more!

in fact I think Ill go update right now!

Green Bean said...

Yael: Delighted to add you! You're in.


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