The black canner I lent a friend two days ago rested on my porch bench. I hefted it up, resting it on my hip while I turned the key in the lock. Carrying it to the kitchen, I set the canner on the counter and turned on the computer. While it booted up, I pulled out zucchini another friend gave me from her CSA box. Sifting through my cabinets, I located the rest of my ingredients - local honey from Marie, the beekeeper at my farmers' market, and locally milled flours discovered on a tip from a fellow blogger.
I turned back to the computer to check email. Melissa suggested last week that I try to arrange a screening of The Garden movie. I took her up on her suggestion and my green task force is knee deep in preparations. I had three emails waiting - all from task force members proposing venues or offering to spread the word. I responded and then followed the directions in an email from Arduous on how to fix a Blogger glitch for a task force blog. Solving the glitch, I shut off the computer. Back to making zucchini bread. I'll make one loaf for my neighbor, I mused, to thank her for taking care of my cat last week.
A year ago, I embarked on a lighter lifestyle. If you had asked me then, the question I set out to answer today - what sustainability means to me - I would have given a far different answer. I initially thought living green meant living lonely. That sustainability was synonymous with self-sufficiency.
As today's afternoon made clear, living sustainably has nothing to do with living self-sufficiently. A year of push mowing my lawn, eating locally and biking about town has shown me one thing - the rugged environmentalist is over-rated. I share the lawn edger with a neighbor. I buy my locally grown produce from friends at the farmers market or swap homegrown veggies with neighbors for more variety. I bought my bike used from a local mother and joined a bike buddies group started by some friends.
Sustainability is not about the individual. In fact, individualism is what has gotten us in to this position to begin with. We, as a society, traded local businesses, that invest in our schools and whose owners live down the street - for cheap clothes from the big box store that pays its workers less then minimum wage and is headed up by a corporation thousands of miles away. We, as a society, have migrated to individual interests - spending our evenings with the Jack Bauer instead of the neighborhood bunco game. Political activism has gone the way of Dodo. It has been replaced by the occasional vote . . . mostly for an American Idol.
Sustainability is not about the individual. It is about community. Creating connections for support in the difficult times ahead. Buying produce from the people who grew it. Paying a few cents more for our necessities because those cents stay in our communities, are reinvested in our schools and our senior centers. Carpooling. Sharing goods so we don't need to suck up resources to produce new ones. Reaching out to extend and receive help.
From where I stand now, with zucchini bread cooling on the kitchen table and emails buzzing about a community movie night, I know what my answer is to the APLS Carnival question: What does living sustainably mean to me?
It means letting go of the rugged environmentalist. It means embracing community.
Don't forget to send your post on What Sustainability Means to You to aplscarnival(at)gmail(dot)com by tomorrow, August 12th, to participate in the first APLS Carnival.