Oct 18, 2007

Scales and Moralizing

First, I guess the Good Magazine article is online now. Some of my friends really hated it, forcing me to reconsider it. But I still like it! I did an AWESOME interview on Saturday with Tiffany of Piratepods.com. I love podcasts because you have time to think about the questions and an ability to elaborate.

Anyway, the Good Magazine article mentioned that some folks think we compactors are trying to moralize our way out of a huge, global problem. I've heard this criticism a lot and it has it's merits ... on certain scales. Yeah, the geographer in me has no truck w/ letting my own habits off the hook because there is a global context. I can't wait for multi-national corporations to convince everyone to "buy green" to slow climate change and prevent large scale species die off.

We didn't initiate the Compact to get a bunch of people to pledge to stop shopping. This started out on a very small scale. And we built something out of it. Yeah, the blogs and list-serves are cool, but among ourselves, we built a community. Action on the community scale is what really interests me. People can wander from the mall to their televisions, bags in hand, all around me - as long as I have a place where I belong as well. I don't find community in H0me Dep0t, or self expression in mass produced goods. Is it really moralizing to look at my culture and say: Fuck, I don't fit here!? And then to create a space in which I and others like me, really do fit?

Current criticism of the "environmental" movement harps on negativity and says we can't affect large scale change through scare tactics. I don't disagree, actually. But I don't think the Compact has done this. First, we did this for ourselves, not to start a movement. We did it because it brings us joy - try it w/ 10 friends and you will laugh for a year. It's a direct way for us to engage w/ the ecological issues that we care about, while also considering the network of factors that feed into ecological crises, such as labor, market, health, poverty, and local economy issues. Working on this challenge provided a realizable outlet for our concerns. Giving ourselves that space for action makes it more possible for us to act on other scales.

Isn't it also kinda moralizing to beg corporations to stop oppressing people and ecosystems? What's the difference really? Money saving? Well, compactors save money too. That's not it. Efficiency? Goes both ways. Just as some folks are depressed into inaction by the scare tactics of the "environmental" movement, I'm overwhelmed by the responsibility of engaging corporations to solve ecological crises. Sorry if I can't get wrapped up in online petitions and lobbying of rich ceo's, trying to convince them to adopt practices that will make them richer.

We should all be doing the work that makes us happy and allows us growth. Usually that has some connection to our talents and skills. I say this because it doesn't matter that I can't deal with corporations. If you're moved that way, then do it. Get what you can out of it. Learn something and tell us about that. That's all the Compact really is: People trying something and sharing what they learn (to which end you can find about 500 uses of plastic bags via these networks).

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