Posts Tagged 'community'

Our Portland CRAG Launches!

Last night five friends of mine, new and old, got together at Colleen and Thad’s house in NE Portland. We had wine, a delicious potluck dinner and animated-to-hilarious planning of our Carbon Action Reduction Group.

Honestly, it would have been fun and funny even without the wine. The four sled dogs milling around our legs added a lot to the happy hubbub. Bottom line: We’re going to do it! We’re responding to global warming by measuring our households’ carbon footprints and working together to control and reduce them. This is the basic spreadsheet each household will use.

Probably because I was the initial instigator, I get to be the group’s ‘accountant’ in the first year. I accepted this role only because Ewan O’Leary, who is starting his own carbon-offset business, is going to help me. (I love teamwork.) We are naturally open to new members: please post a comment at top of this article if you’re interested.

If you are sitting there thinking you are definitely not ready for this CRAG thing yourself, don’t feel alone. Here is what some of my friends said at the prospect. And I am absolutely still friends with them; I’m even going hiking with Micki tonight. I do believe, though, that my frequent-commenter Mick down in Berkeley is thinking about starting a CRAG, himself. Hope he’ll keep us posted. 🙂

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Love In The Time Of Global Warming

“Love In The Time Of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is about a fifty-year love triangle. Love in the time of global warming is, for me, my own love triangle. The three players are the world, global warming and myself.

Perito Moreno Glacier calving, Patagonia.
Photo by Hanmi Meyer
Perito Moreno Glacier calving, Patagonia, photo by Hanmi Meyer

When I am even halfway happy I experience the world as my lover. I cherish it, I notice a hundred endearing things about it, I want to nurture it and help it flourish. Global warming threatens the world with pain, suffering, the destruction of species and millions of people. I feel about global warming the way I’d feel about a person trying to maim and mutilate my in-person lover. I want to do whatever is within my power to prevent my beloved’s pain and suffering.

I see what’s within my power as being both big-picture things like political and policy work (macro) and hands-on-in-my-own- household things (micro). The CRAG (Carbon Reduction Action Group) I’m starting (with Ewan O’Leary, Colleen Kaleda and their spouses) is largely the hands-on type. But I think it can spread and become a big-picture thing, also.

Our culture construes love as primarily a romantic one-to-one thing, but I find that an impoverished notion of love. I say that even as I am happily married. A narrow, couple-only focus can suck two people dry, in my experience, while a shared mission in the world can bring a couple into community with others. I actually met and fell in love with my husband Thor Hinckley in the context of fighting global warming. He was leading a workshop on renewable energy that I attended. Our relationship is the best one I’ve had (and I’ve had several).

Love feels like joy to us, like haven and happiness, and global warming way different from love, like doom, danger, a dark future. But love and global warming are wrapped tightly around each other in my heart. My love for the world means I cannot passively tolerate a business-as-usual life as global warming menaces it. Here I am, in an ongoing love triangle, but a healthy, vital one: love in the time of global warming.

Skiing In A Snowstorm

I just returned from Crater Lake, Oregon, where Thor and I went on a three-day cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trip with a group of 22 organized by Portland Parks and Recreation. It was sparkly, low-consumption, deeply satisfying, a good outing for the diamond-cut life I keep learning how to craft.

To clarify, we had sparkly snow and sun on Sunday, but a snowstorm on Saturday. The conditions were a little scary, actually. To back up, I had only been on skis four times in my life, mostly in high school (three decades ago, now). How was this going to work out?

I almost titled this post “Techno-Dork Goes Skiing In a Snowstorm.” My mechanical and equipment-handling skills are weak, while my athletic ability is strong. I learned later that someone had murmured in the parking lot, “She can’t even handle her ski-bindings; how is she going to keep up?” But I kept up fine, in what a skilled fellow-skier said was intermediate/advanced terrain and conditions.

I think a good life takes certain leaps of faith, whether you’re setting out on a trip with strangers (they soon became my friends) or skiing in a snowstorm (I kept a positive attitude, worked hard and imitated what the experienced people were doing).

The trip was a joy, and I highly recommend these trips to others. With one exception, it embodied my current understanding of the diamond-cut life: being outdoors in the elements, in community with others, locomoting with our bodies rather than engines. I’ll write about the exception later this week.

 

Cooking For Climate Change, Part 2

My husband Thor and I love to have people over for dinner. At the same time I’m addicted to sociability, I ‘m also passionate about choosing food with the smallest possible carbon footprint (similar to ’embodied energy’). Our guests keep coming back, so I gather our cooking tastes pretty good.

Here are the major guidelines we use:

  • Buying local food lowers carbon footprint more than the ‘organic’ label
    Example: Australian wine doesn’t make the cut for Oregonians
  • Build meals around what’s in season where you live
    Examples: citrus & avocados in Sun Belt; salmon & pears in Northwest
  • Avoid frozen food (freezing uses a lot of energy)
  • Exception: unless frozen food clearly reduces your car-trips to the store
  • Meat holds huge embodied energy, i.e. fossil fuel inputs
  • So, use meat sparingly as an accent or not at all
  • Build meals around pasta, beans, lentils, and whole grains
  • Right-size our servings of food
  • I.e., a normal serving of pasta is the size of one’s fist

Sidebar: When it comes to a quick bite out, we find that Burgerville is very diligent about sourcing from local farmers. And I understand they treat their employees well, too.