For the regular readers amongst you, you may be noticing a few changes to the website and on the blog. As you know, I’ve been making some lifestyle and career changes and now I’m ready to really focus on acting out what I’ve been hoping to do, and tinkering with, for some time. In particular, I’m going to be working with people on exploring and understanding issues and ideas for action around sustainable living, using environmental and ecopsychology as the background.
I’ve always been interested in and involved with organisations that work on social issues, particularly human rights. It has taken me a while to see some of the connections between people and the environmental issues that face us, but I’ve finally got there. If you’re struggling to see how they’re connected, read Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest. And I’m now moving through the good old change curve into the exploring stage. In other words, I want to live my life in a more sustainable way and I’ve decided to take 12 themes over the next year and commit myself to finding out more about each, identifying useful resources, taking some action, and sharing with you what’s easy, what’s challenging, what’s worthwhile and what perhaps isn’t (in my view). I’m not claiming to come up with all the answers because one of the things that interests me is the complexity of the issues and choices we face. For example, I grow some vegetables but I buy compost in black plastic unreusable/recyclable bags to fill up my pots and beds. What I plan to do is throw out those questions that float around in my head that I don’t know the answer to, and see if I can find out the answer. So this is a learning process for me and I hope, for you the reader. And what I’d really love is if others want to join me, maybe by sharing in the comments on the blog posts or emailing me direct to be shared anonymously on here. What questions are you struggling with? What actions are you taking? What ideas or answers do you have? When we make changes on our own, it can feel like a lonely journey with many slippery moments along the way (Anyone remember ‘It’s a Knockout’?). Being able to share with others and support/be supported is hugely important. So, here are some basics:
What do I mean by ‘sustainable change’?
For me, this is about taking positive steps to living life in a way that recognises we have finite resources and infinite creativity. It comes from a belief that what I do impacts on the system of living and non-living things on Earth (and the universe, but let’s not get too ambitious…). I can choose to have a negative impact or a positive impact. I’m human and I won’t always get it right or find it easy but the key is in working on being mindful about the choices I make, with the aim of living a life that supports the system rather than sticking a whopping big boot in it. I’ve always had a strong sense of fairness and a belief (though not always the action) that the value in living is in working towards a better place for all (now extended from people to everything else). Idealistic, yes. Realistic, possibly not. But if I just threw up my hands in despair, I might as well frankly go and spend all my time and money in the amusement arcades. I agonised for some time over whether this is just middle class angst and decided that thinking about it maybe is, but doing something isn’t.
So, does that make sense for you? What’s your understanding of ‘sustainable change’? Or would you use a different term to encapsulate the same thing?
What are the themes for the 12 months?
The plan is (though it might change depending on what arises along the way):
Sept – Water
Oct – Transport
Nov – Community
Dec – Food
Jan – Health & wellbeing
Feb – Livelihood
Mar – Money
Apr – Energy
May – Leisure
June – Clothing
July – Personal care
Aug – Home
I picked these because these are the sort of areas I find myself wondering about and are areas where I think I could make some changes.
So what will I be doing?
Each month I’ll be taking the theme and looking for information and ideas relating to it. Then I’ll be finding some small, maybe even big, actions to take relating to that theme. My plan is then to write a blog post reporting on the following:
- Week 1: Overview – what questions do I have, what seem to be the challenges, what useful resources are there
- Week 2: What answers have I found out, what actions am I taking, what am I noticing
- Week 3: More of the above
- Week 4: What’s working, what isn’t, where do I go from here
Hands up, some months I might not quite manage to stick to the 4 weeks of posts for whatever reason but I promise at the very least I’ll post at least twice each month (unless major calamity/force majeure happens) on the theme.
Aren’t I just some grass-eating, yurt living, bicycling person anyway, so how will this relate to those of you in the real world?
Erm, well, I have been called things close to that and ok I am a vegetarian and I do cycle occasionally and I do have a social conscience….However, I drive a car. I have a normal house with no solar panels/wind turbines. I have work, health and personal considerations that mean that I don’t just do whatever I like. Yes, I quite fancy living in a Yurt, well actually, a windswept little cottage on a remote coast somewhere, but I’m a very, very long way off that. I bank with a major bank. I do shop at the big supermarkets as well as do a local box scheme. I do compost but I also buy stuff that can’t be reused/recycled. Anyway, I think you get the picture. I’m not an ‘expert’. I’m not someone who’s already made lots of big changes. I’m a fairly ordinary person coping with multiple demands on my life and trying to resist the lure of consumer culture.
I am nervous, not least signing myself up for a 12 month project. I don’t know what will happen, whether I will keep the momentum going, if I get bored, frustrated, etc, etc. Will I show myself up? Will I be overwhelmed? Who knows. Let’s see what happens. I’ll be starting the first week in September, so keep your eyes peeled. If you have any initial ideas/thoughts, feel free to comment here or email me direct.
As well as this project, I’ll also be blogging on ecopsychology/environmental psychology and the book I’m writing which is a critique of (or a contemplation on, as I’ve started calling it) self development. So, lots of new ideas, lots of learning and lots of sharing - just how I like it! Anyway, I’m off to cycle to a BBQ,yes really. It does keep raining and it is very windy so a) I might get wet on the bicycle and b) will the BBQ happen anyway……
You can contact me via:
Email: alison @ growinginsights.co.uk
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