Wednesday, 4 April 2007

I keep thinking of you

Given the various conversations we have had about making or building communities, I noticed that I keep thinking about TTT people as I work on my own understanding of changing the world. Like in a plane from Aceh, reading Lederach's Preparing for Peace, I got to thinking about Rachel's new job, and what potential there is for elicitive conflict transformation workshops (drawing on their existing conflict resolution practices) with local communities in Lambeth and Southwark.

And on the plane back from Indonesia yesterday, watching Freedom Writers, Hollywood enough but also inspiring (based, as it says, on a true story of devastatingly divided ethnic communities and multiple gang deaths). It reminded me of a conversation with Nana, her frustration with her own community. And also of my experience on the way to the RP gathering in Birmingham, where a black and an Asian woman helpoed to break up a fight on the street, and I felt useless because I am white.

And all my god-damn flights in the last three weeks, over an archipelago that stretches the same distance as from London to Baghdad, making me wince knowing Carl's commitment to not taking planes. If there is an eco-footprint hell I've been headed there for years. I can't really make myself repent because an ongoing connection with PBI and peace attempts in Indonesia gives me too much.

So there, you're in my head. Looking forward to seeing you soon.


Carl Reynolds said...

As to flying...I'm not into proselytising, it's my choice to offset the motorbike. My minor attempt at assuaging my guilt at being a little petrol head.

I'm not sure about offsetting, but it strikes me the work you do pays off the carbon debt in bucketfuls.

DD said...

To fly or not to fly ...
To fly but to give money to plant trees to off-set your carbon-emissions ...
To buy only FairTrade(TM) ...
To take eco-friendly holidays ...

One of many interesting things I've noted in this process of transition to the life in the UK is almost a sense of 'club-y-ness' to social justice issues. And it has made me think what a privilege it is to even be able to make those choices. Something to celebrate and honour but be mindful of at the same time.

And it has made me reflect on past experiences ... past environments, and I could see 'yes, there were certain club-y-ness in those situations too', just in different ways. When things are new and different they tend to stick out more.

Also it made me think how it's part of human nature, to want to belong ... even if it means being different, belonging to the group that's different, or one that you believe is doing right.

And it's here that it's good to remember that no one of us has ownership over the truth. As Carl pointed out, he's not proselytising, not flying is his little grain of sand; the important thing is for us all to do our own (good) thing.

In Mexico I did most of my food shopping at markets, supermarkets too but not with the same frequency. And so one thing that's been hard here has been adjusting to supermarkets -- the chaos, the choices and the presentation: fruit and veg behind plastic?

While I'd prefer not to shop at them, I also know that they have to exist for many people's convenience, plus they are a source of employment for many people, and plus ....

That said, I'd also like to see them unionize, pay higher wages and offer better benefits, reduce their packaging etc.

Nor is this The Truth. It's just my little bit.

And I'm thinking about this since I've just discovered a little green grocer street vendor about a 5-minute walk from my house! Fruit & Veg Life just got a little bit better ;-)

Carl Reynolds said...

I made a decision to not use supermarkets a little while ago and use the local shops and independent traders; which are legion all over London. I thought it'd be hard, but it was very easy. Additionally we can get food and goods delivered reducing the carbon miles even more.

As to choices - they are complicated by what people think they can do or can't do (eg, "oh it's so complicated to use local shops and its more expensive") and what we can do (eg it isn't more expensive as it depends on what you buy - seasonal is cheaper, unprocessed is cheaper) and factors like making the space to live differently.

I don't believe there are legions of people who are unable to make different choices/use their time differently. It reminds me of an old adage from student days - that students were penny wise, but pound foolish. They'd moan about spending twenty quid on food, but think nothing of spending the same or more on drink, clubbing and drugs.

I'd also hazard a guess that, in a supermarket, a trolley full of whole foods would be less than a trolley full of processed food. And that's before we even think about the whole cost (eg impact on producers, distributors, waste etc).

Knowing people from all walks of life and the differences in their diets and attitude to time, i think it's not a class issue or even much of an economic issue, I think food is cultural and political. If our choices benefit people elsewhere in the life cycle and ourselves then it strikes me it's a good choice to make.

Oh, and i do think offsetting is a waste of time (eg recent debate on usefulness of trees in northern hemisphere, notion that offsetting doesn't actually reduce your consumption of carbon, and the notion that if we northerners are all over 1 in footprint terms - UK average of over 5, US average over 9 - then its not about feeling good, it's about doing it because it needs to be done).