no activist here

I have always believed in strong civic involvement–volunteering, helping out a neighbor, donating $$–but since we moved to Philadelphia last May I have been living an insular life. I believe that I live a good life, in a way that is responsible to the planet and to its inhabitants (my neighbors), but I need to to do more. I need to take action; get involved.

With that in mind, last night I attended the initial interest meeting for a new group, Transition Philadelphia, part of a larger international group, Transition US. The premise behind the Transition movement is that we are going to reach Peak Oil (the point where oil runs out) and we need to start preparing for that moment–we need to build resilience throughout our communities–energy, transportation, eduction, food, etc. (It sounds somewhat apocalyptic but I think the overall goals and theory are sound.)

This makes a lot of sense. But I left the meeting knowing that it’s not for me. I want to believe in grassroots organizing and activism, but I’m too much of a cynic. No matter how organized and active local groups and people can be; no matter how strong a local community is, the corporations are the ones that have the final say. I believe in macroeconomics. I believe that real change will come from cooperation with governments, corporations, non-profit groups, and neighbors.

This is  pretty defeatist way to start off a Thursday morning and I wish I could be idealistic but, over the past 14 years, I have learned that, at my core, I am not a grassroots activist. I admire what they do and I wish I could put my heart and energy into local causes and actions but every time I try my cynicism butts me in the head.


One response to “no activist here

  1. I feel ya! I think it happens a little at a time. There are a lot more people doing vegetarian Fridays or pescatarian Tuesdays and that has made a big dent in the beef industry. People are proving that they want organic food enought that they’ll pay more for it – look at the success of Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Michelle Obama is promoting healthy veggies. Barack Obama could easily convert the subsidies he’s giving to the big commercial farms (that don’t need them) and give them to the organic farms. There..the prices come down. The commercial farms get the hint and change over. I saw a farmer being interviewed last month about how he was making pig-pens a little bigger. He “saw the writing on the wall” in California and knew sooner or later, he’d probably have to do it too, so why not now? So he could give a hoot about the pig but who cares? At least he was making the changes. I think grass roots can help, but it can be done just the way you’re doing it: shopping at farmer’s markets, picking apples in apple orchards, cutting down on packaging, plastic bags (LAs trying to make them illegal!), and all the other day to day choices you make. It’s not always going to be perfect, but every little bit really does help, so keep at it!

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