More of a yakkin’ than a yammerin’….from February 21, 2012, On Beaver Island, with Guy McPherson surrounded by Lake Michigan, with spring waters moving….
Before Guy McPherson and I arrived, our host-organizer and an island resident, Seamus Noorgard had shared the National Geographic 2006 film “Six Degrees that Could Change the World”, with the 7th-12th grade students at the Beaver Island Community School. Taking up with information since 2007, Guys’ presentation shared about our planet home in regards to climate chaos and energy descent and also discussed ways in which he had made choices to change his life and live differently.
I introduced permaculture, by identifying it as a system of design, a way to “be on the earth—living with the rest of the planet as part of the design, rather than destroying it….”. Mixed in with Guy’s factual presentation, I shared the basic how-to’s or what is permaculture through the guiding principals and ethics, and laid out the circular visual of the ecological design process.
In the Q and A session afterwards, students asked questions. Of the many, the questions presented by two different high-school girls were the ones that left an impression on me.
One asked asked “What can we do?” She asked sincerely and simply.
I waited for Guy to respond, and he did. It’s a tough question for him to answer, as a scientist he must respond with grim facts first, and as a life-long educator, feels morally obligated to not lie to students. Because in reality, SO much has already been “done” it is now truly time for our human species to prepare for some drastic and dire changes we’ve set in motion. In other words, many of the feedback loops we’ve initiated through carelessness and over-consumption, will continue to positively do their work of reinforcement, until various systems collapse. This causing other systems to go way out of whack. Some of us realize we are already living this dream. However, this is NOT the dream that most of the young people that I’ve spent time with choose, nor the one that we wish for them to have.
I mentioned the necessity of making life-style and behavior changes based on permaculture, and the brief introductory teaching I’d shared earlier.
A few more questions and comments happened, and again the same girl asked….”Well, still I wonder what we can do. Each of us. Isn’t there something we can do?”
Watching her beautiful, earnest face as she made a point to ask this question twice-–unsatisfied with what seemed likely a non-answer to a young person who is living in the “ACTION” portion of the wheel of life. Even though the facts prompt the students into deeper thinking and problem-solving, my artist-gardener-mother self leaped a bit in my heart and belly.
Sometimes it happens like that, when we speak the harsh words of reality as a teacher or mentor to folks. It’s tricky, making the decision to stop sharing information when that is our job, or training. And, sometimes it has to do with the way we learn things, our learning style becomes our teaching style. But stopping to allow feelings to inform and sometimes re-order our thought, is very important, and necessary. The brain shuts off. The idea machine stops, and we digest or compost, and feel it happening.
In those very few moments, I felt a whole lot of loving compassion for her and the other students in the room. Likewise the teachers who had shown the film and brought them to our presentation in the Community Center. Like them, and even WITH this dire message of climate chaos and out of control- human energy consumption, we love this Earth planet….and our blessed lives, and yes even with that information we wish to DO something about it.
And so, naturally I suggested they plant a community garden. I suggested that the students talk to the school board AND to the folks at the Community Center and jointly create a garden project and make sure to plant all the necessary vegetables and fruits to make fresh salads and pizzas’ each week for the entire 348 + students at the school.
The final question of the day, was asked by another high-school girl and it went something like this:
“Why do you think people don’t believe that this is really happening?”
Again, the thinking, factual response was brief and to the point….but the REAL response, the one we all FELT inside was huge.
Sitting with, digesting, composting these serious thoughts and questions, and then, like blessed spring waters inspiring us to MOVE and do something…is all part of my way of life on earth and what Guy was offering as well…..
I was duty-bound and happy to send the students and their teachers basic information and permaculture guidelines to inform them on how-to build a community garden…AND, because TODAY is a good day to join in on the Occupy your Food Supply global-wide movement and put a Community Garden in where ever we can….I suggest we plant our individual gardens AND join this massive global day of action to create healthy food systems and resist corporate control of our food supply, which has gotten us into a whole lot of this stinkin’ rotten mess.
Find out how you can get involved at http://www.occupyourfoodsupply.org/
To end on beautiful and positive sight and sound….here’s a bit of water-teacher-loveliness from Beaver Island….