Years ago a friend of a friend gave me a zine he'd written about climate change and culture. I still think about it often. In it he argues that our individual actions can be meaningful when they push cultural change. For example, if I plant a vegetable garden in my suburban back yard it serves my own pleasure, health, or home economics. A vegetable garden in the front yard, when the crabgrass stretches flat and green up and down the street, is about my own life and about changing or challenging the conversation in my community. The same, I think, can be true of buying local food, giving away wealth, traveling by bicycle or public transit, paying a living wage, and all the other counter-cultural choices, small and large, that we make in the course of our busy days.
There's a story I've been told my whole life--and one that I'm still trying to unlearn--about the value of private action and conscientious consumerism. It's a dangerous story because it's allowed me to feel like I was taking meaningful action by rejecting elements of consumer culture in my own life or business without doing the more difficult and uncomfortable work of challenging the culture around me.
It's not that we shouldn't be putting up solar panels or getting rid of our cars--we should!--but that those choices need to be the start of the conversation, rather than the end. All the thought and money I put into making ethical choices for this tiny business are never going to have an impact unless I can make them in a public facing way that gets other people in my local or online community to think and talk and, perhaps, to make changes of their own.
I need to plant my gardens on the street.
Owner | Baker