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Friday, July 20, 2012

07/20/12- Onward

They got old on us!
“They've all gone to look for America
Simon and Garfunkle, America

I've been in the Local Foods Movement for about a decade. I've seen great successes in that time, including our own greenhouse, and our Northlands Winter Greenhouse Manual. Community Gardens, CSAs, Community Kitchens, and Food Co-ops are springing up all over. The “counter-food” culture has grown and changed enormously in that decade, even making the cover of Time magazine.

But some of my colleagues are expressing doubts. Have our successes been the “right successes?” Are we really building something sustainable, a sense of food-based cooperative community, or just a tie-dyed, free range parody of the Industrial Food System? What do we do now that our grass-roots movement has been overtaken by big players with huge resources, their own agendas, and little desire to coordinate efforts? Is that a good thing that we just need to adapt to, or something to shun?

Then there's the sense of urgency- or the lack of it. Fires, floods, droughts, and extreme temperatures are happening on unprecedented scales. Arctic lakes have begun literally fizzing, giving up their millenia-worth of stored CO2. The “recovery” from the Great Recession has stalled out but for isolated industries and places. Writers like Richard Heinberg and John Michael Greer point out that the “Era of Growth” is over. Yet, projects like the Transition Movement are making headway only spottily, and the Local Foods Movement seems to have little consciousness of its own vital importance.

I see enormous needs to prepare for, and have some grasp of how to proceed. Why do others seemingly not see or feel this, or don't know what to do? This isn't necessarily the End of the World, but it's certainly the end of centuries of exploitative “business as usual.” A big change is coming- We can do this easy, or we can do this hard.

It's also a spiritual question. Who we are is inescapably linked with the natural world around us, a fact that too many have forgotten. The Changes, which have already started, will force us to face that reality again. We'll need to devise new answers to the Great Questions: Who are we? What is our place? Is there a reason for our existence? What kinds of answers does a people who have lost everything devise? We've seen the wreckage when cultures are overrun and obliterated- What about when it's all human peoples, everywhere? I believe that those answers are growing, even now.

What's happening out there? Like Ulysses, I've fought my own “Trojan War,” and now undertake a voyage of discovery on my way home. What monsters are others battling? What narcotic lotus blossoms have lulled some to sleep? What seductive suitors are trying to steal away my kith and kin?

I need to go see. I may or may not like what I find. The voyage may even be perilous, but I doubt that it will be boring.

Sleipnir in Milan
I'll try to blog along the way, but may have limited Internet access in some places. The blog posts will also find their way into the book I'm writing, Travels with Chuck in Search of the New World, with an appreciative nod to John Steinbeck for blazing the road-story path. I plan that each chapter of the book will include interviews, photos, and the impressions and ideas that they bring forth.

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