Thursday, June 02, 2005

Think globally, act locally

My fantasy about bringing sustainability to the mayors is happening this week in San Francisco, which is hosting the UN World Environment Day this year. Mayors are coming from all over the world to meet and discuss pesticides, waste, water, urban design, transportation, energy and parks.

Quoted in a SF Chronicle article;

Jared Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's Environment Department and a chief onference organizer... [said] many in the international community "believe the United States has forgotten its global role when it comes to the evironment... Whenever I go anywhere, recently to Shanghai, people come up and say, 'It's so sad the U.S. isn't doing anything on the environment. It used to be such a leader.' My response is that U.S. cities and states are doing a huge amount when it comes to environmental protection, but that's not what anyone is hearing."

This reinforces my impression that we need to look to the local level for leadership and solutions. Lord knows it isn't coming from the top.

Another way to act locally is to eat food that is grown locally. "Locavor" Jessica Prentice is promoting the idea of eating exclusively from our "foodshed" and are encoraging SF Bay Area residents to pledge to do so this August.

Recognition of one's residence within a foodshed can confer a sense of connection and responsibility to a particular locality. The foodshed can provide a place for us to ground ourselves in the biological and social realities of living on the land and from the land in a place that we can call home, a place to which we are or can become native.

Another idea based on local place is the Bioregion, and the Ninth Continental Bioregional Congress is a gathering of people who are committed to being active citizens of their "life-places."

Bioregionalism means working to satisfy basic needs locally, relying on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, developing local enterprises based on local skills and strengths. Bioregionalism challenges and is an alternative to nationalism, corporate rule, and top-down globalization of our lives.

Finally, at the personal action level, Aric McBay's inthewake.org provides a radical response to the collapse of civilization and practical advice for how to survive it.

This handbook is for learning the skills that we need to encourage the dismantlement of industrial civilization as soon as possible, and to create healthy, democratic, ecological communities in the wake of its collapse.

This is exactly the kind of information that needs to be on a bookshelf somewhere in your house "just in case." It is the kind of information that I would like to disseminate to communities should the worst happen.