Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Inauguration Crowd - please go back and pick up your litter.

You can turn yourself into an icon at Obamicon. What fun!

Not to be completely narcissistic but as I was listening to Obama's beautiful speech today I realized a tiny noble purpose in my life could be to be suburbia's (weak and whining) conscience.

All this talk of change and preserving a way of life. Forget about those lofty ideals of freedom, democracy, yada yada yada. Archaeologists centuries from now will discover as much about us by the garbage we left behind than our art, literature or what remains of our ideals. And it won't be pretty. So if the world wants real change, not just a bunch of rhetoric and wishful regression to some idealized 'good old days', then we'll have to change more radically than just being inspired by perfect lovely speeches. Sorry to be an inauguration party pooper. I'm ecstatic Obama is president, but the poor man has impossible expectations put upon him.

My first task as suburbia's good conscience is to make living here more sustainable. If I could build community veggie gardens, local markets with useful local artisan goods and wonderful walkable communities I would. The truth is I hang my hypocritical head in shame as I've let a lot of my good, green habits slide the last year and an half. I quit composting as my nemesis on the street, a rhinoceros disguised as a Labrador escapes from it's yard, tears open the bags , strewing potato peelings 100 metres in every direction. That beast really pisses me off. But too bad, I have no excuse not to compost so I went to City hall today to get my orange sticker to put on my bin to mark it as compost. They're all out and I'm on a waiting list for orange stickers. It took me until the end of the day to figure out I could go and BUY something orange sticker-like and put it on my bin. D'oh. I shall do that.

For serious inspiration on sustainable living you can turn to Colin Beavan and his blog No Impact Man. Beavan lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. For one year his family lived as carbon neutral as possible, even passing on the toilet paper (yeah, you heard right). The result is the documentary No Impact Man which just finished debuting at the Sundance Film Festival to standing ovations. I've been following this blog for a while so it's great to see the success of his family's effort and hopefully the film will get a sizable theatrical release. A recent post that had me thinking was posted by a guest blogger living in a village in Japan explaining how they don't heat their homes in winter but sleep and eat under a kotatsu - a table with an electric heater underneath. It reminds me if everyone lives by the same then it isn't considered a hardship. Suburbia is a cesspool of conformity and we're generally a species of followers, in spite of the fanatical individualism we've suffered from too much. Wouldn't it be nice for us to adopt uniform green technologies, that may be slightly less convenient, but become perfectly normal through habit and conformity? Maybe one day. For now, I know I need to work on my own change.

And since I don't want to part without a little art, take a look at this eye candy, origami and paper sculpture taken to new heights, amazing. I'm especially impressed lately as even basic origami is harder than it looks. It took me 3 freakin' days to figure out how to make this butterfly. Although I'm especially inept at these things.


dinahmow said...

Your composting has me (more than usually!) confused. Why do you have peelings in bags? And why do you mark your bin? I'm guessing that the local Council collects your organic waste and composts it.But what happens to it then?
Biggest question: why don't you have a compost bin at your place?

andrea said...

We have a composting box in our backyard that's 10+ years old now and has been fantastic with minimal effort. And my stupid garbage-hound Lab loves it almost as much as the neighbourhood rats! (Which I refuse to mess with as they attract neighbourhood owls! :) It needs replacing now, though. As for the model of a sustainable community just had a brain wave: wanna start a commune? You'll have to turn your hand from origami to tie-dye, though. Who should we invite?

PS What Di said. I'm wondering, too.

Caroline said...

I've often worried about what archaeologists will make of us... I remember my Latin teacher wryly suggesting they'd think we worshipped Coke bottles - though these days it would be tins I think...

Can I join the commune please!

Caroline said...

Oh and I've just noticed the short version of the title for this posting is:

Dear Inauguration Crow


Ellen said...

Dinah: the city makes compost, I'm guessing they use it for public gardens and green spots. I don't have a real garden in my yard, It's a small yard, a big trampoline and swingset take up a lot of the space, the rest is trees and bushes, that thrive with no help from me.

I did once plant a lovely garden and my dogs destroyed about $500 worth of plants. I was sad. I may brave it again in a year or two and then start my own compost.

Andrea: I told the hubby about the owl/rat thing. He panicked that I would try to encourage them to come to our house.
Yes, let's start the commune! tie-tye maybe, but we need to put a limit on any horrible bongo playing and excessive Peruvian knitware.

Caroline: Yes, join us! I think future history will conclude we just worship stuff, (because we'll leave so much of it behind) which is probably pretty close to the truth.

self taught artist said...

hey you switched right to left...

i didn't even watch the inauguration so i'm a bigger party pooper than you. i'm sick of hearing about what michelle wore and her hair and i'm not much for ceremony. get him in there and let him do his job and in the meantime, my goodness dont WE have enough work to do on our own ends eh?

i've been working hard this year to also make less of an impact. lights off...heating down to 58 at night 62 in the day...can't wait for the day to build my own self sustainable house off the grid!

Melody said...

I don't know Ellen I think that butterfly is pretty great....better than anything I could do.

Sharon said...

It's always such a treat to visit your site, Ellen. The poster is just funny. We live in the country and have to protect the compost from raccoons. My husband made a bizarre drum thing with latches which he can turn. It works, but we argue about what should go in it (everything, he thinks). I love the way the compost smells and feels when I add it to the soil in the spring.

sgaynor said...

First I LOVE the name of your blog. Second when I read the title of your post I LOL because a friend of mine was having an absolute tantrum about just that! She was horrified when she saw the amount of trash left on the ground by the "hope and change" spectators. Come on people...CHANGE really does start with US!

Ellen said...

Paula: I had to switch the format, YouTube went widescreen and messed up my space. Yep, off the grid, my dream as well.

Melody: I'm onto birds now but they just look like folded napkins so far. I need mentoring.

Sharon: I'm getting inspired to plot out a garden again and set up a compost to go with it. Nothing like your own home grown organic veggies. Lucky you to live in the country!

sgaynor: Thanks and thanks for stopping by, love your site! will definitely be spending more time there.
I know, the garbage! getting inspired is easy, it's everything after that will make any difference.