Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dispelling Despair

I often feel overwhelmed by the news, especially the dire news about global warming and climate change.

Today was a day of protests aimed at raising awareness on this issue. This International Day of Climate Action was sponsored by 350.org.Their website is here: 350.org.

Sebastopol friends held up somber signs downtown for passing motorists to read....you know about how we've passed the threshold of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the level beyond which civilization-threatening global warming is believed to be inevitable. Somehow, if I had joined them, my feelings of despair would have deepened.

On this day of 350 protests, I joined with my local Green Sangha this morning to transform a front yard into an edible landscape.



We dug out weeds, spread mulch, and planted edibles. We soon transformed what had once been an ordinary front yard into a bee-friendly organic garden that will soon yield an abundance locally grown food. We believe the yard will produce too much for the householders to eat, thus prompting sharing of the earth's bounty with neighbors.

An ancillary benefit was the fact that 25 people donated their labor without any expectation of ordinary compensation or trade. As I was weeding, it seemed strange that I was brought up to believe we should each own our own private property— "my home is my castle," as my dad's generation put it—and maintain our private domains ourselves or hire someone to do the maintenance. It's so much more fun to give away your labor with like-minded folks.

I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Bush (no relation; I asked) who is a male kindergarten teacher at Sonoma Day School. Men teaching kindergarten are an endangered species, and it's always exciting me meet a comrade. I enjoyed the companionship of old sangha friends, the pleasure of meeting new people, and the wholesome effects of light exercise in the service of communities both human and ecological.

Giving away my labor definitely brightened my day and dispelled the despair.

23 comments:

intellokids said...

I know what you mean, Dan. Today I passed by some natural wetlands on a walk with my husband where I live. We heard people talking and making pledges to help preserve the earth, the environment, & listened to more things we can do to be green. Many people sounded heart broken. I look for the light in every situation...did you ever wonder why so many new & beautiful species of animal, insects & sea creatures are showing up dispite the condition of this world? Many of them where even writen off and thought to have been extinct...I think that says a lot. I am not giving up....& how can you not smile when a pink dolphin swims by (It's Out there)? Thanks for this post!

Dan Gurney said...

Pink dolphins? Where do you seem them?

I agree that we must look for the light, but we must also look in the shadows, too. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Sarah Lulu said...

Dan we had protests here too ....

I know what you mean about depsir but I have to focus on the good ..have to.

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, Sarah Lulu, that's what I have to do, too. By focusing on the good, we can act, and by acting we can focus on the good and help bring good out into our world. That's what I've learned from the blogging world, you, Delwyn, Steven, and others.... we got to be aware of the change that must happen and get busy making that change happen. Best place to begin is with ourselves and our neighbors, yes?

steven said...

hello dan - a gift that reaped rewards even in its inception!! how good is that. small acts of quality are no different than large acts of quality because quality is not bound by quantity. global change, betterment, improvement can be brought about through an act as simple as creating a small garden. the effects spread through the presence of an act of goodness. so thankyou. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven— Yes, I like that: quality isn't limited by quantity. Our desire that our actions be bigger or grander than they are is reflects an attitude of greed. I don't know why, but this idea reminds me of a book I read long ago by E.F. Schumacher called Small is Beautiful Economics as if People Mattered.

Susan said...

Good for you! "It is better to light one small candle, than to curse the darkness"

Dan Gurney said...

Susan, well said!

The Pollinatrix said...

For me, you've captured in this post exactly what it's all about. If the world is to be saved, it can only be by an overflow of creative love. But you're right - it also means seeing the shadows - without being sucked into them.

Dayne Gingrich said...

I love the above comment by pollinatrix... very well said.

Small acts of... is soooo important, and often overlooked.

Great post.

Dayne

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Pollinatrix! Creative love is immeasurable because of the ripple effect. Any act, no matter how small, might snowball into something that changes the world. Seeing the shadows can often provide the urgency needed to get us off our duffs.

Dan Gurney said...

Dayne, thank you! You're right and you said it: small acts of love are so important.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan, Sue Sandilands took a great picture of you standing with the group of Green Sangha Garden Wheel enthusiasts. I will email it to you so you can post it here if you like. It was a day of bounty-we cultivated community as well as soil! I was so happy to see you there-I could feel my face light up when I saw you, shovel in hand. Blessings,
Debra, your sangha sister.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Debra--- yes by all means email it to me. I can add it to this post. Thanks. And thank YOU for all you do for Green Sangha. The community was enriched as was the soil.

the honorable mention said...

As for the pink dophins....

http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=yfp-t-701-s&va=pink+dolphin&sz=all

You asked where...

Alden Smith said...

Dan I think that you have reacted in a very positive and constructive way to feelings of concern about the environment - built something, involved yourself in a positive manner to counteract the ecological destruction - well done.

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, and we built some community, too, not a small thing to accomplish.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks for the link, Barbra. Now I know about pink dolphins.

vickie said...

great post...i love how you worked on making a difference that day....i think action is the key. Our son has a male teacher this year for which we are so happy he is passionate and amazing and just gets it and we feel lucky that our son gets to see a male in a teacher role. so many female teachers.

Ribbon said...

Wonderful!

I hope to have a yard to do that to one day.
I rent and they won't let us do that :(

best wishes for more glorious days
Ribbon :)

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Vickie...glad to hear your son has a male teacher. Male teachers are WAY too rare...

The Pollinatrix said...

I just wanted to let you know that I'm still thinking about and referencing this post. It seems such a perfect parable to me.

I printed it out and read it at a retreat recently, where we had been having heated discussions about activism.

And just now I put a link to it on Mind Sieve, here: http://dwmindsieve.blogspot.com/2009/11/home-movie.html

I hope you don't mind.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Pollinatrix—

I don't mind at all. I'm honored to be mentioned in your comment. And I'm pleased to know that you found my post resonant.

Please feel free to share it again if so moved.

Heated discussions often shed very little light.

I think it's important that we learn to listen more to our hearts than to our heads as we decide how to respond to ecological crises.