Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Story of Stuff

Last Saturday I had the pleasure to hear Annie Leonard give the keynote address at the Leadership Institute’s 2010 awards ceremony.

Annie is the person behind the web video called “The Story of Stuff.” It has been viewed more than 12 million times since it came out in 2007. 

I had thought Annie might deliver a depressing talk. Her talk, like her movie, made four points. As expected, I did find first three points depressing. Luckily, Annie’s talk emphasized her final point, an encouraging and energizing one.

I’ve been aware of the first three points she makes for some time:

1. We are trashing the planet
2. We are trashing each other.
3. We’re not even having fun.

Annie’s final point brings her message home.

4. Solutions abound.

Taking action in myriad efforts to stop trashing the planet and stop trashing each other is what is required of us.  Luckily, it’s fun to act positively.

She's not suggesting we all go out and buy Priuses. Prius envy is part of the problem. We cannot consume our way out of our mess.

Conservation and restoration are closer to the mark. Taking action individually and with others. Maybe you or someone you know will run for Mayor of your town. Maybe you’ll start a backyard garden. Maybe you’ll organize a community walks program or a dine-out program. Maybe you’ll carpool to work. Maybe you'll become a vegetarian. Maybe you'll shop locally, and buy your organic veggies in your farmer's market. Maybe you'll join a CSA. Maybe you’ll make homemade music with friends and neighbors. I can report from personal experience that all of the above are spirit lifters. Or you might do any of a thousand other things to connect with friends and lighten our load on the ecosphere.  

It sure beats being a consumer.

If you haven't already seen The Story of Stuff, and you think getting our consumer economy back on track is our most important national agenda, I commend this movie to you. It''ll take less time to watch than a quarter of football.

For more information about Annie Leonard and to see her other videos, visit THE STORY OF STUFF.


Paul C said...

Dan, thanks for highlighting this wonderful video. The script and artwork is a very high caliber because of its focused and poignant message.

Bonnie said...

Solutions do abound! We need to substitute our focus on consumption with a focus on creativity.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Paul, you're welcome. I'm hoping that at least some people who haven't seen the video before will see it and be inspired to find ways to move towards creating happiness and connecting with their community.

Dan Gurney said...

Bonnie, well said. Becoming producers of solutions to our crisis helps us feel better about ourselves and sleep better at night, too.

Ruth said...

I've been impressed with her videos, it must have been cool to hear her in person. When we talk about how we do our small part, it helps other people see that they can do small things too. And like fixing up one room in the house, it makes you want to paint the next, and then the next too. It's so easy to get overwhelmed and do nothing when you feel nothing we do will make a difference!

jeanne leigh said...

Thank you! This is the first that I have seen this video. Really appreciate you posting it. I will share it with family and friends. I like Bonnie's quote about substituting our focus of consumption to a focus on creativity. Sounds very wise.

Shaista said...

Wow Dan, thankyou for posting - I hadn't seen this before :) Going straight to Annie's website now!

Dan Gurney said...

Ruth, it was fun to see her. She was a very regular person, and a little more upbeat than I thought she might be. I like the idea of making one small change and then another and another. Also, the small things we do can have huge impact by rippling out from us and touching a wider circle of acquaintance that we can even imagine.

Dan Gurney said...

Jeanne. Yes. Forget about consuming your way to happiness. It doesn't work. Happiness is hard to pursue in spite of what Thomas Jefferson seemed to think. Happiness, for me, arrives as a byproduct of being connected to and helping other people you find yourself with.

Dan Gurney said...

Cool Shaista. I like her Cap and Trade video a lot, too. And bottled water.