Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Marathon

I'm back after a bit of time off, including 24 hours each way in transit. I've learned a whole bunch of new things, met some wonderful people, got some new ideas and gotten myself properly excited and energized. Besides being totally sleep deprived, behind on the latest news and desperately short on clean underwear, I'm delighted to be home. Six days apart from Eric and the boys was a long, long, long time - too long.

The most fascinating thing about the conference was the people, as always. Last year I called it "human google" and I think that's a good way to describe it. If you bring 240 smart, engaged, active, passionate people together, you are bound to learn an enormous amount. I spent a week apart from the internet, which was lovely, and I didn't even notice the absence of internet technologies, because I had only to ask a question, and if the person I was talking to didn't know, they could find someone who did. I learned a great deal about public health, the economic value of humanure, agricultural educational policy, old soil research and a million other things.

My favorite presentation by far was Larry Halpern's description of the low energy home he and his wife Gail have created. They've done this without spending very much money (at most a few thousand dollars), but have invested a lot of energy, thought and care into living a low, low, low energy lifestyle. Low as in *36* watts of electricity for the month of October this year. I was lucky enough to see the house, and it was fascinating - they live in one of the most economically depressed areas of the US, in a small city, and are making the most of what they have, practicing "Use What You Have" creative thinking to get the most out of the minimum.

I won't post a full review here - I have no doubt others will, and I won't duplicate their efforts. There were a number of wonderful presentations, workshops and discussion, and right now I'm still processing things in my head. I'll post more about the conference as I go along over the next few weeks.

What did strike me was that when I had my little "enough" moment two weeks ago, I apparently wasn't alone. That is, a number of the people dealing with these issues seem to be struggling a little with their own confrontation with reality. Richard Heinberg looked (and I hope he'll forgive me for this) like death warmed over, which he attributed to far too much travel and bad news. Peter Bane spoke in a discussion panel about panicking at the thought of getting in a car and doing that much harm - even to do good. Several participants told me that they feel compelled to pick up the pace, to move faster, as events appear to be, while others spoke of feeling overwhelmed, or both simultaneously.

As I was talking to the wonderful Faith Morgan about this (Faith has the remarkable gift of always putting her finger right on the most essential point), I realized that to some degree, my own brief period of burn-out came from the simple fact that I've been treating this as a race to the finish, rather than an exercise in endurance.

That is, for so long there has been the hope that if we just worked fast enough and hard enough we could avoid the worst consequences of our inaction. And even though I know better, some small part of my mind had hoped that if I just worked hard enough now, I could fix what was broken, and come to a moment at which things are "ok" again. On every conscious level, I knew that was wrong, but denial is a happy space in your head, and nothing ever brought it home like looking at my fellow activists and seeing how hard the confrontation with the present was for them. I thought it was just me. In fact, this may actually be the first time I was ever in touch with the cultural zeitgeist ;-).

Back when I was caring for Eric's elderly grandparents, I used to stop and remind myself that caretaking was a marathon, not a sprint - that there was no question that I had to do things quickly, but with attention to conserving my own resources. So I'm going to try and take that approach to peak oil and climate change myself, despite my normal "damn the torpedos" relationship to the world.

I quoted T.S. Eliot's poem "The Wasteland" in my own talk, quoting the voice that overrides in the end all the others voice of the Game of Chess section of that poem, asserting "Hurry Up Please, Its Time." And I spoke about how I keep hearing that voice in my own head. It is time to hurry up. There is no doubt whatsoever that we have very little time left to get our acts together. But it is also useful to remember what kind of race you are running before you lace up your shoes and set a pace.

Time to get back to work,



Chile said...

"In it for the long haul" requires a very different attitude than "we just need to make it through this", whatever the current this is. While we are trying to speed up our own preparations, we are also trying to live our lives and find daily joy in what is here now. It's a very hard balancing act!

Welcome back, Sharon. :)

David said...

Thank you, and welcome back.

I think I've had a couple minor meltdown moments lately brought on by the same feeling, of a subterranean desperation to be moving faster, doing more, working harder, & seeing more change. It's unreasonable when brought to the surface and examined for what it is; but exerts a powerful force down there, churning away, causing stress and despair.

We're all going to have to set our pace for a marathon. Whew.

Anonymous said...

I am choosing to do what I can within my frame work. The children are being taught, "Think global, act local." and a few others like "Reduce, reuse, recycle."

Maybe I am too hopeful but I try to picture it like a jigsaw. The outlines and initial stages are the worst. Finally great chunks of it fall into place.

Thank you for your insights and the little things that you do have made great changes in me and mine.

We have a long way to go but our success is measureable. We celebrate each little win to help motivate ourselves. For instance our part of Australia is in drought and we have managed to reduce our water consumption a huge amount.

David said...

David said...


Anonymous said...

I was at Yellow Springs for the conference and also felt the presence of a general fatigue in many of the participants. I’ve recently heard this referred to as “green fatigue”. After all there is only so much any of us can do before we start to wear down.

I was touched by your repeated call to “Hurry up please, its time”. This is how I have felt now for some time.

How to balance the need to hurry up with preserving strength for the marathon seems to be one of the great questions facing us.

sylvia said...

Thanks for that. As a former runner (too many injuries) and current peak-oil burnout, I thank you for the marathon/sprinter metaphor. My husband also thanks you.

Michelle said...

Welcome back. Naps help. I
highly recommend them.

Leila said...

Wow - I sympathize on the feeling of overwhelm, and it really does seem to be a meme at the moment. One of my Freshman Comp students told me today that he hasn't finished his opinion essay because he was researching both global warming AND Iraq and got overwhelmed.

My overwhelm includes Middle East nightmares - ancestral village was in the middle of all that bombing of South Lebanon last year. Ugh.

Then I got the news that the breast cancer I thought I'd beaten 3 years ago has metastasized and is in my liver and bones. Fucking A. Now I try not to focus on the global or the catastrophic. It will all have to unfold without me worrying about it. I am thinking local and acting personal - today I spent the afternoon in bed, napping, reading, and trying out a guided imagery to relax and visualize my white blood cells eating up those tumors.

With metastatic breast cancer, it is indeed a marathon, a long haul, not a sprint to the finish. It's treated as a chronic disease now. And my job is to address my emotional and physical wellbeing and do what I can to heal. Part of the emotional well being is to detach from the suffering of the world and reconnect to the joy in my own life.

Thank you, Sharon, for everything you do. And take care of yourself!

Alan said...

"36 watts" can't be right. It's conceivable that it was "36 watt-hours" (although that would be running nothing more than 3 or 4 compact fluorescent light bulbs -- and nothing more all month).

I suspect that it was 36 kilowatt-hours which would still be an almost miraculously small amount of electricity, if they are using electric power for refrigeration and anything else other than a minimum of lighting.

If their electric energy usage is that small, they must be heating, cooking, and heating wash water with other sources.

If solar is providing some or all of the energy for those uses, that's great, but I want to hear some details about how they are doing it and, particularly, what part of the country they live in.

And, if they're using wood, where is it coming from and is it all being obtained and processed into firewood without fossil fuel inputs?

jewishfarmer said...

36 Alan - Of course you are right, I should have written 36 kwh, not 36 watts. But the rest is entirely accurate. On another group I'm on, someone asked whether Larry actually lives in his house ;-). In fact, not only does he live there, but he works out of it as well as a musician and environmental educator.

They do not use a refrigerator, whenever the weather permits they use solar cooking and water heating (not a fancy system - bottles put in the sun). They are not yet using wood heat of any kind, but reduced their natural gas usage to something absurdly low as well, but I can't remember the exact number.

What is truly remarkable about Larry and his wife Gail is that they are showing what is possible on a tiny budget (as I said, both are musicians), in an ordinary urban house, among ordinary people.

I believe Larry's presentation will be published over at Groovy Green at some point soon with many more details. I'll certainly post a link when it appears. Larry is one of my heroes.


tk said...

I'm so glad to see you back! Your blog inspires me all the time. I didn't even catch up on all the back postings that I haven't read, either (though I tried, and learned that Carla Emery passed on -- how sad!).

Anna Haynes said...

Don't change your lightbulbs, change your leaders

The Riot is great, folks, but please don't let it keep you from working on the "leaders" problem.

jewishfarmer said...

Anna, I agree with you that we have to do both, but I don't agree with your assertion in the other post that the leadership change is the more important work. Al Gore had 8 years of a major public platform to make change on global warming - and did nothing. He assented to the murder of half a million Iraqi children under the sanctions of his predecessor.

I've seen nothing that makes me believe that a Gore presidency would be anything more than better than any of the other options - good is far too strong a word.

That said, given my options I'll probably even vote for the man if he runs. I (reluctantly) support the draft Gore movement for lack of better options. But ultimately, if real change is going to come, it will come from the grassroots, not from entrenched power that has already shown its strongest inclination - to do little or nothing. Just my .02.


Anna said...

> if real change is going to come, it will come from the grassroots

I have seen the outcome of this approach in my community, playing out over the last couple of years, and from what I've seen, it hasn't worked. The folks who show up for every "green" event are the same people, from the same subculture, they don't seem to be having any success in pulling in - or influencing - the community at large. They hold educational events until they're blue in the face, but the wider community doesn't attend them, and if any do stray in, they're put off by the clear cultural/tribal differences.
(I'm projecting/extrapolating a bit here, but empirically, they don't seem to have busted out of their subcultural boundaries.)

And we can't afford to try to do this slowly, by diffusion. We don't have the time.

Sharon I love you, but I think you're still working from the Peak Oil mentality - where a strategy of withdrawal(from the vast consumerist culture at large) and personal/like-minded transformation makes sense. With global warming, this same strategy is ineffective - we have to engage with the rest of humanity to change greenhouse gas emissions, and the most-likely-to-be-effective way to do this is to change the structure of laws/regulations/incentives that sets up the playing field on which our human societal ecology plays out.

Have you seen An Inconvenient Truth?
And have you spent 10 minutes talking to *random* passersby in your community to find out their views about global warming? Believe me, it's an eye-opener.

Gore saw this coming, decades ago. He was ridiculed for it. He would have been ridiculed for it in if he'd tried to do more as VP; and with an antienvironment Congress, how much progress do you think he would he have made?
Plus at the time the science of global climate change (aka global climate destabilization) was not as far along as it is now, so there was still (some) room for legitimate disagreement.

That time has passed. Gore has done more to raise awareness than anyone on this planet, but there's a HELL of a long way to go in this dept, at least in red counties, and many/most people I know who are aware aren't lifting a finger to address this.

Continuing to engage within our subculture won't move us forward at anywhere near the pace that we need.

jewishfarmer said...

Anna, I appreciate your passion on this subject, but I think you are fundamentally wrong if you think a man who had the second largest public platform *on earth* and did nothing to support climate change activism during those 8 years will radically transform society. And I do have a moral objection to beatifying mass murderers. I do appreciate what Gore has done to raise awareness - but that doesn't change that some people are tainted by their past acts. We can't just say "oh, half a million dead kids, let's shake that off, because now we're dealing with a bigger issue" - past silence, past complicity is relevant to any imagined future.

I don't think we can change things from within the little leftist green subculture, but that hardly means that the only other option is to draft Gore. Setting this up as an either/or situation is logically incoherent. It is true that the tactics of an isolated left where people don't talk to the scary people who don't agree with them can never work - but I've never advocated anything like such dumb tactics.

Again, I admire your enthusiasm, I've signed the petitions, and I will vote for Gore if that's my option (something I think is enormously unlikely). But I don't kid myself into believing that four more of the approximate same will change the earth.

Yes, I've seen the movie. Yes, I talk to people about climate change every single day. I appreciate the assumptions you make about me, but perhaps you might not want to assume too much in your zeal to have every single person agree entirely with your tactics.


jewishfarmer said...

Oh, let me just add that if we want to compare "what works" over time, let us look at the last 50 years or so. Which has made the bigger difference in making leftist social change - grassroots movements like feminism, the civil rights movement, the gay and lesbian movement...or picking the right liberal candidate? Which of the "liberal" presidents we've had has most advanced the agenda of social change? Quite honestly, in my lifetime, the president who made the biggest splash in justice terms was not Carter or Clinton, but Nixon - and what a terrifying thought that is. Both Clinton and Carter were enormous disappointments on the left, and both did little to advance the agenda of the left.

The little segment of the green community you may hang out with may not make change, but that's not true of the left as a whole over the course of history. To say that grassroots change doesn't work is to ignore, I think, an enormous amount of historical fact.


dan said...

green fatigue, human googling, interesting coinages. i like them.


long story short, ever heard of polar cities for future survivors of glo war? year 2500 or so. IF all else i fear it will.

see my blog at and get back to me by email at danbloom
gmail, curious to hear your thts on this.

it's a non threatening thought experiment. i hope.


Tufts 1971

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

禮服店 ,酒店小姐 ,酒店經紀 ,酒店兼差,酒店打工, 酒店上班,酒店經紀PRETTY GIRL 台北酒店經紀人 ,酒店經紀 酒店兼差PRETTY GIRL酒店公關 酒店小姐 彩色爆米花酒店兼職,酒店工作 彩色爆米花禮服店, 酒店上班,酒店工作 PRETTY GIRL酒店喝酒酒店上班 彩色爆米花台北酒店酒店小姐 PRETTY GIRL酒店上班酒店打工PRETTY GIRL酒店打工酒店經紀 彩色爆米花酒店兼差,酒店,酒店經紀,酒店經紀,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,經紀公司,童裝批發,童裝GAP

Anonymous said...

艾葳酒店經紀公司提供專業的酒店經紀, 酒店上班小姐,八大行業,酒店兼職,傳播妹,或者想要打工兼差打工,兼差,八大行業,酒店兼職,想去酒店上班, 日式酒店,制服酒店,ktv酒店,禮服店,整天穿得水水漂漂的,還是想去制服店日領上班小姐,水水們如果想要擁有打工工作、晚上兼差工作兼差打工假日兼職兼職工作酒店兼差兼差打工兼差日領工作晚上兼差工作酒店工作酒店上班酒店打工兼職兼差兼差工作酒店上班等,想了解酒店相關工作特種行業內容,想兼職工作日領假日兼職兼差打工、或晚班兼職想擁有鋼琴酒吧又有保障的工作嗎???又可以現領請找專業又有保障的艾葳酒店經紀公司!

一般的酒店經紀只會在水水們第一次上班和領薪水時出現而已,對水水們的上班安全一點保障都沒有!艾葳酒店經紀公司的水水們上班時全程媽咪作陪,不需擔心!只提供最優質的酒店上班,酒店上班,酒店打工環境、上班條件給水水們。心動嗎!? 趕快來填寫你的酒店上班履歷表

等相關服務 幫您快速的實現您的夢想~!!

Anonymous said...

puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
Lucyliu IS Lucyliu
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
nike rift
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes

Anonymous said...

Hi there!
I would like to burn a theme at this forum. There is such a thing, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of financial piramyde, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

For several years , I make money with the help of these programs.
I'm with no money problems now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I get now up to 2G a day , and I started with funny 500 bucks.
Right now, I managed to catch a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Visit my web site to get additional info. [url=]Online Investment Blog[/url]

Anonymous said...

[b]nero 9 crashes system, [url=]discount software uk[/url]
[url=]of software stores[/url] microsoft office 2003 software nero 9 cheap
adobe software price [url=]virus software to buy[/url] buy macromedia flash professional
[url=]4 Mac[/url] filemaker pro 4.1 templates
[url=]2 Mac Readiris[/url] strengths and weaknesses of windows xp
buy pos software [url=]software sales canada[/url][/b]

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody!

Sure, you’ve heard about me, because my fame is running in front of me,
my name is James F. Collins.
Generally I’m a venturesome gambler. all my life I’m carried away by online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out about my progress.
Please visit my web site. I’ll be glad would you find time to leave your opinion.

Anonymous said...

I had never see a blog batter than this blog, I like this blog very very much.By the way, do you like my products: solar street lights, street lights, street lighting, street lamps, ball valves, butterfly valves, butterfly valve handles, check valves, sanitary fittings, butterfly valve handles, butterfly valve handles, street light, valve manufacturer, butterfly valve handles, valve manufacturers, butterfly valve handles, street lamp, solar street light, ball valve, butterfly valve handles, butterfly valve, check valve,valves manufacturers, butterfly valve handles

Anonymous said...

酒店打工 酒店兼職
台北酒店 打工兼差 酒店工作 禮服酒店
酒店兼差 酒店上班 酒店應徵 酒店 酒店經紀

Anonymous said...

Y te vi bailar bajo la lluvia
y saltar sobre un charco de estrellas
Obama Is Lying<1>
When was the last time the MSM took a Republican's side in a fight over credibility with a Democratic opponent?Microsoft OfficeOffice 2010Well, it has been a while.Microsoft Office 2010However, conservatives have little to grumble about in the recent Office 2007face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain over McCain's statement thatte vi bailar bajo la lluvia
esperando la luna llena
Volverás a reírte de veras
Microsoft Office 2007troops might have to remain for "100 years" in Iraq "as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed" afterOffice 2010 keyfighting had concluded, Office 2010 downloadMost recently, ABC's Jake Tapper noted that at least on three occasions Obama had personally said that McCain favored cuando creas que estaba perdidovolverás a reírte de veras
continued fighting in Office 2010 ProfessionalIraq for 100 years. Tapper concluded that "Obama has in the past distorted McCain's comments" and "that he is violating his own stated si te quedas conmigoTe vi bailar bajo la lluviaesperando la luna llente vi llorar bajo la lunMicrosoft outlookaspirations...[b]ecause not only has he distorted what McCain said, he is not being honest about having made those distortions."Outlook 2010Tapper is not the only MSM reporter to point this out, Windows 7of course. It is not every day that the RNC sends around e-mail blasts quoting Frank Microsoft outlook 2010Rich ("Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of themselves for libeling John McCain") and reports from the Chicago Tribune,

viagra online said...

Hey,Most energetic post..I feel very happy to visit your blog and reading your experiences..Thank you for sharing some moments of your life with us!!

芳芳葉 said...

徵信 徵信社 徵信公司
徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司
徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司

芳芳葉 said...

徵信 徵信社 徵信公司
徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司
徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司 徵信 徵信社 徵信公司徵信 徵信社 徵信公司

芳芳葉 said...



Moncler Outlet Online said...

Cheap Ugg Uk is commonly a Christian louboutin sale discount shoe. Louboutin Heels can disregard the existence in the style world, World-famous red-colored soles and Ugg Uk Sale are shaped features. You can by Moncler Outlet Online the beautiful Moncler Outlet Online and Moncler Outlet at our Moncler Online Shop. New Best Hair Straightener from our finest locks Straightener on the Chi Hair Straightene anything you have to produce Babyliss Hair Straightener that great bohemian style.

Anonymous said...

[url=]uggs botte[/url] vubmz [url=][/url] mavzc [url=]abercrombie france[/url] qnnsf [url=]abercrombie france[/url] vikbo

Anonymous said...

[url=][/url] phkau [url=]louboutin outlet[/url] mqjaz [url=]abercrombie[/url] pchom [url=]ralph lauren[/url] sgboh

Jerry Gene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Gene said...

Your blog is so excellent that I like it very much, you must be good at writing.

Asus - 15.6" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Black

Asus - 14" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Brown