Last week I had an action packed night figuring out how best to respond to the BP Oil Spill in Seattle and I wanted to share my thoughts that came out of the night. I started off at a work party helping an awesome urban farm group called Alleycat Acres harvest lettuce and other veggies to donate to a local food bank (by bike). From there I biked to an oil spill/BP protest at a park. A big banner read “Boycott BP” and a number of people gave short speeches to the fairly quiet crowd of maybe 75 assembled people. We then went on a short march around the park and along the street, culminating at a busy intersection where cars honked in support (ironic?) From there I biked to Seattle U and joined a conversation hosted by a socialist group on the nationalization of BP and other related topics. Then a quick jaunt up the stairs to yet another meeting convened by the Huffington Post by a number of concerned but a little confused citizens who were trying to figure out, “How to shame Obama by tomorrow.”
At the end of the night, I did some reflection and decided that of all the activities that night, I felt best and most effective at the garden work party. Not only was it calming and peaceful, but I directly impacted, even if in a small way, our dependence on oil. I recently had a chance to ask Bill McKibben’s advice on how best to scale back our out of control society and he gave me a ratio. He said 80% of the time we should be in our own communities, working directly on transitioning from fossil fuels, over consumption etc. That means urban farming, energy efficiency retrofits, etc. The other 20% should be reserved for policy work, working for policies that make it easier to do that 80% work. That made a lot of sense to me.
So, my advice, if I may so humbly offer it. We’re all busy tackling the paramount problem of transitioning to a green energy economy. But the next time you have to choose between sitting in a meeting or helping out at an urban farm or putting up some solar panels, pick the garden 80% of the time and take a direct bite out of our oil dependence.