Coming up on Wednesday is the transition book group discussion of chapter one from Making Home by Sharon Astyk. I reread the chapter over the weekend — or read it for myself since it was read aloud to me at the first group reading.
The chapter is about many things, but fundamentally it is about protest, specifically, living a life of protest. An actual protest with crowds gathered chanting and holding signs, is important and necessary. It is big and dramatic and gets attention. But we cannot make change by protest rallies alone. Change, real and lasting change, comes from living a life that goes against the dominant story. Want coal burning power plants to stop being built and renewable sources used instead? Then cut back on your power use and find alternative energy sources. Do you want to cut fossil fuels and support small farmers instead of agribusinesses? Stop eating out of season produce from halfway around the world and buy in season food from local farmers. Yes, it is hard:
It isn’t an easy project in a world that assumes a great deal of energy and emissions, that says freedom is consumer choice and participation is mandatory and wealth is our goal. So when you are in your garden, when you ride your bicycle or walk, when you explain to your neighbor yet again why you don’t want their lawn chemicals on your yard, when you hang out your laundry, when you deliver a meal to a neighbor who is ill, when you say ‘no, we don’t do that,’ when you teach your children who you are and why you do the difficult thing, when you try and convince yourself that you aren’t too tired, when you get up in the morning and it looks like all you’ve done is pointless, remember this — you are doing something hard and vast and new. Without your work and courage there is no hope at all for all of those with the courage to chain themselves at the gates. Without those who chain themselves at the gates, enough people will not know what you have done. With both together, change begins.
Whether you are in a crowd of pink pussy hats or blocking a road to keep construction vehicles from working on an oil pipeline or quietly working on creating a life that goes against the dominant narrative, we are all working together toward change, we are all important and necessary.
I’ll be sure to let you know how the group discussion goes!