Our view of the finite in modern times fluctuates with the current assessments and discoveries of the universe and our place in it. In the earlier periods of human history, the earth and its resources appeared infinite; new lands to be discovered just over the next hill or the latest scientific findings giving an ever widening view of our world and our access to it.
This marching mindset of mankind was halted abruptly with the popularized photo showing the blue planet Earth hanging alone in the dark space of the present unknown. It was a winnowing of the consciousness, blowing away the chaff of myth and speculation that had clouded and obscured our view of the finite and infinity.
This mass realization of the finite stores of our “Earthship” began the movement toward the concept of sustainability. But acceptance of such ideas are slow to take hold, even when prime examples, such as the dust bowl years of the plains states, pointed to the need for soil conservation, a concept even today not fully realized.
Like many terms and words that pop into our media-broadening culture, sustainability is thrown into the mix of organic-conservation-green-global warming-hybrid vehicle hype. For the vast majority of those who hear these words, they remain just that, words and concepts hastily agreed to as necessary but, “don’t bother me with it now”. It is hard to imagine famine with a full larder.
Our dictionary shows ten ways the word “sustain” can be used. The three held most in common are: to keep an action or process going; to supply with food or other necessities of life; and to keep the spirit or mind from giving way.
In all species from bacteria up, communication is possible because of shared senses and interests. Survival, no matter the level, is the shared interest of all, contrary to the fact of disappearing species from the actions of trying to keep a process, which worked well in the past, continuing. The evolving complexity of any system makes it harder to maintain the status quo of that system.
There are a only a finite number of avenues that can be pursued until it is realized that a new system must be installed. Agriculture at present is pinning final hopes on larger machinery, more chemicals, and genetic manipulations. At present, these approaches have resulted in higher food prices from petroleum costs, pollution of our environment, and a monoculture vision of future food production which could end in a global famine.
Often it is easier to maintain the physical than the mindal or spiritual. The chore-like nature of life demands a cadenced obedience for continuation, with change coming from within individuals out into the larger thinking construct. Change always begins with an individual whose actions are then taken up by another individual and then passed on. Swimming upstream to spawn newness is often the hardest thing to sustain.
Friends, neighbors, or relatives may wonder why one spends so much time and effort on trying to be more self-sustaining. As with anything of a lasting nature, foundations must be put down before anything else can be added. Innovation needs to be not only introduced, but also practiced.
Aside from a farmers market, at which one can obtain fresh produce and baked goods, there exists a need to procure other staples to round out the diet. An enterprising neighbor has taken an old building and refurbished it into a feed and general store. Although it works as a distribution point for feed going out, it also is becoming a distribution point for feed coming in. Local cheese and eggs are presently available with organic beef coming soon.
It is estimated that if everyone ate just one meal a week from locally grown or produced food, it would save 1.1 million barrels of oil presently used for transportation of food from around the world.
The ability to sustain change, no matter how small, in the face of a seemingly unchanging majority perspective, requires the same patience and dedication that it takes to plant a seed and continue its care until its fruition benefits all, proving we can grow.
Copyright (c) 2008
Giannangelo Farms Southwest