Image of Tom Mylan teaching a butchering class at Brooklyn Kitchen
Starting the 21CP discussion again after a conversation my husband and I had on a recent vacation. We agree that there are a lot of little movements that look disparate, but that could all be grouped together as an aesthetic or cultural response to the world we are living in.
DIY is huge, and I think it's not about the recession as much as it's about the sense of engagement, and the way DIY extends a purchasing event and turns it into an experience. People want to know where their food comes from, are taking butchering classes, getting into urban farming in a big way. There's debate about whether this saves food miles or is at all effective on this boring, number-crunching level. But I don't think food miles is the best argument for urban farming. I've been working on urban farming for awhile myself, and I think people are saying that they want their city to be so clean that they can put it in their mouth, and offering their mouths as a first step that's open and, at least in Brooklyn where I live, a little bit brave. I don't know very many people who are slavishly and literally organizing themselves around the culture of environmentalism that already exists. I don't see people calculating carbon footprints or denying themselves convenience or pleasure. The friend I have that could have the smallest footprint, the one who is compost-crazy, lives in the tiniest apartment, rides her bike everywhere... she also happens to engage in a lot of "flights to nowhere" in search of frequent flier miles. I know very few people who are down with the No Impact Man approach to environmentalism.
Despite the total urgency of our environmental situation, despite BP filling the Gulf of Mexico with oil, I see very little protest, self-denial or rejection of our culture's relentless focus on abundance. What I do see is this: every single person I know is doing something to redefine what abundance means for them. These responses are about the word yes instead of the word no, they have a lot more traction with a lot more people than taking the stairs even though elevators are pretty efficient or otherwise denying yourself ever will, and they are so much more fun, positive and beautiful than carbon footprint math.
I want to write about that for awhile.