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Can We Make More of Less?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser     Permalink
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Ma'ikwe Ludwig
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My guest today is Ma'ikwe Ludwig, executive director of Commonomics USA and author of Together Resilient: Building Community in the Age of Climate Disruption.

Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Ma'ikwe. You recently wrote "Paris Agreement Discord Highlights Need For Community-based Climate Action." What motivated you to write that piece?

Ma'ikwe Ludwig: My primary motivation was the level of angst I am seeing among people over us pulling out, and my belief that we can't slide into hopelessness and inaction. The reality is, the Paris Agreement was far from adequate as a response to climate disruption, and yet it was a big step forward for the US. We've done a lot of resisting real change, essentially saying that the American lifestyle (which is highly materialistic and resource consumptive) is more important than the lives of people around the world. Paris represented hope for many people that we were finally starting to lean more into empathy and responsibility for how our choices have affected others.

But the reality is that it was still symbolic in many ways-- a feint in the right direction. A deeper response to climate disruption is needed and in some ways the signing of the Paris Agreement served to let a bunch of the rest of us (the non-politicians) off the hook: "Look, we've signed on! Now we don't have to look too closely at American culture and lifestyles."

Pulling out was a bad move for a host of reasons, but it also represents an opportunity to say once again that it was never enough, and that we need to take matters more into our own hands at the local and state level.

JB: I know you wrote a book about this local level environmental activism. What can it look like? Tell us more, please.

ML: Well the good news is that it can take many different forms. For instance, I profile a whole bunch of different urban agriculture initiatives happening in Detroit, which are simultaneously feeding people, creating a sense of community and strengthening people's resolve that they can effect change in their world. And I highlight them because initiatives like this reduce a community's dependence on imported, packaged, unhealthy foods. The food system is just one example of a system where the default in America is heavily carbon consumptive and these local initiatives are far less so.

It can also look like intentional communities: groups of people who live together based on common values. In some ways, Together Resilient is "about" intentional communities, and I was actually asked to write it by the Fellowship for Intentional Community, the biggest North American organization working on promoting cooperative living.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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Simon Leigh

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Congratulations!

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017 at 3:49:25 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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Thanks for the article. I am active in Chuckanut Transition and am helping with a community garden, the Woolley Food Forest. I sincerely believe that local community efforts toward growing good food and reducing our carbon footprint are keys to a livable future. I hope the trend accelerates.

What is not mentioned in the interview are the very desirable benefits of moving away from the wasteful consumer paradigm. Get rid of some of the "stuff" that has accumulated and find out how maintaining, sorting, moving and throwing away the "stuff" has been taking a big chunk out of life. Simpler can be much nicer. Simpler can be very freeing. It is difficult to stop re-accumulating stuff, and good karma can be earned through learning this skill.

There is also a connection to nature that is thrashed by our consistent misuse of technology. Carl Jung, a great psychiatrist, explained how technology is tearing us from nature and community which are both necessary for a good state of mind. Life, even in these "interesting" times can be very good indeed.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017 at 5:22:05 PM

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Joan Brunwasser

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Thanks for writing, Chuck. It looks like you're definitely on to something! I'd like to know more.

Submitted on Thursday, Jun 15, 2017 at 2:23:37 AM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I have given up on government. The average citizen is not being represented, just used. It is quite likely that there will be economic and climate instability in the future. For years I have been advocating to friends that it is important to get out of debt, learn to grow food and to get a good circle of friends. I also believe that humans evolved to function in a tribal group. Consequently, important things in my life are learning about my rural home and neighborhood.

A neighbor started a "Transition" group: it parallels my attitudes so I quickly joined. The Transition movement tries to build resiliency in the face of change. Sustainable permaculture gardening can produce quite a bit of food. It stresses learning how things work and how to fix them, and to share knowledge and help neighbors.

We have been involved in establishing a local farmer's market; we help with a local garden tour featuring neighbors who have figured out how to use our clay, acid, forested, hilly acreage; we hold potlucks and seed swaps; we take part in skill-share teaching events. I have given talks and slide shows on local pollinators and Mason bees, and shared a class on mushroom identification. I occasionally do small welding jobs for neighbors. This is a beautiful, fun place to live.

Submitted on Saturday, Jun 17, 2017 at 6:08:42 AM

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