Making A World of Difference

I have been a cyclist, in a casual, recreational sense, for years. After my son was born I always had some Pea Pod seat or kid trailer for him, and he and I would go many places by bike, but we also drove in the car on a nearly daily basis. During those years I was also active in the environmental and social justice movements. I marched and protested in town, and sat in threatened trees in the forest. And I still do. But over time, and especially while in the woods, the realization began to dawn on me that the issues were being approached backwards. I was sitting in the forest, but the problem wasn't there, it was in town. It was in the consumption and waist of finite resources. Likewise the oil crisis, the subjugation of workers in sweatshops, at Wal-mart. It all came down to the use --and misuse-- of resources, and the use and misuse of power.

I realized that it was not enough to plant myself in forest and protect it from the effects of supply and demand, what was needed was a change of heart, to plant a forest in humanity's heart. I don't claim to have all the answers, but this I know with certainty: we build up or tare down the world in the choices we make each day. There will always be a time and place for taking a stand. For the woman holding vigil in the tree, for the man standing before the tanks. But it is our lives and our choices that make the difference, for so many reasons, not least of which is that those choices lead to 'consumer demand': when we choose to drive we create demand for oil, steel, plastic, rubber, asphalt, etc. When we choose local organic produce from the Farmers Market or our local CSA, we create demand for sustainable foods. When we shop at multi-national corporations, we support the consolidation of wealth with, and the holding of power by, a few anonymous “corporate entities” accountable to no one.

So, after a great deal of musing on all this, I decided to commit myself to, as Ghandi would say, “being the change I wanted to see in the world”. To living a sustainable and balanced life. I recognize that the transition will take time, but as they say “a wish changes nothing, a decision changes everything”

If the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, my family's fist step is to shift to bikes and buses for transportation. We are also putting in a massive organic vegetable garden and shopping at farmers markets and locally owned co-ops and collectives for what we cant grow or make. We plan to chronicle our journey here, in the hopes of inspiringothers. After all, if someone as lazy, slack, and attached to her creature comforts as I am can get around by bike --with a kid in tow, no less-- and live sustainably, no one els has any excuse!


John said...

Voluntarily rejecting private automobiles in favor bicycles and mass transit is a bold move. In some ways, I think it's the most subversive thing an American can do these days.

Sadly, private automobile dependency is probably the only thing that unites our divided nation. Republicans and Democrats, pro choice and pro life, NRA members and gun control supporters, evolutionists and intelligent designers, environmentalists and polluters, doves and hawks. Almost all of us are reliant on our cars for the basic tasks of everyday life. We are one nation behind the steering wheel.

I look forward to following your adventures.

griffin said...

Hi John, thanks for your comments, being truly subversive is one of my major goals in life, and I consider it high praise, so thanks for that.

Your point is well taken, that automobile use unites most of America, though I know of several families and individuals bucking that trend. Certainly it is not enough to be against something (cars. etc) we must also be for something. I would like to think that all of us, world wide, are united by a shared desire for and investment in the future; that we all want a future for ourselves and our loved ones.

“Divorcing your car” is no mean feat, and I am finding that –for me at any rate-- it is one best done in stages, with a lot of patience and compassion for one's self. I cant claim to be car-free at this point, nor even 100% organic, but I am hoping that this is part of the value of the blog: I think when we see people who appear to have it all figured out, who seem to have mastered the good and virtuous life and be without flaws; it is difficult to see ourselves in their example, or imagine we could ever attain such sainthood. But recognizing that our efforts and our day-to-day choices matter and make a difference, even in our failable humanity, thats a powerful message

I love your blog and have enjoyed & been inspired by your progress as a utility cyclist. Keep in touch

zilla said...


After your comment, I jumped right to your first post.

I have not felt this inspired in ages -- although, Myrtle (21 year old daughter) insisted I rewatch Gandhi last week, and that was inspiring, and she also gave me her copy of Ishmael to read, and that is turning out to be inspiring as well.

Your comment proves that good things come in threes.

Consider me inspired. Deeply inspired. I'm taking my bike in for repairs Monday morning, thanks to you.

Rain said...

you are off to a good start, I love where this is going. I'll be back.