Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"conflicted", a guest post from Gretta

my bike found a soul mate!


So I have made it through 2 weeks of preseason volleyball and about 2 weeks of classes. I have run lots of timed miles (I got down to a 7:45 today!!!), eaten lots of cafeteria food (including some visits to the softserve machine), and read hundreds of pages already. But I still found time to look at “The Bill McKibben Reader”, which I got at Books on the Common before I left.

            I decided to read the article “The End of Nature: The Greenhouse Experiment”, which was published in The New Yorker onSeptember 11, 1989. This (rather long) passage caught my attention:

“And so who was walking with me in the woods? Well, there were the presidents of the Midwestern utilities, who kept explaining why they had to burn coal to make electricity (cheaper, fiduciary responsibility, no proof it kills trees), and then there were the congressmen, who couldn’t bring themselves to do anything about it (personally favor, but politics the art of compromise, very busy with the war on drugs), and before long the whole human race had arrived to explain it’s aspirations. We like to drive, it said, air-conditioning is a necessity nowadays, let’s go to the mall. Of course, the person I was fleeing most fearfully from was myself, for I drive, and I’m burning a collapsed barn behind my house next week because it is much the cheapest way to deal with it, and I live on about four hundred times the money Thoreau conclusively proved was enough, so I’ve done my share to take this independent, eternal world and turn it into a science-fair project.” He concludes with this thought: “We have built a greenhouse- a human creation- where once there bloomed a sweet and wild garden.”

As I begin my journey to a probable Environmental Studies major, I am already feeling overwhelmed and conflicted. There are so many things wrong, and so few people doing anything about them. And then there’s MY life- I’m conflicted about what clubs to join, what classes to take next term, who to be friends with, and on top of all THAT I have to make daily decisions about sustainability. Yeah, I got 100% recycled notebooks with cute trees on the cover for my classes this term, but I bought them at Walmart. Am I going to try to get a ride across town to go to the, like, ONE store that has organic food, or am I going to eat the nasty pesticide filled apples in the caf? I want to live a totally green life, but it’s hard when I don’t really get to make my own food or energy decisions.  But hey, at least it’s not just me. At least I’m not alone- Bill McKibben is in the same predicament! I think we all get so bogged down by the enormity of what needs to be done that we forget that even if we all make one small change in our lives, we can begin the change. Print double-sided, walk across campus instead of driving (people do it!), recycle that freaking water bottle (or better yet, invest in a reusable one, preferably without BPAs)! If you haven’t already, start your environmental education today!


  1. If everyone started to think like this, and live as sustainably as is reasonably possible for then, all those little acts would make a big difference! Well said - and it's a sign of your personal integrity that you care and worry about these purchasing decisions, which is really the first step for everyone. The more people think, and begin to worry about these things, the more likely it is that there will be institutional change. And at least Walmart are stocking recycled notebooks - that is a step in itself!

    Pomona x

  2. Hi Gretta. I remember that feeling so well, of knowing there's so much that needs changing, and being overwhelmed by it. But you're absolutely right, by just making one small change in our own lives, we can begin the change. And you're doing more than that, by reaching out and educating...helping others recognize the need to make changes as well. Keep on keepin' on!

  3. I'm so grateful for a voice like yours in the millenials. You are a voice of hope.

  4. Hello Greta, your bike looks to have settled in and made a new friend at college. You are about to enjoy some of the best years of your life, enjoy, make notes, take lots of photographs, keep a memory book of things you don't want to forget. Your studies will take you down a path to help you to enable you to decide what you want to do with your life. Also set foundations for friendships because one day you will be able to share memories with the friends you make. It will bring you so much pleasue in the future. Have fun. Sue

  5. Hey Gretsky, Miss you. xoxoxoMarmie