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Future Building

Trading Activism for Personal Action

Quoted Knitting at the end of the world – Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

George Orwell on the importance of hobbies in times of political turmoil.

“Only two ways of reacting to the current crisis of nature were offered. On the one hand, there was ‘fighting’. This fighting was to be aimed at the ‘elite’ that was destroying the planet – oil companies, politicians, corporate leaders, the rich. On the other hand, there was ‘giving up’. Giving up meant not fighting. It meant running away from a necessary battle. It meant being selfish. It meant ‘doing nothing’, and letting the planet go to hell.

 

All of this hinged on a narrow definition of what doing something involved, and what action meant. It seemed to suggest that action must be something grand and global and gestural. Small actions were not actions at all: if you couldn’t ‘change the world’ there seemed little point in changing anything.”

Paul Kingsnorth, via Austin Kleon

This discussion and diminishment of personal, direct action arises often in the environmental field. We need systemic change but I still feel there is value in living in accordance with your values and being cognizant of the resources you personally use, even if the system makes it hard to reduce that and your individual contributions are a pittance compared to corporate impacts. But especially right now when we’re basically holding back the floodwaters and can’t make progress with a hostile government, there’s no sense in giving up entirely.

Or maybe this is appealing to me because I can do something and feel like I’ve accomplished something, which excuses me from fighting the big fight.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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