New Year Resolutions
At this time of year many of us resolve to break a habit, make a change in our lives or give something up. Often such a resolution is seen as a sacrifice. However, from ‘sacrifice’ comes liberation! Recently at the Alliance for a New Humanity conference in Barcelona, 500 of us took a ‘Vow of Nonviolence’ in thought, word and deed. What a joy it is to let go of one’s hatreds, dislikes and destructive habits! (Visit www.itakethevow.com)
For our January/February 2009 issue, we asked some friends of Resurgence what resolution they would make this year to serve the planet and we hope their actions will
inspire you to do something similar.
ANNIE LENNOX • BECOME AN ACTIVIST
How about we decide to leave our cars parked wherever we’ve parked them and use them only when it’s really necessary? Or turn off the tap while brushing our teeth and flush the toilet less; switch off electric lights when we leave a room; separate newspaper, glass and plastic and recycle them all? We could lobby the government to have shops and business places switch off their lights throughout the night and lobby them to make plastic bags illegal. We could learn how to cook, eat seasonally, and support our local shops; find out where the local allotments are, and get digging and planting – and if you have a garden, make a compost heap with your kitchen waste. We could get together with our friends, family and neighbours and see what we can do on a community level together. In short, we could get off the couch and become an ACTIVIST! Go on – become the change you want to see in the world.
OLIVER TICKELL • PLANT A FRUIT TREE
My garden already has five apple trees, a pear tree and four plum trees. The apples have done especially well this year, indifferent to the wet weather, and are currently forming my staple diet. The plums were delicious but relatively few, which was actually a relief as we have had a huge surplus these last few years – and you can only make so much plum jam, or freeze so much plum purée! This year I will plant a Worcester Pearmain to provide early fruit. Next year, I want a very late cropper, to extend my apple season into winter. There was once a lovely tree at Iffley Lock on the River Thames, whose apples remained hard and green until their January ripening. But then the Environment Agency carried out repairs to the bank – and it was no more. If anyone knows the name of the variety, and where I can find one, please let me know (via www.kyoto2.org). I promise to find a place for it somewhere.
CAROLINE LUCAS • JOIN A CREDIT UNION
Take the financial crisis as an opportunity to do things differently! The ethical values that are essential for a healthy financial sector have been destroyed by our competitive free market system. Trust between banks has disappeared, and people are increasingly asking where now is a safe haven for savings. So what about joining a credit union? The credit union movement is a small-scale bank that, like any co-operative, is owned and controlled by its members, and allows people to save and borrow money within a defined community. Credit unions have clear values, lend responsibly, and help to build trust. Why not join your local credit union and set up a regular standing order, enabling those in your local community to borrow at reasonable rates? More ambitiously, we should be thinking about bringing local assets into community ownership, so that we can help to build a mutual economy that will support us all as we move into an increasingly uncertain future.
DEEPAK CHOPRA • CHANGE YOUR PERCEPTION
The best thing you can do for the planet is to shift your perception. There is no hope of healing the planet as long as the word 'environment' means something separate from you. Each of us has built our happiness on ignoring the Earth's balance. We wouldn't do that to our own homes: who would tolerate a living room filled with decaying garbage? We wouldn't do that to our own bodies: who would deprive their body of half the oxygen it needed? So, forget that you ever heard the word 'environment’, Instead, think of ‘my world’, and look upon Nature as ‘my body’ in extended form. Having done that, treat the world with care and intimate regard. This should be your guide to a new way of being happy. Until millions of people have made the same shift, saving the planet will remain a worthy cause that never quite gains the whole-hearted support it needs.
RAYMOND BLANC • GROW YOUR OWN
This year I shall try to grow even more of the fruit and vegetables we use in our kitchens at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – and those we use at home as well. For years now we’ve been growing our own organic crops, and doing a lot of experimental planting and investigation to find out exactly what is best for our soil, microclimate and – in some ways most importantly – our palates. Just this last year we worked really hard at finding the best varieties of potatoes for our growing conditions and my recipes, and all of us, gardeners and chefs, were tremendously enthusiastic about the results of our trials. Anybody with a garden can make this sort of gesture, if on a smaller scale. It’s satisfying labour, healthy, makes you happy, decreases your family’s carbon footprint – and you can eat the results. What could be better – for you or the planet?
FIONA REYNOLDS • GET GARDENING
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says “He who plants a garden plants happiness”.
This year the National Trust is encouraging visitors to celebrate and share in the experience of growing and tasting local and seasonal food through our Food Glorious Food campaign. Visitors will be able to get their hands dirty at properties and take away hand-planted seedlings or seeds to nurture at home. The Trust will support these budding gardeners with information and even suggest recipes you can enjoy when the home-grown produce comes to harvest. Many people want to grow their own food but lack the skills or confidence to have a go. If you have green fingers why not pass on these skills to friends and families in 2009 and find a fun way to be green and get both communities and vegetables growing?
PAUL HAWKEN • TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES
The planet needs ten thousand acts of mercy and kindness to be saved, undertaken by hundreds of millions of people. There are legions of action lists and they are good. While we vote, organise, plant, retrofit, reduce, renew, and teach, it is good to remember that the organising principle of restoration cannot be fear. We gather and congregate around warmth, grace and generosity. If we ask ourselves why we are saving the planet, the answer is always life: our life, the life we share the planet with, and all life to come hereafter. In order to restore life, we must every day take care of our own life. It starts with our mind, heart, and body. Daily acts of personal renewal are essential to creating the conditions that are favourable to all life. In that renewal, we understand that there are no inconsequential actions, only consequential inaction.
TONY JUNIPER • CONNECT WITH NATURE
One activity that almost everyone can take is to be a close observer in the cycles of Nature, through paying regular visits to those local areas where Nature still has some freedom. Bits of local woodland, churchyards, river banks and parks all have animals and plants living a more or less wild existence and offer opportunities for us to become reconnected with the cycles and processes that sustain life on the Earth. By observing, we can appreciate far more our own place, and by involving friends, we can help spread a sense of connectedness. If Western societies are to find the path to a more sustainable future, then there must be a reconnection with Nature. That can only happen on an individual level, and it cannot happen fast. So take the time to watch Nature, identify the insects, birds and plants, and take a friend as well.
TIM SMIT • MAKE SMALL TALK
Conversations held without hurry, without the appearance of being an obligation or a nuisance are the glue that make up the fabric of neighbourliness and from that, by extension, community. In a true community there are the foundations to undertake projects in the common good, free from politics or self-aggrandisement. It is in those places where true community exists; it is there that you will find the stirrings of hope that Homo sapiens might live up to the name it gave itself – ‘the wise human’. It is from the original Latin that you start to understand community: it is derived from com (together) munos (in gift). That gift translated into the modern world gives us resilience and adaptability, virtues that are the hallmark of sustainability, and it all begins with making small talk.
BARBARA KINGSOLVER • GO THE EXTRA MILE
This year I will love my habitat as I love my children. However tired or hurried, I’ll still run up the stairs to turn off the burning lights, prepare local foods from my garden, flatten the boxes for recycling. I’ll give my food dollars to farmers who keep my community green and fed. When tempted by any new thing, the handy gadget or cute pair of shoes, I’ll meditate on the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Every wounded forest and noxious industrial exhalation I’ll feel as damage to my own body. I will write the difficult letter, brave the awkward talk with a neighbour, donate money, give all I have. When my daughters were babies, sometimes I thought, “This is too hard, I can’t do it.” But somehow I never failed to answer their cries. How could I? So now I will fold my heart and the work of my days around the Earth’s carbon balance, its integrity and future, as keenly as I’ve always craved to keep my children safe. Because, really, what is the difference?
CARLO PETRINI • CONSUME CAREFULLY
As far as possible, we should look for food that is local, traditional, fresh, seasonal and bought at the market directly from farmers. The repercussions for the planet and for the quality of our lives would be enormous: the health of the soil and the air would be improved, sustainable local economies would be revitalised and biodiversity would be better protected. The pursuit of sustainable food helps us to preserve the cultural diversity and identity of peoples.