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Do you ever feel like giving up?

 
gardener
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I’m in my early fifties and the older I get the more I’m trying to fix the planet. However, all my friends from school and college are going the other way. My peer group doesn’t give a £*€&. My closest friend of thirty years said to me yesterday “what’s the point, humans will all be dead in 300 or 400 years and then the planet will fix itself.” Back in the late 80’s we had ideological discussions. We wanted to rewild the Cumbrian Fells, an area of outstanding natural beauty but with very little biodiversity because of sheep. Now he doesn’t give a shit and he seems a lot happy than me as he pursues a hedonistic guilt free lifestyle.
 
pollinator
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You can't "fix" the planet it changes, it always has and it always will, humans can speed up some of those changes or possibly even slow them down, but to think we can stop the planet changing and hold it in what we consider perfection is seriously egotistical.
From the planets point of view runaway global warning is totally unimportant, there's been many mass extinctions before and there will be many more in future, each time a different biome appears. Without deaths we cannot have change or development. Quite possibly without mass extinctions there would still be trilobites swimming around and no vertebrates at all.  For most of the earths history there have not been polar ice masses, the time we live in now is the exception not the rule. One of the most life rich epochs was the carboniferous when the global temperature was much higher than it is now, half the world was covered in shallow seas teeming with life and there was no polar ice.  Sounds quite nice if you like Kevin Costner.

This is not to say we should dump all our rubbish into the sea, we still have to live here but to think that we can pause change is unrealistic.  Campaigning against things like single use plastics, artificial fiber clothing dumping of rubbish, landfills etc certainly has value. Try to win the little fights, like getting better recycling installed in your area, or stopping a local place using plastic straws, Or indeed working on rewinding an area, but remember nature as we like it now is only around because areas have been managed for 1000's of years to suit us, birds and animals have adapted to our changes. I don't recommend camping out on the M25 however.

In my opinion instead of spending billions on trying to stop the inevitable we should be spending billions on mitigating the effects on us. The world has tons of land that isn't in use presently as it's to cold or to dry, but a heating world increases water supply and of course increases heat. Lets work out how NOT to have wars over the massive numbers of people who will need to move, and work out how to spread them to areas that need people, not cramming them into cities and countries that are already overpopulated.

So sorry this probably isn't the motivational pep talk you were looking for
 
Edward Norton
gardener
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Thanks Skandi. I hadn’t spoken to my friend for a long time and I was shocked at his analysis of my unhappiness.  I mostly write about photography and not the environment, so the use of the word ‘fix’ was of course massively oversimplifying. You’re words about the planet are an encouraging reminder of the bigger picture, rather than the “humans will be extinct” narrative.
 
gardener
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I haven’t felt like that but I can see how one could lose faith. I believe that you and I probably see permaculture as a lifestyle not just a way to grow food. I never grew anything until I happened upon one of Paul’s hugelkultur videos on a completely unrelated site. I don’t know any other way to live now.
I will admit I’m very disillusioned with the current state of recycling here. My first problem was seeing a landfill truck picking up garbage and recycling at the same time. I’ve been places with different bins for different recyclables but they are few and far between here. Then there are billboards saying, “When in doubt throw it out.” I’m in doubt about all of it at this point.
 
master gardener
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At the end of the day you have to live for yourself. Yes, you won`t save the world alone, and yes the planet is in a state of change always and will find a new stable state, not the same, maybe more resiliant.
More important is to hold onto your health. It is easy to make yourself ill worrying about the `bad guys`. I`m lucky in that I can don my pink glasses and not see the peeling wallpaper. Not everyone has that ability. I guess sometimes you have to take a stand, but I`d rather change the things I can, than worry about the things I can`t.
 
pollinator
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I long ago gave up on trying to save the world.  I find more joy in focusing on making my piece of it better, so I concentrate on that.  I have 80 acres that I own, improving the parts closest to my house and doing my best to preserve the rest.  That's enough for me.  Worrying about all the things I can't change just distracts me from improving the parts I can.
 
Posts: 83
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This reminds me of a letter I wrote to myself once. It went something along the lines of....

  I wish I could stop noticing so much detail in things, to be like the rest that ignore most of their surroundings. I am always looking for a way to improve the things around me, sometimes this is exhausting. I do not want to change any one or myself for that matter, so it kind of creates like an anxiety type feeling. I usually just go about my day, but it always creeps back in to my thoughts.
 
pollinator
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I'm still doing my thing but I've long since given up on the idea of me being able to do anything meaningful to prevent pollution or keep water around. I do my 40 acres of swales and get all happy about the water collecting there and then the oil company buys water from the farmer down the road and pumps it out by the truckload. What did I actually do? Nothing.
 
gardener
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I like to think every little bit helps.  We try and fail and try and fail and then something works!  My son is struggling with this right now.  We had a long talk last night.  He is 17 and his nick name is Y.  He is not like his peers in the school system and thinks they don't care what he does.  I think he is trying to figure out his self worth.  He hasn't seemed to notice a 22 year old guy and a 17 year old young woman stop by quite often to pitch in.  These 2 people admire him for who he is not what he does.  He said to me " maybe I should just get a normal job and forget trying anymore".  He said " dad we don't have enough property to make a real living at this stuff, I only made *** and *** this summer".  I said " Y you have your whole life ahead of you and you have skills most 50 year olds would love to have, you can do anything if you keep trying.  Focus on what makes you the happiest and the most money.  If you perfect that you will be fine.  You don't need to be rich, you need to live a fulfilled life". Y said, "butt dad we work 80 to 90 hours a week and still haven't made it.  I've put in so much time where I could just go get a job".  I am just trying to keep encouraging him.  I told him if he wants to go get a job he could try it, but we bring in enough to not worry right now. I can't wait to see what he becomes when he finds his own.  
 
gardener
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Just reading this now. I strongly agree with Trace's comment.

Some advice I received a while back was to take a step back. Whether it be thinking or reading about people doing bad things, it is emotionally draining. I know because I did it. I'd learn about which species was added to the endangered list most recently, or how yet another tract of forest was cleared to build another cookie-cutter subdivision, or how deep the corruption is in many levels of our society...it can go on and on. That's what you need to remember, and what I forgot. There is NO end to this stuff, especially if you actively think about it or seek it out.

In terms of other folks, that is completely out of your control. Most people are completely in denial about the state of the world, and that's okay. There is nothing you can do about that.

What you can do is focus on your strengths. What are you really good at? What makes you light up? For me it's metalworking and exploring new disciplines. it might be completely different for you. Try answering those questions and focus your energy on cultivating those strengths.

if you're really down, take a break from the internet or wherever it is you do your thinking and reading. Go for a walk, feel the sun and the breeze. This advice is coming from my own experience.

Hope you found something helpful here. I'm rooting for you Edward!
 
pollinator
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Hi Edward,

I've read many of your posts and I've always liked what you had to say so I felt compelled to answer this  one. But first off,  I should point out that I'm boxing in a different weight class than you!.... that's my humorous way of saying that I'm a lot older than all of you seem to be so I can feel free to give you some 'old fart' advice. So, just humor me, won't you?

I think it would be really nice if I met lots of 'Greta Thunbergs' every day or occasionally or EVER! But I haven't, not even one. That would totally make my day! They say if you want to be happy you should lower your expectations so.... I'll settle for Bill Gates! He was pretty big on the U.N. Climate Change Conference this past week.

I recently wrote this in the thread.... 'Permaculture Victories: tell your stories'  
“I bought my beat up old place in Sedona almost 11 years ago. Sedona is a really pretty place and lots of people want to live here. I quickly realized that nothing had changed since I lived here briefly 25 years ago. The overwhelming majority of people who work here still can't afford to live here! Rents are outrageous! They drive 16 miles or more each way just to be here. The rich people here are just fine with that but it really pisses me off. Everyone, regardless of race, creeds, colors or income level should have the opportunity to be here. It's called sharing!

So I decided to provide a little affordable housing and to rent out my 3 rooms a lot cheaper than everyone else to working people who earned at or near minimum wage. I'm trying to raise my good karma. A handful of tenants have stayed for 2+ years but most are in some sort of transition and only stay for 3-6 months. And when they get here hardly any of them have any concerns over the changes in our climate or the shape our planet is in! And none of them were trying to change their habits or make things better. They were all just living in their own little bubbles. I make it clear to each prospective tenant that we conserve everything to keep my bills as low as possible. I don't mention that they might learn a thing or two in the process.
Most all of them have never seen food growing before. Never even gave it a second thought. (In fact, most of the younger generations  don't even know how to cook their food!! Damn!) Here, they can help themselves to any of the vegies I put on the kitchen counter or go out into the gardens and pick their own fresh, organic vegies. They get to see where their food comes from. They learn the peels and rinds and unused parts do not go in the trash to be wasted. They go into the bucket for the compost pile to grow more food. The seeds fermenting in glasses of water or drying on plates will be used to grow new vegies next year. The leaves I rake up and collect from others don't go in the trash; they mulch the plants, go into the compost or into a big pile to invite and feed the worms.

They learn that nothing gets wasted here. That water is super precious and to save every drop. When it rains every drop of water gets used or collected and saved for the future. Seen pictures of Lake Mead lately?? And to even save the water that they rinse their vegies in and dump it in the kitchen bucket because it's perfectly good water to feed more plants. To never run the water needlessly or leaves lights on, waste electricity and run up their big, old carbon footprint foolishly. Yes, all those packages they constantly order from Amazon amount to THEIR big carbon footprint!
They learn not to crank up the heat and walk around in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter and pretend that it's summer. It's winter, put on a sweater and deal with reality. And in the summer when it's 100+ degrees, we open the windows at night and close them during the day and it keeps the house at a reasonable 85 degrees or less. 85 degrees won't kill you! I think they heard a Kardashian once say that your face will melt off over 85 degrees! It won't kill them to sweat a little  bit. It's what the human body does.

They learn that almost nothing here goes straight into the trash, it gets reused, repurposed or recycled. We have to stop being a 'disposable' society. And most of them are bewildered because they've never recycled anything before!!! Can you believe it?

They learn to occasionally put down their phones, close their laptops and climb up the hill in the backyard and watch the spectacular sunsets turn all the mountains into amazing colors. We are so darned lucky to be here. This is such an amazing planet! I don't suggest that they wear sack cloth and live like monks. I don't. I don't just grow food to eat but have filled my yard full of beautiful flowers which use up way too much water sometimes. My guilty pleasure. But every plant is drought tolerant
and can fend for itself in really hard times for a spell. I just suggest they they all learn to act responsibly and reasonably and to take good care of this wonderful planet we live on. Yes, we can save this planet... but everyone has to help out.

These young people (I mean anyone under 60)... they just came here for a cheap place to live. But I hope they learn an important thing or two during their stay. Some folks might say 'what a nice old lady giving the youngsters a break and  teaching them some sustainability and good habits'. While others might say 'what a conniving old bitch luring these young folks in and indoctrinating these unsuspecting people'! I would wear either title proudly! Hope this fits in with your theme.”

I'm in Christopher's camp. I like to think every little bit helps. We try and fail and try and fail and then something works! And a smart guy once said..... “Holding on to the idea of 100% of anything can put a huge amount of unnecessary stress and burden on yourself and those closest to you. I discovered this trying to go zero waste.”  And hey!... if you can change a tire, who knows what you can do if you put your mind to it or... what you've done without ever realizing that you made a difference!

And you should always remember this.... God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

But I'm pretty sure the real problem is THAT YOUR IN NEW JERSEY DUDE!!!  I grew up in New Jersey and it makes you feel like giving up! That's why I left 45 years ago. That's why Bruce Springstein made a fortune singing about it. Listen to his 'Born to Run' album. Hell, listen to any of his albums! What you're feeling is normal and natural, given your environment. Get over it!

O.K. Maybe I'm just being flip and sarcastic because I won't be around much longer to witness the possible demise of our beautiful planet as we know it. That's entirely possible. But... I probably won't remember writing this 10 minutes from now.
Cheer up my friend.
Debbie
 
master gardener
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I was never out to fix the planet.  I am trying to take care of my tiny portion of it.  I do, however, admire some of those people who are out to improve more than their part.  And, if I happen to influence others, even to the smallest degree, I am satisfied.
 
pollinator
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I have been kicking heads and trying to save the plant since about 1968.
I have seen improvements and I have seen disillusionment and step backs, BUT I have kept pushing.
I have had the feeling of giving up, but I can get pig headed so I have stuck in there.
I changed the way I talk about things, I dont argue with the world for putting recycling in the rubbish and vise versa, I just point out the cost oi doing it.

I discuss the fact that I think the park down the road from them should be converted to a waste tip becuaSE ITS CLOSE,
That Europe is the first country to really suffer from climate change, so why should Australia do anything, I live far enough away from the sea to not drown.
And generally ridicule pathetic attempts to show greeness, while still getting takeaway coffee cups, and to not even sit down to have a coffee.
It gets people arguing and thinking about things, they usually dont do much.
I have been asked why dont I wear a loincloth and sandels and I reply why should I save the world for you when you dont do anything!

I regularly lecture and give speeches and I always challenge my listeners to explain what they can and have done, and what the lazy ones expect others to do for them?
Then I add that I hope I never do good for the lazy ones!.
It hurts a lot of people, but I found out being nice all the time never works.
I also talk about population reduction which really spins heads!!



 
gardener
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I love this thread. Everyone posting here cares.

I made my high school valedictorian speech on the topic "you should care".

I got really pissed at the bad guys for a long time. Sometimes I still do. But I really really like Paul's concept of building a better world in your own back yard.

One of the reasons it resonates with me is because of some advice my dad gave me when I was a teen. I'm not a charismatic leader type. But I'm good at doing a lot of things. My dad told me some of the best people in the world lead by example.

People are interested in other people and heavily influenced by seeing them actually doing and accomplishing things. I want to be the reason a dozen other people stop using plastic bags, start growing their own vegetables, start darning their worn out socks, and a dozen other small but important things that can have a real impact to improve the world.

Paul wants to infect a million minds. I'm not that ambitious, but I'll settle for 12.
 
L. Johnson
gardener
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If I were to rewrite that speech I would remove the "should" and change the subject to "I", but alas 18 year old me hadn't had the positive influence on my communication modes from this forum that present me has.

On other words, "I care" would have been a better theme.
 
gardener
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Debbie Ann wrote:the real problem is THAT YOUR IN NEW JERSEY DUDE!!!  


Debbie this made me laugh after a really bad week. Thank you! (I also escaped from New Jersey at the earliest opportunity! hi-five).

My daughter is going through a bad bout of frustration/depression right now (university is stalled, no jobs, end of world, etc etc) and I am telling her she needs to get out and find her people. I hope she finds someone like Debbie in Sedona, like Christopher encouraging his son, like everyone who is going out and trying to fix their backyard. I think the human connection is the only way to get through these moments.
Hopefully we start getting back to in person things here soon (seed swaps! chorus!), because I know I'm also suffering from lack of community, and it's discouraging. It's been a really hard few years.
 
gardener
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Do I ever feel like giving up?

Every day.

The world I live in (21st C. urban USA) is DESIGNED to entangle me and keep me ensnared in habits/patterns that benefit the Bad Guys. And it's so much easier to just go with the flow and stop questioning, changing, and and working for better things. It's HARD to unprogram myself and do differently. I think this is the basic reason why there aren't more people with Rocket Mass Heaters, kitchen gardens, water catchment systems, you know...all that stuff. We humans like it easy, and we like what we are used to, and in order to make changes in our lives, there has to be a huge motivation in order to make the leap over that hurdle in our nature.

My inner drive to live my life by my ideals is what has helped me make the changes I have made so far. And my ideals are what keep me from "giving up." Whatever thing I know I should do (hauling something recyclable from the family trash can that shouldn't have been tossed there, for the FIFTY-THOUSANDTH time!!!), I do whilst telling myself, "This is how you change the world. This is how you do the good that you are committed to. This is one reason you can look at yourself in the mirror tonight and stand taller."  (In darker moods I say to me, "Haha, this is you sticking it to Big Ag/Big Business/etc.!")

Many people are not idealists, motivating themselves to make changes to their lives because of the vision they have within them. Perhaps they don't have any kind of vision in the first place. I am related to many people that certainly don't have the vision I have--but I am in hopes that the Butterfly Effect will apply if I stick to my values and model them. Another reason not to give up!  
 
eat bricks! HA! And here's another one! And a tiny ad!
Switching from electric heat to a rocket mass heater reduces your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars
http://woodheat.net
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