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The illusion of new: Your resolution or mine?

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 2, 2003


"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." — Rev. Martin Luther King

Last week, over martini's, I was asked by the mayor of a coastal city if it was remotely possible for me to write a column that didn't included the word, or concept of, sustainability. After thinking for about 7 seconds I said "Hell no. Until every elected official is familiar with the terms carrying capacity and ecological sustainability I will continue to beat the drums of restraint. The Mayor then ordered another drink.

My resolution to be an unwavering advocate for sustainability is one that will be with me until I am feeding a tree. Unlike your average run of the mill resolutions, which are designed to be broken, my commitment to bioregionalism and environmental awareness was made during the Reagan administration. And unlike the Gipper, my memory is intact, so my pledge to the planet we call home still stands. It's who I am.

This is not to say I do not have time for other resolutions, I do. Every year I resolve to seek the demise of non-native trees, to which I have been extremely successful. Jacarandas, Eucalyptus, pines, and magnolias have all felt my wrath. Providing balance it has been my resolve to plant species indigenous to our biotic community, whenever and wherever possible. As an urban druid anything else would equate with failure, or acceptance of the failing paradigm.

This year I have settled on a short list of resolutions that are both easily accomplished, and beneficial to the community in which I live. The most daunting of resolutions will go unnamed, because for it to be successful, only I can know the measure. Like a vision quest, this test must be taken alone. Personal, and life affirming, my top priority for 2003 is not one to take lightly.

Second on my list of resolutions is to listen more and judge less quickly. The act of listening is dependent on being present to the conversation. An unwillingness to seek out the opinions of those not in agreement undermines true understanding. As someone who deals in communication, it's ironic I could so underestimate the utility of hearing all sides of an issue. If knowledge is power, listening is the key to the castle.

I love epiphanies.

Third on my list of things to do in 2003, is divorce my television. Worse than any drug I could smoke, drink, inhale, shoot, or absorb, Television has become an impediment to critical thought. Because there is no 12-step program for the propaganda box, I have decided to go cold turkey. At 12:01 A.M my two televisions were removed from their pedestals, and the only cable coming into the house is attached to my computer. Prime time will know be my time to write, read, and plot ecological balance.

Fourth on the list is to drive less, and conserve more of everything. Considering ours is petroleum based economy I plan to actively use less energy. Like television, oil based industry is a luxury we can no longer afford. War is to high a price to pay, as is global warming, the pollution of air and water, the epidemics of cancer and asthma, habitat destruction and species loss. My personal jihad against the oil barons is of course an open invitation.

A perennial favorite on my list of resolutions is the continued advocacy of all things native. This year the Scenic House will loose the last non-native pine in residence and gain western redbuds and huckleberries. We are also planning to install an owl condo, and a townhouse for bats. Native species both animal and botanical are vital to the quality of human life in our bioregion. This truth must be spoken everyday if people are to finally hear it. So both in word and deed, I will continue the call of the natives.

Last on my list, which is really the whole list, is to write about environmental sustainability, ecological integrity, and economic possibilities not based in over consumption, over development, and over population. I also promise to engage readers in an ongoing evolution of spirit that accepts input and insight as the gifts they are. I resolve to be constructive in my critique, and judgmental only when it is warranted.

Mayor, I do solemnly resolve to continue writing about ecological sustainability until it has been achieved.

To do less than that, means to give up hope.

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