We are not doing nearly enough to address our unfolding environmental disaster. As Ethan Hughes (Possibility Alliance) has written:
If we glance forward just 30 years, our future outlook is shocking and unbelievable. The United Nations estimates that, due to carbonic acidification and rising temperatures (both driven by burning fossil fuels), there will be no fish in the oceans by 2048, over one-quarter of humanity will be displaced or dead due to sea level rise, war, and violent weather; there will be 50 percent less fresh water available; and significant portions of the Earth will be uninhabitable due to extreme temperatures.
How do we support one another to take bigger risks on behalf of our families, all peoples, and life? Heavy with grief, we agreed that the best permaculture design was not going to save us, and could even very easily contribute to further inequality, privilege, and unequal access to resources. If the world becomes untenable for humans and many other species, will you be able to look your child in the eyes and say, in all honesty, that you tried everything, risked everything, to prevent it? Most of us gathered realized we were not able to say “yes” to that question, to our heartbreaking dismay. We are called to do it all: tend gardens and confront our privilege; ride bikes and launch massive disruptions; turn off the electricity and go to jail; heal our spiritual wounds and restore what has been stolen; reckon with our calamity at every level.
Taking honest account of the limitations of our perspective, we sense that white-led environmental efforts to confront climate change are coming up short of addressing, at its roots, the racism, sexism, and gender coercion, economic inequality, theft, genocide, privilege, addiction, and belief in industrial technology that are fundamental to the agents of climatic destruction. We trust that, to truly serve, our thus-far predominantly white coalition must go out and deeply listen to those people, cultures, and species most oppressed. It is from this respectful attunement, we believe, that we will begin to hear answers to all these questions.
This has been my experience, related to being involved with the Kheprw Institute (KI) here in Indianapolis. KI is a community building organization, focused on mentoring and empowering Black youth, which has always had a strong environmental focus. They have been producing and selling rain barrels for many years–Express Yourself Rain Barrels and have years of experience with their expanding aquaponics system. Composting and community gardening are other projects. More recently the Community Controlled Food Initiative, a food co-op, has been launched. KI has also been leading community discussions related to how to respond to the expanding food deserts in Indianapolis.
If you aren’t already working with a similar community organization in your area, I strongly urge you to do so.