Sarah’s story

By March 10, 2012 No Comments

This week, Sarah shares her frustrations about ways to raise awareness in her community. I am truly impressed with her persistence. Thanks, Sarah for all you do and please keep in mind: “Energy and persistence conquer all things” Benjamin Franklin.

“In my Utah city, I am fortunate to feel a sense of community.  We watch each others’ kids.We bring dinners to families who have just had new babies.  We lend skilled labor and share knowledge.  I am proud to say that there is a high rate of volunteerism here—highest in the nation, in fact.

There is also a high rate of acquiring stuff.

Though there are regional pockets where prevailing trends advocate and facilitate reduced consumption, the American Dream of a big house, a bigcar and lots of beautiful things is still culturally relevant across much of the country.

Though we are nowhere near zero waste and have plenty of room for improvement, my family of 5 has been ahead of the trend when compared to the rest of our community.  Last year I took our (rather large) garbage bin out to the street only 5 times.  A lot of garbage to zero waste proponents, extremely little to my peers.

Because of this distinction of being comparatively weird (though lovably so), I try to act as an easy-going guide to my peers in this foreign world of less waste.

I started blogging. My tone was mostly to show a self-mockinghumor in daily green living.  People living conventional lifestyles can be easily spooked by what they perceive to be militant hippie-ism.  (Let’s face it, people, we can get a little freaky at times.) If I can introduce new ideas while infusing a bit of levity, maybe readers would be willing to at least listen. Then maybe give it a try.  Even if it’s just one thing.

I am not a natural at self-promotion or social media, so readership was minimal.  I decided to expand my outreach: community education through the local university extension.  I persuaded the administrators to add two new classes.  Two people signed up.  The classes were canceled.

Next attempt.  I approached newspapers to become a contributor in online communities.  One local paper took me on.  It’s hard to say how high the readership is.

On to civic involvement. I addressed the city council regarding environmentally-sustainable initiatives.  The council invited me to present at a work session at an upcoming meeting.  Nothing immediate or tangible came of that meeting.  But, maybe—I hoped—it got afoot in the door.

In another attempt at community education, I approached a large gardens/museum complex in the area and proposed a series of classes.  The first month, one person signed up.  The classes were again canceled. 

A few months later I met with a couple of the directors there to propose a revised approach.  They seemed hopeful.  Unfortunately nothing has, as yet, come of that meeting.

Being ahead of the market is frustrating.

Because this lifestyle is uncommon here and because most members of my community are beginners (if not pre-beginners), it is taking a while to lay the groundwork.  It is arduous and discouraging.  Though the feedback is positive when it is given, there is little action so I am often left with question marks.

At the same time, it is invigorating.

On my second attempt to work with city government, I approached the mayor and city council with a request.  For the past 7 summers I have organized a neighborhood “free yard sale.”  I am interested in expanding it to a citywide event and, therefore, need the city’s help.  I was asked to leave my contact information for follow-up.  After the meeting a couple of council members approached me with appreciation.  The mayor asked me to please call to make anappointment to meet with him.

Not quite sure what will happen, but it’s another foot in the door.

Utah’s recent history is shaped by the devoted footsteps of thousands of pioneers searching for a land they could call home.

Today there is a new generation of pioneers.  In communities across the world, people are steadfastly, footstep by symbolic footstep, sharing ways to live in greater harmony with nature and each other.

I reach out to the Zero Waste community and ask: what are some more ways I can get the word out? What are you (or someone you know) doing in your community?”

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