All Politics Are Local

I thought it appropriate on election day to repeat one of my favorite equations for happiness–a stoic flowchart that comes via Mark Fraenfelder of BoingBoing.  At the end of the day, about half of America will be happy, and half will be dismayed. All we can do is remember that beyond voting, we cannot control the outcome of the election. So a stoic would advise us to not to rail against what we cannot change or affect, but to focus on what we can change–ourselves, and our immediate environment: our household, our block, our school district, our city.

All politics are local and the good thing about local politics is that you can make a difference. For instance you can:

  • start a community or school garden
  • volunteer to teach gardening or food preservation
  • plant trees
  • build neighborhood resilience and tolerance
  • create bike lanes and walking paths
  • legalize backyard poultry and bees

Not that these local goals are necessarily easy, but they can be accomplished. And they all address resource depletion. By all means go vote today, but let’s get together after this mess and work on what is really important.

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  1. You know what would have been amazing, was if the exposition tract of land behind my house was turned into a hiking trail/community garden. I had dreams of such plans when I was in high school and even proposed that a nature center be constructed there (to a program called rails to trails). At the time I would take my dog walking through it in all of its overgrown and wild glory. It was really a beautiful piece of wild land in our concrete jungle. It’s currently being developed for the light rail (they claim there will be a ‘green space’ for walking and landscaping, but I’ll believe it when I see it.. and the stream I saw wasn’t really essential I think). It laid abandoned and empty for the past 30 years and likely longer! This piece of land is so huge, when you stand in the middle of it the sound of traffic is nearly inaudible. I’m currently on the waiting list for a local community garden, and am #100 out of 600+. I’ve been waiting for about 3 years now. :/ I know there are a lot of abandoned plots of land (ones that are waiting for who knows when to be developed). It’d be great if there was an ordinance that said after x number of years it’d be turned into communal garden space. Beats looking at a chainlink fence and dumped garbage!

    • I’m always amazed out how much land, even in Los Angeles, sits idle for decades. At the very least some kind of temporary gardening could take place like they do in Chicago at City Farm.

  2. That is one of my favorite images I’ve ever stumbled upon in my web wanderings. I printed it out and taped it in my journal to remind myself. Thanks for bringing it out on this election day. Well said.

  3. Hi Erik, Bruce Dickson here. The outcome of Nov 6th was a blessing in many ways and clearly encourages all our healthy sustainable efforts.

    What’s missing in Progressive and sustainable orgs to my ear is lack of much serious discussion of “social glue,” of the values that bring people together.

    I just googled this and the results are under-whelming; for example, only 88 results for “shared values bring people together.” So not much talk about it now; or maybe “yet.”

    Clearly Values bring people together. To go further in bringing the sustainable people together—and bring them together strongly enuf to form intentional communities and worker-owned businesses—will require more group discussion of shared values

    What I think people, including sustainable people, misunderstand is it’s now easy, obvious and natural to talk openly about, “What holds us together?” and, “What is our social glue after 2012?”

    It’s easier to talk about shared values now because the Root Simple and sustainable folks have considerable education and life experience to navigate this admittedly abstract topic.

    A second thing people misunderstand, preventing them from discussing shared values directly concerns the “lesson” learned at many Family Thanksgiving Dinners: if you raise politics or religion, it creates impossible conflict; so, these topics must be avoided at all costs. The fear of interpersonal conflict is huge in people. The higher your Emotional IQ, the greater this fear can be.

    What sustainable people misunderstand here is two things.

    One is within sustainable communities, everyone is already in the same “family” of shared values. You do NOT have the Family Thanksgiving Dinner syndrome where person of different and opposite value system must be accommodated.

    The second thing sustainable people misunderstand is a simple, easy, grass roots, homegrown explicit method for resolving interpersonal conflict, without expert intervention, has been born and exists in Compassionate (nonviolent) Communication (NVC), which any group can begin to learn with a dead-simple study group using an existing workbook-manual. NVC is also NOT like Peer Counseling, sometimes called Re-evaluation Counseling (RC). It has similarities, but is far beyond RC conceptually, rhetorically and in its aims and results.

    Related to the good news of NVC for bringing sustainable folks together is what’s called “Blueprint of we,” a better, simpler, easier way to discuss and negotiate contractual agreements, from marriage into the business world, composed by two women. This is basically “Writing Contacts for Women” and for anyone with High Emotional IQ. It does away with all the old competitive language of “wherefore” and “party of the first part” macho lingo of the 17th century competitive English paradigm. Blueprint of We includes-demands discussion; and then, written agreement about what we will do when conflict occurs; including, how each person prefers to be treated when perceived to be under stress.

    I believe the above is the post-2012 version of “shared values are what bring people together.” In accord with Earth’s rising frequency, the above things offer much more precision and insight to deal with the challenges of coming together.

    Call me if you wish a conversation on any of this, 310-280-1176.

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