Saturday, 8 January 2011


“[An] activist is one who takes any form of action, ranging from direct physical acts to minute lifestyle adjustments, and also includes simply voicing concerns or opinion”
(Pickerill, 2003)

The internet is a vast source of information – steps to take for a more “eco-conscious” lifestyle, connections with like-minded groups, survival tips for a post-oil existence. I find myself easily lost; reading, worrying and not doing.

Looking at my online eco-connections, I can see the seeds of plans, helping charities and “growing my own”. I am “embodied” in these places, they are important to me, but what am I doing? Financial and vocal support, communicating with like-minded people, voting with my mouse, what am I achieving?

Writing can be viewed as a “social action” (Winkelmann, 1995) – writing this essay, this blog, sharing my experiences may help to inspire others. Learning from the example of others, people from different cultures and backgrounds is incredibly important and inspiring. But are these connections too “thin” without face-to-face interaction, being literally grounded (Pickerill, 2003)? I can admire the work of the guerilla gardeners who share their stories on the Facebook group, but if I do not take action in my local community, what use does my armchair gardening serve?

Pickerill (2003) reports that movements use both social networks and “moral shocks” to encourage recruitment to causes. Monroe (2003) highlights a global view about the role of humans on the planet, belief about environmental threats and a belief that actions will result in a positive outcome as being key in the development of environmental literacy.

However, Macy (1995) says that more reports about how bad a situation is in can lead to a sense of powerlessness and frustration - “there is nothing I can do about it” (p248). She goes on to say that we need to face our grief to free us to find creative solutions. My cherry tree reflection is my “despair work”. Sterling (2009) agrees that too much information is disempowering “without a deeper and broader learning process taking place”.

All this is applicable to my life, but I need to take a holistic view of myself, the foundation of my global view of environmental issues. Regenerating community requires that we start with ourselves (McIntosh, 2008), but I see dualism in my actions between work and home. Why “work/life” balance? Is work only “life” if it is unbalanced – can’t the two be integrated better?

Can my learning and teaching in and of themselves become “activism”?

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