So You want to be a Radical?

I got to do two great things last week with the break between my classes.

I watched the HBO Documentary “Weight of the Nation.”

And I enjoyed Salem’s 3rd Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair.

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These are two movements that I can’t get enough of and there’s actually a whole lot of links between the two of them.

Both of them present some counter-cultural choices.  There are two parts to this – the counter-cultural part and the choice part.  The status quo right now in America is to eat too much and move too little; to buy too much and reduce or reuse not enough. Unless you are making a conscious choice to identify the environmental triggers and habits that lead to both eating and buying – you’re going to do too much of them.  It’s that simple and that difficult all at the same time.

These are habits of excess, an much of them brought about by some of the lack of community up in this here US of A.  I didn’t say that, Wendell Berry did in his (1993) collection of essays Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community .  I’m inclined to agree with him.

Like a lot of revolutionary things in this world, the daily actions required for pulling off a countercultural maneuver are … pretty dull.  The second part of that documentary entitled “Choices” highlights this very well.  Losing weight is glamorous, especially on TV reality shows like the Biggest loser where someone can literally drop half their size.

But maintaining that weight?  Achingly repetitive.  There really are only so many ways to eat broccoli even if whole cookbooks are named after that.  Day in and day out for years attempting to maintain whatever weight loss has occurred, walking everywhere, taking the stairs, forgoing dessert most nights.

When it comes to “Going Green”, sure there are those radical moments like initiating Earth Day, or getting more Bike Trails funded, or striving for better sources of fuel.  And the world needs plenty of alternative thinkers, lobbyists, consultants, and innovators.  On a ground level as I’m doing my sustainability projects this year it mostly means remembering that I should buy all my sons clothes secondhand and set my beans in the pot to soak the night before I want them for a spicy bean chili.

They actually involve the same actions:  Biking to work (it’s National Bike Month, in case you didn’t know) is good for the environment and your health.  Hey, the average person loses 13 pounds their first year of bike commuting.  Crazy!


What the point here?  Being a radical is a chance to change the world, – but it’s lucky we have the internet, such as WordPress, so we can talk up all our mundane change and find others doing the same thing.  It’s important to do these things in community, so that we won’t get weary of doing good.


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

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