Build the World you Want. Forget about what you don’t want.
[You can listen to me read this below]
That has become one of my driving mottoes in the last couple of years, since writing Be a Hobbit. In the book, it manifested as “Focus on the Shire you want, not the Mordor you don’t.”
I see so many people, myself included, caught up everyday bitchin’ and moanin’ and protesting about the things that are wrong with the planet, with civilization, with society, with their neighbors, with their families and friends.
Where does that get us?
No-fuckin-where really. There’s a small value in articulating the problem, sure. But once that’s done–which doesn’t usually take very long–then we should move on to working on a solution to said problem, not get stuck in the complaining mode. Fuck complaining. It’s a waste of time and energy.
Get to Work: Be an Actionist, not just an Activist
Don’t just be an activist. It’s fine to be active, to be passionate about some cause or whatever, but don’t stop with just speaking out about it. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Be an Action-ist; get to work on solutions to the problem. And don’t stop short trying to work on slapping bandaids on it; always look for the root causes of the issue.
“But where do we start?” you ask.
“At Home,” I say.
A very good friend of mine, and fellow actionist, Barb, has a bumpersticker on her old, beatup, hippy mobile, compact car, along with a shit-ton of other stickers, that reads, “THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.” And if I had to sum up the thesis of Be a Hobbit in one sentence, that would be it, and that’s why, and how, I ended up the manager of the West Side Farmers Market, two blocks from my house. Which is only ONE way to act locally, of course. There are millions of ways to do it, but a farmers market is an excellent place to start.
The Best Side Farmers Market: Healing the Food System and Building Community
I argue, and have argued, and will continue to argue, that central to most of the World’s problems is the human food system, which is obviously broken. Instead of producing our food locally with sustainable and safe methods, we produce it all over the world and ship it an average of 1500 miles before it reaches the American table, and the U.S. isn’t alone in this, though we are by far the worst.
We have opted for cheap calories instead of nutrition. But they aren’t that cheap when you add up all the energy it takes to produce those calories, which are of course a measure of energy to begin with. In the U.S., we burn about 11 calories of energy–most via fossil fuels–to produce every 1 calorie of food. That’s fuckin’ ridiculous waste!
Cue up local farmers and local farmers markets.
The beauty of buying your food locally, especially directly from the farmer, is that you cut a lot of that waste out, you get fresher food that is more often than not, grown or raised in more sustainable ways–many times organically–and quite frankly, it’s usually cheaper than buying it at the big box grocery stores, which suck anyway.
And at the West Side Farmers Market, in St. Paul, where I’m the manager, you’re also gonna get hot food, ice cream, donuts, coffee, LIVE MUSIC, sometimes dancers, art projects, kids activities, a place to sit down and eat all that food and drink your coffee while listening to the music and talking to your friends and neighbors, and loads of fabulous produce, breads, and goodies that you ain’t gonna find in the grocery store. It is an amazing place. It’s more of a weekly, neighborhood party, than a shopping experience, though there’s plenty of shopping to do as well.
So, while mending the food system, we’re also building a stronger community, or Shire as I like to call it, by bringing the neighborhood together in a fun, engaging place. The energy that runs through our market every week is intoxicating, and always positive.
I’m not gonna turn this into a dissertation on the wonders of farmers markets, especially small ones like mine, but you should look around you to see what your town or neighborhood has, and go check it out!
If you don’t have one, START ONE! It’s not that difficult, really. There’s loads of information online to get you started.
If you DO have one, and it’s not as awesome as the West Side Farmers Market, then just visit us in person, check out our Facebook page for ideas. Steal the ideas and replicate them! Then come up with some new ones, and let me know so we can steal YOURS! It’s not stealing anyway; it’s just sharing.
And doesn’t the world need a little more sharing?