Notes from Windward: #67


Sustainability and Bike Rides

Becca offers her perspective on sustainability

     What is sustainability? Sustainability is a long term mindset based on transitioning our society from one that's focused on short term gains to long term prosperity. It's a mindset based on harmony, incorporating techniques from a variety of disciplines, to try to form a way of living, which like the leave no trace motto, leaves the world better off than it was originally. Sustainability also has to be about fun, as Walt likes to say, for if it's not fun, it can't be sustainable in the long run, since people won't want to participate.

     So for that reason, this past Sunday, Walt, Alison, and I went on a bike ride down by the Klickitat River. It's gorgeous down there, on one side you have steep red rock clifts, on the other you have the river where free range cattle graze alongside. The trail is an old logging road closed off to car traffic so for miles you can bike along the Klickitat without being afraid that a car will kick up dust in your face. The trail goes for about 8 miles and then ends abruptly in a place where the Klickitat river washed the paved trail away. At the end of the trail if you walk a little into the woods you get to a place where the sand is black and as fine grained as dust particles that float away into the wind when you let them run through your fingers.


     When I think of how that sand was formed, it started off as volcanic rock that over millions of years was ground down by water to form small particles. Long before humans were around, the earth was there forming the processes that we depend on, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, evolution, etc. In the last few centuries with the human population and standard of living increasing rapidly, negative human impact on the earth has also increased substantially threatening to radically change the climate of the earth as we know it, which ultimately comes back to threaten our own well being through things like droughts and more severe storms. So what are we to do now? There are plenty of leaders that advocate the need for rapid change at the institutional level found in such forms as carbon trading and renewable energy standards. While these are necessary and important steps to take, change also needs to come from the human level, from the average joe level.

     Sustainability at the local level is a freeing feeling because it means you are taking control of your destiny. Instead of waiting for political pressures to build up to the point where government decides that change is politically feasible, sustainability at the local level allows oneself to transition into the new world in their own way based on their own needs. For some, that means moving to cities to lesson ones dependence on gasoline. For some that means installing wind turbines or buying energy efficient appliances. For some that means buying used products or growing one's own food or advocating for alternative energy. Whatever our method is, we have control over our destiny and our success will depend on our ability to get as many people in on this as possible. As a people we are powerful, and as a people we can make this world into something that we can all be proud to hand over to our children.

     And the more complete the vision is, the more people can make the connection that they have the power to take control of their destiny. Again, going back to the main reason why I love the train, the more overlapping connections we have with people who we perceive to be different than us, the more we can start realizing a grander vision for humanity to strive towards. Understanding the similarities in all of us and the roots of disagreement, war and misunderstandings is essential to seeing the larger picture.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67