you can take anything i have, forever, without asking

Rabbit makes me rant.  This is a good thing actually.  Crystal has invited me to talk at his social movements class and when i pressed him for details about what he was interested on me presenting about, he simply replied “i want you to shock them.”

Prof Rabbi and friend

Prof Rabbi and friend

This got me thinking while Rabbit and i were out walking the dog along he scenic Western Drive of Santa Cruz California.  I thought back to the message that i want to push, which was first framed by the McDonogh presentation a year ago, that recycling is very nice, but you should be spending at least that much time figuring out how to better share things.

And more powerfully, that the problem with the vast majority of environmental action is that it requires real sacrifice.  Recycling takes some time, biking instead of driving is generally slower and less convenient than drive a car, growing your food w/o pesticides is far slower than simply buying commercial produce at the local supermarket.  But the place where the biggest payoff is, is in figuring out how to share things.  We have 17 cars at Twin Oaks our default world counterparts have 77 cars.  This is a huge savings, so you can work much less, but more importantly if we cut global manufacturing by 4/5ths, we could dodge climate change and not hit the wall with peak oil so hard and so soon.

So central to this rant is that the hard thing to change is your own mind.  You think what you should be doing is recycling or gardening – and those are important, but they are far less important that figuring out that about 95% of your personal material property sits idle 95% of the time.  If you are not working on this part of the problem, you are just another well meaning environmentalist who will watch the world burn.

And the very interesting central point here is the only thing you really have to change is your mind and your social relationships to make this be different (at financial advantage to all involved).  So why dont we collectively share more?   What a good question, i have some snarky replies, but they dont feel like they add much to the discussion right now.

the best paths are oft obscured by laziness

the best paths are oft obscured by laziness

The name of this post comes from an offer i make to my intimates, usually early in our connection.  You can take anything i have, forever, without asking.  Leave a note if you think i am going to miss it.  This is the lazy way i show up for sharing.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

11 responses to “you can take anything i have, forever, without asking”

  1. Andrew Sosa says :

    Paxus,
    “You think what you should be doing is recycling or gardening – and those are important, but they are far less important that figuring out that about 95% of your personal material property sits idle 95% of the time. If you are not working on this part of the problem, you are just another well meaning environmentalist who will watch the world burn.”
    This reminded me of how I felt about joining a community vs. Starting a new one. If I joined a community I don’t doubt I would be happier, and granted my footprint on the earth would shrink substantially I would still feel as though I ought to do more. I watched a video clip of a T.O member speaking about activism that resonated with me and lead me to think about how activism could be approached. She presented a dichotomy that was analogous to a two sided coin. One one side there was the activist that saw injustice or conflict in the system and then campaigned for change. On the other side is the activist that campaigned by example by presenting a functional alternative. It was stated that both were valuable and contribute toward change.

    I toyed with the dichotomy and came to the conclusion that if I were to be honest with myself I would be leaving the mainstream in self interest. It would be to relieve the guilt I feel living in the mainstream. An example of this guilt would be my profession, I am a greenhouse grower, our blooming plants come from industrialized farms built on deforested land in south America that benefits from cheap foreign labor. I know each one of my paychecks comes at the expense of many other people, and my hands are far from clean. If I left to escape this I would be leaving many people who feel just as I do to continue feeling guilty, and to continue feeding that cruel dynamic because they have not the been presented with an alternative within reach.

    I decided that the only way for me to find peace was to bring a working model to Minnesota. If I was going to really be the change I wanted to see in the world, I would have to do more than find an alternative for myself. I would have to find a way to share that peace.

    Andrew Sosa (Athene)
    Aurora Project, Minnesota

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Andrew:

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. i personally have rejected the “moving to a commune is escapism, you need to stay in the mainstream world and fight
      the system from within” argument. i appreciate that there are pioneers like you and he other folks at Aurora (and Twin Oaks and Acorn) who are showing working models of alternative low impact ways to live. When ever i speak in public i can see the existence of these places strongly influences (especially students) as to other trajectories for their lives.

      And the statement you quoted from my blog post is designed to satisfy the request that i “shock” these graduate students i will be presenting to on Monday. No one likes to hear that their sustainability efforts are insufficient and it is possible i am wrong, but i have to say, at this point in my life, i am betting pretty heavy on the idea that we need to change things pretty dramatically or the whole game is over.

      Thanks for doing your part and good luck with Aurora and i hope to see someone from it at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference labor day weekend.

      Paxus in Santa Cruz
      23 Early Flowers 2013

      • Andrew Sosa says :

        The conference could also prove to be a good deadline to make headway in a few critical endeavors for Aurora. I know I will make every effort to be there. I think your strategy will definitely captivate them. It’s hard to ignore such a direct challenge. I can see the accusation rattling them, and if you can get them to think about it, even for just a bit, you would have planted a seed for change. I agree with you, the changes will be dramatic, and I believe they will come around when they realize what is at stake. I believe it’s a matter of opening eyes, and seeing how one person’s actions affect the world around them and it’s not a realization that happens over night. The seed must take root and grow with how the individual experiences the world. It must grow in the face of social dogma, and that is something that one invested in the mainstream grapples with before committing to change. Most are already aware change is on the horizon, we have to convince them they have what it takes to make the changes we need to see to create a stronger regenerative Earth for future generations. It makes me and all of us forming Aurora grateful, we have people like you in the world. Just knowing you guys are out there gives us hope, I know we can do this.

        Andrew Sosa (Athene)
        Aurora Project, Minnesota

  2. Eric says :

    Agreed. Our contemporary society has gotten away from the natural sharing that our species really is genetically capable of to an extent never seen before in history.
    It seems like the most natural decision in the world to return to a more communal ethic.
    In addition to the environmental necessity that you mention, the other great need that sharing and greater community ties (and less personal acquisitiveness) fulfills is that it would feel more natural and lead to greater belonging and interdependence. And that can only loosen the hold that the corporate oligarchy has over our minds and speed our “home-coming” as Thomas Berry puts it.
    The example you folks are setting is really the best path forward in my opinion and I’m glad to see you’re out there spreading the word. It’s easy to go through life in this society not even knowing that such an alternative exists.

    • paxus says :

      @Eric:

      It is completely reasonable that you should assume that.my pitch about sharing is a call for people to move into community. But actually the insufficiently explored area is how people living in the default world/mainsteam can have far greater levels of sharing in there lives w/o leaving their current neighborhoods. Tool and vehicle libraries, laundramats linked to clothes lending libraries, gifting and barter events. The communes have failed to replicate at sufficient rate to be a viable solution for the problems we face. Sharing needs to be made easier and culturally encouraged.

      • Eric says :

        That’s a real good point. Still, if it’s a beat-the-clock situation we are in (and I think it is) that’s too slow a road too. Lobbying for governmental and international regulations such as cap and trade I seems to me are the fast track to avoiding disaster.

        On a related note, here’s a link to a Thomas Berry essay that I think you might enjoy. I think it gets to the heart of why consciousness raising is so important. http://www.thomasberry.org/Essays/MeadowAcrossCreek.html

  3. paxus says :

    @Eric:

    One of the things i do is attend the annual Dominion shareholders meetings. Senior management is intensely interested in carbon cap and trade and other control mechanisms. For several years now they ahve been saying their is no political will in DC for this type of change. Perhaps this is wishful thinking on their part (as is the idea that they are actually going to build a third reactor at North Anna near Louisa) and it matches my read. If you have energy to lobby governments, i encourage you to do that. i am going to try to keep getting people to change their resource impact by sharing things and promoting these cooperative systems.

    Paxus in Santa Cruz
    23 Early Flowers 2013

    • Eric says :

      Hey, any and all consciousness raising is equally important work, and my hat’s off to anyone who does it. For my part, I spent years being involved in the small depressed steel town that I live in. Door to door work, speaking at council meetings, appointed to the Planning Commission, and later the RDA… Not involved anymore, but it’s hard, frustrating but also rewarding. Being divorced six months now, I’m looking into what I want to do in a few years when my youngest child is ready to go off on his own. That’s why I’m interested in Twin Oaks. Have been interested in the commune idea since I was a teenager and now find myself in a position where I can eventually change my direction.

      • paxus says :

        @Eric:

        if i have not mentioned this already, you should come to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference labor day weekend. See http://www.communitiesconference.org/

        The reason i say this is several fold

        First TO has a waiting list which can be as long as a year
        Second the Comm Conf will introduce you to several communities
        Third, TO may well turn out to not be your cup of tea and this event
        will help you see that there are many other flavors of community for yu to choose.

        Paxus in Santa Cruz
        24 Early Flowers 2013

      • Eric says :

        Thanks for the suggestion Paxus. My job keeps me tied up most holiday weekends, BUT I do plan to take a Saturday tour in July when I’m down in the area. Really looking forward to that! Maybe I’ll check out Acorn too. A year waiting list isn’t a killer for me since I’m thinking long term. The three week visit part is something I’ll have to work out with my work, but I don’t want to get to that point for another three years for my son’s sake. Yeah, I can’t really know if TO would be right for me at this stage (or whether I would be accepted) but I’ve been all over the website and YouTube and am very impressed. One thing I do know for sure is that it’s inspiring! Community, variety of work, room for personal growth, living closer to nature and working with plants and animals… What’s not to like? :O) Heck, I’d be able to make a bigger contribution in that situation AND have more personal flexibility than in any other option I can think of.

        Hey, maybe the internet age will be what allows the commune movement to start growing again in the future.

  4. Kiwi says :

    Living in Babylon, I see every day how resource sharing could dramatically improve the quality of life for the poor working class neighborhood I live in. While there are a small handful of neighbors willing to help each other, a good many residents are not interested or distrustful of any sort of sharing system. More to the point, it seems they are distrustful in general. While we are working to put in place successful sharing models and rebuild trust levels, I’m often accosted by the thought that there aren’t enough years left to repair the psychological damage done to this community by way of the city, developers, police, slumlords, and perhaps most importantly, some of its own residents. I read your blog regularly for inspiration and tactics.

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