Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Been A While

I know, I've been a neglectful blogger. Life has just been too full of real-life dramas, work, mini-crises, joys and important events that I haven't had time to blog. This weekend, for example, I will be presenting a workshop as well as participating in a debate at Raising Change: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference. I'm a little stressed out about both, but also really excited to be in a space with 600 other movement fundraisers, organizers and activists talking about money and power and politics and how to integrate all three in a way that's progressive, strategic and ethical.

Wedding stuff has definitely taken over a good chunk of my day-to-day life as well. Less than 60 days left 'til the big day! I can hardly believe it. And it seems like just yesterday that I didn't even know what dress I was going to wear.

I have found some time to go blog-trolling, and added Ivy Hill neighbor Nicole Clausing's blog to my roll.

I can't promise I'll be back anytime soon, so take care while I'm gone!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not

I just saw Wall-E last night, the new movie about the last lonely robot on a future, uninhabitable Earth whose job (or 'directive' as they say in the film) is to compact bits of trash into small cubes and build huge skyscrapers of compacted garbage. Although it's a G-rated film, the talented folks at Pixar definitely had an adult audience in mind when they made this strangely and wonderfully sweet and romantic dystopian movie, and I think everyone should go see it. As a film, it's brilliant cinematically, plot-wise and in terms of character development and 'acting' by the animated robots. As a commentary on the effects of our rampant consumerism and accompanying laziness (especially in the First World) on the Earth and our own evolution, it's also totally on target and profound. My stomach even started to turn a little when they showed the potential future of human beings in outer space: each human being, fat from lack of exercise and having machines do everything for us, sitting in individual moving chairs that have people plugged in to an instant-gratification communication, shopping and entertainment monitor (sound familiar to anyone?) and oblivious to anything else going on around them. It was bizarrely cute, creepy, comical and uncanny at the same time.

The film made me think a lot about how much we waste things in this country, in this society. I remember when I went back to the Philippines, to the province where my family lived (basically the countryside) and there were so few garbage cans anywhere. Not that there wasn't garbage to be sure--they burned a lot of it which has its own environmental downsides--but there was much, much less there than here, because they recycled so much. In Cuba even moreso, there was so little garbage. I remember being in Santiago and even Havana, the two largest cities in Cuba, and being amazed at the lack of trash on the streets, even in the garbage cans that sat unused at the edge of plazas and sidewalks. When you don't have much, you don't waste things, you figure out other ways to use them. Cuba is the best example to me of a country that has survived, despite massive economic and political pressure from the US, by recycling and repurposing 'old' stuff. And they've not only survived--albeit on a level of tough struggle that I don't envy--they've been able to create beautiful works of automotive art out of salvaged cars and parts, maintain and evolve a rich musical heritage through the decades that includes music like son, 'salsa', reggaeton and Cuban hip hop, and become a popular tourist destination for people from the Global North who want to experience this amazing display of ingenuity, culture and resistance.

I'm rethinking how I can have less, waste less and therefore want less. It's no longer a way of life that I think we can decide to choose or not choose. By our past choices to waste and exploit and be greedy with the Earth's resources, we are quickly realizing that this new way of anti-waste is choosing us.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Part of the Matrix Again

I just got back from my writing retreat, and damn, I have to say that I am an Internet junkie, moreso than I thought I was. There was a wireless connection at the retreat center I was at, but it was a good 100 yard walk from my little cabin, and I was trying to wean myself from the addiction, so I only used it three times while I was there. But then again, I was only there for three days so I pretty much used it everyday. It's funny, because I pride myself on being a Gen-Xer who still knows how to ask for directions and use a (paper!) map versus relying on Mapquest or a GPS device, but I have to say that I'm disturbed by how dependent I feel on DSL. Ick.

Maybe I need to put myself on an Internet diet. My friend Julie Davidson-Gomez did this once and blogged about it. Sounds intriguing. I'm super-dependent on email at work, and because of how we're set up, with several offices all over the state, it would be pretty hard not to use email for a couple days, but on the weekends there really isn't a real reason for me to use the Internet. I mean, I could check my bank account balance via phone, I can actually CALL people---texting is sort of cheating, but technically isn't not email, right?--instead of emailing them, i could actually just use the phone to find out the hours of a certain store I want to go to. Remember that thing called a landline? Yes, I could actually even use one of those.

Hmph. It's an interesting concept. I'd like to play with it more. I am proud to say that without 24-hour access to an Internet connection I was able to get a lot done, including tons of writing, and still not feel very bored the rest of the time. I read a lot, I listened to music (okay, I didn't stop using my computer for things other than writing--that would be too much to ask!) and I actually paid attention to the little sounds of nature around me, and of course, to the quiet. That was so soothing to this stressed-out, over-stimulated city chick.

No promises now, but maybe in a week or so I'll try to 'unplug' just from the Internet for a couple days. We'll see how it goes.