Recently I have been in Los Angeles teaching at Antioch University. A few weeks ago I was in a city in northern Spain, watching the narrow streets fill with people of all ages—coming together to eat and drink and enjoy each other. As an environmentalist, I believe that the cultural conversation has shifted to green cities—walkable, livable, lovable, filled with beauty and art--the hope now for our relationship to the planet. Cities are where 85 percent of Americans now live, where humans will use the least resources and emit the fewest greenhouse gases, where creativity sparks in the diminished spaces between us, where we’ll contain the damage of overpopulation. Long ago, in the 1980s, my husband and I were back-to-the-landers, believing we were on the cutting edge of social change. We were part of a larger cultural conversation, wanting to root our lives in soil and sun, to make the world better by making our personal connections to the natural world more direct in the shape of an onion or an adobe brick—with a home-built house and a too-big garden and two homebirths and two goats and too much goat cheese in the refrigerator. Today I am acutely aware that living in the rural West is less ecologically sound than living in places like Madrid or Portland. I am not unhappy that the ideas of my youth—the very arc of my life--have been proven wrong. I’m only relieved that the cultural conversation is still alive. I’m pleased hope still exists.
The Small Heart of Things
2 days ago