Where We Went Wrong: Errors Limiting Effectiveness of the Eco Movement

(A list that’s been cooking in my mind for awhile now. What would you add to this list? Also note that I use the past tense, went wrong. A shift is happening!)

• Not seeing ourselves as the leading edge, not taking leadership; falling into a victim mentality vis a vis government & corporations. Why were we not insisting on walkable cities, on housing developments that conserved resources (and not incidentally facilitated community instead of eroding it)? Why did we roll over and play dead, move into HOAs etc “because schools” – why didn’t we take leadership with our own KIDs, realize WE were the ones to teach the important lesson of conserving resources, putting real physical and emotional health, ahead of opulence and comfort and convenience? We taught our kids materialism against our own principles. We fell in line with everyone else who made a god of convenience. Now we can take charge of creating what we want, if we can’t find it out there.

Just because we don’t (or think we don’t) have access to the traditional conventional mainstream power structure does NOT mean we don’t have power, and does not excuse us from exercising leadership. People in power have listened to me when I spoke constructively from the heart, even though I didn’t look like anybody special.

• Not seeing the self-interest angle. Suffering, self-styled planetary martyrs don’t present an attractive example to emulate. People copy what WORKS and ROCKS and LOOKS GOOD. The other night at a city meeting, one of our city commissioners talked about taking a trip to California and seeing all the stylish beautiful people carrying around their metal straws and reusable eating utensils while out and about.

• Not walking our talk. When people are living in a way that’s out of keeping with their core values, other people can sense that. And the reverse is just as true! Live your values; you’ll inspire others.

• Continuing to waste time debating with climate denyers and other eco naysayers. Squandering our energy trying to persuade them. Ditto for engaging in finger-pointing; setting out to take down the people we see as wrong. We need to be spending far more time engaged in doing the actions we truly believe are right (and making those actions contagious), than focusing on the people we feel are wrong.

• Not putting our financial money where our mouth is. How many of us protesting the big bad corporations have retirement accounts tied to Wall Street? What if we invested it in our own cities’ Main Streets instead? Or in local farms? One of my favorite questions, from Woody Tasch of Slow Money, is, “What would happen if we invested at least 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?” How about within 10 miles? Sustainable finance (or better yet, regenerative finance) is a subject that merits a whole separate post. Stay tuned; I will be posting more about finance in the not-too-distant future.