“But what can we do to make a difference?”

Glad you asked!

We can change the ratio of pavement to greenery in cities. By becoming active citizen-participants in our city governments and other local governments. Many cities are reducing their road/parking area and increasing food-growing area, forest parks etc. We can reduce automobile dependency while at the same time bringing more food into cities.

Also: we can get excessively restrictive zoning and building codes changed in order to promote more sustainable housing in cities.

Another idea: we can amplify anti-consumerist fads such as the DIY clothing movement. The clothing industry has a huge footprint; although they are working on making some changes we every day people can do a lot to move the needle.

In one of my businesses, landscaping, I am working to normalize the use of quiet hand- tools and the planting of native vegetation and trees rather than huge expanses of turf grass that require machinery to maintain. The landscaping industry has a huge footprint but we can spark a beneficial shift. Actually that is already happening with things such as the rewilding movement, pollinator yards, and so on.

We can pledge to no longer own a motor vehicle. We can pledge to no longer fly in airplanes. I have done both.

We can radically reduce our electricity consumption. In our household we basically only need electricity for our phones. Although we do use it for convenience to cook, and one housemate has a TV, we do not use air conditioning or water-heater or clothes dryer or any other major energy hogs.

We can choose to share living quarters instead of living alone. We can share tools and resources instead of each of them to have our own.

We can strive to eat a more local and plant centered diet. Where I live it’s a little bit challenging but not impossible, and I am always working on it: increasing my repertoire of vegan meals, growing at least a few greens at home, etc.

Money: We can refuse to participate in the stock market, and keep as little money as possible in banks, instead investing in our homes, supporting local businesses, reskilling education, our own physical and mental wellness, mutual aid, neighborhood toolsheds, community gardens…

Work: We can limit our working hours and income to some basic minimum level needed to get our needs met. We can transition away from extractive “jobs” into regenerative occupations. I have done this for a while.

We can give indigenous people their land back. They are the best caretakers of ecosystems worldwide.

This is just a couple of things off the top of my head. None of these will by itself make a huge shift. But millions of other people all over the world are doing what I do and doing similar. Other millions and millions of people are doing other beneficial things. It all adds up and it is contagious.

UPDATE 6/19/23: Also: We can engage in visual storytelling. The power of story and image is immense. I have written about this on many occasions, and am sharing here today something wonderful that came across my feed (thanks Laura L Z!).

From The Nature Of Cities, one of my favorite organizations, this roundtable about the power of visual storytelling to address ecological crisis, social injustice:

“Although the comics landscape is dominated by superheroes doing classic superhero things, there is a growing movement of comics that have environmental and social justice aims. The Nature of Cities has launched a comic series called NBSComics — Nature to Save the World, a collaboration funded by NetworkNature and the European Commission on nature-based solutions for environmental challenges. Rewriting Extinction (with almost 2M readers on webtoon) is a remarkable series of comics with a community of over 300 artists, scientists, and storytellers. Le Monde Sans Fin (World Without End), by artist Christophe Blain and scientist Jean-Marc Jancovici, is a best-selling graphic novel exploring energy and climate change. As JosĂ© Alaniz discusses in this round table, even Superman, in Superman for Earth, struggled against ecological degradation. There are an increasing number of examples.”

Here’s the link to the whole roundtable – 23 comic creators, scientists, & practitioners share their thoughts. “Visual storytelling: Can comics help us advance solutions to our social and environmental challenges? Yes.