Monday, June 16, 2008

Sustaining What?

Today's post was written by Douglass St. Christian as part of the newsletter included in the first delivery of this year's CSA basket.  I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with a wider audience.

Look for more of Douglass' writing in the weeks to come.

Early Morning at the Grand Bend Market Last Year

All of us are concerned about the environment and about the health and well-being of the many communities we belong to.  Sustainability - a catch-word with so many different interpretations - is becoming one of the most pressing social, political and ethical issues of our time.

What does it mean to be sustainable?  Is it simply a matter of living within our means?  Does it mean finding new, more efficient ways to carry on as we have always done or does it mean finding new ways of carrying on?  Recognizing that the choices we make, from small decisions about what dish soap to use to complex decisions about where to source our food or what method to use to heat our homes, has consequences, is the most important step we can take towards thinking about our own contributions to sustainability in the broadest sense of the word.

When we decide to support local farmers or other local food producers, we begin an engagement with ethical sustainability that should challenge us every day.  My friend Maxine Noel, who is also joint co-ordinator for the Fair Share Harvest CSA, reminds me of what her people, the Sioux, consider the basis of all decision making: "What are the consequences of this action for the next seven generations?"  That is a kind of long-term thinking which locates sustainability as a historical obligation we have to those who come after us.  It is an ethics which can transcend time and take into account a wider form of responsibility for our grandchildren and all the children who will follow.

I watch them walking to school each morning, the children whose children I must account to, and realize it is not about downsizing our lives, but about finding the right size, not only for our needs but for the needs of those we still do not know.

Until next time....


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