Posted by urbansuburbanecoliteracy | Posted in Social Sustainability | Posted on 10-07-2010
Working in and around Los Angeles continues to bring us into contact with those who affiliate with the “green” moniker, whatever it might mean to them. Make no mistake – as socially diverse as Los Angeles is, it is still a segregated city, though nothing as blatant as Israeli walls around Palestinian villages or the wall barricading part of the southern border of the United States have been erected (yet). The borders are reified through socioeconomic stratification. Those who appear to be out of bounds are dealt with swiftly, and often brutally, by law enforcement.
The gaps between the haves and the have-nots in the United States have widened over the past 30 years, reinforced by yet another massive transfer of wealth (http://solari NULL.com/archive/missing_money/). Greenwash on the asphalt outlines socioeconomic apartheid as if to drive home the point that working class communities of color just don’t have their crap together enough to be eco-friendly hip (as though that was something to aspire to).
In case we haven’t made it abundantly clear, technological fixes won’t save humanity or save other species from extinction. Desalination won’t solve freshwater shortage problems in Southern California. We have to learn to recognize abundance in what we already have on hand and to make use of locally available materials.
A meeting with the founder and CEO of an Echo Park green nonprofit illustrated the eco-hip point well. Relieved to find herself in the company of what she believed was a sympathetic audience, she bemoaned that poor and working class communities of color don’t understand the value of value greening their lives. I countered that communities of color do indeed have environmental concerns on their radars, but the verbiage is different. The concerns and priorities differ. If “nice” white environmentally concerned liberals and social progressives humbly paid attention and listened for once instead dictating the terms of conversation by insisting that everyone use language in the same way in order to be recognized and heard, they might learn that equally valid perspectives exist in tandem with their own. This is the narcissistic vanity of many within the green movement – a sanctimonious condescension towards those who aren’t consuming their way into a “green” future.
But this is the crux of the problem: to solve the interconnected problems of overconsumption, a global economic system based on debt and cancerous expansion, and environmental destruction entails thinking differently to get different results. The problem is not merely the manufacture of material goods, it’s HOW we’re making them and WHAT we’re making them from. It entails that having stuff be disconnected from doing in order to create a desired state of being.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it (http://www NULL.addthis NULL.com/bookmark NULL.php),