How to teach? or: about organic socks (not another article on sustainability), part 2

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Ingrid Wood — Brielle, The Netherlands, (Tuesday 7 December 2016)

to Teach is

Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I’ll understand. Chinese Proverb


Plastic Man – Citizens Protest, 5 dec 2016, Maskerade in Brielle, The Netherlands.

To teach is: to do, by example. It’s only because of me being here this past year that my mother started recycling plastic. She didn’t believe something was actually being done with it. That it still all gets burned in the ovens. Not anymore, most plastic gets recycled now in the Netherlands, but only since 2007*. I had gone to a presentation on circular economy and learned a new plastic recycling factory was opening in Rotterdam. I told Mom I may want to go to the opening and tour the facility (didn’t make it). I didn’t coerce my mom, I simply shared. Mom realized that she hardly had any trash left over once she separated out plastic. Almost e-ve-ry-thing is wrapped in plastic: bags of apples, a chicken breast in a plastic, cookies, rice, the local advertising and paper. Yay, we can still buy vegetables loose! Then look: where do they come from? Green beans from Ethiopia… okay, will cover local food some other time.

To teach is: to learn. Just like plastic, there’s a ton of data out there, and it is so tempting to read articles and ‘figure it all out’. By now I know I won’t figure it out that way. Crunching data, proving numbers, another piece of technology, another ‘expert’, they aren’t going to save the day… save us.

To teach is: to think. To ask. To listen, to be quiet. To discern noise from importance. To decide what I want to know, and what I don’t. I turned that tv off in 2001 when my friend became obsessed with 9/11. I turned off the endless stream of information. The next expert does not have all the answers. The next data set isn’t going to change our behavior. Trying to know everything drives me crazy. I call it the JC Penney overload, like walking into a department store when all you want is 1 pair of jeans. As soon as I found Goodwill and ARC, I stopped going to JC Penney’s.

To teach is: to breathe life, to inspire. I joined the Green Cities Coalition (GCC) in January of 2009 and felt at home. These people were ‘doing something’ and they were passionate and inspiring. Green Cities provided a place to connect, to learn, to be supported and to belong. Even across the globe I still experience that belonging and support.

Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I’ll understand. Chinese Proverb

tipTIP: hat are you interested in? Water, air, energy, transportation, growing food? Find a group in your neck of the woods that inspires you. Just Google ‘sustainability’ with your city’s name. If you can’t go to any meetings, sign up for their newsletter. Find them on Facebook or such, and read.

TIP 2: And buy organic cotton (or woolen) socks not wrapped in plastic for Christmas.

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