Sunday, September 10, 2006

On living generously

Some of you may have noticed and even clicked on the link to the Year of Living Generously which has been part of my side-bar for a good year now.
The Generous project was launched 2 years ago at Greenbelt, and has grown substantially since then. To quote the home page

…is an online experiment based on a shared hunch that looking after this planet and its people is what we are all here for and that if many of us can make small changes in our everyday choices then over time we can make a big difference for everyone.

The Hunch…
…is this. That the gap between rich and poor in our world should not be the way it is, that we only have one planet to share and that there is more to life than how much stuff we can pile up. It all started when a few of us began wondering what a community of people could achieve if they acted together to live more generously in the world? Maybe the Internet could connect us as we started to make those small everyday changes… and maybe keeping in touch with others might show us that the cumulative effect of our small lifestyle choices is more influential than we could imagine.

The theory is that you commit yourself to a couple of generous actions each month from a list of staggering diversity, and you're encouraged and supported by the existence of an online community which offers cheers and consolation along the way. This works really well up to a point, but as I pondered the whole stewardship question before Harvest Festival, I was very aware that the Good in Parts household has reached a sticking place.

Over the last year we’ve committed to at least try to
  • Shower More, Bath Less
  • Ban the Bulb! – doing all we can to encourage the disappearance of those incandescent bulbs that are so wasteful of resources.
  • Choose To Have One Meat-Free Day A Week In our Home
  • Get someone to join Generous
  • Perfect our Pasta (did you know that once it has come to the boil, if you turn off the ring the pasta cooks quite happily in the residual heat? It does work, truly)
  • Know our local political leaders
  • Phone a friend - someone who has sent a card this year who you don't see often
  • Recycle our Empty Inkjet Cartridges
  • Give our Unwanted / Unworn Clothes To Charity
  • Encourage Others To Undertake Living Generously Actions
  • Take A Mug To Work - don't use plastic
  • Unplug our Chargers - reduce your emissions (I'm really bad at this one)
  • Compost our Leftovers
  • Stop Taking Carrier Bags From Shops
  • Switch To Energy Saving Lightbulbs - perhaps set a target for your home this year
  • Recycle Greetings Cards
  • Give Thanks Before A Meal
  • Become A Blood Donor
  • Put Eco Balls in the washing machine
  • Plant A Tree
  • Sign Up Online To Become An Organ Donor
  • Buy Presents That Make A Difference
  • Slow Down, Calm Down - stick to the speed limit
  • Plant some bulbs
  • Give Something Away - and declutter life
  • Bank Ethically

That looks like a really good list, doesn’t it? but I’m absolutely not blowing my own trumpet, or that of my family here. You see, I think we’ve kind of reached a plateau. All of those actions were extremely achievable to a middle class family with a comfortable life style. They may involve a bit of thinking before we act, but fundamentally they’ve not really made us change anything radically. I wrote recently on the Generous website:
We recycle everything that we can locally, I’ve majored on Fair Trade food and clothing for a few years now,and we’ve recently joined a veg box scheme. We live in a clergy house, so there’s a limit to the things we can do to improve its generosity, but we use low energy bulbs, are careful with water and have a hippo in the loo . Though we each have a car, I cycle or walk round the parish. That’s all fine It feels to me as if the next stage will involve the whole family in moving up a gear…and I’m not honestly sure where to start.

Nothing we’ve done so far has really involved painful change for anyone…but I know that we’re light years away from having the sort of essentially generous outlook that I long for.
I have a horrible feeling the next step may be one that feels almost beyond me…one which involves real deep change, even sacrifice, one which I'm certain I can't actually manage on my own. And, as so often with these things, I'm not even sure I actually have the will to change, even though I know my children's world may depend on it.

Now, where have I heard that before?

1 comment:

Pink Shoes said...

I've kept this post of yours new on my bloglines for a few days because I wanted to read it in its entirety and to ponder it more carefully, and it came at a point when I didn't feel I had the time. I took the time now and am glad I did. We, too, do many of those things that you listed, but I don't often feel that we do them with much thought, nor do we take the next step and push ourselves to think about what *else* we could be doing.

Also, this prompts for me the other question about Greenbelt -- could you fill this poor girl in on what exactly this is, as it sounds so delightful on your blog and on others that I've read around. Feel free to email if that's easiest, and as always, at your convenience... no rush, at all!

Peace to you and yours.