Friday, March 27, 2009

Shrinking for the Global Good

While I've been missing from this space I've been thinking. Yeah, really. About lots of things. About how we are all connected. About shrinking the footprint those of us in the developed world make. About my own (continuing??? I hope) downsizing. We've been downsizing a lot of things, really. Commitments. Spending. But mostly stuff and space consumed and car trips.

Today's illustration is a collage of (mostly) decade-old scribbles from a notebook. Originals recycled. Yeah, I have no delusions of about the value of my own messy notebooks. I do however try to capture actual journal entries in a computer file and I enjoy scanning some of the hand-written and drawn stuff for my amusement. Several cubic feet of this stuff remains to be dealt with in the downsizing of the 2000's, but every little bit helps, I figure.

We have moved out of 3000 square feet on 2/3 of an acre into 1200 sq. feet in a high rise footprint. We still have a house that serves as a home for my dad (and housing for a few visitors) and we help FFP's parents remain in their cottage. So, yeah, decadent amounts of space. But less. We consider stuff acquisitions now in terms of having space to store things. I'm also thinking about how much I might use something. We are trying to buy local (from the grocery store downstairs, from local restaurants) and support local arts groups and charities serving our community. I go days without starting my (old but fuel-efficient and with maintained pollution control) vehicle. I am planning trips, but when I go somewhere I want to stay a little longer and make the jetting less wasteful.

When I read my papers about tent cities in the U.S. and conditions world-wide I feel a little helpless in the face of it, but I really think that what we do right here makes a tiny difference. I know that our lives are wildly extravagant to many people in my own city and country and unbelievable to millions around the world. I don't want to give up my computer and my AV stuff and my meals and fine wine and my glorious lifestyle. But I'm trying to make changes, not sacrifices, that both simplify my world and make a small difference in the rest of the world and the future. Is it 'enough?' For me, it is. I'm going to try to escape the next couple of decades (after which the world belongs to someone else) in relative comfort with time to think and space enough. Free time and free thinking...they are pollution-free and can be constructive!


Eugene Sepulveda said...

Nice thoughts, Linda. We've been having them as well. To those blessed with security during these trying times, what are our responsibilities? Certainly to help our immediate families - and this might be enough if all we're capable of doing. If we're capable of more, what's this mean? And, what constitutes sacrifice?

Linda Ball said...

It will be interesting to see what you decide.

Sarah said...

I've been "needing" and "wanting" less, trying to sort out excess and give it to someone who needs it more than I. In the process, I've been discovering that I'm actually more comfortable with less, with clothes I really like and wear regularly, with a shelf of cherished books, with the occasional shared bottle of wine. Why did I ever think I needed a closet full of summer clothes plus another closet full of winter clothes? Not to mention a garage with books stacked to the rafters.

We even have fewer pets, though I'd love to get another dog, and the garden is the same, but those are of a different category, living things to share my space.

I feel lighter and less encumbered, now. Must do more of same.