We Did This

bdaypie(you know how I feel about birthday pies . . .)

Thanks so much for all of your kind words about my article for Rhythm of the Home!  It’s a joy to be part of such a supportive community.

This is another big month for us – planting beans for Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA, training a great new crew at Wheatberry, making new aprons and other exciting sewing for Wheatberry, hosting family . . . Ella turned three years old yesterday – I didn’t finish her present, but lucky for me, she’s three, so she didn’t notice!  She was, however, thrilled to have family here to play with, and excited to see her birthday banner up on the wall again.


While all of these projects are happening, though, my heart is very heavy with thoughts of the oil spill in the Gulf.  I have a lot of family in Louisiana, and I swam in the Gulf as a child – this both matters, and it doesn’t – the Gulf belongs to us all.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity – he was an environmentalist who worked as a military arms trader, flying around the globe.  Sitting in a bar, watching the footage of the Exxon Valdez spill, he realized, I did this.  And he went home and changed his life.

How bad does it have to be, how much do our hearts have to break, before we open them?

And then, how do you change a life?  How do you take responsibility?  Merkel’s insight is as true now as ever – we did this. We drive cars, eat food flown around the globe, buy products we don’t need made through extractive, polluting practices – we did this.  And now what?

I donated to Center for Biological Diversity, I’m writing my congresspeople and the President, I’m going to join Craft Hope’s gulf project, but to me, the most important path is to reaffirm our personal vows (whatever those may be) to live in line with our own values.

It is so easy, as the days pass, and new situations arise, and temptations strike, to drift.  To live in a way we don’t believe in.

For myself, I’m renewing my dedication to the ten steps we’ve talked about here.  As I go through my day, I’m going to be asking myself, once again, Am I doing this because it’s easy, or because it’s right?  We may all be angry at BP, angry at lack of regulations or enforcement, but none of that matters when placed alongside our own actions – they have been trying to pump oil as cheap as they can, because that’s what we have asked them to do.  And they will continue to do it until we truly ask them to do something else.


The current issue of Yes! is, in perfect timing, all about water, and it has a fantastic article by Francis Moore Lappe about power.  I’ll leave you with her words, because this is definitely a time where we all feel powerless – and yet we are not.

“It helps to remember ecology’s core teaching: We all exist in densely woven networks.  From the cellular to the societal level, our context shapes each of us from moment to moment . . . From this view, our power is evident.  The only choice we don‘t have is whether to change the world:  Every choice we make sends out ripples . . .

In the early 1990s, neuroscientists were studying the brain activity of monkeys . . .They saw specific neurons firing for specific activities . . .the same neurons fired when a monkey was simply watching another monkey perform that action.  . . For me, our ‘imprintability’ is itself a source of hope.  Our actions, and perhaps our mental states, register in others, so that change anyone observing us.  That’s power.”

Personally, I’m working on our Ten Steps.  I’m holding close to my heart the old St. Francis of Assisi prayer: Make me an instrument of thy Peace.

And you?  Tell us what convictions you’re working to live truly.  Change us.

6 Responses to “We Did This”

  1. 1

    Hi there!
    First off, I want to say that I would LOVE to see/hear more about the sewing you’re doing for Wheatberry. As someone who hopes to one day do something similar to what you are doing, it’s really inspiring for me to see that you make aprons for your crew, etc….I’ve always dreamed of having something like a bakery or cafe as an outlet for my pent-up creativity!
    Second, thanks for posting about the oil “spill.” I live on the Gulf coast and am absolutely devastated. I forget about it for a while during the day, which is nice, but I have several “oh my god this can’t be real” moments whenever I remember. I so agree with what you’re saying about personal responsibilty. It is easy to focus my anger on BP or our government or whoever, but I have been thinking a lot about my part in all of this. I’ve started walking to work more often (twice a week at this point, I hope to make it to 3 times a week soon) and just generally drive less. I’m committed to continuing to grind the grain for my chicken feed by hand (I had been thinking of saving up for an electric grinder, but the truth is I could use the exercise and it doesn’t tax the earth to do it by hand!). Thanks for the link to the craft hope project– I’m going to check it out.

  2. 2

    Amen, sister. My heart has been anguished over the catastrophe in the Gulf as well. Thank you, thank you for how perfectly you put this into words, that we are all responsible, and what will it take for every one of us to say, “No more” ? I met Jim Merkel briefly two years ago in Vermont, and he is completely walking his talk. So are you and your family, Adrie. What will it take to convince people that they can do the same, they can make choices they didn’t think were possible, they can do the right thing even when it’s hard?

    A very happy birthday, belatedly, to Ella, from her fans Jen, Lily, and Tom. Please tell her we think she’s fabulous and feel so glad she was born!

  3. 3

    It feels so good to be connected to your family through the words you share here. Thank you for living well, and for helping to strengthen the community of people working towards that end.

  4. 4

    Thank you so much Kyce – from a beacon like yourself, it means a lot. And hey – you inspired me to make sour cream! I just used my yogurt culture, and it’s sooo good.

  5. 5

    Thank you Jen – your support is always so appreciated. And I’ll give Ella a big kiss for all of you! Come play in the garden sometime soon.

  6. 6

    Thank you for sharing your words with us. It means so much, each gesture we make. Promise to share some glimpses of the sewing projects soon – but beware, our bakery is five years old, and I just now get to spend a wee bit of energy on things like sewing projects! (Although, my three year old has a lot to do with that too, haha). Best to you and yours.

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