That was the main message I got from today's Green Living Conference . I feel privileged on so many levels to have been able to attend, and it was very inspiring to be around so many other people who clearly felt the same way. I don't really know where to start, I feel as though I have so much to say about all that I saw and learned.
The conference was hosted by Greg Peterson, of The Urban Farm who is one of the main movers and shakers of sustainable living here in the valley. Apart from The Urban farm, he and his business partner Amy Godfrey also run Your Guide To Green a resource for sustainable living products and information. Greg is an energetic speaker, and this was evident today, as it was for all of the other guests that I saw.
Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden spoke about permaculture and how these principles can be applied for those of us that live in the suburbs. The basic principles he discussed were as follows-
Plant densely such as within square foot gardening, otherwise known as "Stacking and Packing." This provides the benefits of conserving water, providing shade, and using fertile land economically.
Use living resources such as hens and pigs to naturally prepare the soil for crops, while providing vital nutrients at the same time.
Harvest Rainwater to conserve precious water resources, while not wasting potable water.
Create guilds of plants, a mainstay of permaculture, which increase biodiversity. (I thought he was speaking about guilds of people at first!)
Observe nature which has all of this stuff figured out already if we would only watch and take notice.
The results of course are truly green and sustainable living.
(I actually bought Gaia's Garden which was rather extravagant of me, but I couldn't resist it, especially as Toby Hemenway signed it for me as well!)
Brad Lancaster spoke eloquently and hilariously about his work in Tucson and beyond with rainwater harvesting, and the use of greywater systems. I learned so much from him and realised almost immediately that much of what I am doing in our yard is contrary to so many of the principles he teaches. He made it clear though that it is OK to make mistakes with all of this stuff, and that ultimately this is how we learn. His enthusiasm and passion for his work was so obvious and infectious, as was his message that all of this can create and maintain beautiful and connected communities. His book Rainwater Harvesting For Drylands and Beyond has been on my never ending wish list for ages. Now he has written volume two as well!
Mick Dalrymple of AKA Green which is a green building supplier and resource here in the valley also spoke. Once again I was so inspired by the obvious passion that he has for making changes in building and design so that we are living in harmony with nature, not destroying it. These changes are often so simple and logical, but often don't make the corporations much money, and therein lies the problem. He argues that it can all be achieved, we can live in a sustainable world, and people can also earn a good living, but that things need to be changed at the very core of business. Although this is a huge concept, Mick made me believe that even this can be done, we just need to start clamoring for change at the legislative level, and start voting with our pocket books.
There was also a speaker from General Motors called Jack Smith talking about alternative fuel vehicles, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the strides made in this area. I am typically sceptical of vehicle manufacturers when it comes to sustainability, but it seems that things are changing, and they are finally taking notice. Based on what Jack talked about, I expect many new alternative fuel vehicles to be unveiled over the next few years.
I also learned that there will be an Earthship built at Superstitian Farm starting in the fall. Of course that has to be fabulous news!
Do I sound excited? I should because really I am! There are many people like me who care deeply about the damage we are doing to this planet, and many of them are people who can truly make a difference. Yes it's great that I am reusing bags, and trying to save water, and grow food, but really in the grand scheme of things it is a drop in the bucket. I do know this! It doesn't much matter that I am trying, we ALL need to be trying, as individuals, and as communities, and many of the people that I met today are able to spread that message loud and clear, in real ways, for real people.
Finally, another thing I took away was something that I have known for ages. I want so much to work within the "green" world in some way, shape, or form. It truly is my passion in life. I am still not sure quite how to make this happen, or where to make it happen. I feel so far away from this with the work that I currently do, and the lifestyle that I lead, and yet I know I am making a start. By attending conferences such as this one today, and by reading lots, and by meeting other like minded people, who knows where it all may lead.
It's OK, I have fallen off my soap box now!!