“Hey, Doritos! Why you not eating meat today?!”
These words, lobbed in my direction daily by one of the Sólheimar natives every time I step foot in our shared cafeteria, rank as one of the indubitable highlights of my every lunch hour.
Earning the nickname ‘Doritos’ because I was once caught here trotting down the road with shame in my eyes, crumpled bag in fist sparks a grin far too wide to wipe away.
I’m tickled by wisenheimers. They are by far a breed of people who earn the utmost of my respect.
This camaraderie I’m finding with the people who live here is comforting – it’s also a fantastic underscore to what we’ve been learning this week about the importance of community building.
I work at home regularly with a dedicated grassroots direct action group (350 Maine) that aims to consistently raise awareness about climate change issues. One of the initial and most widely used tactics of this group when launching a campaign always involves some form of community building (going door to door in small neighborhoods, engaging people at public events, leafleting passersby in local parks, etc).
This type of action always felt slightly awkward for me and even possibly, I dare say, of little use. After day-in, day-out community building with the people of this village, however, along with nightly bonding dinner conversation with my fellow CELLmates, the likes of which is brought on by an intentional ice-breaking question and followed up by belly laughter and the occasional vulnerability of tear stained cheeks, I’m beginning to feel differently.
Something I’m coming to realize is that building community, especially when trying to bolster a meaningful campaign, isn’t just about getting an extra set of hands on deck, it’s about getting a set you can trust.
It’s about earning the trust of your neighbors and finding people to laugh and celebrate victories with. This is what will create change.
Without collective pressure for system change things will remain the same. I get it.
This week our lessons significantly leaned on the idea of community building as a means to sustainable living. To accentuate how this works our instructors piled us into the van and carted us from one farm to another to meet with and pick the brains of the people supplying some of the food goods both to this village and to nearby communities.
I now appreciate the cheese I’m eating here in a way I couldn’t completely connect with before. It may sound ‘cheezy’ (yuk yuk yuk), but getting to know my farmer is having a profound affect on how I view my food consumption.
This, of course, made me think about how easily I can bring this type of community building home. Educating myself on who farms what in my area will not only help me to make acquaintance with my food providers, it will also give me a chance to see how it’s all being done – that I will be granted better access to fresh, yummy vittles is a total bonus!
In my initial search into who does what and where in the world of local farming in my town at home, I found an excellent website that offers a nationwide directory of farmers markets. You ought to check it out if you’re into that kinda thing: National Farmers Market Directory
And as far as community building goes, consider this: when I was a kid (probably when you were too) and mom ran out of sugar, she went to the neighbor’s house and knocked on the door; she didn’t get in the car and carbon footprint her way to the store to get some.
Community: it rules.
Stay green friends! And until next time get some sugar from your neighbor! :)
And of course, enjoy some perty pics of this week in Iceland: