Shall we? I mean, that’s one of the questions I get frequently now – what do I mean, what is it, what does a post-carbon world look like, show me how it will function, what will happen, and (the real question hidden within the others) will I be okay?
First response to this – I can’t answer those questions for us. We have to answer them together, as on a journey, making the path by walking it, inventing and creating as we go along.
And it won’t be easy.
And it means giving up a lot of assumptions about how we live now, about surrendering expectations that stay within the paradigm that brought us to this moment. It means a whole lot of imagination, a whole lot of dreaming, of vision quests done in community. It will mean trial and error, learning what works and doesn’t work in the practice of it.
But hardest of all, it means learning how to trust ourselves and one another. It means creating community not among the like-minded, among those where we have really high comfort zones; because that’s how most of the culture lives now and it is part of what is not working, the cultural pathology that prevents new creation from finding access, opening new roads, seeing new things, achieving new insights.
Now, if I were to try to lay out the plan for you, wouldn’t I be contradicting how creation works?
So where is it happening? Let me count the ways and spaces – because there are so many of them. Here’s a very short list that could be multiplied thousands of times. If any of us are looking for what to do to begin the process, a lot of it is a matter of opening to what is already in the works, and then taking the personal risks of internal and external change in our lives to join in.
Let me give a couple of local examples from Milwaukee where I currently live:
Center for Resilient Cities
Walnut Way Conservation Corp. [see also this recent news article]
Victory Garden Initiative
Milwaukee farmers markets
If you’re on Facebook check this out: Body and Soul Healing Arts Center
And there are the new movements where we partner again with the Earth and all her sentient and non-sentient beings to begin a radical healing process, participate with our hands and heart in that work, where we witness aloud and with urgency, to make our voices heard as we engage this process. A most recent and inspiring example:
the tar sands resistance march in Minneapolis last Saturday Also important because of who led it: Minnesota American Indians Lead March..., which brings to mind this important essay from Canada’s David Suzuki: Aboriginal people, not environmentalists, are best bet for protecting the planet.
The march was organized as a partnership among communities, not top down, but emergent. That’s how resilient life comes about – from the roots, nurtured from and by the roots.
Remember this from last September? Just look at the diversity, beauty, and wide variety of cultural expressions among these hundreds of thousands of people!
Yes, I could go on. Some of this work is about creating new ways of life one neighborhood at a time, as in some of these examples. Some of it is about addressing the essential need for food and using that to create a culture that has meaning far beyond the food and garden plots. Same for the cultural expression in a march to protect the planet, from the organizing to the implementation.
These things include something essential for new creation – building community, getting to know one another across dividing lines of class and race, ethnicity and culture. In my city, one of the most segregated in the country, where white flight and racism run deep through our history, this is essential work if new creation is to have any meaning at all, much less the power to transform a culture leading us to ecological disaster.
Because, as have said so often here, ecology is about the interconnectedness of everything. The rise of plutocracy in this country runs in tandem with white supremacy, racism, and suppression of the rights of poor people and the marginalized, right along with the destruction of our eco-communities from those who profit off that destruction.
Another example, my colleague Thomas Frank in E. Chicago invited Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir to the community of Marktown and the BP refinery in Whiting IN. If you want to see what some of the work of new creation looks like, check out this video – seering, righeously angry, and fun! This is solidarity from below in its best meaning. Learn more about Marktown here, and about Rev. Billy here.
Just about wherever you are, you could come up with a list like this. Really, there are no excuses for waiting to engage the process of new creation. It’s not a matter of someone handing us that strategic plan where we can see the end goal, so that it feels safe to launch ourselves into the process. And wherever we are, we can work in our communities to invite people to engage this great adventure.
There is the Great Unraveling happening now – necessary, painful, tumultuous, inevitable. And there is the Great Turning, the point where we turn away from the industrial growth paradigm that created this mess and turn toward the new path, where we make the decision to stop participating in what is destroying us and start putting our energies into what must be created. And there is the Great Transformation, now beginning in virtually every part of our world, where we begin to live the new way of life in the midst of the old and its unraveling.
The way we offer hope is not to lay out a plan for us or some clear future vision of how it will be concretely, because I don’t know anyone who can tell us what this will all look like a couple of generations from now. This is a journey, not a destination, as in the old phrase, and the journey itself is the destination where we are headed, where we need to go now. We are not headed for an end we can see. We are invited to come to our true destination by leaping right into the heart of the journey itself.