Buy Nothing Day 2009 essay
Buy Nothing Day 2009 Essay Greg Gerritt 10/1/09
More and more in my work I come back to this little triplet that popped into my head years ago and continues to inform my work: We can not end poverty without healing ecosystems and shutting downing the war machine. We can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty and shutting down the war machine. Shutting down the war machine is integral to ending poverty and healing ecosystems.
The coming winter, the winter of 2009/2010, is likely to be hard times in Rhode Island, and much of the rest of the world. Famine is unlikely in Rhode Island, but the endless war on phantoms to control the oil supply and make the the military contractors fat and happy is killing the young people of our community and bleeding the economy at a time when leaving the oil in the ground rather than burning ever more of it every year is a much better strategy if we want to avoid run away global warming that threatens the livability of our planet.
September 25 was overshoot day. The day we have used up all of the biological productivity of planet Earth for an entire year. But we still have three months to go. Forests and fish disappear. Soil washes into rivers, making it ever harder to grow enough food, while creating dead zones in every ocean. We are using over 130% of the productivity of the planet each year, diminishing the possible yield next year even as we add another 79 million people. It is only because the Earth is such a bountiful place and built up a huge stock of life that depletion has been able to go on as long as it has.
One thing rarely mentioned is that if the ecosystems that underlie the entire economy had been healthy and not overwhelmed by people, if the resource base of earth was not so nearly depleted, the financial industry would have been investing more in actual production than trying to get rich simply via financial manipulations, and there would have been no bubble.
The bankers and Wall St, in their infinite greed decided that even as the ecosystems that support us collapse they needed more money and power. There was no place productive to put their money, so they created a housing bubble because it was the one market they could readily manipulate. Thus the creation of the sub prime mortgage market, and the conning of people to take out sub prime loans, something they would never have done if housing was actually affordable. When the bubble burst the response to the crash by our government was, and continues to be, to try to get house prices back up so Wall St can be made whole, even if it meant the devastation of American communities.
After 9/11 George Bush asked us all to go shopping, and that seems to be what they want us to do now, despite the ecosystems that are falling apart and the spreading poverty. Have they lost their minds? Shopping will not solve the problem. Healing ecosystems and helping people find real housing will.
Is it any wonder that tent cities are popping up all over? The shelters are full, poverty is rising, and health care and global warming relief are stuck in a Congress bought by the rich and powerful who are further enriched as Congress spends ever more money on war.
Those who maintain their power by the force of the gun squander our common heritage, the planet earth. They tax the poor to give to the rich, cut services when people are most in need, force the closure the tent cities, assume drilling more oil wells and blowing up more mountains will solve our energy problems, and chase phantoms with their predator drones around the world in the name of opening markets.
Last week I was on the team that helped put on the Providence Sustainability Festival http://www.apeiron.org/slf2009/index2.html My current projects include working to find ways to get all of the food waste in our communities currently in the waste stream into the compost stream so we can build soil fertility and grow food, so that we are not so dependent on places losing irrigation water due to global warming, Related to that I am one of the organizers of Rhode Island events on October 24 for the international climate action day organized by 350.org http://www.350.org/node/6208 I hope all of you can join us either at Waterplace Park or at any of the other locations around Rhode Island that day. If you need help starting an event in your neighborhood get in touch, I can help.
A month after the 350.org events comes Buy Nothing Day. I like BND so much because it is the only celebration that combines all of the efforts I work on and links all of the interrelated causes of the problems we face in the community. It links the over consuming throw away society with the poverty and ecosystem damage that scars us and allows us to remember that the war machine does not help our communities thrive. It gives us something to do that positively redistributes resources in the community, without giving in to what I call the Cult of MORE. It gives us an opportunity to resist with a smile on our faces. It brings one of the most interesting crowds to the State House you will ever see.
Its time to email your friends and talk to your parish members and collect some winter coats that you can bring to the collection sites on NOvember 27. Its time to plan to be at one of our 5 locations around Rhode Island the Day After Thanksgiving with your friends and family helping get the coats out for distribution.
I am a bit of a luddite, so I am not up on all the new media, but if you twitter, have a facebook page or anything like that and want to include Buy Nothing Day in your communications, please do.