Leadership and the Environment

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236: My environmental role models

Ep. 236

Here is the text I read from for this post:


My environmental role models

Why my role models? Because people keep saying what I do is inaccessible. That it's too much or extreme. That they need to balance. Well everyone believes they're balanced. I have to balance too.

My difference is that I keep moving toward my values. Instead of letting Americans, the most polluting people in history, be my comparison, I find new role models.

It's community. Once you start polluting less, actually putting effort in, not just straws or the latest trendy thing, but based on your passion, you'll find role models and keep doing more to live by your values because you'll like it.


Bea Johnson

  • Author of Zero Waste Home, which I read and recommend as well as 4 TEDx talks
  • Family of four, less than a load per year
  • My response to everyone who knee-jerk responds, "Oh, you don't have kids. If you had kids then you'd understand." Well, she has two kids and avoiding garbage brings them together, as it will everyone who tries instead of claiming helplessness.
  • Her book on zero-waste living led me to find new waste to get rid of, including cutting down on mailings. Emailing and calling places to remove me from their lists is satisfying and returns control.
  • Her TEDx talk on why we should recycle less is the first big public statement I know of to avoid recycling as much as possible in favor of not polluting, since recycling is polluting unnecessarily. Of course all living requires polluting, but recycling is closer to full waster than to benign.
  • Her clean home and family camaraderie inspire me.
  • She's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically.

Kris De Berger

  • His site called Low Tech magazine inspires simple living minimizing relying on fossil fuels.
  • He shows what is possible, especially what we used to do, often easily, that we then replaced with fossil fuels, like how to move 100 ton blocks of stone, growing plants before greenhouses, and many fun things we've traded for a sedentary, polluting lifestyle.
  • You know how it took decades for people to realize building roads created traffic, not relieved it? He finds similar patterns, like how our push for energy security is making us less secure and increasing efficiency often leads to greater total waste.
  • He does what he talks about. For example, he runs a solar-powered server, he installed a shower that uses a fraction of a regular shower.
  • He shows a low energy future is possible and desirable.
  • I invited him to be on the podcast but haven't heard back.

Lauren Singer

  • Did a TEDx talk, probably the first I saw of all the people's here so inspired me early
  • She also cites Bea Johnson as a role model
  • She was the first person I'd heard of creating a mason jar of landfill waste per year, which enables me not to compare myself with Americans on my waste, which is meaningless because they are about the most trash producing in history
  • She went to NYU and students of mine knew her or were connected. I forget the details.
  • I invited her as a guest, but we haven't finished coordinating
  • She started a store for products that replace disposable stuff. I've met a couple employees from the time I cooked for 50 people in Brooklyn North Farms with almost nothing to throw away after

Rob Greenfield

  • His YouTube channel is the best source of his work. Reminds me of Morgan
  • Spurlock of Supersize Me.
  • Rob is nearing the end of a year eating only food he grew or foraged.
  • He did a lot of attention-getting stunts to call attention to our culture's waste. This project shows a level of maturity that suggests significantly more to come.
  • He rides his bike a lot. I've considered moving to Orlando to participate, especially when I interviewed Orlando's mayor for this podcast.
  • He's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically.

David Gardner

  • Host of the GrowthBusters podcast
  • Besides running for office, he's one of the only people I know to promote reducing the population
  • It's his passion. He's taking on one of our biggest taboos, or sacred cows, which is also the most necessary change necessary to pull out of our mess.
  • It also may be the most misunderstood or overlooked part of our environmental problems.
  • People just assume because the population is increasing less -- not decreasing -- that things will work out. All relevant signs I know of say we're over the carrying capacity already, making collapse imminent.
  • He's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically. I've been on his too.

My mom and sister

For food and gardening


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Here's that story.Two years agoLast year, friend commits, backs out for reason he could have known.Invite other friend, he loves it, life goal for him too I knew he was swim instructor, life guard too. Says he'll bring equipment.I say, so I don't need to bring a camera. No, he has one.Before swimming, I interview Joe De Sena and get invited to Vermont.I invite friend, who is overjoyed, another life achievement.He's marketing his coaching, sees huge benefit to webcasting from Spartan Race farm.Joe and I have hit if off, hence the invitation to an invitation-only event, plus as I've shared, my carrying my rowing machine and kettle bell to roof. I offer to introduce him to Spartan community. As long as I'm there, I intend to share friends with friends.We swim across, I'll share in post about swimming.Ferry approaching us, scary. He jokes, good to have white person in facing authority.After we reach shore, I hold on to his swimming equipment so ferry people don't identify him as swimmer they thought breaking lawn Before Friday, he says he can't drive. Family needs car.I feel disappointed, but contact Spartan Up people. We go into overdrive finding someone I can ride with.Many potential options, but only one works. I have to take train to.Connecticut early next morning, but I make sure space for my friend.Turns out he can't make early ride.After we get back I text him how he would have liked it but next time, and ask him about video. No response.Read text trail.Our mutual friend defends him. Says I'm making a big deal about nothing, but sends twenty texts. What's going on?I give up. Confused about what to do as weeks pass that I can't share about life event without explanation.Finally yesterday he emails me. Read email.My read of situation: I didn't bring camera because he said he would create. 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Nobody ever asks my experience.Do I need for the bottle to hit me and knock me out, for the guy with the knife to cut me for people to stop telling me to put it in perspective?Can you imagine lecturing a woman victim or a black victim about distractions from their experience?All this prelude to what I'm getting at People often send me to articles describing how inequality feels when you have less. When you start the race behind the starting line.Many of these articles describe how you can never escape feeling of being outside, being other, not being understood.That's how I feel. Maybe there's a white male suburban culture blind to suffering, where cash is free and no one hurts. I don't know. It's as foreign to me asevery description I've come across.I'm aware of my sex and race every day, all the time, and how people see me as less than human, as fair targets for violence, as fair targetsfor scamming.Twice in two weeks after deciding to open up on race. 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Most haven't felt such lifelong repeated assault from women and people of color. Either I'm a special case, in which case it would seem my voice has value and people should listen more to me. Or I'm not, in which case we should recognize that all whites and all men suffer too and the starting line analogy starts falling apart.Or maybe you say I haven't really suffered, in which case what more do you need? How many more women need sexually assault me, what some would call rape, how many men do I need to know sexually assaulted and raped, how many whites victimized? What does it take?I believe everyone has known this pain. If not, maybe my voice can help illuminate what by any definition except white bad male bad heterosexual bad is exclusionary, non-diverse, sexist, racist, and all the other stereotypes exactly when claiming the opposite and trying toachieve the opposite.I believe it doesn't take much to pursue seeing equality of humanity in each person, but we aren't doing it. At least I don't see it in the protests nor the counter protests.My issue is the environment. I believe working together on what ties us together and transcends skin color, sex, orientation, age, etc -- project-based learning -- can solve these problems more than marches.Yes, there's police brutality, unequal access to resources, and more.If you want to see suffering, as an American, look at what your system no matter your color or anything does to people everywhere for your comfort and convenience, to ourselves. It's not litter, it's sterilized, cancer, birth defects, war, famine on scales greater than the wholepopulation of this country, and not just this country, even within the countries suffering most, people there contributing to this system.Even greater suffering, look at future generations to make today look like a walk in the park IF WE DON'T ACT TOGETHER TODAY TO STOP POLLUTING and reverse this system that relies on pollution and treating others as inhuman independent of their skin color or anything else.Beneath everything else, we breath the same air, drink the same water, and eat the same food from the same land and seas.Focusing on those things, I believe, can bring us together in common humanity more than anything else. In the past, sports, military, arts, science, and other cultural activity has helped us overcome stereotypes.I think of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Ping Pong diplomacy, Zora Neale Hurston, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Marie Curie, countless men sharing the same foxhole in battle who learned to love each other I believe that stewardship, loving nature, battling the systems that pollute, impoverish, and separate us will bring us together like nothing before.Beneath skin color, beneath genitals, beneath it all, we breath air, drink water, and eat food. Frankly I see almost no one seeing that starting point, nor fighting the systems taking away even that.But I am. If you see me as a white who doesn't understand non-white or a male who doesn't understand non-male or heterosexual who doesn't understand the rest of that rainbow, then you don't understand meeither.Now let's restore the nature we all need to live together.