It’s been a while since I’ve contributed anything to this blog that is directly environmentally related—even though the blog is called: For the Earth.
But I need to vent a little tonight. I guess I’m going through a reality check and I don’t much like the reality that I’m seeing up close and personal.
I’ve just returned from my 4th night of canvassing door-to-door in a suburban neighborhood for a company that offers to install a package of energy efficient bulbs, faucet aerators, lower flow showerhead, etc., AT NO COST to the homeowner. The homeowner or whomever is paying the electrical bill is paying for it all through a monthly surcharge. They’ve been paying since 2008 for it, after the State of Maryland elected officials voted in what is called the EmPOWER MD Initiative.
So I show these good people standing in their front doorway where the surcharge is on a utility bill that looks just like theirs, and how we’re coming through their neighborhood to help them get compensated for what they’ve been paying for already. No more cost. No more than their monthly surcharge on the utility bill.
And tonight, I must have knocked on about 25 doors and only two people said “yes” right there and then. Some were interested, somewhat, and may call me back. And some were not home. But the rest were just not interested. The majority. Some, granted have already installed efficient lightbulbs and made improvements to be as energy efficient as possible, but others just don’t care.
Just don’t care.
They don’t care about climate chaos, polar ice caps melting, rising sea levels, storms such as Superstorm Sandy coming down the pike in more intensity. They don’t care about the severe droughts we’re experiencing or extreme floods.
They live in their cozy houses with the pansies in front and come home at night after long commutes to and fro work (this area is a bedroom community to Baltimore and DC employers). And make their dinners and sit down exhausted in front of the TV or the computer and try to let go of their daily stress or weekly or monthly or perpetual stress, to get enough downtime to make it to bed and then get up the next day and do it again.
All so disconnected from the environment around them and their wee but still consequential role in this great beautiful natural world and what is playing out these days… in these dangerous and interesting times, as one friend puts it.
I just want to shake them and say:
“Wake Up! Don’t you see what is happening around the world? Have you noticed what’s been going on with the weather and how we’re burning way too much fossil fuel? And we’re going to be paying for it, not to mention all the other species on the planet and how they’re being impacted—and will continue to be impacted?”
Clearly this is a reality check for me. Plus I had a lousy night of canvassing and only signed up two homes for the installation of all these energy efficient technologies (compact fluorescent lightbulbs, etc). My first night I signed up nine households and thought this was a piece of cake. Not so tonight.
Sigh. Okay… yeah, I could be more energy-efficient. I could drive my small fuel-efficient diesel car less. I’m not a complete saint.
But at least I care. At least I’m trying to connect the dots and do what I can. I have not turned my furnace on where I live all winter… just been burning wood in the woodstove. I like how it’s colder in other corners of the house. And the chilly temps in the winter morning and how the stove beckons me in the morning to get it going again. It’s fun and I’ve got plenty of wood.
But getting back to this suburban neighborhood with the cookie cutter homes. There were a couple of homeowners that truly promised to call me for an appointment. I think they might call me back.
Then there was the lady who let me in so I could warm up while she told me all about their plumbing issues and how cheaply their house was constructed and her husband’s health issues. She really needed someone to talk to and just vent, and I listened and supported her and suggested that she needed some serious blessings to shift the tide of disastrous house adventures, not to mention her husband’s poor health. She actually signed up for the energy-efficient installation. Sweet woman. Sharp woman too. I was glad to be there and be a friend for about 10 minutes so she could unload.
I dunno. This is not a perfect world. I do fear for our future and our children’s future with all the environmental damage and CO2 levels in the atmosphere which are not diminishing very fast. And I have friends who care a great deal and have done much to be more sustainable.
I fear a lot. But I can’t sit in fear all the time. I want to sit in trust and hope. Trust. Hope.
I want people to wake up.
I want us to know better and act better and connect the dots between their individual actions and our collection environmental dilemmas. But that ain’t gonna happen overnight. And my wee little canvassing job to bring in some extra income ain’t gonna do it.
As I drove out of the neighborhood, I remembered the title of one of David Orr’s books: Ecological Literacy. Once again, I am reminded how we live in such an ecologically illiterate society. And we live in dangerous and interesting times.
I’m honestly not sure how long I’ll last in this canvassing job. The pay is pretty low. Nothing compared with my gardening business work that I used to do in Baltimore but closed down in the fall of 2011 since I moved out of that area.
One good thing is that this canvassing work is teaching me to take nothing personally. Nothing. Not someone’s bad mood. Not their saying ‘no’ to me, even kindly. Not the weird glance of the spouse behind them. None of that. This is a good teaching.
I’ll take the teachings… and see how it goes tomorrow night. For now. And work on letting go of any expectations, sigh.
For the Earth.