Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On care

To continue my series "On ____," I've decided to pick the idea that's been preoccupying my mind as of late: Care. A thing.

It's like I can't decide if "care" is a resource or not. I feel like it isn't, because I can care about a lot all at once: my friends, my roommate, strangers, the whole world, the environment, Beyonce-- you name it, I can care about it.

I feel like I care a lot, and freely. Care is inexhaustible right? But then, sometimes, why can't I help but feel, exhausted?

I had to sit and think on this. Talk to some people. Read some things. I honestly think care is awesome and lovely, and creates the world. If there was no care, there would be nothing. At least nothing to care about: no societies, no language, no cathedrals or art. What'd be the point? We have it programmed in us to care, and it's not a resource to dole out one slice at a time. That type of behavior stems from fear, so I feel like I've come to my conclusion. We should care freely and beautifully. Care as much as possible, because people like it! People like care, love it even, and there can't be too much passed around! Go forth, to love and to serve, says the Bible. Basically, go forth and care.

But then, I've forgotten why I brought the question up at all. Why am I exhausted? Why does caring take so much energy? I sat back and thought, "Well, because people don't seem to care!" BAH! This is awful.

I got here because a lot of what I do is ask people to care. Will you care about the air and sign this petition? Will you care about the ocean and give us $20 a month to protect it? Will you care about state parks and make this phone call? Some people say yes, but most people say no. But what are the No's all about? They make me sad and exhaust me. I find myself whining, "Why don't they just care?"

People care because it helps us survive as a species. To care for one another and our kids is innate. The disconnect lies in time. We're really good at, like most animals, recognizing imminent threats to our survival, like a fire or flood, or even the modern example of a pay cut at work. We reassess, re-budget, re-purpose ourselves to survive. But, not everything seems imminent, so that's where I place the disconnect in care. Time. My foe. My owner. My friend. My everything: Time. She makes care seem exhaustible, something to prioritize and place here or there, when we can spare it.

But NO! Don't let her fool you! When you wonder if you should care, care is not time, it's not even money. Zoom out and ask: will caring about this make absolutely anything better? If the answer is Yes, or even Maybe: go forth, and care.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Excerpt from an email to Sharon Teal:

I can't believe it has only been a couple of weeks since I left Nashville.

First, I was in Boston for a week and a half training. We had a lot of briefings, role plays, and actions through the week. For example, someone would do a presentation on how to pitch stories to reporters so they'd come to an event, say a press conference. Then we'd break into small groups and practice calling each other so we'd solidify the idea. Other times they'd teach us something, like calling members to ask them to phone a senator to do so-and-so, and then we'd actual call members with a goal they'd set for us. We had an hour and a half and we had to call as many people as we could with the goal of getting 12 people to agree to call their senator and 4 volunteers to commit to helping at future events. Pretty simple.

Another thing we did was "canvassing." They taught us how, gave us a "rap" or speech basically, and then they pretty much just dropped me at the corner of a neighborhood with a map. My goal was to raise $150 to protect the Quabbin Resevoir in Massachusetts. I earned $680! The highest of all the group and they applauded me, which made me feel better about my blisters and dehydration.

Another thing we did was take metro into the city and collected signatures. The only neat thing about it was I got a cute boy to sign my petition and it turned into a coffee date, which turned into a dinner date, which turned into another dinner date, which really lead no where, but it was fun. :)

The last day of training they told me I was coming to California. I'm on an extended special mission. They even call it SWAT (Special Weekend Action Team, or something like that). SWATs usually only last a weekend, and they were created for those key moments before a particularly important vote when they need more people on the ground ringing doorbells, calling people or just straight-up lobbying politicians. So that's why I'm here, but it's extra SWAT-like because it's for 72 days. 69 now.

On November 2nd there will be a vote on many things, but I'm particularly concerned with Proposition 23. It's a ballot measure backed mainly by two Texas-based oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, that has been packaged as a jobs initiative. It would essentially roll-back California's premiere clean energy legislation until unemployment falls to or below 5.5% for 4 consecutive quarters (which hardly ever ever happens). It would stunt everything! And for what? Oil. Nice. So my job, after this stint in Sacramento (which is kind of like a staging area), will be to move onto some college campus (TBA) and rile them all up to vote NO on Prop 23.

This week though, about 8 of us have made about 300 cookies that have "23" with an anti- sign on it to pass out to legislators tomorrow. We made everything from scratch and used one conventional oven. It was insane. I've never been in a kitchen so hot. I have some funny pictures and a blister on my finger from stirring dough. We even made gobs of icing and decorated them ourselves. It's just one crazy thing to do to get visibility.

The other campaign the office is working on is to ban plastic bags in California. It's such a tight race I think I would literally get fired if I walked in the office with a plastic bag, for my boss's fear of the opposition (American Chemistry Council) gaining any leverage.

Everything is a whirlwind. I'm tired and hungry a lot and I have a cold, but I'm having an exciting new adventure! It'll all settle down when I'm in my own place. I'm staying with a co-worker and have been since Sunday. Things just aren't the same when you can't have you stuff in place, you know? That was awfully vague, but I'm living out of a suitcase on a pull-out couch. I think I'd just like to be able to leave my toiletries in the bathroom. I'm sure they wouldn't say anything if I did, but as a guest, I must consolidate and hope to be as invisible as possible (aside from my actual person), but you know what I mean. There's one bathroom for two adults, two guests, and one very adorable two year old, Oliver.

Well, I should be off to bed. We have a protest in the morning, followed by the grand cookie drop-off, and more prep for another visibility event on Friday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Update on things that maybe someone cares about

I haven't even been here for a week and I'm already having trouble remembering Nashville summertime. There is so much to learn we're still training for 9, 10 hours a day, followed by socials that last into midnights, and there's little time to think about even what day it is.

I had a one-on-one talk with a trainer for placement on Sunday and she told me to think about going to California. I'll know for sure where I'll be sent by the end of the week.

I can't believe I'm moving on Sunday!

Somewhere, here I come!

Friday, August 13, 2010


First time here and it's a pretty rad city so far. Wide side walks that are well-lit, lots of nice people, and last night I met someone who designs shoes! Who designs shoes besides Steven Martin in Father of the Bride and the dad in Jumanji? A stranger, in Boston.

Training for my new fellowship with Environment America is one day down, nine to go. Ten hour days leads to a surplus of new ideas I want to research or talk out.

So far the most important thing I've learned is that every conversation with a stranger can lead to new and exciting opportunities. If I can be an open mind and open book, everything is available.

There is palpable potential here. Everyone is so willing to be open.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"After Years"

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

Ted Kooser