Browngirl Going Green


This is What the Future Could Look Like
April 18, 2010, 3:33 am
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As we count down to Earth Day 2010, just wanted to share two examples of what the future could (and hopefully will) look like if we as human beings are able to overcome our prejudices, divisions and the injustices of the past and present.

I just started reading The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones, an old activist colleague of mine. Just reading the preface by Robert Kennedy, Jr. right now, which is in and of itself pretty fascinating, as I didn’t know that he was a big environmentalist and also because there’s some great info in there about the potential economic impact of decarbonizing, or ending our economy’s dependence on fossil fuels and shifting over to solar, wind and other cleaner sources.

Also, found this website recently, for an organization called the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which places war veterans in job training programs on farms in the US, where they can not only learn how to cultivate food but can hopefully gain a respite from the violence and horrors they witnessed during their tours. It’s a brilliant idea—one of healing that reflects the needs of both the people who have been wounded by our society’s overdependence on oil, as well as environmental needs.

It excites me to know that there are many, many people out there striving to create a future where we can all live freely, work with dignity, play joyfully, breathe clean air and eat fresh, healthy food. It’s the kind of life that too few people on this planet experience right now, but I hope that in the future, that will all change for the better.

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Black Nature
February 24, 2010, 6:06 am
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Just a quick post to let you know about an event that I heard of from a couple of friends of mine that’s coming up next week at UC Berkeley. I probably won’t be able attend, unfortunately, because of previous commitments, but if you’re in the area you should check it out. It’s a symposium and reading for the new anthology, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African-American Nature Poetry, edited by Camille Dungy. The book’s been enjoying some great press, including this article in the San Jose Mercury News, as it’s the first-ever anthology to focus on nature writing by African-American poets.

Along with Dianne Glave’s upcoming book, Rooted in the Earth, Black Nature represents what I hope is a growing trend among Black folks and, hopefully, people of color in general, to write and publish nature- or environmentalist-oriented writing. As I’ve said before, I think people of color, immigrants, low-income people, and other people who have been historically pushed to the margins of society in the US have a lot to offer to the public discourse on environmentalism and living more in tune with nature.

If you end up going to the symposium, feel free to post your impressions of the book and the event here. It should be a great event, with former California poet laureate Al Young listed as one of the speakers.



The Pig is Coming! And Other News

So we are FINALLY getting our pasture-raised, all-natural-feed pig delivered this Saturday from Godfrey Family Farms. The delay was on the butcher’s end, I guess, since the pig was slaughtered on my birthday (coincidence, but an interesting one) back at the end of December. I organized this purchase, pulling together five other buyers from Oakland and Berkeley via the Bay Area Meat CSA and my personal network of progressive foodie friends, mostly people of color. I’m very excited to cook and taste an animal that I purchased directly from the farmer, whom I will meet on Saturday and whom I’ve spoken to on the phone and communicated with via email. I wrote an earlier post that you can read for more background on our pig. This is all in an effort to eat more sustainably and humanely raised animals, and while I haven’t gone completely 100% sustainable in this regard, I’d say about 90% of the meat I consume now is at least hormone- and antibiotic-free, if not free-range/pasture-raised.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if stores’ labeling practices are completely forthcoming and honest, which is why I’m glad to be meeting the Godfreys on Saturday and taking home some of their pork. I’m hoping to have a little dinner party with a few friends at some point to hopefully turn more people on to buying meat in this way. I have to say, while it was definitely time-consuming and not very convenient, it’s so far been an interesting experiment in farm-to-table shopping, and is something I think more people will need to do more of if we want to have a truly sustainable, green, locavore-based food distribution system.

In other eco-news, through the networking magic of the Internet I’m happy to have connected with another woman of color writer, Dianne Glave, whose blog, entitled Rooted in the Earth is a precursor to her upcoming book, Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Obviously, there are lots of connections between what Dianne writes about (much more eloquently than I do, I must add) and what I strive to describe in this blog. I’m excited about Dianne’s book and hope that it signals a wave of environmental non-fiction by people of color in the US that is long overdue.

Lately, I’ve been reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which is fascinating and offers a lot of information to absorb about what the Earth would be like if human beings disappeared from its face completely. The predictions will no doubt surprise you, and make you realize how much energy we expend everyday to maintain our modern civilization. Mr. Weisman is such a skilled writer that you feel as if you’re seeing the landscapes that he writes about, both ancient and modern, before your very eyes.

There’s some really good environmental/scientific non-fiction out there these days that is both highly educational as well as entertaining—two that I read last year that were among my favorite books of the whole year: Farm City by Oakland-based writer and urban farmer Novella Carpenter, and Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen. I look forward to reading Ms. Glave’s book and adding it to my growing collection.

If you know any other books that you think I or other people who read this blog might like, please share them. I’d love to hear about what you’re reading.