WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER
At a lecture I listened into several weeks ago, Dave Henson, a lifelong activist and the Executive Director of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, shared his strategies for creating change. "Look for what's ripe for transformation," Dave said, "and work toward that."
Those words have sat under my skin since then. As ready as I am for revolution, the systems I am working within and against are not always ripe for transformation. I am starting to realize more and more that it's vital that I build the world I want by really tuning into what is. When we accept that our fascist regime has made federal climate action near impossible, we can redirect our energy toward cultivating radical change in our communities, municipalities, and states. We can learn how to work through the deep sorrow in our hearts—at the anger that our country has voted a climate denier into office whose policies, if unchallenged, would usher in the collapse of civilization—by seeking out seeds for revolution wherever we are in this wild world. We can create change where we can for as long as we are able.
It's easy to fall into hysteria during these dark days. Some nights, the fear that nothing I do will make a difference courses through me like a fever I can't sweat off. I still don't know to hold all the difficulty of living thru climate chaos and all the dreaminess of being alive in my heart. I still don't know how to live within the multi dimensions of reality, and of possibility. I still don't know how to make peace with an uncertain future as I find ways to inhabit the present. I do know that fascism wins when we believe our fights are no longer worth fighting. And so as long as I am walking on this world, I'm going to fight for her. As a friend of my mother says, that's the rent I pay.
Noticing what systems are ripe for transformation doesn't mean shying away from work that is hard. We have to continue to fight for a just transition to a clean energy economy even in the face of an autocracy that works to empower corporate personhood. So for me, noticing what systems are ripe for transformation is an invitation to rethink where the catalyst for revolution resides.
As I sink into this pear blossom ecstatic spring, I want to dedicate each day to doing a little more to bring the ripe for transformation philosophy into practice. Here are a few things I'm playing with—in my heart, in my community, in my state, in my country, in this world—to create change. What are you exploring, loamy loves?
The last few months have been hugely transformative for me. The first year after I graduated was the hardest in my life. I was sad and unsure and I felt like I was planting so many seeds and nothing was growing. So it's been delicious to realize that that very difficult year gave life to unexpected abundance. I feel like I'm on the brink of something beautiful (not sure just what it is yet!) and that sense of wild hope gives me permission to dare and do and dream deeper.
Public land is a big issue in my neck of the woods. Open spaces are a vital home for species biodiversity and integral to strengthening community. I've loved working with local organizations to raise money to preserve public lands and inspire folks to truly soak up what makes our world so damn wonderful.
I live in a state where cultivating community-owned solar and wind farms is an environmental and economic win-win. Renewable energy is ripe for transformation where I am and so I've made it my mission to share strategies for retrofitting sustainable homes through grassroots organizing and advocacy.
There are so many people and places whose right to life has been profoundly threatened by the Trump Administration. It's important to me to not only show love and solidarity with those hit hardest by fascism, but also to do the sometimes uncomfortable and unsettling work of cultivating true intersectionality across movements. How can I learn to listen deeper? Do better?
We do not exist in isolation. Across the world, resistance against capitalism and climate chaos is growing. And although there has been, and will be, tremendous defeats and powerful triumphs, the resistance is working. The increasing violence of the fossil fuel plutocracy is proof positive that our desire for a just, livable world is unsettling those in power. The revolution truly is ripe for transformation.