Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Green Tent + Green Living Workshop = Life Changing!

You have probably already met Lynda Hammersmith at the Green Tent. Lynda is one of the many people who make the MVCC Green Committee so special. Her story is inspiring in so many ways! In a few short months, Lynda has gone from being a new neighbor to a daily buddy in our work at the Green Tent. How did we ever do it without her?

Four months ago I moved to Mar Vista.  My first hint that I would be happy here was when I looked down the street of my very nice neighborhood and noticed that all the grass was brown.  I asked the landlord, perhaps naively, if we were on water rationing.  His response was music to my ears: “In this neighborhood we choose not to waste water that way”.  I've been on my own journey to live more sustainably for several years and I knew in that moment that I had moved into the right community. 

My first Sunday back I decided to walk over to the very local, Mar Vista Farmers Market to check them out.  As I wandered through the stalls I could hear live Zydeco music being performed, and smell the different ethnic foods cooking.  Then the Green Tent caught my eye. There was a charming woman at the table dressed as a bee!  Jeanne, the Green Tent volunteer,  greeted me warmly and explained who they were (Honey Love) and what they were about.  She explained the mission of the Green Tent was to educate and support sustainable practices and businesses.  Then Jeanne introduced me to someone who counseled me on how to build raised planter beds for the vegetable garden I was planting and Honey Love gifted me with a jar of homemade honey-peach marmalade.  I was hooked!  

I asked how I might get involved, shared that I wanted to learn to live more sustainably and that my knowledge, I suspected, was still too limited.  I was told about the upcoming Green Living Workshop taught by Sustainable Works.  Thanks to the help of Councilman Bill Rosendahl, CD11 had just received the funding to offer this FREE course.  The six week class covers six critical areas:  water, energy, waste, chemicals, transportation and shopping/food. It was to be both problem and solution oriented and this was important to me.  I signed up. 

Last week we completed our final week. The class was some work but also fascinating, meaningful, helpful and a lot of fun. The material was extensive, surprising and often alarming.  As each class is only 1 ½ hours there is much to absorb and then to try to implement. Each session we shared with others on the changes we had made.  I found this not only clarifying, but supportive and entertaining.  My classmates came up with great ideas!  They supported my efforts. I now have a lengthy amount of ‘homework’ which can occupy and guide me for years to come.

Some of the changes are easy to make, fun to do and there is even an immediate monetary reward!  Some require sacrifice and planning, expense and negotiation with others. A big surprise was in discovering that my green practices weren't all as green as I had imagined.  I was still using the resources of 3 ½ to support my life-style.  Education helps!   This was the tough part because I've been thinking of myself as an environmentalist for years.  I also realize that sometimes I’m on the bandwagon and sometimes I’m on the fence. And I guess that that’s ok but the fence has definitely been moved considerably.  One of many big shocks: Did you know that it takes over 2400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef?  I’ll never look at beef the same way. 

I discovered that I can influence others in my life to make similar changes.  Again education helps.  Explaining the reasons why we are ‘turning off lights that we aren’t using is easier when everyone knows how much of our electricity comes from coal and what that really means. I’m still called the Queen of Darkness in my home but my son now wants more organic foods on the table and his friend called to tell me that he had figured out how to take a four minute shower!

I realize that this is a process of making choices and taking action.  While the tools are there it’s now up to me to keep implementing them. For myself the method that works best is to ask myself each morning; “What can I do today to lower my impact on this planet? “   I refer to the check lists in my workbook and make small changes daily.

The next workshop starts on Wednesday, January 25th at the G2 Gallery on Abbot Kinney - you can register here!

BTW- I now volunteer at the Green Tent on Sunday, come by and see us! It’s a quick and friendly way to integrate into our wonderful, green community.

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