The truth of the matter is that I had all but given up on thinking I had a place in our world’s future. The end feels near, and the actions we’ve been taking are too-little-too-late or just plain destructive. My attempts to invite people into the fun and excitement of both simplicity and innovation connected for a little while but then have not continued to resonate in the ways I thought they could and would.
Eighteen years have passed*, as of next week, since my big wake-up call of 9/11 and yet, here I am, still the odd duck out where I live with my organic food-producing landscape and bicycle. Sure, the community garden I helped start just turned ten, but we’re nowhere near the recommended meager 5% of food that should be produced locally in order to be considered a resilient community. And, yes, the city council is finally saying, “We could have done more, and now we will” about safe places to ride bikes, although the ability to ride safely to the schools or the supermarket, park or post office, is still literally years away as it’s bound to be just PowerPoint plans in hermetically-sealed rooms while babies turn into toddlers, then children, then teens, then adults (as my daughters have done).
I just took the nickname someone gave me years ago (“Sustainable Pattie”) off my social media accounts, and I recently gave deep thought during my annual Life Pie Weekend to how I want to spend my nonrenewable resource of time moving forward. I’m working on something new — fiction — and I’m considering my relationship with my Maker my most important one now as the day of reckoning gets closer. My poem about that, published here, holds continual relevance for me.
I rode my bike yesterday (as usual), as my moving meditation, my way of praying, and came upon a fallen tree kissed by the sun’s striations, and I rested on it. Done. Complete. Resolved to accept that I have served in the way my life was intended. I have been the bridge for my daughters. I have planted some seeds of good. I have tried.
And then the Climate Crisis Town Hall on CNN (where I worked for four years when I first relocated from New York City to Atlanta thirty years ago next month) happened last night, and I watched every last minute. And I felt a flicker of hope again, that maybe, just maybe, we are about to turn the corner. That we are about to heed a collective call to action. That we are about to embrace not just the challenge but the fun of what is actually possible. That we won’t be asked, this time, to just “go shopping” in order to help our country (as happened after 9/11 when people were actually ready and willing to make a real, measurable difference).
And maybe, just maybe, there’s a place for me (and you) in that.
* It is now eight years since the publication of my book, Food for My Daughters: what one mom did when the towers fell (and what you can do, too) on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.