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What's Next: Sarah Pullman

Call me a hippie, but I place myself firmly in the "we have to change ourselves first" camp. In my mind, there is no single tool, model, idea, or key piece of knowledge that is going to tip the scales in favour of the world we want to see. I am inspired and endlessly relieved by the practical, solutions-based work being done by so many in the world today – WorldChanging writers and readers among them – but it's as important that we look deeply into ourselves as it is that we look deeply into innovative tools and models for saving the world.

I'd go so far as to say that all would-be worldchangers have an obligation, to themselves and to the greater whole, to embark on such an exploration. The violence we see in our world, the injustice, the apathy, the resistance to change, the fear... all these things originate in each of us, and often in incredibly subtle ways. So befriend yourself, in all your imperfection. Wake up. Stop hoping for external "solutions". Get really honest, first with yourself and then with others. And then begin to allow what you discover to change you, and in turn to change how you engage with the world.

Call me a hippie, but that's my vision for real social change.

Sarah Pullman is responsible for blogger outreach, online marketing efforts, "technical translation" for the writing team, and some project management at the DeSmogBlog. She is one of the convenors of the Web of Change Conference, an annual summit of leaders using the web as a tool for social change.

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Where are the hippies now?

Sadly most join these campaigns for the "warm fuzzy" feeling it gives them and because it is "in style" to be "green". Many lose interest and abandon their commitment to protect others and the environment very soon after.

In the 60's & 70' baby boomers went "green" and then lost interest, bought 5,000 square foot homes out in the burbs and 5,000 lbs SUV's to take them there.

Regardless of the pseudo science surrounding current “green? issues, the reality is that thousands die every day of poor air & water quality retailed deaths every year making ANY and all efforts to protect air & water quality imperative to our survival.

We need to learn from our past that short lived "green" campaigns are worthwhile, but "long-term" structured sustainable programs are the solution.

We need to look and listen to real EHS professionals that have “viable? programs that have proven for “decades? to work. These programs are currently being ignored by the “mass media? for 1000’s short term pseudo fixes and “free energy? programs that are blinding society into more “purchasing? & “consumerism?... further pushing our hopes for a “sustainable? future beyond the point of no return. Completely ignoring the 4-R’s

However, I feel that any “global? campaign (like that heightens public awareness and interest is a worthwhile venture as it “prepares? individuals for real change.

“Change? is an evitable succession, but WE decide if this change will be better or for the worse….

With all due respect Sarah, you are much more than a “hippy?. By default for your career path and compassion to help others… I consider you to be a real environmentalist who is in it for the “long-term?.


Christopher Haase
Director of Environmental, Health and Safety

Posted by: Christopher Haase on 27 Dec 06

Right on! I can't agree more. To me, our architecture is an expression of our behavior, and our behavior is an expression of our consciousness. So building a super awesome house with solar panels and wind turbines and hydrogen energy storage and a compost toilet and super awesome garden and all that will be just one expression of a certain consciousness. Getting to that consciousness or wisdom is the first step, and one that needs to happen daily.

Posted by: Eric Knudtson on 27 Dec 06

there's two good effects of starting with ourselves when we work towards change: a) it's a great thing to be solid in our visions b) it inspires other people to change.

Thanks for putting this out there Sarah!

Posted by: Susanna Haas Lyons on 27 Dec 06

I definitely endorse the idea the largest impacts begin small. How could one propose to influence change for the better without walking the walk? Having first-hand experience allows for honest endorsement and evidence a process is working. While a call for individuals to begin with the self for world change is excellent, I feel it would be necessary to explore why previous "Green" movements peaked suddenly and dissolved into dreams of Suburbia. What was missing from former movements which prevented them from becoming a habit and an enduring culture?

Samantha Smith
California College of the Arts
Industrial Design Department

Posted by: Samantha Smith on 27 Dec 06

Hmmm... I suppose I used the term "hippy" somewhat flippantly. It seems to be a word that gets tossed around a lot in my world, often jokingly referring to anyone who is "touchy feely" or remotely "new agey" in their approach to social change. Might not have been the best word choice.

I was trying more to call out the split I have often seen between passionate activists who disparage any hint of the spiritual, and the sometimes navel-gazing spiritual types who ignore the rest of the world in their focus on their inner landscape. Personally, I think both slightly miss the point. To me, real social change starts on the inside, and can be incredibly subtle... but is put to the test and refined in our engagement with the world.

To respond to some of the comments above... I don't know what it was that led so many former "hippies" to become hyper-consuming suburbanites, but I'd love to hear what others think. Seems an important question to be asking!

I wonder what we need to learn so that we can have vision and values, without getting lost in the kind of idealism that is likely to disappoint?

I also wonder what the barriers are inside ourselves that prevent us from actually adopting the changes that will be necessary for a sustainable future. My sense, as I said above, is that we all need to look really deeply inside ourselves and uncover our own resistance to change. As "worldchangers", I think we often feel ashamed of impulses towards things that feel "wrong" or un-progressive or unsustainable... but unless we acknowledge and accept those feelings, they end up running the show on an unconscious level... and then result in a massive mess on a global level.

Posted by: Sarah on 27 Dec 06

Sarah, do not have your email.... but this news would be timely for your writings (important topic to you).

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, tested positive for 49 toxic chemicals in her body...

Great lakes, great water problems are surfacing...

Hope new job is great!

P.S. Enjoy my blog for now, I am stopping it at the end of month. Sorry.

Posted by: Christopher Haase on 4 Jan 07



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