Where did we go wrong? *UNEDITED*
You may remember this story from the Inlander. Some people were inspired by it. Others felt it was intellectual self-congratulation. While we are busy surviving the rigors of Sustainable September Spokane, we thought it might be fun to revisit the unedited version of the opening comments made by local environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke.
“Kitty Ain’t Kidding” by Young Kwak
Individuals and communities in our society got off track in the post war era when we embraced the ideology that the pursuit of more (possessions, land, territory, status) was more important than our quality of life and our ability to enjoy and preserve what we already have. We began to measure our selves and communities by the size of our holdings and our accumulation of possessions and traits that advertisers and mass media have awarded prestige to rather than our contributions to our families, communities and our own happiness. We chose to invest in a culture that demands more and more of what we truly value least just to remain “competitive”.
“God of Materialism” by Chen Wenling
That competitiveness caused us to fear becoming obsolete, de-value what is not “new” and invest in lifestyles and land use patterns that are neither sustainable nor spiritually satisfying, prizing novelty and individuality over quality and efficiency. These values affected everything from food to architecture to relationships. We spent less time with our families and more time working and commuting. We allowed our city centers to crumble, only to sprawl into auto-oriented isolation where a person must own everything they could ever need. And everything is at the other end of a long drive. So, sometimes we own things we don’t have time to enjoy. We have put ourselves and our communities into deep debt by over-extending our purchasing power and infrastructure, not for what was necessary for survival and well being, but what was necessary to compete in a game that we are all losing at the expense of our health, farmland, environment, natural heritage, and community values. We went from being community members, family members and neighbors to being workers, consumers, and commuters.
Before we reach the end of this environmental and economic rope we will learn from this. People and communities have begun to reprioritize over the last two decades. We can look to both our past, and to green technology and new perspectives to put us on a more sustainable, healthy and fulfilling path; revitalizing our cities, restoring our environment, and re-investing in a shared future that values people, the earth, and our community well being over shallow and demoralizing materialism.
“Changing Roles” by Know Hope