Sunday, November 9, 2008

Barbara brings it

We spent the day at the Green Festival, which I look forward to more keenly than Christmas. The festival was huge and mobbed; a good sign. This year, I was impressed by the growth of the home and building material sections. Some of my favorite booths were:
--Kallari chocolate (I have been a fan of this stuff since I discovered them at the Green Festival two years ago. With great difficulty, I tracked down a supplier and now I order this chocolate in bulk by mail. It is the best that I have ever had, and believe me, the sample size of my unscientific study is large!)
--Organic Comfort Zone, where we bought two pillows. I wish we could afford one of their beds, sigh.
--The Animal Welfare Approved booth. This nonprofit certifies that animal products originate from animals that have been raised humanely. It's kind of like the Organic certification, except that farmers do not have to pay for it. It's funded by an anonymous donor (here is my guess as to the donor's identity). That strikes me as a great idea because it seems to remove pressure to "pass" the farm. My feelings about this certification in general are mixed because it seems to condone eating meat as long as the animal was raised humanely. However, I know that most people eat meat, and this could be an important step in "humanizing" animals, which may lead to decreased animal product consumption. Your thoughts?

We saw two great speakers at the festival: Barbara Ehrenreich and Mr. RV's personal guru, Seth Goldman of Honest Tea. (One of our most contentious marital issues is Mr. RV's addiction to Honest Tea and my position that "You can make those for 15 cents each! Paying two bucks a bottle is ridiculous!") Barbara delivered a great speech, speaking about the need to remember green concerns in the midst of our economic upheaval. One point struck me in particular: she said that she notices a movement of "eco-puritanism," which tells people to give up pleasurable things, like car trips and hamburgers (to use her examples). She said that this is not going to work because few people will voluntarily deny themselves habitual pleasures. Instead, we should find a way to express that "less stuff does not have to equal less pleasure." Sometimes I scoff at the green movement for all of the hundreds of unnecessary products labeled as green. Basically, I think that instead of buying a new set of recycled glass dinnerware, you should just use the plates you already have, or pick up some at a thrift store. But I can see how green versions of certain luxuries can stop people from feeling deprived and encourage them to research "going green" a little more.

By the way, check out Barbara's hilarious blog post on the Socialist Conspiracy. An excerpt:

"So we decided to suspend our usual work of standing on street corners and hissing, "Hey, how'd you like to live in a workers' paradise?” Instead of building socialism, one worker at a time, we would focus on destroying capitalism, hedge fund by hedge fund.

First, we selected a cadre of crusty punks from the streets of Seattle, stripped off their Che t-shirts, suited them up in Armani's and wingtips, and introduced them to the concepts of derivatives and dental floss. Then we shipped them to Wall Street with firm instructions: Make as much money as you can, as fast as you can, and as soon as the money starts rolling in, send it out to make more money by whatever dodgy means you can find – subprime loans, credit default swaps, pyramid schemes – anything goes. And oh yes: Spend your own earnings in the most flamboyantly gross ways you can think of -- $10,000 martinis, fountains of champagne – so as to fan the flames of class resentment."


Theresa said...

Barbara Ehrenreich is so awesome (even if her name is ridiculously hard to spell). Her book 'Nickel and Dimed' reached so many of my conservative friends who used to believe in meritocracy.

Peter said...

Hey to you and Mr. RV from Dayton.
I am in the middle of Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman and it is mostly very good. His comment is that we are not in a green "revolution" but a green party. He says have you ever seen a revolution where no one gets hurt and everyone, including corporations, get to feel good. His view like yours is that it takes more than a few green purchases to stop the problems we face and he documents the challenge as quite alarming. Enjoyed your coments and would like to attend the Green Festival some year.