I just met Gene Bazan and Tania Slawecki, two of the people who started the Center for Sustainability at Penn State about 20 years ago. Tania was the director (“Such as I was anyway,” she said) from 2001 to 2004 (read about an the Living Machine they created here). They’ve since moved on to create an incredible biointensive micro-farm in Lemont, PA called Neo-Terra. Their house was featured on this weekend’s Envinity tour of high performing houses. A couple of things about this interaction.
They walk the talk. Really walk it. On energy: they conserve, use solar hot water, geothermal, and commit to keeping a low thermostat. And the micro-farm displays a mastery of small-scale agriculture that’s taken decades of meticulous work to create. They grow 95% of their vegetables, grow herbs for tinctures, and work with the land.
I’m blown away. So much to digest. Later on, I’ll reflect on my conversation with them in a broader way. Right now I want to share something Gene said.
“I don’t think it pays to get overly concerned about these things [environmental woes and apocalyptic scenarios]. Such anxiety clouds our decisions.” I want to repeat that second sentence.
“Such anxiety clouds our decisions.” There’s a well-documented apocalyptic vein in environmental thinking. It’s eschatological. Said in normal language, we talk in doom and gloom. But at what cost to our ability to make sound judgments and live sane and meaningful lives? At what cost to those things that are most important to us all – our relationships?
Take that as a maximally open question. If you are an environmentally minded person, a sustainability champion, or an environmentalist, are you fixated on doom and fear? Is climate change almost like environmental pornography? Other issues? Are your decisions clouded by anxiety?