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Recommended Reading: UGAs, Resilience, Bright Green, Relocalization, Earth Day

For those who don't subscribe to the Sustainable Bellingham Newsletter:
Recommended Reading, Listening & Watching

A Decade Swept Away in a Day by Tim Johnson, Cascadia Weekly
It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of last week’s Urban Growth Area reversal by Whatcom County Council.

On Monday they gathered with developer interests and their attorneys in the closest thing to a backroom meeting permissible by law—a private
space in a remote location—and discussed settlement of various claims to
the satisfaction of these interests. A “non-binding” straw poll of
council members’ interest in considering these claims had, by Tuesday,
hardened into a binding resolution, introduced at the end of the session
with no advance warning to the public, directing the county
administration to settle these claims...

The Deeper Meaning of Resilience by Don Hall, Transition Times
...Ultimately, we all want to be alive. We all want to reach for our
highest potential and live in a culture that is continually renewing
itself. For this reason, a movement that is based entirely on preparing
for disaster or achieving a static state is not going to work. We have
to create for ourselves a world that is worth living in while at the
same time addressing the dire realities of species extinction,
ecological destruction, and human oppression and deprivation. In this
context, we have to ask ourselves again: what is it that we are really
trying to preserve? Is it Western civilization? Is it business-as-usual?
And is a world that is merely sustainable really the best we can do?
If not, maybe a resilient world is...

Why I'm Not Bright Green by Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
(Response to Alex Steffan's article, Resilience and

...the emphasis of [Steffan's] article is that we really can’t afford to involve ourselves with trivialities like
gardens and personal actions, and it specifically targets folks at
movements like Transition and Permaculture and implies that by focusing
on these kinds of things, they are preventing the kinds of changes
that actually need to happen.

But that’s a misrepresentation – the Transition movement has existed only since the mid-2000s, and the movements Steffen is speaking of are minute compared to the influence
of techno-optimist environmentalism that focuses on just the kinds of
things that Steffen advocates. For 30 years, there was a virtual unity
of thought in support of these ideas among the environmental movement –
and 30 years of suburban sprawl being built. To imply that the reason
they aren’t being implemented is because a tiny minority of
environmentalists are growing gardens and catching rain is ridiculous.
In fact, Transition as a movement and related environmentalist
movements (speaking personally, I’m not a member of any particular
movement and have criticized

at times, just as Steffen has) arose in part as a
result of the profound failure of just the kind of models that Steffen

From Globalization to Re-localization by Megan Quin Bachman, Ecowatch Journal
Using less, cutting back, saving resources, conserving energy, reducing impact—such actions, though vital responses
to our planetary peril, conjure up images of a strictly proscribed and
rather austere future. When our only goal is minimizing consumption,
it’s easy to imagine the imposition of draconian government
measures—ones where every energy-consuming action is monitored,
controlled and limited. For some, this approach is tolerable as long as
it forestalls dangerous climate changes. For others, a centralized,
authoritarian “dictatorship of sustainability” is a worse fate yet. If a
singular focus on cutting carbon dioxide is mistaken, what then, is
the environmental movement to do? Thankfully we can save the planet
while strengthening autonomy of our communities by re-localizing vital
goods and services...

Why I Hate Earth Day by Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book
I bloody hate Earth Day. No offense to those of you who love it, and I
know there are some awesome Earth Day programs out there, but by the
time we get there, I'm spending my days hiding under the covers, because
every freakin' time I open my email inbox a wave of the most
nauseating spew of greenwashing comes flowing out...

Why I Hate Earth Day II: The Road to Hell in Baby Steps by
Sharon Astyk, Casaubon's Book

...most Earth Day programs send the same message. They say "you too can make a difference...and it
will be convenient, mostly involve shopping and won't change your life.
Here, take some baby steps, change your lightbulbs, plant one tomato"
and come listen to some folkie music! I understand why this message
is the mainstream environmental message - it is friendly, it is warm
and fuzzy, it is accessible. And for forty years it has been offered
in various forms and we've seen the results - we're consuming more
resources than ever before, our planet's situation is far more
precarious than it was 40 years ago, and there are real doubts about
whether we can actually live with the results...If it were just that
products were being greenwashed, Earth Day would be a grand thing. Who
cares about flies in the ointment? But there's more to it than that -
until we change the basic story that we are telling "we've made
progress, and all we need is just a little tiny bit more help from
you..." we're all greenwashing.

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