Curing Activism

I’ve been eagerly slurping up the urban homesteading movement for years. Over this time my obsession with DIY has taken me on a circuitous route toward food security and has led me to question the role of activism in my life. My most radical accomplishments wouldn’t exactly shock my neighbours: my former partner and I decreased our household garbage to a soccer ball sized bag every few months; we canned more than 600 pounds of food in a single season and we opted for a carbon neutral wedding and honeymoon that included an 800 km bike tour. But it was only when I found myself mounting a high horse before my family that I realized… I had become an activist.

Since I was halfway to crazy-town, I figured I may as well at least visit. So, I moved to an eco-village. There, I figured nothing would stop my hate-on for the conventional food culture. ‘Going all the way’ soon had its consequences, though. I started to feel depressed; I saw the world through the ‘ugly lens’, where everything beautiful represented something ugly: a pretty flower bed in the city equaled pesticides and even a sweet little community garden represented the fact that we were deluded into thinking we could grow enough food in the city to stave off the apocalypse… See? Out of hand.

Meanwhile, I became encumbered with the GE Food fight. I was all doom and gloom. Luckily, it wasn’t long before my judgements became glaring to my own eye. I saw people turning away from my “more organic than you” attitude and that I wasn’t making a difference in the world. I came to the conclusion that beneath it all, it broke my heart see people around me hurting, sick and scared of the paralysis that comes with informed decision making. I realized that I needed to take my sadness and direct it toward something constructive.

Just then, as if the universe had ears, Dr. Don Huber’s letter to USDA’s Secretary Vilsack landed in my lap. For those who aren’t familiar, Dr. H. is an independent scientist researching the implications of GE crops on agriculture and livestock, who had stumbled across some potential evidence that Roundup Ready Seeds are linked to animal miscarriage and pathogens in the soil. What he didn’t say in his letter, however, was anything about fighting against anyone.

Taking this as an omen, I immediately emailed him to get an interview for O.U.R. Ecovillage blog. He wrote back saying he couldn’t; he was swamped since the letter was leaked. I took a shot in the dark and upped the ante: I asked him if he would consider coming to O.U.R. Ecovillage to speak if I paved the way, so to speak. By the end of that day, he had agreed to a short phone interview and a speaking engagement here at the village. Let it be said that what I took from that eventual conversation was his unwavering faith that the research would speak for itself. Thus marked the end of my fight against the man and the beginning of my work supporting sustainable food systems. No proselytizing necessary.

In hindsight, I realize that I was ultimately dividing myself from ‘the other’ by rising against. Now I recognize that the only ‘solution’ that comes from division is compromise, which breaks down to no one getting what they need. It’s clear to me that the only way I can create positive change is to bring diversity into a common space and create something greater together than I could have ever created alone.

Lisa lives on-site at O.U.R. Ecovillage near Shawnigan Lake. She is pursuing her passion as a birth Doula and is dedicated to helping O.U.R. Ecovillage declare a GE Free Zone this September during the Wine & Culinary Festival: Insight into GMOs Symposium. She is an avid fiber-nut, knitting, spinning and weaving on a constant and somewhat obsessive basis. In other moments during her days, Lisa enjoys moving about through bellydancing, poi and contact juggling.