Sustainability Journal | summer 2021

Welcome to Sustainability Journal, where I document what I’m reading, learning, thinking, and doing in the sustainability space.

Time flies when you are a busy being a milk factory, baby mattress, and human pacifier! (Typing this blog entry on my phone with an infant sleeping on my chest as we speak…) I can’t believe it’s been three months since the babe arrived. Parenthood is wondrous, powerful, humbling, and so absolutely exhausting. How does a tiny human that snoozes most of the day manage to make sure no one else sleeps?!

Spending nearly every waking (and not-so-awake) moment keeping the human child content and nourished means the feline children and plant children are not getting the proper attention they deserve these days. (Don’t worry, Terrine and Rillette have made their disapproval known by mean mugging everyone, occupying all the baby stuff, and aggressively puking everywhere ☉_☉)

Exhibit A.

There is so much I want to say about the life-transforming experience of becoming a mother, but I’m having trouble finding the words. My heart is heavy with grief over the state of the world: Afghanistan’s collapse, earthquake in Haiti, the ICPP report, and the raging pandemic…so much so that being inside incredible little bubble of parental leave at times feels like a retreat inside a burning temple…?

If you are like me – feeling desperate and powerless these days, I hope you find ways to stay informed without doom-scrolling on your phone all day. The apocalyptic images of war and suffering juxtaposed with people’s relaxing summer vacation photos on social media just feel…really jarring? plus the Internet has the tendency to reduce any disaster to a swipe-up link to “donate $10 & feel better” – without scrutinizing where those dollars are even going and whether they help. Of course, everyone’s got to live their lives, and after a year+ of isolation, weddings, parties, travels and time spent with family and friends are particularly precious right now – so I get it. People want to document! Anyway, not sure if I have any grand conclusions here, just rambling about some long held feels about social!

An individual action I’m focusing on at the moment: ooph…coaxing the baby to nap longer than 32 minutes at a time? Making sure I’m fed and bathed in those 30 min intervals? Mastering the art of eating with one hand while nursing? Learning to accept a new body without rushing to buy a ton of new clothes? Navigating motherhood and surviving on broken sleep? In all honesty, postpartum has been HARD in many ways, and having not had a stretch of sleep longer than 4 hours since May, sustainability isn’t at the top of my mind these days. As a person who my partner likes to describe as a go-getter, it’s been a hard transition watching house chores pile up, the garden wither, my bike gathering dust…the list could go on…and I’m just doing my best to accept and honor this phase of life right now. “You can do anything, just not everything at the same time” – I read that somewhere recently, and it is resonating with me so much at the moment. The time will come again for the work, I know it.

A (very small) community action I’ve taken: writing to my town’s public works department about sidewalks! Walking the babe in a stroller is making me so much more aware of the bumpy sidewalks in our neighborhood, so I wrote to the town about it!

Here is a quick script if you want to do the same: “Dear staff member at [insert town name] Public Works: my name is ____ and I’ve been a [town name] resident for [how long]. I was out walking recently and noticed quite a few bumpy driveways and sidewalks that are hazardous or impossible for a wheelchair to go through. May I ask, is it the town’s responsibility to make these repairs or that of the businesses and homeowners? I’d be happy to send along the locations and take photos, unless you already have a map of the repairs that are underway? Thanks for addressing my concern and for all that you do. Sincerely, ____”

Where my dollars went: International Institute of New England. The State Department has a list of all the refugee resettlement organizations they work with, sorted by state. Click to see if there is one near you that needs assistance!

More stuff you should check out:

  • The most eco-friendly way to do laundry – this little episode from Malcom Gladwell’s podcast was thought-provoking and made a lot of sense to me!
  • Seashells – as it turns out – are so much more interesting than you could ever imagine! Learn more in this interview with the author of The Sound of the Sea – a new book all about these incredible mollusks.
  • Emily Atkin of the Heated newsletter is starting a series of crowd-source action items focusing on system changes, and I love it. Part 1 is here.
  • This National Review piece on the causes of the wildfires in California is informative: “Although climate change can make fires worse, the climate policies favored by Biden and California governor Gavin Newsom — mandating clean energy or banning fossil-fuel extraction — would do little or nothing to address short-term fire risks.”
  • I’ve been listening to the On Being podcast every night to calm my mind. This one with Alex Elle on self-care as community care and generational healing is lovely. So is this interview with the late biologist Wangari Maathai, who started a tree-planting movement in Kenya and was the first woman in Africa to win a Nobel peace prize.
  • How to trim basil. I’ve been following these steps, and my basil plants are the most lush and bushy I’ve seen!
  • Off topic – but this McSweeney piece titled “My 3-month-old’s guide to sleep training your parents” is so good that it made me belly laugh (and cry all at once!)