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Tree SilhouettesOver the last year, I have found myself in several fairly interesting discussions about community development work. Not in the nature of actually building empowerment within communities or the struggles associated with that but something just as significant. Everyone knows this type of work takes time, effort, energy, dedication, collaboration and plenty of other elements in the mix. Reflecting through a social justice lens this also means that we have to look at community work through the complexities of culture, communities, privilege and class to name a few.

So what was the discussion around? The precarious natureĀ of internal dynamics of organizations.

Frequently, I had conversations with friends, workers and acquaintances over the frustrations of internal dynamics and structures. The conversation usually starts with comments surrounding their voices were not readily heard, continuous structural changes, and overall diminished sense of empowerment. The workers essentially become disenchanted and either leave or just stay until their contracts end. All this to say, this nature of community organizing lacks a sense of desire for others to replace them.

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This tasty recipe will not only wet your appetite for more but it will make you want to make your own. And that’s what we are about is sharing and expanding the recipe to include all the zesty additions that you have to contribute.

Ingredients

  • Concepts
    • Progressive people – not all have to be environmentalists just willing to commit to something progressive and good. Frugality is a bonus as it makes it easy to convince of actions = reducing cash usage
    • Frugality – always seen as a stingy norm but this misconception is getting a new come back in Australia with three new released Gold plated albums. In all seriousness frugality is the end result of learning how to actually live with less.
    • Creative minds – The more ideas the more you move…
  • Stuff
    • Buckets – to save water of course
    • Jars – bring on the canning
    • Timers
    • Shovels
    • Seeds

Recipe (Preparing the goods)

Taking Stock of What We Have

It seems that over time in this house and I suppose in my life I’ve just been working towards having / building / making more community. Why? Simple really. I just don’t think our world is sustainable without building community, without re-learning old things we used to do (rather than relying on products that others make, emissions needed to make that stuff, and throwing it away in a dumpster for me to find), and because with community we create support.

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So before I left SMART Technologies ages ago I had a friend who worked there ask me a lot of questions about being a vegan. He was really receptive and polite in his questions and honestly wanted to know ways in which I obtained protein (a big fear for meat eaters is that people can’t survive on a plant based diet cause you don’t get meat for your body to survive — read: not entirely true)

For Chuck and his family they decided to become vegetarians for a month because of several contributing factors.

“First, if we’re tired and hungry at the end of the day the recipes that come most easily to mind are some kind of meat-and-two-veg thing. Not the healthiest…[and their] oldest son (just turned seven) is a sensitive kid and also a picky eater. He [doesn’t] like the idea of killing animals for food — so much so that he was willing ot experiment with all kinds of different veg cuisine if it meant he didn’t have to eat meat.”

Throughout this experiment the family tried out different veggie cuisine options finding things that the entire family enjoyed. Chuck commented that it wasn’t difficult for his family to find sources of nutrition and protein to eat healthy.

“I think “how will you get your protein?” is about as common and annoying a question for vegetarians as “how will you socialize them?” is for homeschoolers. Short answer: go look at the biggest, most heavily-muscled silverback gorilla in your local zoo –he’s vegan. End of question.”

[My note: As a vegan this is probably the most frustrating question I get too..or the crude jokes about me needing more meat, etc. on my plate.]

It’s an interesting note on our culture that most people do believe that our only protein food sources can be obtained from meat based diets. We have to be careful not to cut out vegetables from our diets as they are the source of anti-oxidants, little cancer fighting weapons, vitamins, and so much more goodness.

After Chuck’s one month trial they decided to find more ethical sources of meat suppliers as a means of bridging the gap between being vegetarians and meat-eaters (dubbed by Chuck as “flexitarian”).

“We don’t eat a lot of meat any more (I can’t remember the last time I bought steak or pork chops) and honestly can’t handle large quantities at one sitting after a month as vegetarians. And even before our experiment, we had started sourcing our meat from ethical sources, particularly one place at Crossroads Market owned by an older German lady and her husband.”

Another really nice approach from this is that Chuck is actually buying his food local! YEAH TO LOCAL! This means that he is also reducing his carbon imprint on food shipping/processing/etc. He is supporting local economies and farmers (the little guys), and ensures that the animals are happy (dubbed “happy meat” by Chuck).

Now you are probably wondering why a vegan would be writing about all this. Well I’ve never been one to be a snotty vegan (meaning that I frown upon others eating meat). I see it more as a challenge to educate others about many issues.

  • Buying local food (not supporting factory farms) = healthier animals, less food miles, supporting smaller farmers
  • Buying organic (healthier and again happier animals) = better for the environment
  • Environmental impacts of the food we eat – it takes 10x more resources (water, energy, etc) to make 1 lb of beef than it does 1 lb of wheat.
  • Vegetarian Meals are goodness = They can be tasty and they make you feel fresh!

So eating vegetarian even just once a week is going to have a huge impact on the environment versus not eating vegetarian at all. Why would I want to critisize people who are doing something to make change like Chuck is clearly showing. Revolutions, change, growth, and movements never happened when people ostracised others for their choices. When we can all embrace each other and work together towards something more sustainable, ethical, and loving as a community that’s when we are going to see things change.PROPS TO YOU CHUCK FOR TAKING THAT RISK MAN! Thanks for sharing bro!