More about intention – a sustainable twist

Let’s take goal-setting to a whole new level – the human quest for globalization. Our need to set goals, achieve, evolve, grow, spread, and through it all, consume. This drive to strive, as we could call it, is what has brought us all to this point in history. This point where technology rules our lives, where most things are available to us at the drop of a hat, where time is money and where money is what we seem to want and need most. The human desire to grow and achieve has brought us industrialization, moon missions, iPhone apps and polio vaccines, triathletes and genetically modified super-grains. We are capable of so much, we can invent the world the way we see fit, and we DO, because we are drive to grow, to move forward, to progress. But this innate desire seems to have gone off course – our need to grow as a society isn’t always as beneficial as it may appear. Yes, we’ve developed some incredible things, but the need to grow our economy, expand our technology, can feed back to create even greater problems. I’m not saying we don’t need a strong economy, or that technology isn’t an excellent means to solve some of our problems. But perhaps we need to look at exactly how we created these problems in the first place. It was probably because of our innate desire to get bigger and be better.

Story of Stuff

Can we live sustainably, move away from growth as profit, without stifling our innate need to achieve? I think so. In 2011, perhaps we step back from ‘goals’ and look instead at commitments and intentions. Can we commit to grow spiritually, to work within our communities, to ‘develop’ instead of ‘profit’ in the traditional sense? If the ‘spiritual’ doesn’t appeal to you, think instead of the values you would like to focus on this year. Can you envision becoming a better you WITHOUT buying a bigger car, a new gadget, running yourself into the ground? Can this be a year where you set intentions to live more sustainably – within your means, but beyond yourself?

For those of you who haven’t already, check out the Story of Stuff, an incredible little sketch on sustainability. It will rock your socks off. P.S., Story of Stuff often releases new material on different “stuff”, so check in often!

Travels and travails

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

They say it’s about the journey, not the destination, but I would beg to differ when it comes to late night, bag lugging, are-we-there-yet travel. The journey through airports, on cramped trains and in customs line-ups really doesn’t measure up to the joy of finally arriving.

Travel seems to come up in a lot of my ramblings, so it’s quite fitting that this should be the topic of a post. HOW did I travel? Well…by train, by plane, by automobile, by boat, by foot. I traveled with headaches, traveled with bags of candy, traveled with a good book, and a few articles, traveled with my mom, traveled with friends new and old, traveled on my own. Waited in airports, waited in cancellation lines, fell asleep against windows, wheeled an injured friend in a trolley, ate greasy food, drank beers in airport bars.

I traveled with my heart, sometimes joyful and sometimes heavy. Looking forward to new things but missing connections left behind. I traveled to new places, to places I had been but that had changed, and most importantly, I traveled home.

In 2010, I traveled to London, twice, to Barcelona once (but had to go to Gatwick airport twice, since the first flight was cancelled), to Paris once, and home twice. To New York once to visit family, and to Vancouver Island once for my thesis. Every voyage brought something unexpected, a new idea, a new bruise, a new friend. I have to say the most fulfilling trip was the one closest to home – to Tofino, where I stayed just four days to interview local First Nations and environmentalists about their experiences of forest policy.

Highway from Port Alberni to Tofino

Despite growing up in Vancouver, I had never been to Tofino before. Having gone through a tough time in the weeks beforehand, I was hesitant about having to ferry and drive up there by myself, spending four days with only my own mind for company between research. But as I arrived, and the notorious fog rolled in, I felt at peace. Alone in my little bed and breakfast room, I spent hours reading, stretching, and simply contemplating, all with a light heart. Between interviews, I sat by the waters edge and thought about what I had learned. Such fortitude from the First Nations people I met, working to protect their traditions and their lands, but also working to live in this world as we all are. There is respect for the environment, but the trees have never been simply for “nature’s sake” – they are a valuable resource, and should be treated as such. Used, but not destroyed.

In 2010, I traveled with purpose, I traveled to learn, and learn I did. In 2011, I can only hope for more of the same, though less time spent in airports would be ideal. I’m happy to stay here for awhile, enjoying the beauty that BC is known for around the world – there is so much to learn and see in our own backyards.

But if, say, I were to get a plane ticket to anywhere? Well….Nepal and Tibet are first up on the list.

Where will you go in 2011, and with what intention?