Category: Organizations

Story of Stuff

Georgina posted it first, and yes it’s quite good, so here I go with my me-too post: watch!

There were a couple of statements there that made me cringe a bit – "75% of fisheries are exploited at or above capacity", for example. What the hell is "at or above"? I don’t care much about renewable stuff being exploited to capacity – by definition, things aren’t getting any worse. I care about fisheries exploited above their capacity to renew.

I don’t know whether the difference is significant or not, but when a statement like this is thrown (and there are a few other shady ones), I can’t help but feel that the effort is cheapened. To be honest, it took me a while to figure out why.

I think the catch is that I don’t think of "being green" as something we do because it’s the best rational decision – we do it because it’s right. We do it for our children, we do it for our neighbors, we do it because it’s aligned with our beliefs of justice and equity and for our favorite deity, but not because it’s "the best of all analyzes courses of action". And as such, I expect that we go about it in a way that’s also feels right, like we play fair, and we don’t have to resort to sleazo-marketing tactics to build approval.

That said, I acknowledge that things are certainly off-balance, and not in favor of environmentalists. Thus, a big hand for Story of Stuff, and as my 2 cents, here is a list of seasonal vegetables produced in Washington (see point #1 of Another Way).

(this took a long time to find, but here’s the link!)

So, what’s harvested in December? Beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, garlic, greens, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, spinach, winter squash, tea leaves, turnips.

Find your local Washington farmers market here: (note that most are closed during winter, except the one in Port Angeles, the one in Ballard, the one in the University District and of course Pike Place)


I’m helping out!

Shamelessly stolen from….

Plato’s contemporary Isocrates develops the point. In an address praising the way Athens used to be run, he argues that those societies which believe good citizens are produced by scrupulously precise and detailed laws are blind to the truth. If that were the case, he goes on, a state simply had to copy a successful country’s law-codes to solve all its problems. In fact, he says, good citizens are the product not of laws but of the habits of everyday life. Men from an evil background will not hesitate to break the law, however minutely codified; those who are well brought up will respect the law, however simple.

Consequently, Isocrates continues, ‘our forefathers did not make it their first priority to discover the best ways to punish the lawless, but instead to produce citizens who would never dream of doing anything wrong’. They did this, he says, by developing a youth policy, ensuring young men had a job suited to their capacities, while keeping a generally watchful and zero-tolerant eye on them.

Plato’s analysis was different. He reckoned the key to success was education based not on rules but on principles. Then, he goes on, proper behaviour (‘being silent in the presence of elders, giving up your seat to them, standing when they enter the room’) is automatic, and issues of ‘hairstyle, clothing, footwear and the general way one presents oneself’ solve themselves. ‘Only an idiot would legislate on such matters,’ he affirms.

From government to businesses to schools, the following iron law applies: the fatter the rule-book, the worse the organisation.