Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Living Out Loud

From the bean of Green Bean.

"You don't have any room in your backyard?"

It's a question I've heard more times than I can count. It usually comes from someone passing my front yard vegetable garden. But I've also heard: "I really enjoyed your sunflowers this year," "I should plant some pumpkins next year," and (this is my favorite) "you'd make a great farmer's wife."

The truth is that I do have room in my backyard. Plenty. Sure, I get a bit more sun in the front but that is only part of the reason I'm digging up potatoes and plopping in pepper plants next to the sidewalk and along the road.

The primary reason is that I'm living out loud. Vaunting my values by planting a vegetable garden like a billboard in my front yard. Preaching by patching my kids' pants. Waxing poetic by wrapping homemade gifts in leftover art paper. A clean bowl set out for fruit scraps is my soap box. A bicycle is my bull horn. I don't say a word about what I'm doing - unless asked. I simply set about living according to my principles.

Just last year, I self consciously shushed my son when he talked to his teacher about line drying clothes or boasted about a thrift store find. I hid my head when I biked out of my neighborhood and I never told a soul about my blog. At the time, my husband chided me for feeling like an eco-freak. He opined that I was at the vanguard of the green movement, a movement toward a simpler more honest existence, and that was why no one else was yet doing the same things as me. It was catching on, though, he promised.

Either he was right or the longer you live in harmony with your values, the less you care what others think. I no longer hide my efforts to live lightly. Instead, I look for opportunities to do them in public - in my front yard, on my knee, at a school picnic. And the more I do it, the more green connections I make. The more people ask what are good first steps for going green (here are some great ones), where to get a composter, what to plant this season, how to pack a no waste lunch, or whether I want to brainstorm ideas for green fundraising for the school.

I'm done hiding. I'm done preaching. Now, I'm just living.

It just so happens that the living I'm doing is out loud.


Bobbi said...

It's amazing how good it makes you feel to act courageously. Liberates a lot of pent up energy to do other things.

Heather @ SGF said...

You are absolutely right! I think this is also the best way to reach people. "Telling" people what to do rarely gets a desired effect. Humans just get defensive. But when we "live the life" and other see how happy we are, it really does speak for itself. You go, girl!

The Purloined Letter said...

This is exactly what makes us superheros: trying to do what we think is right, without just hiding in that comfy phone booth!

Paul @ Green Pepper said...

Great post! You're so right - leading by example achieves far greater results than preaching to people.

kiwimeg said...

Good for you! Living what you believe is the most effective way to convince people!!

Rhonda Jean said...

This is a wonderful post, green bean. Thank you for it. I totally agree. We grow potatoes, pumpkin, avocados and rosellas in our front yard. Sure, we have plenty of room out back, but we wear these crops like a badge and to show what can be done. We don't talk about what we do until we're asked, then we let it rip. LOL!

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

i love when my next door neighbors tell me that my backyard chickens remind them of their childhoods, when the neighbor kids come knocking on the door to ask if they can smell my herbs and help pull weeds in the space where my front lawn used to be. the other night, before the icy rain came, my son ran out to cut broccoli and pull peppers. watching a city kid harvest the veggies for his dinner and then have my other kids tell me they didn't know broccoli could taste that fresh and sweet... i can hardly wait to get back out into the garden and show the world the way it can be.

Green Bean said...

Bobbi: Sure does!

Heather: "Telling" does always seem to follow on deaf ears. Heck, even I don't like it.

Purloined: Hey, I didn't know the booth was comfy?!?

Paul: Thank you.

Kiwimeg: It is SO much more effective than nagging or preaching.

Rhonda: "A badge". I love that. That is exactly what a Victory Garden or any of these "green living" things are.

Blonde: Beautiful comment. It is so much more meaningful to do it this way, isn't it?

CindyW said...

Now it's high time for the president elect to convert a part of white house lawn to an edible garden, if Michael Pollan has his way. Now that's saying a lot to the hundreds of WH visitors every day.

JessTrev said...

Love this post. Such a fine balance between preaching and hiding. It's great that you are feeling so comfortable in your own skin, making choices that fit your beliefs. You're making my life richer just through your honesty - thanks.


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