Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mission Possible

From the bean of Green Bean.

"The ballot needs to be mailed by when?" the voice on the other end of the phone line faded. I could hear papers being shuffled.

"This Wednesday," I repeated.

"Oh dear. I had no idea that it was so soon. Hmmm," more paper being shuffled, "Here it is! I'll mail it tomorrow."

My heart thumped in my ears. "Great." I tried not to shout. "Thank you so much for your support."

It was phone banking night for an important local measure to support the devastated California public school system. I and twelve other parents from my son's school were manning the phones, calling people who previously said they would support the measure and reminding them to mail in their ballots for this mail only election.

My list was several pages long, daunting when I first sat down. But every vote counted. A parcel tax to support a neighboring school district passed last November by one vote.

One single vote.

That one vote that none of us think matters. The drop in the bucket that makes the bucket overflow. The tiny weight that flips the balance.

One vote.

As I hung up the phone, I grinned at another phone banker. I had just won one more vote. This could be *the* vote. This could be the difference between schools with PE and libraries and a manageable number of kids in a classroom and schools without.

Scanning the next name and number on my call list, I realized that it is not just elections where small efforts add up. Where painless shifts or little gifts wield power.

A friend recently started composting her food scraps and watched her garbage shrink by half. Certainly, there is some effort, but it is not so great as to overwhelm. And if everyone did it? The garbage truck could cover twice as many houses, using less fuel. The landfills would last twice as long and emit half as much methane.

A fellow blogger recommends shifting just $1000 in purchasing decisions a year toward greener choices. Small change, really, when you see that it is just a few dollars here for the local, organic milk in the reusable glass bottle or a fiver there for a CFL light bulb. But small change adds up. Suddenly, those shoppers are a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly, they wield a big green purse.

A month ago, my son's public school, devastated by budget cuts, launched an effort to raise $100,000 in 100 days. Unimaginable. Impossible. But necessary. With every $20 donation, though, we find that the goal is not that far beyond reach. That a month later, we are nearly half way there.

Switching to reusable water bottles is easy and, thankfully, now hip. It also saves 100s of plastic bottles a year.

Taking shorter showers, walking to work, eating locally grown and organic food, all those little things, they do all add up. Whether we feel it or not. And we never know when it may be our small choice that skews the outcome in our favor.

Leaving the phone bank that night, I realized that my efforts may be small, unassuming, and personal. But they also make the impossible possible. And that is power.


Valerie Reddemann said...

What a fantastic post! YES! Every little step, vote, shift does matter.

As a side note - I'm impressed that your school raised $50K in a months time one $20 donation at a time. Remarkable.

Keep up the great work and the message. Well done!

Valerie Reddemann

knutty knitter said...

At least we have a year to raise the necessary for our school class. On the other hand there are only six families to do the raising - joys of small schools!

Good luck to you all

viv in nz

JessTrev said...

Point well taken - our local commissioner race here in DC was decided last year by 5 votes! Amazing stuff, participatory democracy (and, of course, grassroots fundraising). Best of luck to you with the school work.

graceonline said...

You illustrate perfectly how important it is for each of us to realize the power of one and act. Thank you.

Green Bean said...

Valerie: Thank you. We so often forget what an impact we really can have.

Viv: Yes, it was unexpected to raise so much but budget cuts and stock market losses came all at once. At least you seem to be a pro at fundraising. :)

Jess: Votes do count. Even more so in a small pond - as you know.

Graceonline: Ah, thank you!

Electronic Goose said...

Awesome. Good luck!

skymring said...

he he, i have a feeling you spotted my 'mission:impossible' post ;)


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