Pragmatism in the Age of Sustainability

Pragmatism in the Age of Sustainability

Note: This letter from the editor was originally published in our weekly newsletter and is being republished here.

Hey guys,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what a post-pandemic world could look like and while I’m an optimist at heart; I’m still yet to be convinced that human civilisation has evolved to the point of creating a utopian society. 

Humans naturally adapt to their environment. During the pandemic lockdowns, many of us have already adapted to an indoor world aka ‘the new normal’, but give it enough time, and soon many of us will be back on the hedonic treadmill. Without imagination, inner work and reflection, we will return to life as it was before.

I am not being a party pooper here when I say that seven or so weeks in pandemic-induced isolation is not going to change a broken system, or the broken humans that this extreme capitalist neoliberal system spat out. It’s not going to automatically make people kinder or more compassionate to one another. It’s not going to propel people to care about the environment or one another. And it’s definitely not the ‘answer’ we’ve been looking for to help us improve social cohesion, institutions and close the wealth inequality gap, particularly at a time of knee-jerk reactions, tribalism, self-righteousness and ego.

The recent Making Sense podcast episode where neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris interviews historian and futurist Yuval Noah Harari touches on similar themes. People have conflicting desires which makes it hard to forge ahead; people’s visions are also distorted by their own self-interest and there are people, in the billionaire and elite class particularly, who are using this time to push their own agendas, exploit opportunities and to find ways to profit.

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When I think about what could be possible post-coronavirus, I reflect a lot on the experiences of my future in-laws who came of age in the time of the counterculture; where Bob Dylan, anti-Vietnam war activism and the spirit of peace, love and communitarian living was all the rage. I have learned enough from their stories to know that an idealistic and altruistic worldview is often just that – idealistic. It takes a lot of hard work (inner and outer) and much patience to achieve results and outcomes.

My in-laws are, to put it plainly, hippies. Over the last forty years, they have spent considerable time exploring concepts of ‘true’ community and trying to create an equitable world where all humans in their sphere are thriving. They have been involved in several intentional communities, from a small cluster of utopian-minded families to a somewhat bigger Christianity-focussed group; moving from a regional community to the coastal Byron Bay region (long before it became the modern-day stomping ground of a privileged class of ‘seekers’, bohemians, hipsters and yuppies).

Gail McGuire, my future mum-in-law sowing seeds in greenhouse #1 at HQ.

What I’ve learned from their experiences and their endlessly fascinating stories, is that the problems and issues that afflict ‘intentional’ communities built on the vision and values of self-sufficiency, collectivism, collaboration and focus on human relationships, are the same as those in other communities: social and sexual politics, financial constraints, bickering, animosity, factionalism, ego, miscommunication, shortage of skills, feelings of resentment and so forth.
But even now, four decades on, with those intentional communities behind them, they still feel that society can improve and that the world can get better, fairer – if people will only stop to view life through the lens of the heart.

I have had many philosophical discussions of how we can build a better world over the last 20 years and particularly over the last decade since launching Eco Warrior Princess. While I am not entirely convinced that we are on the precipice of a human evolution of the heart and spirit, all I can do is to think, question, share, discuss, apply, reevaluate, reflect, learn… and most importantly, hope.

Quote I’m Loving This Week:

“Stop over-explaining yourself. Just stop. There are no magic words that will make everyone happy with every decision you make. Just live your life and do your best. Don’t waste so much time justifying yourself.” – Anonymous


The winner of the EarthHero Earth Week giveaway prizes (zero waste kit and $100 gift card giveaway) is Janelle Keri – congratulations! Thanks for responding to our email, we will get this out to you ASAP 🙂

Popular articles from our archives this week:

Now there are a few infrastructure projects underway at the farm so if you’re keen to see how we’re applying sustainability principles and building a better tomorrow (literally), you can follow the journey (and see all the amazing family and friends who are giving their time and are invested in our grander vision) on Instagram here

And don’t forget that Mother’s Day is coming up (Sunday May 10) so if you’re a gift giving sort and haven’t organised anything yet, check out this post for inspiration on eco-friendly gifts to get your mama or the mother-like figure in your life.

Peace, love and all that jazz,

Editor-in-Chief Jen xx

p.s. It’s International Compost Awareness Week. If you live in a small space or don’t have room for a backyard compost bin, we encourage you to consider Bokashi composting (which is small enough to keep in your kitchen cupboard) or check out our renter’s guide to sustainable living to learn how our Sydney-based writer Sara composts while living in shared accommodation.

Cover image by Valeria Ushakova.

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