I met John de Graaf at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts’ annual conference in San Diego this past November. He was the keynote speaker. Before he spoke, I read his bio in our program: filmmaker, writer, and speaker, best known for his PBS documentary, “Affluenza”. I wasn’t sure if he had anything relevant to say to a room full of conservationists. So I was surprised when the focus of his talk was…beauty. For me, there isn’t a better motivation for changing, creating, conserving and unifying than to make something beautiful or beautiful once again. I began a conversation with him that led to him visiting Colusa to meet with our Arts Council, RCD and other community members just to talk about beauty and how to manifest it within our respective jobs and town. My hope was to inspire this small group to start thinking and moving toward decisions that enhance our communal spaces especially incorporating more green into them! My friendship with John de Graaf has continued and our latest conversations have been focused on the Green New Deal. After he asked me my thoughts on the Green New Deal, I confessed to him, “it sounds like something I should know about but please tell me what it is?!”. Thus receiving an email with a link of his recently published article in the Front Porch Republic which can be found here.
I thoroughly enjoyed and agreed with his honest reflection that though the Green New Deal seems aspirational and unrealistic, it is “a bold step in the right direction”. de Graaf’s looks at the GND as a sociologist-historian as he explains the need for comprehensive change in America as our nation faces challenges “from climate disasters to environmental degradation to poverty, racial division, rural despair, inequality and economic insecurity…” the list goes on. As he critiques the plan as being “simultaneously too ambitious and insufficient”, de Graaf draws upon the reality of history, comparing the GND to the successes and failures of FDR’s New Deal hoping it will be the touchstone to achieve necessary change on a nation-wide scale. He ends with a winsome call to action that reminds us of our American identity, one that meets challenges head on and makes sacrifices in order to achieve a better, and hopefully, more beautiful nation. Saying it better than me de Graaf concludes, “When past times tried our souls, Americans did not retreat to rabbit holes. When sacrifice was demanded for the public good, they responded willingly to rationing and hardship and found a way forward. I, for one, intend to take the concept of the Green New Deal to every forum I can, to criticize and seek to improve but not dismiss this bold idea, to act as if our very future on this planet depends on what we do now, and indeed, it does.”
I will heed his advice and do as de Graaf does approaching the GND with an open-mind, take it apart, talk about it and customize the broad ideas to fit the needs of where I live. And, hey, maybe Resource Conservation Districts will be the ones putting the Green in to the Green New Deal! That is my hope because I truly believe, the CCRCD can be an internal part of sustaining our rural farming community through whatever the future may bring.
Again, you can find the article here.