Burlington, The “Off the Grid” City

Burlington, Vermont is a long ways from here, but really, we’re not that much different in our environmental goals. Here, on our ranch in Mendocino, California, we’re living off-the-grid.  The power lines stop about 6 miles from our house and there’s not much hope of them continuing up the mountain anytime soon.  That’s OK…we like being self-sufficient.  We get our electricity from the sun, our heat source from the wood stove, our internet from a satellite dish and we just have cell phones.  It’s no big deal.

Burlington, Vermont
Burlington, VT

So, I was very interested to read a magazine article on the website,  Politico this morning about Burlington, VT…. “America’s First Renewable-Energy City,” by  Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures.  I have to say that it was refreshing to get away from the boiling, political cauldron and settle down into reading something much more positive with my morning coffee.

According to the article, the people of Burlington have managed to get a grip on their electricity needs not with fossil fuels, but with a variety of cheap, renewable resources, including sustainable timber, wind, and solar, with more options on the board for the next, ten years ahead.

Burlington has also taken on the task of rebuilding their surrounding lands’ soils and begin farming more of their own, locally grown food, offering opportunities for upstart farmers.  A large, community garden has also emerged, which now supplies food for needy families.

It’s no surprise that Burlington is Bernie Sanders adopted home town and that he, along with others had much to do with establishing Burlington’s eco-practices.  But now I’m getting into politics again and I really just want to take my political thoughts down from a raging boil to a simmer right now.  I’m on overload at the moment. ..at least, this morning.  If you’re like me, then all I can suggest is to pop over and read this inspiring article on how we, as a community can move in a progressive way to work on our own towards self-sufficiency and battling climate change.

~ C

Vote With Your Dollar – Create Change


Vote With Your Dollar
Vote With Your Dollar

It is the day after the US Presidential election and at our house, let’s just say that things didn’t go as we had planned and hoped for.  And while this blog is not meant to be a political commentary, I hope that you, my dear readers, will indulge me as I stray from gardens and food for just a moment to let you know what I think.

My children were frantically texting me all last night and this morning, aghast as to how the political map was shaping up.  They couldn’t believe what was happening…and although they’re now adults, they are still young.  Personally, it was not so new to me, for I had seen many elections in my lifetime.  Some went my way and others did not.

They asked me for guidance and advice on how they could prevent this election outcome again.  My daughter couldn’t believe all of the polls had been so wrong.  My son was watching the angry students protest outside his door in Berkeley and one person had already been seriously injured.  This was all scary stuff to them.  I had lived through the 60s, so I was not as alarmed, but I had to think for awhile to give them a solid answer.  Actually, it was 2 answers.

First answer: GET OUT AND VOTE!  Never miss an opportunity to cast your ballot…ever.  Vote for the grass roots measures and candidates and not just for the president. That person actually matters the least.  If you don’t understand the issues, for Gawd’s sake, do some research and find out.  It all starts right at home, in your own backyard.

The second answer is, I believe, even more important: VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR.  You can do this every day, in every way, thousands of times a year.  If you ever think that it won’t matter where and how you spend your buck, trust me, you are dead wrong.  In this great United States of America, we are a capitalist society and the dollar reigns supreme.  If you don’t like GMOs, read the labels, then don’t buy them.  If you want your food to be grown organically, then buy just organic foods.  If you want to find out how to stop global warming, find out and put your dollars where they make a difference.  If you don’t like what’s politically happening in the corn belt, then don’t buy non-organic corn from the Midwest.  Trust me, they’ll get the message.  It’s as simple as that.

For example, housewives, especially, “working housewives,” (you know, the ones that work all day at a regular job and then go to the grocery store for another hour after work just to buy food to feed their families,)  have known this for a long time.  These savvy shoppers have turned our own local, big-chain, grocery store, which was just a food wasteland only a few years ago, into a happy place of organic foods and produce.  How?  They decided WHAT they were going to buy…quietly, persistently.  They didn’t raise a fuss.  They didn’t go out to the streets to protest…they didn’t have the time to do that.  They just laid their chosen products on the conveyor belt and handed the cashier their cash and coupons.  The slightly more demanding shoppers were happily obliged by simply asking the store manager to carry certain products.  The stores heard their message.  They had to give the customer what he, or she wanted, or go out of business.  Did farmers get the message too?  You bet!  The growers either had to change their farming practices, or risk the possibility of losing their lucrative contracts with the supermarkets.

I could give you countless other examples of how valuable this “vote with your dollar” notion is, but I don’t have the time, or space in this blog.  Never, ever underestimate the power of the way that you spend your money, no matter how little you have of it to spend!

Now, that being said, I must assure you, it will all be OK…Just get out there and vote!

~ C