Your civic voice.

I thought I’d share a Letter to the Editor I submitted in January, when I was joining my fellow townspeople in preparing to vote on whether to allow a proposed development on a key piece of the town’s land.  A lot of times we think our voice can’t possibly make a difference, or that what we have to share isn’t anything new, etc. But all these ways that we keep ourselves silent are becoming increasingly deadly. Your community, and your world are shaped by what you give voice to – or by what someone else does in the face of your silence.  And all you need to do is speak from the heart.

“In thinking about yes or no on VCR, I find myself looking beyond this piece of land, this town – to the larger context within which this decision exists.

2011 contained the largest number of climate disasters of any other year in recorded history. All those monitoring the state of the planet say it is well past the time we should be pulling out all the stops to bring our planet into balance that will allow for life to continue.

I wonder how many times we need to hear this, how much suffering we need to endure, before we will acknowledge that our every choice decideds a future that includes all life on the planet, or life for none.

In the native American Okonagan tradition, when community decisions are made someone is designated to speak for the land. In this case I wonder what it might say. With the amount of expertise in this valley – from the efforts of Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, Sustainable Settings, CLEER, CORE, Solar Energy International, Aspen Center for Environ Studies, Rocky Mountain Institute (and there are many others that complete this list) – I imagine the land to say, “You know what to do to live in harmony with the land. Listen to your very best thinking and create something that will inspire the world.”

Is that a fancier grocery store with a few green bells and whistles to allay the creeping feeling that we are selling out future generations so we can have more choices of food trucked and flown in from far too far away? I shudder at the thought of my children saying, “Really? A third of the world lives on less than a dollar a day and you want “a more complete shopping experience?”

When we have every indication that even an incremental rise in global temperatures means death for those living in other parts of the world, and we are quibbling about paving over more green land?

Is the best we can do a fast food restaurant and gas station convenience store where our youth can fill up on diabetes inducing snacks and loiter among the tabloids?

Really, are we not capable of better? I believe we are. In fact, during the many years of deliberation on this development we have gotten savvier, more clear about our strengths and needs. We are much closer to something that future generations will celebrate us for. But I don’t believe we are there yet. And I don’t believe we have to get pressured into saying yes to this latest iteration of the development just because we’ve been at it for “long enough” and we’re being told no one will want to do business here if we don’t say yes.  That is a response from fear and lack – not from wholeness. Not from our collective brilliance.

Sometimes, like now, no is yes.”

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