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What is a sustainable life?

Anne Dalke's picture
Shaye (whose thinking is always interesting always edging me beyond what I think I understand) wrote a while ago about the idea that we all always take with us what we already understand: "Wherever you go, there you are." She had other questions about "who is humble and who is ambitious," about what ensures "when a culture rich in ambition meets a culture rich in humility."

It's been fascinating for me to get just a bit beneath the surface of the story of the Quaker migration to Monteverde, to the establishment of a "pura vida," of what some term an "ethnic enclave"-- not so different, say, from the "Chinatowns" of Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco. A great deal of hubris must be involved, in setting out to establish an outpost in a new country -- a belief that one's own beliefs are "right," however others might believe, that one's own way of living is "right," however others might live.... OTOH, how much humility must be involved, in the decision to live the life that one's ancestors lived, not to expect change, or to think that it's possible to act in order to enact change?

I had a wonderful meeting yesterday afternoon with the Executive Director of the Monteverde Institute; we were brainstorming possible collaborations between all the work the Institute does for a sustainable future with multiple programs @ Bryn Mawr -- in Biology, Cultural Studies, Education, Environmental Studies, Gender and Sexuality, International Studies. What IS a sustainable life? (it's a moving target...think about what seemed necessary ten years ago, and what seems necessary now). In the symbotic life of the forest, the answer to this question is pretty clear. But what are the human dimensions of sustainability? Do they take the form of co-operatives? Or...?