Monday, May 2, 2011

Wisconsin's late winter

Actually, I don't feel like posting today. I lived in DC, and one of my sisters in Manhattan, back 10 years ago. I'm feeling a bit traumatized as memories, images, smells, grief all come pouring back into the present moment. I am feeling equally traumatized by the patriotic celebrations and the chants of "USA! USA! USA!"

I wish we could have mustered up that much fervor when the US was training and supporting death squads in Central America that killed the tens of thousands.

Nothing regarding 9/11 ever makes me feel triumphant or in need of vengeance, or justifies 2 wars that have killed the tens of thousands since 9/11 - it all just makes me feel so, so sad.

But back here in Wisconsin, I just returned from a great weekend in Merrill and Wausau, speaking at an Earth Day event on Saturday organized by Merrill Peace Study, preaching on Sunday at the First Universalist Unitarian Church in Wausau, and then meeting with a lovely Quaker group last night.  These gatherings are always a shot in the arm for me, a real morale booster - good people struggling with how to live their values, how to live authentically, how to create life anew, within this troubled culture.

The day I drove up it was 70 degrees, another blip in an otherwise brutal spell of late winterish weather. Saturday grew cool and damp, then downpours, followed by COLD and damp, some snowflakes floating around - and a lot of nervous farmers. Fields all through Central Wisconsin are wet, muddy, many with standing water. The organic farmers that participated in the various gatherings are concerned about their growing season since they have not been able to plant much yet.

Farming and weather. We in the city forget what it's like to live dependent on the weather, on nature.  We just assume that food will be in the stores when we want it. Very few US Americans think much about how the food is produced, whether factory-farmed or farmed sustainably and lovingly, or about the human beings that are linked to that food.

While I nurse my tumultuous emotions today, I just want to say this - support your local farmers!  And I mean, really support them.  Buy produce from stores and co-ops that sell locally grown, not factory-farmed food. Buy if you can from organic farmers.  Get behind your local farmers markets, promote them, help create more of them.  They will really need our support this year!

Meanwhile, there is political work to do - to fight the tax breaks and subsidies our government provides to factory farmers, to Big Ag, to industrial agriculture, that sector that is providing more and more of the foods that are making us sick and ruining our soils, poisoning our waters - so that these big producers are no longer able to price private, small, and/or organic farmers out of business. We pay way too little for factory food.

Here in Wisconsin, we are very fortunate to still have a strong family farm culture - but it gets harder and harder to hang on in this economy that favors the corporate producers. But that base is one of our lifelines for how we live now and in the future as we face growing economic and ecological difficulties. And these networks of farmers and farmers markets and co-ops and those of us who love this food and admire these people are also one way we begin to build and strengthen local, resilient communities that will help us not only survive the difficulties, but even create a nice life in the midst of them.

I have more to write about my weekend.  Stay tuned.

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