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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Travel, Not Transit

This past weekend, I traveled to Selma, Ala. to attend the 50th anniversary events of the Selma to Montgomery march and do some independent reporting. To get there and back, I spent a whopping total of about 64 hours on buses and in bus stations, or about 2.5 days.

I chose to use buses for two main reasons: they are cheaper than flying, and they have a lower carbon footprint than flying.

But, isn’t it worth spending a little extra money to get to the destination faster, with less hassle? Is sacrificing time and comfort really worth minimizing abstract environmental impacts? This week-long adventure to Alabama and back, full of surprises and uncertainty around every corner, taught me that a positive, open state of mind makes all the difference.

Life After the March

*This post was originally published in The Ithacan on March 5

In my Principles and Practices of Sustainability class on Monday, we discussed ecological design. Toward the end of her presentation, my professor showed us pictures of a large factory building in the UK that had been repurposed into a sustainable community housing project called "BedZED." The average UK citizen lives a lifestyle that would require 3 earths in order for everyone to live that way. People who live in BedZED require 1.7 Earths.

As she flipped through pictures of the residents working together in a large kitchen, of the community dinners full of smiling faces and of people playing Frisbee together outside, my stomach knotted up.
“What do you think?” She asked. “Could you live there?”

There were little laughs around the room. Students raised their hands and expressed concerns about privacy and personal space.

“What happens if you don’t like someone? You can’t get away from them.”

I smiled to myself and thought, you work your problems out, face to face, and you love them anyways, just because they’re human.

It’s been over five months since the Climate March arrived in D.C. It’s been about two months since I came back to college, and I am still adjusting. Moments of restlessness hit me at least once a day. I never left the United States, and yet I seem to be experiencing something akin to culture shock.