Yes, in our new global society I certainly feel interconnected to those who are also in tune.
Interconnectivity is a mindset that is a natural byproduct of healthy, environmentally conscious, and active habits. Habits like composting in your own home or carrying awareness of how your money changes the world every time you spend it. These are not easy habits for people to learn, and are often coming from a place far away from any ideas of interconnectivity. However, the more than a person walks a certain walk the more they begin to think about it, improve on it, and make it a part of who they are all the time.
My own journey into interconnectedness began when I was 19 and living on a campground with my then wife. We moved from our homes in New Hampshire to Pensacola, Florida and built a home together in the Five Flags Campground. When we came across that living opportunity, we have been considering a camper for our home for only a few months. The campground itself had not been open for more than a year. Our timing just happened to be in our favor. This lifestyle we fell in to was very different than what either of our upbringings taught us about life. We were both relatively cold-shouldered having grown up in the winters of New England. But the campground was a massive family that partied every month and had a cookout every weekend. What really got my attention at that point in my life was seeing how so many people worked together without really ever being asked to. “What caused them to do that” I wondered, and the answer was clear: the campground was their home. From there I asked myself how to create a sense of home around the globe. I dream big.
Big dreams take lots of small steps and even more hard work. Luckily, that hard work was available to me right there in the campground. While the residents of Five Flags were like a family, an actual family of two men and their parents actively ran this business of theirs and I was quick to get in on the action. With construction experience and a track for an environmental science degree I was an easy sell to get on the landscaping team for the campground. From there and over the course of two years we doubled the size of the campground from forty sites to 80 in less than a year, each site with fully equipped power boxes, plumbing into our local septic systems, and a concrete slab with driveway and patio extensions. I began to be a part of something bigger than myself and as I learned about the families, I was building these homes for I began to see a theme about what it truly meant to live as a camper.
Camping requires a constant measure of what is in your home, how you’re using resources, and what affect that has on your local environment – given that local now means a 100ft radius instead of a town sized locality we tend to associate with the word. I took it upon myself to behave more responsibly with my own resources than I ever had before. Seeing how much my fellow campers needed water in the heat of Florida summers, I began to use my water much more sparingly. Seeing how much trouble it was for some of us to regularly have food had me thinking about gardening for the first time in my life. Learning how others had come up with ways to give back to the world inspired me to do not just one or two actions, but every one of them that I could possibly fit in to a day. My cost of living dropped dramatically. My diet changed to reflect my new values and I feel better every day because of it. And in the end, it was my diet that gave me the sense of interconnectivity that I carry with me today.
Eating became a consciousness of what it took to allow to have a plate of food in front of me. First to go was meat. The awareness of what it meant to support companies that allow for industrial animal farming made me sick. I do not stand for giving companies money when they are actively murdering the planet. Second to go was supporting corporations in general, as best I can. Unfortunately, we are not truly able to be loud on a global scale without buying into the very system we hope to dismantle. And once that became clear, the rest was easy. It is not in the current system that we succeed – it is in working together as individual people. We all breath, we all want to be warm at the end of the day, and we all want our kids to have food. To assume that another human being does not hope for a better tomorrow is ignorant of the fact that you are a human, they are a human, and there are not as many differences between us as we like to think there are. I believe that it is through working together that we change the human mentality from our very individual way of life to once that is more aware of the needs of everyone. And I mean literally everyone.
Once my consciousness had reached a point of concern on a global scale, however, things got stressful fast. News of famine made me not want to eat at all. News of social injustice made me feel guilty for the comforts I experience on a daily basis. But these things I felt did not at all change what others experience every day regardless of how I feel about myself. So, it all became about learning. Learning to take those feelings of guilts and make small adjustments in my life that allow to keep moving forward quickly without taking more than I absolutely must. But small adjustments can only go so far and eventually the question came to my mind: “If I achieve this lofty goal of a sustainable life, what am I even going to do with it?” and as quickly as the question came so did the answer: I must build. To take my knowledge and build something out of it is the best thing I can do. I can leave behind in this world that can allow people to learn how to not only live longer themselves but allow others the opportunity to live longer as well. If I die, and my knowledge dies with me, then what was the point of becoming to sufficient in the first place?
So, what I will build is a campground of my own. Camping is where my own journey started. Campers create environments of interconnectivity on a personal scale, and that creates the perfect opportunity for others to learn. The community I build is one that I hope is full of love, patience, and hope for a long future for humanity. Those are my kids I’m talking about, as well as your own kids. I want us all to have the beautiful planet I have experienced in my life. Why anyone else would feel differently about that, I simply do not know.