In an all out attempt to become more politically and socially active this summer I decided to take the opportunity to involve myself in many activities that people might label progressive.
While some might argue that my endeavors this summer should not have a political affiliation, it is clear as of late that my environmentally friendly political activism is part of the progressive movement.
Let the “socialism” begin.
As California’s economy continues to crumble, I took my first step to try and help change the direction of the state by attending a town hall meeting with Gavin Newsom. After six years of being the mayor of San Francisco, Newsom has begun his gubernatorial campaign for the election in 2010 and is holding town halls to jumpstart his campaign.
Newsom made national headlines early on in his political career by giving gay and lesbian couples marriage licenses. Along with his human rights activism, Newsom wants to usher in major energy reforms in California, ones that aim for a higher standard than the current governor. Although early in the election process, Newsom seems like a fresh young faced Democrat who could push California forward. (Sound familiar?)
My summer was influenced heavily by books and movies; for instance Michael Pollan’s ‘In Defense of Food.’ The famous author of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma,’ shone a light on the unhealthy chemicals infiltrating our once basic foods sold in major grocery stores. Pollan’s book indoctrinated how I should be buying food as well as how to distinguish good ingredients from bad ones.
Now my everyday diet consists of foods that have few and basic ingredients, are organic whenever possible, and is limited to a near vegetarianism thanks to Pollan and similar books/research. (See the film “Food Inc.”)
In a strong case of locavorian activism I decided to get my produce as fresh as possible, so I started a garden. In the early summer months I began my garden that is now composed of bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, chili peppers, basil and garlic. Not only are there great health benefits, but I have substantially lessened my impact on the environment. The amount of wasted fuel that it takes for food to get to our plates is a major burden on the atmosphere. (The cucumbers have produced well and the tomatoes are just about to turn red.)
Continuing on my environmental path, I began researching organizations that are known for their commitment to the planet and encourage activism. I am now a proud member of both the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. Both groups are advocates for protecting our natural resources, raising awareness for our endangered species and promoting legislation to stop and reverse the increasing threat of climate change. (Visit nrdc.org and sierraclub.org).
Even if you don’t agree with some of these practices or endorse certain politicians, become active through your ideals and participate to let your voice be heard. Differing opinions count and activism can be the vehicle to see your ideas in motion.
Use Mahatma Gandhi’s words, as they proved inspirational to me this summer and hence forward, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Kevin Garrity, a senior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.