This month’s initiative is going to be quite a departure from the challenge we hosted last month – the first difference being that this isn’t a “challenge” per say. Most of these challenges and efforts are all avenues to get to the same basic place – a more sustainable future, which is exactly what we are trying to do; we are just going about it a different way. There are elements of a lot of these challenges within this initiative we’ve called “Unplug Yourself”. To us, living sustainably is about more than just sacrifice, will power, and discipline, though those things are often required as part of the journey. But to us, long-term lifestyle change is a more positive experience, and more likely to stick when people do it for their own reasons, starting from where they are, and moving at their own pace. We’ve noticed that – in the course of these “abstinence” challenges – the accountability for “failure” is to us or whomever is hosting the said challenge. It isn’t about us; it is about you, your family, and your future, so you don’t need to defend or explain yourselves to us because what the hell do we know? Point is, we’re all in the same boat, and just because Brett and I are “hosting” this, it doesn’t mean we don’t have just as much (if not more) to learn from you and your experiences as you do from us.
Unplug Yourself has no predetermined length, participation level, and requires no “check-ins”. We plan on continuing with this initiative either until there is absolutely no more interest in it, or we quit blogging. It will likely evolve over time too – as we get feedback from participants, learn from one another, and determine other aspects that should be removed or added to the list of categories.
Information sharing is perhaps the most vital part of Unplug Yourself. We are here to help each other on our paths to sustainability, so sharing experience, tips, troubles, etc. is incredibly important to all of our success. We noticed while hosting the Quit Now Challenge that a good portion of the participants didn’t participate in the check in. Now, we don’t mean to call anyone out; we understand that many people did not understand this aspect of the challenge, and we don’t want excuses. It just seems to us that there is little point signing up for a challenge if we can’t share in one another’s experiences.
For this and many other reasons, we will not be “requiring” a weekly check-in, but rather, a weekly or monthly post on each of our own blogs about our experience with whatever category (or categories) we choose to start an open dialogue with our readers and other participants. How often you post about your experience depends on what you choose to participate in. If you choose “expand your mind,” you will likely need more than a week to sift through your information; suggested frequencies of updates as to your progress on your blog will be included in the descriptions of the subsections, but these are just suggestions. If you want to participate but don’t have a blog, you can leave a comment documenting your experiences on a round-up post we will be doing on Veg*n Cooking each week. The point is to tell us what the experience means to you, what you did to cope, how it affected your family, ways you’ve learned to do more with less, and so on; your perspective can help all of us with our transitions.
Our main reasoning for not having incredibly rigid rules is that this isn’t a game, and it isn’t a competition. Sustainability has to be the wave of the future if we hope to continue to inhabit this planet. The current way we do things, particularly in the West, has taken a lot of our humanity away. We are brainwashed; we support the horrible treatment of others around the world without being fully aware of how and why; we have closed off our minds to alternative viewpoints and sometimes flat out refuse to try to find common ground with those who see the world differently than we do. Many of the activities we support are – unbeknownst to most of us – contributing to a closing down of free societies; the industrial model is destroying the planet, increasing cruelty to animals and people, and is all around destructive to us and everything on this beautiful blue ball we call Earth. There has to be new paradigm – a new way of viewing the world and our place in it to replace the dogma that “all was put here for us to do with as we please.” We have seen the consequences of this and reductionist thinking on our social structures, our moral values, and the overall quality of life for most folks in the world, and there are ways to stand up, say “no more!” and remove ourselves, bit by bit, from many of these things. The paradigm will not, and should not, be the same for all of us (I can’t and won’t tell you the “right” way to live), but the basic tenants of sharing, community, respect, cooperation, and dignity should be present in each of our versions of reality.
On to the particulars of Unplug Yourself… We have divided the initiative into six categories with subsections within each of them. This list is by no means all inclusive; feel free to suggest additions and revisions at any point during the course of this endeavor. The level and duration of your participation is completely up to you and your families. Feel free to come back at any time and change your “commitment” – whether you want to move further, or pull back your participation. There is no obligation to continue on for any longer than you feel is necessary, however, if you are no longer going to be participating, please drop us a comment or email, so we can remove you from the participants list.
There is no particular day which you have to do your update on your blog about how you have been doing, but we will keep an eye on all the participants’ blogs so that we can link to your posts when we do ours. Expect us to come and comment; we want dialogue; we want to learn from each other, so we hope you will do the same for us.
What follows are the categories and subsections (with descriptions) of Unplug Yourself. We hope you will consider joining in and see the value and connectedness of all these aspects.
Category 1: Unplug Yourself from the Mind Machine
Category 2: Unplug Yourself from the Industrial Food System
Category 3: Unplug Yourself from the Energy Sink
Category 4: Unplug Yourself from Rampant Consumerism
Category 5: Unplug Yourself from Your Self
The inspiration for this category came from Chessa, one of the participants in the Quit Now Challenge who jokingly suggested a meditation challenge. You were on to something!
Category 6: Unplug Yourself from Injustice
This section is mostly in relation to consumer choices, there is a good deal of injustice in the world and the cheap products and meat in the Western world are the culmination of this.
We hope you all will think very hard about these topics, and look inwards to see where you feel you could best start to “unplug” and join the community. This can be a very rewarding experience as well as a start down the path towards sustainability. It takes all of us, moving at our own pace, to really make this succeed.
If you are interested in joining in, please leave a comment detailing what you wish to participate in, your level of commitment, and a rough idea of how often you plan on updating us all on your progress. Then, grab the rudimentary banner below and put it on the sidebar of your blog (if you couldn't tell we made this ourselves, there is a reason we don't get "creative" very often - hehe).
How cool is that?!
Anyways, to add this banner to the sidebar of your blog you will need to grab this little line of code and do the following (you will need to use Internet Explorer to be able to see the full line of code, Firefox won't display it for some reason):
A lot of these choices are things that we are already doing (as may be the case for many of you as well), so I didn't think it was fair for, say, me, as a vegetarian, to sign up for the little or no meat section. We also didn't want to start off with too much, so below is what we have chosen. We are going to work on these categories for the month of September. We will report back on the last day of the month to update you on how (if at all) our minds were expanded, and how we did with the rest of the subsections we have signed up for.
The both of us are going to participate in the following categories and subsections:
From Category 1: Unplug Yourself from the Mind Machine we are choosing: Expand Your Mind and Kill Your Television (except for Sundays to watch football)
From Category 2: Unplug Yourself from the Industrial Food Chain we are choosing: Go Local
From Category 3: Unplug Yourself from the Energy Sink we are choosing: Reduce Your Consumption of Electrical Energy
Brett, personally, is going to (from Category 3: Unplug Yourself from the Energy Sink and also from Category 6: Unplug Yourself from Injustice): Eat less or no meat
I am also going to (from Category 1: Unplug Yourself from the Mind Machine): Get news and information from only alternative sources
We truly hope some of you will consider joining in. Even if we get just a couple of participants, we will feel that this will be a success. It all starts with us.
'Til next time!