Three Reasons Why Green Communities are Negative for Climate Action & The Real Solution

Ideas of Green communities are dangerous.  I find myself reading posts from my favourite bloggers, but as soon as they mention this I feel queasy and believe we are walking down the wrong garden path.  The latest was by Zachary Shahan on PlanetSave “Going Green Tip 2: Get into a Green Community (or Green Communities)”.   Green communities will not change society and they risk destroying the environment.

1)      Environmentalists Desert the Battleground

If we are going to change society we need to be in the centre, where the power is.  It is the dark green individuals that will force the political and business system to change, through fighting for the environment.  Greeness also spreads like a plague (a positive one) through society. Without “us” society will continue to destroy the planet as we sit on our farms and grow organic parsley. We need to fight for what we believe in:

“Going green can feel like a constant battle or struggle, or it can be great fun and an ever-interesting endeavour.”

The battle or struggle that Zachary mentions results when we are confronted with other individuals that are not as green as us or we are confronted with the wastefulness of modern society.  But Environmentalists living in green communities are like monks in a monastery.  They remove themselves from the sins of the flesh and create a holier than thou sanctuary.  The sins of the flesh carry on in the wider society, but now without the monks’ watchful eye.

2)      Green Comes in Many Shades

Zachary continues:

“This depends partly on your own inner perspective, but it also depends a lot on the people who surround you and who you interact with regularly — the community (or communities) you live in.”

But we do not need to move next door to people to get their support.  Making green friends within the community where you live also provides this.  The idea of purposefully moving into a green community will fail, because people are different shades of green and they run their lives accordingly.

Dependence and working together is the key to a successful community.  However because you are more dependent on others, conflict can erupt quickly.  Imagine there is a husband that has been dragged their by his wife.  Is he really going to sort his rubbish, work in the gardens, sell is car?  No.  Therefore don’t set yourself in direct conflict with him, but rather slowly and gradually bring him to change his lifestyle through him deciding, realising that he needs to change it himself.

3)      Modernity Should Not Be Rejected

What I dislike most about posts like Zachary’s are that they separate the environmental movement from modernity.  They therefore alienate us from mainstream society.  We become the far out hippies.

Modernity has made man the most successful species in history.  Therefore why reject it?  Modernity provides wealth, happiness and material goods. Its severe side effects are stress, environmental pollution and inequality. The latter are hidden and disguised by the externalisation and PR through advertising and corporate image management. We either need to change it so that it creates the goods without the negative effects or people need to be enlightened about the negatives and then we can together change the system.  Green communities’ rejection of modernity does not allow us to confront these problems.

The Solution: Dissatisfaction is Rife: We Can Change the Society We have

Another post that mentions Green Communities as a possible way of living was “Heaven Knows” by Sean Sakamoto on the site   He highlights the problems with modern society:

I don’t want to return to a life of scheduled exercise, paid for entertainment, and constant worry about the rising monthly costs on a life that I’m barely living. I want to live with friends, have fun, and enjoy this midlife crisis I seem to be having.”

His discontent with modern life is not a single case.  There were many people who supported him and said they wanted to join him.   I too want what he described, I just do not want to move into a green community.  Today a colleague reduced her hours; my first thought was what a great idea I want that too.  Why don’t we all do that? Because we are scared.

Sean goes on:

“I’m just talking about a way of life that puts having some fun at the center, a way for people who want to garden, to make music, to play games, or to just have a good conversation, and live cheaply enough that we’re not working all our waking hours to pay the bills on a lifestyle that keeps us in our seats, dreaming of a better life.”

Society will need to change because it is no longer sustainable; I do not doubt this, however green communities need to be on the scale of London, Paris or New York.  We can bring about this change without excluding ourselves from society, rejecting modernity and letting society drift into climate chaos.  We can achieve this because “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win” – Mahatma Gandhi.

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