I sit in a café talking to a colleague. I ask: “Where should we meet tomorrow for our get-together?” Then he gets up out of his chair and walks away. I stare after him.
I’m just trying to make a point. Our communication skills as a human modern species completely sucks. Even cats understand each other better.
Who can relate to this? You send a text message to a friend, lover, roommate, family member, colleague (I’ve recently discovered that it doesn’t matter how much DNA you share) and you’re lucky if they respond the following week. Yes, this could be my specific communication challenged family—I admit we are abhorrent—but I feel this is a more widespread issue.
I thought I’d compare some common scenarios and see how it would look in person and by text. Hold onto your hats this is about to get weird:
Relationships: tendency to overshare
Text: I’m heartbroken that I haven’t heard from you lately. I spent the whole day crying yesterday and you don’t even care. Response:
In-person (not making eye contact): I think we should see other people (cough cough). Response: There would need to be some kind of words here or this person needs hospitalization.
Work: tendency towards meanness in texts
Text: I can’t believe you forgot about our meeting. Maybe you need to start thinking about your priorities a little more. Response: Maybe you need to back off.
In-person: Hey Barb! We missed you at the meeting yesterday. Hope everything is ok (wide grin). Response: Thanks so much! Everything is fine I just had to visit my ailing relative (or insert mandatory explanation here).
Miscellaneous: just I don’t know what’s happening here
Text: Do you still want to meet next week? Response: Text: Hey! Just checking to see if you got my message yesterday. Wanna meet? Response: Text: I guess I can assume you don’t want to? Response:
In-person: Two people sitting across the table from each other “Do you still want to meet next week?” Person staring at you. You go away and come back. Then you say: “Hey! Just checking to see if you still want to meet later?” Person staring at the ground. You leave for lunch then wander by the person’s desk. “I guess I can assume you don’t want to?” Person staring right through you.
Or there is always the obligatory, covers all bases Lol.
Really? If we’re not careful people we’re going to start being born without a mouth and sporting thirty fingers so we can type faster. Yes, these are made-up silly scenarios, but I feel a mixture of frustration, sadness and disappointment over our deteriorating social mores.
The one good thing is that this reminds me to always be kind and respond—whether it’s Facebook, email, text or any other kind of interaction not in person. There is a human being on the other end of that piece of hardware. I make a pledge to never be that non-responsive responder. I apologize now if I ever was. I know not what I did. Now go call someone! Or better yet, show up at their door—they’ll probably appreciate it immensely. Or they’ll stare at you through the peephole.
I binge watched Orange is the New Black on Netflix and now I’m perturbed that I have to wait until who knows when for the next season; I admit it. I have unhealthy attachments to my iPhone, Facebook page and emails—full confession.
However, I’m a little bit uncomfortable about ignoring the giant catastrophe that is our planetary reality at the moment. Plastic bottles choke our oceans. Football-sized sections of Rainforest get mowed down every second. Climate change(s). At this point I’m poised for the day when I say oops where’s my electricity? Gone forever (voice in my head).
Which is why my ears perk up when I hear about people making change. I don’t mean those who sit in a boardroom and discuss policies lined up for 2099. I mean the people who take inspired and enlightened action: now.
Where does it start? With the Basics.
Allow me to present Back to Basics Social Developments—a not for profit organization with a focus on youth programs that benefit the whole community. In 2009 Executive Director, Andrew Miller and Director of Arts & Music, Shane Dennis manifested their collective vision for change and voila: the Unity Café in Barrie was born.
Part hip hop chic, part farmers with style, Unity boasts a recording studio, bustling café and community kitchen. This uplifting project weaves together a sustainable food and housing system (use of urban, rural and vertical farming) with educational programs on organic cooking, art, and music—all youth and activist friendly. The melding of artistic energy (Dennis) and a love of the land (Miller), seems to be the ultimate synergistic partnership.
So much so that the concept morphed into The Global Unity project; a free franchise business model that uses the principles of sustainable living and equal accessibility to resources. In 2013, The Georgina Island First Nations community developed a store and community gardens based on this model.
And that, folks, is just the tip of the melting iceberg.
Where does it grow from here? It’s planetary.
In true activist form, Miller doesn’t rest on his laurels; he’s taking the Unity vision up a notch as Director of New Earth Urban. This enthusiastic, self-proclaimed Executive Tree Hugger (why can’t I think of cool titles like that?) is on a mission. Please note: this is not mission impossible or “drinking the Kool-Aid” (google it).
New Earth is an international organization committed to improving the planet using an entirely new paradigm. The proven sustainable systems and models nurtured at The Global Unity project, will now translate into the New Earth projects.
Let’s face it—our current economic and environmental system is badly broken and a whole new outlook on life is needed. This is where you come in! Here’s what it means to be an activist in today’s world according to Back to Basics Social Developments:
- Are you like Miller? “I wanted to stop doing things as [just] an individual”
- Act local, think global; “localize principles while sharing knowledge globally”
- Focus on sustainability in a peaceful and loving way
- Inspire others: “Youth have found enough inspiration by this work to completely change their lives, even finding inspiration from being suicidal”, explained Miller when I asked how these projects impact those they serve
So, if this sounds like you, grab a towel and “don’t panic” (hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy reference).
Bring your skills to the virtual table; register here as a New Earth contributor or contact Andrew Miller for the Toronto, Canada area here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Projects in the works include locations in Southern Ontario starting this summer, but the reach is global. Special thanks to Canadian Organic Grower's Toronto 2014 Conference for highlighting all the wonderful things people are doing to change the world!!