Sunday, February 6, 2011
I've volunteered a few times in my life. At the post office, on a scholarship committee, a burrowing owl relocation. Not as often as I should nor as often as I'd wish, but enough times now to piece together an understanding about myself: it feels really awesome to witness and join a group of people who are working to benefit someone or something other than themselves.
So awesome, I don't know why it has not become addictive enough to volunteer on a regular basis.
Well, no, that's not true. I do know why. While volunteering is a feel-good thing, it's much more labor and time intensive than, say... eating chocolate. With all of the unavoidable responsibilities in life, followed by all of the huge time sinks we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into (we thought tv was bad? Hello Facebook!), volunteering, like exercise and setting aside time to rejuvenate your "spirit," fall to the pile of Things I'll Get To Later.
Yesterday was an invasive grass eradication volunteer event. Briefly, Buffelgrass is a non-native invasive species in Arizona, introduced by cattle ranchers some years ago. It crowds out native grasses and is highly flammable. Buffelgrass fires burn at an intensity that native vegetation cannot take. When fire sweeps through the desert, saguaro die but Buffelgrass comes back stronger. If allowed to spread unchecked, the desert will turn from a diverse ecosystem to a monoculture savanna.
I agreed to go but had my doubts. The desert is a big place, after all. It seemed a lost cause. Plus, I had to get up at 6 am. And it was 30 degrees outside. Ugh!
I am so glad I did. I realized while I was out there that they are amazingly and diligently making a dent in this problem.
I also realized that people need to feel passionate about things, need to feel they can affect the world they live in. I think this was the first time that my volunteer efforts fit my passions. It worked for me. It felt right. I felt powerful, more connected, and 100% willing to do it again.
But this isn't about me, just a long way of getting to my point: We often hear people say, especially in regard to conservation efforts in the home, that one person can't have an effect on global climate or the depletion of resources.
They are right. If only one person was trying to conserve, that person's efforts would be completely wasted.
But there isn't just one person. There are many, and their numbers are growing.
My solution for this blog: volunteer. Find something that speaks to your passions. Surround yourself by others who are engaged in that common purpose. Feel that you are not alone in wanting to make the world a better place. Put your minds, hearts and hands together to find solutions. Feel powerful. Feel connected.
I'd even challenge those who might be reading this blog who don't have any particular "green" concerns to go to an eco-centered volunteer event.
Even if it's just once, or once in a while, it could tweak your perspective a bit. If we're honest with ourselves, we all need a bit of tweaking from time to time. :)