A little over seven years ago, a friend invited me to meet her parents at their home in San Jose. Her father had amassed a collection of stuff in the garage, and she asked me to bring my camera in case I was inclined to photograph it.
Having been told little about what to expect, but assured I’d be interested in what was there, I was prepared for a garage packed to the gills scenario.
We arrived at the house where she grew up and rang the doorbell. Her mother met us at the front door, and said she’d see us at the garage. We walked back toward the car and waited a few minutes on the driveway for the wide double door to rise.
In short: it just doesn’t make sense for universities to invest in a system that will leave their students no livable planet to use their degrees on, or for pension funds to invest in corporations that will ruin the world we plan to retire in. The one thing we know the fossil fuel industry cares about is money. Universities, pension funds, and churches invest a lot of it. If we start with these local institutions and hit the industry where it hurts — their bottom line — we can get their attention and force them to change. This was a key part of how the world ended the apartheid system in South Africa, and we hope it can have the same effect on the climate crisis.
Let me start by saying that the quote above is as far as I’ll go with regard to the examination of the oil industry and climate change. Plenty of people can, have, and will speak about these topics in ways that far exceed my ability and desire to do so. For instance, there’s my partner, Sven, who reported on a lunchtime interview with Bill McKibben as I snapped away with my cameras to document the event. This is about something more: it’s about taking action in alignment with our values.
What’s sustainable here?
This is the window of Lost Weekend Video, one of a handful of San Francisco’s independently-owned video stores. It’s my neighborhood video store, and it’s accessible via a quick jaunt or pedal down the street and around the corner. On these chilly winter nights, it’s a place to reassure myself that I’m not the only one with a hankering to cozy up under a blanket and watch a film.
The store’s offerings are circulated without the aid of postage and disposable plastic mailers. It’s people powered – you go there to choose what you want. You swing by a day or few later and return it when you’re finished. You can chat with the owner and his staff about the latest releases, their favorite music, politics, and more. You can run into friends and neighbors. You can even bring your dog, or say hello to the dogs of strangers that are patiently waiting for a treat at the counter. Those treats are procured from another local independently-owned store just up the street.
This is the kind of business that is disappearing from the American landscape. Please, do what you can to support your local businesses. You’ll be supporting your neighbors and keeping your dollars circulating in your community. When you buy from an independent, sometimes you pay a little less, sometimes you pay a little more, but either way, the exchanges and rewards of the interactions are always priceless. The benefits outweigh the savings. In fact, you’ll be earning more!