Sustainability is a big word with big meaning. It encompasses social, economic, and environmental practices. But rather than letting myself get overwhelmed with the big picture, I prefer to see it as an individual effort. Spring is always exciting for me, as I get to plan my vegetable garden. I imagine some of my neighbours are considering container gardens if they have a balcony.
I tore the grass out in the back and replaced it with strawberry plants and various wildflowers to attract pollinators. The first week of April, I put out pots of pansies from a neonic-free greenhouse so that the bees can have their first food. Year round I have open water to give the birds and the bees a source of hydration. I figure since I am sharing the use of their home, I owe it to them to pay rent in the form of seed, flowers, and water. I also grow parsley to add to my dog’s diet and collect some “weeds” that have medicinal value such as plantain and stinging nettle.
Certainly, I admit that in some ways I am a terrible steward of the earth. My main sin is that I drive a car and use it much more than I should. But I guess we each do what we can as dictated by the time of our lives and the state of our beings. I try to maintain good social practices by surrounding myself with people who bring out the best in me and avoiding people who bring unnecessary drama that is neither constructive nor good for my spirit. There is a way of thinking that says that our most challenging relationships are the ones that cause us the most growth, but I am in a state right now where I am taking a break from spiritual growth.
There have been times when I have been driven by the need to give back to society. Any of us who have received one measure or other of good fortune have felt the desire to give back or share their blessings. Like many other Albertans, I have been negatively impacted by oil prices, so at this time I don’t have extra financial resources to share. I can only be grateful that I have a roof over my head and good food to eat.
This afternoon, a young lady stopped as I was getting into my car in front of my house. She asked if I had an extra sweater. I gave her a choice of a few and a scarf. Now I’m feeling haunted by the fact that I should have done more. I should have asked her what else she needed. Social sustainability would mean to take care of those who have less than we do. I shamefully admit that I do a better job taking care of the birds and the bees than I did of a young lady who reached out to me. I hope you can make a better effort than I did this afternoon.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.