Step 11

Reinvest in Meaningful Work

“It’s just as important to fight smaller, more local battles that you have some realistic hope of winning. Keep doing the right thing for the planet, yes, but also keep trying to save what you love specifically—a community, an institution, a wild place, a species that’s in trouble—and take heart in your small successes.”

— Jonathan Franzen

What work should we reinvest in? Every person will have to work out for themselves what that looks like.

Eric Demore, author of “A Palliative Approach to the End of the World”, recommends focusing on the short-term, the local, the concrete; for him, that means “comforting my immediate world, my school, my street, the ravine behind my house.” Paul Kingsnorth, author of Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, offers these suggestions:

1. Preserve Other-Than-Human Life.

“Maybe you can buy up some land and re-wild it; maybe you can let your garden run free; maybe you can work for a conservation group or set one up yourself; maybe you can put your body in the way of a bulldozer; maybe you can use your skills to prevent the destruction of yet another wild place.”

2. Get Your Hands Dirty.

“Root yourself in something: some practical work, some place, some way of doing. Pick up your scythe or your equivalent and get out there and do physical work in clean air surrounded by things you cannot control. Get away from your laptop and throw away your smartphone, if you have one. Ground yourself in things and places, learn or practise human-scale convivial skills.”

3. Insist that nature has value beyond utility … and tell everyone.

“Speaking the language of the dominant culture, the culture of human empire that measures everything it sees and demands a return, is not a clever trick but a clever trap. Omit that sense of the sacred in nature—play it down, diminish it, laugh nervously when it is mentioned—and you are lost, and so is the world that moved you to save it for reasons you are never quite able to explain.”

4. Build refuges.

“The ongoing collapse of social and economic infrastructures, and of the web of life itself, will kill off much of what we value. In this context, ask yourself: what power do you have to preserve what is of value–creatures, skills, things, places? Can you work, with others or alone, to create places or networks that act as refuges from the unfolding storm?”

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