Sustainable living is one of the few practices that humans have failed at for as long as we have populated our resilient Earth. Not only do natural disasters (Fort McMurry Fire) set us back in the pursuit of advancing our species but also our own creations (Nuclear Bombs) can devastate large demographics. While visiting Myanmar we went to a countryside orphanage after teaching English for the day. As we crossed a flimsy bamboo bridge it creaked and cracked under my weight, when all of a sudden my foot dropped and I broke through a thin top layer. Once I pulled my heart back up out of my stomach, I proceeded and became acutely aware of where I stepped; along with the reality that the kids had to cross this every day.
We arrived on the orphanage property that consisted of a humble two-room building, a dorm like structure, a dirt volleyball court, and surrounding it were two fish farms. The fish farms were one of the sustainable living projects that the orphanage started in order to feed the 20-30 children who lived there. In addition to this they had various gardens, pigs, and two chicken farms on stilts above the fish farms. After singing some songs and telling the kids a story we had enough daylight left to play for a while. As I walked outside, I saw a few of the older boys in the knee-deep fishpond slamming bamboo sticks into the water. At first I wasn’t sure what the reason for this was but then I saw fish jumping! Assuming it was to draw them into a net or ensure they weren’t dormant, I quickly went to get some photos of this event. After simply smiling at me they continued vigorously smashing their sticks into the water as though it was a competition to see who could make the most obnoxious splash! Alone on the shore, I felt like I was witnessing a powerful performance that had to be photographed. I managed to make some impactful images that depicted the child-like playfulness as well as the maturity of having to farm and maintain their own food. The luxury of going to a store, or even a restaurant, wasn’t a reality they knew.
Even when natural disaster strikes or we face hardships there are certain things we still take for granted. This orphanage had a daily prayer list above the door and the one that struck me was, “Pray for protein to keep all the children healthy.” They are praying for simple nutrients in order to maintain basic health, while here in North America we all have 10, 20, heck maybe even 50 pounds to lose! If our society doesn’t change from abusing our planet just to fulfill our vain extravagances we will eventually crash just like the other great empires throughout history. This isn’t only a challenge for you but also for myself to develop a way of living that is sustainable, renewable, and economical.
I would love to hear your ideas on how we could attain this in our life time?