Monthly Archives: July 2009

Bottom-up change

I am on the lowest hierarchical rung in our organisation, and it took me 14 months to have my ideas enacted, this would take a manager 2 days.

There’s a reason for this: Managers are trusted to make the best decisions for the organisation, for the staff and for our customers. They are paid more to reflect this responsibility and accountability.

The buck stops with the manager, so they have more of  say.

The buck does not stop with me, so I have less of a say.

Hence two of my ideas have become orgnaisational standards about 14 months after I first put them in motion.

My point is that bottom-up change takes longer than top-down.  I just don’t know if I’m that patient.

Nostalgic for Ignorance

I don’t mind when people disagree with me, that implies they have done some research or know something I don’t. At the very least I can learn from them.

Outward, non-apologetic apathy is (in my books) OK too. This normally happens when people are overloaded with info & need time to process it all. They go in to a kind of temporary shock.

But what I find really hard to deal with is a kind of disguised apathy. It’s what happens when people know enough of the facts to scare them, but in stead of doing something about it, researching it or discussing it, they desperately try to scramble back to a place when they didn’t know. Nostalgia for ignorance. It sometimes sounds like this:

  • “It’s best we don’t know”
  • “Well, we’re all going to die anyway”
  • “No use worrying about something you can’t change by yourself”

Reading SEED Magazine I was struck by a series of satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf. I went in to a kind of shock – I hadn’t realised just how drastic the effects of climate change were already. But shock doesn’t last, and now I have two choices: pretend like nothing has changed for me, or start finding out more.

Some days I wish I could pretend that I didn’t see those images, that they hadn’t affected me so deeply. But I can’t. So I’m starting small, discussing, researching and taking little steps, like with the toilet cistern (still stoked about that).

It wasn’t that great not knowing anyway.

We live in the *same* world

Every now and then I get in to rant-mode. I try not to – rare is the person who can rant convincingly without making their audience defensive.

But my workmate got me going, and at the end of my tirade she shrugged her shoulders and said:

“We live in different worlds.”

Post-modernism agrees, but I don’t.

It is true that depending on our upbringing, culture and socio-economic background, we interpret events and facts differently. None of us perceive colour in the same way, let alone capital punishment, for example.

Our perceptions of reality are different, but our planet of habitation isn’t. We live on Earth. We live with the same finite global resources, the same diseases, almost the same DNA. Regardless of whether we acknowledge it, these things remain the same.

There is a point at which our cultural, political, social and economic baggage no longer matters on a global scale. We live on a planet that has limits. We can only hold so many people, exhaust so many water supplies, emit so much carbon, grow exponentially for so long.

We live in the same world.

Perception is not reality - or is it?

Flushing less away

I have cut down our water consumption by over 6,500 liters a year. And yes, I am feeling quite smug about it.

I’ve am increasingly concerned about global access to, and shortage of water. I figure that (at the moment) I can’t single-handedly find a solution to the plummeting levels of our underground water reservoirs. Or, for that matter, give every living person access to clean drinking water (however, I AM trying with charity:water – check them out).

But, I CAN reduce the amount of water I use, and I started with our toilet.

When it’s full, our toilet cistern contains 2.4 gallons of water. That’s either 9 or 11 liters depending on whether those gallons are US or UK (unfortunately our cistern doesn’t specify). Seeing as our toilet doesn’t have a half-flush option, that’s a heck of a lot of water every time we turn the handle.

So, I put bottles of water in to our cistern to displace the water and reduce the amount we flush. It took all of 5 minutes, it didn’t require a plummer, and it goes some way to cutting down my overall water usage.

Some bottles I filled up to put in our cistern turned out to be too large. Ended up using a lot of jam jars.

Some bottles I filled up to put in our cistern turned out to be too large. Ended up using a lot of jam jars.

The finished product - it ain't pretty, but it works.

The finished product - it ain't pretty, but it works.

Still feeling smug.