Upcycling is the process of turning materials from the wastestream into new materials of higher environmental value.
Upcycle Yourself is a similar concept on a human scale, turning from agents of pollution into agents of environmental change.

May 22, 2011

May harvesting and media revamping

Friday morning woke up to the sunrise, and was brought on an expedition by my roommate down to the riverside in search of wild food. It's fiddlehead season in Quebec, the young plants still edible before they unravel into full-fledged ferns. Boil for twenty minutes, throw out the water, and they're good to go.

Inspired by the fiddleheads, I started rummaging through the garden, the cold cellar and the freezers to see what a local meal would be like in Quebec in May, before the gardening season begins. The morning smoothie featured fresh dandylions, ground sorrel, rhubarb and jerusalem artichokes, last year's frozen strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries (all from the garden), as well as apples I picked a couple of years ago in a public park and then dehydrated. For dinner, we had roasted potatoes from last year, and had fresh May harvests of boiled dandylion roots with saut├ęd greens of fiddleheads, shallots, lovage, dandylion tops, and garlic greens. Mmm. We shared the meal with my family, who are visiting in Quebec this week.

I'm once again feeling lucky to be largely cut off from the mass media. I live in a big city, where most of the "media" I'm exposed to is educational and in-person, the talks and workshops and documentary showings that spread positive messages, incite critical thinking about problems the world is facing, and encourage action toward positive solutions. Occasionally I garden in a small village, where I feel relaxed and at home, where there is very little contact with the larger world. Within an hour of my family arriving at my garden, I learned about horrible things that had happened in the region in the 1990's, and learned details of floods, hurricanes and tornados across North America in the past few weeks. I was blissfully unaware, and I don't think that my new-found awareness serves any benefit for myself or the rest of the world. A couple of times a year I end up in front of a television watching the news (it happens!) I'm always disappointed by the negative energy and fear that the mass media brings into people's lives. Anyway... it certainly reminds me of the importance of surrounding ourselves with meaningful and empowering media, and being active in choosing the sorts of messages that we expose ourselves to on a regular basis... and even moreso, the importance of being the media, and being active collaborators in creating solution-based messages, however small the diffusion. Moving from mass-media to micro-media, from scare-mongering to change-mongering.

Also heard through the mass-media pipeline that the world would perhaps end on Saturday. On Friday afternoon a gigantic black storm cloud came out of nowhere over our garden. My family had given us a gift of a gooseberry plant, and my roommate was racing to plant it before the impending rainstorm. As he jumped on the pitchfork and mulched with hay, I couldn't help think of the Martin Luther quote from the 16th century, "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." The world is still in one piece, with the addition of a perennial plant that will provide fruit for years to come. And in the end it only rained a little, just enough to water the gooseberry bush.


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