The first question on the self-reflective questionnaire given to us at the end of class on Friday was something along the lines of ‘Did this process really matter?’. After looking at it for a few moments there was a bit of confusion as to what was being referred to, however Dr. McCoy had told us to interpret it however we wanted. I saw it as referring to the sustainability module as a whole and the answer was quite clear to me- yes this all mattered!
Before I fully understood what was to come of everything in the module, I was quite confused as to why Dr. McCoy had wanted us to do the things that we did such as logging our food over spring break, reading a chapter from Ralph Ellison’s Invisble Man about paint and chapters from Leah Penniman’s Farming While Black about farming rituals and soil, as well as visiting the campus’ heating plant. I questioned why we were doing all these seemingly sparse things for an African-American literature class. Once we began to work on the collaborative blog post though, I realized how important this sustainability module was for us to go through. It allowed for my peers and I to examine our habits together as a society and discuss how and where we can make changes in our everyday lives in order to take better care of the world in which we live. Something our blog post touched on is that we must make other people aware of this as well so that we can make the world better not only for us, but the generations that follow.
After thinking about this, I couldn’t help but think about the chorus of “We Are the World”, a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985 to raise money to help those affected by the famine in Africa, specifically Ethiopia. Even though this song was written specifically to raise awareness about the famine, I thought the chorus of the song was appropriate to convey that we as a society can make changes toward a better environment through living a more sustainable lifestyle. When the chorus says, “We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving”, I see it as saying that we can better the environment if we take more caution in our actions. We must do things in a way that won’t hurt the environment and possibly even give back to the environment. This can include being more cautious of water usage for example. In our group’s discussion we touched on how in residence halls, water is often wasted because people turn the water on in the shower but they don’t get into the shower until a few minutes later or people take longer showers than they should be. “Giving back” to the environment can also include something such as composting which is discussed in Chapter 5 of Farming While Black. Instead of throwing things out, see if it can be composted which can then be used in soil. If Penniman describes compost as being “proof of life after death” showing that even things that would be seen as garbage can serve a purpose. The next lines in the chorus, “There’s a choice we’re making/ We’re saving our own lives/It’s true we’ll make a better day just you and me” make me think about how by making choices that will not negatively impact the environment, we’re creating a better world not only for ourselves but the generations to come. If we use our resources in excessive amounts it will eventually catch up to us as resources are not infinite. It may not impact us directly, but it will be affecting somebody generations from now.
This sustainability module opened my eyes to the fact that even though I cannot control what other people do, I must at least do my part by being more cautious as to how I use resources as well inform others on what they can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Together we must work toward creating a better world for ourselves and the generations to come.