“Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”
“In joy or sadness flowers are our constant friends.”
~ Kakuzō Okakura, The Book Of Tea
Forget-me-nots, along with wild daisies, are by far my favourite flowers…
I live in a suburban townhouse (a constant reminder of my shared bad decisions from a time where I was not aware or awake) and right in my entrance there is a strip of land that separates the narrow path to my stairs and door from the visitors’ parking at the side. For years, that strip was left as a barren and ugly piece that would inundate during the fall and winter and become dusty and weedy during the summer months. Visitors would step on it, even with their cars’ tires, it wasn’t a nice thing to look at.
But as many things in life, I didn’t do anything because that was considered a “common” piece: it was the strata’s responsibility (through the landscapers they hired) to take care of it. I felt disempowered and useless…
One day I decided not to ask for permission nor send the 10th letter to the strata admins asking them to cover that up.
I went to the closest nursery, bought a few shrubs, a package of wild flowers and herbs seeds and brought some rocks from the beach 20 minutes from my house…I created a “rain garden” of my own: after a few failures and cars still going over the plants (killing my shrubs and herbs and making me spend a few more $$$), I added a big container (to stop the cars) and small fences and the garden started to shine with flowers, herbs and pollinators year after year…
It was a small oasis for me (and probably for more than one neighbour): each day and after two long hours of trains and buses from work (I commute four hours in total every single working day), I would come home, smile and talk to my flowers. I can swear they would smile and talk back to me…
This was a small paradise for bees and butterflies and prevented dogs from pooping on my entrance (a normal occurrence before this garden was there, as my house is the first in the corner); suddenly there was no more flooding, mud or dust and cars learned how to park properly.
This last Monday, I came home to find all my flowers and herbs gone: only the shrubs remained, all the soil bare and ugly, not even my rocks were there!
The landscapers apparently thought forget-me-nots and cosmos were too wild for a suburban neighbourhood. They probably have no clue that barren soil attracts weeds and becomes a maintenance issue…they have no clue of how much pain they have caused me, and how much suffering for the bugs for whom these flowers were their houses, food and source of joy.
I never thought something like this would cause me so much pain and frustration with human beings…I’ve been trying my best to look at the bright side, all the emergence of projects and initiatives and peoples from all ages and cultures fighting for a better world. But if this has showed me something, it is how easy is for those without ecological consciousness to kill a project, to make disappear in a second what took months or years to create, to smash the active hope we build in small spaces every day with effort and sometimes against all odds…
I will not forget my flowers, even when I will plant new and more, those who are gone, are gone and I’ll miss them forever. They were unique and special, like all the ecosystems we have lost, the 95% of biodiversity in seeds we lost during the 20th century alone, the almost 1/3 of wild animal species that are already gone, like all the irreversible changes in once resilient communities, the health issues in so many, the isolation and despair, the lives lost in senseless and otherwise perfectly avoidable wars, famines and pollution or climate-change related events.
If we are, like many authors have said, the universe looking at itself. If we are the mind and heart of the world, if the stars are our ancestors (and they are) and our species has the key to turn things in a different way, we must wake up faster than we had till now!
We must create changes that allow people to live truly resilient and sustainable lives and this has to happen at all levels, starting with ourselves and how we encourage that change in others: in any cultural and technological change, there is always a small group of people who are willing (and able) to make sacrifices and radical changes, those are the innovators (around 2.5% of the general population). They believe change is necessary and are eager, willing and able to make it happen…in the context I’m talking about, these are the ones who go off the grid and back to the land, the funders of ecovillages, co-housing and co-ops, the social entrepreneurs that solve issues with their business, the ones that leave their jobs and make radical changes to their lifestyles and spend lots of hours and energy in projects they started in their communities.
While nobody talks much about it, innovators tend to be younger and middle class, also living in privileged places. They have higher risk tolerance than the rest of us because, among other things, they carry some privilege. While this is not true for every innovator, innovators do have the responsibility that comes with privilege of acknowledging what allowed them to do what they did and using this to empower, encourage and support others who may be lacking in energy, time, access to resources, skills, risk tolerance, support, etc.
Then come the early adopters (around 13.5%). Like innovators, early adopters tend to have some privilege (remember, privilege is not only money or ethnicity or gender), access to information, skills and resources. Early adopters look the innovators closely and start making changes once they see it is safe or easy enough for their level of risk tolerance…similarly to innovators, early adopters carry the responsibility to not only spread awareness, but encourage and support those who come behind.
The late majority (around 34%) adopt changes because they “have to” (through policies coming from government that force people to compost green waste or reduce water use, for example) or because they have been adopted by enough people and demonstrated that they are safe or fun enough. They tend to be a bit skeptical and have low risk tolerance, so they need to be encouraged, supported and showed that is worth and that’s there’s value for them in the change.
Finally, there are the “laggards” (around 16%): they tend to resist any changes and are the last to adopt it, when they don’t actively oppose or sabotage it. They are usually very conservative, risk averse and fear that changes will take any privileges (real or perceived) they may have.
How knowing the above help us with our own choices and changes? How does this help us when we become disillusioned with causes, initiatives, projects? How may this information guide us when trying to find the leverage point to change a system?
I will not forget you, my Forget-Me-Not smiley beautiful wild flowers…while you are now gone forever, new ones will come to take your place. There will be a time when humans will consider a crime to tear and throw flowers…when people will remember what their purpose is and why each living thing in this planet is sacred. Why we all need to clean each other’s tears, hug deeply and then continue the fight.
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
~ Lady Bird Johnson
“Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.” ~ John Steinbeck