Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Sustainable Engagement

Dev and I were "engaged" in the smokey lounge of a casino in Nevada. We were on our way back to Colorado on an two-week long educational road trip. Students questioned the nature of my relationship with Dev daily. They are teenagers. Drama and romance--they live for it. As Dev professed his love for me their self-satisfied shrieks bounced off the marble walls. They exchanged "I knew-its" with "Told you so-s," but our delighted, mischievous smiles got the best of us, and our prank was revealed.

Dev, who's been involved in visionary alternative education for over a decade, founded and directed the experiential-based learning program where I work. This past spring I moved my tipi and my life up to Dev's off-the-grid scene. The land is co-owned by several families and also functions as the grounds for a school and a camp, The High Desert Center for Sustainable Studies, which brings interns, students, adventure, and engaging conversations to the neighborhood.

Sustainability is often defined by key practices that tend to revolve around how we build, grow food, produce energy, and many other valid and important methods. But why is it that some people who have the most notches in their sustainability belts seem to be the least sustainable or inspiring people?  

So often people are motivated by fear. We do things because we believe that something bad is going to happen if we don't take action, like the world ending, or because we think it will pay off later,  i.e. I'm going to have food and water when the world ends. These thoughts and actions motivated by them stifle joy, freedom, and a sense of aliveness. What if we did things because they are fun? Because we love them.  It seems to me the most inspiring and personally sustainable people I know are driven by passion and enthusiasm.

It takes courage and the ability to listen deeply to distinguish between what we truly want and what we think we must do.  Living by that heart-centered desire is to live with integrity. And sometimes it takes a friend, like Dev, who loves to play, to make light of the things we believe, and to challenge them with a joke to discover what sustainability looks like.

This is Dev giving a lecture on sustainability.

Can't tell from the picture, but you put Dev in the back of a truck on the way to an adventure and he starts to get really giddy.

Bike ride to the River Park for a swim in our skivvies. 

Cherry Days Parade.

Marla and her donkey are always a favorite of mine. Read more about the inevitable drama at the parade when our local beautician, Sid, threw himself in front of a Korean-War-era tank here.  

My high-school pal came to perform at the Brewery for the Fourth. Yay Jenny and Vaughn!

More cherry pickin'!

And apricot picking and processing with Anna the morning after she almost chopped her finger off. So nice to celebrate her intact digit with some wild foraging.


  1. Congratulations! So lovely. Can't wait to see what your plans are for your uber-sustainable, creative, local, organic wedding.....(and I mean that in all seriousness....even if it doesn't come across via the web!). Yay LOVE!

  2. Oh no no, haha, no it was a prank. Our students wouldn't stop harassing us, so we told them we were getting married. Dev's my mentor, partner-in-crime, confidante, etc but certainly not in a romantic way. No, I still have a lot of work to do around the cynicism I possess when it comes to commitment.

  3. But you are the sweetest and I've been loving your China collecting! I do the same :) Mis-matching china and silver have a special place in my heart as do you. I'm enjoying your engament :)

  4. well, i'm the world's most gullible romantic :)

    1. and of course, when i review your post i can see it's obviously in jest...but clearly my mind was elsewhere when i looked over it the other day (wedding planning craziness plus pitta-aggravated exhaustion will do that to a girl...)

  5. In the mass language of equivalence, sustainable livelihood = taking out, removing opulence and excess. But your point is well made that what sustains a human heart is pleasure, fullness, joy. Perhaps to an earlier point: how to make love to the world without abandoning the roots of our work?
    "Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” (Louie Schwartzberg)