Ever since Obama’s State of the Union address last Wednesday, it’s seemed like everyone’s been pretty grumpy and negative (to say the least).
Well, certainly the environmental community has been, and I suppose the liberals who said the speech was too moderate and the conservatives who complained that it was too liberal are maybe a little more than, “a bit grumpy,” but overall, the mood is not something to sing about.
Although it might have started last Wednesday when your issue area didn’t get the coverage you hoped for, or it was too expensive, or not enough, or whatever… the community (at least the one I’m surrounded by) has just remained a bunch of Negative Nancys and I’m sick of it! (As you can see, it’s beginning to affect me too.)
I understand, it was really disappointing when Obama said this (and pretty much only this) about the environment:
…But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
Here are some of the responses from some greenies that I look up to and respect from twitter that night: (fyi- #sotu just means State of the Union)
“Uh, I’m sorry, did he just call the US a “leader” in the fight on climate change? In what universe? #sotu“
“Maybe those kids getting that education can breathe in all that clean coal. #ecosotu“
“Man, the section of this speech on climate/energy is just depressing. Boilerplate, blah. No urgency. #fucked #sotu“
“So, Republicans have refused to clap for bailout bashing or tax cuts. Maybe if he floats torture … #sotu“
“Wow, that clean energy stuff came and went pretty damn quick. #sotu“
“I must be broken. I just don’t get the old Obama chills any more. This year has drained my enthusiasm for words. #sotu“
While the political leanings of these authors are clear, it’s not the politics one way or another that got me the most riled up… it’s all the negativity (and how uncomfortably divided that room was)!
Then, one Thursday I got into a spat with a Monsanto social media stalker who criticized my informing the twitter world that 2 GMO-loving politicians had been appointed into the FDA by sending me this (one is a previous Monsanto employee actually, Michael Taylor, and the other is Tom Vilsack).
At that point, never have I:
a. Been so concerned with national politics that it actually affected my mood (I know this happens to other people all the time, but I usually remain a bit more removed)
b. Wanted to do something about it more
c. Felt so powerless and discouraged!
And then I decided enough is enough. I’m hoping instead of being sad, pessimistic, hopeless, and powerless, we can pull ourselves up from our bootstraps, focus on our communal need for improvement and work collaboratively, deliberatively, and creatively to solve these problems!
Sound a bit idealistic? kinda, I know.
But it makes sense. I’m not saying that these issues are easy, because if they were they wouldn’t be issues. But I think a focus on COLLABORATIVE innovation and not lingering on being pissed will take us a long way.
So, now I’m trying to be super productive. Here are some things I’m up to:
– Working with Clean Wisconsin to promote the Clean Energy Jobs Act
– Working with a group of super engaged students to come up with waste disposal alternatives for Madison to be presented in a public forum at the end of the semester
– Hopefully blogging about being practical, effective, consistent, motivational and positive in green endeavors
– Writing from time to time in the Daily Cardinal‘s “Green Room” column
– Learning a lot in my last semester of college (!!!) so I can use these skills to help get the rest of the environmental community to stop whining all the time. (ok, that’s an exaggeration)
Sorry if this seemed a bit rantish. It’s just that I know we can do better and I want people to be excited for our future, not scared of it.
So, here’s to a good rest of the week, innovation, and making something to be positive about when finding one is tough.