i wanna lie tangent to yo curve

Overcast, pumpkin coffee in hand, enjoying what may be the last cold front of the spring.  Due to the recent heat, I’m quite pleased about the chilly day or two ahead of me.  I remember a year ago, when I was a green newcomer and my room was arranged

My panel of judges keeping watch over my lifestyle decisions.

My panel of judges keeping watch over my lifestyle decisions.

differently and I still didn’t quite know which way was up, we were well into the rainy season by mid-October.  2013 has proven different: a mild winter and, thus far, a dry spring.  Hopefully the rains will start soon so that soil can soften and Ma’am and I can revamp our school’s garden, using techniques from the Peace Corps permagardening workshop.  (Due to some clever goats’ fence finagling, all of our produce was swiftly enjoyed and eliminated over the July holiday.  You win some, you lose some.)  The suggestive, mathematical nature of this post’s title does have a purpose, I promise.  Today, I’d like to talk a bit about environmental sustainability.  Let me grab my soapbox right quick…

Learning to permagarden!

Learning to permagarden!

As you may know, I attended the liberal arts Centre College in Kentucky for four wonderful years.  My diploma says that I majored in Spanish and minored in Environmental Studies, but it wasn’t always that way – it actually only became that way the fall of my senior year.  For my first three years at Centre, I had worked towards achieving my self-designed Environmental Studies major with a Spanish minor, but when I decided the experience of studying abroad in Spain my final semester was more important that what’s on a piece of paper, it necessitated that I switch my concentrations.  (A big thank you to my faculty advisor, Brett!)  Long story short, I have more courses in, and potentially more passion for, my documented minor than major.  Throughout my Peace Corps service, I have remained very cognizant of my environmental classes, readings, theories, field trips, etc. that I enjoyed in college.  My rural lifestyle and general transition to becoming a ye olde recluse has allowed me to take part in more sustainable choices within a Thoreauvian-leaning philosophy (of which I give glimpses in beautiful stresses).

EnvironmentalKuznetsCurveIn the spring semester of my sophomore year, I studied abroad in Mérida, Mexico.  The accompanying Centre professor was a very intelligent and aware man, Dr. David Anderson, with specialties in both the economic and environmental academia.  The courses that I took with him in Mexico made for extremely interesting topics: Sustainability and The Economics of Tourism.  One of my main takeaways from his classes was the Environmental Kuznets

A front yard glimpse of (even more) ancient times. So interesting to compare lifestyles...

A front yard glimpse of (even more) ancient times. So interesting to compare lifestyles…

Curve.  It depicts the causal relationship of one’s income to their carbon footprint.  People in the lower class or under the poverty line who may not, for example, be able to afford cars or electricity yield a low footprint.  People in the upper class who are able to afford emission-combating purchases, such as hybrid cars or solar panels or low flow shower heads, also yield a low footprint.  The Curve suggests it’s those in the middle class, who have gas guzzlers and electric stoves, that yield the highest carbon footprint.

From 1989-2012, I was probably contributing to the pinnacle of the depicted arc.  Then I moved to an un-electrified village and things changed drastically.  Everyone here is impoverished and would land on the far left side of the graph except for, interestingly,

My baby.

My baby.

one trait of the upper class: solar panels.  Almost every home has one, making their simple activities even more sustainable.  The government supplies the panels on a rental basis, and each household pays R35 (only $3.50!) per month.  My village is at a very interesting tipping point…we are on the verge of becoming electrified, which will start the people’s slow, unaware climb up the Kuznets Curve.  As a prime example, people are already preparing to rid of their solar panels once the “switch is flipped.”  It’ll take quite a while, mainly until education is regarded as a valued priority, before people are even cognizant of, or choose to care about, their impact on the environment.  Hopefully by then, more people in this world will have found a way to edge towards the right side of the Curve without going through the apex!

WA174_TieDyePeaceHandI guess there’s no point to drive home from this post other than: I would be very surprised if living a simpler, more ecologically-conscious life brought you less happiness.  Be a responsible member of humanity.  You can start small: if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.  (Although I don’t think mellowing is bad even then, especially considering every toilet flush consumes 12.5L of water! – Let’s all mellow out, man.)

Something revealing you can do is take a carbon footprint quiz – it asks questions about your food consumption, house, travel, recycling, and consumerism to determine how many planets we’d need if everyone lived the way you do.  My professor and study abroad companion Dr. Anderson suggests this one if you’re Stateside, but I used this (potentially less legitimate) one to compare my lifestyle in Atlanta to the one I have now.  According to the quiz, if everyone lived like I did in the States, we’d need 4.33 Earths (most of that footprint is due to inefficient travel – oh, me and my wanna-see-the-world ways).  If everyone lived like I do in my village, we’d still need 1.72 Earths (though the quiz questions aren’t designed for people living as I really do out here, so I think/hope that’s an overshot).  Nevertheless, interesting!  Give it a try.

Two of my favourite quotes to close us out…

–        “The Earth is not given to you by your parents; it is loaned to you by your children.”   (Native American adage)

–        “The plain fact is that the world does not need more successful people.  But it does need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.  It needs people who live well in their places.  It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.  And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”   (David Orr)

Near my home stands my favourite tree in all of South Africa. Let's live responsibly so that it lives longer than we do!

Near my home stands my favourite tree in all of South Africa. Let’s live responsibly so that it lives longer than we do!

.                             * * *- – – * * * – – – * * * – – – * * * – – – * * * – – -* * *

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3 Responses to i wanna lie tangent to yo curve

  1. Hyacinth Foster says:

    Thanks. The cycle of LIFE! Takes me back to AP Environmental Science! 🙂

  2. Judith Pointer Jia says:

    Dear Laura, I loved your post. Thanks for sharing with us all. It sounds like you’re happy and healthy. Love, Judith

    From: “laurfrica (a)” <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: “laur(a)frica” <comment+pyfyt68o7y5i9fwnwybj_nl@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:03 AM To: Judith Jia <judith.jia@centre.edu> Subject: [New post] i wanna lie tangent to yo curve

    laurabramblett posted: ” Overcast, pumpkin coffee in hand, enjoying what may be the last cold front of the spring. Due to the recent heat, Im quite pleased about the chilly day or two ahead of me. I remember a year ago, when I was a green newcomer and my room was arranged “

  3. Gene Bramblett says:

    Makes me smile and swell with pride…you’re doing great things!

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