Everyday we wake up to seeing the world’s new set of problems. Some of them are really big, complicated, political, and emotionally charged problems that seem impossible to solve. But what if it’s not our responsibility to solve them? What if all the rewards, all the good, and all the big changes come from just trying? Climate change is one of biggest issues of our time and it affects/will affect every single aspect of our lives from rising water levels, warmer summers, colder winters, to increased severe weather and drought. Those are big problems, but when you plant a seed in the ground and start to water it you don’t have to understand all the science behind how it grows or read a book on photosynthesis…you just need to plant a seed.
I still remember being in grade 3 and learning the unit on the Environment. We learned about the Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), turning off lights when we leave rooms, and not to let the water run when we brush our teeth. Everyone in the class got to take home this little kit for their homes with the eco-friendly lightbulbs, and a shower head that uses less water (which is totally still being used at my house, ayeeeee). A lot of those little things I learned have definitely stuck with me, and my family thinks I am crazy for it. I turn off the water while I shampoo and condition in a shower (yes I know it gets cold), I don’t leave the water running when I do the dishes, and I watch my sisters like a hawk to make sure they don’t either. My now retired grade three teacher probably didn’t know that I would become a compost loving, tupperware using, sustainability minor-ing, community garden starting person— but she did plant the seeds. It’s important to start planting seeds in your personal life. The little habits that you start building eventually become a huge part of your lifestyle. You might start just by switching to a resuable water bottle, carpooling/taking transit to work, or recycling but those seeds always grow into something more. The great thing about planting a seed is that you don’t get to decide how it grows, it might surprise you!
You don’t just plant seeds for yourself either, seeds can be planted on a community level too. McQuesten, an East-end Hamilton community was considered a “food desert” with no local grocery store and no access to fresh produce. As a business, a grocery store couldn’t justify opening because of the low-income population. Instead of settling on the status-quo, McQuesten gave a big screw you to capitalism and residents did their part in taking back the food system. A community-led urban farm was planned through support from the City of Hamilton, and food was being grown locally last June on over 50 garden beds. The problem seemed complicated, but the solution wasn’t when they did what they could with what they had. The movement started with real people who made the decision to live differently. The urban farm is now on its way to being a huge part of this community with summer camps, future green houses, a kitchen space, and maybe even a pizza oven.
Many of us have grown up with the idea that nature is this big separate place from us that we need to protect. We’re constantly told we need to save the arctic, save the koala bears, save the rain forest, etc etc, but nature isn’t separate from us at all. Nature is how we eat, how we breathe, where we play, how we get to work and how we live every single day. It’s this part of nature that we have become distanced from, because our food comes in packages from aisle 2, and our air is clean because we’ve outsourced our emissions to other countries, and nature can just be googled. It’s easy to place blame on industries, on governments, and on basically everyone but yourself but sometimes that’s where you need to start. There are little seeds that we can plant in all our lives that can lead to huge changes. I leave you with this Hadith where the Prophet(SAW/Peace Be Upon Him) said: “If the Hour is imminent and anyone of you has a palm shoot (to plant) in his hand and is able to plant it before the Hour strikes, then he should do so and he will be rewarded for that action.” When we look at the big problems they all look impossible, and hard to solve. But maybe the real reward isn’t in solving the big problems, it’s just in planting the seeds. What seed will you plant?