By Alexia Mills
An update from my work at Edendale Farm in Los Angeles:
Those of us trying to live mindfully of our impact on the environment face a common conflict: to what extent can we live with the earth while still engaging in society? A common misconception tells us that every compromise must be made if one chooses to live in the city, with the straw-man alternative of isolating oneself as a hermit in a mountain cabin. But in reality, urban living requires far fewer compromises than we may think. In these past few weeks, I’ve been lucky to discover and participate in new ways of being in the city… ways that hone our social and environmental consciousness and reward us with a life-affirming existence in the meantime.
In cities, human energy is the most abundant resource available to us. Not only can we use it as an input to our full advantage, but we can also treat it as an output in our projects. During events like potlucks and movie screenings, the farm becomes a site for nurturing social interconnections. Neighbors form relationships that help each other in their projects toward living sustainably: exchanging surplus from their gardens and organizing rideshares downtown. Though the goal of fostering community can feel abstract, its effects can be felt immediately by participants, who are often starved for social connection due to the city’s tendency to alienate people from each other. As we shift toward more sustainable ways of being, we find that human energy is our greatest resource and community is our most rewarding crop.