On Earth Day this week I was teaching and played "An Inconvenient Truth" for my students. They were captivated by the data and the images they saw. Everyone here knows there is a problem, it's in the news and we see the signs such as flooding, the seasons seem to be flipping around, but I see a similarity here to what I see back home, people don't always seem to make a connection between what they can actively do to create change. So we all passively are guilty at times for throwing our hands up in the air. We human beings are creatures that are attracted to convenience and it's hard to actively change. I'm guilty as charged. I've bought import foods to comfort myself during my acculturation process and I've been noticing how much non-biodegradable trash has gone through my hands. We don't have a recycling program here in Banjarmasin. Nobody comes with their trucks picking up your blue bin; there are no blue bins here. What used to be wrapped in banana leaves are now wrapped in plastic. Conveniences in little cellophane packages are all over the world, and sadly strewn all over the ground.
About a week ago I was at my friend Yetty's house. Her cat just had two very cute kittens. After seeing these adorable tiny critters with their eyes still tightly shut, we went for a walk in her complex. It was the end of the day, Magribe, when the mosques begin to wail the call to prayer around sunset. The light here can be amazing at that time and this was one of those particular evenings. The colors were so vivid the greens of the plants were practically iridescent while reflecting the low amber colored light from the sky. I captured some amazing cloud formations on my camera and we encountered a vivid rainbow in the South Eastern sky. It is a beautiful country here that has been pillaged by human desires. Logging which was once rampant and legal is now continuing and illegal in many areas. Open pit mining is destroying large parts that were once jungle and my fabulous country is one of many that is benefiting from these practices, if not directly, indirectly through China, Australia, India… many hands, many greasy palms and it's hard to know who's on the corrupt side and who isn't at times.
I try not to be depressed about this. As I say, people here are very aware and concerned and much of it isn't happening in our general region. Borneo is a large island, 3rd largest in the world. I remember my aunt telling me once that sometimes we can only do what is directly connected to us, our own habits, our own environment. In this vein, I'm blogging my annual Earth Day resolutions that I've sent out in my annual Earth Day emails of past and declaring what I've done for my part and what I plan to do this coming year. One thing is I don't drive here. I either ride with a friend on their motorbike, I take an ankot (a small colt wagon that, I noticed one day while gasping for air, can pack in as many as 14 people). I also walk a lot and much to the shock and concern of my Banjar friends. The song "Nobody Walks in LA" really could apply here. Everything is "quite far". I've learned how to make my own peanut butter here and I will continue this practice when I get home. (It's easy: Roasted peanuts in the blender with olive oil!).
So here's to the Earth! I'm interested in what you; my friends have chosen to do to respond to the climate change issue and pollution. I'll share them with my students; maybe our movements will inspire them to make changes here in their own community.