It’s a typical night in Batten House. We’ve just had our second meeting of the year, with the usual planning and plotting, laughter and sighing, dirty-pot talking and guest-warnings. This time, however, it’s February. And we’re trying out a month of radical action to re-up our commitment to environmental and social justice ideals. Kathy and I gave up coffee. Eva is eating totally local–including condiments and oils, that crazy woman. Most of us are attempting more vegan-centric or local-centric meals. It’s a nice little buzz to be able to chill in the kitchen talking about what each of us are doing…and to speak for myself, it’s making me even more excited for the next three weeks, respectively dedicated to water, stuff, and electricity.

It’s funny how for granted even the “environmental co-op” takes things…last night I was all excited to make some popcorn for meeting, and Eva gently reminded me that the corn we buy to pop comes from….indiana. It made me think how much easier “going vegan” or eating more radically would be with some prior planning. I instantly conjured images of corn fields behind batten house, all of us cheerfully husking the ears to save for popping in the winter. Blame it on early childhood inoculation to Laura Ingalls Wilder and her little houses, but it’s totally thrilling me that this week of being focused on food is bringing me a little closer to those frontier ideals of “keep yer paws off my field, big business.” 

One part of unMake your Mark that I think will prove challenging to us all is how we interpret and discuss these radical steps with those we love. My boyfriend is a firm believer in the nutritional power of milk and meat. (As a ten year old, he built a bookcase and painted milk cartons lifting weights on it…) It can be hard to explain these choices, especially if you’re like me and prefer to constantly flirt with all sides of the movement, gleefully flitting from bemoaning animal rights, reminiscing about the summer you spent tending adorable pigs to drunkenly eating pepperoni pizza from domino’s (not this month, i promise). 

For me, and I’m a little shame-faced to say it, the challenge I’ve set of cutting out coffee has been the hardest. I read this article today that suggests the top five things to look for if you want to procure sustainable, “fair” coffee, and it also acts as a primer on what kind of issues coffee consumption brings up, if anyone’s interested. now excuse me, while i take my second nap of the day…

love and solidarity,
laura b