This afternoon, lunchtime in business midtown, W. 55th and Sixth avenue, an older businessman — Benny — and a middle aged couple with thick New York accents, all well dressed, are talking on a streetcorner,
Woman: “I can’t believe we bumped into you here, just on the corner.”
Benny: “Do you know the chances of meeting in a big city like this? It’s preposterous. It’s been so long!” Man: “It’s all in the intention, it’s all in the karma. We were just eating and said ‘I’d love to see Benny’. Then we decided to skip dessert and head out. You’re the dessert.”
Just one small rooftop solar panel has made a big difference in the lives of Sarah Ruto and her family in Kiptusuri, Kenya. The panel provides enough electricity to charge Ms. Ruto’s cellphone and run four bright lights in the family’s mud-walled hut. Ms. Ruto’s village is far from Kenya’s electricity grid, but small-scale renewable energy systems are providing electricity at a price that the rural poor can afford.
We walked into my corner bodega last night. For the past 2 years, the guy at the counter has only ever spoken in flirt. He looked tired and I asked him where he’s from originally, he said Oman. I asked him if he’s watching what’s happening in the Middle East. “In Yemen? That’s next door. It’s spreading, it’s all like a virus.” I asked him if he had seen the moon. He said “no, why should I?”, and I said it’s because it’s the biggest it’s been in a while. He looked at the door and said “Everything is changed. Nothing is the same.” We bade him goodnight.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”—
In the 1970s a reporter named Charles Salter wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal called “Georgia Rambler.” He’d get into his car, head out to some small town, and ask around until he found a story. This week, nine of us go to Georgia to try it out for ourselves, in small towns all over the state.
One of my very favorite episodes of one of my favorite things on earth.
Agro-ecology, he said, immediately helps “small farmers who must be able to farm in ways that are less expensive and more productive. But it benefits all of us, because it decelerates global warming and ecological destruction.” Further, by decentralizing production, floods in Southeast Asia, for example, might not mean huge shortfalls in the world’s rice crop; smaller scale farming makes the system less susceptible to climate shocks. (Calling it a system is a convention; it’s actually quite anarchic, what with all these starving and overweight people canceling each other out.)
Industrial (or “conventional”) agriculture requires a great deal of resources, including disproportionate amounts of water and the fossil fuel that’s needed to make chemical fertilizer, mechanize working the land and its crops, running irrigation sources, heat buildings and crop dryers and, of course, transportation. This means it needs more in the way of resources than the earth can replenish.
“'In traveling, a companion, in life, compassion,' she repeats, making sure of it. If she had paper and pencil, it wouldn't surprise me if she wrote it down. 'So what does that really mean? In simple terms.'
‘I think it means…that chance encounters are what keep us going. In simple terms.’”—