Back in April 2001—a time in-between the contested 2000 election and the 9/11 attacks when the Bush Administration seemed just like a bad joke and not yet a flag-draped war machine—Vice President Dick Cheney quipped, “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” A friend of mine was so incensed by this that he immediately disconnected his bathroom sink from its drain and threw a bucket underneath—the beginnings of what would become a fairly ambitious (and not badly designed) home greywater reclamation project.
It's been clear from the beginning that Trump's Administration is both far more clownish and more dangerous than Bush W.'s—and also much more generous in its supply of outrages that might inspire those paying attention to remedial actions. (If you find yourself bereft of inspiration at the moment, just visit the aptly named website, whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com.) There's no lack necessary actions we can take. But where to start? Or perhaps better asked: How can I channel my outrage into something that's constructive but also as satisfying as ripping out part of my sink? (After all, outrage is an itch best scratched soon lest you turn into a humorless crank.)
Seed-bombing Trump golf courses with wildflowers and edibles immediately comes to mind, though admittedly that ranks high on "satisfying" and not much else. Punching literal Nazis on the street is constructive, in a way, though it's not a skill I currently possess. Keeping up with my curated Twitter roster of political and environmental experts is more important than it sometimes feels (especially when the underrated Sarah Kendzior has a new post) but it's also far from satisfying.
Of course, anything that makes a whit of difference is generally going to be neither easy nor quick. Meaningful changes take time, time spent in setting intention, executing action, and curating results. I think this holds true whether you're raising a garden, starting an activist organization, or making a footprint-reducing lifestyle change.
Or also, perhaps, writing a book. The 2016 election happened while we were still putting together The Community Resilience Reader. Our authors, some of them midway through writing their chapters, suddenly had to grapple with the "known knowns," "known unknowns," and so forth (to reference another outrage-generating member of the Bush Administration) that Mr. Trump would undoubtedly bring with him to Washington. As the editor, I was already making decisions about the tone of our authors' writing, especially when it touched on the political. I found myself letting authors' sometimes-harsh observations and word choices stand that just months prior I would have suggested they tone down. I soon set an intention to let the book's voice—and our organization's voice—be more subjective, more forthright with what wanted to be said.
Like a garden, if you bring an intention to life in the form of a book but don't tend to it it will wither away and be forgotten. I don't mean book promotion (though that's important) but rather continuing to work with what the book says: talking and writing about it, defending it against criticism, learning from its exposure and seeing where that leads. In my case, it also means continuing with the intention to help communicate what wants to be said, even if it can be uncomfortable to hear. The changed times demand it.