Creating accountability with an open letter

Creating accountability with an open letter to one of my local grassroots activist organizations.

I’ve been receiving e-mails from local activist organisation for a few years now, and recently, I’ve been a bit frustrated with the short-sightedness of the messages I am receiving from them. So, I wrote an open letter back to create a dialogue with the organisation, and start a process of accountability and growth. This letter will also morph into another blog post I will be writing about the dangers of the electric dream. Stay tuned to find out what I mean about that. In the meantime…

Below, my open letter:

Good morning Local Power team,

I wanted to write with some thoughtful criticism about your local campaigns and end-goals. A disclaimer, I’m not involved with your organization in a deeper way so I don’t have access to what the in-depth end-goal may be. My perspective is one of a long-time supporter who regularly receives your e-mails, and as someone who has over 13 years experience, training and skills in the food, farming, ecology and permaculture fields.

That said, I am concerned about a few key things:

I believe that, at face value, the Dogwood end-goal supports business-as-usual for our society and culture. Meaning a consumerist and capitalist economy and systems, with no real great changes other than a shift in where we get our energy from. At worst, I feel Dogwood may be guilty of green-washing.

What do I mean by this?

I have seen zero to very little mention of other incredibly important topics such as: reducing capitalist consumerism, de-growth/lean economies, and moving towards regenerative systems of economy, housing, community and land care such as permaculture and traditional ecological knowledge.

I have so many questions and comments about the Dogwood push towards an electric future, which includes cars, solar farms and renewable energy projects. Such as:

  • The hypocrisy of desiring to put an end to destructive mining projects, yet supporting initiatives that are entirely reliant on mining to build new infrastructure i.e. lithium and other rare metals to build solar panels and solar technology.
    • Putting a stop to destructive mining projects and transitioning to conscientious methods will slow operations down measurably, which will inhibit or delay a move to renewable energy sources. How can this be presented as a critical and time-sensitive alternative when that is a requirement of this change?
    • As well, I have yet to see a clear assurance that mining can be done in a way that does not harm anyone. Most of the time I see assurances about jobs, stability and income. Yet with some research, much of what I see is a partial assurance that most of the impacts can be mitigated. Who will suffer these lingering impacts in the coming days?
    • Many minerals such as lithium and copper are coming up short, mines are becoming less and less productive and the methods needed to mine them are becoming more drastic by necessity. Deep-sea mining is becoming more and more a reality, leading to a new threat to an already stressed eco-system. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to encourage recycling and reclamation as a solution rather than seek out raw materials?
  • Still being reliant and perpetuating a system that required us to use long-ranging infrastructure and vehicles to begin with, i.e. working in different cities rather than focused on community economy and local sovereignty.
  • Still being reliant on central forms of energy and infrastructure to support our needs, i.e. are we going to rely on the few solar farms that are appearing, or will we all need our own? (referring back to the embodied energy cost of creating solar panels and other “renewables”).
  • That decreasing our energy needs and growth should come FIRST, before ANY transition towards renewable energy comes about first, i.e. retrofitting houses and infrastructure to have passive heating and cooling, encouraging alternate forms of entertainment and living styles, changing where and how we get our food, our goods and materials. I will concede that I have seen a bit of a mention about house retrofitting, but it was small and in passing.
    • This is especially telling in your climate change focus, which is largely claiming that our reliance on fossil fuels are a key factor, rather than our skyrocketing energy needs in the first place as well as the endless cycle of consumerist growth that created that need. Don’t get me wrong, fossil fuels are terrible, m’kay? However this approach lacks a lot of nuance that is dangerously deceptive in that it implies that, if we get rid of fossil fuels and switch to “renewables”, then everything will be a-ok.

I have many more thoughts on this matter, however this is all I have time for at the moment. I’m curious to know your response to this feedback and eagerly await to hear from you.

And their response?

It was quite positive! And has created a fair bit more fodder for pondering on my part. If you have any questions about creating a more sustainable, low-energy future, feel free to connect with me to chat about your ideas.