The Year of the Cat
by RM Allen, April 2018
“She comes out of the sun in a silk dress, running like a watercolor in the rain” is a memorable line from an old Cat Stevens song, and the way I feel this rainy Earth Week. After this long, cold and confounding winter I am mottled and grey. The constant work on social justice issues has drained me of my usual colors.
I used to wonder how women of bygone eras went on day-to-day, nurturing their families and themselves while also working their jobs (and let us remember that homemaking is a real job), when the community around them was in chaos. I am talking about the chaos of the Civil War, Jim Crow/Civil Rights, ethnic cleansings around the globe and other insidious forms of devaluing and dividing people. The year 2018 feels remarkably what I think the year 1968 in the US must have felt like to thoughtful people; every time you glance at the headlines there is more and more shocking news. I am drenched in the rain, with my hair and silk dress plastered to me. I shiver. I don’t smile as much. Yet I steel myself and go on because I am thinking of my family.
I have my pedal to the metal and still feel like I can’t keep up. The silver lining in this current perfect storm of neo-Nazi/haters, “clean” coal, and the attempts to make America into a corporation is that it has lit a fire under women and they are organizing. You may or may not like Facebook, but you can be sure that it is being used by both public and secret women’s’ groups for collaborations on every possible issue out there. I see it every day and I am amazed. Drop after drop after drop of water is pouring into the ocean and forming the fourth wave of feminism, which is mostly blue with big streaks of black and aiming directly at mid-term elections.
One strategy I use to keep myself fairly sane is to focus on just two issues: women & family rights and environmental issues. Which brings me back around, finally, to the topic of Earth Week.
Here is the view from my town that reflects women’s collaborations on environmental issues. One of the fruits of my recent collaborative labors is the newly formed town energy committee, and my appointment to it. Our first two projects are LED streetlight conversions and Electric Vehicle Chargers (EVC). The group is comprised of four women and one man (my husband!). Single-use plastic is another issue around which a group of mostly women have formed here. Women are also leading the thrust to have legal “intervenor” status granted in response to a proposed natural-gas pipeline mapped to run through our town.
But what about the men? There are some beautiful men out there too. Obviously. And some others are just taking a different route to get to the same place.
It heartens me to tell you that an older friend of mine, who still loves his oil stocks because they are “money makers”, is planning to buy a Tesla for his next car. He is not buying it to save the environment for his grandchildren – he is buying it for the performance and the sexiness of it. Sex sells. My favorite genius Elon Musk is an extremely green person, yet he also speaks the language of (mostly) non-green men: competition. Competition is why I just read today that Porsche is putting 500 free EVC’s across America. (Can’t let Tesla have it all!) Competition is why a tariff was recently put on imported solar panels. My long-suffering stock in the US company First Solar finally saw a nice jump. Thank you.
The squelching of competition is why offshore wind farms are not a thing in NH yet, despite being one of the best spots in the US. Those big oily pockets are beginning to grasp at the linty bottoms of truth. You can’t stop an idea whose time has come. Especially when there is money to be made in the gleaming game of competition!
Surfing on the blue wave of women, I can glimpse the shore where competition and collaboration are slowly joining in the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood”. Collaborative women are in the game now, tempering it. It is still a long, hard slog in a wet chafing dress – but cats are said to have nine lives.