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You might be thinking “oil spill, what oil spill? Wasn’t that last year’s news?”

Yes, the spill is over, but next month on April 20th marks the year anniversary of the largest environmental disaster in US history.  After the 1969 oil spill off the coast of California citizens rose up to initiate the first Earth Day in April, 1970.  As Bill McKibben says, “it was a real moment” in our history.  It is a good time to ask ourselves how we have responded or failed to respond to last year’s oil spill disaster. Have we responded to the call to live differently with less dependence on difficult to access, dwindling fossil fuels?   Have we worked hard enough to enact more responsible policies and regulations?

In an ever-accelerating world of rapidly shifting news cycles hammering one disaster after the next, it is a natural defense mechanism to tune out or shut down.  Many of us absorb bad news and then move on to the next thing.  The problem is that business as usual continues on both the personal and macro levels.

This is why NWEI has responded by dedicating its newest discussion guide, Just Below the Surface:  Perspectives on the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, to reflection and action around last year’s oil spill.  Many of us on staff grappled with the specter of continued lifestyles and actions reflecting the status quo, which led us to host a month of intentional action where we can each consider more deeply our parts in the often destructive oil dependent systems at hand and consider opportunities for radical change.   Next month, Oil and Our Lifestyles:  A Month of Action, is an opportunity to gather together with your co-workers, family, neighbors or friends to take part in this one session discussion course on the spill and to together consider next steps to address the environmental challenges we face.

One of our volunteers recently wrote to remind me that “individual lifestyle choices alone won’t solve our problems.  Driving less won’t solve our problems.” It is true.  Of course a larger, more coordinated and systemic effort is needed to radically shift our cultural dependence on fossil fuels.  However, it is individuals like each of us who populate businesses, organizations and other institutions that all have the potential to respond with innovative solutions that map a new and unchartered way ahead. 

Change begins with individuals.  The question is, do each of us respond to the calling, offering up solutions and examples of change in our own circles of influence?  For some of us driving less may be what we can do as a gesture of response.  For others, we can join a green team dedicated to taking action, create a new sustainability council, convene a neighborhood meeting to find local solutions, pressure congress, or demand more responsibility from the oil companies we support with our dollars.

We all have response-ability.  As Anthony Robbins says, “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Here’s to deepened reflection, dialogue and action in service of Earth and life.


NWEI is very excited to introduce our newest discussion guide: Just Below the Surface: Perspectives on the Gulf Coast Oil Spill.

Just Below the Surface is a one session discussion guide that explores the connections between Deepwater Horizon, energy policies and our lifestyles. The course offers an opportunity to reflect further on this historical event and the lessons it holds for us moving forward—individually and collectively.

The course is available for order now and it’s just $5.  Order today!

For a limited time, we’re offering a complimentary copy of Just Below the Surface with each order of Global Warming: Changing Co2urse.

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