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Local voices: Alison Buehler


Alison Buehler

Alison Buehler



Alison Buehler



I just got back from an incredible weekend in Meridian. Go Green Meridian, a chapter of Gaining Ground.  


Sustainability Institute of Mississippi, hosted the Fifth Annual Sustainable Living Conference. The conference brought up some thoughts on my family's life in Mississippi. My husband was born here and has lived here his entire life, minus a few years in Tennessee during his residency. I grew up in Tennessee and came here as a transplant, but it is home to my entire family now. In the last eight years Mike, our three children, and myself have made some pretty big changes in the way we live.  


My first thoughts after attending Gaining Ground's Conference this year affirmed our family's move toward sustainable living. This eight-year journey is moving us in the right direction. Living on a modern homestead with pigs and chickens, trying to grow our own food, and find natural living solutions feels a bit lonely at times. Despite the agricultural history of our state, our do-it-yourself sensibilities makes us rare birds.  


Being among an entire conference of people who know how important these shifts are affirms our beliefs about what it takes to make a good life.  


Second, it is a good life. In fact, I have to say, it is a better life. I am a huge believer in the fact that you cannot change someone's mind by arguing with them. Most answers are gray. But there are some things that we have to begin making judgments on without feeling like outliers. Buying food locally or growing it yourself is better than buying food that is shipped around the world. Eating naturally grown food is better than eating food sprayed with poison. Using less energy to support our lifestyles is better than imagining our grandchildren will use science to find a way out of the very precarious situation we are dumping on them.  


Finding natural health solutions in our own kitchens, gardens, and activities is better than relying on an industrialized health care system. Promoting small, upstart, local cottage industry is better than upholding outdated legislation that impedes its progress. Rather than denying that some practices are better than others, we need to begin to admit that even though we know this, we often choose options we know are not as good for our health, our children, or our futures. 


Third, there are several ways to face the changes that are not coming, but already unfolding in Mississippi and the rest of the world. The realities of an overpopulated world without enough resources to sustain all of us is here. One way to face it is with curiosity, as Semper Sarah, the keynote speaker said, and faith. Another is with fear. Another is with apathy. Finally, we can approach these challenges with a fix-it mentality (think Bono and Bill Gates). There are the preppers who want to bunker down and protect their own. There are the hopeful who embrace the possibilities of a future that doesn't look very much like the present, but holds the potential to look a lot better. There are the majority of us who will do nothing, change nothing, and/or walk around unaware or unwilling to admit change is inevitable. There are a few who believe they can beat the odds by sheer force of will, enough resources, enough faith, or enough science. 


I'm sure we all fall a little into each category. But what are the implications of our choices? What unintended consequences will facing a future fearfully result in?  


The one thing I have recently come to believe, is that we cannot fix a world until we fix ourselves. We are the broken part of the world. It isn't out there somewhere. It is right here. So today I will go and feed the pigs and chickens. I'll feed my family a salad from the garden instead of eating fast food. Maybe I'll take time to pray or meditate. I might even go for a walk if it doesn't rain. And I will try to believe that these small choices, these small changes, will have big impact. I know their impact would be even bigger if you joined me.  


You can find a chapter near you, start a chapter, or become a member at 




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