If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb. Sustainable living seems like a singular act, but it will take all of us working together to make a difference.
Where Is A Sustainable Community for People of All Backgrounds?
On my journey to live a more sustainable lifestyle, one feeling always stuck out to me: I felt alone. I didn’t have a tribe of people close to me facing the everyday struggles that comes with trying to figure out this new path. When I talked about it to those that were close to me, I felt like I was pressuring them to do something that that they had no interest in.
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People Are Complex, We Have More Than One Interest
Growing up, I was always the odd person in any given space. I was the only black person in my classes and on my sports teams. But I loved my classes, my classmates, and running cross country with my teammates. I’d go down home to visit extended family. While there, I’d be told I was “too white.” But you couldn’t tell me nothing because I knew I was the best dancer & I was learning to cook soul food with the best of them.
I mean, I wanna twerk AND dance bachata. Watch Doctor Who, be obsessed with Harry Potter, AND love Real Housewives of Atlanta. Eat soul food AND learn about “new to me” cuisines. I want to do all of this AND care about the environment, because that’s what I am called to do. And I also want to have be apart of a community to share my enthusiasm for sustainable living.
I despised all of the labels I was given. What I wanted most was a place to be myself 100%, without fear of being judged. Luckily, I had that peace at home. My sister raised me, and she never uttered a word about my choices being weird or me not being normal. She supported every whim I went on.
Finding an IRL Community
In college, I found support in different groups that I joined that shared in my love of dancing and sustainability. My last semester of college was the best. Just about everything I did was focused on learning about sustainability, my new-found passion. I found a community of peers that I grew with in the Sustainability Office I worked for on campus. But as I moved into adulthood, I wondered why my “normal” wasn’t good enough in the eyes of others. Why I just couldn’t fit into the spaces and boxes that I thought I was supposed to be i>. I missed that safe space I had at home when I was an adolescent. Truly, I craved a COMMUNITY where I could feel the same.
After graduating college and finishing up my sustainability internship, I felt like I had completely lost my immediate eco-friendly community. After moving hours away where I knew noone, I would connect with people on Facebook groups, and then try to meet up and sustain that connection in real life. It just wasn’t working. I was in a whole new world. I felt like I would never find my tribe, and like I was on the wrong path in life.
The Benefit of Modern Day Virtual Communities
However, I slowly started to see that my community didn’t have to be all in one place. I could be apart of multiple communities, and that I could even initiate new communities and interest groups. So that’s exactly what I did!
After I created my first Facebook group, I attracted part of my crew. I became more diligent in my research to find new communities, and I started connecting with even more people.
That’s Why I Started The Sustainable Living IRL Facebook Group
That brings me to my latest group, Sustainable Living IRL. This Facebook group is a community of diverse people who can keep it real and talk about how to be sustainable in our everyday lives. It’s named after my upcoming Podcast/audio series, which I hope will help build the community even more. Had you told me 5 years ago that I could attract a group of people excited about sustainability, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, because I didn’t see these people in my everyday life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect with each and every person online through this group.
This community is only the beginning. I’ve also created a membership only community via the Patreon platform. It is a structured community with more access to Q&As with me about my sustainable knowledge, and I also share actionable steps to help you on your personal sustainable living journey. The paying membership group allows me to help people one on one, while also maintaining my free platforms, continuing to share information about how we can all be better stewards of the earth, in a way that’s real and authentic.
And yea, we can talk about twerking and Harry Potter there, or how freaking hard it is to remember your cloth bags when you go grocery shopping, or how that sustainable brand of shampoo didn’t work for your curly hair, or those eco-friendly jeans don’t fit your curves right… but also how you finally purchased a reusable straw and told someone, “no straw please,” and how you told your local supermarket that you would like them to stop using so much plastic on their produce.
I know what it feels like to not have that community where you fit in, so you feel like you can’t grow in your new-found interests. I’ve felt it in different sustainable communities before. But this is a community where you can keep it 100.
Because this is Sustainable Living IN. REAL. LIFE.