I am feeling more than a bit out of the cultural loop. I turned on NPR yesterday and the entire top-of-hour broadcast was about Michael Jackson. There was special on about his life last night and the story has lead every news show since it happened. Am I missing something here?

I keep hearing about his talent and his gentle soul and how so many will miss him so much. I’m sorry for the personal loss but has everyone forgottenwhat else he’s done with his life? The poor guy was, to be blunt about it, a train wreck and there is a fair amount of evidence that points to some really inappropriate behavior with children. He was a  talented, even gifted, musician and he could dance but I am not sure that rates him this kind of coverage.

All of this gets me to thinking about heroes in hard times. When I see what people are doing to save the planet, protect the environment and educate about peak oil I am amazed. My good friend, Leni, started a program a couple of years ago aimed at eradicating the use of plastic shopping bags. She began a bag sew and share project that has mushroomed in to a movement. It incorporates out local prison population as well as any other group she can get to sew. She has collected more sewing machines than I can count and what must be thousands of yards of fabric and huge boxes of notions. Every week she goes someplace for a sew. This involves loading up her tiny car with machines and fabric and giving up her free time to get a new group going. When our local store went bagless, Leni had us sew hundreds of bags. The estimated savings in plastic bags for the Creamery alone was 49,000 per year. Leni makes no money for this and shuns any personal publicity. It is all about the bags.

Sharon Astyk is an inspiration. I have thought about a bumper sticker that asks, “What would Sharon Do?” I think about her every time I am making a hard environmental decision and just thinking that I would not want  her to be disappointed in me often helps me do something hard but right when easy but wrong is what I might otherwise lean toward. Of course Sharon wouldn’t let us make a bumper sticker because of the wasted resources and she wouldn’t want any publicity that had to do with an automobile.

Storey Publishing is heroic to me. They have stayed so true to themselves. They have kept their offices in beautiful down town North Adams rather than move to NYC and continue to publish books that no other publisher would be likely to touch. I’ll bet every small scale homesteader who comes to this site has a shelf full of Storey publications.

This subject is not as far from the topic of preparing for emergencies and coming hard times as it might seem. We are going to need new heroes to replace the passing ones. I hope that, as a culture, we will let go of elevating in status people whose only accomplishment is making money or making trouble. It often seems that the morning news shows are scraping the bottom of a pretty yucky barrel to come up with people to interview when there are such interesting people out there doing inspiring and important work. Instead we are polluted with stories about Joh and Kate and the lastest celebrity to get the boot from the jungle. The only positive thing is that it makes it easier to watch the weather, then shut off the TV and get to work. If there was something interesting to follow, I might be tempted on these rainy mornings to get a cup a of second cup of coffee and watch. Right now, there is no danger of that.

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