a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

We may not be able to get “big politics” to change policies overnight, but we can make change happen in our communities if we bring individuals and ideas together. Here are some recent examples:

The Belgian city of Ghent is declaring a veggie day every Thursday, when all civil servants and elected officials will vow to eat no meat, schools will serve vegetarian meals, and all restaurants will promote a vegetarian selection. Why? Because livestock production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (more than cars), and to help decrease obesity. How did they do it? City council members teamed up with Flanders’ Ethical Vegetarian Association and threw a party – with free vegetarian fare and recipes, along with a veggie street map, guiding enthusiastic participants to the town’s veggie restaurants.

And in the UK…In further recognition of the impact that livestock has on the environment, Wycliff College in Stonehouse has offered a 10% discount on tuition for vegetarian students. How? Founder, GW Sibly was a passionate vegetarian, establishing this policy himself.

Derek Beres writes about the science of creating systems that work with this example:

We can “create our own systems to accommodate the good of the many. One friend recently forwarded me a link to her doctor in Brooklyn, whose company works by each member paying a monthly fee, instead of the one-time whopping bill. The fees are manageable for most, and the doctors reply by text messaging and emails, and always — I repeat always — follow up within a day. Generic prescriptions are free, and from what I understand they are very popular. (Last week they had a flu shot party at the office with a live DJ!) So here you have on a small scale a system that has become so in demand that the four doctors have to open another location in Manhattan. They were fed up with the healthcare system, and so founded their own, to help others, and to improve their own careers. Everyone wins, and the science of medicine, not the economics of it, takes precedence.”

What do you want to see change in your community, school, workplace or world? Reach out. Stand up. Make it happen.

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