Unsettling the table

The cusp of summer is a time of change. The warmer months see students orient themselves away from schoolwork, clubs and committees, toward employment—perhaps rest, too. We might pack up our possessions and move them across provinces or across town and take on the responsibilities of work, research or summer studies.

But these reorientations are so synchronous with the change of seasons that they appear packaged as an inevitability. The logic of “we must” underlying these changes often informs how we imagine de-winterizing. We make preparatory efforts in advance of drastically reinventing ourselves for the summer. The relative enormity of these changes is impressive, and the fact that many of us make them several times over the course of post-secondary careers cannot go unnoted.

These renovations are precisely what is required in the name of adapting to and mitigating climate change. And yet the sense of ‘we must’ accompanying the work that goes alongside de-winterizing seldom extends to the greening of our daily practices. We spend hours lining up summer work, thinking about where and with whom we wish to live, what courses we must take – but becoming zero-waste, carbon-neutral citizens is a transition that figures as monstrous. We must recognize that both labours of transformation are necessary in equal measure.

Those transformations realized as community efforts often operate on the minutia of our daily lives. It is in the moments where we commute to school, shop for provisions and cook our meals where our actions are most susceptible for systemic change. Public transit, for example, might emerge out of a shared interest in moving to certain points. But it is in eating that we may find the most illustrative example of our potential as a community.

Sackville is blessed to have several community-supported agriculture initiatives, and a fine farmers market. What is both unremarkable and magical about these initiatives is that their benefits are multiple: They are (often) co-operatives, they are accessible sources of nutrition, they conserve the ecology of the area in which farms operate, they subvert corporate control of supply chains, they eliminate the need for superfluous packaging, and they localize the economy. Farmers markets are the coming-together point for other projects, too, from Climate Change Week to solar co-operatives.

Our role in these spaces of community – and thus, in spaces of change – is not immaterial. So as we set out our responsibilities for the summer, the responsibilities of community and environment should not be forgotten. After all, we are no strangers to transformation.

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