(Courtesy Photo/Amanda Bancroft)
I was just minding my own business, doing dishes, cleaning the compost toilet, watering Herbert the wild toad and cooking pizza in the solar oven — you know, the usual mundane daily chores — when all of a sudden I was eight years and over 400 columns into “Making Ripples.” This week is our eighth anniversary, and I wouldn’t believe it except that I’m running out of topics, so it must be true! Thank you for reading, whether you read online or in print, for the past eight years or for the first time today.
When this column began, Ryan and I were only one year into our Ripples journey to live a sustainable lifestyle in hopes of benefiting both people and planet. The first column was published Aug. 23, 2012: “Why Ripples? Because small droplets make big waves. We are insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Yet everyone is able to make ripples of positive change in the world. The smallest action can have a phenomenal impact.”
We all have unique abilities, challenges, resources and dreams. Sometimes we make little promises to ourselves to change a habit or do something we’ve always wanted to do. And sometimes we make big promises! That first year of “Making Ripples” was a huge promise. We looked for land to protect and confronted the demons of doubt (and other people’s prejudices).
Eventually, the day-to-day work of changing our lifestyle and making different choices became more real than the doubts. The failures made room for successes peppered in between. Now we’re not making promises, we’re living them.
I’m still living that promise and leaning into the discomfort of knowing there will always be more work to do. Sure, I live off-grid in a solar electric house with rainwater, composting toilet and greywater garden, but do you have a vegetable garden? Many of you do. I don’t, but I hope and dream and — most importantly — plan for one. Today I’m where I’m at, you’re where you’re at, and maybe we both have made promises to ourselves about where we are going. Many of you already know this secret: The moment before beginning is probably the hardest. To reject the familiar, embrace change, just to start something new is tough. It isn’t all downhill from there, but it’s easier.
In between the beginning and end are the middle moments of joy that come free of charge when I wake up and remember that my goals are no longer hypothetical. For me, the middle is mornings of monarchs in the milkweed and afternoons of solar cooking while I draw greeting cards to raise conservation funds. I’ve seen so many of your middle moments, too — bicycle commutes with a whole gaggle of kids and groceries, organic vegetable gardens that look like Eden, pet rescues, local purchases that support minority business owners. Y’all really care!
My next middle moment is to finish this column and eat my solar oven pizza (which I burned slightly — see, always something new to learn!) Happy anniversary, dear reader. Keep making those ripples!
Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.