“Ok right, so what is sustainable about going to New York?” I hear you say. “How does that fit into the home grown “buy local” ethos?” And the answer from me is “more than you think”. Surprisingly.
Notwithstanding that carbon neutral is the way to go, this year I made a conscious decision to visit New York with my two sons. I did that because I think the Big Apple is a hugely influential city, in a world that is seeming increasingly smaller, and in my opinion a taste of it should be on the experience menu of every future citizen of the world. It was honestly nothing to do with shopping.
I have always tried to provide a balance of experiences for my children and to that end I have several times decided to do things that I did not expect to personally enjoy. NYC was one of those things. Although I used to, and sometimes do still enjoy a good party, I’m a country girl at heart and the noise, bustle and (dare I say) perceived crime, not to mention the journey to get there, were enough red flags for me to have never previously felt drawn to visit. Until now.
Occupying approximately half the geographical area of London yet with a comparable population size, NYC has a very particular and condensed energy buzz unlike anything else I have ever come across. We were all blown away. Naturally we called on Lady Liberty and took a stroll around Central Park. Amongst other things we checked out the Museum of Natural History and bagged top seats for one of the Broadway shows. But we also went native, using the subway and frequenting several of the fantastic Italian NY delis. It was quite simply a tremendous trip to a multi-faceted and unique city with fascinating history, and a multi cultural population of diverse origin. There is way more to it than I had ever thought, and I’m not talking about the shops or visitor attractions. We came back to the UK feeling vibrant, positive and well balanced. Not at all what I had expected; and shattering misconceptions is no bad thing.
As far as sustainability goes; my philosophy has never been about restriction, it is about healthful choice, and my “home grown local ethos” is very much part of a bigger picture of responsibility. It begins with the heart and home, with valuing community and aspiring towards a sustainable lifestyle; but communities do not exist in isolation, and we are all of us part of a much greater whole. This entire website is ultimately about balancing the needs of the whole with the needs of the individual. Finding that perfect harmony between the microcosm and the microcosm. And to do that, one needs a developed awareness of both.
Sir Francis Bacon is the person thought to have first said that knowledge is power; I prefer to think that knowledge is empowering. Well rounded citizens with a broader and deeper pool of experience are best placed to make informed and contextual choices, and be the worthy custodians of the planet that humanity needs. Parenting... is a far greater responsibility than I had ever imagined, but so long as I can contribute to expanding their sphere of understanding and awareness, I am satisfied that I am fulfilling a major part of that responsibility to my sons, to humanity and to the planet. Having a taste of the whole, a sample of other ways of life, what makes other cultures tick, is an essential foundation for considered choice and responsible action; the building blocks of a sustainable future.
P.S. I never did get to see Tiffany’s fabulously famous window displays but I did tick Macey’s off my “to do” list.