We sat down with, well, virtually, Rafi Santo, Activism Director of the NY-based Interdependence Project. Read for yourself to hear what it is all about...
BGT: Where did the idea for the ID project come from?
Basically, the ID project was the brainchild of Ethan Nichtern, a writer and teacher who had grown up in a Buddhist household. Ethan's idea was really a manifestation of a generational shift though, one that recognized the importance of spirituality (so to speak) but recognized that our own lives don't exist in a bubble, and neither should our spiritual practices. Hence our work to apply meditation and principles of interdependence into areas like arts and activism.
BGT: Hit the pavement is one of the groups strategies, we like that, what is that like?
For us, bringing together meditation and activism had to go beyond talk. We wanted to see what would happen if we were actually to decide on an issue that was important to the community and really reach out to people about it. This process of meditation in action has been much more valuable than just acknowledging the linkages between activism and meditation, as it allows us to confront the real internal and interpersonal challenges of making change; the fear that comes with talking to people, the acknowledgment that sometimes we do things for reasons other than the most virtuous one, the messiness of working with people and actually organizing.
BGT: What progress has the plastic bag project made to-date?
For a fully volunteer and grassroots effort, we've actually done pretty well. Over the summer of 2008, we successfully lobbied the Governor as well as members of the State Senate and Assembly to reject a weak bag recycling bill that would have overtaken a stronger city law. But more than anything else, we've successfully built a strong grassroots organization from the ground up in a way that's consistent with our values. That's our biggest success in my opinion.
BGT: How can people get involved?
I thought you'd never ask! In April we're kicking off Responsible Consumption month, which will be filled with events that people can get involved in including bag making using re-purposed fabrics, street theater projects, and a responsible consumption pledge drive, where we hit the streets and give people information about the impact of their consumption and ask if they'd be willing to take pledges to change their own behaviors in this area. People can come to our kickoff Responsible Consumption party on the evening of April 17th and our Day of Practice in Action on April 19th. It's going to rock!
Learn More about the ID project.