By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association
We applaud Daryl Hannah’s efforts to alert the public about how our lack of connection to the functioning of natural systems contributes to our lack of awareness of their importance to us and all living things on the planet.
Growing up in downtown Chicago, she had little connection with nature, but had a sense of insight when she walked through a park. Her appreciation of interdependence with nature and her environmental awareness developed later in life.
What was left unsaid was the importance of an educational system that takes students to outdoor settings to provide them with a vivid understanding of how natural systems function and our interconnection with them.
She now lives in a home built of natural materials and free of fossil fuels, using solar energy in multiple forms to provide power for her comfort. Her lifestyle exists within a network of local people with the knowledge and skills to assist her in her quest to live in a sustainable manner. She feels an obligation to use her celebrity status to speak out and support efforts to promote more sustainable lifestyles throughout our country.
She speaks from the heart, and whenever she sees an injustice, her compassion compels her to speak out and take action. Through information, she believes people are better able to make wise decisions, which leaves the world a better place.
As many have come to realize, she reminds us that if we look to the powers above us to address our multiple environmental, economic and energy problems, we will wait in vain. It is important to take charge of our own lives, demonstrate our personal commitment to sustainable living, and join with others in our communities to take effective action on local and regional levels. She called for a paradigm shift to focus on local and regional efforts to restructure our energy and agricultural systems.
The format for the session was an interview of her by Doug Scott, whose leadership in state agencies makes him well informed on such issues.
Hannah prefers such an approach, which contributed to a delightful atmosphere of spontaneity and vitality.
Beyond the momentary pleasure and inspiration of an effective presentation is the question of whether anything will change as a result of what has been said. The event involved a call for action beyond fund-raising essential to continue the work of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful.
The call for action included banning plastic grocery bags, which would surely reduce the litter problem, as it has in other communities that have enacted a ban.
Hannah suggested the food wastes from the event could be converted back to their organic origins and used to enrich the soil or converted into fuel. Other communities have implemented such programs, providing existing models to consider for use in this area.
Such actions would extend the good feelings that come from a great event and an outstanding interview. They would reaffirm a local commitment to action and reconnect our lives to recycling the nutrients from the good earth so essential to sustainable living.
Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the April 9-15, 2014