little things we can do to make the world a better place

I like making lists. (It’s an OCD thing.) Today, while I was at the gym, I started making a list in my head of relatively easy things we Americans could do to make the world a better place. Following are the ones I remember. I’m sure there are hundreds more. Please feel free to add your own.

plant a tree
get a bicycle
use contraception
kill your television
conserve electricity
stop voting republican
don’t buy bottled water
learn a foreign language
weatherproof your home
plant a vegetable garden
volunteer with a non-profit
subscribe to a decent newspaper
eat locally-grown in-season food
introduce yourself to your neighbors
cut down on your meat consumption
read local blogs, or, better yet, start one
use public transportation when possible
treat others as you would like to be treated
shop at your local farmers market or food co-op
patronize, and, when possible, invest in, local businesses
be cognizant of what you consume and how it’s packaged
keep your kids in public school, and work to make them better

And, I should point out, I don’t do a lot of these, at least not consistently. I suck.

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  1. Mary
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Get a rain barrel.

  2. not one of the cool kids
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Make sure that the arts are put back into every public school and available to any student who wants to study them.

  3. Kelly Green
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    don’t consume high fructose corn syrup

  4. Oliva
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Pick up trash (sticky Slim Jim wrappers are ubiquitous along easements, in gutters, upon sidewalks–and little liquor bottles, dog poop, and broken glass, etc.).

  5. Brackache
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Buy some firearms and ammunition and learn how to use them properly and responsibly.

    In case of zombies.

    Or an economic collapse.

  6. Brackache
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Start a local underground barter economy with your friends and expand from there.

    In case of zombies.

    Or an economic collapse.

  7. Posted September 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Vote for Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.

  8. Paw
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Learn to enjoy the taste of insects and dirt.

  9. Brackache
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Start dehumanizing your neighbors now, in case you have to eat them.

  10. amanda
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    say thank you.
    tell people you appreciate them and why.

  11. Jo
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Get off the computer and spend more time connecting with real people.

  12. Sonic Reducer
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Don’t make shitty art/music. Don’t burden the audience with having to clap politely for your torturous crap that they secretly hate. It’s extremely inconsiderate.

  13. Robert
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Don’t waste gallons of water just to flush away some pee. Go outside, and water the flowerbeds with that nutrient rich urine. It’s best to do it after dark when neighbors aren’t as likely to see.

  14. The Exterminator
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Let me use Bendiocarb and Diazinon again, for cockroaches and ants and pyrethroid-resistant bedbugs (or Propetamphos in a customer’s house). And Ficam Plus on the outside for wasps and hornets. I beg you. Kids getting bitten by bedbugs, and going to the hospital or dying from a wasp/hornet sting are way more concrete harms than the insecticides needed to prevent them.

  15. Chelsea
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Always wear your seatbelt in the car.

  16. Stella
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Make lots and lots more, shitty or otherwise, art and music. All creation is art. Art now, think later. It’s a positive thing. Do it every day. Everyone is capable of it. Good or bad is purely subjective, in the eye of the beholder. Don’t listen to anyone who is only trying to down you. Keep creating, just don’t expect to necessarily get paid.
    Clap politely for others doing the same, it costs you nothing.

  17. Sonic Reducer
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Only bad artists can’t tell the difference between good and bad art/music.

    “Feeling bad” about your bad art/music is known as self-criticism, which is what helps you make good art/music.

    The difference between genious and crap is that a genious knows not to follow through on his bad ideas, only his good ones, which are vastly outnumbered by his bad ones.

    Self/other criticism = good, very good — an artist’s best friend. If you don’t take my advice, you will make crappy art/music. Every good artist/musician will tell you that, unless they’re trying to bullshit you to make you feel good. I’m not trying to be a dick, although I understand how it might sound that way.

    Although bad art does encourage real artists to get off their asses and make good art out of frustration, so knock yourselves out. Good artists need your manure to fertilize their good art.

  18. Stella
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Premise 1) This is a fallacy of consider the source as well as of stereotyping. Plenty of critics can’t tell the difference, billions of humans can’t, tons of music industry people and gallery owners make mistakes every day, therefore I must revert to the eye of the beholder theorem.

    Premise 2) Feeling bad about any art means you simply have been conditioned by fallacies about what constitutes art. Looking at art with the most objective eye possible is helpful. Then remind yourself that that merely reflectsyour tastes.

    Premise 3) Plenty of geniuses have followed crap trails to their bitter end. Plenty of geniuses have done all sorts of crazy, bad and stupid things. One earmark of genius is to find their own voice and follow it, no matter whether the people around them are clapping.
    There is a huge spectrum between shitty, shitty, and genius. Everyone has a right to a place on that spectrum

    Premise 4) Honest, untainted, objective as possible, critique can be helpful. Especially regarding technical aspects. Critiquing content is useless. People who want to make you feel bad, in other words, oh right, they’re my own, “only want to down you” aren’t actually helpful.

    Premise 5) “Real Artists” don’t need frustration, or suffering, or heroin, or alcohol, or bad love affairs, or someone else’s mediocrity to cause their art. And anyway it begs the question “What is real?” (said the Velveteen Rabbit).

    My own conjecture:
    People who are busy and involved in creating don’t have much time for wanton, malicious, destruction. Or to worry about who’s creating more better or worse.

  19. Posted September 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Amen, Stella.

    I disagree very much with your argument, Sonic. But I’ll stop there in the good spirit of this post.

  20. Sonic Reducer
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Gifted artists and musicians should make as much great art as they possibly can, and work hard to excel for their audience’s sake.

    Everyone else should free their inner trapeze artist.

  21. Ditch Digger
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Start a subsistance farm in your yard. Coordinate with like-minded neighbors for trade, complimentary crops, and shared supplies.

    Also do a movie in Riverside Park with bike generators.

    And/or, learn how to build other alternative energy generators (windmills, waterwheels, whatever). You never know.

  22. Posted September 26, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Shameless plugs for projects of the people you care about. Like my brother and his girlfriend:

  23. Black Jake
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Dance away your pre-Great Depression II blues with me and the Carnies and our friends tonight at the Art Barn in Ann Arbor!


    The incredible Matt Jones and Reconstruction!

    The indefatigable Andie & Tracy!

    The incomparable Mysty Lyn & the Big Beautiful!

    and finally, the incondite Black Jake & the Carnies!


    (across from the YMCA, Huron St., next to Sun Moon Yoga & Wild Swan Theater)

    9 pm

  24. Black Jake
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Nevermind, you missed it. Buy our cd. And hug a really angry person.

  25. Posted September 27, 2008 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    If you’re gay, come out to your neighbors. Then, stop navel-gazing and start volunteering.

    Do a lot more singing.

    In general, stop thinking about art/craft/song/dance as a TALENT thing and start thinking about it as an EXPRESSION thing — you get to express your creativity no matter what others think and it enriches the world. A whole lot.

  26. Posted September 27, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t just GET a bicycle — ride it everywhere — cuz it is the PERFECT mode of transportation and fun also. And wear a helmet.

  27. mark
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    A few more occurred to me last night, but I didn’t write them down. I think one had to do with reading to kids.

    And did I leave “composting” off the list? That should be on there, as should, “give up fast food” and “work to reduce junk mail.”

  28. Paw
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Hobble a Harvard MBA.

  29. Paw
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Limit your household to one trashcan full of garbage a week or less.

  30. Paw
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Host a vasectomy/hysterectomy party for your neighbors.

  31. Paw
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Don’t flush unless you’ve made an egregious insult to your toilet.

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