It was another sultry Summer day in the Deep South, and the stench was unbearable, but I kept digging. The twenty-two-foot-long dumpster was full of TVs, office refrigerators, computers, coat hangers, sheets, pillows, phones, clothes, soiled and broken futons, cracked lamps, books, “furniture” wall art, and plastic bags of all colors—and I was knee-deep in it. The mounds of rubbish reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit, who was once a well worn and cherished toy of a young boy but was left behind when newer and shinier toys came along. Like the Margery Williams children’s story, most of the dull—but still useful—items in the dumpster had been brazenly tossed out for the exciting, the shiny, the trendy, the new. But, unlike the Velveteen Rabbit’s transformative fate, most of this dumpster’s forgotten memories would be lost to a landfill to rot for hundreds of years—only ever truly “known” by soil, clay, rocks, insects, methane, tractors, and scavengers. In the deep, steel receptacle the garbage sat still as if it were waiting to see if their owners would come back to make use of them again. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting. They never came.

            But, why does this matter? Why emotionally anthropomorphize everyday objects? They’re just things, after all, not people, nor animals. They don’t have feelings, they can’t talk, they aren’t sentient. They just are. While this may be true, all these things are extensions of us, which, in some way, does make them alive, to some degree. And because garbage is “alive,” it has stories to tell, and these stories don’t end when they get thrown in a dumpster. Their narratives continue hundreds of years into the future where they break down in landfills that leak corrosive methane, in incinerators that pump out carbon dioxide, in foreign lands where they are combed through with slave labor in toxic conditions, and in the sea, where lifeforms and ecosystems are suffocated. We now exist in a world where the boomerang has come full circle. We can no longer throw the boomerang toward some other community thinking it won’t come back to us quickly. The world is a smaller place now, so the trajectory is not as long as it once was.

            Things changed for me that Summer while we were looking to rescue computers thrown away by students at the end of their Spring semester. Dumpster diving wasn’t anything new to me—I’d been doing it since I was a kid—but, at that time, I’d been working with a community group that refurbished computers deemed junk with people that needed them. I wiped my brow as I rustled through the piles of forgotten memories and hoped I would find a salvageable computer. We were in luck. “I found one!” I pried a grey desktop computer tower out from under black trash bags full of who knows what. A Velveteen Rabbit. It was heavy and its sides were loose. They loudly clanged together as I handed it off to the co-volunteers outside of the dumpster. The computer was a few years old, but it wasn’t junk. We could bring it back to life, organize community, raise critical consciousness of issues interconnected to it (digital inequality, poverty, climate change, e-waste) and take direct action against ecosocial injustice—all through rebuilding what people had thrown out. Through love, care, and compassion, we could make that computer “real,” like the Velveteen Rabbit. I’m not sure of that computer’s fate, but I do know that many of the ones we rescued that Summer were refurbished by people that desperately needed them: elders, children, families, people experiencing homelessness, community organizations with limited budgets—you name it. I continued this work for seven more years, helping the organization get thousands of computers to people in one of the poorest college towns in the country and hundreds of tons of recyclable materials out of landfills and into ethical recycling channels.

            A year before I was crawling through dumpsters, organizing volunteers, and doing community outreach, I had been in a deep depression. After I had gotten involved with this organization, and a few others similar to it, I felt electrified. Doing community work with “junk” and seeing this form organizing empower and uplift people, raise consciousness about the ecosocial justice issues of electronic waste, climate change, poverty, and digital inequality, lifted my spirits more than anything else ever had (or ever will). It gave me a sense of purpose, community, belonging, and connection with others, my community, and the environment. Over the years, I saw how this organization and the organizing model that it utilized, Functional Community Organization, made other people feel the same way.

            Because of these experiences and global ecosocial injustices, my research and community work are now firmly rooted in ecosocial justice issues. My research aims are to (1) examine how communities and community organizers address contemporary social, economic, and environmental problems as they relate to glocalization; (2) channel research findings into publicly and freely accessible, understandable, and translatable theory, models, methods, and tactics; and to (3) strengthen community work research and methods, community organizers, as well as communities through unique and challenging inquiries into contemporary social problems.

            My depression was addressed through community action, and seeing possibilities for change—in myself, in others, and with myself working with others—even in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems. We are in a world that is on the verge of catastrophe. As community workers, we must harness our creativity, empathy, critical thinking, praxis, organizing prowess, and tie them to the winds of new social movements and the New Community Organizing—to meet direct need while taking on structural threats. We cannot have one without the other, we must be prefigurative in each step of our praxis, no matter how difficult, frustrating, or tiring it may be. We must not succumb to nihilism or disillusionment. We must take this grief, this mourning for our planet, and see it in the context of another movement that didn’t think it could achieve anything, the labor movement: “Don’t mourn, organize!” We must see the world as it is, but not give up on it. We must not wholly depend on politicians, self-appointed leaders, bureaucrats, governments, market systems, and so on—we have to do it ourselves, together. This starts where you are and where others are. Start a project, or find a project, and get going—we don’t have much time.

Joel Izlar is a community worker and PhD Candidate in Social Work at the University of Georgia. He has worked as a community organizer on the streets, in shelters, community gardens, food rescue organizations, community technology centers, free skools, and many other direct action-oriented social change groups. He lives in Athens, Georgia with his partner Jessica, newborn child, Cillian, and dog, Polly.


31 Comments

sex portal · April 17, 2021 at 10:49 pm

It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before finish I am
reading this fantastic piece of writing to increase my experience.

best bitcoin sportsbooks · April 21, 2021 at 1:58 pm

It’s going to be finish of mine day, however before end I am reading this
wonderful article to increase my experience.

best bitcoin sportsbook · April 21, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little
lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed
.. Any tips? Kudos!

crypto casino · April 21, 2021 at 9:36 pm

Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity on your submit is just excellent and i could suppose you’re an expert in this subject.
Well with your permission allow me to grasp your feed to keep up to date with imminent post.
Thank you 1,000,000 and please continue the gratifying work.

best bitcoin Casino 2021 · April 22, 2021 at 3:10 am

Hi everybody, here every person is sharing these kinds of
know-how, so it’s fastidious to read this blog, and I used to visit this blog daily.

bitcoin sports betting sites · April 22, 2021 at 9:33 am

Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
Cheers

best bitcoin sportsbook · April 22, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Hi, I wish for to subscribe for this blog to get hottest updates, thus
where can i do it please help out.

best bitcoin sportsbooks · April 22, 2021 at 6:19 pm

My family members always say that I am wasting my time here at net, except I
know I am getting experience everyday by reading such good content.

bitcoin football betting · April 22, 2021 at 11:11 pm

Hey! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d
figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website goes over a
lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could
greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

best bitcoin Sportsbooks · April 23, 2021 at 6:06 am

I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.

It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more
pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out
a developer to create your theme? Excellent work!

article generator · April 24, 2021 at 9:32 pm

I don’t even know the way I stopped up here, however I thought this put up used
to be great. I do not know who you might be however
definitely you’re going to a famous blogger should
you are not already. Cheers!

best article generator software · April 25, 2021 at 2:41 am

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
I am quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here!
Good luck for the next!

best article generator · April 25, 2021 at 5:01 am

I got this website from my friend who told me on the topic of this website and at the
moment this time I am visiting this web page and reading very informative content at
this time.

bästa dejtingsajter · April 25, 2021 at 8:36 pm

hello!,I like your writing very much! percentage we keep in touch more about
your post on AOL? I require a specialist in this
area to unravel my problem. May be that is you! Having a look
ahead to see you.

bra dejtingsida · April 26, 2021 at 5:35 am

Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found
that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from
your writing. Cheers!

portal sex · April 26, 2021 at 7:10 am

What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of
precious know-how concerning unexpected feelings.

portale sex · April 26, 2021 at 10:08 am

Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article!

It is the little changes that produce the
biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

bäst dejtingsida · April 26, 2021 at 4:05 pm

Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was
super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what
I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.

Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

sports games online · April 26, 2021 at 11:24 pm

I take pleasure in, result in I discovered just what
I was taking a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt!
God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

soccer online free · April 27, 2021 at 12:23 am

With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of
plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced
but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all
over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any
solutions to help reduce content from being ripped off?
I’d really appreciate it.

online soccer manager games · April 27, 2021 at 1:54 am

I believe everything wrote made a ton of sense.
But, think about this, what if you added a little content?
I am not saying your information is not solid, but what if
you added a headline that makes people desire more?
I mean From Climate Grief to Direct Action: Harvesting Waste, Planting Community, Meeting
Need, and Saving the Planet – Create
Social Responses to a Changing Environment is a little plain. You ought
to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create post titles to grab viewers interested.
You might add a video or a picture or two
to get people interested about what you’ve written. In my opinion,
it would make your website a little livelier.

Best Online Football Games · April 27, 2021 at 7:25 am

Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

Музыка Онлайн · April 28, 2021 at 9:27 pm

Ahaa, its good conversation on the topic of this piece of
writing at this place at this weblog, I have read all that, so at this time
me also commenting at this place.

オンライン カジノ ビット コイン · April 30, 2021 at 2:29 am

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.
I’ve read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting things or advice.
Perhaps you could write next articles referring
to this article. I want to read more things about it!

site · May 1, 2021 at 6:54 pm

When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added
I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you
can remove me from that service? Thank you!

buy instagram followers · May 4, 2021 at 5:03 am

Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis.

It’s always interesting to read through content from other
writers and use a little something from their web sites.

P.S. If you have a minute, would love your
feedback on my new website
re-design. You can find it by searching for «royal cbd» —
no sweat if you can’t.

Keep up the good work!

Here is my site buy instagram followers

Samuelkaw · May 4, 2021 at 12:08 pm

https://novopet.ru/about_us

btc sportsbook · May 6, 2021 at 2:01 am

Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but
I’m not seeing very good success. If you know of any please share.
Kudos!

bet with Bitcoin · May 6, 2021 at 4:40 am

Hello to all, how is everything, I think every one
is getting more from this web page, and your views
are good for new users.

best bitcoin casino bonus · May 6, 2021 at 6:34 pm

Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to
do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you
know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

새로운 비트 코인 카지노 · May 7, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and
I am inspired! Extremely helpful info specially the final part
🙂 I handle such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain information for a very
long time. Thank you and best of luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.