The Dissonance Between Dreams: Re-writing the Sust Enable Episode Scripts

“For any viewer who has been camping, a tent may not sound like the most… comfortable living option.  On the other hand, it has some real benefits to my mission to live sustainably!

…Inhabiting it uses no energy–neither heating nor cooling is an issue.  While it might seem like it at first, a tent is not just a summer option…  Look like cramped quarters?

Well, it’s big enough to sleep in and to store my clothes in.  And that’s all I need.  It means I will be spending more time outside, in nature…

Plus, unlike in an apartment, I have the ability to develop my home in unlimited ways!  Stay tuned for later episodes that show how I modify and enhance my living space to be more and more manageable, including temperature control, comfort and additional amenties.”

Dear Readers,

Sust Enable was my dearest fantasy.  Sust Enable meant that I would solve the entire world’s problem of environmental sustainability all by myself.  In an urban setting and with no money.  What’s more, I’d do so while producing a film about it!  Take that, thousands of years of environmental degradation!

For those of you who have followed my tumultuous three-month sustainable living experiment through my blog posts here at Sustainablog, you may think the quoted text above is a strange thing to say, or even bizarrely humorous.  Indeed it is.  Above is the exact wording of my original script to the Sust Enable episode on Shelter, last updated sometime in May.  As I sit in the video editing suite listening over my previously recorded voiceover, I cannot help but laugh out loud at the absurd, unsubstantiated statements I am making.  But these are sour laughs.

Because once, I believed these statements were true.

Nowhere in the script, mind, do you see my warnings about the risks of poison ivy.  Nowhere do you read of swarms of mosquitos plaguing that time spent so blissfully “outside” the tent.  And nowhere, shockingly, do you read about how incredibly trying it is to live in a tent when it rains every 36 hours.

I suppose tribulation was never really considered when I was planning Sust Enable.  You can cut the optimism of the above passage with a knife!  So what if it isn’t so fun to live in a tent?  So what if mold develops, and I can’t sleep a wink for the hard ground, and the overall environment of the cramped quarters is oppressing?  …Well… So what indeed.

The footage my cinematographer shot during the three-month Sust Enable project was based, structurally, around these scripts.  I now am struggling–both with how to restructure the scripts to reflect the reality of what happened, and with how to reconcile my old attitudes with my new perspective.  Can I truly say that living in a tent is an awful idea and would never work for anyone, under different conditions?

The very beliefs from which the idea of Sust Enable emerged have undergone immense shifts and changes since the project drove to its grinding halt in July… and now in September, I am still trying to relieve the physical and mental stresses accumulated during the three-month Sust Enable endeavor by lavishing hot showers and unsustainable amenities on myself.

Yet openly unsustainable is not how I want to live either.  I am still trying to sort out my priorities and values, after my too-ambitious sustainable living project, well, “kicked my ass” a little bit.  In any given instance, it’s hard to break down: what was wrong about the sustainable living techniques I was utilizing, and what was wrong about my attitude?  As the experiencer and producer, it’s hard to sort out where I end and where Sust Enable begins.

On the other hand, I am extremely grateful that my most thrilling dream of green accomplishment and social liberation was not a dream deferred, like so many others.  It was a dream fulfilled, even if at times, it played more like a nightmare.  I’ve met many people since the Sust Enable living project concluded who tell me they could never do what I did.  I’m not so sure they should sell themselves short of their possibility–heck, I’m not sure I could do what I did!  Yet somehow, it was done.  But I acknowledge that I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t my passion.  I was driven during Sust Enable.  Now, while the outcome isn’t as polished as I would have liked to imagine earlier, its influence will still resonate in my life and in my actions forevermore.

“Sustainability is Now” is the Sust Enable series tagline.  While I’m not so sure that sustainability IS now, I am sure that it is possible.  And I’m sure I’m on my way.

“Episode 1: Introduction” is now available on the Sust Enable website:

Related posts:

To Live Relevantly: My Story of Defining Sustainability

Toward a (Re)Definition of Sustainability – Part 1 of 6

Toward a (Re)Definition of Sustainability – Part 2 of 6

Why Can’t Every Product Be Sustainable?

Written by carolinesavery

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