By Micah Buckwalter
‘Downward Mobility as a Full Life’
Oxford, IA, July 7
Often over the last month of riding, it has been easy to forget the reason for our trip. Instead of thinking about creating climate conversations and understanding what all is going on in the different parts of the country that we’re traveling through, I find myself just focusing on moving my body from the town we wake up in to the town we’ll be staying in that night. One aspect of the trip that helps refocus us all on the climate issues we’re riding for is an event we affectionately titled “Climey Timey.”
Every few evenings, one of the riders presents a climate issue that they find interesting or that pertains to the area we’re staying in, and we discuss it in the larger group. About a week ago, one rider presented ideas for reducing personal carbon footprints based on the fact that the greatest indicator of an individual’s footprint is their level of income. He asked us if we would consider choosing downward mobility rather than trying to climb the economic ladder. Would we be fine with living a harder life than our parents? These were not questions that I had thought about before, but they brought about good discussions within our group.
One theme that quickly came out was that living a sustainable life, even with less money, does not necessarily mean living a harder life than our parents. Maybe riding your bike to and from work or even to get groceries is less comfortable then the cars our parents use, but it is also very rewarding and by no means reduces your quality of life.
Today, while touring the Geyer Farm where we are spending our rest day, we heard from Anna Geyer about the ways that her family is transitioning their farm away from conventional crops to be fed to animals towards crops that can be used for human consumption. Although this transition is environmentally beneficial, Anna explained that it was a practice of downward mobility, as the soybean market is skyrocketing right now and they could have made a lot of money if they would have gone down that route. It was encouraging not only to know that there are farmers who understand the critical need to begin this transition, but also to see the principle of downward mobility being played out in the real world. Personally, the idea of downward mobility is a bit frightening to me, but these discussions and experiences have shown me that it is entirely possible to live a full and sustainable life without such a dependence on money.