Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Correction and Confession

Ok, so January has turned out to be less of a "slump" than I had hoped, as evidenced by my lack of posting. One of my "resolutions" (not specifically aligned with New Year's) was to keep up my blog better than I have been. :) Who can actually do all the things they wish they would really do? Some people like to think that I do just go for whatever I wish to in life, but I find myself to be a little disappointing sometimes. I may live alternatively like I want to, but there is so much about how I do things personally that I would like to change.

That leads me to a recent article published about me on the blog of an international journalism student in the UK. She paints a very rosy, "pedestalizing" picture of me and of Freeganism. I don't know how she got the idea that Freegans don't use money, or at least that I don't use money. It does seem to be a common misconception. Some freegans have reached that point in their application of the freegan ideals, and I aspire to be that strong. In the community I live in, however, members of the house receive a $15/week stipend, which doesn't seem like much to some people. But when your needs are provided for just by definition of living communally (mutual giving and sharing of our time and resources includes food and a space in the huge house the 20 of us share), any extra money is just that - extra. And when you have extra money in your pocket, you're probably going to end up spending it, even if your ideals are against the spending of money on yourself. Well, that's how I have a cellphone and go out drinking occasionally (now you know).

There are valid arguements in favor of using money in order to do good. I do happen to agree with that, as long as the money comes from a valid source. I mean, that's how the Catholic Worker and the JCs operate at all. In order to do humanitarian or educational work, there is some level of compromise with the system that goes on. It's rather unfortunate and drives me crazy, but it's true. I don't know that one could live entirely on the outside of the economy and still provide for needs on the large scale that the CW does. However, they do what they can to minimize thier involvement with the structures of power, such as not taking any money from the governments to fund their work. The LACW is not a 501(c)3 tax-exempt cooperation and doesn't ever want to be. It means a little inconvience for us and our donors sometimes, but it's a way to express the beliefs of the group.

From freegan.info's "philosophy" page: Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.

And even if I did not spend my stipend and lived completely without using money, it would not be that great of a feat. I get my food for free quite easily (if not from the dumpsters, then from the shared donated food we eat at the house), have clothes given to me by friends and my younger sisters and have a free place to stay, in return for my time doing something I want to do anyway. It seems like much too easy a life. Sigh.

EDIT: another correction to another common misconception - the community (Los Angeles Catholic Worker) is not a freegan organization, nor do any members besides myself claim to be freegan. I know other freegans just like me, though, who live in communities of alternative lifestyles and still use money, hesistantly or not. 

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