A Search for Convenient Resilience

For Hannah Blackmer ’12 (right) and Dana Rubin ’12 (left), next month's graduation doesn’t mean job applications or internships.

Instead, Blackmer and Rubin plan to travel the country, collecting and telling the stories of people who have introduced environmentally sustainable practices in their daily lives.

The idea for the trip came about last fall, as Blackmer and Rubin discussed postgraduation plans. They were inspired by Frances Moore Lappe’s book EcoMind, in which she argues that people’s ability to address environmental problems are “mired in fear, guilt, and despair—none of which are motivators to action.”

The students believe that by showing how people are living more sustainably, whether through recycling, eating locally, or using clean energy sources, they can demonstrate the practicality and ease of adopting these activities in everyday life.

“People are more willing to change their behaviors when they see something successfully done—like monkey see, monkey do,” said Rubin.

They’re calling this tour the search for a “convenient resilience,” said Blackmer. Resilience in this case means the ability to withstand difficult conditions, such as those posed by climate change and dependency on oil for energy.

The students are in the planning and fundraising stage of the tour. They will start the tour in Vermont, their home state, in September, and will head west from there.

Their journey will be shaped in part by work they’re also doing with the Transition Town Movement, which seeks to train young people to be less dependent on oil and to reduce CO2 emissions. Blackmer and Rubin will lead youth workshops to invigorate communities about how to be locally resilient and less reliant on foreign fuels.

The decision to forego a traditional job search was not taken lightly, said Rubin, but it made sense to her and Blackmer.

“We decided to create our own path after graduation,” said Rubin. “We’ve been training to be activists for four years. We wanted to see if we could find a creative way to help people address climate change problems at the individual level.”

Blackmer and Rubin are recording their experiences on their blog, and are hoping to connect with MHC alumnae and friends across the country.