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We Don't Know The Full Impact of Our Actions Until Much Later
Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability Shel Horowitz, Marketing Consultant - Going Beyond Sustainability
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Springfield, MA
Saturday, August 26, 2023


And sometimes, it's much greater than we think

More than anything else, this is a piece about hope: about the power of each of us to have impact in our own lives, in the lives of those around us, in our communities, and to our ecosystem and the entire planet.

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Sign by Nancy Hodge Green, used at Seabrook by Shel Horowitz, 1977. Photo by Shel Horowitz

Sign by Nancy Hodge Green, used at Seabrook by Shel Horowitz, 1977, as it looks today. Photo by Shel Horowitz [/caption]

Two case studies from my own life:

How a Single Demonstration Redirected US Energy  Away from a Super-Toxic and Dangerous Future to a Much Saner Alternative

At age 20, I was one of 1414 protestors arrested as we occupied the construction site of the Seabrook nuclear power plant. At that time, the US government was envisioning 1000 nuclear power plants around the country. They never got past about a tenth of that, and I'm convinced that the ripples from that demonstration have a lot to do with why. On the 40th anniversary, I wrote a five-part blog series about what happened and my take on why. That link will take you to part one, with jumps to each succeeding part at the bottom. It's really important reading for activists, authors, business innovators, educators, and others who want to change the world.

How Changing What I Eat Led Me to a Writing and Marketing Career
I don’t know the exact date, but I think some time last week marked 50 years since I stopped eating meat. I know that I threw a party to mark my conversion and planned to stop eating meat as of that late August date, but I’d actually stopped several days earlier. I’m grateful for several things about that transition:

1) that after almost four years as an activist it was the first major step I consciously took toward living lighter on the earth, changing my lifestyle to match by beliefs;

2) that it was the first time I was really thinking long-term and strategically: I came home from a fishing trip at age 12 and announced I was turning vegetarian. My mom immediately responded that vegetarianism would stunt my growth. I was already a runty kid, small and weak for my age, and we didn’t have the Internet to check easily—so I promised her that I’d wait—and promised myself that I would remember and honor my promise to go off meat once I’d reached that milestone);

3) that I actually was capable of remembering and fulfilling a promise made four years earlier

4) that the whole world of food alternatives began to open up to me with this transition. Although Yoshi had been part of my life for about five years and thus I had some exposure to Japanese food, we had very little money and seldom ate out, and my mom’s cooking was tilted heavily toward kid-pleasing macaroni casseroles and meat loaves. She was into whole wheat and brown rice, so we were a step ahead. But I knew nothing about the flavor and nutrition and cooking techniques of Indian, Thai, Turkish, Mexican, Ethiopian, Vegamerican, Szechuan, Arabic… I’d never made bread, or yogurt, or sprouts, or pretty much anything from scratch other than salad dressing. The deeper my explorations, the more exciting eating became.

5) that I would arrive two months later for my first term at Antioch College with a new identity and lifestyle, and would not have to remake myself later in the eyes of my peers: something that deepened once I did arrive on campus and (with 600 miles between me and the stairwell where I was raped by a stranger several years earlier) almost immediately got in touch with my bisexuality and became active in the school’s flourishing LGBT community—which in turn led me to be involved in campus theater, campus radio, my first public speaking, my first time running an organization, an extended and public dialogue with the town’s mostly-progressive but homophobic newspaper that gave me a window into the power of the press (and thus my career as a writer and marketer), and more.

Lessons for Organizers, Change Agents, and Business Visionaries

In other words, there’s truth in the parable about a single butterfly’s wings changing the climate on a different continent. Our actions ripple out and ripple out and ripple out again, and we never know the full consequences of those actions when we undertake them. I had no idea when I stopped eating meat how far that would reverberate and how much it would shape me. I had no idea when I took the training ahead of the Seabrook occupation that we would leave a national movement in our wake whose effects are still felt almost 50 years later. Did Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Mary Kay, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Edison, Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web), Mother Teresa, or Nelson Mandela know at the beginning of their careers what impact they'd have? I very much doubt it.

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News Media Interview Contact
Name: Shel Horowitz
Title: Marketing Consultant/Copywriter/Author
Group: GoingBeyondSustainability.com
Dateline: Hadley, MA United States
Direct Phone: 413-586-2388
Main Phone: 413-586-2388
Cell Phone: 413-512-0165
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