Sustainable Putnam

Danger and Opportunity

It’s a common trope that the traditional Chinese character for “crisis” is a combination of the characters meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” Although that isn’t accurate, it certainly resonates at times like this. It’s normal to focus on the danger confronted in any crisis. We need to protect ourselves when threatened with harm. But most crises also present an opportunity for changes that address the root problems of that crisis.

Wikimedia Commons

The pandemic of 2020 is no exception. And it seems that is exactly how many people around the world are reacting to it. Here in Putnam County, I’ve been amazed at the ways in which friends, family, and neighbors are using this opportunity. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be writing about the convergence of our responses and the development of our “local future”. What we do in this moment could be much more than a temporary response to this crisis. It could in fact become the redirection of our lives, our purpose, our relationships, and our communities to build something better.

To be clear, the 2020 Pandemic is horrific and deadly, and is bringing illness, death, grief, and despair to all of us. There is no discounting these terrible costs. And the greatest cost is being borne by those with the fewest resources. That fact cannot be forgotten, and it’s up to those of us with more resources to do whatever we can to do and give whatever we can. More on that all-important issue later.

For now, please let me know what you’re up to. Are you retired, unemployed, or working from home? Have you used your time in beneficial ways that were previously unavailable to you? Have you used your time in new ways to conserve what you have, to avoid over-consumption (unnecessary shopping), to produce what you usually purchase? Have you found new purpose, new joy, new ways to relax and recreate? I’d like to know.

Reply to this post or send an email with the subject heading “Opportunities” to sustainableputnam at and let me hear your story. I’ll use some of your examples in future blog posts. (Let me know if you’d prefer anonymity!)

1 thought on “Danger and Opportunity”

  1. It seems like such a little thing, but it adds up. I began hating the big chunk of plastic packaging that comes with my 3.5 oz of deodorant, so I made my own, a slight variation on the one published by Sierra Club: Take equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and add coconut oil at a ratio of 1:4 (baking soda + cornstarch: coconut oil). Add a few drops of essential oil, like tea tree, lavender, or lemon grass. I substituted 1part Shea for coconut oil (more body) and used a few drops of almond oil. It took minutes and has been effective even when I’ve been gardening or hiking. It doesn’t irritate my very sensitive skin. Most of the ingredients are available in supermarkets and the baking soda and cornstarch are packaged in biodegradable cardboard. Incredibly cheap, too! Hope it works for you, too.

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