How Do We Save the World?: Civic Engagement in the 21st Century

As I reflect on the ending semester, I realize that college has been the longest period of the most agitation that I’ve experienced… in a good way. The courses I’ve taken- centered on topics ranging from identity negotiation to the rhetoric of built environments to the environmental detriment caused by anthropogenic development- have wrested me from lofty ambitions of grandeur and success to focus on the reality: our impending doom. I’m kidding. I’m kidding? Faced with melting arctic ice, a changing global climate, global health crises exacerbated by lack of access to health and wellness resources, and so many more lasting threats resulting from indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, it is easy to get lost in the sauce of questions to answer and problems to solve. So as not to overwhelm myself, I’ve found a useful escape in… twitter. Twitter is where I go when I need to lay down and laugh for half an hour straight. That said, Twitter has served as a political and social catalyst many times in the past, and, increasingly so, has become a means to widen the breadth of political discourse in a way that, before it’s advent, had never been possible. So, while I may one day have to find a new escape from the horror of the breaking news cycle, today I’m going to have a little fun trying to merge two sides of twitter: activism and amusement.

If you’re a meme connoisseur like myself, you’ve likely come across the “starter kit” meme, that made its rounds on Twitter a few years back, in one form or another. The premise of the joke: to make oddly specific generalizations about niche demographics. Google it and you’ll find countless iterations, but I’ve included some of my personal favorites for your viewing pleasure.


At any rate, I’ve come up with my own starter kit, and tailored it thaw you can lessen your agroindustrial footprint. Behold, the Urban Agriculturalist starter pack:

Check it out on Amazon.

I’ve included the bare essentials for those wanting to add Urban Gardener to their resumé. And if you find yourself needing to step up your game, check out my favorite organic seed distributor, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and these instructions on how to build a larger garden bed.

And, of course, if none of that interests you, find time to take a trip East of the river to some of D.C.’s most underserved communities. Here in the nation’s capital there are food deserts that prevent disparaged communities from accessing healthy and affordable foods. People that aren’t necessarily privileged enough to click an Amazon link and get a kit in 2 days. Check out Project EDEN, an urban greenhouse initiative based in Ward 8, and watch this video featuring a much younger, highly embarrassed me.

There is no definite answer as to how we’re going to save the world from ourselves by mitigating centuries of indiscriminate exploitation and pollution of the environment. Environmental equity remains mired in politic economics that repeatedly places capitalist development ahead of sustainable practices, and denies marginalized groups access to power and resources. However, grassroots community engagement is a first step towards effecting the change you want to see in the world.

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