photo by Amanda Reed

More about integration

If it’s not one thing it’s another.

The rain. The snow. The frigid cold.

Food recalls.

Romaine lettuce. Eggs. Tyson chicken nuggets.

As I muse on these everyday occurrences, I think about how it affects us all differently.

It’s another take on the integration that we as a community need to implement.

The frigid cold.

At the newspaper office, the frigid cold meant turning on the furnace in addition to the heat pumps that supply our heat in the winter and coolness in the summer. (Heat pumps are great. They save electricity.  But, as they heat each space independently, we needed the oil furnace for heating the whole of the building envelope, particularly the basement. And yeah, it has taken a bit to get the old steam-radiator system to operate.)

At home, it meant being deliberate about keeping the wood furnace full so that a bed of coals could be maintained that would provide consistency to the fire. (Setting alarms in the middle of the night, coming home in the middle of the day to feed the furnace.)

Personally, it meant wearing extra clothing.

For others, this weather is hardship. Drafty, uninsulated houses. Pipes freezing. Cars not starting. Not having a warm coat. Good warm boots.

We do not live in an equal world.

And income inequality is a huge challenge that we face. It is a challenge that exists in each one of the ordinary occurrences that pepper our day. Sometimes, this inequality only has a small temporary effect. And other times, it predicts the future.

Especially as it relates to food.

Wholesome, unprocessed food is expensive and not accessible to everyone. Consuming wholesome foods sets the basis of our overall health.

And what we will be building, without reflection and integration, is a division between who eats healthy food and who eats unhealthy food. Who is healthy and who is unhealthy. Who can reach their full potential and who will not because they are either hunger or unhealthy.

But I am hopeful. We can look toward integration.

We are a small-ish community. We have the means to communicate. We have organizations, like Sullivan 180, and institutions, like our local hospitals and our state extension agencies that are working to improve the overall health of our community.

We have built fairly good systems. Now we need to look at them as a whole.

I believe we do this, first off, by recognizing that we don’t all have the same experience.

And questioning our unaware assumptions.

It is one thing after another.  But it’s a different thing, or things, for all of us.


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