The thing about alternatives. The best and worst thing. Really good alternatives are hard to see from the highway.
Now, this can be awesome. If you love venturing off the beaten path, challenging yourself, being a maverick, wandering the wild looking for answers or other paths or even the right questions to ask, you’ve probably found some really neat ideas out there. Alternatives to pretty much everything — capitalism, religion, community, work, leisure time — exist somewhere in the world.
But it can also make finding worthwhile alternatives too challenging. We don’t all have the time to go tramping around through vast uncharted swathes of mental terrain until we find the perfect idea. Sometimes it’s easier just to stop at Target on the way home, and pass the hours we would have spent on research with our families.
I’ve been thinking about what kinds of pieces I want to put up here on the alternatives blog. I know what I don’t want. I don’t want this to become an advertisement for the least worst of mainstream options. That Goodwill / Salvation Army post was relevant to many of you, but we came away from it realizing that Goodwill is nowhere near as good as it could be (even if it is better than Salvation Army, for those who care about LGBT civil rights). I’m sure there’s a value in comparing big box stores, or comparing similar products many of us use, and sometimes that’s what I’ll do.
What I really want is to use this blog to focus on the ideas people have dreamed up that actually make the world we all live in better. Define better however you want — more sustainable, more supportive, more fair, more engaging, more just, more equitable. All of those, and more.
Too often, we don’t get to see the really amazing things that are happening around the world. They’re too far off the highway, and we don’t have the time to explore what’s beyond the end of every back road and still get home by the end of the day.
So I’m going to take a little while longer between blog entries here. I’m going to dig deeper, find alternatives that aren’t just the least worst, but alternatives that are actually good. And I’ll share what I find here, along with how you can get involved with them if they call to you.
Meanwhile, let’s come at it from another perspective. What have you come across in our world that struck you as poorly designed? What seems irreparably broken? Just asking these questions, I’m thinking about politics, healthcare, homelessness, sexual assault, pharmaceutical maneuvering, student debt, that undercurrent of ownership in relationships… and I don’t know nearly as much about alternatives to those things as I want to. Maybe you have more to add — maybe you see systems that don’t work every day at your job. Here’s your invite: chime in any time.
I’ll be somewhere off the beaten path, far from the billboards, finding whatever I find.