At the outset of the Industrial Revolution, the protagonist of Voltaire’s Candide travels extensively in an attempt to discover “the best of all possible worlds.” In the end, Candide realizes that he and his party would have been better off if they’d never gone on tour in the first place. “What’s necessary,” the tired traveler declares in the last sentence of the novella, “is that we cultivate our garden.” Thanks to the slow-food movement made popular by Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingslover, and many others, 250 years later people are finally starting to get this message. From backyard gardens to downtown farmers’ markets, people are realizing the rewards of becoming truly productive human beings.
With about two weeks to go until Harvest the Rain gets released, I’m beginning to schedule a number of tours. Like Candide, over the next few years I’ll be traveling extensively in an attempt to get the word out about how a new appreciation for water should be understood as the basis not only for the slow-food movement but also for the changes in every other ecological industry. New urbanism, green building, home-based and localized energy production, alternative transportation, ecomanufacturing, socially responsible investment, community-based politics, and every other aspect of the growing movement to save society from itself needs to realize how fresh water is going to be the key factor that dictates our success or failure as a species.
Unlike Candide, I’ll be starting on my quest with the full knowledge that in the “best of all possible worlds” it would be better if I never left. But we don’t live in such a world today. It would be great if I could stay home and focus only on making my garden more productive: to always practice what I preach—instead of spending so much time preaching. As it stands now, thanks to the effects of an Industrial Revolution that replaced its well-meaning, creative, and industrious roots with purely avaricious tentacles, I will have to juggle both garden and book tour for the time being. There’s simply too much teaching (not preaching) that has to be done in order to divert our society from disaster….
Still…as much as I love public speaking (Give me an audience, and I’m one happy man!) and have tons of fun whenever I get to talk about water and sustainability, I already look forward to the day when I can stay home and focus only on the backyard, and my family and friends again.