Best. Leadership Activity. Ever.

Well, at least the best Leadership Activity for Ecohouse I've ever done. (Joke: I've only done this one.)

I spent about 8-10 hours working on setting up this event, Sustainability & the War on Drugs. I would have spent more hours if I hadn't gotten help from my friends in NORML and SSDP. (Disclaimer: Ecohouse does not endorse the politics of NORML and SSDP. I do, though! Officially!)

It was very stressful, even with the help. I had no idea how to go through the rental processes and taking care of the contract for the guest speaker and paying for everything with SSDP's budget (once again, thanks SSDP), so I did a lot of running around and making phone calls and being confused and even crying a little (aww). At some points I thought of some less than savory things to say about the Ecohouse program for putting me through all this, but like a child who finds it is worth it to do the lame thing her parents wanted her to do, I'm now very glad Ecohouse required me to do something like this. (Anyway, you don't have to do 10 hours for your leadership activity. You can earn full credit for anything that lasts up to 5 hours, extra for more.)

I also did a short presentation, about 10 minutes, in the beginning. I just introduced myself as an Ecohouse student working through SSDP and NORML to do my leadership project, introduced Sanho Tree as basically a guy who does great work (he does!), defined sustainability and war on drugs and drug policy reform, and gave some domestic examples of how the war on drugs hurts the environment. Our drug laws prohibit the growth of industrial hemp even though it would be great for the environment and economy, and even though industrial hemp has no psychoactive effects, because apparently some people want to stop the scourge of reefer madness. I think it's madness that marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug. Anyway, not only have current approaches failed to reduce supply, they also hurt the environment. For instance, people will grow drug plants on public property to avoid the danger of having their own property seized. When was the last time people felt the need to hide a cotton farm in the national forest? The last time people ran home drug manufacturing operations was during alcohol prohibition when they made moonshine. Now people are doing it with methamphetamine and other drugs. Such operations have no safety, health, or environmental regulations. Another thing I mentioned is suburban sprawl, and how cities would be more desirable to live in if there were not open air drug markets and gang violence (thanks for the idea, Eric Sterling).

I left the remaining little-over-an-hour to Sanho.

He rocked our socks off.

I am so happy. I heard him speak at the International SSDP Conference in 2006, and he covered some of the same topics here tonight. Here's a video clip from that conference:

And here's a clip of one of the other things he talked about tonight:

He blew people away. NORML members, my friends, and a reporter for the school paper were the first to show up. But then Ecohouse students, students in Maryland for Clean Energy, and some unfamiliar faces filed in. The turnout came out to about 30-35 people. I'm so happy people from green groups came to this event. They enjoyed Sanho's discussion so much that they want to invite him back next semester to talk about the same thing to a wider audience. A couple of them took his card. There was a good amount of questions and like 60% of the people stayed afterwards to chat excitedly. I don't care that I'm getting course credit for this. This is huge because people tend to pass over drug policy reform as a special interest instead of something that really impacts all aspects of society and social justice. All the stress that went into planning and publicizing and fretting over my introduction/presentation when I have so much other stuff on my mind (My Issues: another blog entirely) was totally worth it. I feel all warm and fuzzy. And smarter, even though I've listened to him before, because he talked for much longer than he did at the 2006 conference and added some great facts, ideas, and insights. And oh, did he talk about sustainability and the war on drugs. I love hearing new things about issues I've been learning about for a while.

I mean, even if all the drug policy stuff I did doesn't fly with you, the sustainability aspect is where it's at in Ecohouse and the leadership project is one of the opportunities we get to have meaningful experiences. (Did I mention the experience was meaningful to me?)

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