Getting even later with these updates, I know, but at least this time I have an excuse (other than sheer laziness). Earlier in the week I had an argument with a bullant about why I shouldn’t have been pulling up a weed growing on the top of its nest (which I didn’t know was there) and the bullant won! As a result I have a swollen and sore right hand and discovered that typing (normally not my thing) is definitely not my thing at the moment. So here we go, slowly, with one finger, left hand.
Community strategies was the PDC topic and the difference between self-sufficiency, self-reliance and re-localisation.
The self-sufficiency movement of the 70’s began with people heading off into the bush to escape from the machine and do their own thing. But it wasn’t really successful for most. It was hard work, they missed other people and soon burned out.
Then there was a shift to self-reliance within the broader community—finding a group of people with similar ideals and setting up an eco-village or intentional community. However many of these didn’t work either—problems with finding good land; problems with people; problems with land tenure and ownership.
The communities that were successful had to put a lot of work into creating structures that dealt with problems as they arose and so long as this is done, intentional communities can work.
But within the context of climate change and peak oil, there is an obvious and urgent need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. So we need new ways of doing things and these need to be on a local scale, hence the move to re-localisation.
This is the basis of the Transition Movement which began in the UK and which seems to be spreading worldwide at a pleasing pace. There’s an excellent website here and Rob Hopkins (the founder of the movement) has a very good blog here. The important thing about Transition is that it’s a community-led process that aims to encourage people to build resilience in the face of change, into their everyday lives. As Rob says, if we wait for governments to take the initiative, we’ll wait forever. Amen to that.
We looked at strategies for providing food—including backyard gardens, community gardens, city farms, community-supported agriculture (CSA), farmer’s markets, school gardens and permablitz.
After lunch, we looked at money and finance and strategies for developing economic systems that serve local communities and not the global system.
LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) is a good example of such a system. As an introduction to it, Cam wrote all our names down on the board and we were asked to choose some service we could provide for the community.
Since I’m reasonably good at propagation and I’d already run a small backyard hobby plant nursery in the past, I chose ‘nursery’. There followed an entertaining ten minutes while we milled around buying and selling services to one another. We’d chosen ‘guineas’ as our local currency unit (short for guinea pigs and not to be confused with those gold coins of years past).
As we sold a service, we wrote the amount we’d earned in the credits column against our name, and the person we’d sold the service to wrote that amount in the debits column opposite their name. I managed to sell about 400 plants at a guinea apiece and bought some bread from the baker and some jam to go on it from the jam-maker. I decided against aikido lessons but did invest in a course of yoga. After five transactions each, we summed our debits and credits. Some were in the red, some in the black. The idea of a local currency is that it stays in the system; it can’t be used outside the system and therefore the local community benefits from all the transactions that take place within it. The Totnes Pound is a prime example.
Further reading: The Future of Money (Bernard Lietaer) A look at how money works and the many positive outcomes of creating local currencies
We spent the last hour or so of another interesting day working on our final design project—the community garden.