Wednesday, March 3, 2010

sustainable community

Last night after watching Food Inc. a few disparate ideas began to coalesce in my head.  I wondered what it would be like if we got all our food locally.  I wondered if peak oil would be followed by "peak food".  I wondered how all the different businesses and people in my community worked together to provide the services and materials that were needed to sustain us.  Our community is like an organism, or maybe a cell.  What work do the people do?  What do they need to know?  How does it all function?  The most appropriate buzz word for these ideas is "sustainable community".  Sustainability really occurs at the community level, or at least I think that this is the smallest body capable of long term survival.  An individual cannot sustain itself, it eventually dies.  A nuclear family cannot sustain itself, but a community is a working, breeding population.  It can supply a wide variety of services and work together to meet the needs of everyone from the strong to the weak.  Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location, in social units larger than a household. These interacting people are individuals in every sense of the word, who interact by necessity and due to proximity.  A community is composed of diverse individuals. 

There must be a balance between the needs of a community and the indivuduals of which it is composed.  I am only thinking of community in terms of the smallest unit of long term sustainability and self-sufficiency, or in other words within the context of the global environment and anthropology.  I'll avoid insinuating any political ideas as they would seem rather irrelevant to solving these very basic problems.  Or at least I do not see how they can.  Even today, when governments do not work to meet the needs of the people, it is the leaders of cities and towns, the mayors and council members, who (sometimes) set the example of higher standards.  Cities have programs devoted to improving the well-being of its members, such as job centers, and the overall functioning of the city itself.  I know of people who are active in a field of study called "comparative civilizations".  While a civilization is on the larger scale of nations and cultures, usually a grouping of many communities (the only larger grouping is humanity as a whole), the basic lessons learned are similar.  I want to know more about my community so I can help to make it sustainable, and to the extent possible, self-sufficient.  I hadn't before thought of my life as depending upon the health of my community more than anything else, but perhaps this is true.  Even more so in times of change.

Postscript: I would love to eat food that is: not "processed", in season, organic and not GM, and local.  Satisfying just a few of those criteria is difficult.

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