Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I’ve lived in my new neighborhood for almost eight months. Wow! Spring cleaning, summer’s garden bounty, fall leaves and now a winter wonderland. The block my little bungalow is on really celebrates the holidays — Fourth of July was as exciting as a whole city event. And now, everyone’s house is ablaze with lights — OK, not a sustainable practice, but extravagantly beautiful on snowy nights. There was a flyer in the front door a couple of days ago inviting us to an evening of neighborhood singing followed by a soup supper.
Why am I sharing the goings-on of my world with you? We hear from many folks, here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, who are anxious to chuck civilization and head to the hinterlands to raise their families, gardens and goats. They dream of being off the grid in almost every way possible — isolated from neighbors and easy-to-access roads. I wonder why? Humans, as an animal species, are herd creatures. We bond with our families, both parents are needed to raise the offspring, and we have the ability to communicate and to share the results of our efforts. Living within a community can provide help and safety in times of need, a venue for celebration when things go well, and a place for mourning when there is loss. This week, during the season’s first snowfall, our neighbor plowed everyone’s sidewalks with his little snowblower — what an amazing gift to awaken to! I’m planning to bake a batch of cookies for him this weekend.
There are so many ways to be sustainable and still live within community. One can garden, raise chickens, use passive and active solar, and harvest rainwater — all on a city lot the size of mine. For an extreme example of the possibilities, check out the Dervaes family, in Pasadena, Calif. Today, I challenge you to think local — not just about buying food, but about all the ways you can live a sustainable life right where you are. Let us know how is goes.
Photo by Olga Gabai/fotolia