Posts Tagged ‘Community Development’

Julian Rose ~ Constructing the New Society

This essay by Julian Rose discusses many of the things we’re working towards in Goshen. Many of the suggestions dovetail with Transition Town ideas, but I love how Julian leaves things open for any community to begin asking these questions, brainstorming solutions and taking action steps towards change. As Julian says, “To bring a dream into reality is hard work.” In order to transform our world, we must dream and act.

Constructing the New Society
‘Eight Steps’

By Julian Rose

We who engage in postulating solutions to the dominant issues of this time, use much energy speculating on unknown outcomes. But how much energy do we use in laying the ground for a future of our own making?

How much time do we give to devising the template for the new society we must create?

To bring a dream into reality is hard work; it’s a lifetime’s work at the very least. Yet many hold back from ever embarking – rationalising that such a quest is a futile exercise that will surely be swamped by a reactionary and repressive status quo.

Somehow, this failure to embark on the single most important mission of our lives, characterises a great swath of sleepwalking humanity. But not only, also a significant percentage of supposed ‘spiritual aspirants’ who confuse the azure bubble in which they live with the stark reality of the new world which needs to be chiselled and honed into existence.

So here are a few suggestions about what can be done now, to ensure that life on Earth gets a better chance under our stewardship than under the present and past masters of control.

* Bring into consciousness a realistic vision of what your neighbourhood should look and be like in a positively transformed state.

* Note down on paper the basic ingredients necessary to bring about this positive change.

* Add to this mix anyone living in the area who you feel could make a positive contribution to this process.

* Go back through your blueprint and allow your creative imagination to paint in some colourful innovative elements that will give movement to the plan. For example music, drama and seasonal celebrations.

* Check that the essential simple necessities are in place: local ecological and integrated food production; fresh water availability; the resources for renewable heat and power generation; the existence/planting of orchards; woodland areas for timber needs – and all other such similar needs that offer food and shelter security within a community intent upon transitioning away from state and corporate dependency.

* Now research current activities in your neighbourhood and see what there is that may already touch on the key elements of your vision. There may be two or three such initiatives already being considered or even practised. But chances are they are not ‘connected-up’.

* Using your holistically conceived blueprint as the crystalising factor, get involved in helping to create a working symbiosis between these different initiatives so that they each draw benefit from the other and increase the overall awareness of all involved.

* Book an available space in your local town/village hall or home – prepare your ‘bigger picture’ plan – and map the interconnections that, when all the key elements are functioning fully, will bring renewed life and direction to the whole community.

Once having completed these eight steps, alert your local media and invite local residents to share the vision which you started. Show what progress has already been made and what still needs to be done. Encourage the formation of working groups to take these different complementary initiatives forward and to periodically share the results of their efforts. Forging, bit by bit, a metamorphosis of life in your neighbourhood.

Such a project can be done by anyone. No need for any particular qualifications or skills. Just a strong desire to help your community stand on its own two feet and free itself from dependence upon the hierarchical control model which holds so much of society in its thrall.

Very soon your energetic approach will draw fellow enthusiasts to your scheme – while others will back-off. This is an essential part of any process of creative change, and one which defines where true commitment can be found and where fake enthusiasm reveals itself for what it is.

I have put this concept to the test and had very positive results. The initiative involved developing a template for a UK market town of 10,000 inhabitants to become largely self sufficient in locally produced food, fuel and fibre over a fifteen year period, starting in 2000. While it was not possible to give as much time as I would have liked to this project, it was possible to share its vision with local motivators and witness a steady process of transformation get under-way – which continues to this day. The town in question has since attracted a significant number of national awards for its innovative socio-economic practices.

Don’t be swayed by the cynical voices who say ‘it can’t be done’. My reaction to such remarks is to be stirred into ever greater determination to show that it can!

We have one life – at least in this body. It is a brief flash, a spark, which flares-up into fire, flickers and transforms into something else. To waste this brief and precious gift by evading its call to action – is an error which in all probability cannot be recalled.

If we are serious about turning around the fortunes of this planet, then it’s time for talk and action to become synonymous. If we are not, then it’s time to get out of the way.

……………………………………………….

Julian Rose is the author of “In Defence of Life – Essays on a Radical Reworking of Green Wisdom” available at Amazon.com and independent bookshops. He is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, an international activist, social entrepreneur, actor and author. His website is:
http://www.julianrose.info

Pity or Respect?

More Fukushima article fall-out, but thank you, “Nine,” for opening this line of discussion:

Nine says:
January 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

Dearest Jean and dearest Laura….

Is not fear maybe the best “gieger counter”……as it were….

I would think that one would explore what dear Goldwing had to say…..

All I can say is that where I live….and so shh…it is a secret and all I can say is that where I live and all of that land around me is a spiritual place and I will not leave it…..no matter….

The thought of not going outside to commune with such power and beauty is well….not an option for me….

This is the feminine side of things….

The masculine side is saying…..we need to take up arms….to fight…..to protect……..

And so it is a war of the unseen….

Dearest Laura….

Might I quote you?

“I do, however, also occasionally interact with people who don’t even know what Fukushima is, who have no idea why we’d want to avoid GMO’s or even what they are, who think “energy work” involves an electrician, and who live paycheck to paycheck from jobs that don’t require them to think beyond the immediately pressing details of their lives.”

Can I move to where you live? Please tell me where that place is?

Umm…..that is the American condition…..as it were….what you described in that comment…..

And so I totally understand what you are saying….and it is quite true you know…..

I am not calling you on this I am just saying that since this is how things are with many folks could you have pity? I mean upon us for our ignorance…..

I simply have decided to look within for guidance since when I look out I get so confused…..

Oh….and yes great healing comes from within….I have experienced some of this stuff…..

I have few answers….

Nine
Reply

laurabruno says:

January 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I do not pity people, but I do believe in empowering them to help themselves. I live in Goshen, IN where we are actively working to connect schools, soup kitchens, funding for entrepreneurial enterprises for the unemployed and underemployed, churches, homeless shelters, community gardens, community organizations, food banks and Seed to Feed gardens for food banks, co-housing opportunities, and local government together so that we can all share and brainstorm resources to help lift Elkhart County out of the severe (most severe crash in 2008 of anywhere in the US–was on Obama’s campaign trail for that reason alone) poverty that occurred nearly six years ago.

I only moved here in November 2012 to care for my boyfriend’s aging parents, but I am proud to be a part of this community. People care about each other enough to spend their free time learning Spanish so we can communicate better with people who have expressed a need for us to learn their language. People care about each other enough to donate massive amounts of homegrown produce to food banks and the local soup kitchen. Unlike most soup kitchens, this one serves anyone who wants to eat there. Some people pay and some people don’t. It is not considered a stigma to eat there, unlike most soup kitchens.

We are surrounded by Amish people, and most of the people in our town, even if considered way below the poverty line, find time to volunteer and to make music together. A benefit concert this holiday sent over $1,100 directly to Phillipines relief, as well as money to help a local family whose house burned down that same weekend. These were donations from people who don’t have much if any money to spare.

Some know about Fukushima. Others just know about their neighbors and their family. They don’t know what a GMO is. I don’t pity them, because they are some of the purist, most loving people I have ever encountered in 40+ locations all over the US –from Lake Tahoe and Monterey, to New Mexico, Sedona, Chicago, Madison… Oftentimes people here apologize for how their town isn’t fancy or as progressive as California. I tell them what they have here–what we have here– is priceless. So no, I don’t pity people. I do look forward to gardening with them and continuing to help some of the local high school kids whose parents are in jail or other circumstances–to continue helping these amazing kids interact with caring adults in our community. They are great kids who deserve respect, not pity, and they appreciate people who see them as fellow humans despite their differences.

Blessings to you in your sacred land. All land is sacred, as is the delicate realm between human hearts.

Greening the Ghetto

The two TED talks in this post both share inspiring South Bronx sustainability and environmental justice projects. I have long had visions of schools growing their own food, which would solve so many problems on so many levels, all at once. The first video describes the turnaround from 40% attendance to 93% attendance in a mostly disabled, mostly homeless group of students who have become experts in their field. The second video tells the story of a woman who grew up across the street from a crack house in an area with the most garbage and sewerage dumps in New York, along with the fewest green parks. She shares her story of synchronicity and community triumph, greening the Bronx and empowering her community.

Both videos address the bottom line, showing how sustainability makes good financial sense, while revitalizing communities from the grassroots up — far surpassing top-down corporate or governmental strategies. As Stephen Ritz says, we can move from “The audacity of hope to the hope of audacity.” If you live in a city, you will probably find these videos extra-inspiring; however, as citizens of a crowded planet with food and ecological crises, we can all learn and celebrate our options. We can reclaim our cities and our planet — as individuals, communities and cooperative contributors. Enjoy!