re: Take 3 – Ch 4: The emergence of localism

2010-06-14

Richard Moore

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Sharon Stevens wrote:
Dear Richard,
Thanks for sharing this dialogue with us, and for modeling your willingness to interact with others and learn. I’ve also learnt a lot from the others here; I can’t wait to look at Solari a bit more, for example, as, here in Ashhurt, we’re joining the world-wide movement to develop our own local currency, and we’re laying plans for a genuine wealth system to follow. We imagine that when inflation becomes too much, we’ll just let the dollar go and lean on one another. It’s small steps so far, but it looks like a good thing.
I’m writing, though, less to talk about Ashhurst than to say how much I agree with Madeline Bruce–and you–and the comments about time. I’ve recently finished data collection for two connected studies about permaculture activists, people who are already highly motivated to take positive, local steps. “Time” emerged as the biggest challenge to lifestyle change. These were people who are aware of peak oil, government problems, and so on … and they pointed to time scarcity as the single biggest puzzle to solve to further their activist desires.
In a longitudinal study of one group, I saw people doing the following, some of which you already mention in your chapter:
* Working with their neighbours, as you elaborate in response to Madeline, so that three hours might be multiplied by the community and lay the foundation for something too big for one person to get started (starting is often harder than maintaining; transition temporarily takes extra resources, including extra time)
* Looking at intentional communities as a way to create a holding structure for cooperation, to share financial and other resources, and to free up time for activism outside of the intentional communities
* Temporarily leaving the work-force, or looking for part-time work, sometimes with few resources other than trust in the voluntary sector, to put time into what they felt was more important
* At minimum, creating boundaries around their day jobs to give the rest of their time to spiritual growth, to family, and to community.
This last, for example, is where I have realised that I could easily do better. It’s why I, like Harvey, think that unions are a huge asset for ecological restoration. At the university where I work–a place where the workers have benefited life-long from society’s accumulated social capital–we (and I mean myself) are sometimes so busy treading water, or trying to get ahead with one more specialist publication, that our families and gardens and communities suffer. University employees are fortunate to have been supported in the development of their intellect, knowledge, and agency, but we (I mean “I”) tend to sell our time for careerist purposes. Perhaps we’re afraid of redundancy (or not getting tenure), but at least as often, IMHO, we’re just caught up in the joy of the career and fail to recognise that, while our work is socially valuable, there is a limit to its value, particularly in times of change that require more than a reproductive approach to research and teaching.
Often we’re not even conscious of what we’re doing. It’s really easy, as in the example of my own research, to pay so much attention to the content that we don’t think about the audience, and we publish in small-circulation journals for specialists who already share our values. I think what you’re doing, Richard, is hugely important: sharing your work widely to create dialogue amongst people with different areas of strength.
Fortunately, many academics are already aware of what I am just now realising. I trust that the same is true in other sectors.
If we can ratchet back the pressure to be more professional and successful than the next person, then we have all the time we need.
Sharon
P.S. I also love your ideas for meeting process. Something else to implement widely.

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for your contribution, and thanks again for your earlier suggestion about positive framing. That was very helpful. 
Yes, time is a real problem. I was never able to do very much else but the job, when I was still working. I particularly like your idea about intentional community as a ‘holding structure for collaboration’. Indeed, it might make sense to really focus on that particular mission, and organize the intentional community around that. A co-housing model might be a good one, with a community dining room, some kind of child-care arrangements, shared spaces of different sizes for multiple uses, such as meetings, classes, workshops, etc. 
rkm     
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Life Walker wrote:
looks very good Richard!!!
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andrea lea wrote:
Right off the top of my head, it seems to me that the best solution to localism will be found through coalition and affiliation. For instance, the five-day Social Forum taking place in Detroit later this month is a case in point. I’ve recently learned that the once great industrial city of Detroit is being transformed into an urban garden. Please check out the details concerning this event.

Hi Andrea,
Thanks for the heads-up on the social forum. I agree that coalitions at the movement level are a good thing. In terms of community, however, I look more to coalitions among local activist groups. At the movement level, there’s the tendency to focus on specific agendas, and affiliation can lead to factionalism. 
rkm

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John Lowry wrote:
Wow.  You are an incredible worker!
My meagre contribution: Everybody who has a good idea should do it.
I saw an experimental school on tv where the kids wore t-shirts that said “work hard / be nice”.
Stay well
John


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