Saturday, 3 January 2009

Creating Connected Communities

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

Participating in your local community will build a richer, stronger, safer place for you to live.

I strongly believe that relocalisation is the key to environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities. There are hundreds of areas around the world where relocalisation groups have formed, once of the most successful and well known being Totnes, UK.

In 2008, I became the coordinator of our local LETS group. LETS is a non-profit network of individuals, families and businesses who trade in an alternative currency. The currency exists as a unit or point scheme, rather than using actual tokens. Here you can search for LETS groups in Australia, and here is a worldwide list.

Seed Savers and gardening groups are a fantastic source of inspiration and support. As well as seeds and cuttings to help your garden grow! Meeting with other gardeners locally one can learn a lot more about the soil, climate, pests and resources available where you live. Seed Savers groups can be found here, and gardening groups often advertise in local directories and newspapers.

By being a part of CSAs, Community Gardens and Farmers Markets – you know your food. There’s nothing more grass roots than gardening alongside others, meeting the people who grow the food you eat and knowing how it’s grown. You’re really living locally when you participate in local, sustainable agriculture.

Co-ops are increasing in popularity with the shift in focus of our consumption habits. Consumer co-operatives can range from a large retail outlet to a couple of families buying some meat or pantry items in bulk together. If there’s something you’d like to purchase in bulk to save time, money and packaging, seek out co-ops running near you (council or a neighbourhood or community centre might be able to help), or ask like-minded friends or neighbours and organise the purchase yourselves.

When considering transport options, sustainability and community appear side-by-side again. Car pooling to work or school, car sharing, public transport, walking and cycling should be considered for at least some of your transportation.

Please strengthen your ties to your neighbourhood this year. Take a look at the options above and research ways to increase your involvement in your local area, either by joining a group or simply getting out there and saying hello or offering a hand to a neighbour.