Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good News

One of my long-term projects is to write an urban gardening blueprint to give to the town councils in my area, from locating sunny spots to put neighborhood kitchen gardens and designating a Seed Center to store seeds and teach seed saving techniques, to digging and planting schedules based on last frost, to how many people will be needed to dig and tend, plus canning instructions, composting plans, community kitchen plans, farmers market plans and much more.

From the Bill McKibben interview in this month's Sun Magazine:

Interviewer (Alexis Adams): You've said that the central notion of consumer society is that "each of us is useful precisely to the degree that we consider ourselves the center of everything." Do you think it's possible for Americans to break this habit of putting ourselves at the center?

McKibben: I don't think it will be easy, but I do think it's possible. The Achilles heel of consumer society is that it hasn't made us as happy as it promised it would. Although Americans have trippled their prosperity since the mid-1950s, the percentage who say they're "very satisfied" with their lives has declined. In fact, only about a quarter of Americans now say that they're "very satisfied." When you think about it, this is pretty sad, considering the unbelievable amount of resources and energy that we've consumed - and waste we have produced - in the last fifty years. We've pursued the American Dream to no real apparent end.

There are signs that we're beginning to wake up to this, however. The number of farmers markets in this country has doubled and then doubled again in the last decade. It's now the fastest growing part of our food system. SOme people shop at them because they understand that you can use ten times less energy by buying local food, but many people shop there because they want food that actually tastes like something, or because they want a connection with the world around them. Sociologists last year studied both supermarkets and farmers markets and found that people had ten times as many conversations at farmers markets. These are not subtle differences: ten times less energy and ten times more community - and better food to boot.


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