So you want your local society back…

So we Permei, Transition, Locavore types are the best?

I think NOT. I have often ranted about the how so many of the people who are in  the transition, permaculture, locavore and other movements are nowhere near as good as they make out to be.

It is as if the very act of being these things allows them to be A holes in every other aspect of their life. I have found the same a lot of the time with people who do prominent volunteering.

Don’t get me wrong my rant is a gross generalization of the groups and there are many fine people who do good things in all of these and other systems and they generally understand how community needs to work.

I was lucky and grew up in a close community and while it is not the utopia that so many seem to think it will be it. It was good, very good. Lots of good people around but as with so much else in life there was compromise often the needs of the one could be overridden by the needs of the many and that is just how it works out. Too many people want this but on their terms. They are happy to negotiate and are willing to embrace change but only when the negotiations go their way or the change is to the direction they want it to go.

I have three recent examples that made me think about this.

This morning I read and liked the Thunder Brewery Facebook page. This is a brewery that is powered by solar panels and is one of the largest solar sources in our council area. They make small scale, low volume local beers trying to be as green as possible. On the page was a letter to the leader of the greens asking for help with dealing with the local council and putting forward a case for help to get a license to serve the local beer they make in their factory.

I thought the letter was well written and raised some complex questions. Questions the greens (and I am paid up member of the party) need to look at. Questions of how local jobs can be built and smart jobs created.

On the page where several what appeared to be locals to the brewery abusing the letter and the page in a rather childish and dare I say unhelpful manner. Not that their views where not valid but just that the way they were put across made them look bad. I understood their concerns but from a point of view of a sustainable world a balance needs to be struck between the life you feel you deserve and the fact that we cannot continue in the long term to have people traversing to the far side of the city a 100km’s away for work and then back again. This is where the compromise and some vision for community needs to come in. At some point this month I will dust off a started post on a trip I took to Japan and some views on their cities and communities.  

I think perhaps those abusing the letter need to take a bigger picture view and see that they cannot be islands and expect that they will be a part of everything on their terms.

The second example came from the community garden I am in.

A could of Sundays ago I was there finishing off some beds with old sleepers. Being the redneck with the chainsaw I have finished a bunch of the beds off for the personal plots. A lot of people have helped not just me but it is the same usual suspects.

 In the garden is a community section and a section of personal plots. One of the plots I finished off that day was for an older lady in her 60’s of Italian decent whose husband had broken his leg and she was busy on quite a hot morning barrowing in compost for the bed which is 10 square meters. She was obviously in distress by the time I realized what she was doing. There were a fair number of the group who work on the community garden there and none of the offered to help. So while she was sitting down with her feet in a bucket of water I quickly finished the last set of barrows about 7 or 8 of them and dropped in the last of the sleepers to finish it off. Not another person looked to help, one lady did make sure the elderly lady as ok. The general view seems to be that if people have their own plot it is their responsibility to work it. I kind of understand this but equally I think that these people have perhaps better skills that hauling barrows of compost around.

Ttheir knowledge as elders is greater and these people know what grows in this area and when to grow it. Young people have lots of energy let them do the work. It is how our society worked for countless generations prior to the age of individual freedoms and rights above all responsibility. Don’t get me wrong you have a right to that view point but don’t tell me you are interested in building a society when you do that. Respect for your elders and helping them and anyone else who needs it is a core part of any society

If it is everyman for himself then you are not going to get much of a society worth spiting on.

The third example happened this evening when I pulled into the chiropractors car park and the poor 25 year old Suzuki suddenly busted something.

It would not go forward or back we had the other car with the kids and I could get home so no issue there but it was stuck.

As with most alternative practices they are good people at this practice and have looked after the whole family for the last 18 months since we took Gabriel there at 6 weeks with some problems from his birth. We know the receptionist, she loves our kids and after explaining the car might be parked there tonight because of the problem she announced her partner was coming soon for a consultation and he was a mechanic.

He arrived in his V8 fuel sucking Ute not a socially responsible Prius and after a quick chat was under the car for 20 minutes and covered in oil got the car going, at the end of his working day in the heat on a Friday before a public holiday! So we all could get home, then refused for me to fix him up in beer or cash and said he was happy to help as we had kids and needed to get them home.

A more down to earth helpful individual and member of society you could not ask for. But I am sure that this young, tradie, tattooed driver of a gas guzzling car would be looked down upon by those who think they are leading the life style of the evolved.

I know I seem down on the systems I most seem a part of but to me the actions rather than the tittle you give yourself is the definer. So to that end I will continue to do what I can and remember this and make sure my kids learn it as well. 

Sabrina said on the way home ‘the man helped daddy, he is a nice man’ and that is a good lesson for her to realize that helping other is nice and good and leads to you being helped when you need it. That is what societies are.

As a side note the young mechanic runs a home business and he will be getting the business for my car repairs.

Local jobs, smarter jobs. David Holmgren discussed this at a retrofitting the suburbs seminar at the Wheeler center a while ago. I would suggest you all look this one up and see what he has to say. It is far more eloquent than my writings.

Nuff said.

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