By DENA EAKLES | Ontario
Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayan Mountains that measures its wealth in the happiness of its people. Its economic structure includes self-reliance, environmental conservatism, cultural survival and good governance.
Throughout the world and here in the United States, thereare ventures of shared economies and cooperatives springing up in cities and in rural towns. These undertakings are putting people and the environment before profit and are working to ensure good living conditions, education, clean food, water and air to all residents. They are doing simple things like setting up tool sharing, or more complicated efforts like rehabbing city blocks and welcoming small, local businesses to support the needs of local people.
Much like our Amish neighbors, people are learning to help one another to ensure a good quality of life for all.
It is easy to list the “wrongs” with our communities and villages, but maybe it is time to look at the resources that we share, from the magnificent beauty of the Driftless to the practical “know-how” and “can-do” attitude of the people who call it home.
In many communities, there are discussions brewing about sourcing local energy through solar and other means; considerations of shared tools, skills and labor; and even the possibility of creating small cooperative markets with local products and basics for everyone to utilize.
Consider what you need from your communityand what you have to give to it.
Perhaps it is time to step out of our silos of separation to bring about thriving community. Perhaps it is as simple as the story of “Stone Soup,” where everyone drops whatever offering they have into the pot to feed all. Perhaps it is time to measure our wealth by quality of life instead of capital.
Making a community thrive is everyone’s business.