The third Bounty of the Barrens Market Day is at hand, and though I am a bit worried about the weather and how we will deal with our sound system and over twenty canopies if another one of these storms shows up, I know we will deal with it somehow.
Already the market is becoming THE place where our community comes together on Saturday mornings to see friends and convene our collective vision for how great our city can be. The scene at the market with local musicians performing and local producers selling their goods is simply magical, but, as we have said before, our goal is not simply to help the community stock its refrigerator. Rather, we want to help the community re-stock its soul.
We are driven by the wisdom of folks like Kentucky’s own Wendell Berry, who has been writing and speaking and cajoling us for decades to build sustainable communities. To be honest, we are all a bit ashamed that it has taken us so long to hear his voice of reason, but, we are tuned in now. I hope he will not mind my excerpting the following 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community from his book Another Turn of the Crank. While these principles have not been formally adopted by Sustainable Glasgow, Inc., they certainly represent everything we hope to accomplish with Bounty of the Barrens Market and the many other initiatives we hope to roll out in the future.
So, we hope to see you every Saturday at the Bounty of the Barrens Market, and when you come there, please remember these are the things you are helping to accomplish. Wendell Berry wrote that if the members of a local community want their community to cohere, to flourish, and to last, these are some things they would do . . . and we agree!
1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth?
2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
4. Always supply local needs first. (And only then think of exporting their products, first to nearby cities, and then to others.)
5. Understand the unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of “labor saving” if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.
6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of the national or global economy.
7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support local farm and/or forest economy.
8. Strive to produce a much of the community’s own energy as possible.
9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.
10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community for as long as possible before it is paid out.
11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, teaching the children.
12. See that the old and the young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily and not always in school. There must be no institutionalized “child care” and “homes for the aged.” The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.
13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or “externalized.” Whenever possible, these costs must be debited against monetary income.
14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programs, systems of barter, and the like.
15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighborly acts. In our time the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighborhood, leaving people to face their calamities alone.
16. A rural community should always be acquainted with, and complexly connected with, community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.
17. A sustainable rural economy will be dependent on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive.