Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What are some specific, local solutions to local problems? Guest Post by Alan R. Willard

Alan R. Willard is a 57 year old long
term resident of greater Bummerville
interested in community, organic living,
and a sustainable future.
Currently a care giver with a
micro-business, garden, family, and is
an active board member with the
Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth & Families.
By Alan R. Willard

How to create local solutions has been debated in our Dist. 2 community vision process in north east Calaveras County for the last 10 years at least. In fact it has been a subject of conversation in communities all over the USA. As our economic crisis continues to unfold it will be increasingly important to pay attention to the kind of helpful process’s we worked with stating in 99 and 2000 with the Rocky Mountain Institute , we called economic renewal. This set us on the road to answering the local problems, local solutions question.

One suggestion might be finding ways to get solar to more people. I think of all our power outages this last winter and wonder if there's a way to combine decentralized electricity production and putting the most vulnerable grid power lines under ground.

First, identify all the solar contractors working in our region, pay special attention to those local contractors.

Second, do a survey of the population finding what percentage would be interested in increasing there property value by installing solar systems. Determine how many could afford it.

Third, start a non-profit organization whose mission is to decentralize energy distribution, thereby making local energy production a priority. Have this non-profit also help low income people obtain solar systems helping to make local communities energy independent. All of this can represent jobs.

Fourth, combine this with local organic farming and farmers markets helping to set our communities on a path toward food independence. This also could represent more jobs. Maybe set up or become an active part of an organic farmers land trust, identify arable land and start setting it aside for sustainable local food production. Many separate 10 acre or less plots of well run organic farms can feed and employ many people.

Tell me this, do people between the ages 16 and 25 see the job market as a local problem? What are they passionate about? What would make young people chose to stay in a rural area? I just attended a fund raising event addressing the issue of local community sustainability and I don’t think I saw 5 people under 30, most 50 or better.

Katherine Evatt of the Foothill Conservancy suggests more local solutions.
Individuals can shop local instead of going to Costco or other distant stores. Get businesses to buy from each other. Develop a community currency, since the big-box and chains won't take it. Support entrepreneurs. Help small business people grow their businesses instead of trying to "attract" businesses from elsewhere. Produce and sell to locals products imported to the area now (wood pellets, for example).

Local, community radio can open the doors of communication about these issues. Help us find a core group of people in each community who can help make a local community radio station happen. This is from Rick Torgerson after attending a radio conference in SF today.
“I would also like to start a regional newspaper that is tied to the station. (90.7 KQBM) make the newspaper (West Point/Up Country NEWS) a non-profit as well. that could bring in significant income and provide jobs. the newspaper and radio station can feed off of each other for content. we can tie all of the Calaveras and Amador communities together with these mediums and build a significant non-profit media entity in the mother lode."

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of open lots that could also be smaller community gardens or even neighborhood gardens.
    The problem with solar in this country is that most of us cannot afford it.
    I appreciate the light you've shown upon these subjects.