Robin Schulte and Erin Kvam, Guest Writers
If we are to survive the tipping point we are facing as a global population it is vital that we re-envision life in our environment from the ground up. As old paradigms crumble it is necessary to build a foundation for the creation of new ways of living and surviving with each other and the planet. This can seem a monumental task, but if we start with the basics we will reach a different kind of tipping point, one that will launch our global population into prosperity and happiness.What are the “basics”? They are food, water, shelter, energy and community. Without these we have nothing, but with these we can not only survive, but thrive, and build upon this foundation the beautiful and ingenious aspects of humanity.
The current systems that provide the basics are wasteful, time-consuming, and arguably designed to keep the majority busy while a small percentage enjoys disproportional wealth. Why does the majority comply?
It appears there is no choice. As economic pressure increases and we are caught up in the world economy, it seems spending two thirds of our time working jobs that are usually disconnected from what we are passionate about is accepted, and to do otherwise is to be ostracized. While a good work ethic is to be commended, as there is much to do, it is important to consider what the work is accomplishing. Are we providing a service to humanity? Are we inspiring ideas, upholding proven means of survival, or exploring new avenues of existence? Are we doing what is meaningful and can last the test of time? Are we being good stewards of our environment so future generations will inherit a world worth living in?
Tragically, the majority of jobs on this planet do not fall into these categories. Instead, many work their entire lives in unfulfilling jobs, just to be able to support their families day to day, paycheck to paycheck. This is tragic not only to the individual but to the entire population. What if Descartes had been born into poverty and forced to work in a meaningless job all his life? Would he have had time to inspire the human race with philosophical insights? What if Einstein had ten children to support instead of three? Would he have been able to give humanity the theory of relativity? How many beautiful minds and inspiring souls have been crushed to benefit the few?
It would seem that one of our greatest resources is time itself. With time we have freedom to think, design, and orchestrate our unique contribution to life. With time we can enjoy the beauty of the world and become inspired by the intricate workings of nature. With time we can focus our amazing individual and collective potential on uplifting the world and all its creatures.
Time is not money – money is a poor excuse for time. The question now is not how we should spend our time, but how should we save our time from being spent by others.
So, we get back to the basics – food, water, shelter, energy, community. These things are worth our time. These things take very little time to manifest compared to how we do so today. Imagine a network of community centers that spans the globe – each one providing the basic needs of life to the surrounding community.
Each center is unique in what else it provides, but the core goal of providing the basics is what ties them together. Centers share resources, ideas, skills, knowledge and experience. There is no central control over these centers, yet they are connected through the common goal of survival and improvement of humanity.
It is a return to the wholesome small town center of the past with the best of the realization of global communication and exchange of the present and future. Proven and cutting edge ideas and technology would be combined to bring out the best humanity has to offer. With a network such as this, each individual would only need to work 2 or 3 hours a day to provide the basic needs of life for all. The rest of the time could be utilized to maximize human potential as the individual wishes, backed by a network of communities’ skills and resources.
Similarly, each community would have a great variety of unique aspects to it, such that the entire range of human existence would be expressed amongst all these communities. This is not so different from how each town or village is unique in the world now, except there would be a much greater equality between the communities and therefore much greater empowerment of the individuals living within them. Since each community would be unique in what it offers beyond the basics, and with modern transportation and communication individuals would naturally gravitate to the community they most resonate with, the diversity of the world is reinforced while allowing like-minded people to work together.
This seems like a monumental task, right? Where does this network of centers come from? How do we shift from the current system to manifest this new way of interacting and living? The answer is actually quite simple – get back to the basics – we’ll be forced to out of necessity anyway. First, start one center that provides food, water, shelter and energy to the surrounding community, then make more and connect them. In a short time these centers will have the resources to start expanding into other projects, workshop space, forums, performances, seminars, celebrations, and all manner of community events.
Sounds easy, right? It is! Here is just one example of what one of these initial centers might look like, but there are many ways to manifest the same core ideals:
Near a population center on some farmable land, concerned citizens construct geodesic domes; one that is a greenhouse, complete with an aquaponics system to serve as a year-round food generator in any climate. Another is used as a café, office space, and relaxation space. Another is used as an education and entertainment forum with an indoor amphitheater and 360-degree projector, facilitating everything from live theater with motion picture backdrop, to educational speakers, to real-time planetarium zoom-ins on the cosmos utilizing digital telescope technology, to musical performances and other community-oriented activities, etc.
Surrounding these domes (and others) is a farm run entirely from clean energy (wind, solar, etc.,) which is possible because the domes are heated passively by solar energy by design. The food from the farm and greenhouses is distributed free to the surrounding community, thus relieving much of its food needs. The community center is a place where people gather to learn how to be self-sustainable and to contribute to the overall goal of a self-sustainable community that can join other communities that are pursuing this idea.
Small, manageable steps, just like small, manageable communities, that reinforce diversity (and therefore adaptability), and a recognition of the basic needs of life that we all share in common, is the best way to ensure a thriving future. This is what we are doing in Lincoln, Vermont through our non-profit The Root Center. Join us!
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