by Gwen Colegrove and Cathy Frankenberg
Change, Change, Oh Change, She Is A-Comin’!
And what is driving this change? Why, the end of cheap oil. This means that our lifestyles will change. But, oh, so many of us hate change. And why is that? Because we feel that the change is put upon us. It makes us insecure. What we need to do is rethink change and envision a better life than we have now.
Our old lifestyle of unlimited growth and consumerism is broken because it is unsustainable. We know that fossil fuels are heat-ing up the planet and we should reduce our use of oil, yet we constantly receive mixed messages. Many of us would gladly give up the expense of a car if there were good public transportation. Yet our government bails out the auto companies and continues to slight financing infrastructure for public transportation.
The most sustainable scale of living is the local scale. And the key to security is growing your food locally. After all, if someone else controls your food supply, you truly are at their mercy. Luckily for us in the Lehigh Valley, there are many sources of local food. More and more farmers’ markets are cropping up in the Valley. There are CSAs available. And the new Lehigh Valley Food Co-op [was launched] this spring. Check this out if you are not already a member.
After food, we need to consider local energy and local currency. The Pennsylvania legislature has proposals for landmark clean energy legislation before it. If passed as originally written, these bills will greatly increase the amount of solar and wind power produced and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 13 million tons a year. And the requirements that all Pennsylvania electric utilities buy increasing amounts of clean energy would extend to 2026.
There’s also an effort afoot to have a local currency for the Valley.
Why have a local currency? Well, U.S. currency currently goes more toward building wealth [over 80%] than toward providing a convenient means of exchanging goods and services. Therefore, a local currency is NOT a replacement for the US. dollar but a necessary compliment to it.
A local currency is not based on interest, debt, hedging, and leveraging. It is based on interdependence, reciprocity, and no-interest loans that promote community.
What can a local currency do that the U. S. dollar doesn’t do?
It keeps the money local, thus building the economy of the Lehigh Valley. Local economic strength builds community self-reliance, and local businesses get spending power they otherwise would not have.
Our community gains control over social and environmental effects of commerce, thus promoting social and economic justice, necessities for any sustainable community.
Community pride and connections are built. Residents are proud of the income they earn by doing work they enjoy. More importantly, we encounter each other as fellow citizens of the Lehigh Valley rather than as winners and losers scrambling for dollars.
Because of the reciprocity involved, people build relationships, which make them happier.
The result is a better quality of life!
So let us make change. We can, indeed, change our systems to have a better, more sustainable life.
Do your part!
- Get involved.
- Walk more. Bike. Carpool. Drive less. Try public transportation.
- Buy local. Eat at local restaurants. Support your local farmers. Eat local food.
- Write your PA legislators to support sustainable practices. Reduce your consumerism.
- Buy from local shops. Promote interdependence and reciprocity. Build relationships.
- Join the effort to use local currency—contact us by e-mail for more information or visit our website.
And, above all, change your mindset. We are at the beginning of a new era. Unleash your creativity to make our world better for all of us.
Gwen and Cathy are developing a local currency for the Lehigh Valley.
(Published in the 2009 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley)
More Voices of the Valley from Sustainable Lehigh Valley.