17 Rules for a Sustainable Community

Why do we promote the idea of buying locally?

For me, the idea of living in a community that works for everyone, from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, with all their varied dreams and goals, is an idea that is worth striving for.

What does that look like?

The answer is as varied as the communities we live in. Wendell Barry has generated a lot of ideas and discussion about how our rural areas, town, cities and urban centers can operate. I found this poster of the 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community on the Yes! Magazine site. Inspired by (or based on) Barry’s writings it suggests a number of practices that would keep a community strong and vibrant. I liked them all, at the very least as a starting point for discussing how to improve our city, our region, even our state.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth?

Change for change’s sake is not necessary. Doing something simply because a neighboring city has done it doesn’t mean its right for Victorville or Adelanto or whatever town or city we live in. Taking some time to think about the impact (both positive and negative) lets us adjust and customize things to maximize the benefit.

8. Strive to produce as much of the community’s own energy as possible.

I love seeing windmills on the ranches and small farms near my current house. With the abundance of sunshine and wind, I’m surprised there aren’t more wind and solar farms putting energy back into the grid, providing jobs, clean energy and stimulating the local economy. I am sure there are more people participating than I see and more in the works, though. These are exciting times as these technologies become more affordable and viable as businesses!

10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community for as long as possible before it is paid out.

This is the idea behind local currencies and other incentives to use local vendors. I still shop at national big box stores and drink national coffee house coffee, so I’m not suggesting that you can never step foot in a Target or Starbucks again. Instead, the more thoughtful we are about where we choose to go and the more willing we are to try new places and take a chance on our local producers, the stronger Victorville and the High Desert will become.

There are a number of great thoughts in this poster. What are some of your favorites? Which do you think are not likely to happen here in the High Desert?

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