Thursday, December 11, 2008
:sometimes a step backwards is progress:
All this talk of recession - it’s relentless!
I have to confess to you - a huge part of me welcomes a recession, if it brings with it the kind of resourcefulness, community building and sustainability practices which occurred in other times of global hardship, like the great depression and World War Two. It’s just a shame that it’s only in times of crisis the majority of people will get on board with these ideas. In my utopian world, the notions of these wonderful World War Two posters would be how we approached daily life, at ALL times.
I’m from a small town in Taranaki, my father and most of the fathers of my friends worked in the local Freezing Works, or the local Gas to Gasoline plant, or were farmers or farm workers. Our community was small enough and poor enough that there was a lot of community spirit and help. I remember lots of swapping of homegrown fruits and vegetables, swaps of skills - my mother would often help people out with sewing clothes and curtains in return for physical labour or babysitting. Older people in the community would hold “weed and feed” afternoons, whereby people would help them maintain their gardens in return for lunch. Like a Taranaki version of an Amish barn raising, the laying of concrete driveways and the building of car sheds were often done communally, in return for beers and “a feed” of fish and chips.
In the early 1990’s a social anthropologist came to the town to write a thesis on “the green dollar exchange systems of the small town communities of northern Taranaki” to the town’s amusement and bemusement - until then, no one had heard the term “green dollar”.
It was a wonderful model to grow up with, in terms of how community can be. And surely, could be again on a larger scale? If it takes recession for us to get there - then I’m fine with that.
(a Dutch poster - produced during the famine that occurred there towards the end of the war - encouraging people to forage for nuts in the forests.)