10 07 08 Village Life Today JH

In my last column I proposed that part of our strategy to cope with our present energy and ecological crisis might be to rediscover village life today. But is it possible to turn back the clock? To reverse modern progress and re-adopt patterns of life from the past? Is it not ludicrous to suggest that the way forward is backward?

To be sure, there is not likely to be a mass exodus from our cities to re-establish villages in the countryside. Although I know of some people who have indeed left the big city in search of a more sustainable and holistic lifestyle. I think this will happen with increasing frequency in the future. I support such moves, especially when it does not mean long commutes to the city for work and shopping.

But the big challenge is for those of us who remain in the city to transition to a village lifestyle where we live. For starters, we must reject the philosophy of autonomous individualism that forms the bedrock of modern cities. The notion that cities are a collection of individuals all seeking their own customized lifestyles not only feeds a consumptive lifestyle that requires large amounts of energy but also puts undue stress on our environment.

So here are a few ideas for urbanites to morph into “villagers” in the city.

  1. Find ways to get around that require less energy coming from fossil fuel. Biking is making a comeback in our cities, even in winter. Carpooling is another option. Driving smaller, more fuel efficient or even electric vehicles is another. When I was a teenager, the rite of passage to adulthood was to buy a car. My youngest son has rejected that notion and at age 27 doesn’t own a vehicle. Learn from your children!

  1. Look for points of interest to discover close to home. Sure there is a world to explore in far-away places, but it is ironic that many globe-trotters have never even looked in their own backyards for vacation spots that often attract people from the other side of the world. And even if you don’t meet world travelers there, you might meet your neighbor!

  1. Discover, support and participate in entertainment that emerges at home. Big name bands in far away places, for example, also come from some place, just like your local group does.

  1. Grow as much of your own food in your backyard or in a community garden as you can. And suggest to other gardening families that you work together at preserving the local harvest by canning, freezing and especially drying fruits and vegetables.

These are only a few suggestions on how to re-discover village life in the 21st century. You can surely add ideas to this list if your heart is in it. And rest assured that the further you go down this road the more you will begin to experience true community at least somewhat reminiscent of village life a century ago.

Jack Heppner