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Ideas for a Local Economy & Happy Planet Index

Seventeen Rules for a Sustainable Community - “If the members of a local community want their community to cohere, to flourish, and to last, these are some things they would do” -Wendell Berry  *              *                         *                    *                         *

Which is the happiest country using the least earth resources? Can you guess it correctly?  I've been there! Such a wonderful memory of people who are proud of working together with their hands, who share their families & their homes. The local bus rides are a family affair! And strangers are invited for a meal of rice & beans! Although there is some mountain deforestation from overgrazing of cattle, the college students are studying ecological restoration & protecting their forest preserves.

5 Happiness Keys: "Connect – Be Active – Notice – Keep Learning – Give” - from “Happy Planet Index” TED talk-

View this short video about happy cultures: 16” TED Video “The Happy Planet Index – Nic Marks” July 2010 -    quote “Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation's success by its productivity -- instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn't have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised.”     *                    *                          *                                

One of our American elders, Wendell Berry – farmer,writer, poet – has written about happiness, stewardship, and sustainable & local economy since the late 70's – post the industrial 'green revolution' of oil-based cultures. His words hold grace & truth.

* * 'The Idea of a Local Economy” * * 2001  Highly recommended to read!

Thoughts In the Presence of Fear 2001 -

Seventeen Rules for  a Sustainable Community - Wendell Berry

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

2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.

3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbours.

4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).

5. Understand the ultimate unsoundness of the industrial doctrine of ‘labour saving’ if that implies poor work, unemployment, or any kind of pollution or contamination.

6. Develop properly scaled value-adding industries for local products to ensure that the community does not become merely a colony of national or global economy.

7. Develop small-scale industries and businesses to support the local farm and/or forest economy.

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

9. Strive to increase earnings (in whatever form) within the community for as long as possible before they are paid out.

10. Make sure that money paid into the local economy circulates within the community and decrease expenditures outside the community.

11. Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, and teaching its children.

12. See that the old and young take care of one another. The young must learn from the old, not necessarily, and not always in school. There must be no institutionalised childcare and no homes for the aged. The community knows and remembers itself by the association of old and young.

13. Account for costs now conventionally hidden or externalised. Whenever possible, these must be debited against monetary income.

14. Look into the possible uses of local currency, community-funded loan programmes, systems of barter, and the like.

15. Always be aware of the economic value of neighbourly acts. In our time, the costs of living are greatly increased by the loss of neighbourhood, which leaves people to face their calamities alone.

16. A rural community should always be acquainted and interconnected with community-minded people in nearby towns and cities.

17. A sustainable rural economy will depend on urban consumers loyal to local products. Therefore, we are talking about an economy that will always be more cooperative than competitive. 

(Online Version & posters also available) -

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 David Pike's blog onThe Unsettling of America, Culture and Agriculture” - by Wendell Berry


Also see David M blog “ Economics of Happiness

Thanks for inspiring us David!      Social ties — friends and family and community; a feeling of safety and security because we know that we belong, that we’re cared for, that we will not be left alone and abandoned” - Cecile Andrews

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