It’s become my word dejour for a number of years now. Becoming resilient. Being resilient. It has become more important than strong. More poetic than adaptable.
Small businesses. Local food systems. Fluid economies. Human health.
Definition: the ability to withstand or recover from difficult situations.
That’s a pretty boring definition. I prefer Glennon Doyle’s approach in Untamed, “The worst came, and she survived… she no longer had to avoid the fires of life, because she has learned to become fireproof…”
That lady is clever.
I have been thinking about this piece for awhile. How to share the passion and importance that we place on economic independence and why. We have spoken quite a bit about the choices of artisan partners and organizations that we collaborated with over the past year. So now, let’s talk about how the sharing of ideas and food systems have to do with supporting that?
Where to begin?
First off, I read something not to long ago from an amazing women who had worked in micro-finance for quite some time, (She also did an amazing interview for the Good Life Project Podcast), speaking of how empowerment meant that you were in a place to offer power to another human. In her opinion that was an absurd idea.
I know we use that word with the best of intentions and, usually refers to not giving someone power but helping them find their own. I still loved her outlook and take on the work she was so invested in. Her work and book speak frequently of “moral imagination”, our ability to think outside what has been done to help alleviate the suffering of others.
I have been traveling for quite some time. Sometimes superficially, sometimes to lose myself in nature and sometimes to be in complete service. But always, always learning. I remember have a discussion with a good friend who seems to have a healthy perspective on a number of issues. Our dialogue was around the importance to movement, of traveling, and the role it has played in cultures over time, “We need travelers, it is still the most authentic way to learn and share ideas between us”.
And that is what Blue Atlas is trying to do. As a species, we are collectively trying to solve problems, and we get closer all the time. We are collectively trying to alleviate suffering, both our own and other’s.
We are teachers and guides, maybe for our friends, maybe for our ourselves, maybe for large rooms full of people, maybe for those that can benefit from our experience and maybe it’s for the one person who needs to hear it.
“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
– Brilliant Aboriginal Elder, Lilla Watson
I read in a great book titled The Social Animal, that this point we have realized is that what we seek is meaning. That meaning is the predecessor to happiness, therefore is more important than happiness. We are all looking for meaning. And how we think, speak, treat and spend is a good place to find some of it.
Blue Atlas has been evolving and learning as an organization. From the sharing of ideas, to more team members, to supporters and to a boat-load of research and reading. I want to share where we are.
So, what the hell do we mean when we say we want to support sustainable community building projects?
We mean that when we see people who have recently or chronically been marginalized and tore down, we will look for the helpers. And we will join them.
“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”-Mae West
With increased natural disasters, with desertification and deforestation all challenging livelihoods, food security and therefore lives, of millions of humans around the world, I believe we have a collective responsibility to look at how our decisions impact our world. At first, it can seem overwhelming, but bite-by-bite, we cut through the various campaigns of what we are trying to be sold as “good” and get to the meat of it.
And that meat, well, it allows for a lot more compassion and understanding. We look at one problem at a time and work on a solution. We do not have to accept that the world cannot improve. We have an imagination, and to coin a phrase, we have what it takes to use our “moral imagination”. And if we can envision a path to live more harmoniously as a species, why don’t we?
“I am only as good as I am capable of conceiving.”
It takes a village. They weren’t lying. And as we have become a global community that we all enjoy the benefits of, it is important that we do the work to become more responsible consumers, humane humans and more “woke” (yep- can’t believe I used that word either) individuals. We have a responsibility to learn how our world operates, who is being marginalized and who is being taken advantage of to sustain what we think of as normal, and make an effort… to just do a little better.
With small steps. Things we have chatted about over the past year, know where your money goes, support small businesses, the power of your dollar is a might tool. Support your farmers- they literally feed you.
So what do local economies have to do with with resiliency in a global world?
We all know by now that supporting independent businesses carry the weight of your dollar farther. I believe the stat reflects an economic impact of 4:1. How? That comes down to who that dollar goes to support and how they spend it. With an ever-increasing consolidation of wealth in the world, if we choose to support small businesses, the owner and their employees are more likely to be reinvesting that dollar back into their community rather than outsourcing it to corporate headquarters and bank accounts that are already quite flush. In short. It goes to the support people who need that dollar, therefore spend that dollar and it stays in circulation. It literally goes farther.
This is true everywhere. And the farther away that corporation is to your home, the more extreme the impact on the livelihoods and economy of that area.
To get back to the beginning. What we are focusing on for our upcoming project is the sharing of ideas. In a post hurricane afflicted island chain, we will show up and work with those rebuilding their community. We became aware of a problem and our team has the knowledge to share. Our goal, and one that we see is being supported throughout other areas of the Bahamas, is to help build a sustainable community hydro- and aquaponic garden. This will be managed by someone on the ground and will act as a training center for those interested in other ways to grow food in an area where soil is scarce and nutrient poor.
Why are we currently looking at food systems? What role do they have in creating a sustainable local economy? And what role does a local economy have in overall human health?
These are questions I will get to in the upcoming weeks and months as we prep supplies, dial in logistics and… the most important step- we begin.