I find that one important element that is missing in my journey of living simply is that of community. There was a time not too long ago where people thrived living in a community where everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else. People worked together for the cause of keeping their community safe and healthy and involuntarily everyone had a part in contributing to their communities health and well being. Businesses were local and rather than fighting our way through a Supermarket on the weekend we simply walked to the grocer, the butcher or the baker for our daily needs. In season you could always find a fruit and vegetable market to purchase local farm goods. As people passed each other each day they actually spoke to each other and eventually developed relationships of friendship.
I am not just talking about the small towns, but also the big cities where neighborhoods were broken down into microcosms of living, breathing communities. Folks did not live in a throw away society like we do today. Clothing was expensive but with proper care could last forever. When a shirt was in need of repair we knew that we could depend on the local seamstress. There was always a shop where you could not only purchase a good pair of shoes but also get them repaired as the worn out.
This society that we have allowed to develop into a mass global market has created monsters of affordable crap, unhealthy foods and levels of stress to obtain these things. I shake overtime I enter a home depot. What we actually need to purchase at the supermarket could be fitted into a much smaller space where we are not fighting the isles to gather the few items we actually need.
I could go on and on about how big business has replaced local one’s, but there are other factors that have caused the breakdown of community. What about the factor of trust? It seems that we have reached a point where we actually have to think about being sued and finding ourselves in court because we may have offended someone by something which was overheard in a conversation with someone else. We watch the news each day and see all of the horrors of life playing out before us in a drama of fear. It seems much safer just staying in our homes than it would be to out into the world and take the chance of getting to know someone.
And finally there is the time factor. We spend way too much time preparing for work, driving to work and actually working each day to the point of complete exhaustion by the end of the day. Who wants to do anything at the end of the workday. The weekend is spent trying to catch up on all the things that couldn’t be done during the workweek.
Living a simple life can be done independently, but it is so much easier when like minded people support each other. Take the gardening factor which I wrote about sometime last year. Ten families all have two raised bed gardens which are 4 ft by 4 ft. Each family grows and perfects a certain vegetable which they share on a Saturday morning with the other 9 families. Any surplus could be sold to support next season or given to a local food bank. This small community thriving to support each other makes it so much easier than it would be for one family to try to grow all the different varieties of vegetables on their own.
A small group like this could also work in other ways. Mrs. Jones is getting up in years and has a difficult time taking care of her yard so the group gets tother for just 20 minutes on a Saturday morning to get the job done. Or how about food where each family prepared a certain dish to share with others in the group. A house needs to painted, a garage needs to be built. This is community and it needs a revival.