A small spider has taken up residence in my writing space and although this is not what I am writing about in this piece, it does make a point. I would rather have the spider relocate itself to the garden and stop webbing up my computer to lamp space or the door frame just above eye level and below head clearance, than get out the tissue and flush it away. So this anecdote does establish that Relocalization is infinitely a better option than total removal via squishing.
Relocalization is a term that keeps showing up in my reading and working during the last three months. I have found the word in “YES,” magazine in articles about Native Americans harvesting true wild rice. I have found it in grant proposals to assist youth in finding a positive future for themselves and about cutting the high school dropout rate and teen pregnancy. I have found the word in health care articles and in political pieces, which want to be positive about futures and don’t expect any assistance on the Federal level or from the Federal government. A student can now take college and graduate level classes in Relocalization.
I am not just talking now about moving that wee Arachnid to green leaf but I am talking about a paradigm change that happens in local communities in order to establish wellness for the whole community. It is becoming associated with very positive outcomes and a restoration of community spirit and responsibility. I believe this is an important concept when so many people around me feel they have no voice, no power and that their vote does not matter.
Sound Alliance is a local group of people from many walks of life that have evaluated the top 5 priorities for Washington State from the citizen’s perspective and desire. These are people from a wide range of churches, labor unions, medical facilities, scientists, non-profits, homeless, and interested folks, who have banded together to do the learning/ research and create solutions that work locally in the areas of health care, education, environment, employment, and transportation. As they learn how and educate themselves around these five areas they are becoming a powerful voice for what people want to have happen locally and what kinds of programs will work to achieve success. The number of voices and the top of the line solutions are becoming a massive lobby/voice for the people and for the progress of their communities and for the state. This group is getting people excited and active in their own neighborhoods – at their own homes and in their immediate lives.
I read about the Relocalization projects on the reservations in Minnesota. They are studying what their people would be eating if they were free to eat as their ancestor’s ate and to harvest their foods that they would grow in traditional processes. When they stop eating farmed wild rice and return to harvesting water grown wild rice in the lakes, when they return to hunting for venison and buffalo and harvesting their local crops, they are finding there is a significant drop in alcoholism and their people are no longer diabetic; their children are growing and learning with greater health.
Two new cookbooks have come out this year about people who ate only food they could get from within 100 miles of their front door. One couple also just used products that came from within 100 miles of their homes. Some of their suggestions are pretty humorous, most make a great deal of sense and I think they make a strong point about how far away our national economy is from local reality; how far we have to go to get what we think we need in our lives. (please see book review- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on this web site.)
I believe Relocalization is just creating a better word for what so many people have found to be true in their own personal lives and within communities. That if you really want to make change, you have to come first to yourself and make changes there as a start, and that neighborhoods and communities have to come home and be responsible for their own space; learn all they can, then act as a local group to make that change happen. Then they need to tell their story so that others can see their success, not to produce imitation of that particular success but to inspire others to find their own solutions and success to their situations.
The Relocalization group that I voted to give grant money to had this success story. They gave very small grants to kids in their communities – not the hot shot, big wig students – nope! They gave money to first graders to grow a garden and sell their produce in order to build a new bathroom for the students at their school- mission accomplished! Now this school grows and harvests enough food to feed breakfast and lunch to their students; to give food to the senior center a few miles down the road. The kid most likely to drop out was given a grant and trained to be a dropout prevention specialist, and another young girl is a teen pregnancy educator. Another young man was granted a camera and he now documents his community’s successes in “teaching each other to fish”. This is hope, this is change and this is health coming back to a faltering community. They usually don’t get the grant money because they do not comply with federal or state regulations or form reporting, nor do their schools teach to the “no child left behind” testing priorities.
I wanted to share this concept of change that feels quite positive to me and that you might find that you are running into in your own life. I am relocalizing my own wellness and having success within my own “web” and home. What are you relocalizing in your own life? What is happening in your own community? What are the successes just 100 miles from your own front door? Please feel free to share your comments below.