Spring is in the air at last and with it comes renewed energy for change. That 'out with the old, in with the new' spirit seems to grip us at this time of year.
It leads us to purge our stuff and hold yard sales. We open all the windows to exchange the stale air left over from winter for the fresh oxygen of spring. We get active and engaged in our community again, eager to shake off hibernation's sluggish hold.
This need for change seems to be on a global scale as well. All over the world there is political upheaval and unprecedented citizen engagement. There is a great pushing back against the old ways of doing things. Citizens of France and Greece have rejected governments who call for harsh austerity programs aimed primarily at working people.
The Occupy Movement is gearing up for more action this spring and summer, having spent the winter preparing to take the cause to the street again.
These events strike many as unsettling, especially those for whom the status quo is working quite well. However for a great number of people, the system which produces economic hopelessness despite hard work doesn't work at all.
Tech bubbles; housing bubbles; financial bubbles; environmental suicide as the price we pay for progress; a consumer culture which empties our pockets but does not fill our souls. It all feels like one giant bubble which has finally burst.
All around the world, almost at once, there is a feeling that something has to change. Ordinary people are recognizing that our institutions are not looking out for us. It is up to us to make change for ourselves.
Think about all the reactive movements that have been growing over the past few years. In response to the insanity of our industrial farming model which manages to both under-nourish and over-feed us, there are Slow Food groups, Farmers' Markets, and community gardens in big cities and small towns all over North America.
Shop less, shop local, and shop independent initiatives are gaining ground everywhere, as we have seen our stores flooded with goods made under near slave conditions overseas at the expense of good jobs here at home.
Co-operatives and worker-owned factories are springing up more and more, as communities realize they have more power and ability to shape their destinies.
Credit Union membership has exploded, as people move away from the big banks which tanked the world's economy. In the U.S., seventeen states are considering publicly owned banks as a solution to their credit woes.
None of this social upheaval will be easy. There are powerful forces which are not going cede to the wishes of ordinary people. They will not go down without a fight. I fear we will see some people on the front lines pay a very heavy price indeed for their activism.
As important as the people on the streets are, it is crucial that communities get to work becoming living models of alternative ways of doing things.
We are blessed in Meaford. We live in a vibrant and beautiful place. Our citizens care about this community, and many have recently had a taste of success after banding together to voice their concerns about the proposed gasification plant. There is so much potential for us to be an example of sustainable living. We can be the change we want to see.
To help you get inspired, Transition Meaford is hosting their Films for Thought festival (click to open PDF), beginning May 20th, and continuing every Sunday at 1:30 through till June 24th. This is an incredible line-up of films which are guaranteed to open your mind and heart to new ways of thinking and living.
The Meaford Farmers' Market will be starting their sixth season on June 1st. Head down to the Rotary Harbour Pavilion on Friday afternoons throughout the season and support the local vendors and enjoy the music and the spirit of community which abounds. I will be getting to know the vendors over the coming weeks and will be bringing you their stories.
Enjoy all that spring offers. Hopefully, as you tend to your gardens and enjoy the new life beginning there, you will think about how you can help nurture the tender buds of change which are sprouting all over the world as well.
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