Looking around Rochester could just about bring any grown man to tears. What was once a vibrant city full of possibilities and life, is nothing more than a glorified ghost town. I remember being a kid going downtown to see the holiday lights, parades, and the huge crowds of people going to and from work. I remember a lot of things, but that’s all it is, memories. Rochester used to be a booming technology city. We were known as the imaging capital of the world. Kodak, Xerox, and Bousch and Lomb were places where we all saw ourselves working when we grew up. They were our bread and butter.
On my way to a meeting this morning, I couldn’t help but notice what once now might never be again. I’ve had this thought many times before, but it really seemed to settle today. Empty store fronts, parking lots where there was once thriving factories pushing out cameras, film, and paper. Neighborhoods where there were once kids playing in the streets until nightfall are empty with boarded up windows, gang warfare, and endless graffiti. A loss of community and local pride.
This is a story that has effected countless cities and towns across the country and around the world. We’re a world trying to make ends meet, but there are no ends to be seen. It seems like a never ending battle. On any given year, there are 1.5 million children without a home to go to. 23% of the people on the street are veterans who volunteered to give their lives so you can live yours. 5.1% of the American population will end up in prison at some point of their lives.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing had to happen for the world to wake up. Unfortunately, we had to hit a wall to understand that we were on the wrong path. Throughout Rochester, and throughout the world, sustainable communities are popping up like weeds. These are support networks where we take care of each others needs by working as a team, rather than as competitors. We buy products made within our own communities rather than from big box stores keeping our hard earned money within our communities. Doing this keeps those who are important to us employed by providing an essential need.
If you would look more closely at you own neighborhood and community, you’ll see that everything you could ever need might just be produced locally, if not, you could produce it yourself, or purchase via fair trade. There are sustainable options. There are answers to the problems we face. Do you need food? Go to a local farmers market. Clothing? There are always small independent vendors who carry higher quality goods than you’ll find in the mall. Art? Check out your local galleries. First Friday!
There are always local alternatives to whatever need you have. When buying locally, you’re keeping someone employed and keeping your money within your community. You are giving people that sense of community and a sense of being needed that will keep them from committing crimes, therefore keeping people out of prisons and jails.
Sustainable communities can save the world. Just think about it.