Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The importance of community

This is the first of many quotes I will be sharing from No Impact Man:

From p. 130:
I sometimes wonder if our lack of social connection and community is at the root of our environmental problems. I wonder, at least in my case, if that lack has meant that I don't feel responsible or accountable to anything beyond myself. Without real community, where is the visceral sense of connection to something larger, to something to which I owe my care? Maybe one reason I felt like I couldn't make a difference when the project started was because I wasn't firmly connected to anything to which I could make a difference.

I can relate. Part of my malaise at living in Tacoma is due to not feeling like I am a part of the community, the way I did in Boston. And part of that is due to the difficulty of getting around, of being close to neighbors and community programs, something that I was much more easily able to do in walkable and public transportation friendly Boston. Beavan devotes some time to writing about how so many of our towns and cities and neighborhoods are not structured in ways that facilitate community. The immediate result is that in many places, you have to drive just about anywhere, which of course has a negative environmental impact. But a secondary consequence is that due to this lack of community, we try to fill our lives with more stuff, rather than being filled by the difference we are making in the world.

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