What does “sustainability” really mean?
When we talk about “sustainable,” we mean the ability for something to continue in the way it’s being done, or to sustain itself, indefinitely. For example, farming practices that rely on petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, and that degrade the soil over time, are ultimately not sustainable, whereas practices that rely on natural pest deterrents and use compost to rebuild instead of deplete the soil, can be sustainable for many generations. But the term “sustainable” isn’t just limited to agriculture. In every aspect of how we live our lives, we have to consider whether continuing to do things in the same way we are doing them now will protect our quality of life for future generations of humans and all other life on earth.
A community that makes use of renewable resources, that keeps its money circulating within its own local area, and that relies on sustainable ways to meet its other needs, is going to be much more resilient over the long term than a community depending on resources that are going to eventually run out.
As fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources become more scarce, as the climate changes, and as the economy becomes less and less predictable, with jobs being sent overseas and the wealth gap growing ever wider, we need to be building a new, sustainable local economy and infrastructure. Creating this new way of living will require a lot of innovating and inventing new ways to adapt to our changing circumstances, but it will also require relearning skills that our great-grandparents knew, but have since been lost.
So how do we make our communities sustainable for the long term?
At Abundance, we believe that in order to create a sustainable community, you need three things. The people living in our communities need to first understand what sustainability means and why it is important. Then once people get behind the idea of sustainability, they need to be empowered to set up sustainable systems in their work and lives. Finally, everybody has to know how to access all these new sustainably made resources that are popping up around them. People have to know why to act sustainably, they have to be able to create the infrastructure that allows them to act sustainably, and then they all have to know about and have access to this infrastructure.
For example, once a restaurant owner learns about the importance of sustainability, she might want to start incorporating more local organic produce into her menu. She has to find out where to get this produce, and a friend connects her with a local distributor of organic produce in her area. Once the local food is on the menu, she has to get the word out to the community about her new farm-to-table menu items. (And that community of people also have to know why sustainability is important).
At Abundance, we aim to help in all three of these aspects, making it easier for people to build self-supporting, self-reliant, sustainable communities. We “make sustainable attainable” by:
- raising awareness about the strengthening effects for our communities of meeting our food, energy and other needs sustainably and locally,
- celebrating the abundance of resources all around us, right here at home, and helping people learn about and access these resources,
- and bringing people together to learn from, inspire, and support one another in our shared efforts to build healthier and more resilient communities, at home in N.C.
Learn about our specific projects on our What We Do page.
As long as the idea revolves around bringing people together to build a stronger, more sustainable and interconnected community in the Piedmont of North Carolina, we can get behind it!