These days the average American has more material wealth than a person from any other country, and yet we aren’t the happiest, by far. We are on average richer and own more consumer goods than we had in the 1970s, and yet our life satisfaction has been steadily declining since then. Many of us have instant access, through our laptops, smart phones and other devices, to a world of information, and to all our friends online — and yet we feel lonely and disconnected. Unlike in the days when our grandparents could easily just walk next door and ask for an egg or some sugar, many of us don’t even know the first names of our neighbors.
We can go to the grocery store and choose from dozens of breakfast cereals or flavors of yogurt, and yet many of us have never planted a seed, and many of our children don’t even realize that oats are a plant that grows in the dirt or have any idea where yogurt comes from. We lack a true sense of connection in our daily lives – to other people and to the land we live on.
We also lack a sense of security. We have lost, over the last few generations, much of the knowledge and many of the skills that gave our great-grandparents a sense of self-sufficiency and safety in times of stress. How many of us can still build our own homes, grow, harvest, and preserve our own food, use herbs to take care of most of our ailments, and sew our own clothes?
We face real challenges today, with a struggling economy, an uneven distribution of wealth that’s getting worse, high unemployment, a changing climate, an environment under threat, and small businesses and community gathering places being replaced by strip malls and super shopping centers. Times, in many ways, are hard, but the amazing thing is, people are doing something about it.
People everywhere are showing us that there is hope, that we don’t have to continue down this destructive and isolating path, and that there is a better way. There is a resurgence of interest in the kinds of things that will reconnect us and make us and our communities more resilient in times of stress. People are getting into:
- DIY – doing it yourself. Learning to do things for yourself, especially something you used to pay a big corporation faraway to do for you, is a way to sidestep a reliance on people you don’t know and to take charge of learning to provide for your own needs. As more and more people learn a diversity of hands-on skills, a community as a whole becomes more resilient and self-sufficient. If you know how — or know people who know how — to do everything you need to do, or make and grow everything you need to survive, that gives you a certain sense of peace, safety, and financial security, and makes you more able to take risks for the things you believe in, or to follow your passions and dreams in life.
- Buying local – From the locavore community, to those making their own biofuels or solar hot water heaters, to people supporting local clothing designers and bike shops, there is a huge resurgence of interest in supporting the people who live in your community, rather than big businesses faraway who may not have the best interest of your hometown at heart. Keeping your money close to home strengthens your local economy, and it also is good for the natural environment, as it reduces energy use and pollution in transport of goods.
- Sustainability – This word gets bandied around a lot these days, but its true meaning – the ability for something to continue on as it has been going, or sustain itself, for the long haul, is worth remembering. There is a worldwide effort to slow down the destruction of the natural environment, to take climate change seriously, and to implement strategies that heal, rather than harm, the earth. This is crucial not just for the health and survival of the non-human species we share this planet with, but for our own as well.
- Abundance – The more we choose to look at what is good about where we live, the more opportunities we see around us, and the more that gives us a sense of hope. We start to realize that we might actually have all the resources, skills and creativity we need to make our community truly amazing. At Abundance NC, we believe strongly in DIY, local economy, sustainability, but most of all in the idea of supporting what is good – the abundant riches of our beautiful home in North Carolina. If there is a new farm-to-table restaurant in Durham that buys meat and produce from local farmers, we want everyone to know about that restaurant, so it has a better chance of succeeding and bringing with it those farms. If someone in Chatham County is interested in trying out using mushrooms to ameliorate oil or coal ash spills, we want to support their effort to make that happen. If we support what is good, the bad will wither and be easier to fight and conquer.
The thing is, there are a ton of people getting involved in these positive movements, making it easier for all of us to be a part of them, transform our communities, and change the world. This is happening everywhere, but we are here to help you get involved with what’s happening in North Carolina’s Piedmont region — the place we call home.At Abundance NC, we see ourselves as agents of change, working to transform our community into a rich, vibrant, healthy, environmentally-sound, fiscally-sound, happy and meaningful community. We cultivate and celebrate the creation of resilient communities. But really, the ones doing the lion’s share of the creation and transformation are you — the people we are proud to call our neighbors.
With many of our events, and with our online Stories, we aim to make connections, to bring people together and bring them the information they need to live sustainably, do things themselves and support their local economy. We hope that if you attend one of our events, workshops, or conferences, are a part of our kids’ sustainability work, or participate in the work of the fledgling nonprofits we help get off the ground, you’ll leave with a deeper sense of hope, community, and you guessed it, abundance.
Read more about specific aspects of our philosophy: