Edited Material From The



Evolution of democracy from economy to ecology

In talking with people about what they read ‘seriously’ there is also considerable interest in the area’s history, and natural history. I sometimes quote from an apparently little-known title by one of the best naturalists New England has ever had, Henry David Thoreau — but some people profess not to have heard about “Early Spring in Massachusetts”; my hardback copy being published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co, Boston, 1881. This title is comprised of extracts from Thoreau’s journals, and fascinatingly, is a record which climatologists now find of almost unique value in that over thirty years Thoreau recorded the advent of most flora, fauna and avifauna in Massachusetts. Today we are witnessing emergence of some of these species some four or even six weeks earlier than then.

I have recently transcribed a conversation with Andrew Cay who owns a local company dedicated to most every form of renewable energy, and which is a primer that everyone needs to read to gain for themselves an intelligence thereof, since the implications of our post-oil future are already lapping at our shore. (Another digression from the original metaphor, but at least I’m keeping them wet!) In all events, what Andy Cay says should be taught in schools as a real component of future civics.

Not too long ago these subjects were spoken of as ‘alternatives’, but in the chaotic energy scene of today they are currently only an alternative to chaos itself. One may scoff at specific proposed solutions, but the main problems can no longer be denied.

Elsewhere, Brattleboro as an influential hub to an extensive bio-region, a region without a name, is taking steps to implement a topic suggested by Wendell Berry in an essay he had published at Orion Press, Winter 2001. He titled the central essay The Idea of a Local Economy. This too, said Berry, is not an ‘alternative’ to anything but disempowerment. ‘Without prosperous local economies, the people have no power and the land no voice.’

Indeed, I remember William Irwin Thompson, founder of the Lindisfarne Foundation, New York City, saying much the same in 1982 — that the evolution of democracy will occur when we begin to shift from economy to ecology, thereby an intelligence of bio-regions provides the basis for action within the region, and Berry’s Local Economy is also the base of an enhanced local polity.

May we all prosper!

Certainly just being ‘aware’ of the difficulties in the world is altogether too passive and we might also consider a term coined by Buckminster Fuller in terms of the right way to harness our technology and economy; Imagineering.