Bill McKibben, self-proclaimed author, educator and environmentalist, encourages a new way of conceptualizing community in his book Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and Durable Future (2007). Aside from being truly inspirational, the book is pragmatic, logical and well written. He encourages us to reintroduce ourselves “to each other and to the possibility that we need to think about something other than More” (173).
The word more, as used by McKibben, refers simply to our seemingly insatiable thirst for things. Few would disagree that our culture is fixated on things—cheap, abundant and attention-grabbing things. But the affect those desires have on our communities is often overlooked.
In today’s global economy, the only concern seems to be the growth of companies and economies. The point of this of course is to grow our bank accounts, so that, surprise, we can acquire more things! Companies are working harder than ever to produce more for less, “and in the process making everyone’s lives…as efficiently miserable as possible” (210). In the long run, what good is owning another flat screen television if your neighbor’s job at Samsung is sent to India in an effort to produce that TV as cheaply as possible?
For McKibben however, along with an ever-growing number of concerned individuals, the happiness of your neighbor does matter. This book attempts to show us how we can work together to make the world a better place just one neighborhood at a time.
Those interested in supporting local food systems will enjoy the chapter on his year of eating locally, as well as the larger scope of this book. For further reading, pick up Slow Money by Woody Tasch, which applies the principles of the Slow Food movement to our local communities and our overall economy.