One in the mind. One on the plate.

Our consciousness developed while food and environment were synonymous.

We did the same thing to ourselves that we do to animals on the farm. We built social structures between us and our food. And we’re only given access in amounts appropriate to how much we do. Now. We earn our living.

My point is, these are not the conditions consciousness developed in. That little ineffable something missing from life, well, its a long story.

We used to have so many stories along with every meal.
Every meal was a vast narrative. A novel.
And in that way, we consumed two meals at once.

One in the mind, and one on the plate.

Please Pass the Plate

We have a universal religion. Survival. No matter your belief system, to even have the conversation, we all have had to eat a little, drink a little, and especially this time of year, we had to sleep inside out of the weather. Just to have functional ears, and flowing blood, and eyes absorbing. No matter the particulars of your faith, figures, mantras, customs, symbols, traditions, if there is a creator, it commanded we all first work diligently at the sacraments required for maintaining alive, before all else. Or, if you do not believe in a creator, you still did a lot of work to come to that conclusion, and you share all of that labor with every single believer, of any faith whatsoever.

We have differences. We have cultural divisions. We have distinctions, and arguments, and logical impasses, and even judgments standing solid between us. But not dinner. Not hunger. That is a custom we all share. Like thirst. Like exhaustion, and exposure. We could build an entire way of life, distributing basic resources, instilling simple agriculture economies, connecting neighbors and communities in small, cyclical food and barter systems, before we ever even have a good enough reason to discuss our differences. We don’t live and die by our divisions, until a human being decides so. But whatever led to this, the universe, and life as we know it, did want us all to sit down at a dinner table first. We all live near a well, or some kind of straw connected big sloshy tanks at the tops of towers, or held in reserve in reservoirs full with fish.

My point is not that anyone is right or wrong in comparing religions, belief systems, political pursuits, ideologies.

My point is that the argument starts after dinner.

After everyone has eaten.

It is impossible to have a healthy discussion of religion with someone who is starving.

No matter the faith, its first commandment must be, please pass the plate.

A Silly Pursuit

I don’t want to change the world. I think it is a silly pursuit.
I just want options. You know. In lieu of a philosophical discussions.
We could just agree on the definition of the world within freedom.

As having many options.

And if you tax land, regardless of what it does,
then you have made living on it simply and free
an illegality. When every human has the right
to a free and quiet life in the country.

That is what I believe.
Options are the medicine I would feed this sick nation.

We did not decide this government so it could sit on top of the land
and divy it up back to us as soon as we pay a percentage of its worth.

I don’t want to change the world. I just want to add to it.

A Sherwood of sorts.
A path. A way of life.
A place where everything society says you earn between nine to five
is simply part of an environment. Paid for by not being a villain. Mostly.

Food. Water. Shelter.

And what you do with the rest of the day is yours.
Hard work is hard work is hard work.
It’s a choice you have to make.

It is clearly not something every human was cut out to do.

Sending us all out on the interstate at the same time headed the same way.
Is causing massive pile-ups, and cheapening life.
Interactions in abundance. Seeing people by the hundreds. Thousands.
Hard to believe each one has a name, and parents, and pets waiting at home.

When you encounter so many faces out there. When you’re never alone.
Who cares who you crush on your evening commute. What is it to you?

Just trying to get home from work after a long day.

There just aren’t a lot of options to get somewhere as quickly as possible.
Without running into a million others who have the same sensible thought as you.
We need options. I’m not talking about putting in an extra lane.
There has to be a place. A quiet life in the country.

Somewhere
the only way to get there
is the long way.

Destination is not direction.

We changed the world today. We ate, didn’t we. Which means we reshaped landscapes with our stomachs, maybe even continents apart. We ran steel combs through hillsides and when it rains enough we caused mudslides and put money in someone’s back pocket today. Took a penny or two out of quite a few others. Couldn’t have taken them though, if they weren’t there to be taken. Mountains laid in ruins and massive bovines feet folded in acres of black mud. We changed it. Just drinking water from the ground. And eating food from the ground. And building shelter in the ground, stacked up as high as we can off the ground. It is really a beautiful thing. You can see us from space. At night, the city lights, look like bright yellow rashes. We have them on front of our cars. Above roads at the tops of poles. Strapped around our foreheads. An extra little light of mine in the glove compartment, just in case. We changed the world in a big way, just by being afraid of the dark.

We Project Local

We will no longer sift gold from local creekbeds or uncover vast oil fields or coal mines deposited in our shrinking foothills. The successive eras of quickly discovered and translated riches are over. Not because the resources no longer exist, but the places they remain have been overlooked. Local has been overlooked. In a specific location, all dots get connected. The true cost of corn growing directly beside the produce stand, where it has to be marked up a bit to stimulate a profit. This is where milk is pasteurized and chicken coops fill the air with stink. Where the composted filth of previous seasons is laced into the soil of this year’s garden. How was the product made, where does the waste go, what direct effect does such complex manufacturing have on people’s homes, lives, property? These questions need to be brought out into local light. Because it is being dumped into our moving waters, buried in lands filled with garbage beside our neighborhoods. No matter its distant source. In my opinion, these are places where treasure can be found. But for now, we are still intent on calling it trash.

New industries are going to be close to impossible to establish in a small town. Recreational services like restaurants and grocery markets require an almost insurmountable initial investment to get off the ground and running successfully and with sustainability. The sheer, jagged amount of capital required to realize an entrepreneurial dream is crippling. There are many directions in which to grow and change in order to foster local, community-based balance. One is a path mentioned already, and is happening at home whether we recognize it or not. Connecting the dots of seemingly separate business strategies and markets into complementary shapes. Like constellations. There may be several billion miles between the stars of a growing family farm and a country-style restaurant. But with a simple line drawn, these two ventures couple nicely into a single business.

Most mainstream, corporate chains actively obscure the connection between their products and the locations these products are made. Local communities can not only embrace this, but benefit greatly from being a stone’s throw from the fields and pastures that fed and coddled their merchandise. The scraps and leftovers could healthfully feed farm animals or even be composted and become meals for the coming years. If the restaurant struggles through a few rough seasons, food could still be directly sold at markets by the farm, as well as picking up catering events and holding festivals seasonally. It would allow a small level restaurant to spread out its image across several nearby locations, and control the pricing of food on the menu more intentionally, since they actively participate in its development.

Through intimate, hands-on recycling and gentle reuse programs, local businesses can compete at quality and pricing with any mainstream chain, creating within a range of diverse products. But, for the most part, initially, local communities need to take back our food. The agricultural economy of an area like ours is truly the beat of our heart. And the best way to cut costs while simultaneously increasing quality is to realize what others in your industry consider waste, treats as a burden, pays to have hauled away or destroyed. Decrepit technologies, food scraps, unused lots of grass, ancient looking buildings with busted out windows. This is what we have in abundance, and there are a lot of people who will only ever know it as trash. Project Local is first to examine value in a different way, to find or make it in a place where others have stopped working. Even stopped looking.

True local does not begin down the road or where you like to say you are from. It is home. Where and how we choose to live each and every day. Here we discover the foundation of any economy is community. The most abundantly valuable resource at our disposal currently is one another. And there is no such thing as waste. At least not in a well-connected place.