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Thanks to my recent foray into local (micro?) politics I'm doing a lot of daydreaming about what the world would be like if I were Queen. Wouldn't it be fun if we could take this broken economy and turn it into something cool?
Not that anyone necessarily cares, but here are a few thoughts I've been having.
First, after reading Shannon Hayes' article in the Simple Living Newsletter I am really enamored of the concept of Radical Homemaking. It's a concept I have practiced for years, but never had a name for. Essentially the idea is that radical homemakers (and these are both men and women) see the family as the central unit of life instead of the workplace. In many cases both parents work at home and the home is, in a sense, a microbusiness, not just a place where consumer goods come to die. There is cooperation and interdependence as all members of the family use their extensive domestic skills to keep costs for the family's needs low and, in some cases, to produce goods and services to support the family. My favourite quote from the article, "she who doesn't need the gold can change the rules" succunctly encapsulates my feelings about Simple Living.
While the article seems to focus largely on farming families (my friends the Dervaes' of Path to Freedom urban homestead are an excellent example of this, it seems to me that there are a wide variety of jobs that can be done from home.
It has always baffled me that there isn't more talk of telecommuting in "green" circles. Even more than public transportation (which I love beyond reason as I hate driving) telecommuting has the potential to not only reduce the number of vehicles on the road, but to change the the communities we live in for the better. Telecommuting, in effect, reduces a vast redundancy of resources.
From the business side, telecommuting greatly reduces overhead, eliminating the need for huge office buildings that need to be lighted, heated, cooled and plumbed.
From a government standpoint, it lessens the need for ever larger roadways, since a large number of vehicles are off the road and rush hour bottlenecks are no longer an issue.
From a worker standpoint, telecommuting, at the very least, eliminates driving expenses, reduces wardrobe expenses, shaves the nearly four hours per week of commute time the average worker spends in transit and allows greater flexibility in the home.
The communities in which people live benefit because people are home more and have more ability to invest in the place in which they live, and people have greater flexibility in choosing where they live when they are not tied down to a specific location for work. I think this has the potential to really revitalize neighborhoods and smaller communities, possibly creating smaller, more connected walkable and bikeable communities and making public transportation within a community a much easier and less expensive to implement. Community services and small businesses would likely have much more support in this model of community too.
Anyway, that is Step One of my daydream and from my vantage point, my community is getting ready to take hold of that vision, or one similar to it, and run with it.