we welcome back Chicago-based scholar Dr. Allan Schnaiberg as our guest
writer. An expert in the social forces related to community values and
the environment, Dr. Schnaiberg is writing several guest pieces this
week. (Earlier, in “Lobsters and Lumber,” he wrote about the pragmatic American values that fuel some local businesses.)
Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill once professed, “All politics is local.” I doubted that statement then, but over the years, I have come to appreciate this sage politician. The difficult but sometimes hopeful reality is that GLOBAL warming has roots in every community (and will impact differently on every community in all the nations of the world).
The same is true for our national and global “economic recession.” It started with the “housing bust,” but is now chewing up every community. Only some of the young and some of the old are somewhat sheltered from this – which is why I can still write columns like this!
President Obama’s foreclosure-protection plan illustrates our interconnected values — in this case, our housing values. Even if your home may not be in danger, if other houses foreclose on your block, your home decreases in value by the physical and economic impact of foreclosed homes around you.
Struggling to save both my residential community in Chicago, and my work and social connection to its urban suburb of Evanston, IL, I recently appealed to the students at Northwestern University (where I taught for 38 years) to “act locally.”
I described the impact of global warming on their lives, then pointed out a silver lining: If we give up much of our consumption of goods and services, and reduce our time studying and working — we have more time for developing personal relationships with other people in “the community.”
I suggested the following:
GET INVOLVED in local politics.
SHOP LOCALLY. Sure, the big-box stores are popular, but many smaller and supportive businesses in every category (not just bars and restaurants) are hurting.
RECOGNIZE YOUR POWER as local consumers.
DISCOVER THE BENEFITS. Local merchants often provide important individual service that you won’t find elsewhere — and they can wind up feeding resources back into the community.
REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT, which happens naturally when you patronize shops and services closer to home.
You do your part — and you’ll enjoy the benefits right away.
But, what do you think about this?
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