Culture is created, and re-created, locally. It is the people in our community, the people of Chestermere, who can truly appreciate what our city is all about. Large corporations may come and set up a store here in our city, and people might visit from far away, but it is the shared memories, stories, and the quirky features of those who have chosen to live into the daily fabric of our community that come to know what really makes us thrive.
What does living locally look like? Is it going to a local barber? Buying from a farmer’s market? Perhaps, and maybe more. I find most of my friendships locally, I worship locally, I ask for help locally, and local problems concern me. But even so, I still live with the posture that most of what I need is elsewhere else.
Neal Gorenflo, the Executive Director of Shareable, is doing a grand experiment in 2020. He writes about how he experienced new levels of anxiety in recent years and wondered if he needed to change his life. His world was increasingly centred around online interactions, snippets of connections with people far away. After years of this he realized what he wanted, he wrote, “I want to spend more time interfacing with people, my town, and nature rather than screens. I want to find common ground with my neighbors through the many ways we can make our everyday lives better together.” He said he wants to join “team human” and reengage those around him.
So he made a change and committed to spend 2020 living locally and writes about his experiences. He is inspiring. In a series of posts that are surprisingly normal, Gorenflo is discovering that living locally is simple and transformative. He lists some recent activities like sharing onions with two neighbours, making a compost bin, hosting a community event, fixing old sprinklers at a local housing complex, he signed up for local emergency preparedness training, and received some radishes from another niehgbour. Simple, really.
It took time, but Gorenflo came up with personal #livelocal commitments to help him in his experimental year. Today he tries to spend an hour a day to local activities, he calls it his civic tithe. He starts each day with a meditative walk which he says grounds him and helps him pay attention. He does all of his shopping at local markets, and he is trying to keep his screen use to only two hours of social media per week. Everything else just emerges as he pays attention and makes himself available.
You can follow his journey at shareable.net. Living locally is a simple journey towards others, to order our inner and outer world in ways that care for our place. In these strange pandemic days when most of our big summer plans are cut short, it might be just the right time to turn our imaginations towards our community and discover a newer and simpler way to live. It might just bring the kind of peace we have been looking for. #livelocal