What if… (storytelling)
- What if we implemented these three simple programs nation-wide, not with a top-down approach but as toolkits to be used by community groups in each small place? Each program addresses one of the triple bottom lines:
1) ECONOMIC: producer exchanges – small groups of 10 to 50 individuals, families, small businesses, farms and non-profits, each who agree to offer for sale something they have produced that month. Instead of US dollars use a LETS, which is as easy as a Google Sheet, or a pen and paper. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_exchange_trading_system
This teaches us two things – first, that we all can be producers and not consumers, whether it’s a pint of jam, a dozen eggs from the backyard hens, a roast of venison, computer help, a massage or car repair, it’s something we can do for ourselves. Second, that saying we can’t build local trade because there aren’t enough US dollars to go around is like saying we can’t build a piano because we are out of inches.
2) CULTURAL: the long memory project – connect artists under 35 with elders over 60 for a weekend of storytelling about the elders’ shared work in the community. Then, give the artists two weeks in a local artist-in-residency program (existing or makeshift) to create new work about what they’ve heard. Then, connect this art from community to community through national platforms like NPR and a central website to facilitate an extended conversation about the role of long memory in our communities.
3) ECOLOGICAL: carbon farming – develop local, state and/or national incentives for grass or tree farmers to build organic matter and sequester carbon in their soil. When good, small, ranching programs with diversified livestock and holistic management techniques seek to stockpile carbon the numbers can go through the roof.
These are three programs being implemented by Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology with the hope that we can build national networks of small rural non-profits to implement one or all of these with us.
- What if we could prove that listening and telling stories of place, pain, joy, dreams, and history is a necessary precondition of economic development?